Thursday, 16 February 2012

Finding the balance

My frugal drive has fallen to pieces since the start of 2012. By the standards of most people I've not gone crazy with my spending, but I'm not happy with it myself. My problem has always been Frittering; spending a pound (or two, or three...) on bits and pieces that I don't really need or want. It's all built up little by little and really it's not the amount I've spent that's the issue for me (I've not over spent or made myself skint), it's the attitude, the habit. Last year I got really good at saying 'No' to myself and what a difference it made. My resistance to spending on silly little things increased dramatically. On the other hand it got to the point where, at times, I felt like I was really missing out and living pretty shabbily. So I suppose the point of all this really is that I've learnt that I need to find a balance between wasting money and spending nothing at all. I want to find the sweet spot where I don't fritter money away but where I also don't feel like I'm depriving myself of all the fun. When I was being full on frugal I felt guilty over little things I love like a cup of coffee and a cake in my favourite cake shop at a weekend, a new lipstick or some yarn. Lately I've enjoyed myself more and not felt guilty about it but at the same time I've not felt fully in control of my spending, and there have been plenty of times in the past two months where I've definitely wasted money that I could have done with using for something else.
So here's my plan:

1) I'll go back to writing down everything I spend. Knowing that it would have to go in the book made a big difference to my spending last year.

2) Re-assess my overall budget to update myself on what I have and where it goes.

3) Open a long put off savings account for a mortgage; it's a long, long way off given our financial situation, but a house of our own is something me and Mr CB both long for. I'll be sure to have the money transferred to savings just after I get paid too - if it's not in my everyday account I won't be able to spend it.

4) Household inventory; last year I went through groceries, toiletries, clothes and craft stuff to get an idea of what I had already. At the time I discovered food cupboard and frozen groceries to make 13 meals and enough stashed toiletries to last for months, not to mention yarn I didn't even know I had. Looking at the clutter in my house I think it could be similar this time too.

5) Avoid cheap chain stores. Too much temptation to buy something cheaply made for instant gratification only to find it falling apart after a few wears. So I think I need to get into the mind set of I either buy it from a charity shop (which also has the advantage of the thrill of the hunt and money going to a good cause) or save up for a good quality version.

That's a good start for the thrifty side of things but I think I'm going to have to work on my attitude towards money in general in order to find the balance - not to worry about it all the time and miss out on things I love doing but not to waste it.

Have you got any favourite frugal tips? Or advice on striking the balance? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, it's something I'm interested in and I find a lot of inspiration for beautiful but thrifty living on people's blogs.


  1. I've cut my housekeeping money to £100 per month so that I can overpay the mortgage. I have gone slightly over this month by a couple of pounds, but last month I spent less than £70.J has a small amount of money each week to play 5 a side football; I have a small amount so that I can go to the carboot or the charity shops. If we didn't have that we would feel deprived. I have managed to sell on a few things, so that money is helping to pay for the kitchen renovations. We need to feel like we are still living , not just existing, and that small amount of money each helps us do just that.My life is going to be like this forever as far as finances are concerned, so we have to feel like we are living. We're not like some people who go without everything and have short term financial pain to pay off debts and then have a huge disposable income after that.

  2. It is hard to find a balance, but somehow when we are determined we manage to find that balance. As Scarlet just mentioned, we need to feel like we are still living...It is ok to have a coffee and a sinful dessert and to enjoy it. We need to live life to the fullest and not waste our energy on guilt. Have a great day Crafty Blueberry, you will find the balance you are looking for!

  3. I empathise as I am a fritterer too, now mostly reformed, but still prone to the occasional lapse. We are all different personalities, all you can do is your best - you are a lot more focused than most of the population! I agree with Lex too, it's not good to spend too much time on energy on negative thinking like guilt.
    Take care x

  4. Its very easy to fall off the wagon now and again and it happens to everyone. The best thing to do is not to beat yourself up about any money you may have wasted recently and just start being frugal again. Tomorrow is another day.

  5. After a couple of months of loosing track of things it feels good to be getting a handle on things again. I think the unintentional lapse has been good as it's got me out of obsessing over money and setting myself unachievable savings goals and now I'm able to look at things with a calmer mind and save more realistically. I think it's important too to find little ways to feel abundant without spending in order to try to buy that feeling (as so many adverts would have us do).

    Lavender Attic - maybe we should found Fritterers Annonymous for relapsing fritteres!

    Frugal Living UK - tomorrow is indeed another day, and it's a good thing to be reminded of, thanks - so often a fresh start is available every day if we make the attempt.

    Scarlet and Lex - feeling like I'm still living, that's exactly the balance I'm looking for - it's more of a sustainable long term plan that way.

  6. I gave up work two years ago and found that I had to change my spending habits. I would think nothing of money flying out of my purse, but that had to stop otherwise I'd have to find another job. One thing which which saved quite a bit of money was days out. We would go to places where there were admission charges or costs involved, and these tend to add up when you're a family of four, then we'd buy food to eat whilst we were out. Now we have days out which don't cost anything, or cost very little. We take a picnic with us, which is probably healthier and tastier than what we used to buy anyway. We haven't had to cut out our days out, but we can now do things which cost very little, and most times, nothing at all. I've just discovered your blog and have enjoyed reading your previous posts. I see that you had a trip to Lotherton Hall which is only five or ten minutes away from where I live. I've got a season ticket so it costs me nothing for parking and I often walk the dog there.

  7. There are so many free places to visit in West Yorkshire, I've been spoilt for choice since moving here. None of the places charging admission fees seem worth it when there's so many free things, though Harewood House near Leeds is worth a visit between October and March if you get the chance as it's half price entry (£5 per car) and the grounds are large, with free entry to part of the house too, a bird garden and a big play area.

    Like you Jo we bring a picnic, and planning what we'll bring is part of the fun. Sitting down to sandwiches,cake and a Thermos of coffee brings back memories of getting excited as a child when my dad took the big blue picnic bag out of the cupboard. I think Lotherton Hall is lovely, it's a beautiful place to be at any time of the year,there's a good feeling to the place