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Frugal Pursuit

What brought me here:

I sometimes stop to look around and compare what my life is in real life to what I feel has been modeled to me by my culture and upbringing. At my age, I thought that I would have a more settled life. Settled in things like my career, home and car ownership, children (maybe) and my perceived place within larger society. These were the expectations of a very young, inexperienced version of myself.

Moving from Finland back to the United States has brought many of the aforementioned thoughts back to the forefront of my mind. For me, this is just part of readjusting to living in the US again. The intense messages of consumerism and a certain degree of societal conformity are hard for me to ignore. Part of the reason I want to write this blog post is so that I can clearly explain myself and my reasons for living the life that I have freely chosen.

Okay, what gives?

Yeah. I know it sounds strange. It’s as if I’m making some huge, life-altering declaration. It’s nothing as dramatic as that! Perhaps I feel I need to explain myself because the way in which I’m choosing (along with my husband) to live my life seems to be in almost direct contradiction to not only the culture of the US, but in some manner, the ways in which I was raised. Heck, it runs contradictory to being an artist and an art teacher as well.

Stuff:

When my husband and I moved to Finland, we sold, donated, gave away, trashed and recycled most of our belongings. There were some boxes that I had moved from apartment to apartment and had never really gone through them. I couldn’t understand why I kept things in boxes that I never used or even looked at. It didn’t make sense to me at all. I was just moving these time capsules from place to place for no good reason.

While we were in Finland, I did get better about sorting through and getting rid of things that I knew I wouldn’t use. But in all honestly, the last year or so saw me concentrating more on my artwork, and much, much less on sorting, donating, and recycling my ‘stuff’. This made the act of packing up and moving just a little more stressful for me. And I’ve decided I don’t ever want to do that again.

What’s the plan?

Well, in a nutshell, not to buy as much stuff. But let’s face it, that kind of explanation is as infuriating as the doctor who tells you to simply eat less to lose weight. I’m not trying to say that I’ve found some magical plan that is super-easy and lots of people can duplicate. I’m also not talking about some Marie Kondo kind of solution either.

The over-all plan is something that my husband and I have been talking about for about a year. It dove-tails nicely into each of our own business plans. And will help us get to the next stage in our goals to build our businesses.

What we buy:

My husband and I are both in agreement that we want to put money into each of our businesses so that we can grow in the directions we have planned. For me, this means that there need to be some equipment purchases, including a new computer, lights, and a camera to start. My husband also has a list of equipment purchases to make as well.

We also have decided that we owned too many clothes that we did not use. Working from home doesn’t place the same sort of clothing requirements on us as it does for a public school teacher, or office worker. A capsule wardrobe is something that we’re working towards as well. It reduces our impact on the environment, and our budget. This was an easy adjustment for us to make.

We’ve decided to purchase less furniture too. What we do purchase is targeted to assist us in building our businesses. A good bed and mattress, along with sheets, pillows and comforters is a must for both of us. Neither one of us can work if we’re getting bad sleep. A nice kitchen table has been left for us by the previous tenant. So we only need to buy two chairs for it. There’s no immediate need to have four chairs.

Frugal or cheap?

There are some people who might say that we’re not being frugal, we’re just being cheap. To that, I just roll my eyes and shrug. This is how we are choosing to live. We’re not pushing it onto anyone else. Our credit scores are good and we have money in the bank. That’s something I find so much more satisfying than buying objects that I will just have to schlep with me when we move again.

John Wesley has been an influence on both of us regarding how and on what we spend our money. One of the things that Wesley did that my husband and I both admire is a simple calculation for managing his personal money. If he earned 10£, but only needed 5£ to live on, the extra 5£ went into savings. If his earnings rose to 20£, he still lived on 5£ and saved the rest.

In a way, that is what we’re attempting to do by purchasing fewer things like clothing and home decor. We want to spend our money as precisely as possible on the items that will help us to attain our entrepreneurial goals. I personally don’t feel as though I’m being made to sacrifice much. I will have the things I need to be content. What else would I need?

Walking contradiction:

Having written all of the above, there may be people who say, “But wait a minute. Didn’t you spend a chunk of cash to ship your artwork to your new home?” Yes. I did. I also taught several art workshops to pay for the shipping to do so. That had been decided upon when I accepted the offer to teach the workshops.

From an emotional standpoint, I didn’t want to part with my larger pieces of artwork. But, when looked at from an entrepreneurial stance, those pieces of artwork are also needed so that I can begin establishing myself as an artist in the city of Wilmington and surrounding areas. So, when looked at from a different angle, spending the money to ship the artwork will be worth it.

So, now what?

As I’ve said in several of the previous blog posts, I’m working on the floor with my computer on some plastic bulk candy containers (that presently contain some of the artwork that will be for sale again on my website). Again, at my age it seems like a strange, really poor thing to do. But then I remind myself that I am firmly a Gen-X-er and suddenly feels rather punk instead.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

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