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How A Yearly Facebook Hiatus Helps Me Maintain Frugality

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Guest post from Jennifer of The Intentional Mom

While my husband and I have a firm commitment to maintaining a frugal lifestyle (primarily out of necessity) there are times that this commitment is more difficult to stick to.

We live in the very cold North. In fact, we just had the coldest February on record, and by about March, every year, I have had more than enough of all things winter.

By the time spring break week rolls around (usually in the beginning of April) the weather is still quite cold and snowy. Although it would be lovely to take a vacation someplace warm, it’s just not a reality that aligns with our need to be frugal. However, it seems that our community turns into a ghost town during this week as nearly everyone has fled South.

It took me about two years of being on Facebook to see a pattern in my mood changes during this week. As I watched picture after picture of friends and loved ones soaking up the sun, my spirit grew more and more discontent. I even became angry in my jealousy toward the smiling faces that were staring at me with sparkling water, blue sky, and green leaves… seemingly mocking me from my computer screen.

Of course we could have migrated South for the week — if we wanted to rob our emergency savings or use a credit card. But this was where the rubber met the road when it came to seeing our financial plan through to the end.

One day, when I actually felt tears of envy over this, I finally realized Facebook was not a good thing in my life at that time. I knew that we will someday reap the reward of our financial plan, but in that moment, the emotions were just so painfully raw.

From that point forward that year, I didn’t get on Facebook until I knew that every last person would be back in town. Because we homeschool, I am not completely in tune with the typical school year calendar, but the following year, as soon as I saw the first post of someone beginning the journey South, I logged off Facebook and remained that way for two weeks.

I have discovered that this Facebook hiatus makes it so much easier for me to embrace our frugal journey. By the time I log back on, everyone is complaining about the harsh reality of the weather in the North that hit them square in the face upon their return.

This year I have that week already loaded into my calendar and plan to spend my time being content in where we are and in where we hope to be!

Jennifer is a busy, homeschooling mom of seven who enjoys keeping a home, living an active lifestyle, and loving the little and not so little people in her life. Her mission is helping other moms find contentment in living intentionally every day over at her blog, The Intentional Mom.

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  • Val Hochstetler says:

    Exceptional post! How wise to use Facebook as a tool, rather than letting it take over one’s life. Also, I wonder how many of those same people will be complaining after vacation about not having enough money for necessities.

    • Jessica says:

      “Also, I wonder how many of those same people will be complaining after vacation about not having enough money for necessities.”

      Why do you feel the need to put down people you don’t even know? The OP didn’t post anything about the people on FB complaining about finances after they came back from vacation, nor did she say they didn’t have enough money for vacation.

  • Rhonda says:

    I really appreciate this post. My husband and I have a 19 year old disabled daughter so we are not able to go and do like all my Facebook friends. I too find myself envious/sad and have to step away until those feelings pass.

    • L says:

      We also have a child with a disability and traveling with him is not an option as he has high anxiety and likes routine/structure. Going somewhere that is unfamiliar is really hard on him. He just wants to be home. And traveling without him is not an option because of not having anyone to care for him for more than a day (and I love him too much to leave him behind 🙂

      I am not on Facebook because I feel I would be “sucked in” and a huge amount of time each week would be wasted. My husband and I decided a long time ago, that since we could not keep up the Joneses, that we wouldn’t try to. In saying that, we haven’t been on a real vacation since our honeymoon 21 years ago, and we are ready to travel just one time. It is not jealousy or envy, it is just time.

    • Kat says:

      I am totally in the same type of situation. I have a son who is nonverbal and aggressive. I noticed I would get on facebook to escape the situation right in front of me. I’ve been off facebook since December, and it’s freeing to say the least:)

  • Miriam B says:

    I find it so encouraging to see other people taking breaks from social media. I decided I would give up all forms of social media for 2015. It has been incredibly freeing and I have noticed a huge improvement in my attitude since deleting all those accounts.

  • Leah says:

    Very wise!

  • Kelly Hess says:

    What a wonderful post! It is sad how Facebook can leave some people feel left and depressed. I often take a break because I run into so many people acting “fake” and painting a much prettier picture than their life actually is. I always keep that in mind, that people only post the good and are often struggling on the inside.

  • Jennifer says:

    This is a great idea. I need to do this because Facebook is a major timewaster for me.
    But also, I feel like we are the only ones in our area who aren’t going somewhere for the school break. I know this is not true but I still feel envy at all the warm places everyone I know seems to be going. And I’m happy for them. But it can be difficult.

  • Kelli says:

    Yes, this makes so much sense. For me, it falls under the same category as staying out of stores (other than grocery stores of course!) and not reading magazines/catalogs. If I see something cool, I kinda want it. So if I don’t see it, I don’t know what I’m missing and I’m content!

  • Jessica says:

    This is a very beautiful, insightful post. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Kate says:

    On the topic of the grass not always being greener on the other side… my husband and I are young professionals and travel quite a bit for work and pleasure. We post plenty of pictures from our travels. However, we do not have children, and sometimes the routine postings on Facebook of our friends’ day-to-day lives with their children in most every picture are enough to cause some sadness about the fact that we do not have children. I just remind myself that no one’s life is exactly like mine and my life is not exactly like anyone else’s. 🙂 We are all called to different things during different seasons of life. While some might be dreaming of vacationing and visiting some of the places we travel to, it might be uplifting for them to realize that the seemingly day-to-day mundane of caring for children might be something others are dreaming of. 🙂

    • This is SUCH great perspective! Thanks for sharing!

    • Amy says:

      That is an excellent point. You should check out Jennifer’s post on “Taming the Green-Eyed Monster.” 🙂

    • Leah says:

      Kate, I’m so glad that you posted this! My husband and I are also travel (well, not a lot, but more than most young couples we know) but have not been blessed with children. And it makes me so sad when people comment about how lucky we are that we can do/afford things . . . when I would give anything to have to give up vacations and scrimp to raise a houseful of children!

      I really love your comment about everyone’s lives being different!! We’re all so blessed in different ways, and it’s so important to remember that. 🙂

    • Gina says:

      “it might be uplifting for them to realize that the seemingly day-to-day mundane of caring for children might be something others are dreaming of.” . . . . I wish I could find a tactful way to remind some of my friends of this 🙂 You’re absolutely right about the grass not always being greener. Thank you for the reminder!

  • For me you did the right choice. It is wise to elimate what is unpleasant for us.

  • Amy says:

    I deleted my kids’ Instagram accounts as they were constantly asking why aren’t we going to Disney, CA, cruises, etc. They haven’t missed it a bit!

  • Kate says:

    Just remember, your life is unique and not like anyone else’s! 🙂 While my Facebook friends might be envious of the pictures I post from my travels, I sometimes want to remind them that I am often sad sometimes when I see the photos they post of their children and their day-to-day activities, as we do not have any children. I remind myself to enjoy the life that God has so graciously given to me and my husband, and to not compare my life to others. 🙂

  • Christine says:

    I deactivated my Facebook account 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. I found myself to be more content than I have been in years, and I found a deeper appreciation for my “real friends” that I have face to face time with. Amazing!

  • Annie Kate says:

    Brilliant! Adapting our surroundings to prevent unwanted behavior is so important.

    I just read about that technique in Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better Than Before that I reviewed on my blog yesterday. There are a lot of ways we can change our behavior and habits to align with our values.

  • Gina says:

    Very insightful post! And a good reminder to me of how Facebook isn’t always a good thing. I have had to “unfollow” some of my “friends” for these very reasons. My husband and I cannot have children, period. (The only way it will happen is through adoption, which is not an option for us right now.) I just couldn’t handle some peoples constant comments about how perfect their kids are, endless photos, how blessed they are, etc. Or a couple of friends who seem to constantly complain about having too many kids or about being pregnant. . . . all it did was make our situation even harder to bear, and make me discontent & envious. So, I removed those comments from my newsfeed, and am so much happier. If I want to catch up with those friends I can do so on my terms, on a day I feel like I can handle it. Otherwise, I don’t need the added stress and the reminders of what I don’t have. I do stay off Facebook around Mother’s Day, though. Just too hard to handle.

  • Diana says:

    No Facebook for me, at all…ever. My right hand (the one that clicks the mouse ;)) was causing me to sin (envy others ‘seemingly’ perfect circumstances) so I cut it off and threw it into the fire. I have to say I am a much happier, contented person for doing so. For so long I didn’t consider my envying to be such a big deal. Then one day I was reading the Bible and saw a list of sins of the flesh and ‘envy’ was right inbetween murder and adultery…I hadn’t murdered and have been faithful to my husband, but envy was a sin that had overtaken my daily life. Needless to say I was totally convicted and took it to the Lord in prayer. Now did dropping my Facebook account stop me from envying, nope, but it removed a major stream of temptation that entered my eyes MULTIPLE times a day. The struggle is still real but in the Lord I am overcoming. Just thought I would share my testimony. I don’t think everyone should quit Facebook, some of you can handle it–great! But for those of you who can’t (there are many of us) don’t be ashamed you can’t and let it go…it’ ❤️

  • Kristine says:

    I think what people should think about is not to be envious of what you don’t have that your friends do. First, what you need to look at, is are these Facebook people friends? And if they are are being fake, then why are you friends with them? The world is full of temptation and people always have more than someone else. To criticize them for having something is judgmental. Maybe they sacrifice other things to afford vacations. I know my husband and I have no debt except a small house payment, a nice savings, and we like to travel. Does that make us bad people?

  • Cate R. says:

    Like a couple other commentors, I’ve taken a permanent vacation from Facebook too. Some people can handle Facebook fine and some of us just can’t (with some somewhere in the middle) I think you just have to know yourself, and know what is a stumbling block. Being on Facebook was a constant source of fuel to my depression and discontentment, as well as loneliness, it fake-filled a void for connection with people that was still missing in real life (plus other reasons I went off it). It’s hard sometimes oddly because it feels like I’m a weirdo to not be doing Facebook, like people see me as a psycho who must have something to hide, or running away from relationship when the truth is I’m trying to reserve my limited resources to apply to real life ones.

  • Bev says:

    I would think being happy for others would be the best thing and solve a lot when it comes to envy. Facebook sure seems like a battle for a lot of people, I would eliminate it completely. I’ve never had a FB but I’ve read so many posts over the years of all the things people go through because of it that it makes me want to scream – LET IT GO LOL! =0

  • Kristin says:

    I, too, found Facebook to be a stumbling block for myself, so I decided to let it go. However, I found it is very difficult to be FB-free in a FB-world. Here, locally, it is used for announcing delays, cancellations, etc. for the activities that my family is involved in. I found it so frustrating when I would show up to swimming lessons, only to find that they were cancelled and “it was posted on Facebook.” Or, the time we took our kids to Tae Kwon Do lessons, only to find those cancelled too. Again, posted on Facebook. I was getting so tired of the fact that we weren’t being notified personally anymore, that I felt forced to keep my FB account for those reasons only. So now, I log on to make sure our specific activities are still a go, and then I log off before the temptation to check up on everyone’s lives sets in. I wish I could be free of it completely, but I guess as long as we live in the world we live in, this is the best compromise for now.

    • Tracy says:

      I have a Facebook account just for this reason. I don’t have any friends at all on there, but I’ve just “liked” the pages that I need to follow.

  • Christine says:

    Funny, I just don’t feel this at all! We have been financially stressed for years but I don’t feel envy when I see other’s travels – I like Facebook for the jokes and interesting articles friends link to, and it’s nice to keep track of people very dear to me who live far away. Maybe I didn’t get the envy gene!

  • michelle says:

    I had the same feelings. I had vacation jealousy!

  • Lisa D says:

    I am a SAHM and homeschooler to my 2 children. I would like to provide another reminder; vacation doesn’t have to be expensive. Travel was a priority before our marriage, and we vowed that it would remain one after our children were born. It is possible to take ‘exotic’ vacations and maintain frugality. Of course it is a lot of work, just like couponing. (Unfortunately, saving money is never easy). We also do not have Instagram/Facebook accounts…..and I like to think that helps me make sure that we are traveling for all of the right reasons 🙂

  • Amie says:

    It’s easy to become jealous with Facebook since people post a lot of the best things they’re doing. I am a teacher with a great family and I sometimes feel jealous of my childless teacher friends who can travel during their breaks. I envy the freedom. On the surface, it seems like they can afford to do whatever they want. I’ve since noticed that these are the same people who are broke before payday. I am not debt free, but I am very happy not to live paycheck to paycheck. And although I am a tired mom, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I will just have to wait until my kids are a little older and then we’ll travel together. 🙂

  • Bee says:

    I may have an unpopular opinion but here goes….

    I think your goal is admirable if you feel you cant keep your frugality an obtainable goal. I have a quote I got from somewhere (my apologies to its unknown source).

    “You are only as successful as the strength of your own resolve.”

    Personally, staying away from facebook is only a bandaid on the bigger problem: your own resolve.

    Say that you are on a diet. However, you love ice cream. You go into your kitchen and blend up a giant milkshake three times a day. Aside from what would certainly be an upset stomach, after a week you start to gain weight. A lot of weight.

    Did the blender make you pile on pounds? Do you throw out your blender? No. Your lack of self control did you zero favors.

    Would it help to not buy ice cream at the store? Certainly, but it doesnt address the problem of self-control.

    What happens when ice cream goes on sale?

    What happens when the Ice Cream Truck taunts you with their frozen goodness?

    What happens when you treat the kids to DQ Bizzards?

    In this same way, the problem is not Facebook. Its not Instagram. Its not social media. Avoiding these things makes is easier to keep your resolve, I get that. However, one might instead, take responsibility and explore their negativity, anger, envy, or discontent…rather than be bulldozed when going online…or listening to radio commercials, tv, or see your neighbor with a new car youve always wanted.

    A bonus, you can also turn it into a valuable teaching moment if you are a parent. Abstinence is not self-control albeit, a makeshift solution that is a temporary fix.

    I wish you well in your endeavors and to each their own, I would just rather fix the problem and not a symptom. My two cents.

    • Diana says:

      I do agree with you here that fixing the problem is the point, the envy, the jealousy, etc. I just do want to point out that Facebook is not really ‘normal’ social behavior. It’s basically photos and blurbs that hardly create a picture of reality. To use your own point if you have a problem with eating too much junk food…you don’t work to create a healthy interaction with junk food…you create a healthy relationship with healthy food. For some of us Facebook fosters unhealthy interaction, therefore it has to go.
      My friendly two cents back. ❤️

      • Bee says:

        Im glad you replied. Good discussion makes the world go ’round. 😉

        I do agree that for some, Facebook is unhealthy and can be synthetic feeling. Just as my grandmother’s generation generally feels about text messaging and Skype sessions. (Those computers, ug!) Albeit, my sister, for instance, lives in the UK and we’ve grown closer through Facebook.

        As for not being normal, I would disagree. Social media is a different kind of communication and is as normal as was received by someone using email in the late 80s…or telephones a hundred years ago. Both of which are largely used today.

        My teenagers would laugh at me if they had to correspond without email or cellphones. Snail mail? Hehe, I think we’d have to scrounge up stamps somewhere. My four kids also go without cell phones and electronics one weekend a month “Amish Week”. Not because electronics are evil or not healthy, but because they are tools that get in the way of family time. So while I agree social media is instrumentally impressionable and potentially negative, the responsibilities are still couched in our own resolve.

        Things are not inherently good or evil, it is mankind that makes them that way.

        Thank you so much for replying.

        • Kristine says:

          “Things are not inherently good or evil, it is mankind that makes them that way.”

          Such a wonderful quote. I agree with you. Mankind makes things evil. Some people might think vacationing and putting it on Facebook is evil, some may not. There is evil and temptation everywhere you go. It is how you respond to it that shows your integrity.

          I try to live by not judging others unless they are hurting me or someone else. Otherwise, I live my life with love in my heart for all.

    • Sarah says:

      I have a quote, too, “it’s easier to avoid temptation than to resist it.” Yes, you theoretically should get to the point where ice cream in the house is not a problem, but in the meantime keeping it out of the house sure does help in the weak moments.

      Also, before you judge please remember we ALL have temptations and weak moments. We all have stumbling blocks. No need to judge one another, especially someone who is doing her best- taking it to the Lord in prayer, searching His word, and removing things that might prove a temptation. Jesus said cut off your right hand if it causes you to sin, and I think this is an excellent practical example of that concept.

  • Jessica says:

    I don’t mind seeing those fabulous Hawaii vacation photos my aunt has been posting, or similar from my other friends and family who are on Facebook. It has been 10 years since my husband and I were able to take any sort of a vacation, and that was actually our 3 1/2 years late honeymoon. Yes, in nearly 13 years of marriage, we’ve had one vacation. House problems and three little kids have gotten in the way!

    However, I wouldn’t change places. My aunt is a pharmacist and my uncle is a teacher and high school basketball coach. They earn a great living, their kids are grown and on their own, and they prioritize travel. Every two or three years, they take a fabulous trip. That is their priority.

    Every household has different priorities for what to do with their “extra” money. We could take a great vacation every year too, if we didn’t want to fully fund our Roth IRAs or the kids’ 529 college funds!

  • Sarah In the rocket city says:

    No Facebook for me. It’s a huge time waster and I enjoy my privacy. As for vacations what are those? Haha. I’ve been married 9 years still haven’t gone anywhere. I’d be happy if we get to go to the aquarium this year. For now I will be happy being “stuck” in my new house and planting flowers now that spring is here. Contentment!

    • lucy says:

      No Facebook for me. It’s a huge time waster and I enjoy my privacy.

      love this comment, i couldn’t agree with you more.

      • L says:

        I agree. I’m only on FB now for pages and information that is helpful to my life. Yes, it can be a total time-waster, and personally I don’t feel I want the world to know what I am doing 24/7, or where I’m going today or tomorrow. That information is reserved for those closest to me.

        At one time I was a part of my high school group on FB. But I found I had little in common with most of the people with the type of things that were posted within the group. A high-school meetup was nothing more than a drunk fest. I ended up leaving the group. Also, many people I find (although not all of course) either post things that have to do with 3 categories:

        – Complaining/negativity
        – Bragging/boasting
        – Drama

        It comes down to “Is this really beneficial/helpful for my life?” In the end the answer was “no”, so I deleted all friends/acquaintances except for a few. As others have mentioned, I felt immediately lighter and much more positive. For my life I don’t personally feel that FB or any social media adds any quality to it. At some point I will probably delete FB entirely, and I doubt I will really miss it at all. Those who really love/care for me know how to reach me, and I – them as well.

    • L says:

      Absolutely – contentment is what is within your heart and what is inside of you. It’s also a decision we can make daily. I’ve not had a vacation in about 12 yrs. I do struggle with it occasionally, but in general I find a lot of contentment with what I “do” have. It’s not a rich or wealthy life, but it’s one that I have my basic needs and even a bit more. It’s the little things that really do matter.

      If Facebook doesn’t help some people to feel contentment and gratitude, I believe it’s a good thing to just get rid of it. Do what gives you joy in life!

  • JOYce says:

    Social media…blogosphere, twitter, instagram, facebook, and then some. Closer to being an older woman rather than younger, those aren’t off limits for me cherry picking technology yet life/time is precious, has seasons, and is fleeting so stewarding well is a good thing(think: adorn God’s gospel/doctrine giving Him glory alone ~ He increases, we decrease). Would I send the same letter and pictures to each and every family member, friend, and acquaintance known…or even stand on a street corner and megaphone words/pictures, as many do, in a manner similar to a shot heard round the world? No. Discernment, discretion, and discipline still work in social settings ~ old, current, and future formats ~ online…offline. and and and similar sharings are helpful for our family desiring to cut it(LIVE: Living In View of Eternity) straight. Be thankful…content…joyful, know appearances can at times be deceiving, pray ~ and lead with examples of which others can learn and follow for the good of an individual God placed in our path and the whole kit and Kaboodle. Hope, as He works in and through us, rather than despair ~

    Good and timely topic…thoughtful comments here. 🙂

    • L says:

      Yes, time is more fleeting that we realize sometimes. It is wise to use it as a precious resource.

      It’s easier to have more money, more things, etc. in this life. But time? Time is something we all only have so much of, and we lose a little bit of it every single day.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Angie says:

    I completely agree! That is my resolution for this year. I only go to farm sites since I buy and sell and raise livestock. I wish there was a way to have that as my home page! I also found myself very dissatisfied and depressed when I would glance at my regular facebook page. I also have found it freeing to give it up. Good idea to not get on in the summer!!!

    • JOYce says:

      You CAN make such pages your home page(s) ~ at least in Internet Explorer(never looked into Chrome, Safari, etc.). In IE ~ left mouse click on what looks like a gear/wheel(it’s top right of the address bar on my screen) and click on “Internet options” for another box to open(general tab…addresses home page/pages tabs). Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    I have to say I’m in the minority here, I love looking at people’s vacation pictures! That’s about the only thing I *do* like to look at. I don’t care what you made for dinner, or what you’re wearing, or that oh so funny meme, but post a picture of you in front of a state park entrance sign, and I’m going to stop and like that!

  • Jennifer Meybaum says:

    I appreciated this post. I too have felt the impact of “Facebook Envy” and did not like the feelings that arose in my heart. My Pastor has challenged us to go on a social media fast this week with the goal of listening to God’s Voice instead of others’. I have noticed that this is healthy for my heart and soul – especially as spring break begins in Northeast Ohio tomorrow afternoon!

  • Jessica says:

    I deleted my Facebook account about 5 years ago for a few reasons, Facebook Envy being one of them. I just wanted to leave this comment for anyone who may be debating whether or not they should delete their Facebook. Unless you really feel a strong need to keep in contact with family and friends over Facebook, you really aren’t missing anything. In fact when I deleted it I felt this sense of relief and a weight lifted from my shoulders. So if you’re on the fence, know that it’s possible to live and be happy without Facebook. Like I said, you may feel like you’ll be “out of the loop” but once it’s gone you realize you really aren’t missing anything.

  • Anna says:

    I love how you decided what would be best for your situation! I have done the same at times. At other times I find FB a very pleasant and encouraging place to be and feel that it is my job there to encourage others. FB itself isn’t the sin so I don’t feel the need to log out altogether but I think taking breaks as needed is very helpful. I did that just a few days ago thinking I would have to stay off of it for the entire weekend but found that 24 hours was all I needed to take my issues before the throne and feel His peace and comfort.

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