Celebrating Frugal Hound's bday a few years ago
We hosted a joint bday party for Frugal Hound and a human friend a few years ago

Today is my 31st birthday. That’s right, I’ve aged right out of striking distance to my youthful 20s and am careening towards middle age. But you know what, I’m glad. Getting older has been good for me.

Aging has enabled me to let go of caring what people think about me and instead focus on who I really am and what I want to accomplish over the course of my life. Sure, I still want to be seen as a helpful, productive, creative, humorous innovative, nice (sort of, but not too nice) person, but I’m not caught up in society’s judgements of me.

For your amusement, I’m including photos of myself on a few recent birthdays. You’ll note that I’m wearing what appears to be the same outfit in a few photos–that’s because it is the same outfit and I do wear it a lot, apparently, on my birthday.

What Other People Wanted Me To Do

In my not-so-distant youth, I wasted an inordinate amount of time worrying about meeting other people’s expectations. I felt legitimately compelled to accomplish certain things, behave a certain way, and adhere to certain life goals. I was a perfectionist with a rigid Type A personality (still am, but I’d say I’m recovering). I thought I should get straight A’s, do lots of community service, shine in my career, be a charming homemaker, and look amazing while doing it.

Celebrating my 29th birthday
Celebrating my 29th birthday

No one was explicitly telling me to do these things, but I felt the weight of expectations every day. The pernicious thing about peer pressure and societal influence is that it constantly buzzes through our brains. It murmurs just below the audible level and permeates your subconscious.

The covert, and not-so-covert, messages that advertisers and the media fling at us have a way of imbedding themselves in our psyches and making us feel inadequate (or at least they did in mine). After all, not a person among us can live up to the herculean models of perfection we believe we’re supposed to emulate.

When I was more susceptible to this stream of idealized images, I felt permanently inadequate. I thought I was always behind and never good enough because I labored under an overarching, deeply held conviction that I should always be doing something bigger, better, grander. I was suffering from lifestyle inflation in the truest sense–I thought my very life was insufficient.

I’m thankful for many aspects of my 20s–finishing school, marrying Mr. Frugalwoods, buying our first house, adopting Frugal Hound, and perhaps most of all, our judicious frugality. But, you couldn’t pay me to relive that decade (ok well, you could pay me…). I was stressed, anxious, preoccupied with doing “the right thing,” and out of touch with who I really am and what actually makes me happy. I wasted so much time, energy, and creativity worrying about what people might or might not be judging me for.

I think this is another bday celebration
I think this is another bday celebration

Comparing myself and my achievements, or lack thereof, to incredibly accomplished people was an obsession and it made me miserable. I couldn’t celebrate my own achievements, because there was always another goal I should attain.

I based my ambitions and plans around a fictional, glorified projection of what a “successful” person was. And so, I worked to climb the ladder in my career–never mind that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing–I went to grad school so that I’d have an advanced degree–never mind that it was a boring slog for me–I dressed, acted, and looked a certain way. I projected an image of a polished, professional person. But I was somewhat miserable and consumed with self-doubt.

Who Knew Turning 30 Could Be So Great?!

Rounding the corner of 30 last year was essentially my watershed moment. It was shortly after cresting my third decade that Mr. Frugalwoods and I launched our plan to retire early to a homestead in the woods. The old me would’ve been too concerned with what other people might think about us to actually pursue this passion. After all, I’m sure people will think/already do think:

  • They’re crazy and have no idea how difficult homesteading is.
  • They’re throwing away successful careers.
  • They’re removing their chance of being extremely wealthy at age 65.
  • They’re opening themselves up to financial instability.
  • Greyhounds are the worst farm dogs in the entire world.

Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s all true to some extent (especially the one about greyhounds… ). But, I don’t care. Mr. FW and I realize our early retirement goal is a counter-culture, non-traditional move and it’s not something I would’ve been comfortable with if I still cared what people think.

My 30th!
My 30th!

Letting go of caring enabled me to figure out what I really want out of life–not what society wants out of my life. And, as it turns out, society doesn’t care what I do with my life.

In the end, the only person who truly cares how you lived your life is you.

No one else will ever have quite as much of a vested interest in whether or not you were happy, or a good person, or fulfilled, or doing beneficial work that brought you purpose and meaning. Your partner, family, and friends hopefully want what’s best for you, but you only have yourself and God to answer to at the end of the day.

In growing older I’ve gained this perspective and developed the ability to see beyond myself and my insecurities. I’m staking a claim for a non-conformist life and thoughtfully considering what I want my positive impact in the world to be.

Maturity has brought me peace. And each passing year seems to be my best year. My expectations and metrics for perfection are diminishing as time goes on, which is wholly liberating.

Women: We Have It The Worst

I think the pressures to conform and excel are especially pronounced for women. We’re told we can have it all, which really means we need to do it all and cause ourselves incredible stress in the process.

Snuggling Frugal Hound on my 30th bday
Snuggling Frugal Hound on my 30th bday

We should advance in our careers, look gorgeous and thin, marry well (but not be dependent on our partner), have children (while still looking just as gorgeous and just as thin), be an involved, nurturing parent while continuing to advance in our careers and, oh yeah, look gorgeous and thin. Being a marathon runner seems to be an element of the perfect woman equation as well. Maybe you’re supposed to change diapers while on stage delivering a keynote address at a conference that you jogged 20 miles to? TBD. I’ll let you know if I ever find myself in that situation.

I hate how our culture looks down on stay-at-home parents, criticizes those without decent jobs, maligns childless couples and single folks, and judges women endlessly and cruelly about their appearances.

I hate how advertisers prey on women’s guilt to goad us into buying, buying, buying. Make-up, hair care, tanning, diet foods, nailpolish, greyhound breath mints–anything and everything to make us look, act, and smell less like the actual, flawed people we are and more like the nonexistent plasticized woman without foibles.

Mrs. Frugalwoods = Very Not Perfect (AND she’s 31, geez)

Me on my 30th bday
Me on my 29th bday

Through this evolution in my thinking, I’ve been on a crusade to reduce my vanity and preoccupation with my appearance. Not buying clothes for a year and 3 months (and counting) has helped. Having Mr. Frugalwoods cut my hair was another vital step. And, ceasing to wear make-up (other than mascara… I have my weaknesses, people) completes my triumvirate of decreasing the time, money, and anguish over my appearance. It’s still a daily struggle for me though, and I admit no victory.

I don’t need to be “successful” or “beautiful” or “the perfect woman” by anyone’s standards. I need to be honest with myself about what fulfills me and what I savor. Freeing myself up to even consider, let alone pursue, our homestead dream was the single most self-deterministic decision I’ve ever made.

I feel as though every other major decision in my life, aside from marrying Mr. FW, was ruled by my attempts to follow the prescribed “right” path: going to college, getting a job, going to grad school, getting a better job, pushing myself to do more and more. It was all done in pursuit of the ephemeral perfect with basically zero regard for what brings me zeal and actually causes me to be a better person.

How Frugality Plays A Role

The ethos of the frugal weirdo stems from divorcing myself from pointless societal conventions and lifestyle inflation. It’s vastly more frugal to live my own life than to live a cookie-cutter prototype of a perfect life. Why? Because society’s vision of the perfect life is primarily a life filled with stuff.

Me on the Franconia Ridge summit
Me on the Franconia Ridge summit

The perfect family is always pictured inside, or in front of, their spacious new home or luxury car (preferably both) surrounded by lovely decor, clothes, and gadgets. I’m pretty sure no advertiser ever has posed “the perfect family” in the free woods, sitting on a free log, wearing some second-hand hiking gear, with a bizarro looking greyhound at their side.

This conflation of stuff with happiness is inherently misguided. We all know that stuff breaks, gets old, and then we want new stuff! The endless carousel of consumerism strikes again. On the other hand, finding a peaceful life of purpose is cheap and never gets old.

At the granular and immediate level, I’m saving money by not buying make-up, clothes, haircare products, a new car, and other trappings of lifestyle inflation. But at the global level, I’m reducing my dependence on material goods and my negative impact on our planet. Pretty heavy stuff for just trying to live a simpler, more genuine life.

It’s my belief that when we live the life we want to, we’re able to put that joy back out into the world–through volunteering, philanthropy, and an outlook of kindness.

Me and Frugal Hound on my 31st bday
Me and Frugal Hound on my 31st bday

I’m not entirely there yet and I acknowledge I have a lot more work to do on myself. I get cranky, grumpy, frustrated with the job that I so desperately want to quit, anxious for our homestead, and angry about being stuck waiting for time to elapse and our savings to grow.

Yes, I recognize the incredibly fortunate position Mr. FW and I find ourselves in, and I’m grateful every day. But that doesn’t mean I always act out of gratitude. I swear, I get upset, I cry, and I eat too many cookies. I’m an imperfect person no longer aiming for perfection. I’m instead aiming to be OK, to be content, to do good work, and to be the most loving wife, daughter (in-law), sister (in-law), cousin, aunt, citizen, friend, neighbor–and hopefully someday mother–that I can.

What I Hope For 32 (and beyond)

Frugal Hound: loves the birthdays
Frugal Hound: loves the birthdays

My hope is that on future birthdays, I’ll look back and reflect that I’ve been able to slough off my attitude of discontentment and fully embrace wherever I find myself in life.

That I’ll live wholly in the moment, unperturbed by unfair expectations of women, of people, of myself. That I’ll be kinder to myself and more forgiving of my failures, and the failures of others. And, that I still won’t care what anyone else thinks of me.

What do you hope for at this stage in your life?

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  1. Happy Birthday cupcake face! What a wonderful gift to yourself! You should also have a cookie or two.
    I’m with you on nearly all of this, but not quite as far along. I’ve found the contentment and joy of not chasing stuff, but the smaller pressures are harder to identify and acknowledge. E.g. I’ve started to wear more makeup now that I’m in a professional environment. Is that because I want to or feel that I need to? I think it’s mostly want, but I pay attention to what I say about it on less made up days. I’m also still in the weird phase that I wore glasses for-ev-er, but had LASIK 3 years ago, so I feel like something should define my face. It’s all a process.

    1. Thank you! Never fear, I’m eating cookies right now ;). I think if you enjoy wearing make-up and it doesn’t feel like a burden, then by all means, wear it! Also, LASIK is so amazing… I got it a few years ago and it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever spent money on. And, I agree with you, all of it is absolutely a process!

  2. Happy Birthday to you! Wishing you all the best as you begin your next “trip around the sun”! Thank you for a wonderfully-written, insightful blog post. PS – Crying, cookies, occasionally going crazy…. Not bad things at all!

    1. Thank you so much! Sometimes crying, cookies, and craziness are just all I can manage 😉

  3. Happy Birthday! Oh – and I love that shirt you keep wearing – I would wear it all the time too!

    Yes – I have found the 30s super freeing, especially as I am getting perilously close to 40. I remember being all concerned about crazy stuff – like how my toes looked! And then pedicure became a chore, instead of fun, so I stopped, and I love my naked toes (almost sacrilegious down here in TX). It is wonderful you have come to this peace early in life!

    1. Thank you! Get this–it’s a tunic, not a shirt, which makes it even better because I can wear it with leggings! It truly is my favorite outfit :).

      Hahah–I have naked toes too! A rarity here as well, but I’m fine with it. Such a hassle to give myself a pedicure and, there are so many other ways I want to spend my time. Glad to hear I’m not the only one ;). And, that’s fabulous that you found your 30s to be freeing. I’m looking forward to this decade!

  4. Happy Birthday Mrs. Frugalwoods and thank you for sharing this reflection, it is powerful and inspiring. Keep up the great writing!

  5. You go girl! You should be damn proud of what you have accomplished in your first 31 years. Hell and gone above what I was able to do! And I have no doubt you will continue on with the rest of your life just as you please, as it should be. Aside from everything else, you are also a very accomplished writer. What is my hope for this stage of my life? Well, it took far too long for me, but I gave myself a very special gift for my 60th birthday. The gift of my own voice. I no longer cower when I sense something isn’t quite right just to keep peace. I’m learning to speak my mind, thoughtfully, carefully, and proactively, and if it hurts someone’s feelings, it’s not my intent, but I can no longer be concerned by the feelings of the rest of the world by swallowing words that need to be said. I am still a sensitive and empathetic person, but I’ve drawn my line in the sand, so to speak! With age comes clarity….and advancing age brings a whole new perspective!

    1. Thank you so much! That is very kind of you to say. I love that you’re speaking your mind–I imagine people find it refreshing and inspiring. We often edit ourselves almost into nonexistence and fail to share what we’re really thinking. I think it’s wonderful that you’re approaching the world with such honesty. YOU go girl :)!

  6. I may have finished a marathon, but I am far from perfect 🙂 I’m 28, and even now, I notice a marked change from my early 20s. Believe it or not, I actually like the person I’ve become. When I was in my teens and in college, I was always trying to impress other people. Now I’m just full on out there with who I am, and hopefully people like it.

    1. I hope you’re able to live the life you want! It’s a wonderful goal to have and to truly pursue your passions :). Thanks so much for the birthday wishes!

  7. I turned 30 last year, and I’m so excited to see what this decade holds. It wasn’t hard for me to leave my 20s behind at all. I learned so much then and wonder what I’ll learn this decade. I’m excited!
    I also can’t wait until you guys come out of the frugal closet and start showing your faces!

    1. Woohoo for our thirties! I had so much fun with my cupcake art–are you telling me you want to see my face instead ;)?!

  8. I was lucky never to have cared very much what other people thought. Or had. So my personal barrier to adopting a frugality-without-sacrifice lifestyle was quite low.

    Even in my 20s, it never fazed me to drive an older car or selectively shop at thrift stores. (The tie I got the most compliments on, all the time, cost me one buck.) Now that I am earlier retired, I really do feel that I have everything I need or want. Even if the Joneses think I’m nuts (or so poor!) to have “to do without” all the junk that keeps them financially bound to a 9-to-5 existence.

    Happy Birthday!

    1. That’s wonderful that you’ve always felt free from worrying about what other people think–that’s a liberating way to live. And, I’m with you, who cares what the Joneses think!

  9. There was once a time where I cared what other people thought of me too, but mainly back in my childhood. It was rough, always wondering what people thought of the way that I dress or talk. It was exhausting, and quite frankly, a complete waste of time.

    The truth is it doesn’t matter what other people think. They will do what they want to do, and I will do what I want to do. The funny thing is most people believe that they are the ones doing it the right way, and that everyone else is wrong. That’s fine, people can think whatever they want. I’ll be retired and gleefully watching them get caught up in societal pressures in jobless bliss as they continue believing that THEY are living life the right way.

    But it’s cool, different strokes for different folks. Early retirement certainly isn’t for everyone, nor is living a frugal and simple life. Some people need drama in their lives to feel…I don’t know, satisfied?

    Ugh…the hell with that.

    1. It’s definitely an exhausting waste of time to go through life constantly worried about what other people are thinking! Good for you for ridding yourself of that compulsion early on. And, I’m with you–I’ll take early retirement and a frugal, simple life over consumerism any day!

  10. Happy Birthday!!!

    I freakin’ LOVED this post. I too am a (slowly but surely) recovering Type A perfectionist who cared way too much about meeting the expectations of others. I’m 25, so I wouldn’t necessary say it’s been getting older, but actually becoming a Mom last year that really shocked me into 100% (okay, maybe 95%) not caring what anyone else thinks. I’d been improving a few years before that, but that life change really gave me the push I needed to fully embrace that mentality.

    Life is too short to be living based on how others want you to live. Whether it’s your parents, friends, etc.

    Keep on keeping on! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Christina! And, way to go on not caring–woohoo! Definitely a much more liberating way to live 🙂

  11. Happy Birthday!!!! At 36 (almost 37), I have to tell you that I LOVE my 30s and they keep getting better! I hate that I spent a good part of my life beating myself up over things I couldn’t control, but now I have learned to accept and relax more and it is such a great gift for my mind and my self-esteem.

    1. That’s awesome, Shannon! Glad to hear that your 30s have been so great–I’m looking forward to the rest of mine too 🙂

  12. Great post, and a very Happy Birthday!

    I think it’s interesting that the financial blogosphere lately has been discussing this new pressure of “keeping up with the Joneses” against ‘acquisition’ goals as well as traditional ‘stuff’ goals. I know that I, personally, don’t feel any pressure to go out and buy a brand-new BMW to keep up with my neighbor, but I definitely feel pressure when I read a blog written by someone our age who is so much more put together or further along than we are.

    Also, I’d like to support your statement about the culture’s dismissiveness of stay at home parents. Our primary goal has always been to position ourselves financially to allow Marie to stay home and raise our children. That means sacrifices, and it’s frustrating to hear the media or coworkers talk about stay-at-home mothers as being sellouts or victims of our culture rather than as equal partners in a grand adventure.

    But I’ll get off my high horse. 😉

    Hope you have a great 32nd! Not very many years to go yet before you’re in that cabin–

    Keep on saving,

    1. Weird. I can’t say I’ve ever hear SAH moms being referred to as sellouts. And as an even weirder duck (SAH dad), I almost always get the comment “wow, what a good thing to do for your family”.

      1. Sadly I have heard the types of disparaging remarks about SAH parents that Charles mentions. I think it’s extremely sad that our culture doesn’t value them more. Thegoblinchief–I think that’s wonderful that you’ve been met with such awesome, positive reactions. That gives me hope!

  13. Happy birthday Mrs. Frugalwoods! I love this post. I’m also turning 31 this year. I completely agree with you that turning 30 wasn’t scary at all, and instead was very liberating. Same as you, for most of my 20s I didn’t really have a firm grasp of who I was as a person. But sometime around age 29, I finally realized that I could be who I wanted to be and not worry about pleasing “everyone.” At the same time, I started figuring out how to eat healthy and cook for myself, which really opened the flood gates to other happiness projects. It’s true what they say – happiness is a choice! Eating very clean and living very simply makes me the happiest and I finally feel free to shout that from the rooftops (while also not judging other people for what makes THEM happy). All in all, my first year in my 30s has been one of the best years yet for me.

    Thanks again for your very inspirational post!

    1. That’s wonderful to hear, Sarah! I think it’s awesome you’re charting your own happiness in such a positive way–way to go! Cheers to 31 🙂

  14. Happy Birthday! I have to say so far my 30’s have been my favorite decade (btw spell check wanted to change decade to deceased-lol!). You start to get really comfortable with who you are. I don’t think, at least for me, I could ever be above being hurt by what some people thought of me. I guess I’m probably a very sensitive person who lets that slip in from time to time, but it does get easier to move past things as you get older. I do think as women we are under the most pressure, and the whole fighting against aging things is a complete entity of its own. That part is something I’m dealing with a little right now. I wish I could say I was always above it, but sometimes it gets to me.

    1. It really does feel like women are especially judged for how they age–it’s such a ridiculous and unfair societal view. We’re not 18 forever, people! I wish I was always above it too, but I’m really clearly not. I caught myself examining wrinkles in the mirror today…. it’s all a process, I think.

  15. Happy Birthday!!

    Thank you so incredibly much for sharing this, there is so much honesty and sincerity. I will be turning 25 here in a couple days and I am making efforts to phase out of what “societal perfection” means and finding what matters most to me. Throughout college the element of competition and appearance was quite prevalent. After I graduated, I decided to take on a job in a brand new city where I did not know anyone. This move alone allowed me to rebalance, experience living life independently, and focus on what truly matters to me. It seemed to be more of a feasible task once removed from an environment that continuously “pushed” you to succeed (maybe not all people viewed college like that, but just like you mentioned I had my own disciplines telling me to do better in different aspects).

    Thank you so much again, I really enjoyed this read! It is humbling to see how your thought process has evolved and how strong you seem to accomplish your definition of success.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Alyssa! And, that’s fabulous that you’re focusing on what matters to you already–wish I’d had that insight at 25 :)! Kudos to you for being your genuine self.

  16. It’s OK to go against the grain. I am in my late 50’s and when I was young (in the 80’s), that was the time when women were climbing the corporate ladder (women’s equality), I did what most women were choosing not to do, stay home when my first child was born. I was a stay at home mom for 10 years. I didn’t go to college or have a high paying job either. People called me “simple” and really didn’t have much respect for me unless they wanted me to babysit their sick child. I have not regrets except that my husband and I didn’t save enough money for retirement so I am trying to make up for that now. My three children all are really successful and well balanced emotionally. I am proud of them. I put 2 of them through college with cash. I really wanted children and could see no point in having them if I couldn’t give them the attention and love they needed. So many of my friends with corporate jobs had problems with their kids drugs, no motivation and after college they are still living with them. So go with your heart.

    1. Thank you for sharing that, Karen. Makes me so mad when people malign stay at home parents–it’s the most important job in the world! That’s awesome that you followed your true self and did what was best for you and your family. And, congratulations on raising three successful kids!

  17. HAPPY BIRTHDAY you sweet young thang! (Young compared to moi…I am nearing the standard retirement age.)
    I really have never given a hang damn about what people think. I am odd that way.
    My only problem when I was younger was the absolute conviction that I could never meet a man who would truly appreciate me because my personality is so independent and rather unconventional. My gen didn’t really like uppity women. But I got over that. I do have a man friend but if I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t be looking. I know a lady my age who does the Internet dating thing and it sounds like such a drag for ‘women of a certain age.’ The guys she meets are all either horn dogs looking for someone younger and thinner or geezers looking for a nurse with a purse.
    I have had lots of flak from people about being childless. Hey, I’d have made a terrible mother, especially when I was younger and I know it. I just never wanted kids. I like kids as long as they are someone else’s responsibility.
    I have never understood so many women’s obsession with their weight. I was very thin when I was young and gained some weight as I aged. I am not thin now but I lost 40 pounds in the last year and am what I consider a fairly decent weight for my age and body type.
    Last night I was in a store behind a woman. The checker was a woman. The customer, who was probably in her 40’s, said “If I could go without food, I’d be as thin as I’d like to be.” HUH? Lady, you would be non-existent if you didn’t eat. And this woman was all of a size 10. The clerk agreed with her. She was an 20ish fine-boned Asian woman who looked as if she might be a size 6 at most. What’s with every woman around trying to look like stick woman? Why are we women ashamed of our bodies? Of course, obesity is not good for one’s health, but so many of the women obsessed with their size are far from obese and health doesn’t seem to be what they are concerned with.

    1. Well, said! Thank you for sharing this perspective! I think it’s fantastic that you’ve always forged your own path and not been held hostage by what other people expect/think. That is inspiring! And I hear ya on the weight thing–we women seem to judge ourselves so harshly no matter what.

      1. Unfortunately, when I was younger and was starting to forge my own path, I forgot that to travel the road, especially in the long run, takes a bit of money! LOL! I swear to you when I was young, I didn’t have the sense God gave a hard-boiled egg! I was intelligent but flaky.

  18. Happy birthday! I loved this post. (Enjoyed it while I was eating my morning oatmeal, which was inspired by one of your other posts I read recently.)

    I will be turning 40 this year, and I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed my 30s. It was a decade of learning so much along the lines of your post.

    Two of the best things I learned in my 30s:

    One – the less I go ahead and live like I don’t care what people think, the less I actually care what people think. Living weird is a snowballing kind of thing 🙂

    And two – it is totally okay to fail at something, and to change your mind. Go all out in living your dream, and if it doesn’t work out, feel free to change your mind and move on to the next thing. (I’m thinking about the first point in your little bullet list above – “They’re crazy and have no idea how difficult homesteading is.” You will find that the reality is different from the dream, in good ways and bad, but you will never know if it’s right for you or not until you try it! And if your heart is pushing you to go for it, then why not?!)

    As I enter my 40s, I am hoping that I will continue to dream and change and keep my heart open and alive – especially as I have school-age children and I want to inspire them to live well – kind, generous and free.

    Thanks for sharing your story and your heart with us!

    1. That’s awesome, Julia! I love the idea of pursuing a dream and being OK with failure/changes along the line. Our feeling about the homestead is that if we don’t do it, we’ll forever regret it and wonder “what if?” I definitely don’t want to go through life that way. Glad to hear you enjoyed your 30s–I’m really looking forward to the rest of mine! And, “kind, generous, and free” sound like ideal values to instill in kids.

  19. Nearly two years past my cross-over to my 30s, I have to agree. The pressures of being the perfect wife, mother, domestic goddess, high-powered executive, and so on are incredible. The freeing feeling of not caring how society will judge you is, well, freeing. I’m glad to be leaving it behind.

    And that marathon running dream of so many is incomprehensible to me. I don’t run. You will be able to find me running to play with my minis. However, I fear it might be short-lived… they will most likely ask me to stop since I will look so ridiculous! That’s when I will teach them that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, as long as we are having fun. Hopefully they will learn that lesson long before I did.

    1. Love it! So glad you’re leaving that behind, too! Totally doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks–what a great thing to pass on to your kids.

  20. Happy birthday, and thank you for sharing such a lovely post!! And I love the birthday top! Are you wearing it today?

    I’m a bit older than you, having hit the big 4-0 a couple of months ago. My evolution is similar in some ways, but focused on being more open, less rigid, more centered, and overall a more positive person. I want this not only because it makes me feel better and healthier, but also because I want to model it for my daughter, who is frighteningly similar to me genetically. I’d like her to learn this way before she hits 40. 🙂

    1. Believe it or not, I actually am wearing that outfit today! It’s a tunic that I wear with leggings and boots and it’s just sooooo comfy :). I love that you’re passing those lessons along to your daughter–what an awesome way to be!

  21. Congratulations on making it another year in this strange world of ours!

    One of the things I have learned (as I approach the very middle of my mid-30’s later this summer) is that our worries about what other people think are 90% in our head and only 10% in their heads. Most other people are so busy with their own lives that they don’t have time to worry about yours. So why worry about them worrying about your life?

  22. 30 was about when I turned the corner on a lot of things, too. Finances in particular, and the idea of getting to FI asap. Maybe there’s something to the round numbers.

      1. There really is something about 30… I’m sure we can blame advertisers in some way. But, glad that it had a positive impact on you too! And, thanks for the bday wishes 🙂

  23. Happy birthday, Mrs. Frugalwoods! I celebrate mine (33) on Friday with a day off from work, a birthday cake made by Marge, and a rare six-pack of craft beer.

    I can’t say I’ve ever been a victim of “caring what other people think.” My school of thought, probably since I was a little kid, has always been closer to “biggest reward for the least amount of work.” There comes a point when the marginal benefit you get is not worth the amount of additional work you need to put in. For example, I had a lot of very smart friends in school, and I watched them put in massive amounts of hours of work for AP classes. If I wanted to, I could’ve taken those same classes, but what would be the point? Where was the benefit? I knew I was going to
    college regardless.

    I was thinking about all this recently. I had another wake-up call in the junior or senior year of college. I had been studying accounting and economics without really thinking about the career that awaited me. As I got closer to graduating, I noticed the career path was basically public accounting, CPA certification, and 70-80 hour weeks. I watched people do this. At a career day, one stressed-out talker said he worked so much he hardly knew his little kid! It all seemed not only stressful and pointless, but incredibly dull! After spending years studying this stuff, did I really want to spend all of my waking hours post-college doing more of it? Uh, no. I have better things to do.

    It helps that, as I’ve gotten older, and I get to know more people my age and older that have successful careers, I can look at them and say, “That’s what all the extra work is for? This dumb house?” When you’re young, it’s hard not to look up to people with a lot of money, but once you’re living alongside them, it’s hard to see what the big deal is.

    Rambling on here, but on a related note, I wonder what mental impact your imminent retirement has had on you all’s daily work life. We are nowhere retiring, yet I still find myself thinking about that mythical date ten years in the future, and I get a little zen about anything currently bothering me at work. All things must pass… 3,700 days left…

    1. Mmmm craft beer, homemade cake, and a day off work sounds like the ideal day to me!

      Totally agree with you on wondering why people spend on the things they do. It baffles me why you’d want to drive yourself nuts working so hard just to buy stuff that eases the pain of working so hard! Aaaahhh, vicious cycle 🙂

      I like that you’re zen about work, that’s the way to be. I’m trying to be more zen… I have good days and bad days 😉

  24. 31 is the best! This is a great post. We really can’t judge the choices of others because we’ve all got different priorities. I think you guys have made clear what yours are, and it seems like you are doing a fantastic job achieving them!

  25. Happy birthday! It took me a lot longer to get to where you are (emotionally; Financially I’m no where close yet!). 35 was the “groundbreaking” birthday for me, where I really started to consider what made me happy in life, and following a less traditional path. It was an incredibly difficult birthday for me, and lots of tears ended up being shed. I’m so thankful for it now though. I’m happier than I’ve ever been! And 36 ended up being a wonderful birthday because of it!

    Here’s to many more years of growth and happiness!

    1. That’s wonderful that you had that awakening and changed your life as a result! Cheers to you!

  26. Happy Birthday, Mrs. FW! I’m really appreciating the candor of your posts (well, always, but especially lately). Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

  27. I have never been Type A, and I am whatever the opposite of a perfectionist is. But I felt similarly about my 20s and I was happy to leave them behind. Youth is wasted on the young! I will turn 36 this month and I’m really excited about officially entering my late 30s. At this point, I am hoping to learn to be better at accepting uncertainty. I want to spend less time planning the future and more time enjoying the present. I want my first reaction to be kindness. I want to deepen my faith. I would like to be more patient as well, but I have a three year old and he is all over that, so I don’t feel like I need to ask for it.

    1. I’m with you on wanting to plan less and live more. I am an epic planner and I sometimes get way too caught up in my projections for the future. I need to be more patient with myself!

      I like the idea of having the first reaction of kindness–that’s a beautiful approach to have. Thank you for sharing!

  28. Happy Birthday Mrs. FW! Hope it’s a great one and eat as many cookies at you like. I’m at the point in my life mid 40’s that I don’t let things out side of my control affect or upset me. No need losing time over these silly things.

  29. Happy Birthday Mrs. FW! Great insight into the past and future. As you age you’ll be stronger smarter and enjoy life better, as I do. Good luck. I look forward to your posts.

  30. Happy birthday to you! As I’ve gotten older (I’m 30 now) I’ve also started to shed some of the expectations that I put on myself, and am trying to learn how to let go of societal pressures regarding my appearance, weight, and clothing choices. My ultimate goal is to be a kind and generous person; the type of woman that you see and say to yourself “wow, she looks like she’s so full of life and completely at ease with who she is as an individual”. Working on that before I have children is important to me, and I hope that this year I’ll make progress by de-cluttering our life, and gaining more self-awareness and confidence in who I am. Hope you have a wonderful birthday with Mr. FW & Frugal Hound!

    1. Full of life and at ease with who you are sounds like the ideal way to be! That’s awesome that you’re on this journey–I’m right there with you 🙂

  31. Happy Birthday cupcake 🙂 I hear ya about growing into yourself. I’ve become a much more “who gives a crap” kind of person in the last few years, but there are still parts of my personality that line-up as a people pleaser. I’m working on it because I have being beholden to that trap (don’t get me wrong, I’m still plenty nice, but I don’t need to DO EVERYTHING).

    1. Well said! I think that especially we women fall victim to being people pleasers and just doing what we think other people want us to do. Love that you’re charting a “who gives a crap” path :)!

  32. Happy Birthday! I was just re-informed about my type A personality. I guess I knew it was there, but kind of forgot about it for a while. Getting over the discontent in certain situations can be a pain, but I’m working on it! Hope you enjoy the rest of your day, and 31 is not old!

    1. Yeah, I think there are pros and cons of being a Type A–I’m trying to take the best parts and shed the rest :). Thanks for the bday wishes!

  33. Happy birthday! Turning 27 recently hit me much harder than I expected, for many of the reasons you identified. I enjoy a simple frugal life like you but am not so good at shrugging of society. Thanks for a great post!

    1. It’s definitely tough to get into that mindset of not caring what society says and it’s still a work in progress for me as well. That’s awesome that you’re working towards it and embracing the frugal life in the process!

  34. “look gorgeous and thin, marry well (but not be dependent on our partner), have children (while still looking just as gorgeous and just as thin), be an involved, nurturing parent while continuing to advance in our careers and, oh yeah, look gorgeous and thin. Being a marathon runner seems to be an element of the perfect woman equation as well”
    THIS. I fit into everyone one of these categories and I live in the Boston area too: 33, phd, professor, married, marathoner, 9 month old infant, thin, and I felt sad and exhausted when I should have felt joy. I had a physical and emotional breakdown because it could not be sustained. So my husband and family encouraged me to rethink my path.

    So I decided to press pause…I am lucky (the structure was in my favor) that I have a career that let me pause but I took a semester unpaid plus maternity leave. Colleagues and others have made very negative comments but I finally feel good. I stopped running long distances, gave up make up, stopped shopping completely for non essentials, said no to everything, and I feel so much happier. Doing “me”, unabashedly, is the best!

    1. Oh wow! You are that woman ;)! Thank you so much for sharing your story here! I’m so sorry to hear that it led to a breakdown. But, that’s awesome that you’ve been able to focus on yourself and what you really need/want. Having a supportive husband and family is such a wonderful blessing–I’m so deeply thankful for mine too! Way to go on being genuine and honest with yourself. That’s inspiring.

  35. happy birthday! I love the picture of you at the ICA looking over the bay with the Tobin in the background. I’m glad I found your blog.

    1. Thank you! Love that you recognized the spot! That’s such a gorgeous overlook. We had a great time at the ICA with our free passes, which we checked out from the Cambridge Public Library :). Thanks so much for reading!

  36. Very empowering message for women especially. I also have lots of photo evidence that I wear the same outfits often and I’m proud of it! Not only does it not matter what others think, but being frugal will be so enviable when you reach your homesteading goal, and you’re having fun along the way. The good life is not about performing for others or meeting their standards of beauty, but about contentment, generosity, and helpfulness.

    1. Very well said–contentment, generosity and helpfulness are all things I aspire to. And, glad I’m not the only one who wears the same thing all the time 😉

  37. Happy birthday! I feel like as I get towards the end of my twenties, that I am starting to care less about what other people think of me; I have spent enough time and energy in my teens and early twenties caring far too much about what other people think. I just need to be me! I hope you have a great day 🙂

  38. Happy birthday! Can you let me know how you take these pictures where people’s faces magically show up as cupcakes? That’s one crazy technology you got there . :p 😉

    Mrs. T and I are in the same boat as you. We can careless about what others think. As long as we’re happy with ourselves and at peace with ourselves, why care about what others think?

  39. Happy Birthday Mrs. Frugalwoods! I had my first child when I was your age and our second two years later. Now at the ripe old age of 46, I actually had to use the calculator to remind myself how old I am because I just don’t keep track anymore;0) We have been looking at houses lately and I’ve been wondering if where we move could form who we are. If we lived in that upscale neighborhood, would we feel like we needed to ‘keep up’? If we moved to a fixer upper, would we feel like fixer uppers ourselves? I have always been curious about the way others live but never felt as though I was challenged to live one way or another. I say every year just keeps getting better and 50 doesn’t look so old anymore!

    1. That’s wonderful to hear that it just keeps getting better! Love it! My parents are in their 70s and having the time of their lives, so I think we all have a lot to look forward to 🙂

  40. Happy Birthday! Thanks for sharing your experiences! I can relate! In my early 20s I always felt like I “should” be going out, partying, dating, climbing the career ladder and such. But I’m introverted, never been too into drinking, and forced dating is no fun and plus I didn’t feel like anything was missing from my life. So I just stopped. I started doing what I wanted, even if that meant spending a Friday night at home with my cat, working on my blog. I felt so FREE! I also had a lot of opinions from people when I bought my first house alone, left the military, and left a promising career for a lower-paying “dream job.” The more I stopped caring about society’s expectations and opinions, the easier it became. Congrats on all you’ve accomplished and for going against the norm!

    1. That’s awesome, Heather! Way to go on following what’s genuinely YOU :). I’m an introvert/extrovert hybrid and I definitely enjoy a Friday night in with Frugal Hound and Mr. FW! Actually, that’s pretty much every Friday night now that I think about it…. ;). Rock on!

  41. This was a GREAT post. What resonated for me most were 2 things. Your mention of the subliminal messages we get from the media. This is a huge topic and you’ve only scratched the surface of its effects in your post here. I’ve studied this topic in some depth and suffice it to say that every time I think I’ve gotten to all the layers of the media manipulation, I find yet ANOTHER layer!

    I’ll also say how I like that you mention God in your posts without being obnoxious about it 🙂

    1. Oh I’d love to hear more about media manipulation! It’s a fascinating (and terrifying) topic to me, and I’m woefully ignorant on it, save for the most base observations. It’s such a pernicious cycle of making us all think we’re “less than.”

      Also, thanks for your note on God :). God is a part of my life, but I don’t like to hit people over the head with it as we all have our own beliefs and paths that we follow.

      1. Well the topic of media manipulation is very important and goes well outside the purview of your blog. But when I get a chance, I will send you some YouTube videos on the subject. I really think you hit the right balance with the God thing 🙂

  42. Happy Birthday!

    My level of DGAF was always turned up pretty high when it came to my peers (probably a coping mechanism from being super awkward when young), but it was really Mr PoP who helped me realize that I needed to use it more with people in positions of “authority” who seemed to never cease to tell me what I needed to do with my life throughout college. So much happier once I started putting my own wants and desires ahead of others trying to live vicariously through me.

    1. I definitely used to be caught up in trying to follow the right path and you’re right, there’s absolutely an element of others trying to live vicariously! Way to go on setting yourself free. Woohoo!

  43. Happy Birthday! As I edge out of my thirties I’ve started to take a devil may care attitude towards life and have divorced myself of worrying what others think. Being single in your thirties is a good test of learning to be on your own and live your life. I was the same as you in my 20’s, typical Type A, perfectionist, people pleaser and always trying to do what people thought I should. I tried the white picket fence thing, it didn’t work and now I’m turning into a non-conformist. It’s kind of shocking when you start to wake up to all the crap around you (ie consumerism and keeping up with the joneses) and start walking in the opposite direction. It makes you feel weird but a good weird.
    I think this mindset has started to progress faster as age 40 comes closer and I realize there’s so many more things I’d like to do and CAN do.

    1. Weird, but a good weird is how I’d put it too :)! Kudos to you for freeing yourself and living the life you want!

  44. Happy Birthday! I turn 31 in a few months.

    30 was definitely a turning point for me. I was 29 when we started homeschooling, but 30 was when we were like “this is totally clicking, let’s double down” and work towards having me quit my (until then necessary) PT job. 30s have been good for the Alchemist as well, and we are both starting to find where we want to go, which is something VERY different from the norm.

    I might suggest two pieces of reading material. First (Google it) is Wait But Why’s post on “Taming the Mammoth”. Fantastic bit of insight into the self and how we relate to the judgments of other people. The second is the book “Radical Homemakers” by Shannon Hayes, which has a lot of interesting stuff about post second-wave feminism, women (and men) waking up from the consumer culture and saying “wait, what the hell?” I’ve been recommending it to lots of people and hear great things from those who read it. Both you and Mr FW would probably enjoy it if you haven’t read it already.

    1. Thanks for the the reading recs! Those both sound like things we’d enjoy. And, I’m glad to hear your 30s have been good to you thus far as well. I think there’s a lot of liberation that comes with age. Rock on with your non-conformist self ;)!

  45. Happy birthday Mrs. Frugalwoods! I hope you have had a lovely day.
    I only found your blog about a month ago but I’ve been enjoying reading it. I felt the need to chime in today because I your post was so insightful about women in general. I sent it to my husband who agreed and we had a good conversation over dinner about it. Thanks for the thought provoking material and I look forward to reading more frugal weirdness 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for commenting! I’m so glad you found us :). It’s always such a joy for me to hear from readers and that’s awesome that you and your husband are on the same wavelength! Welcome to the frugal weirdo club 😉

  46. Happy Birthday! I think the 30’s rock. 20’s are highly overrated, although I wish I could still function that well on so little sleep. We all would be much happier if we stopped trying to please everyone else. I still struggle with trying to be the perfect modern woman, but at the end of the day, I can’t be , and that’s actually better anyway. I spent most of my 30’s in debt, so my 40’s are going to be on my own terms.

    1. Woohoo for getting older! I wish I could function on that little sleep too… I don’t know how I did it in college! Not well is probably the answer ;). Love the idea of living on your own terms–cheers to that.

  47. I’m in mid 20s, I have to say that once I embarked on this frugal journey, I’ve grown to care less about what other people think. Now thinking about the motive behind the frugal journey, I noticed that in the past I too have succumbed to what the society has expected us to live – materialism, stuffs, consumerism, and more stuffs. I was not happy even though I’m buying lots of things, and I felt inadequate in clothes that were bought merely 1 year ago. What’s wrong with people?! There is not an end to that cycle, as I come to notice, so going frugal is possibly helping me to simplify life and gradually minimalist.

    1. So true, PJ! The cycle of consumerism is endless and vicious! There’s just no way to ever be truly fulfilled if all you’re focused on is the acquisition of stuff. That’s awesome that you’re charting your own frugal path :)!

  48. Happy Birthday to you!

    Loved your post, you sure are wise beyond your years! I was 50 before I realized that you can’t base your life on what society thinks you should do. Of course, I was busy moving up in my career and raising my 3 children through my twenties, thirties, and well into my forties (oldest and youngest are 10 years apart), didn’t spend too much time examining my life. I am fortunate to have a supportive husband and family who were there for me (and still are) and once I realized that I could have no greater accomplishment than raising those 3 wonderful people, I let go of most of the pressures and started focusing on what we need to get to the next phase of our life – retired grandparents, baking cookies and having fun. We have to be working (grandparents) for a few more years, but it is my goal to enjoy the journey!

    People should really stop telling college age people these are the best years of their lives! It really just keeps getting better!

    1. Jewel, I couldn’t agree with you more. I turned 59 in January and I am happier now than I have ever been. Sure, we’ve had our bumps and lumps along the way, but no one’s life is perfect. I wouldn’t trade this time in my life for anything.

      Happy birthday and continued peace to you and Mr. FW, Mrs. FW!

    2. Love this comment, Jewel! I’ve had the privilege to see my parents enter their 60s and continue to reinvent themselves and enjoy life – and live out exactly what you said in that last line. I wish every younger person had older people like you and my parents in their lives who vividly show them that there is still so much to look forward to as we age – that life does not end until it actually ends! I turn 40 this year, and I love the feeling of anticipation I have about what this decade will bring.

      1. This is such inspiring stuff to hear, ladies! I appreciate you all for sharing your experiences! My parents are in their 70s and are enjoying their lives so fully and completely right now. It’s wonderful to know that it just keeps getting better 🙂

    1. Haha, yes! That’s a support group I would join ! We’d be organized, on time, and someone would always bring snacks 😉

  49. Happy birthday! I hope you have (had!) a great day and an amazing year. You and Mr. FW are trucking right along in your plans and that is amazing. I turned 40 in 2014 and so far it has been the best for me. My 20s blew by and my 30s were a bit of a struggle, for various reasons. I’m one of those with no children and coming to terms with that and society’s view of a couple with no children was a bit tough, to be completely honest. I feel now at 40 that I am in charge of my life and what people think doesn’t matter. Took me a while to get here though!

    1. That’s wonderful that you feel free now and like you’re living the life you want! I’ve never understood our culture’s bashing of couples without kids. It’s a totally thoughtless, rude, and ridiculous mindset. Way to go on being in charge of your own life!

  50. I’m going to be hitting 30 this year. I’m not thrilled about it but it could be worse. At least I’m not dead! I just wish that I wasn’t 9 months older than my wife. She likes to rub it in. 🙂

    And yeah, women have it rough. Men have it rough too in different ways. But it’s all about how you handle it. Expect it and move through it. You guys are both doing a great job, and your expectations of each other are much more important than anyone else!

    1. Hahah–Mr. FW is 7 months older than me and I give him a hard time about being an old man all the time 😉

  51. I have struggled with the same stuff: “Why quit work? If I keep working, I could have $10,000,000 and a vacation home in the mountains.”

    Now, I just don’t care. Really figuring out where happiness comes from is liberating. Congratulations on figuring it out at such a young age! Many never figure it out.

    Regarding growing old, I’ll leave you with a quote from Charlie Munger:

    “The best armour of old age is a well-spent life preceding it.”

    1. I had one other thought: The future homestead will suit you perfectly. While our suburban neighborhood isn’t too crazy, we still have the occasional Consumer Nutjobs. Being on a nice piece of property will insulate the family nicely against modern consumer culture. I’d suspect that your neighbors will share similar values as well, making life that much better.

      1. Agreed on all fronts. Determining how to be happy in ourselves has been such a wonderful journey for Mr. FW and me. I think it’s awesome that you and Mrs. 1500 are so secure in your dreams too–it’s inspiring. And, we’re definitely hopeful for likeminded homestead neighbors and community. I’d love to be in the midst of people who also value the non-consumer lifestyle. P.S. Want to move to Vermont :)?

  52. Hello and Happy Birthday sweet cousin! What a blessing to have such awareness at 31! I agree with the many posts above, that many never achieve the awareness, self love and self forgiveness that you have. I love your article and all of your wisdom, cheers to you! I know you will achieve your ultimate dream and retire early in a homestead in the woods! Sounds lovely. Until then, enjoy every minute. Much love to you, Mr. FW and FHound. Just wait till you hit your 40’s, it gets even better!

    1. Hey cousin! Thanks so much for reading ;)! You definitely make 40s look awesome–I’m always so impressed with everything that you do and the loving, wonderful home you’ve built for your girls!

  53. Happy birthday!

    I just started my first job in a new field. I used to be a middle school teacher, but it was never the right fit for me. I really want to be good at what I do (I’m a librarian and I’m proud of it) and be fully engaged at home at the same time. (It helps that I work part-time… sort of. Helps at home, but at work, everyone knows that the full-time librarians rank above the part-timers.)

    Apropos of nothing, at breakfast the other day, my four-year-old said in an impressed voice, “Mommy, I didn’t know you was a lie-bear-yan.” That alone almost made the degree worth it :-).

    1. Lie-bear-yan! Love it. Sounds like a great mythical creature with the power to find any book at the touch of a finger! That’s awesome that you’ve pursued a new field and that you’re passionate about it. And, it’s nice that you’re able to find a good balance with it.

  54. Happy birthday!

    I’m coming up on 37 this summer. Not quite sure how that happened. I suspect it’s the past 36.5 years. Damn them.

    But seriously, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Like you, I was a Type A personality. Rigid and prone to beating myself up. So you can imagine how bad it was when I ended up with chronic fatigue. Not pretty.

    My husband has toned me down a lot and made me be nicer to myself. I still care way too much about what people think, but it’s a fraction of what it used to be. He’s also taught me to live a little more in the moment. An invaluable skill.

    1. Husbands are so helpful in that way! Mr. FW has really been instrumental in getting me to slow down and enjoy life more. I think I’d be a stressed out mess without him. Kudos to you for finding that happiness!

  55. Happy birthday. I guess you could say that I’m still struggling with caring too much about what people think. This drives me to continue to buy more clothes, makeup, shoes, accessories, etc., etc., etc. and also a new car and a nice (but too big) house. I’m making progress in the right direction, but I have a long ways to go. I’m so glad you’ve been able to embrace this new found freedom. PS: I’m TOTALLY type A too. 100%

    1. It’s all about progress in the right direction :)! I’m far from there myself, but just having the awareness and wanting to push it aside has really helped me. Us type A’s have to be patient with ourselves 🙂

  56. Happy Birthday! My 30s were much better than my 20s. You get to know who you really are, you deal with your issues, you grow a lot in your 30s and you have a clearer view of what you want (but you seem to already know that!). But now that I’m well advanced in my 40s, I can tell you that my 40s are much better than my 30s! So I guess that if you keep working at it, life gets better and better. Of course you’ll encounter countless obstacles and difficult situations but still, you are better equiped to deal with all that so it really is better as you get older I think. (I used to care what people thought in my early 20s and then I just stopped. I’m not sure what happened but my path in life was so not conventional that I guess it wasn’t possible to compare it with other people’s lives so I stopped caring what they thought).

    1. That’s wonderful to hear, Isabelle! I very much like the idea of life getting better and better with age. There’s so much freedom that comes with maturity, I think.

  57. First HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I can relate on many of points but the one that really struck me was how society treats people who choose to be a stay at home parent or not have children. I get hit with that one, constantly – as we do not want children. Not just from friends, coworkers, but even family. When are you guys going to start having kids? seems to be a normal we haven’t talked in awhile/getting to know you question -….. and then the questions & comments when you answer …. Why don’t you want children? How can you not want children? What is wrong with you? You must have had a bad childhood. What else is there to do? Don’t worry you’ll change your mind. Thank you for the great post! I try not to judge people for any choices they make about their lives – and even if I don’t agree I live by the kindergarten lesson ‘If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all’. any way this became a bit of a rant sorry – great post though …. And again Happy Birthday!!!

    1. Such great points about the insensitivities people have over the kids question! It’s such a private, personal matter and I’ve never understood why people think it’s something they can judge in the public domain. Kudos to you for staying true to who you are and what you want from life!

  58. Happy Birthday!

    I’ll be 31 soon too and I hope by then I won’t care what other people think of me either! I admit I do still want to appear “normal” to most people. But I don’t let that stop me from pursuing the things that truly matter to me. It’s like you said, “society doesn’t care what I do with my life.” I remember when I quit my awesome job to start my own business how big is seemed to me, but life went on for everyone else. Taking that first leap made all the little steps after so much easier to take.

    I hope this year will bring you even closer to your “self”. Happy Birthday!

    1. So true that other people never care as much about what we do as we think they will. And, I think you do an awesome job of being true to yourself and not caring (in a good way 😉 )!

  59. Happy (belated) birthday, lady! Hope it was a good one, and thank you for this post. I think this sentence — and the message behind it — resonated with me the most: “In growing older I’ve gained this perspective and developed the ability to see beyond myself and my insecurities.” As always, loved getting to read your thoughts and viewpoints.

    1. Thank you so much! It’s still a work in progress for me, but I’m certainly trying to live by that ethos. I appreciate your kind words! And, I always love reading your thoughts too.

  60. Late to the (birthday) party, but happy thirty-first anniversary of your arrival on the planet! Note to self–OMG, people that were born the year I graduated from high school are in their thirties now, GAAAAAAH!

    I was your age now when I was coming to the end of the Dark Days, which I’ve previously written about here, so obviously you’re WAY ahead of where I was. Then again, I was your age when I met Mr. Mandalay. Thirty-one started out crappy, ended pretty well. 😀

    The older you get–and I’m looking down the barrel at fifty (September 2016)–the more DGAF you get, but sometimes you’ll get reminders that you’re … well, your age. Getting proofed for alcohol is a rare event. You are inevitably called “ma’am.” You crush on athletes and realize you’re more than old enough to be their mother. You find yourself thinking “kids these days.” You listen to a great song that you remember hearing for the first time and realize the first time was over thirty years ago. When I have these thoughts, though, I think of all the people who never lived to be my age, think of the huge changes I’ve seen in my lifetime, namely in technology, and think of what might lie ahead. The old Chinese proverb “may you live in interesting times” isn’t always a bad thing.

    1. I like your approach of thinking how fortunate you are to have reached the age you’re at. I feel that way too! I also find myself wondering about “kids these days” ;). Indeed, better to live in interesting times!

  61. I love this post!! I identify with it greatly, especially the resentment regarding all the ways women are made to feel inferior so that we will spend our money on products we don’t need. I also backed way off on makeup this year – eye makeup only, no crap on my skin. I’m pretty sure I look the exact same as I did when I layered up with powder and blush. Plus expectations, such a bear, and its a lifelong project learning to ignore them. You are doing an awesome job at it and I really love the honesty here.

    Happy birthday 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jessie! I feel like you and I have a similar philosophy and approach to these things, so I’m heartened to hear this resonated with you. Woot to less make-up!

  62. Happy belated birthday! Thank you for such a heartfelt post. I’ll turn 29 this year and I’m finally starting to realize that doing the “right” things isn’t what brings true happiness. I’ve had this idea in my head of what my life “should” be for so long that it’s taking me some time to figure out what I truly want. Thankfully, I think I’m making some progress. It’s very helpful and encouraging to know I’m not alone. 🙂

    1. That’s awesome that you’re on the path to what you really want! It has taken me soooo long to realize that the “shoulds” don’t make me happy or lead to a fulfilling life. I’m still working on it too, so we’re in this together 🙂

  63. Happy Birthday Mrs. Frugalwoods. Hope you had a great time! I am a bit jealous as your greyhound seems to like to get snuggled on the couch. My greyhound Sandy is not allowed on the couch so I typically have to snuggle on the floor. Haha


    1. Thank you! Actually, that photo with Frugal Hound was a rare event. She doesn’t like to get up on the couch or our bed, so Mr. FW set her in my lap for my birthday last year so I could pretend she’s a lap dog! Otherwise, we have to get down on the floor too :).
      P.S. I love Sandy as a greyhound name–cute!

  64. Very eloquently put. It’s funny that I posted something similar on my blog at the same time (although not nearly so well done 🙂 )

    It’s too easy to fall into the trap of judging oneself against others or your idea of what you should be rather than just aiming to be the best you can.

    I look forward to reading your new blog posts as they arrive, and I am not alone in that. Selfishly for myself I hope I can continue to do so without chastising myself for not living up to your lofty frugal standard. While at the same time I hope you continue to be the best Mrs. Frugalwoods you can be.

    1. It’s definitely too easy to judge ourselves harshly–I’m guilty of it all the time! Please don’t chastise yourself over frugality–it’s all about finding that right balance of spending and saving that works best for YOU. We’ve all gotta follow what’s right for us 🙂

  65. Letting go of what people think has been the one of the biggest and best changes in my life while working towards achieving financial independence within the next three years. It is amazing how much your happiness increases when you stop worrying about what people think, be yourself, and do whatever the hell makes you happy.

    The only bigger change was realizing it wasn’t actually my job I disliked but rather the thought of having to put up with early mornings, long shifts, and missed holidays for the next 25-30 years. Once I had a plan to reach FI within 3 years I began to really enjoy my job.

    Thanks for sharing,

    The Money Spot

    1. So true! Happiness really does increase when you stop worrying! Love that you’re planning to hit FI in 3 years–that’s awesome.

  66. I am so glad you have come to these conclusions so early in life. That will benefit you in more ways than you know.

    I turned 61 recently and found it not to be as liberating as I had expected. You start to think about the costs of falling, getting sick, will our retirement savings be able to cover the unknown years left (we have been more conscious recently about frugality). Somehow I am more introverted than ever. This is not a sob-story, it was just a surprise to me. I am hoping that my vision of the future will improve in future years.

    BTW: Frugal Hound will be very appreciative to have room to run on the homestead. I wish my hounds would cuddle with me on the couch as in the picture in this post. Our 95 pound grey takes up most of the couch all on his own!

    1. That is interesting to hear your reflections on getting older–I hope that you will find comfort and joy in the coming years. 61 is very young (in my opinion!) :).

      Truth be told, that photo of Frugal Hound on the couch is an aberration. She doesn’t like to cuddle with us on the couch, but Mr. FW picked her up and set her in my lap on my birthday. She likes to be petted and cuddled, but she’s just not sure about being on the couch :).

      Wow–95 lbs! That’s a big greyhound :). Frugal Hound is only 58 lbs, but we used to babysit an 80 lb grey, who loved to snuggle on the couch, but he was so darn heavy in my lap.

  67. You are absolutely right! 30s rock! I dreaded the big 3-0 2 years ago, but since then I find myself to be more me, I feel like I have found myself, after losing myself in the rat-race during my 20s… Stepping away from it all and taking time to think about things really is an eye-opener. I now realize that no one should have any expectations of me… I don’t exist to please anyone, or to live up to some unattainable idea of the perfect woman. And you want to know the best part? I have quite a few older friends (that is what you get when you have a child at a young age) and from what they tell me, the best is yet to come! Can’t wait! (Although those laugh lines around my eyes don’t have to get more pronounced)

    1. Preach! So well said, Wendy. We absolutely do not have to live up to some fabricated idea of the “perfect woman”! Glad to hear that the best is yet to come 🙂

  68. This has got to be the most empowering blog I have read in a long time. My husband and I have decided to leave the consumerism bubble behind and live life the way we feel is best for us – Not conforming to what societal norms would lead to believe..Thank you for posting this. WE are encouraged!

  69. Your blog has changed me for the better by simply making me look deeper and not giving a darn tootin’ about what others think! Beginning to live frugal and it’s surprisingly…fun! Many thanks from South Dakota

  70. love all of this!!!!!! i am in my sixties and there is absolutely nothing better, and life just gets better and better and better every day! so much living ahead and great adventures for us all!!!!!!!

  71. Bravo & happy birthday, Mrs. FW! This one really resonated with me as I’ve spent a good part of my life mostly not caring what the “others” think but often catching myself doing things only because I “should”. Still struggle with the balance but your post had me vigorously nodding my head throughout. Keep on!

  72. Well said, Liz!! I am forty and really starting to realize this. My hope is that I can teach my school age kids what really matters in life and I am realizing that I would much rather spend money on experiences than material things that go to waste. My dream is to have abroad philanthropic experiences with my family.

  73. I have spent many years woundering what my sister will say when she see me again .
    (We are oceans appart).
    I m happy been me the caring kind face me .we barely any make up .

  74. This post is making me cry a little…what you said about aiming to be ok, to be content and do good work and be the most loving person you can to the people around you while slogging through to where you want to be is what I’m trying to do right now. I’m about your same age, we lived in Cambridge for 5+ years doing the grad school thing with 1, then 2, then three kids (I really miss Market Basket), and now a few years later we have four kids and I homeschool and Hubs works hard and after having a come-to-Jesus moment with our finances this summer, we realized that being as über frugal as we can manage, our similar dream of owning our own homestead is years and years out because we want to pay off our student loans before accruing more debt, and we will be stripping our budget down to the nubbins for several years to get it done ASAP. Thanks to über frugality, we’re doing it! It’s happening! And we want it enough that we’re willing to pay that price and be glad about it. (Also, it’s not so bad, because we’ve always been moderately frugal (see grad school with kids, above).) But some days, our goal seems so. far. away. And some days it’s just hard to wait, to see other people have what I want so badly and fear I’ll never get, to focus on being in the present and building happiness now, sans stuff. I’ve really appreciated the challenge and your blog–the advice and tips are useful, and even better is the friendly voice of encouragement and reinforcement you provide. So thanks, for all of it!

  75. Reading your post has made me realise how much I buy into the “shoulds” that society places on me. I don’t buy a lot of clothes for myself and tend to rewear the same things, but I had a nagging thought that I should be wearing different clothes. I felt I should have much more in my wardrobe, when in reality I go back to wearing the same things over and over! Letting go of what people think is a huge thing for me and something I’m always working on. Bottom line is that we can’t control what people think anyway so why get ourselves wrapped up in it!

  76. This is so true! Women even get judged about how they choose to enter motherhood! I want to adopt older kids rather than reproduce and 98% of he time people tell me that I’m crazy/don’t know what I’m getting into/they have issues/you can’t trust other people’s genes/you’re clock will start ticking as if I haven’t done my research/don’t have issues/have my own stellar gene pool. I’m 31. I made this decision in my teens and every year feel more confident in it. Are you just threatened that I’m making a choice that I can pursue at any time (a.k.a. when I’m financially ready), not just pre-menopause? Because that’s what parenthood is like for men.

  77. I love this! I just turned 29 and feel like I’m already starting to care less about what people think of me. My 40 year old friend also said that he stopped caring fully when he was in his late 30s/early 40s. I love your writing!! Thank you for being real.

  78. You are utterly, absolutely adorable! I’m so glad I found you! I have moved back to an area of the United States where it is all about how much money you LOOK like you have (I can’t tell you how many people in my modestly-priced neighborhood drive a Mercedes and the guy across the street drives a Maserati) and many of the women are augmented and botoxed. At 64 lovely mature years of age, living here sometimes makes me feel like a two-headed orangutan. Living frugally, driving an affordable vehicle (my beloved Subaru, with a 20-year old Honda in the driveway), I wear minimal make-up, eat healthy, get in my requisite 10,000 steps a day, have not-one-penny of debt., and have a sizable chunk in the bank for my future, whatever it may bring. If I had this knowledge in my early thirties like you, I would even be in a better place. Living mindfully, we are left to embrace the real, the important, and the true (and have the resources to also embrace the downright FUN of it all!) Thank you for being an inspiration for so many. You make me smile a big, un-cosmetically altered smile. 🙂

  79. I am learning to reconcile myself to only just having discovered your blog. I’m 66 and retiresd and have always been pretty frugal – I always tell the kids their dad and I got married because we were the only 2 people we knew who used cloth handkerchieves! If iIwanted to beat myself up, I could look back at all the daft stuff I wasted money on and scream ‘Why?’ into the void. But that’s a seriously pointless exercise, & I’m not going to do it. I am following your emails & blog with great interest – I have 2 adult children, who are both in a finacially precarious position (not because they are spendthrifts – hi, Coronavirus) and the ideas I glean are helping me my future decisons for myself & OH, and plenty ideas (only a few suggestions – I do understand tact!0)for them.

  80. Sorry – that sounds wrong – the kids aren’t financially precarious – just not in the position they would have been at their ages a generation ago.

  81. If you ever got cancer (and I hope you don’t!), you would find very quickly how little all those “judgements” from other people matter. Other than a very small number of people who you already know accept and love you completely as you are, you would see how the vast majority would be momentarily shocked if you were gone but then would go on with their lives as if you never existed. How silly it would be to waste YOUR one life doing what these other people want.
    Plus, everyone who judges, it’s about them, not you.

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