Frugal living can lead to frugal burnout. Sometimes it is hard to see or imagine real or fictional people spending money on vacations, cars, clothes, food, or activities, even though I am happy with my life and I am choosing to not buy things so that we can pay down debt and I can stay home during this season of our lives. I’m very thankful that my family is in a position where we have choices and I don’t take it for granted. Even so, the daily messages to spend, spend, spend, get to me too. Not having TV and mostly watching Netflix has helped tremendously because I don’t see many advertisements. Also, I try not to look at catalogs or window shop at real or online storefronts unless there is something I am seriously planning to buy. But I have also found a few positive actions I can take that help me feel the abundant side of my life.
Borrowing tons of books from the public library.
Nothing makes me feel richer than lugging home a bunch of books from the library. My local library recently started offering an RSS feed where I can browse through all the newly purchased books. I request whichever titles are remotely interesting and then they call me and tell me when they are ready to pick up. Not everyone knows this, but most libraries offer interlibrary loan programs. Even though my library is fairly small, if they don’t own a book, I can ask them to borrow it from another library in Pennsylvania. Occasionally, I keep a book too long and have to pay a few cents in fines, but it is worth it and far less expensive than buying even a few used books a year.
Sharing with others.
I’m always pinching pennies. But being able to share some of the rewards of pinching pennies with people and organizations that we care about is great too. Lately, I’ve been enjoying bringing meals to families with new babies. I loved getting meals when we had a new baby and I love being able to give this gift to others. The act of giving of my time and food to others reminds me to be grateful for time, food, and family.
Discovering fun things to do for free.
Matt and I have been finding and doing fun free things together since our first “official” date: ice skating for free at college. Over the last 10 years, both before and after adding children to the mix, we’ve cataloged hundreds of free activities including holiday parades, free zoo or museum days, library programs for adults and children, free university sports and cultural events, community festivals and concerts, neighborhood walks, visits to state parks, picnics, backyard camping, using coupons or gift cards for free coffee or other treats, free tours of public or historic buildings, mother-to-mother support meetings, sports or board games, and sharing meals or playtime with friends. In fact, we’ve found so many free or almost free events to choose from that it is an exceedingly rare month that we would spend $15 on entertainment. Our social calendar is so full of nature walks, parades, concerts, library visits, and so on that we don’t (usually) feel left out of the more costly choices out there. Of course, not all experiences can be had for free, so we’ll continue to use the money we save to afford museums, zoos, travel, and so on that require a fee. You had better believe I’ll be looking for a coupon though!