Keep to your frugal ways

7 August 2018
I still get a lot of emails from readers asking for more frugal living and budgeting posts but this is the closest I'll get to it.  I think you either get it or you don't and for those who want to read my thoughts on saving, budgeting etc, it's all here on the blog. I don't change my mind. What worked 10 years ago, still works today and our systems stay the same.  And besides, changing your mindset is the most important part because if you can't do that, or don't want to, I doubt you'll see the forest for the trees.


Maybe my kind of budgeting isn't for you. I don't think everyone will enjoy working towards having and wanting less. You might want to use your credit or debit cards for general use. Dividing up your available cash into envelopes might mean nothing to you. And if that's the case, my thoughts on frugal living won't excite you.  There are many people writing about frugality nowadays. There are many more experts around since I started my non-expert, but carefully considered, advice.  I've never thought of myself as an expert and that is not due to lack of self confidence. It's more about there being no fixed and fast rules for simple life.  The basis of simplicity is the mindset - the absolute commitment to living well on a small amount of money, being a genuine part of a family and community, having enough and knowing it, even when it's much less than your neighbours are happy with and creating a life for yourself that revolves around what you love and the interests you've discovered.  We live and let live, we recycle, mend, make, grow and create and we do that with generous and accepting hearts. Each of us does that in our own way according to our version of the life, our experience and values, our age. The trick is to do it, for it to become your way of life, and even when times are tough, or you have extra money in the bank, you keep to your frugal ways.



Listening to experts might have us thinking we're not doing it right or that we should do what everyone else does.  Wrong! Do what you think is right. Life - the way we live it and what we expect from it - is different for us all. Rules can't cover the differences, experts don't know you, so don't try to conform to someone else's ideas on what is right and valuable. I encourage you to forget about the material life around you, what your friends are doing, what you see on social media and TV. Form your own life plan around what you love, make a list of your life values and create a life around those fundamentals.  There's no "right way" so don't expect it all to fall into place overnight. Start living your version of a simple frugal life, tweak this and that, reorganise, think, adjust, and mine your lifestyle for the happiness and practicality it holds. You'll realise one morning that it all makes sense to you and it works. It probably won't work for your best friend or the family down the road but it works for you. And that, my friend, is all it needs to do.

45 comments

  1. This is so true, frugality is something that just becomes a part of you.

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  2. Amen to that Rhonda. I was one of those people who wanted to find more information of peoples experiences with frugality but after a while I realised I was reading similar things over and over again. So I let that go and now we live our way. Of course things get adjusted but our core values remain relatively the same.
    In saying that I do enjoy reading about people's journey within simple living.

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    1. That has been me too. I feel exactly as you do.

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  3. Excellent post, Rhonda. I remember reading and implementing all of the budgeting advice you gave when I found your blog. I also followed Dave Ramsey's worksheets, and got out of debt very quickly. I have never gone back...I cut up my credit cards. I live on cash now, and keep a large emergency fund. Life is much calmer and more stable. I also listened to Suze Orman's shows and podcasts. She is so funny. I am even able to do a bit of traveling now, which I greatly enjoy. It's all done on a budget. It's fun to look forward to a trip with friends.

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  4. Well said, Rhonda. Being frugal is a way of life for us and always has been. These days it is not because of necessity as in the past as it is just the normal way to live for us now. Your blog is full of tips on how to budget etc. One just has to look for them.

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  5. Very true Rhonda, we need to live our own ways not comparing ourselves to others. I love my basic life but many do not understand why I am so happy at home and living a simple life.

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  6. Rhonda I discovered your book almost 5 years ago just before I was married. Your advice changed our lives. We still use envelopes, and now that we have a little boy and just one income, we are getting by better than ever, thanks to your tips. I tell everyone about your books, and explain that you are like a mentor whom I will never meet.

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    1. That is just perfect. For someone to use Rhondas ideas before debt and as a lifestyle choice. Alyssa that is wonderful.

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  7. I can’t remember when I first started reading your blog but it was a long time ago and I have learnt so much. Looking back I think at first I liked the idea of simple living but didn’t really live it. Now I realise I have evolved and know exactly where I’m headed and that when I stop working full time in a few years we will have the skills and knowledge to have a great retirement. I’ve started following a few more blogs along the way but yours is always my first choice. Ps If you do another blog workshop I’m good to go this time.

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  8. I live frugally because I want to not because I have to. I love finding bargains, utilising everything we already have and being able to treat ourselves when we want.

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  9. Hi Rhonda, I'm a new reader to your blog. It sounds like I'm going to have fun searching your blog for your frugality posts. I'm a big believer it not having credit cards. I haven't had one for years. I'd much rather not have debt than have convenience. I like the look of your books, too - there's a lot here of interest to delve into!

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  10. Thank you! I still struggle with debt on my small retirement income and will to the end of my days. But, I haven't gone under yet and am able to pay my bills and rent every month. My lifestyle is as frugal as you can get with no frills at all. My enjoyment comes from the smallest of things as well as my ability to be creative.

    Thank you for your inspiration!

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  11. How true. For ages I sweated over having a detailed budget but realised I do better on a percentage style budgeting. Same for envelope system, I see its wisdom but it does not work for me (although I do suggest it to others) I now use direct allocation of funds via bank automation to trick my mind into keeping its consumerist ways asleep.

    To be honest, I just think we like hearing you talking about it - we will never tire of these good basic subjects.

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  12. Rhonda, you are our a sage and wise woman. I love everything about your life style and your blog and books. The thing that I admire the most is that you were a consumer before you changed your ways. That gives your readers hope that it can be done if you want to do it badly enough. Even the post that you did today would be enough to peak a persons interest to go looking for the tag "simple living" and read all of your posts on that subject. Surely your readers can do that. Your blog is like ringing up a close friend just to say "hi". With that being said, checking your blog to see what sage advice you have shared today is akin to finding that you do still have a piece of chocolate left in the box, but you thought you were all out. Just enough to want more, like just enough of a post to cause us to scurry off to the topics to get a good fill of the subject. You write about what you feel comfortable sharing...we will soak it in. xxoo

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  13. Beautifully written and it says it all. Especially what works for you has nothing to do with what works for others. The thing that we learned quite quickly about budgeting and reducing and wanting less is that it is all about discipline and that can take time to learn and become a habit. If you make mistakes just keep going from there. In life we sometimes make the right decisions and other times we have to make the decision right.

    SunnyMidnight

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  14. Thankyou again Rhonda for your pearls of wisdom, I am a convert to the simple life and am not a consumer at all, however I will be sending this post to my dearest niece who seems to be struggling with what a lot of young families do nowdays, the pressure to supply the children with the latest and greatest, kids don’t need “things” they need a happy mum and dad working together as a team toward the same goal. Thanks again and I hope you have a lovely day,
    Fi

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  15. So very true. We were rampant consumers even though I was reading. Then one day I saw "Your Money or Your Life", bought it and read through. I decided to start practicing the chapters one by one and my husband was willing to go along for the ride.

    What I learned the most was to be mindful of wants. How much did I value it? Did I really need it? We had many discussions. Being frugal and getting out of debt took both of us committing to the process.

    Now we're frugal because we want to be. It's made for a well-funded retirement for when that time comes.

    I encourage readers to choose 1 frugal practice, apply it and evaluate it in your life. Then another and another......frugality will become second nature.

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    1. Elle,

      "Choose 1 frugal practice, apply it and evaluate it in your life. Then another and another....frugality will become second nature." I love that! Thank you for the reminder that changing your life style doesn't have to be a big jump in the pool, but rather step by step, until it feels right for you.

      Robin

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  16. Good morning Rhonda, I believe that we all have to walk our own path -however having wise and understanding people like you as guides mean that we are heading in the right direction supported by an army of likeminded travellers. Travelling by yourself can be lonely and isolating. You have created and maintained an amazing support network that encourages us all to keep going. Many thanks, Jo

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  17. I’ve been reading your blog for ages, and your books, too. I appreciate your solid advice on frugality and simplicity, and have incorporated much of what you write about into my own life. I retired recently and find that as time goes on, I need less and less. My family, friends and community are the important things now, as well as my own happiness, of course. Thanks for all you do, Rhonda.

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  18. Wonderful post. There's no one size fits all as our lifestyles and family size are all different. Frugality is like tweaking a recipe till it suits your tastebuds.

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  19. I so understand what you are saying, Rhonda! We all have to find what works for us, and nothing we can say will change someone who isn't willing or ready to change. I know people who seem to think our financial situation is the result of some sort of magic or divine blessing that just wasn't bestowed on them, but the reality is that we dug out of the consumerist and debt mindset in our late 20s and have spent 2+ decades reconnected to the frugality that we grew up with (and abandoned in our 20s).

    We're currently in the final stretch of paying off the mortgage (housing is expensive in CA) and DH will likely take early retirement as soon as we can do it financially. But first, we have four years of university to pay for our sons (both starting this month), and the goal is to do that without debt to them or to us. The same people who think we "have it made" are the people sending their kids to private colleges where they will live on campus, thinking that it's the way it's done and that living away at university is part of the growing up experience. Instead, our boys will live at home for the duration, and will utilize community college for their general education courses. Those families will spend the same on one year of university for one child as we will for four years for two children.

    We've used envelopes in the past, and now use software that works on the same principle. We also learned that it was best for us to get a month ahead, and so now we budget the current month with the previous month's income, which means all "envelopes" are fully funded on the 1st of the month. This is one of those "aha" things that make a major difference in getting away from the paycheck to paycheck mindset, although it can take a few super lean months to get to the place where it can happen. We also learned to determine our true expenses, not just the monthly expenses, and that is what helped us get out of debt in the late 1990s. No more does a car needing brakes or the tall palm trees needing trimming or the dogs needing veterinary attention derail our budget, because auto maintenance and repair, household maintenance and repair, and veterinary costs are all envelopes that we keep funded.

    But mostly we live our frugal, simple lives, and we gain inspiration from others who live theirs, without needing the "hows" repeated. When you share a recipe or project, we already know that you are coming from a place of frugality and simplicity :)

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    1. Looks like you have 'Nailed' it. I am a slow learner, but I finally got it. A lovely 'Auntie' told me her secret for managing money, but I did not embrace it till I was retired. 'Auntie M' always made their weekly pay cheque last for 8 days, so that every 8 weeks she had two unopened pay cheques, one to bank and one to open and start again.Now retired and dependent on a fortnightly pension I use this system, albeit electronically, and it works for me/us. Shame it took me so long to take the advice on board.

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    2. Loved this post. Great advise. Simply I know, but sometimes hard to stay on track. I'm trying.

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    3. Rieann, I think that is a brilliant way to get ahead with finances, and I'll be sharing it with my young adult children, who are not yet able to budget with a full month's pay.

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  20. The world could well benefit from outspoken non-experts like you, Rhonda. I've been struggling lately with the-point-of-it-all as the world around me seems to being moving in one direction so fast while I am trying to stay here and smell the flowers. This was helpful. I've copied a few lines down to mediate and reflect on. Well put.

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  21. I have been going back through your older post and have enjoyed seeing your garden and your frugal life style. We are a retired household too and it is interesting to see how others are living well in retirement. Thanks for sharing.

    CindyD

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  22. Hi Rhonda, I agree that we all have our own path but having you as our guide has for many been the thing they needed to start on the journey. You have become the friend/sister/mother/grandmother that inspires us and encourages us to keep trying, without judging our failures but always praising our success. "Visiting" you is such a joy and I love the emails that let me know you're "at home". Thank you for the time you take to share all that you do with us and of course thank you to Hanno and Gracie for sharing you with us. Take care x Kate from Tassie

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    1. I second Kate`s words. Your advice is sincere, so much of the information out there is from people trying to make a name or a profit for themselves. If I am tempted to buy something I don`t really need I ask myself, - “ do I want to spend money on this?” - the answer is usually no. Your words of wisdom have helped me to see what is important in life - good health, family, friends and a place to call home. Love the simplicity of the flower arrangement, beautiful roses.

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  23. Great post Rhonda and very sensible. It is all about our CHOICES. For example i went to the hairdresser this week because i wanted to and had not been for 8 months. In Winter gardening grinds to a halt where i live and there is very little preserving to do so the money from purchases for those things i spent SOME of it getting my hair done. I felt happy about it. Often people think living a frugal life means going without this or that but that is not the case - it is how we prioritise living our own lives that makes us feel content within our means.

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    1. This was classic- after i wrote the reply above my dh came home to say his overtime had now been cut. I was pleased we had not "relied" on that extra money to pay everyday expenses and for us life just continues on the same path.

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  24. you so right about all you said everyone has to have there own plan what works for me don't work for others

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  25. Well said Rhonda. There are so many businesses and people out there trying to convince us to spend money on what they think we should have.The older I get, the less I need so it is getting easier to be more frugal.Sometimes we have a plan and just don't realise that we do. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Pauline.

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  26. Thank you, Rhonda, for showing us the life you lead. You’re right, we either get it or we don’t. You are an inspiration to me as I approach my retirement years. Frugality is not a new concept to me as I embraced it many years ago. What encourages me is that there is so much pleasure to be found in my upcoming years. Thank you for showing me the way!

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  27. the warmfireplaceAugust 09, 2018 4:10 pm

    brilliant post, brilliant advice Rhonda, we have followed your blog for years and all the lessons I have learnt are keeping us going through hard times, Sue

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  28. Your blog and books are a constant inspiration to me and I am so greatful for this valuable resource. For me reading the blog is always so calming as it reminds me of the direction to go in- and sometimes, your to the point phrasing makes me giggle to myself for its truth..you either get it or you don't! I love that line because I think so often people make things which are straightforward so much harder than they need to be. You either get this frugal concept or your don't, it takes hard work, consistency and planning and then you are the road to creating a more simple life. Thanks as always Rhonda.

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  29. You have helped people feel like frugality is not a sacrifice and I think that is the best message. There is a big misunderstanding that the lifestyle means doing without and penny pinching. To me there is a lot of people working, sometimes both people working, learning how to save more and put by for emergencies and their future. People learning typical skills like bread baking and mending is a bonus and I wish more folks would understand and embrace that instead of thinking everything can just be tossed or bought.
    You have inspired many and I appreciate you taking the time to have shared so much.

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  30. This is especially great:
    "I encourage you to forget about the material life around you...Form your own life plan around what you love, make a list of your life values and create a life around those fundamentals."
    Thank you for a clear, simple, and straightforward post about being yourself. It was wonderful to read!

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  31. Amen, sister! We all need to learn to live OUR OWN life. Good parents guide us, but that does not mean that their way of doing things is our way of doing things. Nor our friends' way nor our siblings' way, etc. As an aside, I am not a great couponer, hardly ever use them. However, our local store had 2 pounds of Challenge Butter for $3 (which is a small miracle in itself). I went on line and found Challenge Butter's website offered a 50 cent coupon. The local store doubles manufacturer's coupons up to a dollar, making the butter now 2 pounds for $2. That is being frugal! Always look at the brand name's website to see if they offer a coupon. Keri lotion's website usually offers a $2 off coupon. I am someone forced into frugality at this time in my life due to my own negligent spending habits, but I will always be frugal even when I get caught up some day. Some lessons are very hard to learn.

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  32. P.S. THANK YOU Australia firefighters for coming to our aid in the U.S. and helping to eliminate the many fires burning down our beautiful forests. May God bless you all.

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  33. I think the reason people ask you Rhonda is that you have a proven record of writing and living this way. People know that if you recommend something it's not because it's suddenly trendy but because you've tried and tested it and it worked for you. I also think the fact that you never say 'my way or the highway' goes a long way in encouraging people to try things out. You're very clear about frugal living being an enriching way to take control of ones finances and material life not as a form of punishment or a sacrifice and I think that is enormously helpful to people trying to make changes to their lives. I read your book at least once a year and it acts as a kind of grounding tool to reconnect me with what I really want my life to be like. Thank you.

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  34. Thank you for this post. A group of us were having a discussion about living within your means today and we all go about it differently. There were also some who wanted to know how to do it and why anyone would get rid of credit card debt as they saw it as a revolving overdraft. It just goes to show that our perception of our individual circumstances and what is normal/frugal for us is totally different/unacceptable for others. Each person in this world has many differences so we all use different strategies to attain our goals.

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