As someone from a low income background who has never been a high earner as an adult, frugality is less an option and more a necessity for me. Luckily, I happen to genuinely enjoy a lot of the frugal activities my life is based on. I bike more often than drive, and I love it. I keep my air conditioning at 80 degrees (yes in Texas) and I’m comfortable. Most of my clothes are from thrift stores or clothing swaps, and I like what I own.
When it does come time to spend my money, I usually feel great about what I spend it on. Thanks to my frugality elsewhere, I have the money I need when those times arrive. And thanks to values-based spending, I know that what I’ve spent money on is going to enrich my life. I don’t waste my time or my money on things that I don’t truly care about.
When to Spend
I hold off on buying things until the last possible minute. I push my belongings and myself to the limit. This saves me money and ensures that by the time I really do need something, getting it is like having the heavens open up and a light shines down on me. I am washed in the joy of the spending. A true need has arisen in my life and I fill it, and I feel like a god-damned champion for doing so.
While not everyone waits quite as long as me, there have been plenty of studies and anecdotal evidence that show we derive pleasure from anticipation. (When it comes to experiences in particular.) And as Get Rich Slowly points out, we often buy things to enable an experience. We take the time to a) pick the thing we actually really want and b) we’re satisfying a need with that purchase.
One little note: not all the purchases that have made me happiest are big things. I started regularly wearing lipstick this year, and it has changed my life. I spent $17 on a Mac lip liner and $3 on an Elf lipstick, and each time I wear them I feel like Marilyn Monroe. I don’t wear make-up in general, but this lip combo has brought me a lot of joy.
Here are six things that I’ve spent money on that made my life better, and that I would 100% spend on again.
You can read here all about the tools I use to create Bravely content. But let me stress again the two things that I love the most: my monitor and my DSLR.
Y’all, I LOVE THEM. My monitor has been life-changing. Do you know how much bigger everything I look at is? How much less stress I put on my neck? How much more productive I am. Monitors- get into them.
And my DLSR has come in handy for when I travel and when I make short videos. It has paid for itself in the two years I’ve had it. I’m in no rush to upgrade either, so I see more years with this bad boy.
Weather Appropriate Clothing
When I went to San Fransisco in 2016 I borrowed a friends puffy black jacket the entire time I was there. There are only two seasons in Austin: friggen hot, and less hot. I was unprepared for the cool weather in SF.
As someone with family on the east coast and a desire to travel to cooler places, a puffy jacket of my own was a great investment. Not only have I worn the crap out of this jacket since I bought it, but I’ve used it as a pillow and a blanket on camping trips. It’s also great for Austin winter weather.
This might seem like a bit of a cop out. It’s not an item, it’s an experience. But still- even the worst trips I’ve been on have been pretty good. And now they make for great stories.
I’ve worked travel into my budget every year since college. I’ve taken one night trips to state parks, and spent three weeks by myself in England and Ireland. I hate to sound like an annoying Instagram travel blogger, but I really do think everyone should travel if and when they can.
A Tent of My Own
For a long time I borrowed all of my camping equipment. I’ve got very generous friends who had a ton of camping gear. Since I only camped once or twice a year, I relied on them to provide the gear.
After I decided that I wanted to do more camping I began to build out my own repertoire of gear. I purchased my own tent and I love it. I don’t have to rely on the goodwill of my friends and I can use it whenever I want to. It makes me feel like a real grown-up to have this item of my own too, even if it has to live in my car because I don’t have enough storage space in my house.
Until very recently, all of my kitchen knives, and most of my kitchen gear came from Goodwill or Marshalls. And to be quite honest, I’ll probably get more stuff there in the future! However, good knives can’t be found at Goodwill, and good knives are an adulting must.
For too damn long I cooked with dull knives. It honestly became a safety hazard. My partner put his foot down and ordered these knives from Amazon, and it has made a huge difference. It’s so much easier to cut things! This small upgrade (because true cooks out there will know these aren’t even THAT good) has made my life easier and I’m grateful to the boyfriend for making the call.
A Good Couch
When I first moved to Austin, my roommate at the time and I bought a used couch from Craigslist for $125. I kept that couch for FIVE YEARS. I moved it from an apartment to a house to a duplex to another apartment.
It was not a good couch. It was micro-fiber suede, which meant that in the Texas heat it was a couch you got sweaty on. It was a beige color that got duller and darker with each year. By the time I finally got a new couch I hated the old one so much.
My new couch is a mid-range model from Ikea and certainly no $3,000 couch. However it’s more appropriately sized for our apartment, a better fabric, and much firmer (aka better for our backs.) It was time for a new couch and this one makes me so, so happy.
All of these things are purchases that I’ve made after exhausting all my other frugal options. I’m certainly not one to push unnecessary purchases on anyone, including myself! Still, every single one of these items has brought me immense joy, and helped me ultimately build towards the life that I really want to be living.