I really don’t even know. As opposed to many blogs I read about frugality and simple living, I never had a financial crisis point, never embarked on some ambitious plan to get rid of a certain amount of stuff or live on a certain amount of money per month, never had a dream to start my own business and travel the world as inspiration to save money.
I grew up in a middle class house in the ‘burbs, not rich, but always had plenty to go on vacations, etc. I never thought much about money, except that I liked having it to spend. I couldn’t wait to turn 16 so I could apply for a job at Contempo Casuals, my favorite clothes store at the mall. I LOVED going to the mall, shopping, and dressing up in mildly outrageous outfits (fishnets, huge boots, anything sparkly or loud or plastic) until probably sophomore year of college when it started tapering off. (I still do like to shop, like twice a year, and dress up in crazy outfits occasionally.)
So I went to college, paid no attention to the student loans, figured I would make tons of money as an engineer when I graduated. What’s $30,000 in loans when you’ll make $55,000 a year starting?! It sounded like a fortune to me. You’d think being so good at math I could have done some simple cost of living and repayment calculations or something. But “real life” was a foreign concept.
I graduated, got a cheap one bedroom, had no problem paying my bills, but otherwise gave no thought to where my money was going or long term financial planning.
Until I realized I hated my job. This didn’t come until a year and a half later when I was finished with some newbie engineer program where you rotate through departments to try to figure out the best “fit” for you. I finally figured out I would probably never fit in there. I thought it was the culture, the commute, the long difficult boring projects.
So I got a new job. Liberal office, close to home, way easier, but almost the same pay! And was really happy at first. Until I realized I hated my job. Things in common with the old job? Cubicle, corporate environment, meaningless boring work, pretending to care all day about something I really couldn’t give a shit about.
But now I was married, and us having the method of completely combining our finances, had my husband’s $100,000K+ (and quickly accuring interest!) law school loans to worry about too. When he graduated in May 2008 and I did the math on how fast that chunk of money was growing (7% on a portion!) I freaked. It seemed impossible to pay off even with our combined $90,000K per year salaries.
I suppose it was around then I started reading and thinking a lot about simpler living, how to pay off debt faster, and what I really wanted out of life, because I knew it wasn’t what I was doing.
I’ll have to write a Part 2 about how we actually practice frugal living….