August 12, 2010

Ten Frugal {And Not So Frugal} Things About Me

This post originally ran on February 25, 2009; if you're a newer reader, I thought you might like this little insight into how I blend my frugality with our financial realities.  And if you've been reading this site long enough to remember when this was first posted, God bless you!  All y'all rock!


A while back, Cheryl @ Swap Savers tagged me for this post. I'm happy to share...but I've added a twist (because I don't know if I can come up with 25 *amazing* ways I'm frugal).

First, I'll share 5 ways I'm actively frugal with our resources. Then, I'll share 5 not-so-frugal things about me.

Why?

Well, I'm on a frugal journey just like you; I don't want to proclaim myself an expert. This blog is all about sharing what works and what has worked consistently for me with the hope that it might help one of you.

And, the frugal journey isn't about scrimping and saving without purpose; I truly believe that pursuing frugality should lead to greater opportunities for your financial life as a whole. So some of what you'll see on my not-so-frugal list reflect that reality for me on a personal level.

Oh, and before I get going, go give Swap Savers a looksee. Cheryl has set up a really useful forum for frugalistas to share useful info.

Five Ways I'm Frugal

1. Coupons. I am passionate about couponing, not because I want to stockpile 37 cans of Campbell's Soup but because effective couponing multiplies your buying power.

2. eBay. I have sold much on eBay in the past but haven't sold anything for more than a year. It's a GREAT way to unload those rapidly-outgrown kids clothes, baby gear, and toys. I also buy clothes for my kids on eBay; it saves me time + money, both of which should be used frugally.

3. Haircuts. My hubs Knute cuts our boys hair (and he is good at it!). And for myself and my daughter, I usually just wait until I have a coupon for Great Clips or SuperCuts or we'll go to the local Career Center (vo-tech school) which has a very nice salon (they do everything a high-end salon does for a fraction of the cost). While I do spend the $30 or so once or twice a year to go to a spiffy salon for a really good hair cut, that's about it; I'm lucky to have easy hair that doesn't need any color or treatments.

4. Makeup. Since I discovered the glory that is CVSing and Walgreensing late 2007, I have not paid a dime for makeup; I simply wait for the ECB deals and the Easy Saver or Register Reward deals and stock up. In fact, I have a small arsenal of foundation and nail polish under my sink that I really need to donate to a worthy charity (I'm thinking of the charities that help girls find ways to go to Prom or something -- any ideas???).

5. The Joneses. This is the biggest one: I don't keep up with 'em. I don't even try. This is a mindset, one that can be hard to enact when your friends and family live a larger-spending life than you do. It can feel like you're the Lone Ranger of the Budget when you start playing the comparing game. My best advice to you is to make no assumptions, either positive or negative, about the state of someone else's financial health. The current mortgage crisis is proof that lots of those Joneses have been paddling a leaky rowboat through a sea of debt.

Five Ways I'm Not Frugal

1. Parochial School Tuition. My two oldest attend our Catholic Church's private school; it's a pretty penny. But this is one of the biggest reasons why I'm doggedly frugal elsewhere in our lives; Catholic education is a top priority for us as a family.

2. New Cars. We've bought two cars new off the lot; our 1999 Taurus is still running strong (and has been paid off for many years) and our 2004 Sienna is just a few hundred shy of a title note (*note: we paid our van Claudine off early in May 2009!*).  We've owned "gently" used cars that have cost us an arm and a leg in repairs long before they were paid off. We buy cars new with the idea we'll drive them for a *minimum* of ten years; we're sticklers for maintenance (most of which is covered by warranties for the first several years) and really love our cars by keeping 'em clean inside and out.

3. Dogs. I've got two big dogs (*note: {sniff} we only have one dog now*) and can't imagine not having a dog around. Between food and vet bills, they are a big expense financially. And with their need for walks and playtime, they're also a big time expense. But they're our buddies and they're well worth it...and I've never once worried that we might need a security system!

4. Investments & Life Insurance. I'll never rob our future to pay off our current debt. We've invested since our mid-twenties (before we had kids) and have increased our investments and life insurance as each child arrived and our future planning changed. You can't start young enough in either of these important categories - compound interest is a long-term game and health issues plus increasing age makes life insurance more expensive and more difficult to procure as you get older.

5. Splurges. Sometimes, it's nice to just order pizza for dinner. Or buy the kids a new toy or art set just because they did something superlative. And if I need a jolt of caffeine during an on-the-go day, I'll spend a buck or two and grab some java without guilt. I firmly believe that living frugally isn't living miserly. Like I said above, living frugally should open doors for you, not shut them.

There you have it! More *amazing* truths about me. Our regular programming of deals, freebies, and tips will now resume.

;-)

Just for fun, if you want to take this idea and post your own Frugal 5 x 5 on your blog, go for it! Just link back to this one here, m'kay? And drop me a comment with your link so I can come read yours, too!

Thanks for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

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