Recent events have seen us breaking the number one frugal rule of not eating out*. Anybody with an ounce of money sense would know that eating out in restaurants/cafes/bus stops etc is not good for bank balances. It’s one of the most obvious things to stop spending money on but often one of the hardest things to stop doing.
This post has been brewing for a while, not as a justification for breaking our own rules, but as a way to demonstrate that frugality does not mean depravity. Our (new) normal mode is to eat at home rather than in public places populated with other humans. This rule is incredibly easy to stick to at the moment, as our own small humans are at the delightful stage of transforming into public nuisances when the words ‘wait’, ‘sit’ or ‘still’ are uttered. Not worth the effort or money. The last time we took them for a meal out anywhere it was an absolute disaster. One was under the table wailing, (for no apparent reason), the other kept legging it out of the front door and wailing in harmony with his big sister whenever he was captured and brought back. Not. Fun.
So basically it’s an easy rule to stick to. However, we want to make our frugal lifestyle a long term thing. Sometimes flexibility is required to make sure we can bend with what life throws at us, rather than break. If we had slammed our ‘no eating out’ rule into the faces of our uni friends when ‘Dave’ (who doesn’t know a Dave 😉 ) organised our annual Christmas reunion meal, we would be pretty miserable sitting at home missing out on all the fun. If I had done the same with my school friends when a meal in town was organised, I would never get to see them (or ever get to leave the house unaccompanied. EVER.). When my parents offered to have the kids for a sleepover last week, Mr. B and I immediately vacated the house in favour of the nearest eatery – no cooking+no washing up+no kids = Bliss! We even got to have brunch (I’m still in shock)! Choosing not to eat out in any of these circumstances would have made us miserable and cheesed off with frugality in general. That is not how it is meant to work.
Having made eating out an unusual thing to do on a week to week basis, when we do go out I have definitely found that I appreciate it more. The novelty is a factor, but a large part of that enjoyment comes from knowing that we can actually afford it. Before we started living more frugally, we would stop at a cafe for lunch or tea, just because we hadn’t planned timings very well, or, frankly; cake. Settling the bill always came with a twinge of guilt. My internal thought processing would be recalling the fact that there’s still two weeks until payday, we are close to the red anyway, there’s still a food shop to do, and in actual fact there are plenty of things at home for lunch…..This type of cloud has entirely disappeared from our lives now. The trips out recently have been such a pleasure because of it. Mr. B agrees with me, the day to day worry of money has gone from our lives. We still think about money regularly, as Mr. B tracks our spending daily, but the worrying has gone. For the first time in forever we are living within our means (I sang that first bit…). Bizarrely, frugality has made our lives happier; we feel freer because of it. And we have only been doing it for four months. This is totally contradictory to what cutting back and saving money is often perceived to be like.
As for the money we have spent on these indulgences recently, the meal out in town with my school friends came to £6.70 each, with parking and tip I spent £8 that evening. And the best bit was that I had sold a baby carrier through facebook earlier that day for £8, so I had the exact cash in my purse for once. Massive win. Pizza Express must hate us; we are the worst customers. The four of us rock up, order doughballs and pizza, drink tap water, sit around chatting for ages and produce a couple of vouchers at the end for 2 for 1 on doughballs and pizza…great evening. The uni friends Christmas meal has become an annual tradition so is easy to plan for. Tis almost the season for Christmas meals to appear left right and center and I’m sure we will see their effect on finances. Money tends to get poured into pint glasses in December doesn’t it Mr. B? Here’s hoping this year might be different (yeah right!). And as for eating out when child free – it’s worth it every time! We managed to control ourselves, though, and walked to the pub, instead of going into town and spending money on taxis.
We are slowly coming to grips with what living a more frugal life means for us. The benefits we have already experienced are totally worth the small sacrifices and changes we have made. Which is totally unexpected by the way. I thought I’d feel the rub by changing things slightly and cutting back in certain places but I really haven’t. By adapting the rules to the way our life runs we are making it much easier for us to keep it up for the long term.
*Take away falls under the same rules and is much harder to say no to. It is becoming slightly easier to resist over time – practice makes perfect and all that. Anyway, why buy food in when there’s plenty in the cupboards? Because it’s tasty, soooo tasty. No. Stop it.