Four Frugal Hackers Sitting at the Bus Stop…
Scene: Four Frugal Hackers sitting at the bus stop...
Frugal Hacker #1: You know, I started thinking about how much money we were spending on the weekends and I thought it was ridiculous. We were spending so much on eating out that we were going over our budget every month. I wanted to save some money so I thought it would be fun to start a family night in our house. I just ran out to Target and bought tons of board games for the kids and we are going to play those one night each week instead of going out.
Frugal Hacker #2: Why would you buy those at Target? Wal-Mart has the best prices on board games and we have always bought ours there.
Frugal Hacker #3: You guys pay retail for board games? We have always bought our games for our family nights from the thrift store. Rarely have I ever paid retail for those. If they are missing pieces, I just call up the company and ask if I can buy them or if they will send them to me for free.
Frugal Hack #4 (stubbing out her cigarette on the side of the curb and let's out a deep smoker's cough): Wow! I just can't believe how much you are all spending on stuff. I make my board games from leftover cereal boxes and use little toys from around our house for each player. Our children all contribute towards making the game and then we huddle around our box by candlelight...You know, to save on electric....
Frugal Hacker #1: Um, thanks for sharing....Well, I saved money this week by not smoking.
Do you ever feel like this scenario happens to you? You are busily posting along about your journey to frugality and suddenly someone leaves a comment about how they have done that for years and what you should have done. It isn't meant to be hurtful or unkind, it is just that we all are in such different places on our saving money journey.
It was only four years ago that I cracked open my first copy of The Tightwad Gazette. As I shared in my fairy tale piece, I was fascinated by how people learned to live without and modified their lives to save money. My adventure into learning how to save money became a hobby and a source of entertainment to me. Everything was so new and so fresh! It was a beautiful time of discovery for me. I said no to consumerism and yes to invention. I could create a world sewn together with dryer lint, secondhand clothing, and a shoestring. Ingenious ideas seemed to flow from me and I started to preach the frugal word to others.
Four years later, I am somewhere between Frugal Hacker #2 and Frugal Hacker #3. I have not made it to the fourth stage of frugality yet, but I am working towards it. My goal though is to not become hardened and turn my nose up at the little steps...after all, didn't we all start out that way?
If you page through the names on our blogroll, you can begin to see how different we each are. I would imagine that we all started at some different level in the beginning. My middle-class life, growing up, certainly can't compare to someone who grew up in poverty. Those who started with a harder life have already learned a certain resourcefulness that I lacked from the beginning. Our times of financial difficulty due to unemployment might not compare to someone who has six children and happen to be living on one income. No, our struggles and challenges all are so different.
Our frugality leads us down different paths too. Some of the Frugal Hack blogs share tips for shopping on a budget. Others might teach us to shop at thrift stores or to reuse the items we already own. Or maybe you happen upon a blog that says why even shop at all? Each of us touches on frugality in a different way and it is so fun to look at how it has impacted our life. It moves me to see that others are finding the joy in the same hobby as me and I desire for others to feel this secure in being a tightwad.
Wherever you are in your journey, remember what it felt like when it was all fresh and new. Rejoice with your fellow Frugal Hacker on each accomplishment they have made, remembering your own journey and how you got to the stage you are now in.
Go on, leave your encouraging comments to one another. Consider it a present to a frugal friend...and wrap it up with a giant bow sewn from dryer lint, secondhand clothes, and a shoestring!