Like most people, Aaron and I didn’t know much about how to handle money when we first got married. Mind you, we were only twenty when we said ‘I do,’ but it took us a good portion of our twenties to even recognize that taking our finances seriously mattered.
When our oldest turned 10, we really felt the need to get our acts together. Those ten years flew by and we knew the next eight would as well. When we had kids I knew that I wanted to provide some sort of financial nest egg for them once they headed off to college or into a career, but at this point in our lives, it wasn’t looking like that would be a realistic possibility.
So, we got to work. And through this process we’ve not only tackled a huge amount of debt, but we’ve learned quite a bit about ourselves as well. Looking back, here are just a few of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
We really don’t need a whole lot of stuff. One of the biggest realizations we had early on in this process was that we didn’t need as much stuff as we were typically buying. When we started to look for ways to cut our spending, we began to realize that a grocery trip was never just a grocery trip. We’d shop at Meijer or Walmart and end up buying products outside the grocery aisles we didn’t even need, but would find at a great price.
Once we realized this, we stopped shopping at these locations for our weekly grocery trip and chose a store that primarily had only the groceries we needed. And we don’t really miss all that stuff that randomly filled our carts and our homes years ago.
Life is still enjoyable even when you’re frugal. Actually, it may be even more enjoyable! As we’ve spent less over the years, I’ve found myself more grateful for what I do have. We’ve also discovered that there are plenty of ways to enjoy your time together that don’t cost anything extra. That’s why we’re always trying to highlight free and fun activities for local families to participate in. It is possible to enjoy quality time together without spending a lot of cash.
Cooking tasty meals just takes practice. When Aaron and I first got married, I remember making him homemade goulash… and it was awful! He tried really hard to look happy with the meal, but the truth was, it was TERRIBLE! This resulted in us eating at restaurants way too often early in our marriage. But when we got serious about our finances, we realized that cooking meals that taste great at home just takes practice.
I feel much more comfortable in the kitchen then I did all those years ago and I think my family will agree that I make some pretty great tasting food now.
And if that’s not enough proof that I’ve learned to hold my own in the kitchen, you should probably know that I WON a cooking competition while competing against legit FOOD BLOGGERS just a couple of years ago! Seriously. Me!
Although becoming more frugal may seem like a total buzz-kill, we’ve found the opposite to be true. Its allowed us to get closer as a family, working together to creatively save money and have fun at the same time. Its also allowed us to be more grateful for what we have and enhance skills that we can be proud of.
Overall, this journey hasn’t just been one that has helped us live a more financially free life, but one that has led us to discover all sorts of wonderful surprises along the way.
What have you discovered if on a similar journey? Or what would you hope to see if you embarked on one?