Howdy! While Mr. Frugalwoods and I enjoy/attempt to survive our very first month as parents to our daughter, Babywoods, I have a delightful slate of guest posts from my friends lined up for your reading pleasure. Today, please welcome the lovely Melanie Lockert from Dear Debt!
By: Melanie Lockert
In a few short months, I’ll have my first taste of debt freedom. My entire adult life — 18 years old to 31 years old — has been punctuated by student loan debt. In total, I’ve taken out $81,000 for two degrees. Currently, I have a mere $14,000 left.
It feels so good to be so close to something I’ve worked so hard for. For the past few years, I’ve worked hard to cut my expenses and build my income in an effort to get out of debt as soon as possible.
It hasn’t always been easy. A few years ago, I made $12 per hour. I used to think I’d never get out of debt. Now that I’m so close to being debt-free, I’m reflecting on everything that got me to this place. Aside from being a side hustle queen, a large part of it is due to being a frugal weirdo. While I am not a frugal weirdo in all the same ways as the Frugalwoods, I am a frugal weirdo in my own right. And that’s just fine with me.
Being A Frugal Weirdo
In my mind, a frugal weirdo is someone who bucks convention and doesn’t live their life based on what they “should” buy or what they “should” do. Frugal weirdos are the opposite of the Joneses. Instead of trying to keep up with everyone else, they’re questioning every expense and ditching the ones that don’t serve them.
Not only do I think it’s completely okay to be a frugal weirdo, in some cases, I think it’s a necessity. In order to accomplish any big financial goal—whether it’s retiring at 33 or paying off $81,000 in debt—you have to do things differently than most people. For me, I’ve embraced being a frugal weirdo by questioning conventional consumerism and letting go of what I thought my life should look like at my age.
At 31 years old, I’m now at the age where many of my friends are already married, buying houses, and having kids. Me? I’m still living like a college student in most regards. My boyfriend and I share a cozy (see: small) studio apartment, furnished by Craigslist and Ikea.
We don’t own a TV or have cable. I don’t have a car or a gym membership. I get my hair cut once a year at the local beauty school and have given up fancy cosmetics. I’m a minimalist and hate buying clothes and despise stuff. I’ve even said no to having a pet until I’m debt-free (sorry Frugal Hound).
The Value of Being a Frugal Weirdo
While many folks might look at people like me or the Frugalwoods and think we’re so deprived, I know that we spend our money on things that are worth it to us. Being a frugal weirdo isn’t about never spending money—it’s about realizing what’s worth spending money on and letting your goals guide you and your choices.
In this world, where there’s so much pressure to keep up, it can be exhausting and downright difficult to figure out what you really want—and not what your friends, family, advertisers, and marketers are selling you. It takes guts and courage to be a frugal weirdo—and to you fellow frugal weirdos out there, I salute you.
It’s Okay to Be a Frugal Weirdo
My point is that it’s okay to be a frugal weirdo. You don’t have to buy things to make yourself happy (because they don’t). You don’t have to buy a house if you don’t want to. You don’t have to have children if you don’t want to. You don’t need to buy the Next Big Thing. You can change the rules of the game when you want to. There’s no life rulebook that says this is the right way and this is the wrong way.
It’s your life and your choice and if you have Big Financial Goals, then let your frugal weirdo flag fly.
Melanie Lockert is a Portland-based personal finance writer and founder of the award-winning blog Dear Debt. Currently, she’s a few short months away from paying off all of her student loans — all $81,000.