Many years ago, I was so excited about opening my first account at a local bank. Bank’s referral programs were spreading in our neighborhood like wild fire. Through one of the referral programs, one of my roommate convinced me to open my first account at this bank. It was summer, and I could feel the excruciating pain triggered by the heat waves. Walking down few blocks to visit one of the branches of the bank was not a good idea. When we reached near the front door of the bank, I noticed large red logo of the bank. I noticed the ATM machine on my left just outside the front door of the branch. As soon as I opened the door, the chilling cold air hit me on my face. A lady wearing a professional dress welcomed us and ushered us to the lobby on my left. She asked us to wait for the assistance. I noticed the red carpet and red couches arranged to form a rectangular shape. On my right, I noticed a large plant. In my left, I saw 2-3 cubicles where everyone was busy handling customers like us. I was happy to be there. Not only I was happy to be there but also my roommate was smiling at me. I bet he was happy because he’s getting something for the referral. It was a win-win moment for both of us.
Suddenly, I realized my sweats dried quickly because of the cold air circulating inside the office. After waiting for a while, one of the staffs came near to me and asked for our purpose to visit the bank. She ushered us to her small cubical office few feet away from the open lobby.
That was my first day when she offered me a credit card. That day I thought I got free money. Year after year, I loaded lots of credits with many other banks. With increasing credit capacity, I felt more comfortable, which was not a good sign though. It was not only me who were happy with more credits, there were my roommates who even started bragging about their higher credit limits. Year after year, the debt engulfed all of my neighborhood. I never realized that I was digging hole to bury myself until one day I finally realized it’s getting out of control. I struggled hard to pay off my debts. The debt was increasing in phenomenal speed due to ridiculous interest rates. Minimum payment was the only option I saw to avoid bad credit history. We were unable to save as we were paying so much every month. That was an eye-opening moment of our life. We needed to do something different. As an experiment, we developed a program to record our everyday expenses.
It took us some time to get used to with the program. Recording every expense was hectic. Despite time consuming ordeal, we continued recording things until we got used to it. After recording the expenses for a year, we found that we paid so much money on credit card debt. By analyzing our expenses, we understood the nature of the expenses we did for grocery, rent, car including miscellaneous things and the things we were wasting our money on. It was the start of our journey to save as much money as we can. At the beginning, it felt so bad that we were saving every dime we could get and we couldn’t afford to buy things that we wanted.
We were rarely able to spend money on our wants. It was hard at the beginning to curb spending at shopping malls, grocery stores, and buy few things that we wanted to have. We curbed our expenses in order to keep our promise to end this ordeal of debt once it for all. After years, we found out we’re able to curb our expenses significantly on variety of categories.
After few years of continuous effort, one day we finally paid off our debt. We, for the very first time, took the fresh breath of freedom entwined with victory. We didn’t stop there, indeed from that day, we continued our frugal habits. Still today, we spend money cautiously on things that we want but we do spend on things we need.
In order to save more, we usually make DIY all-purpose cleaner, laundry detergent, hand wash liquid and toilet cleaner at home. We avoid restaurants as much as possible. Instead of spending outside, we bring fresh ingredients and make delicious dishes at home.
Like every cloud has a silver lining, today, we don’t worry about paying our major expenses. We have the freedom to spend on many things that we want but we prefer not to. We are happy with our life and we have the financial freedom. We also realized that acquiring many things does not make us happy. We value the things we buy and we use it wisely. After living a frugal life for more than a half decade, we can tell you something important, i.e, money can’t buy happiness. Many people believe that money is the source of happiness. In our experience, happiness does not come from acquiring branded bags or shoes, wearing expensive branded clothes or owning expensive cars. The happiness is within us.