While Thanksgiving is a nice time to count your blessings, being thankful throughout the year can have a tremendous impact on your life. As I started my frugal journey last year, I began to feel a sense of discontent. I felt the effects of frugality hard those first few months. It felt like Godzilla had waltzed into my life, and proceeded to tap dance on the foundation of everything I knew. While I’m sure you’re enjoying the image of Godzilla tap dancing (you’re welcome) that’s exactly how it felt! I felt as if I couldn’t even do something as basic as buying a shirt or go grocery shopping.
An Attitude of Gratitude
In the beginning, I couldn’t understand why anyone would be grateful for living on next to nothing. I didn’t feel a sense of gratitude as I was clearing out my closet of clothes I’ve never even worn, or when my budget no longer allowed me to buy/do whatever I wanted. I was not grateful for my frugality.
As we went to pay off the credit card at the end of the month, for the first time in many months, we were not in the red! We had not overspent, and even had some money to spare! I could not believe it, and had I not seen the numbers with my own eyes I doubt that I would have. For the first time since we made the choice to live frugally, I was grateful.
Gratitude is a funny thing. While it’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, it’s more difficult to be grateful when things are bad and when we are suffering. One of the biggest transition periods in your journey to frugality is learning to be content with what you have. Even I am still not at that point, but I am headed in that direction. I still desire to fill up my cart with things I probably don’t need, and ask myself regularly if what I’m buying is actually necessary.
Frugality has helped teach me how to be grateful, and not just during the holidays. My new attitude on gratitude has benefited me in so many ways and taught me a few life-changing lessons. Today, I’m going to share with you all a few of the really important ones.
There is always someone who has it worse than you
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “first world problems” at least once in your life. While many of us joke about the “struggle” to make it through the day, our struggles don’t even come close to what some people have to go through. While we may complain about our day jobs (I’m still working on this one) there are so many people out there who would love nothing more than to have a job at all. While we are complaining that we don’t feel like cooking dinner, there are others who are grateful to have any dinner that night.
Throughout my adult life alone, I have seen dear friends go through losing loved ones, losing their jobs, struggling just to make it on their own, and some just trying to break even at the end of the month. While I might long for the day I can quit my day job, I know there are many out there would love nothing more than to have it. There is always going to be someone out there who longs to be in your shoes, even if you think your shoes suck.
Be content with what you have
We live in a consumerism-driven culture. Between ads on the websites we visit to advertisements on TV, the temptation is all around us. We are encouraged to have the latest and greatest devices and to win over our loved ones with expensive gifts. If we turned off the TV, stopped checking social media, and became disconnected from websites, you might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of things we really don’t need. The simple act of making do or doing without is no longer the norm, and it feels almost foreign to embrace. However, when we learn to be grateful and content with the things we already own, the temptation starts to slowly lessen.
You don’t have to do big things or spend money to express gratitude
While big gestures often get more recognition, they are not the only ways to express gratitude. A simple thank you or holding the door for someone else can change their entire day. Gratitude does not come with a price tag, and there are many ways to show your gratitude that won’t cost any money.
While I was in college, I volunteered regularly at The Humane Society. It was one of the best things I ever did for myself, and for those animals. Almost every single day, I spent time playing and holding each and every one of their cats. I made sure each one got the opportunity to step outside of their cage, even if only for a few minutes. The staff members were so happy to have such an enthusiastic volunteer, as their busy schedules often kept them from playing with the animals.
In just one semester I had logged over 100 hours at the humane society. I fell in love with the cats there, and helped out on adoption days when I could. This experience was what led me to Midnight. Had I not volunteered I might never have found her.
My fiance and I enjoy answering questions together, and there is usually always one common question in those questionnaires. “What would you do if you had a ____ dollars?” For me, this is always an unfair question, because no matter what number goes in that blank I have the same answer. It’s usually some form of pay off my debts and give the rest away. I didn’t always answer this question that way, but over time this has become a consistent answer. Frugality has opened many doors for me, and one of them has been gratitude.
What are you grateful for? What has frugality taught you?