FINALLY FREEING MYSELF FROM STINGINESS AND SCARCITY AT 60

It's finally okay to lighten up on myself a bit and enjoy the little pleasures of life more. I'm kicking guilt and feeling unworth to the kerb.

WHEN FRUGALITY BECOMES STINGINESS

This is kind of a weird post about an issue I have that others may not have a problem with...but lately I've finally twigged to the fact that there's a fine line between being frugal and being stingy. I often muddle the two up and find myself happily spending time, energy, or money on others - while refusing to do the same for myself. I tell myself that it doesn't matter and I don't need non-essential things, but living a life of denying myself any little treats is not the way I want to live out the rest of my days.

I think it's time to stop being so stingy and to let myself enjoy a few small indulgences here and there - I'm finally allowing my tightly held fist to open a little - and it feels good.

living with clenched fists or open hands?

WHERE DID THIS STINGINESS ARISE FROM?

I'm not sure why I've always been so resistant to spending money. My husband tells me money is only worth what you buy with it - in other words it's just a number on the bank statement or some paper and metal if you're not using it for anything. I totally understand that, but I've come to see over time that money in the bank represents something to me - it represents security. 

I remember my younger days and our early married years when I longed to have a bank balance over $1000. By the time we'd paid the mortgage, paid the bills, and put food on the table, there was rarely much left over - we weren't living week to week like a lot of people, but we weren't rolling in clover either. It always felt precarious to me - one slip and we'd be looking at sliding into the red. I hated living like that, and I think that's where living with a scarcity mindset became my go-to approach to spending.

WHY DIDN'T MY MINDSET CHANGE?

What I can see now is that those years of being frugal paid off, we gradually moved ahead and our bank balance slowly crept up. We worked hard and saved, and things got easier. As time moved on and our finances freed up, I could see the sense in spending money on our kids' schooling, and on upgrading our old car, and even putting in a swimming pool eventually.....but I couldn't see my way clear to being able to spend money on myself. I was always thinking "maybe later" or "no I don't really need it" . But maybe underneath it all I was believing that I just wasn't worth it.

As our circumstances improved, I was happy to spend more on our kids, or on a holiday with my husband, or on home improvements. I could see the value in investing in our life as a family and as a couple, but there has always been a sticking point when it came to spending money just on myself, or on things I consider to be frivolous.

USING JUSTIFICATIONS

It's funny how my brain works - I can sometimes justify a present to myself if I've spent a similar amount on someone else. When my husband turned 50 he went on an overseas adventure with our son - to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and see Egypt. It was a big birthday present, but something I could see he'd really value and it was worth every cent for the memories and the relationship building between him and our adult son.

Ross and Jared Sinai 2010

When it was my turn for a 50th birthday present we remodelled my engagement ring into something bigger and better. It seemed like a lot of money - but I justified it - not because it was for a milestone birthday and I deserved it, but because we'd spent a similar amount on my husband's birthday.... And I do that all the time - I feel like I need to balance out what I receive by making sure it's less than what others have been given. There's this need to justify something that doesn't need to be justified - it's weird....

MOVING AWAY FROM A SCARCITY MINDSET

Turning 60 seems to have unlocked something inside me, or maybe retirement did, or maybe realising that we have enough to live on until we pass on to greener pastures....whatever the trigger was, I feel like it's finally okay to lighten up on myself a bit and enjoy the little pleasures of life more. I'm kicking the guilty/unworthy feeling to the kerb and letting myself have some fun. 

It's come at a time when I actually don't really need much - no new work clothes, my car's good, my home's good, I have all I need, but that being said.... when I see a little something here or there I'm going to let myself indulge a little. I'll never be a big spender, I'll never buy luxury brands, but there's a lot of space between 'nothing' and 'everything' - and maybe it's time to explore that space a little.

MY CHALLENGE TO MYSELF

So, my challenge going forward is to say Yes to myself as often as I say it to those I love. To indulge myself a little and to impulsively spend a bit of the money I've been squirreling away for a rainy day. Security is one thing, frugality is another - and plain old stinginess at my age is ridiculous - so hasta la vista to my old safe self and howdy doody to a new free-er me!

Let yourself have it - Caitlin Cady quote

Stay tuned for the silly little things I'm going to treat myself to - I've made a start by mentioning them in the "Fabulosity" section in my end of month posts - just to hold myself accountable to being more generous to "me" with my time, energy and money.

RELATED POSTS


I feel like it's finally okay to lighten up on myself a bit and enjoy the little pleasures of life more. I'm kicking the guilty/unworthy feeling to the kerb and letting myself have some fun.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive
I feel like it's finally okay to lighten up on myself a bit and enjoy the little pleasures of life more. I'm kicking the guilty/unworthy feeling to the kerb and letting myself have some fun.

38 comments

  1. Hi Leanne, I agree there is a fine line between stinginess and scarcity. My in-laws would never turn on the airconditioner, or would leave it until dark to turn lights on because they wanted to 'leave something for the children and grandchildren'. I certainly am not a spend thrift but life is there to be enjoyed and I won't be sitting with several layers on in winter so my family can have a few extra dollars when I'm gone. xx

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Sue - my MIL is the same. We needed to spend a chunk of money recently on dental work and our kids both said they'd rather have their father being able to chew his food for the next 30 years than have a few thousand more in their inheritance! And I'm sure we'd all rather our parents stayed warm than left us a bit extra in their wills. We don't have to be ridiculously self-indulgent as you said, but we we've worked hard for what we have and it would be a shame not to enjoy some of it. x

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    2. You bring up a good point, Sue and Leanne. My husband and I are of the mind that we'd rather spend the money we have enjoying life with our children and grandchildren than leaving them an inheritance when we are gone. We will be careful to ensure we don't leave them with any expenses, but if we play our cards right, there won't be a big windfall either, because we will have spent the bulk of our money enjoying life and giving them experiences while we are all here together.

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    3. Hi Christie - I think that's what our kids (and grandkids) would want too - the joys of having a little extra now, rather than in 30 years time when they don't need the extra funds. I wish we'd had some money thrown our way when we were younger - it would have made the hard slog a bit easier and more fun!

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  2. Hi, Leanne - I found myself nodding in agreement - and smiling - all the way through this post. YES! to treating yourself. You are WORTH it!

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    1. Thanks Donna! I think underneath I know that it's only a bit of money and not a big deal, but there's a lot of baggage that needs to be discarded so I can allow myself the freedom to not be constantly counting pennies!

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  3. Yes, balance is the key. Spend when we can to treat ourselves, be generous to others and keep within what our finances allow. Let's have some fun!

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    1. You're so right about balance Terra - and how that should play out in how we use our finances. For a long time things were very tight financially for us, now that's not such a problem it's definitely time to open my hands and be able to enjoy things a little more often.

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  4. That was the case with me too, Leanne. A really hand to mouth existence. Stinginess might be a slightly a strong word. I would put it as prudence with expenditure. That was really helpful, because it's that which has helped us lead a comfortable life and indulge in a bit of luxury, as and when we feel like!
    My latest post: Cats

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    1. Hi Pradeep - I think prudence and thriftiness and frugality are all vital if we want to live within our means - when it continues forever and becomes a scarcity mindset where we rarely allow ourselves small treats etc then it's something that might need to be addressed - and that's what it had become for me :)

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  5. You bring up some interesting points, Leanne. I also take comfort in having a certain size bank balance. Once money moves to the savings account, I have a hard time taking it out...even to purchase the thing for which we've been saving. I have no problem spending on small daily purchases (even though they add up), like Starbucks or a nice meal, or new running shoes. Where I struggle is larger items, those things you need to save or borrow to obtain. Larry had to really talk to convince me to buy our cabin years ago, but we made so many happy memories there, and when the time was right, we sold it for a small profit. And now, I know we need another car to keep in Southern Utah, so that we can drive down together, but still have the freedom of two vehicles when we are spending months at a time down there. Still the idea of taking money out of savings for a down payment or having a note to pay each month, is torture to me.

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    1. Hi Christie - it's funny how some people find spending money really easy (often to the point of causing themselves financial strife) and others of us hold onto it very tightly. I know my problem is the issue of financial security and the "rainy day" mindset - but I think we both know that we wouldn't ever put ourselves in financial hardship, and that sometimes we need to spend to make life easier and more pleasant - and we're at the stage of life where that's becoming more important and all the hard work can start paying off. Enjoy that extra car when you buy it xx

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  6. Great post--and good for you for shifting your mindset like this. I'm still working on it, but I'm getting more willing to pay for convenience now that I'm older and have less energy. The big thing I need to work on is travel: We don't have to stay in the cheapest place. We can splurge on the motel near the beach or the fancy dinner or the guided tour. Or so I try to tell myself before pinching pennies again. *sigh*

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    1. Janet I've been the same with travel - always looking for the best value (lowest price) for where we stay and what we do and where we eat. Maybe that's why I haven't really missed travelling much during covid? It's so hard to add extra expense to something that is already a luxury isn't it?

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  7. Oh I think you just described me to a T! I can be amazingly frugal and the one person I tend to spend the least on is myself. I mean don't get me wrong I buy new things but I definitely buy small/ cheap/ on sale things but won't splurge for larger purchases. My husband practically had to twist my arm to get me to buy some "real" hiking shoes as I was in sticker shock at the thought of a $165 for a pair of shoes... but I must admit I love them and my feet thank me for them just about every day!

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    1. Hi Joanne - it's funny you mentioned shoes because I had to do the same thing with my walking shoes. Once I started having problems with my hip I needed much better quality shoes to reduce the impact - and they're expensive (much like your hiking shoes). They're a necessity - but boy I wear them down to the last millimetre of sole before I buy a replacement pair!

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  8. It's a big thing to admit to Leanne but I'm so glad you did and that you can see that your are worth spending money on! I don't want to be described as stingy! I do value what I buy and think that I deserve it. Great post and very relevant to us as we slowly age.

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    1. Hi Deb - I don't want to be a miserly person either - especially with myself. I think I'm finally figuring out that I'm as important as any other member of my family and deserve those little treats too :)

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  9. I was nodding my head all the way through your post. Money for me is security as well. I know we are financially secure but I was still looking at the prices on menu's and picking something more reasonably priced... even if I really wanted the more expensive food! I was waiting for things to be on sale (when they were then often not the color/size I needed). When we traveled (pre-Covid), I found cheap hotels and the smallest car (rental cost). I am just starting to realize that I can order the thing I want to eat on the menu...it will not turn me into a bag-lady. I can order the shorts I want at the beginning of the season when they have the size & color I want. I can get the monthly massage (which really does help me feel better). It's a hard mindset to switch, but I too am working on being OK spending money on myself. AS hubby pointed out, we actually don't have children to leave the money to - we don't need to be like our parents who were worried about leaving it to the kids!

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    1. Hi Pat - both of our children earn much larger incomes than we ever have, and are far more financially secure than we were at their age. I don't think they're going to miss out on much if I spend a little bit of their inheritance before I get too ole - especially if I share some of it with them along the way. It just seems to have taken me a while to realize that I'm okay and secure and can loosen those purse strings a little before I die! And you should definitely go ahead and order those shorts :)

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  10. I'm so proud of you, Leanne! You are moving into the 60's, with such a new found confidence! I look forward to hearing about how you are going to treat yourself. xxx Christina Daggett

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    1. Thanks Christina - I've been adding my little purchases in at the end of each of my monthly wrap up posts (my little Fabulosity entries) and that might spur me on to keep myself accountable with having a little bit of fun with those seriously saved $$ :)

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  11. A thought provoking post. It reminds me of the time my father told me he was buying new bowling balls and how that would reduce our inheritance by x amount. They'd always been careful, but now they no longer had to be, they had no idea how not to be. I told him he'd be better off buying the new bowling balls and enjoying life now than by worrying about how I'd waste it on something frivolous like premium economy air tickets when he was gone. Thankfully, both my parents are still with us. My point is, it's a hard habit to get out of and I think we all play that justification game.

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    1. I can totally relate to what your Dad said Jo - and our kids have given the same reply you did - to enjoy the fruits of our hard work and to not worry about them (they're earning tons more money than we ever did!) But breaking the habit (and the justification game!) is going to take a bit of time - slowly, slowly....

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  12. Definitely yay to the free-er you! As others have said, life is here to enjoy and if we have the finances, we should definitely allow ourselves some treats!

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    1. Hi Susanne - I so agree with this, but knowing and believing and applying are all needed, so I'm working on the process and I think I'm actually loosening up a little these days - but still have a way to go :)

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  13. Hi Leanne, I'm glad you're treating yourself to something you enjoy. You're worth it! I'm in the camp 'you can't take it with you'. I set aside funds for savings and funds for fun experiences. I don't feel guilty when I spend my 'fun' money. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

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    1. Hi Natalie - I stopped having "fun money" because I never spent it! Now I'm just choosing to allow myself to like something and then actually decide to buy it - rather than walking away and telling myself I don't need it. I don't actually see many things that grab my attention, but a little splurge now and then is definitely going to be my Midlife plan x

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing this with us here. I think this is an incredibly important topic and absolutely ties in to how we care for ourselves as women vs how we care for everyone else around us. Your challenge to yourself, "...to say Yes to myself as often as I say it to those I love." is a divine reminder for yourself and an wonderful inspiration to me. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Melissa - you're so right about it being a "woman thing" where we are so good at nurturing others - and often fairly poor at nurturing ourselves. I think it's taken me far too long to loosen up a little and let some little fun things into my life. Dying with a few dollars more in the bank account after always denying myself seems rather silly now I think about it!

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  15. I know I commented on the FB page but in our case, I wish (ha!) we had been more stingy. We sadly gave our kids their so-called inheritance money to see them into houses via a mortgage on ours. I have shared this story enough but suffice to say, WE are no longer in a house of our own...and we are going OK. They sure know we have helped them enough and in fact, in recent years, yet again we helped in family emergencies and now they are paying this back to us. Hard when you want to share and give...as I do. But I am learning we come first. Denyse #weekendcoffeeshare

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    1. Hi Denyse - there's certainly a balance isn't there? We can think we're doing the right thing - by depriving ourselves, or by being too generous....both result in a less than ideal outcome. I'm glad you're looking after yourselves more now and letting the family be responsible for themselves. Fortunately our kids have never asked us for large sums of money and probably wouldn't accept us putting ourselves at risk to provide for them (they grew up knowing our finances were always pretty tight). It's been such a relief not to have been put in the position of having to say "no" to them. And also nice to be able to share a little of the bounty here and there without putting ourselves behind the eight ball in the process. x

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  16. Leanne - I've also struggled with this attitude for years. Growing up on government welfare and throwing in 13 years with a vow of poverty -- and lean years when we first married. The struggle to not be stingy or miserly is real! And we march on...in abundance!

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    1. Janet I know exactly how this would impact on you - and yes the concept of "abundance" is one I remind myself of often - we have more than we need, we have enough to be generous with others, and there is enough left over to be generous with ourselves occasionally too. x

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  17. Hi Leanne,
    You've clearly raised a very good topic here. We're on one income these days due to my health and also it seems the teenage kids need me more than ever, and I do my writing and research and if anything experience a much more intellectually enriching experience than most paid work.
    We have been scratching for money but we did buy in what seemed to be a considerably undervalued and unappreciated place right near the beach an hour North of Sydney. During the pandemic, property values have skyrocketed and we have a nest egg. Quite hard to fathom really and it's something we're sitting on and can't utilise but it's a big step forward.
    My parents have helped out particularly with the kids' activities and our daughter's dance fees are really adding up now she's in the senior grades and wanting to go professional.
    My husband and father are both very tight with money while my mother and daughter spend money like it's going out of style. My dad dreads them going shopping together. I'm not always the best myself. I am trying. We have more than enough stuff at home and I'm actually trying to do reverse accumulation.
    Hope you have a great week.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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    1. Hi Rowena - I find it intersting to see how others view spending. Some do it so easily (my DIL offers to help me spend money because she's so good at it!) and others of us find it so hard to 'blow our dough'. I'm trying to be a little less tight fisted these days. We've worked very hard to be comfortable and our kids are well set with their own incomes and homes - so it's time to allow myself a little more financial freedom (especially when we have no plans to spend up big on travel etc). I come from a family of spenders, so I'm not sure how I managed to be the saver that I am - but I'm grateful for how it's set us up so securely as we now have less income.

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  18. That's so good Leanne. We've always had a budget and we've noticed over the years how it has freed us up. I have a hard time buying things for myself though, but I love to bless others. lol. This was so good and encouraging. It can be such a hard mindset to get out of.

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    1. Hi Kirstin - we've always been VERY careful with our finances and have focused on paying off our mortgage and staying out of debt. It definitely pays off in the long run and I'm so grateful to be mortgage free now we're hitting our 60's and our income has decreased even further. We don't need much and we don't have any big expenses on the horizon, so I'm working hard at shifting my 'frugal mindset' and loosening up a little (you can't take it with you!)

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