Everyday Frugality

I read a lot of books, forums, blogs and articles about finance because the topic fascinates me. I love to see how the collective experiences of a couple million people boil down to advice for those who have never considered how and why money is earned and spent.

What is read is pretty well balanced between spending less and earning more. I love to learn about earning more because I want a legacy that contributes something of value. Doing amazing work, work that people rave about is more than having a rare skill or being famous. It’s about knowing yourself, connecting to your clients and fostering a community – or as Seth Godin call it, a tribe.

But because money doesn’t flow from an open tap I also learn how to spend less and optimize my spending. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not about washing ziplock bags and never spending a penny. For me frugality is all about balancing choices.

Here are a few ways frugality creeps into my everyday life:

I don’t need to buy antibacterial soap because I have a dozen small bottles. So even if it’s free, I save money by using what I have already. I’ve worked really hard mentally to appreciate what I have now. Just like the fancy new vacuum for “sale” – if mine works why replace it?

Because I love to read books I’m rereading summer favorites and working my way through series I loved so much I had to buy. I’m enjoying the stories, the escapism and the intellectual relaxation.

I drink a lot of water, occasionally flavoring with sugar free lemonade or tea. When I buy juice on sale I water it down so the flavor isn’t overpowering and then save the bottles for more water jugs. It’s practical and frugal because when I work outside I need several jugs of cold, filtered water.

When it’s cold I put on thick socks and a sweater. When it’s hot I reach for a fruit popsicle, drink some water and sit under a fan. Simply, I take actions to change my activities rather than adjust the thermostat.

My dishwasher is broken and unrepairable. Until I can afford a replacement I’m washing dishes by hand twice a day. It’s not the most enjoyable activity so I listen to music on my iPod to keep from being bored.

I also negotiate, definitely on big purchases, and often with myself. This summer I would like to have two trees removed. They’re dead and when the winter comes the chance of branches falling increases. So I’ve agreed (with myself) to seed, fertilize and regrow my back lawn before getting the tree removal scheduled. I have three companies to call for quotes and when I get the prices I plan on calling the second lowest and asking if they’ll beat the low bid.

There are many more ways that I live frugally and within my means but the important thing is that frugal actions don’t make me feel deprived.

Habits don’t form overnight but when you adopt them slowly you just may find that after awhile it becomes normal. You don’t feel “frugal” or worse, “cheap.”

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One thought on “Everyday Frugality

  1. I recently wrote about “Automatic frugality,” i.e., the things we do without thinking that save us money. Things like putting on another layer when we get chilly vs. turning up the heat, re-using printouts by printing on the other sides, or routinely scoping the “reduced for quick sale” items at the store.
    The choices become ingrained and we’re surprised when friends tell us about all the new ways they’ve learned to save money. Those ways don’t seem all that revelatory.
    Of course, we’re happy for our friends. 🙂
    If it’s kosher to post the URL to “Automatic frugality,” here it is:
    http://www.donnafreedman.com/2010/06/19/automatic-frugality/

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