4 Benefits of Frugality

piggy

Frugality is a fantastic tool to help you live the life you really want. It is simple and freely available to anyone.

So what is frugality? In essence it is spending your money with care and purpose and not being wasteful. It is spending your money where it really means something to you, such as on school tuition, saving for a house or healthy groceries instead of something fleeting such as an expensive take-out pizza.

Frugality as a lifestyle has many, many benefits and it continues to grow dividends (!) the more you practice it. Here are my top 4 benefits:

  1. Frugality encourages you to be more creative and resourceful and look for interesting/unique solutions to problems. Do you want to read the latest cool novel? Instead of spending $16 and buying it how about checking it out of the library. Same goes for movies and CDs- the library is one of the best sources of free entertainment and learning around! A nice bonus about the library is once you’re done you give it back and you can avoid adding clutter to your house. How about food? Before going out to eat and spending a lot of money can you eat some food you have at home instead? If you have a few basic ingredients, such as pasta, sauce and frozen veggies maybe simply buying some grated cheese will help make dinner a lot more interesting! And you will save a lot versus buying a whole meal.
  2. Frugality helps you save for the big, important things in life. I’m endlessly amazed at how easily money can slip through my fingers and that’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful to frugality. It helps me to hang on to money and save it or invest it so I can put it towards important life goals. These goals are entirely personal, they can be short term such as saving to buy a new pair of shoes or longer term such as a home or retirement. But the important thing is that the money has a purpose.
  3. Frugality and savings can help give you a safety net when life gets hard. One of my main drives to be frugal is to have a wide “safety net” of savings if something bad/tough/challenging happens in my life. Money is simply a tool, a fantastic tool that can really, really help you if you have an emergency or fall on hard times. It can give you medical care, a roof over your head and food on your plate. It doesn’t replace love but it can be very helpful.
  4. Paying off and staying out of debt. In early 2012 I was deep in debt with high interest credit cards and a car loan and really upset and freaked about by it; and I had brought it all upon myself. Around this time I was reading a lot of personal finance blogs and began to “see the light” and became determined to pay off all my debt and never, ever go into debt again (except for a mortgage). I threw every single penny I earned at my credit cards and car loan and in one year had paid off all my debts. It was one of the greatest reliefs of my life.

The most basic formula for being frugal and saving money is: to spend less than you earn. That’s it! There is truly nothing more to it; admittedly however this is simple but not easy.

The more you can widen that gap between what you spend and earn the better (and to save the difference!). Any savings is awesome even if it’s only $5/month, but the more the better 🙂

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Food budget Friday, Feb 24: Health is wealth

strawberries.JPGHello lovely friends,

I am still in California visiting my mom. The past few days we’ve had beautiful sunshine and some warmth which has been very nice.

It’s been a bit of a funny week: on Tuesday night I got very ill with food poisoning and am still recovering. I think it was a bit of a perfect storm to be honest; the past week or so I hadn’t taken very good care of myself so I was already a bit run down, then I had a long plane ride out here and then the food poisoning on top of that.

I’m grateful I’m doing as well as I am. I still have muscle aches, headache and a runny nose but overall I’d say I’m 60% back to normal. I’ve been semi-fasting and I think it’s definitely helping my recovery. Yesterday all I had was water and chicken broth. Today I will probably do the same and maybe tomorrow. Pretty much I’ll keep fasting until my stomach/intestines don’t feel so weak, tired and inflamed.

Before I left I did quite a bit of stocking up on canned goods and frozen food so I’d say my food spending this week has been slightly less than usual but not dramatically so. I haven’t kept good records because of being sick and my mom’s helped out with some of the groceries. I’d say I’m about $10 under budget.

Whenever I get really sick like this it is such a strong and important reminder to me just how precious and valuable good health is. Nothing can replace feeling strong and healthy. I’m feeling more motivated than ever to heal my binge eating and take better care of myself now.

I’m praying that this passes in the next few days and I feel back to normal soon 🙂

Making a U-turn

photo.jpgThe other day I wrote a post very honestly discussing how much I struggle with sugar. Basically I said that I planned to never eat sugar again.

While everything I said was completely true, fair and honest…something didn’t sit quite right with me. And this morning I realized what it is: It was my all-or-nothing thinking, and perfectionist tendencies rearing their ugly head trying to make me do something that is quite likely impossible for me. It’s my classic eating disorder way of thinking.

The whole point of keeping this blog is so I can be honest about my successes, failures and growth along the way. My journey to healing is essentially an on-going trial and error for me to see what works and what doesn’t.

Healing -from anything- just takes time and has it’s own natural process. I don’t want to get in my own way by placing all kinds of restrictions on myself, however well intentioned they may be.

By my saying I “can’t” eat something and I’m “not allowed” all that does is keep me from getting well. It keeps me from having a normal, healthy relationship with food….because after all it’s just food.

So as of today I’m taking all of the food restrictions off and simply continuing on my healing journey to hopefully establish a healthy relationship with food ❤

Willingness to let go of things that don’t work

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Note: I wrote a response to this article 

Having the willingness to let go of things that aren’t working: I’m seeing more and more how important this is for healing.

As I look through my journal and older blog postings I’m seeing obvious behaviors that I do which keep tripping me up on the road to healing my eating disorder; and I think it’s very important to honor them and take them seriously.

Letting go of old, unhealthy behaviors for me however is often much easier said than done. Why is this? I’m not a behavior expert but for me I think the main contributing factors are:

  1. I’ve used these behaviors as a (admittedly unhealthy) way to cope with my fear, stress, boredom and anxiety. They have been a crutch to help me “get through” life and situations that are uncomfortable.
  2. Habit. Habits can be notoriously hard to break, especially ones that have deep emotional links and strongholds. Despite bingeing being obviously bad for my body, health and soul I have kept coming back to it because in the moment when I feel stressed a binge can temporarily ease my pain. The old habit pattern over rules my better judgment because I know a binge, which lasts only a few minutes will bring me hours of pain including indigestion, inflammation, bloating and feeling really bad and shameful about myself.
  3. Weak faith and not trusting God enough that he loves me and is looking out for me.

So what am I trying to let go of?

  • Sugar. Without a doubt this is my #1 battle. I could write pages and pages of the destruction my sugar addiction has ravaged through my life over the years. But that’s for another time.

Sugar for me is seductive, deceptive, deeply and profoundly harmful, and I can never, never, never get enough. I could practically eat sugar-rich foods; chocolate, cake, cupcakes, ice cream, white bread and pasta until I died.

Another level of difficulty I have with sugar is that much of the binge eating disorder literature I read does not advocate cutting a certain food out of your life because it’s not a healthy, balanced approach to healing and will almost always boomerang back at you in the form of a binge(s).

I have tried everything to make it work with sugar; for example just eating it in the form of fruit, just eating dark chocolate (you know, with 70% or more cocoa content); just eating it in condiments such as ketchup, bbq sauce and ketchup to add extra flavor to otherwise savory dishes, I could go on and on….

I can bottomline this quickly: none of it works for me. I am hopelessly and completely addicted to sugar. A well-intentioned apple will eventually lead to a binge. BBQ sauce on my chicken burger will eventually lead to a binge. One cookie will lead to eating twelve (or more!).

So I have decided to break up with sugar.

Now, please don’t hold me to this….because like in any bad relationship I might go back for more suffering to see if “maybe it will work this time.” But I am putting my very strong intent out to the universe. Sugar and me are done.

I intensely want to heal my eating disorder and finally become healthy, well and whole. As it’s said, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

What else am I wanting to let go of?

  • TV. I am also hopelessly addicted to television. If I start watching it at 8pm I can easily watch until 3am and if I wake up, at say, 5am I’ll start watching it again. It’s pretty bad. And like sugar it’s just another way that I unhealthily cope with stress, anxiety, fear etc.

My tv addiction is not as bad as my sugar addiction and I think it is secondary to sugar. What I mean is the nights I watch the most tv are after I’ve binged.

But the two of them are part of the same vicious and terrible cycle. If I binge then I stay awake most of the night and watch tv because I’m way over-wired on sugar (and shame); then the next day I’m exhausted physically and emotionally….and what I often do to get myself going is….eat sugar. And the horrible cycle starts all over again.

So my goal is to have the willingness to finally let go of this self-defeating, self-sabotaging behavior. As I said before, if I slip and fall please don’t hold it against me. I am simply one vulnerable little person who very much wants to get well and finally be free.

Food Budget Friday: I’ve been moving this week edition

Hi there lovely friends,

This week I moved to a new place! Most of us know that moving is….a lot of work. It’s all good though and I’m very grateful because I’m now in a nicer place and it’s a better situation over all. God is good : )

Much of my week has consisted of bringing stuff over from my old place, cleaning my old place (honestly, where does all the dust, dirt, etc come from?!), trying to start getting settled here, getting utilities set up, etc etc. My apologies I know that’s all a bit boring 🙂

My eating this week was very up and down. I had a couple of binges which I wasn’t happy about but I think the stress from moving and feeling unsettled because of having so much to do and being in an unfamiliar place got to me.

That’s a consistent thread I see with my binge eating: feeling unsettled/stressed can often lead to a binge. The thing is though…that’s life and there’s always something it seems because life isn’t a placid lake it’s a river that just keeps on going and moving.

Being able to cope better with the ever-changing nature of life is one of my big goals with healing my eating disorder. I guess you could say it’s learning better stress & anxiety management.

Unfortunately I didn’t keep good records this week and misplaced many of my receipts. I can say for sure though that I went over budget by at least $30. This is for three reasons: 1. I binged several times which is expensive; 2. I needed to buy some food for the new place because I was running low on groceries; 3. I went out to eat a few times (3 times I think), it was just burger and burrito places but the costs of eating out really adds up.

Some fun news: I made my first “real” meal tonight at the new place (that didn’t come from a bag or a box). I made scrambled eggs with onion and mushrooms, boiled broccoli, and some sweet potato. It’s nice to be cooking again it’s much healthier and more frugal.

Hopefully I’ll start to feel more settled in the next few days and can get back on track 🙂

dinner

What about sugar?

cupcakeSugar and me definitely have a love/hate relationship. I love how it sweetens up everything from BBQ sauce to cookies; but I don’t like how it makes me feel physically, emotionally and spiritually.

On a practical level I’m also becoming more aware of how sugar pops up in many unsuspecting places such as mayonnaise, salad dressings, pasta sauce, hot sauce, non-dairy milks, and salad dressings, among many others. It’s frustrating how sugar is hiding in a lot of our every day foods so we are possibly eating more than we really want to unintentionally.

I know sugar is also the #1 culprit in triggering my binge eating (with anxiety and stress being a close #2) and has been a major food addiction issue for most of my life. I’ve been a heavy sugar eater since childhood, with unhappy consequences, such as being overweight.

When I say “sugar” I’m referring to it in it’s many forms: cane sugar, molasses, maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.

What I wrestle with is this: Since I am a person with an eating disorder that I am trying to heal, I really try to avoid the temptation to say I’m, “never going to eat a certain food (ie. sugar) ever again!!” It’s an easy mental trap for me to fall into, and it never works. I’ve tried this, oh maybe 1000 times.

So, what’s a girl to do? I have no easy answers for this one, I really wish I did. At the very least I can try to be mindful and aware that sugar is a problem for me. Perhaps not make any grand gestures, like saying I’ll never eat cake again because…that’s ridiculous and unrealistic. And the first thing I would probably do after I say that is go eat cake, probably a couple slices, in a dark room all by myself 🙂

So I am hoping that mindfulness and awareness are the first step in healing my relationship with sugar.

A final note: this is an interesting opinion piece I saw in The New York Times, called “A Month Without Sugar.” It’s definitely a good read.

As always, I love to hear your thoughts.

A small treat: happy and guilt free

chocolate1Since yesterday I’ve really been hankering for some chocolate, so today I bought this delicious chocolate bar. Why am I posting about this? Because I’m happy to say that it was a treat and not a binge!

I ate enough to be satisfied, which was about half a bar and then I was miraculously and joyously able to stop.

I don’t take this for granted at all, in the very near past I would not have been able to do this. I would have eaten the whole bar and then moved onto a box of cookies and then who knows? Half a pizza? A whole pint of ice cream? And my reward for this behavior would be: feeling ill, depressed, bloated and like a complete failure.

With my eating disorder I simply take things day by day and meal by meal. If I had this bar tomorrow maybe I’d binge…but for today I was able to have a treat and not binge. I am very happy about this 🙂

I think treats are awesome and an important part of enjoying life. However because of my binge eating I have had a very, very hard time being able to just have a treat and not have it turn into an eating frenzy.

Today was a small healing victory 🙂

chocolate2

Slightly less than half the bar is left. I’m saving it for my little household to finish.