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These past few days, I’ve been experiencing something I’ve never felt before: frugal fatigue.
I want to life life a little and keep wondering about those trips to exotic resorts, those fancy meals at luxurious restaurants, and the beautiful high-end dresses I sometimes see other women wearing in public places.
In other words, I want to have all the good things in life without having to stress about the prices and whether I can save a couple of bucks here and there.
That feeling didn’t come out of nowhere. There’s a story to it.
About two weeks ago, Mr. FAF and I talked about buying a bigger, more expensive house in Northern Virginia as our second home and future investment.
The only problem is that we want to buy it by the end of 2019, and we just won’t have enough money for a 20% down payment and associated fee for a $600,000 house.
That means that we would need to borrow at least $500,000 to make the purchase happen.
That got me excited for a week. And then reality set in.
Would I want to sacrifice most of my wants now to pay off the mortgage on our primary residence, continue to save, get ourselves in a bigger debt, and work like a horse to pay it off over the next 10-20 years?
While the thought of owning a valuable piece of real estate is thrilling, it got me jaded about paying off debt.
After all, I’m not really into living in a big house. I spend almost 11 hours in the office and on my commute every day. When I get home from work, I stay a wake for only 4-5 hours before falling asleep.
As you know, when you sleep, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a small or big house if the bed and the temperature are good. At least, that’s how I feel.
In a nutshell, I don’t have a strong desire to move to a bigger house. Maybe it’s just a matter of mindset. I need to set another goal for my frugal living.
I suddenly felt empty and lost.
When Mr. FAF and I were poor, frugality was a necessity for us to get by. We had to save money to not stress now. Now that we have more disposable income, frugality has become an option.
And since I have more than one option, I started to dream about another option where I can buy more nice things for myself and not have to eat leftover dinners for lunch in the car on a road trip just to save a couple of bucks.
Don’t get me wrong. We still need to save money to up our emergency plan and prepare for the arrival of our baby girl. But maybe we should feel more comfortable splurging here and there.
Figuring things out
I messaged my close friend and told her about my loss of interest in frugality, hoping to get some advice or perspective from her. I just felt so alone in those thoughts.
My friend and I went to the same college although I was one year ahead of her. She graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and started working at a huge pharmaceutical company up north.
Her husband just finished his residency and has been working as a podiatrist for almost a year. In a nutshell, they make a good income.
We usually talk about our married lives, husbands, in-laws, investment plans, real estate, food, and some random topics.
My friend said that she and her husband live in a one bedroom apartment with one tiny table with two chairs in the kitchen and a small bed. They eat at home and pack their lunch almost every day. They only eat out on Friday and Saturday nights as a date.
Basically, they remain frugal even after her husband started making the big bucks.
However, they’ve traveled to a lot of places, and that’s one area they splurge on. She said it’s an investment in their marriage. Other than that, their lifestyles remain the same as when the husband was doing his residency.
Her advice for me is to maintain a balance, live a little and not worry about saving money all the time. Still feeling lost, I messaged Mr. FAF and told him I was getting tired of being frugal. This is how our conversation went:
Me: I’m tired of being frugal. I want to enjoy life.
Mr. FAF: Sure. Yes we can. Why not? Do you want to go to Costco and Good Fortune tonight?
In my mind, I was like “Costco and Good Fortune again? Don’t we go there almost every weekend? I was thinking more about trips to exotic resorts as a way to enjoy life.”
But instead of sounding like a spoiled wife, I said okay. Sensing the lack of enthusiasm in my response, Mr. FAF continued with his suggestions:
Mr. FAF: No, you don’t need to. I am just suggesting. If you feel tired, I can stop by Costco and Good Fortune.
Me: No, I want to go out.
Mr. FAF: How about eating out tonight?
I could tell he was trying to cheer me up. But I started feeling guilty for making him feel worried about my state of mind and suggested we finish the leftovers at home before they went bad.
In a moment, I felt grateful for Mr. FAF. He was trying to cater to my wants and needs.
I started thinking about what food I’d want if we went out for dinner.
I just finished a big bowl of free Mediterranean food from the previous day at the office. I had my fair share of eating out that day.
Would I feel much happier if we dropped $200 on a fancy dinner instead?
I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to spend that much money on one meal anyway.
Then I started thinking about revamping my wardrobe. I’m on a clothing ban in 2018 and haven’t bought one single item of clothing or accessories this year.
I just saw a video of a girl wearing a pretty outfit on YouTube the night before and wanted the same thing she had. Maybe I was just trying to keep up with the Joneses. But even that new wardrobe would have to wait until after I give birth.
My current budget is $300-400. I will try to get new-to-me clothes at higher-end thrift stores in DC. In a nutshell, I felt the urge to spend money to get out of this frugal fatigue. I didn’t know if it’d make me feel better. But I didn’t want to pinch pennies all the time.
What I realized made me happier that afternoon was the fact that Mr. FAF listened to what I had to say, paid attention to my wants, and tried to accommodate them the best way he knew how: on a budget.
A trip to Costco or Good Fortune (a Vietnamese grocery store) is by no means fancy. A dinner out that day might have cost us $50 at the max. But that’s his way of saying “I care about you.”
We went to Good Fortune that night with our son. I picked out some snacks and drinks (boba matcha green tea powder!) that I’ve always wanted to have but hesitated not to since I wanted to save money.
That made me happy, but only temporarily. It is my husband and my son who show me they care about and love me through their love language is what will keep me happy for the rest of my life.
We are planning a day trip to Chespeake Bay in Maryland this weekend. It will be a day trip so that we don’t have to spend money on lodging. But we will be sure to get a huge seafood platter. My motto for the trip is YOLO on a budget!