Resources that keep me financially inspired (and that time we had a picnic)

I don’t know the order in which it happened. I honestly can’t remember if my Aha! moment happened because of “the podcast” or whether I sought out a good financial podcast because I’d already had the Aha! moment. Chicken? Egg? Doesn’t matter. We’ll get to that.

First, as I mentioned in a previous post, our normal trips to town involved swinging into Martin’s or McDonald’s or some other fast food drive-thru. The very first week that I committed to this new frugal lifestyle, the boy had Saturday swim lessons. I knew we’d be tempted (disgusting greasy food from a place with floors to which your shoes stick is tempting, isn’t it?) so I ran through the cupboards and packed some quick snacks like chips, poofs, a couple of PB&Js, juice pouches, whatever I could get my hands on. All we had to do was make it through swim, grocery shopping, and home again. For God’s sake, if we couldn’t do that, we were lost.

After swim lessons, we decided to find a spot to eat our hastily-assembled picnic fare rather than eat it in the car on the go. If we were going to “sacrifice” by not eating donuts and fries and crap, we were at least going to make a show of it. All I had was a yoga mat in the back of my car, but the kids have butts the size of crescent rolls so it worked just fine.

We decided on a local park that had a botanical garden and, by chance, found a cozy little spot in the corner of the garden, in the shade. It was quaint and peaceful and beautiful. I expected the David himself to step out of the bushes, or fairies to flutter between the branches of the tree above.

picnic

The best part? The kids loved it. Loved. It.

Not only did we save $15 to $20 (what we normally would have spent on a trip to Starbucks and a drive-thru meal for three-and-a-half people), we were effing rock stars in the eyes of the boy, who thought we’d landed in paradise.

picnic 2

Even better than being rockstars, was the fact that we could actually let the kids run around (or roll and crawl around, in some cases) without constantly having to yell say anything like:

  • Sit down. Please sit down. Sit. Down. Sit– OH MY GOD SIT DOWN!
  • Don’t stand on the chair!
  • SHE’S GOT YOUR DRINK! LOOK OUT!
  • No, you can’t buy the gummy bears.

The boy had a blast pretending we were on a faraway planet with monster aliens. There were pirates too, if I recall. Dangerous rock climbing. A day full of adventure!

picnic 3

picnic 4

I thought that being frugal meant being a drag. I thought it would just be kind of awful, actually. In many ways, frugal living has been a blessing.

The picnic was weeks ago. I’m coming up on our two-month frugal-financial-freedom-goal anniversary. I can’t even believe we’ve managed for this long. If you knew us before (and I’ve revealed a little bit about our spending habits), you’d know that making it two weeks is unbelievable. But two months? Why…why…I just can’t even…

Look away, I’m about to ugly cry.

So how have we done it? I can’t speak for hubs, but I’m sure he’d say “Because you told me to.” How have I stuck with it? I have my go-to resources and I’m proactive in looking for new ones to keep me inspired.

inspired

I discover new ones all the time, but I’m going to share some of my favorite sources of inspiration over the last couple of months.

Martinis and Your Money Podcast

This is the chicken. Or the egg. It was there in the very beginning, and I was hooked immediately. While this podcast is definitely for anyone (except kids, because it’s occasionally explicit, but rarely) I love it as a woman. The host is a woman, Shannon McLay, and many of the guests and topics really engage women to be financially fit. Shannon also blogs at Financially-Blonde.com and she is the founder of the Financial Gym in New York City, a flagship location where trained financial trainers help everyday folks kick debt in the arse and out the door. I listened to a couple of podcasts before I really got into it, then I binge-listened over the next few weeks while working. This may seem weird, but what originally drew me in was Shannon’s laugh. (I hope that didn’t sound creepy.) She has a really warm and genuine laugh, and it helped me relate to her as a real person. Her show is very conversational but on-point, with a variety of topics. Each show starts out with Shannon asking her guests, “What are you drinking today?” because wine and cocktails are as much a part of the show as the financial advice. It’s a great podcast, light, fun, easy to understand, and best of all, inspiring! Click here or download it on your iTunes to be inspired by Shannon’s personal story and by her guests. Many of them have incredible stories of paying off thousands of dollars in debt against all odds.

Frugalwoods

Meet the Frugalwoods, Mrs. and Mr. I learned about Mrs. Frugalwoods on the Martinis and Your Money podcast. I love the Frugalwoods blog. I won’t spoil it for you, but the Frugalwoods are a couple of peeps who were working the ol’ corporate 9 to 5 when they realized one day, um, we want more out of life than this. They doubled down on their already frugal ways, had a baby, adopted Frugalhound, and got the heck out of dodge (I’m not sure in which order). By “out of dodge” I mean, like, out of this world and into the woods, dodge. They bought a homestead in the middle of freaking nowhere and have been living the life they want, on their homestead, and living meaningfully. I love it. I love their story, and their blog is full of practical resources, tips, and ideas for managing debt, frugal living, cutting costs, and of course, photos of the beautiful wooded trails that are now their back yard. Call me inspired.

Club Thrifty

I think what I love most about Club Thrifty is Holly Johnson’s story. Also, the founders of Club Thrifty are Hoosiers. I’m a little partial. They have a great story too, but I would find their interview on the Martinis and Your Money podcast first, then visit their website. Parts of the site are a little sales-y (it’s how they make a lot of their money, after all), BUT if you click on “blog” from the drop-down menu, you’ll find lots of great nuggets and you can’t deny how crazy amazing their story is. You know the ol’ rags-to-riches story? Yeah, this isn’t that. It’s a funeral-director-to-riches story. I find it inspiring for many reasons. They’re Midwesterners, Holly is a freelance writer, and they travel all over the world with their family (usually for free). This is my pie-in-the-sky muse that I visit for fun and awe more than anything, but it’s worth checking out. It’s a great resource for staying motivated! Check out this book they wrote – it sounds like a great read! Also, it sounds like they worked incredibly hard to achieve what they have. Props, yo.

You People

No don’t google “you people,” I literally mean YOU. And you and you and you.

I have received so many comments and emails and messages since I’ve started blogging about this topic. I’ve had friends say they’re trying to make a financial change too. I get reports of folks trying to pack lunches, messaging me to say, “I could have bought lunch today but I didn’t!” People have calculated their own spending habits and reported back or told me they’re looking at their budgets and expenses. Friends are suggesting budgeting apps and other frugal ideas. Thank you, friends, family, people of the internet… It’s crazy and humbling and scary to open yourself up, spilling all of your beans (or coins and bills, in my case) and feeling like it’s actually kinda sorta making a teensy difference in others’ lives.

Great. I’m going to ugly cry again.

Peace out, folks. Happy saving!

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