Monday, August 4

The secret of frugality revealed here!

Okay, this is a frugal blog and yet it seems all I have been doing is catching you guys up on basic life items. So here's an attempt to get back on track.

The secret to frugality

Yep, I have the secret to frugality. And I'll even let you in on it. Are you ready? Do you need to get a glass of water? No?

Okay: The secret to frugality is thinking ahead.

Seems so simple, doesn't it? You are probably even telling yourself right now that you already do that. And to some extent, I am sure you do. But the real secret of frugality is to always think ahead.

This means eating before you leave the house, so you don't succumb to advertising and aromas. It means packing a granola bar or other snack so that you can fortify yourself if your stomach starts a-rumblin'.

And it means comparison shopping whenever possible and trying to never buy on impulse. The Internet is a wonderful tool and you can generally find anything for less than retail if you enter enough search terms.

Most of all, it means knowing your weaknesses -- emotional and physical.


**I try to avoid clothing stores -- especially affordable ones -- because I know I'll be tempted to make just one little purchase.

**I avoid craft stores (especially bead stores) because, once in them, it's nearly impossible to leave with just what I came for.

**When I'm not on a no-sugar diet, I try not to have extra junk food around the house. If it's there, I'll eat it. But if I have to go get a specific item, it's usually not worth it.

**I'm an emotional eater. So I try not to buy anything when upset, not even groceries, lest I load up on junk food. Even on sale, that stuff is pricy. As for non-food purchases, well there's a reason for the term "retail therapy."


My physical weakness is pretty obvious: my fatigue.

Tim cooks and I do dishes, but his health isn't much better than mine. This means there are times when neither of us have the energy to figure out food. It's times like this -- when I'm so tired that I can't even think of what I want to eat -- that ordering out sounds appealing. It was becoming a drain on our finances. So I now keep our cupboards and freezer stocked with quick meals: soups, frozen entrees, and hot dogs.

My fatigue also means I can't always go to get the best deal. I try to plan trips based on stores' sale items. Even so, no plan is perfect; and sometimes I find myself exhausted and settling for a slightly higher price (if I need the item right away). Tim recently convinced me he should get a bike, so that he can run errands for me when I'm too tired to drive.

Weaknesses are not something I like to admit to. Even so, they're part of the package deal of being human. So rather than beating myself up about what I can't do, I try to focus on having solutions in advance.

What are your major weaknesses? How can you solve those in advance?


Blogger story girl said...

Yes, I agree that the secret is keeping ahead. My weakness is that I am often insecure and unassertive - I don't like to say no when someone asks me to participate in something, even when it will cost more money than I want to spend. It helps to have a planned out or escape plan.

August 9, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Blogger Claire said...

My weakness is similar to story girl's - when a friend, my mom, my sister, whoever! ask me to do something with them, I have a really hard time saying no because I just don't have the money to allocate to that right now. I don't like to disappoint people and I want to go along with what they want. Doesn't usually turn out well for the pocketbook...

August 13, 2008 at 2:32 PM

Blogger Abby said...

I completely understand not wanting to say "no." It's hard and I think as women, we're trained to please and to make other people's needs more important than our own.

I have a hard time saying no, but I've had to learn to because of my energy problems. That makes it easier in a way -- I have a scapegoat. But I've also had to learn to ask for help which drives me batty as I'm stubborn and independent.

In both cases, I just had to practice saying no when I was by myself and now I can usually find a nice way to say it: "No I don't think I can afford a movie right now, but maybe we could take a walk around Green Lake?" (Green Lake is a lake, obviously, that is about 3 miles around on the path.)

It's a matter of substitution rather than shooting people down. "Gosh, I know you really want to go. But I don't think I can afford that play/movie/restaurant/museum. But couldn't we go to a matinee tomorrow/see the preview night of the play/go on the free day of the museum? I understand if you prefer to go right now. But I really need to not put myself further in debt right now."

Your friends and family love you. If you phrase it like that (and work on quelling the butterflies in your stomach -- if you're anything like me -- that crop up when you have to say no) they'll usually be a little disappointed but happy to compromise. Don't forget suggesting you meet up after the activity for a walk or cheap meal or invite them over to your place for some food/snacks so they can tell you whether it was any good.

And sometimes your friends will surprise you. Tim has a broke friend. We have little to no money but when it comes to giving him $5 so that both he and Tim can play Magic the Gathering on a Friday night, we can occasionally cover him. Likewise, if your sister or mom really wants to see a movie with you, they may offer to spot you. When finances are better, you can return the favor.

When I almost had to cancel going to a friend's wedding in NY, he responded that if necessary they could help me financially. In the end, my mom chipped in for me because she knew it was important -- and I shared a hotel room with literally like three or four other people to help make it.

I think a lot of it comes down to thinking ahead, once again. If you have some set ideas on the main suggestions, you aren't put on the spot: movie? how about a rental or matinee the next day; restaurant? how about going to the grocery store, buying some ingredients and making your friend some food, or maybe you already have some chips and salsa and you can suggest some really cheapskate "tapas"

August 13, 2008 at 2:47 PM

Anonymous Natural Frugality said...

I agree - thinking ahead is definitely key to frugality. A lot of what we think of as convenience is really just a trade-off between thinking ahead and paying more for something. Thinking ahead is really making time for the things you already know you're going to do! :)

Eating out before leaving *is* a big deal. It's so hard to say no when the stomach is making suggestions. :)

January 11, 2010 at 10:16 AM


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