As I was reading the news this morning, I came across this NY Times article about how Americans are changing spending habits by buying less and doing more. Dan and I must have been experiencing this recession for the last ten years because we have always tried spending less and doing more. Not that it's always worked. We still have credit card debt and struggle every month, but we try not to over do it.
For instance, I have not gotten a manicure or pedicure in about three years. Why? I just can't bring myself to spend $20-$30 every two weeks when I could do it myself. I give myself a mani-pedi as part of me time and I enjoy it more than sitting at the salon for an hour.
Haircuts come around every four to five months instead of two. I dye my own hair. I haven't changed my hair color in a really long time and only cover my grays (yes I have tons of them). I don't buy clothes unless they are on sale and I also get a lot of my clothes altered when they no longer fit me properly.
We don't go on vacations. Actually, Dan and I have never been on a vacation. We go away for weekend getaways, but that's the extent of it. Since we are celebrating our ten year anniversary this year, we are going on a "real" vacation. I am so excited about this!
I bake a lot of my own cakes and cookies instead of buying them at the store. We go out to eat about once a month and not to anywhere expensive (this might change to every two months and to a place that has better quality food; we're tired of the so-so food). We have a decent stock of wine and liquor at home for whenever we're in the mood to have a drink. It's cheaper than going to a bar and with a two year old at home, that doesn't happen often anyway.
We hold off on buying expensive stuff until it's absolutely necessary. For instance, we desperately need new living room furniture. And honestly, I get a little annoyed when people mention to me that so and so is having a sale and we could do a payment plan. The reason we haven't gotten new furniture is because I don't want to pay for it monthly. I want to pay for it in full. When Dan and I get enough money in our savings account where if one of us lost our job or anything else that could happen, we would be fine financially, then we'll get new furniture.
We splurge on plenty. This past summer, we went to numerous state parks to hike, picnic, and absorb the scenery. We take little day trips into the city or anywhere where we could do lots of walking. We buy plenty of books and read all the time. We spend more time with each other. I have to say, I wouldn't change that for anything.
Our frugal ways have helped us tremendously now that I'm in school and can't work as often as I should. We've been able to float by. Our savings has shrunk substantially, but we haven't gone under. We enjoy plenty of quality time together and nothing is missing in our household. Can we use more money? Sure anybody can, but for now we're content. When times are better, which they will be, we'll work on the stuff we need. For now, it is what it is.