What does a frugal lifestyle mean to me?

A few days ago I was talking with a friend about the fact that my boyfriend and I are trying to live more frugally. When talking about it, she asked me how far we would go and what exactly our personal definition is of “frugal”. Would we only budget our expenses, or would we also stop eating out, get rid of our car, use only home made alternatives for care and cleaning products, stop travelling and so on …

So what exactly do I (and my boyfriend) understand as a frugal lifestyle? For us it’s about saving money where we can, being more economical and creating more possibilities to do the things we love and live how we want. It’s about living a “luxurious” life in which we want for nothing and have the time to enjoy life to the fullest! Realising that “luxury” isn’t about wanting more and more (more and bigger cars, more household appliances, more expensive jewellery … ) but about enjoying what you have and about doing the things you love and actually having the time and freedom to do it. It’s about creating more time for yourself, for being with the ones you love and doing the things you like. It’s also asking yourself whether you really need X or Y and if it makes you truly happy, or whether you just want it because everyone else has or does it, or because of how people around you would perceive you …

By being more frugal my boyfriend and I can stretch our budget, do more things with it and save more money. On the other hand, having less stuff, trying to consume less, looking for sustainable alternatives for things, means also less waste, a simpler less materialistic life and being able to live for less. All these things are a goal in itself, but also help towards our (life)goal:

  • In the (near) future my boyfriend and I want to build a nice house. Last year we bought the house were we currently live in. It’s a small house that’s renovated, located near the city, but still in a green environment (across the house there are even sheep, so cute). It’s ideal to live in for a few years. However, we like to build our own house that’s a bit bigger, a bigger garden and located in an even more green environment. At the moment we have a loan for the house, but our payment per month is really ok (1400 euro), so each month we still can save a lot of money. In four years we then want to buy some land and build our (dream)house with the money that we saved and the money we will get from selling our current house.
  • Eventually our dream is to spend our money in a smart and thrifty way, try to reduce our spending to the minimum (but still living the life we love), save a nice amount of money and become financially independent so that we can choose our own work-holiday rhythm (for example working for 8 months, and take 4 months vacation each year), or even retire early. It will take some time to become financially independent (we are still young) but at the moment we save a nice percentage of our income, can do all the things we like, live thrifty, discover more ‘frugal’ habits each day, and just don’t have to worry about being short of money, so that’s a nice start.

There are a few things that we like that are maybe less thrifty or economical, but it’s about searching for a good balance between these things and living frugally. For example:

  • I have a weakness for scarves, handbags, dresses and nice clothes. In my ‘student years’ I went crazy and went shopping a lot. Now I learned how to contain myself, and that it’s not about the quantity (as much clothes as possible), but the quality (it’s better to have a few qualitative pieces). But still, it remains a weak spot. I’m limiting my purchases, and in the future I will go snooping in thrift shops and go to swap parties. I first have to declutter my closet though, I’m sure I will find some lost or forgotten treasures.
  • I really enjoy eating chocolate and drinking sparking wine/cava/champagne or as we like to call it bubbles. I have to admit that my boyfriend and I drink more than our fair share of bubbles each week. We really enjoy it. So that’s not so thrifty, but on the other hand when we would go to a pub it would cost us easily 50 euro for one night. A good bottle of bubbles costs around 5-10 euro so we just enjoy these few glasses, cosy on the couch at home for only 5-10 euro.
  • I like travelling. There are so many places me and my boyfriend want to visit … When we travel, we do travel luxurious in the sense that we don’t go backpacking or drive around with a camper, we like staying in a nice hotel. We like going to big cities as London and New York (we went to New York last year and it was soooo amazing, it’s a wonderful city), and just walk around all day and experience the life in the city. Apart from our travels to cities we go snowboarding in the winter, and like relaxed summer holidays at the beach where we can walk a lot, get the know the culture and go swimming and snorkelling. If it were up to us, we would keep on travelling (as a matter of fact, in two weeks we will go for a few days to Rome).

So yes, sometimes I/we go crazy on things as shopping and travelling and enjoying our bubbles. But, we for example don’t have a dryer, we pay attention to our use of electricity and water, we are using home made alternatives for our cleaning products (well I’m still looking for replacements, at the moment I’m discovering the wonderful uses of washing soda, but that’s for a later post), we try to walk and go by bike as much as possible and thus try to limit the use of the car …. The list goes on and on and everyday we’re finding new frugal habits that can be combined with how we want to live our life.

So, this is what a frugal lifestyle means to me and my boyfriend. I’m sure that over the following months and years our view on a frugal lifestyle will evolve and chance. For now we just keep on tracking our expenses (it’s still difficult to try to remember each day to insert our purchases and expenses), keep on looking for new frugal habits (at the moment I’m immersing myself in the world of home made cleaning products) and just enjoy our life. Because we may be dreamers and have all kind of plans for the future, we also live in the present and enjoy every single day and live our “luxurious” life.