You Tell Me: What’s the Hardest Part About Being Frugal?

Being frugal isn’t always easy. I’ll be honest and admit there are some weeks I’m much more frugal than others. Sometimes I do it all. I shop three different stores, carefully matching coupons to sales prices. I make breakfast from scratch in the morning. I line dry my laundry on nice days.

And then there are other weeks. We hit McDonald’s, instead of eating at home. I realize I’m out of bread, so I run to the nearest store with the highest prices to pick up a loaf. I don’t plan my errands well enough to get gas at Costco, and I end up spending more at a different gas station, because I need gas NOW. But why? Why is it easier to be frugal one week and not another? It comes down to a couple of reasons.

Not Enough Time

Between homeschooling and blogging, I don’t have a lot of free time. What little free time I have, I want to spend with my family. Some weeks are better than others, and I can squeeze everything in. But other weeks are insane. We rush from activity to activity, and I fill in the spare moments with my blogging. It seems on some days I barely have enough time to do a load of laundry at all, much less spend the extra time to hang a load on the laundry line.

Not Enough Organization

More often, a lack of organization is my problem. Yes, I’m busy. That’s a fact. But if I were more organized, lack of time wouldn’t be as much of a problem. For instance, I know there are going to be days that don’t go as planned. That’s a fact of life. If I have dinner in the freezer or pantry ingredients on hand for nights like that, I don’t need to stop by McDonald’s on the way home. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes I’m prepared, and sometimes I’m not.

Adjusting to homeschooling really threw me this year. It took a lot of mental energy to learn a new routine. In the end we excelled at school. I found time to work. But my household organization suffered a big blow. When school is over in three more weeks, I plan on working a little harder on a system to keep the household running smoothly, so I don’t have as many “what now?’” moments.

These are my two top struggles when trying to live frugally. What are yours? Peer pressure? Lack of frugal know-how? Is being frugal easy for you all the time? Or are there weeks when you struggle, too? If you struggle, what seems to trigger it?

Photo by LWY.



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By , on Apr 1, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{46 Comments}

  1. marci357:

    Friends… the more I think about this question, the more the answer is Friends…. I find it hard to believe that some of them can be so clueless about money, so deep in debt, so floundering, without a thought of trying to get out of their messes…. and the hardest part is trying to understand WHY they don’t GET it….

    I realize, to each his own, but I just don’t understand them at all! :(

  2. Linda Clark:

    Gals, I am a 65 yr old who spent her life being frugal. Sometimes because I needed to and other times because I wanted to. Rest assured, it will pay off for you in your later years. Hubby and I have a nice paid for home no debt and can afford yearly European vacations. We are wearing yard sale clothes and I pride myself on how cheaply I can feed us healthy food. Dont ever give up the thrifty mindset. You will be so glad in your retirement years. Hang in there!

  3. Time is my biggest hurdle to staying frugal, though it’s tied with our kids. Every once in a while, there’s a day that’s just CRAZY busy (why do important things all seem to land on the same day?). I try to plan for these days, but the days don’t always cooperate. Maybe if I could clone myself, it could all happen. What I’ve come up with this — I plan “intermediate” strategies — not the most frugal, but “frugal backups” so we don’t have to resort to the most expensive option — ie. fast food in place of a homemade meal.

    My second biggest hurdle is the conveniences of where we live. I grew up in a rural area — the closest market was 20 minutes away, in good weather. Around here, most people think nothing of running out to get just one thing from the store. They don’t see the time and money lost (both by not shopping smart, and the cost to get there and back for just one item) by doing so. Most of our friends and our kids’ friends do not live frugally, and it’s difficult sometimes for the kids to understand why our lives are different.

    In the end, we’re all “on board” with our choice to live frugally, despite temptations and some stumbles along the way! It’s a journey, and I’m learning along the way.

  4. Anna:

    I usually do well being frugal… I even went so far as to save $500 from Jan to March. Then the stress of losing my good friend to an accident de-railed me. I stopped caring if the laundry was getting hung on the line, or if the groceries were getting done… and when there wasn’t anything of interest in the fridge, I’d take the kids out for supper. Retail therapy is what I turned to hours after I heard the news.
    Also, having a hubby who insists on not living frugal does make things a little harder (I can happily live without the cable bill!).

  5. Shannon:

    I think you nailed it on the head… time and organization are key in being frugal and those are my two hardest subjects to tackle as well! Time because I have an 11 month old with another one on the way and I feel like I should be spending every available minute with her since I will be so busy once the new baby arrives. Also I feel my husband gets shorted on “QT” because after the baby goes to sleep I am usually working on my blog or organizing coupons or planning shopping trips for the next day. I really need to manage my time better so everyone gets what they need. And certainly when I am disorganized, everything takes twice as long and I get flustered and it makes you want to give up. It’s a lot to keep up with. So I can COMPLETELY sympathize, and it’s nice to know I am not alone! Thanks for the great post!

  6. THERESA:

    BEING FRUGAL DOES TAKE TIME AND PLANNING. FORTUNATLY I DO HAVE SOME TIME I MAKE ALL MEALS FROM SCRATCH AND I HAVE TO WE LIVE 20 MILES FROM NEAREST STORE SO RUNNING TO THE STORE IS NOT AN OPTION WHEN YOU DO GO OUT YOU MAKE IT COUNT. MY BIGGEST PROBLEM IS GETTING STORES TO EXCEPT COUPONS. YES EVEN WALMART GIVES ME GRIEF ABOUT COUPONS ESPECIALLY PRINTER ONES. JUST HANG IN THERE LYNNAE IT WILL GET EASIER

  7. Diana:

    Eeew – that picture is enough to make me sware off fast foods! On the other hand, it is sad that eating fast food is often much cheaper than a healthy home-prepared meal. After being out of work for a year, when I do get to eat, it’s fast food because it is so cheap for a single person. On the upside, I’ve lost 30 pounds in two months. :0)

  8. Michelle H.:

    I find that I “cycle” through being frugal and not so frugal. I’m not sure exactly why though… Sometimes I can put my finger on the reason –such as maybe a tough month financially just demotivates me–but other times I just don’t “feel the frugal”. Wish I could be more consistent!
    Good thought-provoking post! I like these type much better too.

    • Sarah:

      That sound like me.

    • Sarah:

      That sounds like me.

  9. Simple in France:

    Time and planning are biggies, as you mention. Also, I’d say just plain exhaustion. A couple things I do to combat that:
    Have cheap and ready food in the freezer–leftovers, for example.
    Have habits–for example, get gas every Monday after work whether you *need* it or not because you’re right by the cheap gas station.

  10. DeeAnn:

    I was a homeschooling Mom. My DS has moved out of the home and started his own life. I am very frugal. I did all the things you did cut coupons, plan perfectly and we ate out a lot. DH was working long stressful hours and then he would come home to teach our 10 year old son Calculus and Geometry. My DS also had a genius IQ. Something had to give it was either give our son a shoddy education so we could cook frugal meals. Give him an outstanding education and go to one of our healthy restaurants. We chose the latter.

    I balanced this out by cutting coupons, doing everything frugal. Now my DS is out of the home. I do not cut coupons, make everything I can, shop only at outlet and thrift stores. I do make a weekly $20 Target or WalMart trip. We use our small grocery store for $20 in groceries. Our life is more frugal and fulfilled than ever.

    Do not worry about the checks and balances. It does average out. Being a homeschool Mom is very hard. Your doing a great job. Your story is very similar to many homeschool parents of today.

  11. Erin:

    We’re homeschoolers,too, and my no fast-food-experiment more than a year ago showed me that we use a trip for a soda as a way of getting out of the house and breaking up our days. It is not about not having food ready, it is not about not having time, it is about wanting to get out of the house (especially after the winter doldrums). I face a constant challenge in this…gas needs to be figured in, too. So, while we’ve replaced $12.00 trips for fast food with $3.00 trips for a soda, I’m still spending the gas and we’re still dreaming up reasons to get out of the house. This is being compounded by my husband’s year-long absence (overseas job). With gas heading back up, that habit has to away. One day at a time, one day at a time.

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