Saturday, 22 June 2019

The Joyful Frugalista

Serina Bird wants to reclaim frugality. "Once upon a time, thrift and frugality were celebrated as virtues."
Instead of being equated with negative words such as poor, meagre, paltry, cheap, insufficient or even skimpy, I want frugality to be associated with concepts such as creativity, appreciation, abundance, choice, empowerment and being enterprising and environmentally sound. 
For her the frugalista lifestyle is about financial empowerment. Don't live a life of FOMO and debt. 
There is a better way. And that way is to take control of your finances, to learn to live within your means, to aim to create more wealth and to develop a savings plan. 
Her underlying themes of self-worth, abidance and gratitude 
It is about being authentic and true to myself, and striving (in small, everyday ways) to make the world a better place. 
And our lives a better place too. Serina provides us with lots of inventive ways to find cheap or free goods and services. And to not be ashamed about that. 
It is ok to accept with gratitude the abundance that the universe provides. Something free is not automatically substandard, nor is it wrong (unless, of course, you stole it).
Naturally, Serina takes all of this very seriously. She has recorded every dollar she has spent for over 10 years! I couldn't tell you what I spent yesterday, or last week. She even makes a monthly income/expenses report. Like she is a business. While I can see how that makes sense to do that, I can't ever see me doing it. She juggles multiple investment properties, and has for many years, through her first marriage, and then divorce, and now into her second marriage. 

I particularly liked the section on The Power of Little Savings, teaching us that every dollar counts. I've been doing something similar for a while. I make lots of small extra payments to my mortgage and superannuation whenever I buy something and make a saving. A trick I learned from the $1000 Project. Serina talks the talk, and walks the walk. She buys second hand clothes and goes urban foraging. She maintained a $50 weekly food budget for herself and her two sons for over a year! I pretty much drop 50 bucks every time I go to the supermarket. Well, not every time, but often. 

I also liked the more personal chapters where she recounted her own story. Her marriages. Her habits. Her goals- she wants to be a billionaire! And yet doesn't like FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). It's a sad day when you realise you're already too old to set FIRE to your life...

Serina lives in Canberra, a city that has four distinct season, with a real winter. Well, as real as it gets in Australia. My town does too. She likes embracing the seasons and suggests that we think of our homes as a chalet. She uses the German word gemütlich to convert this sense of wintery cosiness, I'm more used to the Danish term hygge

But I've been interested in making my life more hygge for a while now. I turn on a sparkly light, day or night, just because it gives me joy. I've bought (and actually use) scented candles. I'm using a furry, soft fake fur blanket (the dog likes that too, dogs have an innate sense of hygge, though perhaps not so much as cats).

Each chapter ends with a Frugalista Challenge. Some of them would be easy peasy. Don't buy any new clothes or shoes for a month. Done. Try to reduce your grocery expenditure to $25 per person per week. I just broke out in a cold sweat. I am going to try and record every dollar that I spend. For a month! I've tried doing this sort of thing before, but have rarely gone beyond a day. We'll see how it goes. I think I might try it as a project for July. 

While I'll never be a Frugalista anywhere near Serina Bird level we can always learn things from such books. 
You can afford anything, but you can't afford everything.
I borrowed The Joyful Frugalista from my library. And so I've just transferred $29.99 into my super. The lessons from this book will take me into retirement. I hope Serina would be proud. 

Serina Bird blogs at Joyful Frugalista


Brona said...

Oh dear! I can blow my $25 per week just on cheese!

Good luck with the frugal challenge & getting cosy.

Heads up - I’m attempting to read Why Read Moby Dick? over today & tomorrow with a post later in the week if you’d still like to join me.

Louise said...

I know. I blew nearly $25 this week on prosciutto! And then just ate it. Without even bothering to put it with anything, it did make a 'meal'... Cozy is easy, frugal not so much, but this mortgage doesn't seem to pay itself!

I saw you had started Why Read Moby Dick over on goodreads. I'm still not sure where my copy is. I have downloaded the audiobook on audible, so will try to get to that this week. Although I've got work today and tomorrow, but it is only 2.5 hours. Surely I can do it??

I'm Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I come from a long line of Frugalistas. My dad started me early, requiring me to save half for any big purchase I wanted. I remember wanting to be on the drill team when I started high school, but it cost a hundred dollars for uniforms. It took me a year of babysitting to save up the fifty dollars. I certainly wasn't going to drop out senior year like some of my friends after it took me that long to join! I also paid for my own college.

When we decided to try to live on one income, way back in 1984, my dad helped us plan a budget. We had $1000 a month gross and out of that we would have a $350 a month house note. We went down the list of items and came to entertainment and savings. I said $0 for entertainment and savings, but my dad said that we must always put something down for those two categories, so we did, and we always have. I think you could include the extra you spend on food as entertainment, and cut elsewhere. Just my "two cents."

TracyK said...

It is probably hard to make comparisons because Australian dollars and US dollars are different? But only spending $75 a week for three people sounds impossible (here) and $150 might be a struggle. But I totally agree with the idea of The Power of Little Savings. We paid our mortgage in 2/3 the normal time by add more to the payments every month, and we saved a lots of money starting years ago by taking lunch into work every day ... I think it changed how we looked at how we spent overall. I may have to break down and buy this book.

Serina Bird said...

Definitely proud of you, and really glad you got a lot out of the book.

To be clear, in my case the $50/week budget includes food, toiletries and cleaning items. We're on it again and it is doable. But for me, the purpose is about using up all the clutter of stuff I have at home and reducing waste. In doing this, I am aware that there are many people out there aren't comfortable middle-class like me doing a $50/week challenge just for fun - food security is a real issue for many people.

And sometimes, we relax with it a bit. Like last week I was away travelling with work, and new hubby spent a total of $84 on food and groceries in my absence! He did a great job keeping everything running smoothly while I was away, and so what if he went over budget. (Imagine what a relationship killer it would be if I came home after doing some really fun stuff overseas with work, only to berate him for spending $34 more than he should have!)
Similarly, we went camping last month and spent more that week. We could have lived within budget, but hubby didn't want us to look frugal/scroogey as it was a group camping trip.



Louise said...

You were quite the visionary Deb! I'm terrible at planning a budget. It's not really something I've ever done. But I'm sure all those decisions years ago has helped your retirement now. I'm rushing at it all now- decades too late...

TracyK, no it would definitely be a struggle for most people here too. I'm sure lots of people would think that my efforts at budgeting/saving are somewhat ridiculous, but I'm making real progress.

Serina, thanks so much for taking the time to comment! It means a lot to me. I really find your examples inspirational. Just thinking about things in a different way can bring about real change. And yes, you do need to bend with circumstance- I'm glad you got to do some fun things overseas with work recently. And there is such a difference between frugal and scroogey too isn't there. Frugal is great, scroogey not so much. Reducing waste is also very important to me, every month, but particularly in #PlasticFreeJuly. It's a similar principle there actually, little changes can actually produce big results.

Sami said...

Sounds like a great book and I've just reserved it from my library. I spend so much on food every week and it's just 2 of us!
I came over from Tamara's Paris in July.