July 23, 2018
We have 2 anniversaries this Summer. Our "became a couple" anniversary, which also happens to be the day we got engaged 2 years later, is on July 18th. Our wedding anniversary is on August 18th. Easy to remember, especially with dh's parents' anniversary also on the 18th. He will never be able to forget. See how I knew that date would work so well!
At the beginning of our relationship as an engaged couple, we spent a lot of time dreaming but also talking about the realities of forming a household. Neither of us had actually lived on our own, so we had a lot to learn! The first hurdle was attitudes towards money. This was a big one and sometimes, we still stumble here, in different ways. It's always evolving.
Dh grew up in a home where funds were limited and moving was frequent, between community housing and apartments. His parents were not savers and spent each penny as it came in. When I met him, he didn't even have a bank account. He would cash his cheques at the bank and put all the funds in his pocket. So it was an eye opening experience for me to watch. I worried about his future dreams but he wasn't concerned. Just a happy guy with dollars in his pocket!
I grew up in a family that started with nothing but with hard work, saving and making good choices, ended up creating an affluent lifestyle. We were taught from an early age to save, save, save and only buy with conscience and intent. By the time I was 18, I had enough money saved up for university and to buy a house. I focused on creating a future without worry.
So blending out two philosophies together took great work. Dh had to agree that in order for us to have a sustainable budget with good income, he'd have to make changes when it came to spending. And I had to agree that I wouldn't live the life I had become used too. I would need to learn to let go a bit, that spending is good and that the world will not end if our savings goes up and down .... it's taken time but I've got it now!
For the first few years of our married life, as we figured it all out, we found ways to live frugally and still be happy. We bought a used car from a university student who had brought his family over from the U.K. to finish his Ph.D. They were returning to Great Britain and needed to sell the car they had bought brand new and had taken such good care of it. For all the years we had it, the only expense we had to incur was replacing the battery one Winter. We paid cash for the car, so there would be no loan payments. When it was time to get newer, bigger vehicle as our family was growing, we traded it in for what we bought it for! And negotiated the car price down over 32%. A great deal that spurred us to always buy new but pay the used price. It can be done!
We bought our first house the year we got married. It was four years old and fit us well once we got around to creating our family. A girl, then two years later, a sweet boy. By then we were itching for more space and more potential for a larger family. And a garage! So we sold that house at a profit and bought in an up and coming neighborhood. Not our ideal dream but my dad was a realtor and promised our investment would at least double in a few years. He was right, though our investment actually tripled. So we sold (third child had now arrived) and bought a sweetly renovated house in the community outside the big city, where the schools rank number one in the province every single year. That was an important and key factor for us. We sold that house two years later, again at a great profit and bought the next house, just in time for baby number four and a puppy. That house ended up being our home, our first real "feels like home" house. We stayed for over 24 years. And that house gave us the equity we needed to build our new little house in the country.
When we started this journey, we were both employed in good jobs. But when we were finally blessed with our first baby, we knew that one of us would stay home. That's a whole other blog story but for today, I'll keep it short and sweet. She became our priority and the frugalness really kicked in. I quit my job, a move that many said would be a mistake. But we never looked back and we know our children benefited from having a parent home for their childhood and their teen years as well. One income meant we had to make some big adjustments so that our basic needs would be met, so we could continue to build a rainy day/emergency fund and so that our family could still have some fun times and not feel they missed out because I stayed home.
My mom introduced me to a little shop by her work that sold second hand clothing. This was our intro to thrift shopping. We found so many clothes and toys for her, most of which were brand new as babies don't wear clothing for long. Many even had the tags still on ~ they had never been worn! We saved so much over the year using thrifting as one way to ensure our children and what they needed without breaking the bank. And they always got compliments on their clothes. Thrifty and frugal doesn't need to mean that they couldn't be stylish. It gave us the ability to take some memorable trips with them and let them have treats and gifts without worry.
Our eating was basic. No need for restaurants and junk food. In time, we would treat ourselves and enjoyed those experiences so much. Even now, with our two and a half income life, when we do go out for dinner. it's still a huge treat for both of us. But for the bulk of our parenting years, food was made to last and yet, again, our kids never went without.
We saved for special occasions, holidays, post secondary, our dreams. At times it was tight but we never, ever missed a payment. It may sound boastful but we have two credit cards and on both of them, we have NEVER paid interest. We use them for points but always only put on what we can pay off each month. I'm sure the credit card companies hate us.
I was home for 20 years, then dh came home for six as our youngest was just twelve when I got the contracts I have now. He's now been back in his position for the last seven years. With two and a half incomes, we are very comfortable and able to work our schedules around our life. It's a beautiful place to be. But truthfully, we're still living that frugal life. It's so much fun to still find the best deal, to make the most of our pennies and to live a life that is intentional but within a budget that has given us a measure of freedom. Now we're thinking about the next ten years as we figure out how long we'll work for and where we'd like to be for the next phase of life. Frugal living will still be a big part of it, I'm sure. I know frugal living has become a trend and I'm so happy to see my kids living with this mindset, most of the time. They are good at treating themselves but they can at this point in life, just like we can now, at this point in our long, frugal journey.
Do you currently live a frugal lifestyle?
Or are you interested in the key points?