She calls herself Tightwad. Now, for some reason, the word ‘tightwad’ is often associated with other descriptors like cheap or miserly that seem to suck the fun right out of frugal living and cloud over the significant rewards that can come from such a lifestyle. But don’t think for a minute that her penname means anything of the sort.
Instead, if you read any of the posts on her blog, also named Tightwad, you will see that there’s nothing negative about the word as it really describes how she’s put an end to needless spending so that she and her family can live without financial worry and get back to the important things in life. As the mother of twin 4-year-olds, Tightwad has prioritized her spending and heightened her saving so that, via her tightwad ways, she can afford to get what she and her family really want in life. Like she says on her blog, it’s “about being more, not having more.” ‘Simple living’ and ‘frugal living,’ just like ‘tightwad,’ have been given a bad wrap but they’re really enablers and not life sentences of sacrifice and no fun.
“I think that living on less forces you to be more creative and resourceful, which I find very satisfying,” Tightwad says. “Living on less doesn’t mean that you are compromising what you want, and typically allows you the luxury of getting what you really want when the time comes – because you can afford it. Everyone needs spoiling once in a while!”
Tightwad, like many other parents who are actively seeking out and following money saving tips so that they can live on less, says her fiscal prudence has helped to offset the would be or could be high expenses that come with having a family.
“Not only has your stream of income dried up because you can’t work, but the costs quickly add up; starting with diapers, formula if you choose that route, all the equipment needed for taking care of your baby from car seats to cribs, and clothing, and toys, etc.,” Tightwad explains. “I think I realized pretty early on that saving to help my kids eventually be able to go to the university of their choice was more important than having the latest toys and clothes. It’s easy to find savings in the realm of baby and kid stuff, if you are willing to have gently used equipment and clothes instead of the latest and greatest trends. You will find that it isn’t that big of a compromise. A great place to start is Craig’s List, thrift stores and consignment stores geared for babies and toddlers.”
The Tightwad blog is chalk-full of money saving tips that will help anyone in their quest to live on less. From ways to save money on utility bills, reducing waste, and how to stick to a kid-friendly budget, Tightwad shares an abundance of information and advice that’s sure to help you save more money. Sometimes, however, to really get in the mindset that’s needed for frugal living and to be able to stick to your personal finance goals, you’ve got to do something a little ‘radical’ and I don’t mean something crazy like forgoing toilet paper to save a few bucks, but something you would have never imagined yourself doing, before.
Like on that day when Tightwad put her credit card inside a plastic baggy and slipped it into the freezer so that the ice and frozen peas would stand between her and another unnecessary purchase. I’m sure putting her credit card in the freezer may have felt a little ‘radical’ to Tightwad at the time (and I’m sure everyone who reads her blog gasps a little when they read about that day) but she says it’s still in the freezer and she’s happy with it staying right where it is.
“I love seeing my credit card in the freezer,” Tightwad says. “It’s right beside the ice cubes. I feel emancipated from worrying about it, and it stops me from impulse buying.”
It’s true that some people see frugal living as a bit ‘radical’ or out of the ordinary, namely because it’s a conscious breaking away from the keeping up with the Jones’ mentality and deciding that you don’t need endless amounts of stuff to make you happy. I know some of our friends still can’t get over the fact that we don’t own a T.V. or that we’ve chosen to own one car between the two of us. What they don’t understand is the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can afford to do the things you really want to do and that, should an emergency arise, you’ll have enough money to weather through it.
If more people would give living on less a shot, they would soon see that it’s not hard and really not that radical. Simple living is a great way to realize what it is that you really do and don’t need to live a happy life; have the money to pay for what’s important and cut out the rest. Tightwad says she thinks that what’s holding more people back from frugal living is that they’re still confusing it with the old stigma that pinching pennies is a negative quality.
“I think that people confuse being practical with money with being cheap, and I just don’t think that they are the same thing,” Tightwad explains. “When personal debt loads are as high as they are, I really couldn’t say why people aren’t necessarily interested in trying to live more within their means. I think it’s a state of mind.”
But Tightwad, like many of the other brilliant frugal living bloggers out there, is writing daily about the merits of simple living and is teaching others how they too can be debt free. She knows that it’s not all sacrifice and that the ‘things’ you give up quickly seem insignificant when you experience the sense of freedom that comes from living without the shackles of debt.
“Even in today’s economic climate, being debt free and not owing anyone anything is not impossible – (of course mortgages are a different category altogether!),” Tightwad says. “Try not to let bills pile up and debt start eating away at you. Life will get better and your relationships will improve when you aren’t worrying about your bank account. Start by putting away the credit cards, examining your spending, and making a budget. Just keep it simple.”
So, if you’re sitting on the fence, deciding whether or not to make a change for the better and to start to live on less, I strongly encourage you to visit the Tightwad blog and to learn a thing or two from Tightwad herself. I know her stories and the things that she and her own family are doing to spend less, save more, and live more, will inspire you.