In the past couple of years, I have become more frugal. I have the feeling that may end in a few months, when we move back to the US. Now we live in a small desert town. There is a supermarket here, sufficient for buying needs (not wants). There is also a cafeteria that serves the same hot food until 7 p.m. and stays open for simple pastries and ice cream until 11? The truth is that the food there is extremely unappetizing so is no kind of temptation. I would much rather cook, or just make a sandwich, than eat there. Our supermarket closes at 7, so there is no last minute running out for the ingredient you forgot, or midnight ice cream runs. In fact, the supermarket closes early on Fridays (2) and is not open on Saturdays.
So basically there is no way to spend your money unless you travel. Since it is a small community, and we are all students, and things in Israel tend to be casual (except in Tel Aviv), there is no need for designer clothes. In fact, it isn't even a temptation to be at the mall and see fancy outfits because you just can't conceive of wearing them here.
There are no billboards here. The university gives us free satellite tv and internet connection. On satellite tv, most of the stations don't have any commercials. If you want to know about the newest product, you have to do some research.
We do go to the nearby city of Beer Sheva on a regular basis, and our biggest temptation is to go out for a reasonable dinner. Spending more on dinner seldom gets you better food in Beer Sheva. Since we live 45 minutes away, the temptation to drink is minimal.
There is a student pub here, but the prices are very low, so to get very drunk maybe you pay $10. The pub is open twice a week. I can't get very drunk very often (okay once in the close to two years that we have been here), so a further lack of temptation.
Since our housing is environmentally friendly, our electricity bill is low. We pay about $30 a month for my husband's portion of our housing--my portion is covered by my scholarship. Our biggest expenses are car related. We do have a used car, and we drive it to visit my husband's family 2.5 hours away from here every two weeks. We also frequently drive to Beer Sheva if both of us want to go there.
I don't feel deprived. Actually, being a newlywed, most of the time I am very happy. I hope I will take a lesson back to the US, that stuff is not important to happiness. It is harder there, when you are surrounded by advertising and opportunities to buy. I can't say that I am by nature a frugal person. I always try to sock away money, contribute to retirement accounts and find a way to be self sufficient. But I usually exceed my budget for things like eating out. While my dream expenditures are travel and classes, I secretly love clothing and pampering. If I were rich I could probably adjust to designer labels and day spas.
I think most people have some kind of stuff that really appeals to them. A lot of people like cars, or gadgets. To tell you the truth, it takes no kind of discipline for me to say no to an expensive new car or the latest gadget. With cars I just want something reliable and fuel efficient, and prefer public transportation or walking anyway. By far. I don't even want to learn how to use the latest gadget. I like internet radio, I feel like it has eliminated my need ever to buy cds (which I hate anyway--I am waiting for a new medium that doesn't get scratched so easily like almost all of my cd's did when I transferred them to a travel case). Books are a halfway temptation for me--I love to read, but I hate moving books around. I prefer to use the library or buy used and then donate.