Feeling A Bit Like A Fraud

For the past little bit I've been having this thought running through my head- that I'm not being the Penny I've always been. Since I started packing and preparing for our move, and since we've moved in, in many ways I feel like an impostor, a fraud, and just not myself.


Two months ago, if you asked me to describe myself using fewer than ten descriptors, they would probably include:

Frugal (and extremely frugal)
Healthy Eater (mainly Paleo)
Tiny House Liver
and a few other things.

But now, I'm finding a hard time finding me since most of those words don't seem to be describing me or my life anymore...

Since planning and packing for our move, we made the decision to make some huge purchases. Like a new washing machine, and dryer, and oven. When we got married we got used or refurbished appliances, and when our oven died we bought the cheapest oven on the market 7 or so years ago. Since then, that oven got gross and one of the double panes of glass broke and some of the burners stopped working, so even that formerly new one was gross and yucky for the past many years. And our washer and dryer were far from perfect, and eventually the dryer died. We decided to completely replace those instead of paying to move subpar and ugly ones to our new place. Finally, after 10 years of marriage, instead of having broken, ugly, falling apart things, we have new, fancy, pretty, expensive machinery and while it feels very great and right, a big part of me feels like I'm a fraud because of that, even though we ordered them on sale on Black Friday.

And that's not even counting the couches. Two beautiful grey couches, that have yet to be delivered (it said up to three weeks, so it is still within that). I really, really wanted nice couches for our space that can finally feel living-room-y instead of at first not having any couch, and then after having a really small Ikea not so comfortable couch, that was bought not for style or taste, but simply because it fit between our fridge and our wall. But we still have that couch, however I didn't want it in our new place- I wanted a couch set, so we can entertain comfortably, and lounge around, not just sitting round our table. Those two couches again were bought on Black Friday, so they were cheaper, but a big part of me is shouting about how frivolous that purchase was- it wasn't a need, our little couch works even if its not my ideal... So of course, I feel like a fraud writing a frugal blog and then making a big purchase like that, just because I want it...

And in general, so much money is passing through my hands, on a contractor, on a kitchen, on things for the apartment in general, huge amounts of money, more money than we usually make in a few months... Of course my mother is funding it, but that doesn't mean that part of me doesn't feel guilty every time I don't try to get away with the barest minimum of things and just making do, the way I've been used to doing my entire married life.

Then there's the foraging. I've been so busy with packing and unpacking and setting up the apartment and dealing with the construction of the apartment rental unit upstairs that I haven't had time to forage. Haven't foraged a thing in probably a month or more. The other day I was taking a bus back somewhere and I saw so much mallow growing outside the window, and that just rubbed in for me how much I'm missing that foraging.
I did do something slightly foraging related, though. In our back yard, I pulled out the non edible weeds and will be encouraging the edible plants I saw growing there (amaranth and lambsquarters) and will be seeding it with garland chrysanthemum, purslane, wall rocket, mallow, chickweed, salsify, sow thistle,  and pineappleweed seeds as much as possible, so that we can have a nice edible ground cover that is non thorny.
I miss going out to forage though. I can't even forage right outside my apartment like I sometimes can, since this is a brand new project so it's mostly covered in fresh dirt, no plants...

As for frugal shopping, again with the time crunch of moving and having to be here and running around, I haven't had the chance to go to my usual frugal grocery stores, and certainly not to the market. There is supposed to be a bus stop just down a few short steps right next door to my house, but for now those stairs are closed off, and to get to the bus stop I actually have a 5 minute walk down hill or down a lot of stairs, and then uphill or up stairs on the way back. This makes it very hard for me to carry heavy groceries. To be honest, most of our groceries have been bought at the nearby mom and pop's type minimarket just a few hundred feet from our new house for this reason, and I don't want to think about what my grocery bill will be until they open up the stairs to the closer bus stop... That said, yesterday I did do a bigger shop at the nearby cheaper grocery store, and earlier on in the week I did a bigger shop at another cheaper grocery store, but it's not as cheap as the market, which adds a lot to my grocery bill. We'll see at the end of the month how much extra my grocery bills are for this reason.

As for healthy eating, especially Paleo... with this move and things being packed up and trying to get the house together, I haven't been doing my usual type of cooking. A lot of quick meals, and definitely not two meals, one for me and one for the family. I've been eating a lot of rice with chicken and veggies, and while rice isn't exactly Paleo, at least it isn't unhealthy per se, and some even consider white rice Paleo. Problem is it makes me bloated, and I got people asking me if I'm pregnant because my stomach ends up sticking out. And I've been eating a little too much junky snacks because I've been short on time. However, in the past two weeks I didn't weigh myself at all, and today I saw the damage on the scale... lol at least I actually lost the 5 lbs I gained recently in the past few months, and didn't gain anything like I was worried about.

As for homeschoolers, I still am one, but next year am planning on sending the girls to school to learn the local language (like I did with my boys) so I'll just have my oldest home, since Ike is already in school and thriving in his school for kids with High Functioning Autism... But still, part of me feels like I'm losing a bit of my identity.

And then there's messy. Not that it ever was something I was proud of, but it's just been such a big part of my life because of circumstances and personality, but since moving into my new house and the bigger kitchen I've made a huge effort to be much more neat and tidy, and even though we're still in the middle of unpacking, etc... my house is already so much neater than my old one ever was, and that is awesome, but I just feel like a different person.

And then things like last night happen. Our fridge/freezer conked out. And instead of calling the repair person, I emptied it out and cleaned it out and saw that, as I suspected, the problem was water spilling and freezing and blocking the fan from blowing the cold air around properly. So though it was a huge pain and was the last thing I felt like doing, and added a headache to my already stressed day, a part of me was happy about it. Because I felt "Hey, this is the Penny I remember. This is me. The DIY gal who knows how to take care of things on her own instead of paying a repairman or replacing it."

And all the building my husband and I are doing together, out of pallet wood and other reclaimed wood- that's the me that I know and have been missing.

It's hard. I do appreciate all the good now in my life, and I know I deserve nice things, and there's nothing wrong with having more space or new furniture or appliances or whatever but that doesn't mean that, at the same time, a part of me is feeling like I'm losing my identity.

I'm really looking forward to having this construction finished, and finish building the furniture for our apartment and unpacking and having our house settled in, and having them open the stairs to the bus stop (I was told next week, but we'll see) so I can go back to my frugal shopping, foraging, and all sorts of the other things that I've been missing.

But I also need to figure out how to wrap my head around this new identity of mine, the non slob, non living in a sardine with yucky/embarrassing looking things, but the Penny with nice things, that still is frugal.

Have you ever had something happen that made you feel like you lost a big part or many parts of your identity, and how you described yourself, making you feel like you're a new you or a fraud or something? How did you get over that?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Moving always throws life off for a little while. Don't worry about that - once you've completely settled in you'll see which parts of your life you want to keep the same, and which you really do want to change. But don't take how you are now, still involved with the move, as a "new you" just yet.

    Beyond that - People change, grow, evolve all the time. Your life has just gone through one of the most major changes it will ever have. It's okay if you aren't exactly the same person afterwards as you were before. You're looking at things positively and taking them in a positive direction - you're actually doing great!

  2. There were many years in the past when I prided myself on my frugality and it also felt very uncomfortable for me to buy the big ticket items for a new house. I also have an issue with the art and crafts that I sell. They are not necessities, and I don't know if I would buy them, so I feel a bit uncomfortable selling them to people. I felt that more in the past; I have pretty much gotten past it now.

  3. Two thoughts ran through my mind as I read this. One, I always saw my frugal lifestyle as an ends to a means. In other words, I saved how I could with the intention of being able to 'prize' myself in the future by being able to make more expensive and necessary buys for added comfort. Second, I always think of my grandpa telling me 'the cheap is expensive'. I prefer to buy an expensive oven that lasts longer then having to replace second-hand ovens often and pay for the move and hassle.

    So there is no shame. You can go back to frugality once the move is over, but you will be frugal under more comfortable circumstances. :) Enjoy what you achieved and your new home!

  4. Penny you're doing great, please don't be so hard on yourself. I'm just starting out on my frugal journey, more out of disgust of exorbitant food prices than necessity, and always feel like I don't measure up to other frugal people. But as I'm changing to be a person who is more careful about spending, waste etc, I often refer to your blog for inspiration. You don't know the thrill I get from reading about all the free stuff you get at the market :-) some other commenters have said this, people change. Try to see this as an opportunity to grow and not a reason to despair. I'm confident you'll find your footing soon enough, keep on writing!

  5. Life carries on and while we still may be frugal things might look different. When my husband and I were first married we lived in an apartment smaller than our current master bedroom. Life happened. We lived frugally and saved money. We bought a larger house, and many years later a cottage! Part of the reason we could afford these luxuries is BECAUSE we watched our pennies and spend them on things that were important to us.

    You yourself has always reminded readers that frugality is not always about living as cheaply as possible, but rather about directing your resources (money and otherwise) intentionally. So while the outward trappings may shift, I would suggest that your inner core hasn't changed.

    Enjoy the new digs. The look lovely.

  6. I think you will really like the new frugal lifestyle you are moving into. My husband and I were both raised on thrift store clothes, junk furniture, etc. When we got married, he took on the family business and all of a sudden we were making 3x as much money as we had ever made in our lives. It didn't feel like "us".

    Even though our circumstances changed, it didn't change the fact that we are frugal. I still shop sales, wear used clothes, and we drive a beater car. But the extra money has given us freedom to have good tools to work with and be generous with other people. It is a lot more fun than the "frugal" I used to be- "Poor me, I can't afford anything nice".

    It's not like you're throwing away money by purchasing nice new furniture that will last for years. I think after the moving settles down, you will still enjoy foraging. I think you will like it a lot more because you have a nicer kitchen. You will probably enjoy homeschooling and healthy eating more, as well. :)

  7. Usually after people have been ultra frugal for a while, they find they have accumulated more available money. They may continue to be frugal, but it is no longer an absolute necessity. You may have reached that point I have noticed this with other blog writers who probably feel like frauds because they are no longer poor. They can still advise people who are just starting their frugal journey.

  8. You'll save more by buying quality items and making them last as long as possible. I try to be cheap on things that get used up quickly, like food and toiletries,also kids clothes that can't be handed down. My clothes are used 10 years, so I try to divide the price over the years used. A crappy appliance just causes frustration, which means you spend all your time trying to make it work when you could be doing other frugal stuff. Your quality of life is going to improve with your nicer home enjoy it and may it be a blessing always.

  9. Even frugal people have to buy and replace things sometimes. They do it wisely and carefully but they do it.
    Also, moving disrupts all sorts of things. Things will settle again and you can go back to your former lifestyle and habits.
    And, if having more space means things are less messy, that's a good thing.
    You are not a fraud. You are in transition. Something we all go through.
    Be kind to yourself.

  10. I just want to say don't worry: you're still messy. The mess is just in your food instead of in your house! :-)

    It's good to worry and make sure you hang on to the parts of you that you love, at least in the long term after you've settled in a bit. It's easy to get into new habits you don't want, so it's good to keep an eye on them. But whatever happens, you will always have your frugality skills, even during periods when you can't use them or don't need them. And of course, some things change for the better. It will be fun learning to keep things neat around the house now that this is possible!

    To answer your question, no, I've never found so many things changing that I felt like I was becoming a fraud or losing my identity. I once felt like I didn't fit in at ALL with a large subset of my co-workers for about five minutes--it was overwhelming only briefly. Fortunately I had many friends who did not seem alien to me. There have been big changes in my life, but only one or two at a time, and I have been able to make everything work fine.

    Though once I got a whole bunch of fabric I liked and re-covered my dining room chairs with it and also made a tablecloth with it. This fabric actually went well with the wall paper, and so the dining room looked much better than I'm used to. Like a magazine. And therefore fake, like it's just for a photo shoot and no one lives there. So I started also storing my bike in the dining room!

  11. This post is on time for me. My husband has been trying to persuade me to get a clothes dryer but I've protesting it because it goes against "who I am" (frugal and environmentally conscious). But I know deep down he's right, I should get a dryer. Because it will make my life a whole lot easier, and with being at home with two little ones and trying to stay on top of a freelance career, I need things that will make life easier in this season of my life in order to maintain my sanity.

    So thanks for sharing your feelings and thanks to the other commentors for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

  12. You are doing fine. Don't feel guilty that you have a nice house. Moving is expensive, and by getting nice new furniture and appliances they will last longer and give you pleasure.
    I can't wait to find out what you'll be planting in your garden.

  13. I see you as a great success story! You lived frugally so that one day things could be different. And now they are and so this encourages the rest of us that challenging circumstances don't have to be forever. And it's okay for things to change and get better. I do get what you're saying though, about feeling as though your identity has been lost. I think this happens to most people when life situations change dramatically. Becoming a mom changes your identity. You have to get used to it. Then becoming an empty nester changes your identity even more so and you have to figure out who you are again and just where you fit into the world now (and, what your new purpose is). Give yourself a lot of grace to figure out your new world and how things are going to work now. Also, just because things are getting a bit easier now doesn't mean that you can't still practise frugality and ingenuity with what you have. And btw? I think many people don't realize this but true frugality means purchasing items that are as high a quality as your budget will permit, so that these items don't have to continually be rebought (a waste of money, usually). I know I save money when I buy something that will last rather than opting for something cheaply made. It sounds like you've invested in some good appliances that will last you a good long while, making them true frugal purchases. So, this is rather long-winded but all this is to say, I get it, and even though your life is changing now, you are still essentially the same person and are still committed to the same ideals. It's okay to be in a new season now and for circumstances to shift. You're still you. ;)

  14. I know how you feel. I felt the same way when we bought a brand new car. I realized that my own frugality had gotten a little out of hand. I hate to admit it, but for my part I got into pride over it. Which I hated the minute I figured out that was what I was doing. Don't beat yourself up. You have, like me, made an art of scrimping and innovating (as I call it haha) and repurposing. Skills I find I'm glad to have when I need them, but I don't HAVE TO do it ALL the time anymore!!! After all those years of steady faithful frugality, at some point you must "arrive" and not need to rely on it 24/7! So I advise you to take a long, deep breath and give yourself permission to have success! ENJOY your beautiful home! Enjoy your family enjoying it! There's nothing wrong with it, and everything right about it! Just sit down right down in the middle of it and smile!!! As for feeling like a fraud, you are the least fraudulent person I know. Although I don't really know you personally. But you get what I'm saying. You are still and shall continue to be, the real deal!!

  15. Penny, I understand you 100%. When we moved a few months ago to a bigger apartment to accommodate our growing family, we decided to put the bookshelves that were dragged in from the street corner elsewhere than the living room. We didn't bother moving the old, broken couch that we took from someone about to throw it out, but we did take the table we got at the same time from the same people. But it didn't withstand the move. So here we are, married nine years and buying bookshelves, a couch set, and a dining room table all in one go. And we're getting a freezer as a baby gift. It does feel odd to be spending so much at once, but it's about time. Let the guilt trip go, and enjoy your new appliances and furniture.

  16. You are evolving. It's part of life. It ok, even positive sometimes, to let go of some parts of you that you thought were crystallized (like being messy maybe?). And to focus on who you want to be NOW. As humans we are ever evolving, it's the beauty of it. Just have to adapt. You deserve to have nice things and a bit of convenience if it suits your life better in the NOW. To always stay the same, to refuse change, to cling to what one is "supposed to be" (according to whom??) is basically refusing the reality of what life is (ever changing). Cut yourself a break, you're doing fine.

  17. People are constantly changing in life. The things that are close to your heart will always be a part of you. Sometimes we just need to make time for those things. I think it is nice to get something new once in awhile and all the refurbished /used equals it out. Enjoy your new home. No judgement here ... it is impossible to be one thing 100% of the time.

  18. As a fellow homeschooler who just moved to a much larger space, splurged on much-needed furniture and is looking at contractors and appliances that need to be replaced, i can relate. I am also sending three (out of five) to school, so even the homeschooler identity is going.
    Give yourself a break, moving is in the top ten life stressors and you do not need to place internal stress on top of that. You are still the same person, only in a different place and in different circumstances. Do not look back, look forward.

  19. A Reader from BeitarDecember 12, 2016 at 8:24 AM

    Many people here have said many good things, but I'd like to add one more point. Yes, you're getting a lot of nice stuff now. Yes, it's more than the bare necessities. Yes, it costs a lot of money. (Yes, it's all practical stuff that's worth the money).
    With that said, I'd focus on gratitude. Allow yourself to revel in the joy and excitement. Not one ounce of guilt. You aren't doing anything wrong here (and this is coming from someone who lives modestly, with a collection of second and third hand furniture). G-d has given you so much. Don't spurn His gifts. Enjoy them and thank Him, and thank your mother for being His messenger.

  20. People have said such great things! The other thing I wanted to add is that, in addition to getting the things you want/need, I think you are trying to honour this incredible gift from your wonderful mother. You said you didn't want to bring gross things into this home, and that's totally legitimate. It may feel a bit strange at first, but I think you'll start to enjoy all the comforts and the sense of being a fraud will fade away. I'm sure your mother would be very happy for that to happen.

  21. As someone who, like yourself if very good at being frugal and feels guilty about spending much money (I didn't use the new washer/dryer we bought for a while, just because I felt almost resentful toward them for being new and shiny and . . . nice) I can tell you that it would be as helpful to me to hear about how you handle having a little money and nice things, and how you work through the moral (?) dilemma as getting tips on being frugal. My husband recently landed a job that increased his income, and I don't want to be redefined by having more money, because I like my frugality and what it means about me. But here it is, and I have to figure myself out in a new way. Reading your blog post here, I thought you could probably understand my dilemma in a way few could.

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