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Our Frugal Living Experts

Joanne Heim

Joanne Heim

Author of Living Simply: Choosing Less in a World of More

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Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman

Editor and publisher of The Dollar Stretcher Newsletter

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Melissa Tosetti

Editor and publisher of Budget Savvy magazine

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Joanne Heim on Living Frugally

Joanne Heim on Living Frugally

A happy life is about simplicity, and Joanne Heim revels in it. After working as a publicist and an editor in the Christian publishing industry, Heim realized that people who live hectic lives need to find ways to pare down. As a result, she wrote Living Simply: Choosing Less in a World of More, detailing how people can thrive on less than they are used to. She’s also the author of The Simple Wife blog. Here, Heim delves into how you can simplify your life by living frugally.

What are some easy ways that people can live frugally?

I give myself permission to put things back at a store. I love Target, and I walk through Target to see things on sale. I’m quick to throw things in my cart with the understanding that I’m going to pass by again and put more than half back. Just because something is in your cart doesn’t mean you’re obligated to buy it. Also, don’t buy things on sale if you wouldn’t want it at a regular price. It’s still not free. You didn’t save $70—you spent $10!

What are some misconceptions that people have about living frugally?

There’s this idea we have that if something costs a lot, it’s worth a lot. That’s not always the case. Take advantage of things that are free. Most cities have free days for all their museums. My neighborhood has free tennis courts available. There are great park systems in most towns, that also lets you spend time with people you love and you get to be active, which is sometimes hard to do.

What are common mistakes people make when they decide they want to live more frugally?

A lot of times frugality goes hand-in-hand with getting out of debt. A huge mistake that lots of people make is they put every penny they possibly can to pay off that debt. What happens is, the kitchen sink backs up and floods your basement and you have to pay for a plumber, and you don’t have the cash so you charge it. Yes, you need to pay it down, but come up with a reasonable amount and save some extra for emergencies. Give yourself room to have some fun. If you use every last penny to pay off your debt, you’ll feel completely stifled and chances are you’ll go on a spending spree.

Why are people choosing to live more frugally now?

There’s a sense that people would rather make the choice to live more simply than to have it thrust upon them. So looking ahead and looking at the economic climate, if I can choose to cut back and make changes that will help me in the long run, it’s a lot easier than having something catastrophic happen and not having a choice about it.

What are some of the rewards of living frugally?

When my husband and I were in debt, it took so much energy just to worry about it. My husband was checking the credit card balances online every day, multiple times a day. There was so much fear involved. What if there’s an emergency? What if the car breaks down? What are we going to do because we don’t have any reserve funds? As you cut back, reduce debt and increase savings, there’s this sense of peace that comes with that. You know that whatever life throws at you, you can handle. There’s not that nagging sense of worry where you’re just waiting for something to go wrong.



What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

As a Christian, the first one I turn to in times of change is God. Because God is unchangeable, he's totally reliable and trustworthy! In prayer, I can tell him all my fears and hopes and dreams, knowing that he is listening and in control of everything.

“The best thing about change is...”

...that change can change. If I make a change that doesn't work or stops working, it's just a matter of changing again!

What’s the best change you have ever made?

Getting up early to start my day in quiet with God. More than anything else in my life, having a time of reading the Bible, praying, and journaling has changed my life and affected every part of my day.

For more information on Joanne Heim, visit thesimplewife.typepad.com.

Posted: 7/2/08

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This article is helping me stay focused. I no longer have to feel guilty about taking care of ...me.