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.)