Author Topic: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset  (Read 2631 times)

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« on: December 20, 2018, 08:06:06 AM »
After a few years of reading here and trying to implement the many great ways to change my mindset and become more frugal, I just havenít made a lot of progress.  At first my progress was stymied by my super spendy pants husband who I will likely never win over to a money saving mindset.  I understand now that I need to focus on controlling what I can control, which is my own discretionary spending.  In my world this includes things like:  home improvement projects, personal purchases like clothing, ďstuffĒ for the house, and eating out. 

Iím looking ideas of a manageable challenge that Iím likely to succeed with to help propel me to keep pushing ahead.  I love the idea of a no spend year, actually Iím a bit obsessed with it.  But when I tried for a month, I didnít even make it.  I find I spend unnecessarily when I become time stressed (the biggest factor by far), mad at my husband for spending irresponsibly, or feel social pressure (giving gifts and eating out).   Other ideas I've toyed with include not buying anything new, no online shopping or a 30 day waiting period.  What typically has happened is that something "urgent" or "unexpected" happens and I fall off track.  I need a better approach to address these areas where I'm weak.  FWIW, I have a decent amount of control in other areas of my life (healthy eating, get enough sleep, work out regularly, and recently dialed back my alcohol intake).  I just can't get a handle on wasting money and I feel ashamed of this as my spending is not in line with my values. 
 
Background:  Working mom of 2 (ages 13 and 10).  Decently high income living in an affluent area (ugh).  Lots of money wasted by my high earning husband, but I canít let his decisions here derail me.  I want to be frugal in large part because Iím so over the consuming mindset.

Iíd love to hear some ideas/challenges to help me with a winÖÖ  especially from reformed spenders!


Megs193

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 94
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2018, 09:26:59 AM »
Frugalwoods has an Uber frugal month challenge for January. You sign up on their website and they send you emails with challenges. That could be a good way to start. I also have a husband who spends more than me but I do the majority of the shopping. One of the first things I did was meal plan and only buy what we were going to eat at the grocery store. By the end of the week my fridge is pretty empty but we have much less food waste. I also set goals for how many times we will go out to eat because that is one of the areas that I spend too much money in.

Another thing that has been helpful for my family is only buying stuff that is planned. We had an empty living room for 6 months. Over the next 6 months I made a list of what we needed and I bought one thing a month. Now we have a couch, 2 chairs, a rug and a picture. My next planned purchase is a coffee table. It gave me an excuse to go shopping but I didnít deviate from that list. I do the same thing with my kids clothes. Because kids need new clothes every time they grow I keep a list of what we need on my phone so if I find myself in a store I can browse the clearance racks for whatís on my list.

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2018, 09:42:32 AM »
These are great ideas, thank you!  I've looked at Frugal woods a while back so I'll check out the January challenge.  I like the idea of the list.  It gives me some structure although I'd have to be careful to not add all the things to the list:) 

omachi

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 710
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2018, 10:02:01 AM »
...At first my progress was stymied by my super spendy pants husband who I will likely never win over to a money saving mindset. I understand now that I need to focus on controlling what I can control, which is my own discretionary spending...

Iím looking ideas of a manageable challenge that Iím likely to succeed with to help propel me to keep pushing ahead.  I love the idea of a no spend year, actually Iím a bit obsessed with it.  But when I tried for a month, I didnít even make it.  I find I spend unnecessarily when I become time stressed (the biggest factor by far), mad at my husband for spending irresponsibly, or feel social pressure (giving gifts and eating out).   Other ideas I've toyed with include not buying anything new, no online shopping or a 30 day waiting period.  What typically has happened is that something "urgent" or "unexpected" happens and I fall off track.  I need a better approach to address these areas where I'm weak.  FWIW, I have a decent amount of control in other areas of my life (healthy eating, get enough sleep, work out regularly, and recently dialed back my alcohol intake).  I just can't get a handle on wasting money and I feel ashamed of this as my spending is not in line with my values

I want to be frugal in large part because Iím so over the consuming mindset.

I've bolded a few things that stand out to me. The message I'm taking away, you like the idea of being frugal. You do not like being frugal. You have a bunch of excuses for why you can't do it. And when there isn't an excuse, you just pin it on being weak. You're giving yourself permission to fail and you take that out when the reality doesn't match the ideal.

Here's my set of three challenges for you:

Number One: Make a budget. This seems like it will be urgent for you if you want to reign in your spending. Do you know where your money goes? Even just the parts you're responsible for? Do you know where you want it to go? You say your spending isn't in line with your values, but without a budget you're really just flying by the seat of your pants. Take the time to put your values to paper. Include categories for urgent and unexpected expenses, within reason. If you're off, you'll figure out bounds on this as you track spending for a while. It's a process. But this will take urgent and unexpected out of your excuses and make them things you have covered. But do make them actually urgent or unexpected, a 30% off sale isn't an unexpected expense just because it was a good deal on things you don't have otherwise budgeted. Oh yeah, while you're at it, make it easy on yourself and have your savings automatically deposited to savings from your paycheck.

Number Two: Jettison the idea of a time based challenge until you're actually living frugally. It feels like you're in the mindset that such a challenge is the exception and not how you're going to live from now on. I think a no spend year is great for those who already have their spending under control and are looking to figure out what else they can optimize. It's not, in my eyes, a means to reform a spendypants. If you intend to live frugally, you need to accept that you're going to live frugally, not for a month, not for a year, but going forward. Not when it's convenient. Not when you feel like it. Not when your husband isn't spending irresponsibly. Until you understand that you're making a big shift, you're going to keep making excuses around reasons to not do it and failing challenges, not to mention the goal of long term frugality.

Number Three: Sit down and inspect your feelings around your husband's spending. I mean really think them through. Roll them around and inspect the various angles. Why are you so mad at him, especially when you can't reign in your own spending? How could your progress possibly have been stymied by your husband's spending? Did he point a gun at your head and tell you to spend, spend, spend? Why would his spending give you permission to go off and spend irresponsibly? Why is that even an option that comes to mind?

Look, I get that there's likely some peer pressure there, especially if you've been trying to change somebody that doesn't want to change. Big resistance, possibly followed by trying to get you to fail so he can point out how you aren't being frugal either. So yes, stop giving him reasons to resist what you do with your money. But at the same time, holy crap, take some responsibility for your own actions. You aren't over being a consumer, you're just over taking responsibility for it and are now pinning the blame on any external factor you can.

So there you go, three challenges, all of which are intended to get you to know yourself and your motivations for this shift a bit better.

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2018, 11:34:19 AM »
IRL I don't get a lot of "tough love", especially on this topic so it is pretty refreshing to see it here.  I agree with 99% of what you said.   I do need to examine of why his spending derails me.  For sure we spend money on different things so yes, his spending by no means should influence me.  I wasn't trying to make a lot of excuses for my spending, I was trying to show the reasons while I fail in this area in the hopes of addressing the underlying issues.  If that makes sense.  But I can see how it comes across as excuse making:) 

Numbers 1 and 3 I'm totally on board with.  I do have a budget, I do often (but not always) track expenses.  I just don't keep in the budget amounts....so yes that needs to be part of the solution.  Number 2 I theoretically agree with you on.  The reason I was looking for something time based was to prove to myself that look you can do this, and you didn't die.......  Which would provide motivation to keep going.  But I do hear what you're saying.   

I think that you are dead on when you say that I like the idea of being frugal but not actually being frugal.  Which I don't like admitting because that's what I want to change and why I"m here.  I have done it in other areas of my life (eg. wanting to be fit so making it part of my lifestyle even though it takes time and often sucks).  I'm sure it sounds like I'm looking for "get frugal quick" scheme and honestly I know this doesn't exist.  I'm really just looking for ideas to kick start a change. 

4alpacas

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1897
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2018, 12:00:18 PM »
I'm sure it sounds like I'm looking for "get frugal quick" scheme and honestly I know this doesn't exist.  I'm really just looking for ideas to kick start a change.
My advice is to start slow.  Look at one area of your spending that you can make a big impact with a little optimization.  When you try to change everything at once, you're probably going to fall flat on your face. 

For example, I started by cutting our housing costs.  We moved from a two bedroom/two bath apartment to a one bedroom apartment with a storage unit.  I could have fought my DH on the storage unit, but I was already cutting our spending by almost $800/month with the change. 

I then tackled my cell phone bill.  Then the groceries--it took me almost 6 months to go from $800/month to $250 (now I'm at a happy medium with $400/month).

When your spouse isn't interested, make changes that don't affect him OR improve his life.  My spouse was really happy when I started cooking more.  We went from eating out 5-6 nights/week to 1-2/month.  Also, my spouse is a big fan of grocery delivery.  We are both awful impulse shoppers, so the $10 delivery fee actually helps us save a LOT of money (and time). 

TLDR
Start slow.  Pick one area to optimize. Don't antagonize your spouse.

omachi

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 710
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2018, 12:05:24 PM »
It is tough love, but it wasn't done to be mean. It just seems like a classic case of having an ideal and it not matching up with reality. It doesn't seem like you don't know what to do or why you'd do it. It's just that actually doing it doesn't align well with how you've internalized living and spending to this point. And that sucks, so you don't want to do it. And if you don't want to do it and haven't made a solid habit out of it, you're not going to do it.

Given that you have a budget, if you're going to pick one of the things I challenge you to do, prioritize number 3 - thinking about why it is you're upset with other peoples' spending and how that relates to your own spending. Thinking about your own spending in general. I know why you listed your reasons, but none of your stated reasons were particularly good reasons, and so come off as excuses. Maybe time stresses, but there are better ways to deal with that. So really pick at what causes your spending, and if you recognize that it's harmful, what it is you're trying to achieve by doing so despite that recognition. Think about how else you could achieve what you were trying to. You may well find that you have some sort of status anxiety, fear of missing out, or some other itch you're trying to scratch that you're going to have to address first. The good news is that doing so will likely make being frugal much, much easier.

And being frugal for the sake of being frugal isn't all that helpful or fun. And you already know you won't die if you're frugal, so you don't really need to prove it. So what are your priorities? Why do you want to be frugal? If you don't have a strong connection to your why, it isn't going to overpower your other desires and you're going to be a bit adrift. Are you trying to buy free time with what you save? Just better directing your time by not dealing with needless things? Saving the environment by not needlessly consuming? You're going to need to figure that out. If you haven't read "Your Money or Your Life", that may be a helpful book that gets you thinking in a good direction. Do the frugal thing and see if your local library has a copy. Just ignore the investing advice if it's not the newest edition, the rest stands on its own.

fell-like-rain

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 70
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2018, 12:14:27 PM »
My 2 cents: things like "no spend challenges" are ineffective for exactly the reasons you noted- something always crops up to break your streak, you feel like you failed, and when the challenge ends you just go back to old habits. Good habits (IMO) are based on a couple of principles:

1. Make one small change at a time
2. Structure your life to help build habits

So if your goal was to run a marathon, saying "I'm going to run every morning" is going to last a week or two and then you'll relapse to being a couch potato. A better solution might be to plan to run every Tuesday morning- and then set an early alarm for Tuesdays, and clear your calendar Monday nights so you can go to bed early, and set a reminder to set out your running clothes the night before, etc. After a couple months, when the habitís set, go to Tuesday/Thursday. Then add Saturday.

In the context of frugality, you could look at your spending and pick out one area where youíd like to spend less. Letís say itís work lunches. First off, donít say ďIím going to pack every lunch this monthĒ. Make it ďIíll pack lunch 1 day per weekĒ. And research some good meal prep recipes and put the ingredients on your grocery list, then cook on Saturday and freeze something for the week so itís all ready. Or make a ton of salad for dinner one night so thereís leftovers. And leave a note on your work bag so you remember to bring it in the morning. Etc.

Finally, messing up and not meeting a goal isnít ďfailureĒ. Itís just an opportunity to do better next time.

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2018, 12:25:50 PM »
omachi
I didn't take it as mean, I think you are being insightful, which I do appreciate.  I do have an idealized view of what it will look like that doesn't match up with what it feels like to actually do it.  I want to be frugal for environmental reasons and because we do need to save more for college and retirement.  I will spend more time noodling over why.  Some examples from this year: I like things neat and tidy.  So when our couch was worn out but still serviceable I bought another.  Same with our dishwasher and patio doors.  I like to refresh my wardrobe with a few things each season, probably 3 tops and 3 bottoms things each season, because I like new things.  I didn't need those things.  I'm just struggling to control the want beast.  This sounds so pathetic.  I feel like spending has a grip on me that I want to tame. 
A few months ago I was feeling like alcohol had an uncomfortable grip on me.  I wasn't drinking a lot ( a glass a night) but it was every night.  In this case, I was able to nail down that it's all about the ritual and time to wind down.  I've come up with some n/a options to enjoy during that time and I feel so much better for having that grip loosened.  I want to do the same with my spending. 

4alpacas
Thanks for the feedback.... I've had some success with this although the habit wears off/I get lazy.  But I do see the value in not doing everything at once.  And yes, the spouse.... in my head I"ve let that go, but clearly I have not and need to!

4alpacas

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1897
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2018, 12:28:52 PM »
4alpacas
Thanks for the feedback.... I've had some success with this although the habit wears off/I get lazy.  But I do see the value in not doing everything at once.  And yes, the spouse.... in my head I"ve let that go, but clearly I have not and need to!
I have no advice on the spouse!  The only way I've gotten my spouse to cut back is by making the less expensive way easier.  Sometimes that includes more effort on my part (cooking more).  However, optimizing our spending is my goal, not his.

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2018, 12:39:52 PM »
The areas I really want to cut way back on are the truly discretionary items.  I do "ok" in groceries and because I make the effort to eat healthy, I always pack lunch.  If I were to prioritize,
I want to cut spending on: clothing/shoes, beauty products, stuff for the house.  I am easily allured into buying these items and they are the purchases I feel bad about because they are unnecessary, wasteful and bad for the environment.  I haven't nailed down the emotional  reasons I buy them, but certainly it is my habit to do so.   

omachi

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 710
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2018, 12:41:36 PM »
omachi
I didn't take it as mean, I think you are being insightful, which I do appreciate.  I do have an idealized view of what it will look like that doesn't match up with what it feels like to actually do it.  I want to be frugal for environmental reasons and because we do need to save more for college and retirement.  I will spend more time noodling over why.  Some examples from this year: I like things neat and tidy.  So when our couch was worn out but still serviceable I bought another.  Same with our dishwasher and patio doors.  I like to refresh my wardrobe with a few things each season, probably 3 tops and 3 bottoms things each season, because I like new things.  I didn't need those things.  I'm just struggling to control the want beast.  This sounds so pathetic.  I feel like spending has a grip on me that I want to tame. 
A few months ago I was feeling like alcohol had an uncomfortable grip on me.  I wasn't drinking a lot ( a glass a night) but it was every night.  In this case, I was able to nail down that it's all about the ritual and time to wind down.  I've come up with some n/a options to enjoy during that time and I feel so much better for having that grip loosened.  I want to do the same with my spending. 
Glad it wasn't taken as mean. The above is a good start on the noodling. It's not pathetic, it's just that you do not have a good understanding of the deeper why. Keep on digging and you'll get there. The drinking example is a perfect parallel. It wasn't that you're reliant on alcohol. It wasn't even that you wanted a drink. It was that you wanted a ritual to unwind to. You found ways to do that both without drinking and without feeling like you're not meeting that need. It's going to be the same with spending and flexing your frugality muscles.

In some of the above cases, you might have been able to be creative and spend less to get the same effect. Maybe a cover for the couch would have let you stretch its life out. Maybe thrift shopping the wardrobe refresh would give you the new to you feeling at a much lower cost. Maybe you could have stripped and stained the patio doors and given them a new lease on life. Maybe these ideas are deeply offensive and you have work to figure out why that is and further work on the mindset behind that. Maybe strengthening your environmental concerns regarding the impact of disposing of those items and manufacturing the new replacements, so that you feel worse about the consuming than you do about the frugal option, is a way forward.

4alpacas

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1897
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2018, 01:10:32 PM »
The areas I really want to cut way back on are the truly discretionary items.  I do "ok" in groceries and because I make the effort to eat healthy, I always pack lunch.  If I were to prioritize,
I want to cut spending on: clothing/shoes, beauty products, stuff for the house.  I am easily allured into buying these items and they are the purchases I feel bad about because they are unnecessary, wasteful and bad for the environment.  I haven't nailed down the emotional  reasons I buy them, but certainly it is my habit to do so.
Why not start with beauty products? You can just use what you have in the house.  If you don't like something, give it away in a local Buy Nothing Group. 

I went through a purge where I used all of my samples and used up everything before I bought new products.  And I tried out a cheaper version first.  I was able to cut out expensive shampoo and conditioner (my hair loves the Tresemme moisturizing line) and face wash (Cetaphil gentle cleanser).  I tried to love cheaper body moisturizers, but I couldn't get there.  Now, I make my own from shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil. 

I also do not stock up on beauty products (except sunscreen). I've reorder when the container is "empty."  While I'm waiting for my replacement, I cut open the package and use the rest. 

I would also not beat yourself up over slips.  You're working toward something.  It's not the end of the world to make a mistake.  Try to fix the mistake.  If you can't, move on.

Freedomin5

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2010
  • Location: China
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2018, 10:51:43 PM »
There is a whole thread on how to get your spouse on board. Read it over and see whether any of the ideas resonate with you/apply to your situation: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-convert-your-so-to-mmm-in-50-awesome-steps/

In addition, when reading your original post, it almost sounds like you see being frugal as "depriving" yourself of good things -- "no buying things", "only buying old things", etc. In contrast, your other healthy choices are framed as gaining something positive -- e.g., "I exercise or eat to gain health". You're not depriving yourself from yummy foods and sticking to old, boring, yucky vegetables, so you're able to stick to those goals. So, is there some way to reframe being frugal as Gaining something, rather than depriving yourself of something you want?

MrThatsDifferent

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1525
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2018, 11:10:30 PM »
Iím not sure if this is helpful, but I find itís always good to start with a goal. What are you actually trying to achieve? Do you want some event of FIRE? If so, what and by when? Then look at what needs to be done to get you there. Iím thinking that frugal for the sake of frugal is a bit hard. You also might need to explore this with the DH to understand what he wants. If he wants to work for the next 40 years and you want the two of you retired in 15, thereís an issue there that needs addressed. But know where youíre going and then work backwards.

sparkytheop

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 818
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2018, 11:44:46 PM »
No advice on the spouse (I'm single for a reason...)

So, this would be my approach:

1) What are your goals and priorities.  I don't enjoy saving just to save.  I do enjoy saving for something, be it to build a new house on my property in the woods, to go on an awesome vacation, or to provide myself with a well-funded retirement.  Some is stuff I will not see the benefit of for many years (retirement), but others I can experience yearly (the vacations).  Knowing any money I don't spend can get moved to "house savings" after building for a few months means that I don't drive and get fast food after work, I go home and cook with the food I got on sale/grew/bought from a farmer/whatever. 

2) Budget and always track everything, not just "often". (You could give yourself a little money you don't have to track, within reason.)  If you aren't tracking, how do you know if the budget is reasonable and working?  So, set a budget you think will work (and account for non-monthly expenses and things like car/home maintenance/repairs).  Track everything and see if your estimated budget was reasonable.  If not, adjust either your budget, your spending, or both.

3) Toss almost all advertising before it gets into your house.  If you get catalogs in the mail, toss them into recycling, don't carry them inside.  I don't have TV, but if I did, I'd DVR everything and fast forward through all ads.  Install an ad-blocker (or two or three) on your computer.  Don't browse online shopping sites "just because".  The acceptable ads would be those for the grocery store.  Food is a necessity, and it's nice to build a menu off of sales rather than just going in a paying full price or trying to figure out what is on sale while you're in the store.

4) Make a list of your wants.  Set up budget categories to save for those.

5) Leave room in the budget for fun, because all work and no play makes Jack an ax-wielding psycho.

6) Set short term goals.  "If I don't eat out for the whole month, I'm going to buy that expensive dessert/cut of meat/fancy cheese I never buy because it's 'too expensive'".

I've never been a big spender, but there are big goals I needed to save for.  This year, I was able to put over 25% of my take home income toward my "house build savings" fund.  Without the budget, tracking, and other discipline, I would have saved some of that money, but pissed away the rest on little stuff that just isn't important to me.

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2275
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2018, 07:10:56 AM »
Boy, have you gotten some good advice here.  So I am going to deal with the spouse thing (welcome to my life!).

The first thing I had to realize is that his reasons for spending are just as valid as my reasons for not spending.  When you have means, how you choose to use them is a choice, and independent adults have the right to make their own decisions (even the dumb-ass ones).  I used to get so frustrated with DH, because he'd just fritter money on unnecessary crap.  But I grew up in a frugal-by-necessity house, so I just assumed that was "good," and buying more crap (or more expensive crap) that you don't need was "right" and the only morally pure option.  But my DH grew up in a wealthier house, where the strong message was "you work and make money so you can reward yourself with toys and a cushy lifestyle."  So to him, the very act of buying something had an emotional resonance -- it told him that he was a success and made him feel very good about himself.  Whereas when I'd say that the $10 Walgreens sunglasses were just as good as the $120 Oakleys, he was hearing that I didn't think he was good/successful enough to "deserve" the nicer ones.  I couldn't satisfy my own emotional needs without hurting his -- I had to let go and let him do what he needed to do to feel successful (while, of course, working to help him figure out better ways to say that). 

So my first advice is to figure out your communal "why" -- why does he enjoy spending on unnecessary stuff?  Why do you enjoy it -- why is that the "thing" you have chosen to relieve stress/satisfy yourself?  You need to identify the emotional need before you can figure out another way to satisfy it.  And then you also need to acknowledge that he gets to choose how to satisfy his -- maybe you can jointly agree to some limits or parameters, but in the end, his approach is his choice.  And then choose your own path, with his in mind.   

I say "with his in mind" because from personal experience, "depriving" myself of things I want, while my DH goes out and spends whatever he wants, is incredibly destructive to the relationship.  I mean, he eats out every day, and I bring leftovers, and if I really want the mango chicken avocado salad but tell myself I can't have it, I will be pissed the rest of the day that *he* gets whatever he wants while *I* sacrifice.  So I have to find a way to give myself enough of those kinds of treats to be content with my choices.  Which goes back to the points made above that going whole-hog is a recipe for failure.  So what compromise would work for you?  Maybe one new outfit every season instead of three?  Or maybe give yourself a certain amount of money each month to blow on discretionary stuff (that's what we did)?  And then put your savings immediately toward something more meaningful, like a 529 -- you need to start building the habit of feeling good when you save instead of just when you spend.

And then in terms of managing yourself, read about stoicism.  Hint:  it's not about deprivation and pain, although that is certainly what I thought at first.  It's about strength and building yourself up.  The problem with unnecessary spending is exactly what you described:  you feel weak, don't you?  Every time you spend, you feel like you are giving in, a failure.  Consumerism takes away your power -- it tells you that you are a weak person, and that you need all of this money and external stuff to be happy.  Stoicism is the flip side of that:  whenever you tackle something that is new and hard and scary, it makes you feel more powerful, because you realize that you are capable of more than you think, and you "need" less than you think to be happy.  It reminds you that *you* have the power to make yourself happy, and you don't need fancy this or extra that. 

And it doesn't even have to involve money -- the point is to build your mindset and view of yourself.  For me, it started with crossfit -- to be able to do things like flip big-ass tires and deadlift 220 lbs was almost a revelation about what this old and fluffy body is still capable of. (girls didn't do stuff like that when I was a kid).  And then you just take that mindset to other things:  "you know, that's really cute, but I don't need it" -- and actually meaning it, as in "I am leading a good life filled with way more than I could reasonably have expected; I do not need a cute new top to be happy, because I have more than enough."  (Note that this attitude blends seamlessly into the whole "gratitude" philosophy, which for me is the best antidote to wanting more)

I think maybe you have fallen into some habits to address emotional needs, and you do enjoy the immediate endorphin hit from spending, but you are realizing that the ways you have chosen to satisfy those needs is not truly satisfying -- the high always fades, the stress returns, and you always need more.  So start by focusing on one of those habits -- maybe it's the clothes, or the "I had a bad day" shopping.  Set an easy goal -- one there is no doubt that you can achieve, one that doesn't depend on being strong in the moment.  Something like "I will write down what I spend," or "when I feel the urge to buy something, I will walk around the block first to give myself time to think about it" -- whatever floats your own particular boat.  Every time you meet your goal, pay attention to your self-talk -- focus on "I am doing exactly what I said I'd do," not "I'm depriving myself."  Prove to yourself that you can do what you said you wanted to.  Then set another goal that's a little bit harder.  Rinse, repeat. 

Warning:  as you set harder goals, at some point you will run into the nasty lady in your head, who will tell you that you are depriving yourself, that you can't do this, so why are you even bothering, you "deserve" a treat, you'll never be able to do this forever, etc. etc. etc.  Your job is to talk her down.  Honestly, sometimes I get really pissed off at her and just flat-out tell her that that is complete bullshit, and that she knows damn well that I don't need X.  Everyone has these tapes in their head, those recurring thoughts that you use to justify your own behavior and hold yourself back from your longer-term goals.  The only way you succeed long-term is by becoming very conscious of what those tapes are telling you, and then overwriting them with a different story of who you are and what you really need.

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2018, 08:30:02 AM »
Freedomin5
You are right that in the actual being frugal, I do feel a sense of deprivation.  Although when I think about I feel rather noble, lol!  So, yes a reframing is necessary as is understanding why Iím buying things I donít really need. 
MrThatsDifferent
I will set a goal, I think that will help too.  Thank you for reminding me.  On one hand I really want to make this wholesale change, on the other hand Iím trying to find steps to take to get me there.  A goal should be in this mix. 
Sparkytheop
Actually yesterday I spend quite some time unsubscribing to everything that was coming in as ads to email.  Iím afraid Iím more susceptible to ads/sales than I previously thoughtÖ   And yes, more time working on tracking is in order.  Iíve used all sorts of things over the years but Iím going to keep it simple in Excel for now.  I work on a computer all day so have the time quickly download and track transactions that way. 
Laura33
Holy wow on this ďThe first thing I had to realize is that his reasons for spending are just as valid as my reasons for not spending.Ē Honestly Iíve never thought of it that way and you are right, I need to change this mentality.  Iíve spent a lot of mental energy analyzing why he spends like he does but very little time trying to truly accept it and not JUDGE IT. 
Actually so much of what you said resonates for me- the sense of deprivation I feel while he comes home with all the fancy things.  Iím encouraged to hear how you have beaten down the tapes that play in your mind.  And yes, itís how I feel so weak about this that is really driving me nuts and feel ashamed.  My equivalent of your Crossfit is woodworking.  Iíve started slowly and Iím gradually building my skills and it makes me feel like a total badass.  I love it 
Iíve mentioned above that Iím going to set a goal (still working out what it will be) and Iím going to do this: ďEvery time you meet your goal, pay attention to your self-talk -- focus on "I am doing exactly what I said I'd do," not "I'm depriving myself."

You are all the best, thanks for giving me a lot to think about!


lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9632
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2018, 08:57:33 AM »
Re:  clothing purchases, try a system like the following:

1)  Do a clothing inventory at the change of seasons.  Sell, consign, repurpose or donate anything you haven't worn in 2-3 years. 

2)  Make a note of any staple item that is getting too worn for its original purpose (esp work wardrobe) -- this goes on your shopping list for the season.

3)  Before buying new items to replace those in #2, try all available second hand sources -- Buy Nothing, EBay, thrift stores and consignment stores.

Only buy new those #2 items new that you can't find through approach #3

katscratch

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1322
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2018, 09:10:57 AM »
With everything you've said so far, I think it is worth looking at doing the Frugalwoods' Uber Frugal January challenge.

The first year I did it, I took it very very seriously and really pushed myself to the extreme - precisely because it was only 31 days. I learned SO MUCH about my impulses and behaviors around spending and *things*. I took notes daily on the things I *wanted* to buy or thought about buying, and examined those impulses. For that month I truly spent only on things that are absolutely necessary to stay alive and stay employed. Everything else was a no go until February, which wasn't that far away.

I did it by myself -- the other people in my household weren't bound by the same rules although we already ate separate meals during the week (near-adult children) and they were fine with boring food for weekend family dinners knowing it was one month.

Once February rolled around it was actually fun to look at what I'd accomplished and be able to let go of some of the 'fluff' spending I'd previously done without thinking. YMMV of course, but for me, doing that challenge as literally as possible made a tremendous difference to my long term non-consumer mindset. It helped me identify areas where I was spending mindlessly and areas where purchases really were important to my day to day sense of wellbeing.

As an example of the challenge being a "success" in curbing consumer tendencies, I live in Minneapolis and didn't shop at a Target store for about 18 months post-Uber Frugal January, even though my commute goes by FOUR of them ;)  In the area of identifying my priorities, I know now that having a "fancy" beverage available is important to me, but instead of going out for a latte or a craft cocktail, I keep nice tea on hand for my daily pleasure and have cocktail recipe swaps with friends in the summer.

I think the big take away for me in pushing my frugal boundaries was that when making frugal choices IS a choice, it can feel very luxurious. When it's out of necessity (I've been there too) it feels like deprivation. So it's really, as has been said, about reframing your relationship with spending rather than being restrictive just for the sake of restriction.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2018, 09:12:51 AM by katscratch »

Fish Sweet

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 150
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2018, 04:29:56 PM »
This thread has been chock full of excellent advice. I'll hope to add a little of my own.

Your description of your situation sounds... a little like some ups-and-downs of some folks I know who do fad/crash dieting-- trying one and then the other, riding on the highs and then sinking into the lows when inevitably they don't achieve the results they want or they fail to stick to their goals.

It sounds like health is one of the tasks you've tackled and really succeeded in, and as I'm sure you know, crash dieting is no recipe for health or happiness-- only endless frustration.  As many other posters have suggested, now is a good time to dig into the whys and hows of your own psyche, because there's some shift in perception that needs to happen here about what frugality entails and how it should feel in your life. 

That said, I also recommend also doing some NON-JUDGMENTAL (BIG emphasis on that) examination of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses-- all the better to tailor your own brand of frugality to your advantage.  What makes you tick? What sets off your gotta-have-it o'meter? What kind of motivation and reward makes you want to keep plugging away at a goal, what turns you off it and adds to your stress?  Frugality shouldn't feel like a crash diet, like a rush of deprivation and the sense of 'starvation' followed by the high of consumption... and the guilt that follows.  Instead, see what you can do to play into your strengths and bypass your weaknesses. Frugality should feel like building your dream home, even if you're just surveying the foundation and sketching out the plans right now.  It's a slow process, laying things down brick by brick, but it should feel like growth, it should feel like creation, like reveling in the strength of your hands and your heart-- not deprivation, not guilt, not making you feel like you can't live up to your own principles. 

The last thing I'd recommend is to give yourself some time.  Time in all ways-- to grow into frugality, to build yourself in a way that matches your ideals, and also time to think about your purchases and space out the amount of spending that you do.  "I'll think about it, and if it's really important, I'll buy it tomorrow" is a good mantra, and don't let the world of FLASH SALES NOW and THREE HOUR DISCOUNTS seduce you into thinking otherwise.   

A personal example:  these days, whenever I feel my want-o-meter pinged, I've trained myself to spend a little time thinking about 'why' I want to buy whatever it is-- let's call it The Apple.  I want to emphasize that this is a judgment-free analysis-- everything from 'because it's pretty and I'm tired of my old Banana' to 'because the packaging is so nice' to 'I think I could really turn some heads at the holiday party if I wore this fancy blouse' and 'I want to show off my status with this limited edition boondoggle' is fair game.  Judgment leads to guilt leads to lying to yourself about your own feelings, which is no place for honest improvement.   

The next thought goes-- if my reasons still make sense to me, how does The Apple fit into my life?  If I buy it, where will I put it?  Will I really wear it after the holiday party?  If I look at it in a week, will I still feel great about buying it?  If I look at it in a year, will it still make me smile? How is owning The Apple going to make my life better or easier or happier?  Again, this is only an analysis, a gathering of data so you can make the best and most informed decision to live your best life.

May2030

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 55
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #21 on: December 23, 2018, 03:11:25 AM »
What has really helped me with frugality is the realisation I have enough stuff and donít now need or want anymore things. Think it was a MMM post that suggested this way of thinking but could be wrong. Coming at it from a position of depravation or going without is hard and requires will power to resist temptation. Mindful spending would be a better term to use. 😁

The change in mindset has not happened over night but setting a ďanti-budgetĒ was a start and takes the pressure off as you can spend to a limit. Having increasing F.U. at the end of the month is more rewarding and easier to manage than increasing posessions.


danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #22 on: December 24, 2018, 08:40:49 AM »
Thank you everyone for your feedback, I really appreciate it.  Here's what I'm going to do.  First, start tracking again... this helps me keep focused.  My goal is to double our "emergency cash" this year.  At least. 

In order to really process why I want a particular purchase, I'm going to delay the purchase to better evaluate why I want it, what need/purpose is it try to fill and see if can I fill that another way.  I'd like to say I'm going to jot down notes about why I want it to process and keep track but I'm a terrible journaler so we will see if I can actually do that. 

As I get a little further along I may do a no spend challenge but I do think that might be like a binge diet for me at this point.  I will probably follow along as others do them as I usually see some great ideas from what others are doing.   

Brother Esau

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 466
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2018, 04:54:03 PM »
What has really helped me with frugality is the realisation I have enough stuff and donít now need or want anymore things.

Having increasing F.U. at the end of the month is more rewarding and easier to manage than increasing posessions.

Same for me. Firstly, I appreciated more the possessions that I had. Secondly, I realized I had too much stuff. Hence, after giving stuff away, throwing stuff out and selling stuff, I'm at much greater peace in my space, aka no clutter. The FU $ has and is continuing to climb.

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset- Update
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2019, 11:22:21 AM »
I've continued to mull all of this over for the past week of so and came away with some surprising (to me) insights.  Just looking back at 2018, I made $15K of large purchases.  These were mostly "household" items like home improvement projects and furniture.  These are things I wanted but we didn't need.

nce I decide I want this item, the hunt is on.  I will wait a while to make the purchase to find the right deal, etc.  But I love the hunt... I love reading the reviews, finding just the right thing at the lowest sale price.  So, while I typically fret about smaller purchases, I've fully justified my larger purchases and hardly give them a second thought.  So, while I do need to put the brakes on the small items, I absolutely must stop the big purchases too. I have to stop before I get to the "I want this" point.  Because once it takes hold, it's like a monster to me.   Until I reach my goal (which is to seriously increase our cash reserves), no big purchases. 

Anyway, I'm glad I finally took some time to think about my behavior in more detail.  I think it will help me change it. 

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2275
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset- Update
« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2019, 11:44:16 AM »
I've continued to mull all of this over for the past week of so and came away with some surprising (to me) insights.  Just looking back at 2018, I made $15K of large purchases.  These were mostly "household" items like home improvement projects and furniture.  These are things I wanted but we didn't need.

nce I decide I want this item, the hunt is on.  I will wait a while to make the purchase to find the right deal, etc.  But I love the hunt... I love reading the reviews, finding just the right thing at the lowest sale price.  So, while I typically fret about smaller purchases, I've fully justified my larger purchases and hardly give them a second thought.  So, while I do need to put the brakes on the small items, I absolutely must stop the big purchases too. I have to stop before I get to the "I want this" point.  Because once it takes hold, it's like a monster to me.   Until I reach my goal (which is to seriously increase our cash reserves), no big purchases. 

Anyway, I'm glad I finally took some time to think about my behavior in more detail.  I think it will help me change it.

Congrats -- great insight!! 

And while you're changing those habits, see if you can think of something else that will give you the same "thrill of the hunt" as those big purchases!  IDK, maybe perusing grocery store flyers to develop the lowest-cost meal plan for the week?  ;-)  (Yeah, I know, not nearly as much fun as a big shiny new Thing -- but you have to find something that will scratch that itch, because just tamping it down forever is a recipe for disaster.)

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2019, 12:40:28 PM »
Yes I totally agree..... I think I'm covered until this summer as we are going on a (non-mustachian) trip to Europe so that is occupying my "research" efforts.  But I need a non-spendy alternative for the long term.  I like the grocery idea although I have some super picky eaters and a freezer full of venison to work though, and I love me some Aldi.  But ideas on that front are good for sure.  I used to do the coupon gig but in the end I think I spent more buying stuff I really didn't need. 

Basenji

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1036
  • Location: D.C.-ish
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2019, 04:14:01 PM »
Way to go! The first step is knowing you want to change. I second all of the above, of course. And I strongly support the idea of taking it step by step. There's a huge thread of small things people do to save money. You could read that bit by bit and see if you can apply any ideas. I also partly summarized the thread when we were only on page 78: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/what-small-things-did-you-do-today-to-save-money/msg744133/#msg744133

I'm a visual person, too, and like things to look "nice." One thing that works for me is to think a bit about what is going on in my head. So, for example, one day I was feeling stressed about a cluttered dining table and living room. I immediately thought something like "I need a new tablecloth." But after letting the feelings of stress wash through me, I realized that I should declutter the table and clear off as many horizontal surfaces as I could. Just doing that the rooms looked so much better. Now I have learned to do this over time and practice helps. Same for clothes: go "shopping" in your closet, get out all your shirts, for example, and see what you have. You may find there are some old things you like and it will help you not buy more. Good luck!

danakado

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #28 on: January 03, 2019, 06:56:16 AM »
I love that thread, thank you for reminding me!  Although I'm never quite sure where to start with it as it's so big!  And yes, I am committed to shopping in my own home.  I went through the whole Marie Kondo bit but parts of it I regret as I think I got rid of things that would have scratched my itch for a change in some cases.  Lesson learned. 

omachi

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 710
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Please help me set a goal to move towards a frugal mindset
« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2019, 11:58:03 AM »
Congrats on taking the time to think things through and on finding such a big place to make improvements. If you can reduce most of that, smaller stuff like going out once in a while won't look so ruinous. Not that you can't work on both, but it makes sense to tackle the big stuff first.