This morning I was stuck in traffic on my way home. While normally traffic puts me in a bad mood I was too tired this morning to be angry. I hadn’t had my coffee yet and I just couldn’t bring myself to feel the rage.
Instead I took a few moments to think through my day. I was going to spend a few hours working, a bit of time helping a friend set up for an event and then head to catering this evening. I started running through the food I have at my house, wondering if a trip to the grocery store was in order.
I realized I couldn’t even remember the last time I went grocery shopping. Then I realized the last time I bought gas was before Thanksgiving. As I sat there thinking over my spending it dawned on me that I have achieved the rare and elusive mindset of frugal autopilot.
Frugal autopilot is a term I’ve shamelessly pulled from the Frugalwoods blog. They describe how they live their lives on frugal autopilot. They simply don’t spend money and what’s more, they don’t fight the temptation to spend money.
Well, that’s me baby. I am there. I have arrived!
I’ve honestly never been a big spender but there was certainly a time when I spent much more mindlessly. Weekly happy hours, new clothes, travel I couldn’t really afford. I was trying to buy happiness. And I was not succeeding.
I would see a person on tv eating pizza and think ‘I want some pizza!’. Or I would wander around the mall and pick up a few new tops simply because I was there. My mindset then was that money was there to be spent. Sure, I was spending it on good things too- paying down my loans and making rent. I was also spending it simply because I wanted to.
Sometimes I had to fight off the desire to spend money and force myself to save. I would tell myself a variety of things to trick myself into not spending money. And I felt bad about it.
I felt deprived. I felt jealous of those who had what I couldn’t get. I felt angry that I had to limit myself and my spending.
Sitting in the car today I thought about how I feel now that my spending is at the lowest it’s ever been. I spend money so infrequently that I had to check my credit card statements to find some non-essential purchase I’ve made. I couldn’t just summon something off the top of my head. How does this lack of spending make me feel?
Awesome! I love being frugal. I love knowing that by not spending my money but saving and investing it I’m making my whole life better. I love that by not keeping up with the Joneses I feel more content with my life. Trying to make my life complete through spending money only ever made me stressed out and miserable. Not spending has made me happier, more secure and a stronger person.
I’m at the point where not spending is my default. This morning I could have stopped at a coffee shop and bought my coffee, then continued directly on to help my friend set up. I didn’t though, because I was literally going past my house and I have coffee there I can make for free. Frugal autopilot my friends.
I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything at all. I didn’t have to talk myself out of hitting up a coffee shop this morning. I don’t have to convince myself to shop second hand or cook at home. That’s just the way I do things now. it’s simply how I live my life. I find the most frugal way to do something and then I continue to do it that way. Spending money is now a deliberate choice, not a mindless automation.
I spend money when it enriches my life or when it’s necessary to maintain my life as it is. I don’t spend money to make me feel better or to adhere to someone else’s standards. I don’t open my wallet for every little thing. I am set to frugal auto pilot, not to spending auto pilot.
Lastly, lately I’ve been getting the impression that not everyone feels this is the best way to spend their life, so I wanted to share a quick article on frugal celebrities who are doing the same thing I am. Money Crashers has the juice.
Yes people, its a viable way to live your life.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.