If you’ve ever worked out consistently or played a sport with any regularity, you may be familiar with the concept of muscle memory. Wikipedia describes it this way:
“When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.”
Sometimes you don’t notice that you have muscle memory until you return to the activity after an absence. It is then that you notice that even though it is not without effort, your body seems to re-adapt to the activity with relative ease compared to the first time around.
Recently, due to a significant life event, I find myself returning to frugal behaviors that I honed on my way to financial independence. I had slowly slipped away from them as expanded resources led to some lifestyle-creep. In reality, of course, I allowed my lifestyle to creep.
There was resistance at first. I knew I needed to make some adjustments but I had grown accustomed to a (still frugal by most standards) lifestyle and I wasn’t yet up to the effort required to adapt. When I finally began to make the necessary changes, it ended up being easier than expected...very much like muscle memory. I remembered what it used to feel like and especially how I had made the process fun.
I allowed myself to relearn tools and strategies from friends and fellow frugalists. I have delighted in reacquainting myself with the pride of a great deal. I’ve reawakened my old frugal mindset that simply asks questions about needs vs wants and seeks ways to eliminate or delay spending. I’ve reveled in small successes and look forward to more.
Just as I have returned to the gym and found it easier than the first time around, the same has been true as I rediscover my frugal nature. Frugal muscle memory feels every bit as real as its physical counterpart and I am mighty grateful to be able to leverage those earlier skills!