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Basic Frugality

Last post 09-08-2011 10:49 AM by Brandy. 6 replies.
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  • 08-31-2011 11:37 AM

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-28-2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Basic Frugality

    In the past I have heard people say that being frugal was too much work. I wonder how much those people are still willing to spend to have the ease of not managing their money wisely.

    Frugality does not have to be complicated. The first steps can be gradual ones that lead to better finances.

    Where does a beginner start with gaining control of his or her money and making a plan to spend less? Where did you begin?

     

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • 08-31-2011 12:03 PM In reply to

    • grame
    • Top 50 Contributor
      Female
    • Joined on 02-22-2011
    • Kingdom of Callaway
    • Posts 1,950

    Re: Basic Frugality

     Guess I did it backward.  I didn't start out with the intention of being frugal.  Two things happened at about the same time that pushed me down the path.

    First I learned my precious granddaughter's behavior issues were a result of ingesting dyes in her food which meant I had to begin cooking everything from scratch, which led to research as to what was going on with our food supply, which led to an ever growing garden, which led to home canning, which led to less being spent at the store!   

    The second thing was my growing concern over how society was wasting limited resources on conspicuous consumption.  Then I got the proverbial frying pan upside the head when I realized my own family was contributing to the problem.  I realize that I can't save the whole planet, but I can do my best in at least the little corner I call home.

    We reuse, recycle, re-purpose everywhere we can.  We used to send four large bags of stuff to the dump every week, think nothing of jumping into a vehicle and going to town for the littlest thing, grabbing something at the drive through and hundreds of other little things.  Not only did changing these things lessen our family's carbon foot print, but we spent a whole lot less!

    See mom, being an aging hippie does have an upside!

     

    I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand. ~Susan B. Anthony
  • 08-31-2011 2:35 PM In reply to

    Re: Basic Frugality

    I started by adding up all of our debts & posting them on the fridge in the basement, where no one would see them but us.  I was concerned, but DH had no clue & really didn't care how much debt we had. I update this list every month, & at the end of the year, it feels good to know how much debt slaying we've done over the course of that year.

    Groceries: I started with a master list & bought all of those items for the month.  After that, I just keep a running list of things I need, not going to the grocery store unless one of those items of the list becomes a must have (toilet paper is a must have!).

    Paying Bills: I am paid once a month, DH twice a month. I figured out when all bills are due, dividing them into the first & last halves of the month.  Once each half of the months bills are paid, I leave a set amount in the checking account & write out a check for the balance to the credit card company, making at least two cc payments each month & for more than the minimum.  CC debt is our first dragon that we are trying to get under control.

    Eating Out: We eat out a lot less than we used to.  We used to eat out almost every night for dinner.  Now we might eat out two nights a week. 

    Any extra bit we don't spend goes toward the cc debt.

    Entertainment: DH used to buy multiple DVD's every week.  DD would get toys or videos on our Wal-Mart runs.  Now it's rare that DH buys a DVD.  Now we don't go to Wal-Mart unless there is something that cannot be bought at the grocery store.  That way there's no temptation for any of us!

    I used to get frustrated with DH about being frugal, but I decided to just do what I could toward paying down debt on my own.  DH has come around in a big way.  We still go out occasionally for a nice meal & I stress a lot less about our finances. 

  • 09-03-2011 12:57 AM In reply to

    Re: Basic Frugality

     Good Question.  For me there isn't a "start" but rather steps in a process.

    I don't know when I "started" because I've always been a saver and thrifty, though willing to spend on my priorities.  That's pretty much my definition of frugal.  When I was growing up I didn't save just to save, there was a goal most of the time.  I started saving because I was pretty sure, at about age 6, that I'd rather live alone and knew I'd need rent money.  I didn't know that I couldn't sign a lease.  Later, I saved to pay for a semester study abroad.  Then a bike and college.  Eventually, a car.  

    Still, with 13 years in college, 9 in graduate school (many degrees), I had a great deal of debt mostly due to one year in california as an out of state student.  I got stuck in the mindset that if I followed the rules I could eventually earn enough to get out of debt.  But, once I got a job with all my degrees, I was paying so much to school loans and to the credit card I used to pay my way to three day interviews around the county to get that job, that I could barely afford all the things expected of a young university faculty member...clothes, dinner parties, paying for my own meals during other poor suckers' three day interviews, going to conferences, research trips, etc etc etc.  I was still living much like I did in graduate school...walking for any trip under 2 miles, starting the car once every two weeks for a big trip to the grocery store, cooking meals from scratch as much as I had time for, no cable, no internet at home, and so on.  But it wasn't until I lost/left that job and used the opportunity of selling the house and moving to start seriously paying down debt that I made real progress.  Being able to pay off a couple of the smaller school loans with lump sums kick-started my debt-elimination plan.  Living an hour from a decent grocery store meant better meal planning.  

    Through it all, I've also been working to continue reducing my environmental footprint.  I buy less. Use things longer.  Fix them.  Buy used or rent or share or borrow.  Don't automatically replace things when they wear out.   Almost all of my environmental activities ends up saving me money in the short run and all of them have saved me money in the long run.

  • 09-03-2011 12:00 PM In reply to

    Re: Basic Frugality

    I started by making a list of all of our debts and due dates.  We had several credit cards back then, so it was  a little overwhelming, but something that had to be done so we could face it.  Once we saw how much we owed it forced us to buckle down and pay them all off.  We lived for ten years with no credit cards after that, paying cash for everything.  Now we have one credit card for me and one for my husband.  Both get paid off every month.  It really was steps, like someone else posted, but it did start with listing it all out for me.
  • 09-03-2011 1:17 PM In reply to

    • Walt34
    • Top 75 Contributor
    • Joined on 12-17-2007
    • WV eastern panhandle
    • Posts 1,400

    Re: Basic Frugality

    I think it has more to do with developing the maturity to defer immediate gratification for long-term gain. Much is made now of credit card debt and how much it costs, everyone "knows" that, but somehow people managed to survive centuries without credit cards. If one thinks about it, the main product cc companies sell is immediate gratification. We use cc's for convenience but within the cc industry people like me and DW are called "deadbeats" because we pay them off in full every month and therefore don't pay their fees and interest rates.

    So frugality begins with facing the gritty reality of "These are the (financial) numbers we have to work with. What are our priorities?" That means that if extensive travel is one's priority, then one cannot also have fine furniture, new cars, high-end china and an in-ground backyard pool at age 30. Conversely, if one's priority is fine furniture, then something else is gonna have to give. It seems that too many people are unable to make those choices, they want to "have it all" on credit, and that works until whatever they bought on credit doesn't last longer than the loan, they lose their job, get sick, or for whatever reason can't make their payments.

    Or as DW put it while we were dating "The trouble with loans is they always want you to pay it back. Plus interest." Intuitively she understood that in the long run one gets to do more of what one wants to do if the money that is not spent on interest payments is saved and then spent on fun stuff.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Money Management
  • 09-08-2011 10:49 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-28-2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Basic Frugality

    Frugality for me began early with realising I could have things but they didn't have to cost a lot if I was willing to prioritise and save.

    Adult frugality began with knowing we had to live under what we made. My budget was set for me by expenses being a certain amount. I went through those to see what ways I could lower them through making choices like opening windows instead of running the AC or watching sales.

    This is still my basic approach today.

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



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