I have always been frugal. I believe that I get this from my father. I have always been aware of money and living within my means. I may not have always been money savvy, but I blame that on ignorance and being in my early twenties. After college there was a time that I was debt free before pursuing my passion and going back to school. I never bought expensive things that I could not afford. This does not mean I was immune to consumerism. I always seemed to have a sense that it was not worth it. I can remember a time in college when I was out shopping with a few of my friends and we stopped by the Louis Vuitton store. Everyone was talking about how they owned a designer bag. I had never owned a designer bag and I felt left out, almost ashamed. I remember looking at the price tag on one of the bags. It was six hundred dollars. Six hundred dollars for a stupid bag! I remember briefly thinking about how I could afford this. I had worked so hard the summer before waiting tables and had some money saved up. I wanted to impress my friends, but in the end the price tag was just too much.
I have always hated shopping. Even in high school shopping would bring out the worst in me. My mom and I would always end up arguing and I would be in a bad mood the remainder of the day. Shopping for clothes or material things has never really brought me joy. If I feel any joy it is almost immediately tampered by regret. Does shopping for material things really bring anyone lasting joy or happiness? It is a fleeting joy, not permanent. The aftermath of spending more money than one can afford is usually emptiness and regret.
This ability to be frugal is probably why I have been able to pay off nearly sixty thousand dollars of student loans in 5 years. Yes, that is $60,000. That is probably why I can live in a camper for a year (and probably more while we build our non conventional home). This is also why I only go shopping for clothes when absolutely necessary. This is also why I own a 2002 Honda Civic with over two hundred thousand miles on it and I have no plans to buy a new car any time soon.
I don’t need things or material possessions to make me happy. I don’t need to impress anyone with my brand new Mercedes Benz. I don’t need to keep up with the Joneses. Why? Does anyone else really care about what I am doing? Well, hopefully my friends and family care. But I am assuming they care because they want me to be happy. If anyone else is spending that much time caring about what I am doing or what I own, they need to get a life. Seriously, find something to do other than spending time worrying about what other people are doing or how they spend their money.
I am frugal and I am proud of it. I was frugal (and living with less) before the minimalists were a thing. Being frugal does not mean I don’t own anything or buy anything. I just buy things that I need and that will allow me to continue doing the things that bring me joy. For example running shoes for running or coffee for my French press. I also value healthy food so I do spend money on quality, minimally processed foods because I feel better and am a happier person when I eat this way.
I don’t feel as if I am a better person because I don’t buy a ton of material possessions that I don’t need or a brand new car I can’t afford. This post is not to make anyone feel badly about their consumerism. It is something that is all around us. The pressure to appear rich or have lots of nice things is coming from many directions including advertisements on TV, billboards, and the people around us. I have always been a bit rebellious. I hate to think that someone else can influence my decisions and try to tell me what makes me happy. Only I know what makes me happy. Not Gap, not Nike, not Lexus, not Luis Vuitton, not Journey homes (manufacturer of cheaply made, cookie cutter homes in Northern Colorado), and certainly not Jared (the jewelry store).
Maybe what I have to say resonates with you or maybe it does not. I don’t care either way. I know that when I leave this earth I don’t want people to remember me for the things that I owned, but instead I want them to remember me for who I was and how I lived my life. For that reason I plan to live life deliberately.