Gaining by losing

After a decade of two failed marriages, a whole lot of enabling and rescuing by yours truly, and poor financial decision making, I found myself in the same sad boat as many people do in America–I’d planned my mortgage, bills, and expenditures based on two decent incomes, and suddenly I found myself with one. Even though I made more and more money as time went on, I found myself on a tighter budget than ever before and wound up filing bankruptcy after foreclosing on my house. I decided then that I wanted things in my bank account–not to mention the rest of my life–to permanently change. I wanted to ensure that I’d never wind up paddling upstream again.

But how?

I thought I was already pinching pennies, and at times, I was. The problem was I’d go for six months without spending money on myself, and then when I got a huge commission check or finally had some expendable income, I’d blow it on new clothes for myself or gifts for my family rather than saving it for the rainy weather I knew would return. I never learned–at no fault of my parents, mind you–how to find a balance between living excessively and being a total tightwad.

Thankfully, with a lot of help from my frugal boyfriend and as a result of my decision to take a job making 2/3 less than my salary at the time and to relocate to my hometown, I learned how to find that balance. I willingly gave up my cute little red car in exchange for an older, gas-saving, more purposeful vehicle. My payment was cut in half, as was the car insurance. I went without Internet service at home for nine months, and I survived. I’d already gone without television for a year, and I made it through that, so I knew it wouldn’t kill me to lose my connection to the outside world. We even went without home phone service (there’s no cell service at our house) for several months, making it pretty impossible to reach us while we renovated our home. And we jointly decided to select a home that provided just what we valued most and nothing more. While renovating, I selected finishes, fixtures, and surfaces based on thrift, not on fancy. I learned that cooking at home really does provide more nutritional benefit while saving lots of money. I sacrificed several habits and indulgences, one by one, and eventually came to the conclusion that I’m happier without all the stuff I had to begin with.

I’m not claiming to be an expert on saving money or a guru for minimalism, but I will testify that when you wean yourself from most of the things you think you need, you realize you never needed them in the first place. And oddly enough, you might find yourself with more extra income than you had when you worked twice as hard and made 2/3 more money.

You might, as I have, gain by losing.

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6 thoughts on “Gaining by losing

  1. This is truly awesome. I’m a complete tight wod, and I feel like,a lthough i’m making more money now than I ever have, that I am more frugal than I was when I had a little job making minimum wage. The phrase “your problems start when you start making money” are so true. Honestly, although not practical, i’d much rather not have any money and just live off the land and off the grid. I try to think of a time before I had a job when life was simpler, and me and grandma were living off of her humble disability/social security check of a little over $600 a month.

    I’m actually reading “The Master Key To Riches” and trying to explore ways to make more money, because I know people who make less than I do who are much better off – so tehre’s somethign i’m missing. I’ve been told that I should look into investing and I should be “making money while I sleep”.

    I’m at complete odds with my girlfriend because she likes to go out to eat a lot, and I just see that as money burned. To me, growing up, we rarely went out to eat and when we did, it was when I got straight A’s on my report card, or for only special occasions. Her view is,” you can’t take it with you when you’re dead.” I see both views of that.
    good post!

    • Henry, what I know and love about you is your decision to be frugal in order to give what you have to others who need it more. I have some little tattle tale friends 🙂 who have reported that you’ve helped them when I’ve sent out requests for donations for people in need, and the fact that you freely give what you have to others whom you don’t even KNOW is rare and awesome. I think you’re investing in eternity this way, and that’s been one of the blessings I’ve discovered in minimizing expenses and costs in my life; I have surprisingly more to give than I did when I made much more money!

  2. I am in process of the same thing. Been saying for years I want to simplify but have really putting it into practice this year. That barn in the background could be the source of income if you are into crafting signs and other things out of recycled barn materials. They have a store in Searcy called Bee’s Knees that has a booth with the neatest recycled barn signs and stuff.

    • Good luck with it all–we’re still working on it. As for the barn, we’re probably going to wind up reusing most of the wood and tin when we build the new one, but I am going to repurpose some pieces for picture frames and things like that in our house.

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