Being Frugal Gives You Back Time

When it comes to an invitation these days I ask myself two questions before I respond:

Would I be happy to say yes if this were tomorrow?

Often, it’s easier to say “yes” to an event or responsibility that’s far in the future. I fall into the trap often agreeing to something only to dread it the day or hours before having to show up.

Now, instead of agreeing to everything and back tracking, I wait and decide if it were tomorrow, would I be happy to go?

Would this person expect me to come and need my help?

I wouldn’t want to leave someone in a difficult spot, so if it’s something another person would need my help with, I will more than likely offer my time.

Being frugal is more than just money. By spending less than you earn, not only do you take more control of your finances, but you take back control of your time which in turn ends up opening you up to passions that could eventually earn you even more income.

I love being frugal, because it’s such an individual pursuit. It’s a way to live that’s far different from the mainstream and you focus on what you value and what your own goals are aside of those around you.

For example, I no longer feel like I need to have the latest iPhone. Actually, I’ve never even owned an iPhone.

The lessons learned from our frugal journey crossed over into other areas of our life very quickly. If you’ve embraced frugality, you’ve probably noticed it shift your mindset in so many areas as well.

We have done well focusing on living below our means since 2009 and I’ve translated that into having much more time as well, while still doing a lot more than I did before.

After we started this frugal journey: I’ve had two children, owned a business, picked-up side jobs, changed my main job three times, moved twice, and became a freelance writer aside from learning how to garden, cook and bake a myriad of new foods, run long distances, and learn new skills like crocheting or canning; all while sleeping 9 hours a night.

Yes, I sleep at least around 9 hours every evening.

Chris has learned how to gut and renovate bathrooms, kitchens, flooring, rebuild entire rooms, move gas lines, move or re-run electric, fix a bunch of odd household problems, and he’s built us so many things with his hands I can’t even begin to share how much his woodworking skills have grown in a few short years.

Prior to hopping on the frugal train, we spent my days worried about our careers and at times only having one source of income unsure of what the future held. We lived paycheck to paycheck. We had no savings. A disaster loomed two times, but we managed to pull through on our own.

We spent our time focusing on keeping our jobs, instead of exploring our passions. We spent our week nights out to dinner, buying random stuff from Target as we wasted time walking around browsing, and pretty much were drowned in over a $100,000 in debt from student loans to car loans, not to mention a $200,000 mortgage. Have you ever left Target without spending more than you planned? Raises hand.

I probably spent most of my time hanging around social networks, and keeping up with the Joneses. I wasted my time and I didn’t use it wisely, just as I hadn’t used my finances wisely.

It’s easy to get caught up in what we’re “supposed” to do. One of the most freeing moments of my life was when I realized that I didn’t have to look as though I was the perfect mom, joining the PTA and making cookies for the bake sale. Everyday Minimalist

As we focused more on our spending and on debt repayment, we started to find we also had more time. We spent less time waiting at restaurants and walking around stores, and more time walking around the block.

Our focus shifted from unhealthy habits to healthier habits like walking together, home cooking, and spending time together sans costs, because well, we couldn’t afford that meal out if we wanted to pay off our debt. Our values changed from wanting things to wanting to spend our time how we desired and not to serve our debtors.

Busyness, not to be confused with business, has become a social norm. Everyone tosses around the fact that they are so busy. Busy doing things for other people they don’t want to do. Busy running around and never catching up. Busy, busy, busy. Just listen one day to most conversations you have and look for the word “busy.” You’ll find it every where.

If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” The ‘Busy’ Trap

And when you’re busy, you’re looking for shortcuts. Prepared foods, fast food, anything to shave five minutes off your day so you can fit it all in. Skip making your own coffee, because you can pay someone else to do it and save you a few minutes. Lunch becomes out each day, because it would be easier than planning ahead or taking time to cook a meal for the week.

Do all these shortcuts really save you time? If you think long term, you’re now trapped at your job longer to pay for all those coffees or lunches out.

Being busy is held up as an award these days. It’s so commonplace that it’s hard to get out of the habit. I know, I used to toss around being just as busy as the next guy.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. The ‘Busy’ Trap

It’s hard not to schedule your life so much that there is no free moment in the day. Calendars come blank, we need to fill them up!

Rarely will you ever hear me utter the words, “I’m so busy” these days. I decided about five years ago I did not want “busy” to become my badge of achievement or success. Unless I’m trying to get out of something I truly don’t want to do, I’m really not “busy” at all.

If a friend called me any day of the week, most likely I can easily say, “Sure bring the kids after school, or we’ll meet you at the park.”

Being “busy” means you’re not in control of your time. Just as not being in charge of your financial picture can be shifted with mindset, so can your time. You only get so many hours in a day; you get to choose how you want to spend them just as your dollars.

Over the years, I’ve actually turned down invitations that haven’t sounded appealing to me. Whether they were for pricer outings, or just weren’t my thing. Sometimes if I know it’ll go past my bedtime, I easily say, “no thanks.” It’s not because I’m busy, but it’s because I don’t value choosing that over my own well-being.

I do often say yes more than I’d like to. I have started to think about invitations to things in the future in the way of if someone asked me to do this tomorrow, would I want to go? I’ve become frugal with my time by asking myself these pertinent questions to sort out how I’d really like to spend my time, just as Chris and I discuss how we’d like to spend our money.

I don’t consider myself busy when I’m writing, reading, cooking, or playing with the kids. All of those things, I can easily set aside to help someone else. I also don’t consider myself busy when I spend time with friends, when, you know, they are not busy.

I equate being busy to being overbooked and that it might be a time to step back and figure out what is important to you.

As busyness has become such a pillar to reach for, I’ve tried to go in the opposite direction. You’ll find I’m typically running the other direction from the mainstream. I like to run!

Often times, I have a large amount of free time that I am able to use for my family, running, or cooking and baking which I enjoy. I love when people ask me in conversation, “how do you find time to do it all?” Well, I’m not really that busy I say.

You make time for what is important.

The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. The ‘Busy’ Trap

To us, it’s important to make time to tweak our finances, put money into savings, and focus on living below our means. To us, it’s important to use our time doing things we enjoy, instead of passing it away. Well, for me a bit more than Chris (he still uses social media).

As we’ve done this, we’ve learned so much and have turned it into side passions, side income, and future opportunities. Plus, it never feels like we’re that busy at all, because we’re doing what we love.

You get to decide how to use your time. You can decide to spend it doing things you don’t want to, or spend it doing what is important to you.

This matches up quite well with a frugal mindset, as it’s all the same. Taking charge, one day, week, or paycheck as it comes and making decisions that will grow you into the person you want to be.

But, I’ve got to go now… because a child or crocheting project is calling, a new skill to learn, another post, or cooking a new meal is to be done. Though, don’t call me “busy.”