What does it mean to be suddenly frugal? It’s when a family realizes that everything they understood to be financially sound turns out not to be so and they have to reinvent how they spend money–and reconsider the financial lessons they are passing down to their kids. This was the epiphany I had in 2007 when I started my Suddenly Frugal blog.
Through daily blogging I could hold our family accountable for the financial changes we were making in our lives. For the first time ever, I took an interest in our finances–previously, my husband had handled all the bills and I had stayed happily in the dark–and we worked actively to decrease spending. We started using online bill paying so that we’d never pay a late fee again, and we drastically altered how we fed our family.
Along the way life threw us a couple of curve balls, such as when our car died three months into our frugal lifestyle. We had to take out a loan to buy a new car and that felt like instant failure. But thanks to the frugal habits we’d already put in place, we were able to save enough to pay off that three-year car loan in 12 months. Then the economy tanked and I saw my income drop 50%. Once again our frugal habits helped us know how to tweak our spending so that this difficult time became a little less painful. While things are still tight around here, we’re in a pretty good place psychologically.
Good things happened along the way, too. My fashionista daughter developed a sense of buyer’s remorse, and both of my daughters learned to budget their money. I embraced the challenge of cooking dinner at home every night, which helped to cut spending (natch) but it also brought us closer as a family. Because being able to sit down together for a meal provides benefits way beyond saving money.
In addition, I was able to attract a literary agent and get a book deal based on my blog: Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less. Then I got a second book deal: Toss, Keep, Sell: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Clearing Out Clutter and Cashing In.
Truth is we’re not out of the red completely yet. My oldest daughter is a sophomore in high school. My younger daughter is two years behind her. So in the very near future, we’re going to have to find a way to pay for college, and I’m not quite sure how we’re going to do that. This would freak out most people. I’m excited about the challenge. I’m confident that having developed a frugal point of view, we’ll figure out creative ways to find cash for college–and you can be sure I’ll be blogging about it as we go along.
This blog post is part of the submission/audition process for a new reality TV show about mom bloggers.