Saturday, January 23, 2010

Living Frugally

With the down-turn in the economy recently, there's been a lot of buzz about how to save money and "be frugal." But apparently mainstream culture and I have a different opinion of what it means to be frugal.
I consider being frugal to mean, if you don't absolutely need it, you do without.
Mainstream idea of frugal seems to be, if you want it, you shouldn't pay full price for it.
I happened to have a magazine lying around that has an article about 18 "genius" ways to make your cash go further. Glancing over it, here's their ideas: limit the garments you take to the dry cleaner, get a cheaper gym membership, skip your morning Starbucks and make coffee at home, sign up for Netflix instead of going to the movie store, clip coupons, don't eat at expensive restaurants, get a manicure once a month instead of once a week, find the cheapest gas, avoid ATM fees.... Seriously? I'm so tired of hearing "brilliant ideas" like this that NORMAL people already do! I read another blog recently and the author said something like, "How the h--- are people that already don't do any of these things supposed to save money???"
Something I admit I could do better would be to clip coupons. And when I find a coupon for something we buy (mainly diapers), I use it. But most are for brand-name goods that, even with the coupons, are still more expensive than the store brands. I've heard there are often good coupons in the Sunday paper, but to get the paper to get the coupons, I'd spend $1.50. So I'd have to save that much just to break even. I've also heard that if you search online, you can find good coupons. But time is money. I don't have all day to search for coupons. (And once again, they're for name-brand things.)
I know a lot of people that think they're being frugal because they found something on sale. Sure, it's great that you only paid half price for those shoes, but if they're your 14th pair of shoes, you obviously don't need them, so is it really being frugal? (I'm guilty of this - not shoes, but clothing - if it's under $10 and actually fits me and is my "style", I will usually buy it - need or not.) Same thing with buying clothes for your kids - do they really need 40 outfits and 10 pairs of shoes?
I'm not the pristine example of how to live frugally, by any means. Thankfully, right now, we're not where we have to make the choice of whether we buy gas or groceries with what's left in the bank. (We have been there, and probably will be again, though.) I just get so tired of hearing people gripe about not having any money, only to listen to them talk about going shopping and finding this or that, or going out to the bar with their friends. Do you have any money or don't you?
I know people look at things that we buy and think we're extravagant. And we are at times. But there's a lot that we don't have/do, so that we can afford to buy stuff we want/need. We opt to not have sattelite TV, but we do subscribe to Netflix. We don't have a home phone, but we do have wireless high-speed internet. We don't eat out much, but I splurge on the type of meals I fix at home (lots of "expensive" ground beef, rather than cheaper pork or chicken). We don't buy our sons a bunch of little toys or extra clothes, so we can afford to spend a chunk to build them a nice play set. Almost every vacation we've been on we have stayed with family (because it's cheap), even though there's other places we'd like to go see (East Coast, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon). And after this last trip to Colorado for Grandma's funeral, I now know how much that little thing has been saving us every year!
Anyhow. There is no real lesson in this, just felt the need to vent. If you're already living frugally by mainstream standards, are there any other ways you can cut corners and save money?
(Your comments and ideas are welcome.)


Brooke said...

I am also trying to get into the swing of using coupons more. I found a website where I can preview the Sunday paper's ads and decide if it's worth the $2 for the paper. If I had a printer, I would never bother because there are much better printable ones all over the place. It does help- I went shopping last night and saved $70 on my entire purchase between the store's sale and my coupons. Simply paying attention to those free ads can save you a lot. The catch: It took me over an hour at the store. Could I ever do that with the kids along? Nope. (Side note- this is making me giggle. The "secret word verification" for making this comment is "hung")

carrie said...

this is the boat we are cable/dsl, netflix subscriptions, cell phone plans, gym membership, etc. Where are we supposed to cut? I don't use coupons because we already use mostly store brands.

It's frustrating to me to see spoiled people whining about having to cut trivial things out.

Nice vent.

Tiffany said...

This is so where I'm at right now. I have a friend who spends hours a week clipping coupons and putting them together with the store sale ads. I don't have time for that! I make fun of Rocky for wearing the same t-shirts from high school and his old high school pants are his "garage" pants now...but honestly him making those sacrifices have helped make us financially sound.

The Other Rachel said...

I've had good luck with there is a monthly fee, but it was well worth it. I quit, though, because we were buying too many "boxed" foods--and I'm trying to make everything from scratch as much as possible.

Doug or Janice Rhodes said...

When our kids were little, we went to Food 4 Less once a quarter to stock up....we really saved a bunch(freezer is a necessity at our house). Now it is ALDIs. Emporia or Lawrence or Olathe. Putting up garden produce has always helped a heap. Not carrying cash in my pocket helps the most. We also use a gas credit card so the bill is paid once a month. Started that when stations were not open 24/7. But it also keeps us from using the change for junk food etc...And we never were good at scheduling gas money in the right amounts... I have clothing that is easily 10 years old and maybe some that is older. Have lots of hand me downs/ups. When I was a kid, flour was purchased in 50# cotton bags...and yep we wore the permanently "starched" cotton after the flour was gone..... I have always lived out of town so have the habit of scheduling trips into from scratch is better in many ways. No general credit card is the best also. Or at least write out a valid check for the amount to the card company when the card is used and when recording your purchase ITEMIZE--then you know where the money really went. That was very revealing to us!! Miscellaneous category is seldom used here.... Keep the thermostat down and wear long johns..... If yo buy bottled water, sink the money into a filter. We are saving about $400 per year by installing a less that $200 system and buying filters for it 2x a year. One thing I has to keep an eye on is so easy for me to rationalize!!!!!!!!!!! Hang in there girls
Mom R

JC said...

Well, I would offer my suggestions on how to cut down on a certain type of paper product to save cash by using the paper product provided at work, but it might not be looked upon too kindly by the ladies on here...