The journey to debt freedom was a long one – full of ups and downs and LOTS of hard-earned lessons. Despite being #debtfree for over a year (yay!), there are still frugal habits that have stuck with me.

Instead of helping me pay off debt, these frugal choices help me to save money and have more room in my budget for fun!

Maintaining a “Want, But Waiting” List

I keep a lot of notes on my phone, but one of my favorites is my “Want, But Waiting” list. Each time I see something I want but have not budgeted for, I add it to the list. Usually, I forget about it within a few days. If I still want the item after a week, I budget for it. This list is also handy when people ask what I want for my birthday or Christmas.

Tracking My Spending

I will never shut up about how much I love my spending tracker. If it was a tangible object, I would hug it every day. Right after becoming debt-free, I went a little off the rails with my spending, but I knew it would be okay because my spending tracker showed me what the limits really were.

Using It Up, Wearing It Out

Confession: I am that weirdo that cuts open the toothpaste tube to get the last bit of minty goodness out. Yes, I will save my veggie scraps and make my own broth. I’ll reuse spaghetti sauce jars and spoon out the very last teaspoon of mayo at the bottom. It grinds my gears seeing chefs on cooking shows not scrape down their bowls! I am a big fan of using things to the last drop, and it serves me, my wallet, and the planet well.

Teaching Myself About Money

Paying off over $20K of debt was just the beginning for me. Once I was brave enough to look at my bank accounts and align my money with my joy, teaching myself about other personal finance topics, such as investing, was the next step. Right now, I am teaching myself about business taxes (a few years ago, even uttering that sentence would have given me a headache). Now I am excited to learn and feel confident I can manage most financial things by myself.

(P.S. – If you want to learn to be braver with your money and have your budget support your joy, I created an entire course just for you! Check out The Joyful Budget Beginner’s course here.)

Staying Home

Going places is expensive, y’all! Now I’m not saying you have to be a complete shut-in. Before I started my debt-free journey, going shopping was a frequent occurrence (I mean, what else is there to do but shop and eat, amirite?) Once I understood what actually brought me joy, the urge to even “window shop” was gone. It was no longer fun to look at products that I knew wouldn’t add value or joy to my life, and only take me further away from my goals.

Know Your “Why”

It’s easy to live frugally when you have a bigger aspiration to work toward. It used to be paying off debt. Now, I am saving for retirement and travel. I am clear on what I want and why I want it. Which makes being frugal a much easier choice.

Spend Where It Matters

Look, I would be lying if I said I rarely spend money. Instead, I spend on what actually matters to me. I spend money on what brings me joy. I spend lavishly on my health. I spend money on unique and memorable experiences with people I love. And my budget reflects all of that. Being frugal is not the same as being cheap. I cut back on what’s not important so I can spend more on what I value.

What frugal habits do you have? What financial goals are supported by your frugal spending?