How We Became Suddenly Frugal

Last year my husband and I decided that it might be nice if we bought a new house–especially since the real estate market was sinking into the crapper at the time and we watched housing prices sink to places they hadn’t been in a number of years–many four-bedroom homes in our tony Philadelphia suburb we’re being sold at fire-sale prices. I know that we would have succeeded in that mission if the first house we’d put an offer on–and went to contract with–worked out. But it didn’t.

Then we went to contract on another house, only to have that fall through. House #3? During the inspection, we discovered that it had toxic mold in the basement, and it didn’t take an inspector to figure out that the owner was a psycho. It was a bad karma house, even if it had a great price–and a swimming pool. We finally ended up in our new house for all the right spiritual, karmic and happiness reasons, but the cutting our monthly costs with a smaller mortgage theory? Yeah, well that went down the crapper when we put an offer and closed on this house last month.

For the first time in 15 years, we are going to have to radically change how we live–from the amount we drive (we are walkable to most things in this new house, even in suburbia, a God-send with gas at the $3+ a gallon point) to the budget we live on. You see, the house we’re in is almost $250,000 more than the first house we looked at, and that has really shaken up our finances. Just getting together the 20% down (to avoid PMI) was a stretch.

Now Chinese on Tuesday, pizza on Wednesday, Japanese on Thursday, pizza on Friday just isn’t going to cut it, even if I don’t feel like cooking that night. Neither is grocery shopping on the fly or going to the mall for “shopper-tainment” because there’s nothing better to do. My girls (almost 10 and 12) have grown up knowing that they could go to Limited Too or Target whenever they wanted–and spend their own allowance money, natch–but now that they’re going to be living on a budget too. Not only will we have to retrain their shopping and spending habits but we may also have to rethink their current allowance structure.

I’m hoping that as the days, weeks and months go by, having Frugal Lifestyle blog will help to keep us on track with our budget and spending (or lack thereof), and maybe the folks who drop by will pick up a tip or two–or maybe share some cost-cutting wisdom of their own.

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