Your life isn’t static. It’s a fluid, ever-changing thing. This means that if you are going to live frugally, you are going to have to master the art of the pivot.
Pivoting means you change direction, tactics, positioning, mindset, whatever it takes to take advantage of your changing situation.
As an example, I recently took on a new job, a great challenge. It meant being back in an office which I was looking forward to because I thrive on establishing a routine. I am far more productive when I am working to a schedule and routine as much as possible. This doesn’t mean that I don’t pivot and pivot often. So, some changes went along with my new gig.
Lunch just got a whole lot cheaper. One would think that I’d be spending more while working in an office but that isn’t the case. My partner would often disrupt my home-based efforts and want to go out for a meal. That’s a thing of the past and leftovers get used up far more quickly now since I rely on them for lunch. Luckily for me, I work with a serious, focused crew. Everyone mostly eats at their desk and goes home a bit earlier as a result. I like it. As someone embracing a frugal lifestyle, I was never one for expensive lunches out any way. The math: average lunch here in high tech la la land would cost me $12 if going out with colleagues and not hitting the drive through. If you figure on 261 working days a year, that is a whopping $3,132 dollars you just through down your gullet. Better to brown bag it with leftovers most, if not all days, if you can.
Gym time changed dramatically. I continue to invest in my health because I truly believe that keeping in shape saves thousands if not more, on long term health issues. Gone are the days of two hour workouts starting at 10 a.m. This pivot is not enough to make me want to cancel my gym membership, far from it. I happily discovered that my gym has another branch less than a mile from my new office. Perfect. It is taking a bit more discipline to change and hit the gym after a long day at the office but at least three days a week, I am making it happen. On the weekends, I still work out at the branch nearest to my house because who needs to waste money on gas?
Speaking of gas. My partner and I have determined that while my commute is only 15-20 minutes, our newer car is still the best option for me to drive to work because it gets better gas mileage among other things. I also try and time my return home commute after the worst of the traffic has subsided. That’s why going to the gym straight after work, well, works. I spend less on gas because I am not stuck in traffic and I get my workout in for the day, a two for one win.
Meal Prep. In order to keep my frugal meal strategy on track, I am determined to remain hyper-organized in the kitchen on the weekends. I make three meals for Monday-Wednesday, freezing two of the three and leaving Monday’s entrée in the fridge for quick cooking. Thursdays my partner is on his own while I scrounge leftovers or throw together a quick pasta dish or warm up a simple quesadilla. Then, on Fridays, we indulge in a bit of Chinese take (unless we have substantial leftovers of course). It works. On the weekends, I indulge in testing out new recipes and relaxing in the kitchen but on weekdays, dinner is literally on the table in 15 minutes or less. And before you ponder why my partner doesn’t take over in the kitchen because I work and he is retired, it’s because I like to unwind in the kitchen after working all day. I often find I have inspirations and can solve thorny problems while sautéing, mixing, whisking and preparing dinner. It is my chill time. My partner is usually just feet away, fuming over the latest fiasco of his beloved Phillies and we chat over how our days went. The dogs are habitually underfoot, knowing I am going to feed them in short order and it is our reconnect time which continues at the dinner table. This would not be possible if I was in the kitchen, starting from scratch every night. Plus, I’d be exhausted.
So, consider that your life is a fluid thing and you are going to have to pivot often in order to continue living frugally and free.