Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Living Frugally

Or, Authentic Living.

It's authentic to live within our means. We're not putting on a misrepresentation of who we are when we stop spending money we don't have. It's real. I'm broke, I don't spend. I don't charge. I don't steal from my future for something today that will a) be gone before it's paid for or b) will be in the way of me living my life tomorrow.

I'm sure we've all tightened the belt lately. Not many of us can say we're better off today than we were as we celebrated the millennium (remember that? what a big deal we thought it was? Remember all the Y2K crap?)

Now, I am not advocating the hording of toilet paper and bottled water -- I think people who do have a plan of preparation and wise storage of resources probably have a great idea, if the storage for the future doesn't impair life today.

What I am advocating is common sense and reason. Live well, in all senses of the phrase. Plan for old age. Plan for illness. Plan for hard times. Don't waste. Don't throw away money. Don't waste your life.

Several of my blogging buddies have been posting about their budgeting efforts over the past several months. I'm pretty sure I have, too.

Now and then I'm going to start throwing out some ideas about how to cope with less money. Here's a short list of things I am doing. I know these won't work for everyone, but they have become a necessity for me as much as just a plan of coping:

1. Give up cable. I gave it up when I moved here in June 2007. I don't watch TV. Not only do I save the $40 or $50 or whatever amount that cable costs a month, but I'm also not exposed to advertisements for products I "just can't live without." Sure, I missed the Super Bowl ads, but I don't need to create a demand for Pepsi or Budweiser in my house anyway. (Just don't interfere with my Diet Coke habit and no one gets hurt.

2. Eat at home. One small blessing of living here is that I can come home for lunch. On average, that saves me $7 a day for lunch these days -- unbelievable! That's roughly $140 a month.

3. Cook instead. From scratch. It's fun, it's relaxing and man, doesn't it taste better than the other stuff? YES. It's also cheaper and probably healthier. (Do not look to me as a source for healthful eating information. Let me serve as your "horrible warning.")

4. Create energy efficiencies. Go green. Compact fluorescent bulbs save a ton of money. I don't use old-fashioned bulbs any more. Take advantage of "green" give-aways where these lights are given out as promotional items. They will last for years. Arbor Day and Earth Day are coming up. Find a group promoting either of these and there's a good chance you can get at least one free bulb.

5. Keep driving the old car as long as possible. Keep it in good repair. My old car is about to turn 14. It's been through a lot, especially this past year. It needs a tuneup and as soon as I have the cash, it's getting one. And it will probably go a while longer. At this point I have to think of necessary repairs in terms of "how many car payments would this be?" Say a repair is going to cost me, oh, $600. That's two payments (or less). If that gets me more than two more months of service from this car, I'm money far ahead. My tags and insurance are much cheaper, and I don't have to pay all that new car expense with tag and title and license. OK, so the radio's not so great. Big deal. I'm only in the car five minutes each way to work.

6. I sew. I'm sewing more again because a) I can't afford to shop. b) there's no place to shop where I live anyway. To make shopping worthwhile, I have to travel about 100 miles to a major city. When I go, I make the trip worthwhile. But I budget for it now. I keep a list of things I "need" and then try to make sure I have cash when those purchases become essential.

7. Sales. Don't be a dang fool. If you see something, it's going to be on sale in a couple of weeks for half or less of the price when it first comes out. Yeah, I'm cheap. I get $4 prescriptions at Wal-Mart, and while I'm there I scout out the clothes -- mostly shirts, sweaters and jeans. The jeans I buy are about $17. But the tops? I usually spend $5 or so, certainly less than $10. Last time I was there I spotted a shirt I spent $15 for a couple of months ago, marked down to $4. I've learned!

8. My latest product recommendation is Debbie Myer Green Bags. They paid for themselves the first week after I got them. They keep produce fresh for a much longer period of time. No mor icky science experiments in my fridge, plus having fresh food inspires me to find ways to use it!

More another time -- share your favorite money-saving approaches in the comments!


Sarabeth said...

Really? On the Green Bags? I was wondering about those as I buy quite a bit of produce at the farmers' market. I want that stuff to last.

Trixie said...

Yes! Seriously, it was pointless for me to buy produce because it always went bad. Then I saw these things, and I wanted to make some sort of soup, but I would have a lot of veggies left over. So I tried them out and I was SO excited and pleased!

drlobojo said...

I'm really glad to hear that the green bags work. Count me in on their use. Good to know.

As for cable, the HD broadcasts over the air are going to be a revelation. It can easily create 5times the former channels available. Cable may be an "old technology" very very soon. I can see a lot of the "cable" networks syndicating to broadcast stations.

So get your coupon and by a converter if you need one for $10.

Anonymous said...