Now and then I have a look at the terms people have used to find this blog. This week I noticed someone had searched under the phrase ‘What is more important – frugality or enjoying life?’. Bloody good question, I thought.
I’ve pondered this before. My initial reaction to the question was to think that the two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive – it isn’t either/or. But, on reflection, perhaps it might be a matter of taste.
I’ve made a concerted effort to cultivate new hobbies and adapt old ones to fit in with my budget changes. My own personal list of things that mean I can enjoy life while on a budget include hanging out with my family and friends, reading books, watching films, listening to music, going to baby groups, writing, walking by the sea…there’s more. That’s just off the top of my head. I also love going out and going on holiday but there isn’t room in my budget for much of either of those right now. But I’m confident they’ll be there again the future! I’m happy to trade a couple of things in if it means I get more free time to spend with Baby and can have peace of mind from having a bit saved.
But how does this answer the question? It’s all about definitions – how do you define ‘enjoying life’ and how do you define ‘frugality’? The way the original question is posed seems to suggest that ‘enjoying life’ costs a lot of money and ‘frugality’ equates to going without anything enjoyable. I’d say that ‘frugality’ means not being wasteful – not with the things you already have, the things you are inevitably going to consume in the future and probably managing your money well. This doesn’t mean you can’t budget for the things you enjoy. In fact, doing just that will probably keep you on track in the long term. But, if money is tight, you might have to have a good think about which enjoyable things are most important to you.
If the things in life you enjoy are more expensive (perhaps a hobby that involves buying equipment, or travel or even just cooking using more expensive ingredients) then perhaps looking at ways to increase your income is the best way forward. I love this phrase: ‘Life is short but the days are long’. If you can find a way to do the things you love while working a budget then, in my opinion, you’ve cracked the code to living a life that is both frugal and enjoyable.
But that’s just me. Anyone else feel like chipping in? Are the concepts of enjoying life and frugality hard to reconcile? How do you do it and where do you struggle? I’d love to hear.