Finding a Frugal Balance

Frugal – practicing or marked by economy, as in the expenditure of money or the use of material resources.

(yeah, I know defining the term makes me sound like a 4th grader but since most people define frugal as “cheap” it’s worth noting the true meaning)

I have absolutely no problem paying less for something when the choices are, for all practical reasons, the same. Or if the quality is not important. I don’t know if my taste buds are lazy but I can’t tell the difference between store brand and name brands.  My gardening shoes are ugly. I use paper sacks as trash bags because I hate relining 5 trash cans each week. My phone doesn’t have bluetooth. I don’t own a blue-ray player, Wii or any other gaming system.

These are not choices that were made in an effort to become the most frugal of them all.

There are times when I spend tremendous amounts of money that most people think is foolish.  A brand spankin’ new DSLR camera for example. A weekend trip to Las Vegas to see a show and hang out with friends. An awesome bookshelf system for my office.  An upcoming vacation.

There’s an odd dicotomy between those who think spending thousands of dollars is normal (but who often do the same on credit) and those who look for the best deal, the cheapest option every time all the time.

For me it’s simple: save money when I can so I can spend a lot on what’s important to me.

What is important to me is not important to you so we’re not always going to see eye to eye.  But when it comes to frugality I read a lot of tips and will try most of them at least once.  Whether or not my financial situation dictates darning socks and reusing ziplock bags it’s interesting for me to find what frugal tactics are worth my time.  I don’t make my own laundry detergent in an effort to save money. Or save dryer lint or reuse vacuum bags.  But in my value system learning and exploring the options is an essential part of the process.

Let me put this another way: would you be willing to spend 10 minutes a day if it pays off in a big way once a month?

It is to me.  I read Crystal’s Blog on my Google Reader every morning while I drink my coffee. I note any interesting deals to check out after work. In October, I saved $102 at OfficeMaxx – yesterday I redeemed my reward points and bought a camcorder that was 55% off retail.  In November, I signed up for 1-800-Flowers website and got $40 off a flower delivery for my mom’s birthday.  Also in December I snagged a free book from Shutterfly which made a terrific gift to my grandparents.

I could complain that the coupon and deal ideas for Giant Eagle and Kroger grocery stores don’t help me but instead I’ve learned to sift through the suggestions and take advantage of the ones I can use.


One thought on “Finding a Frugal Balance

  1. I think I just felt our souls touching… I’m sorry, is that an awkward introduction? I found your blog through Crystal’s and I was SO excited because you were a young, single, frugal person- just like me. I love love love this post and feel the same way- the thought of paying $5 for a bag of chips physically pains me, and if I can avoid doing that by using some creative shopping, then that means I can afford to take a trip to NYC. Priorities, balance… I love it. Looking forward to following your blog.

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