Have We Lost the Meaning of Frugality?

My grandparents were married during the Great Depression.  Their first few years together were spent in severe economic hardship, and the financial lessons they learned during that lean time never left them.

They always had one car.

My grandma wore the same dresses throughout my entire lifetime.  I think when she died, the dresses she still had were 25 to 30 years old.

They rarely went out to eat, opting instead to cook and eat simple meals at home.

My grandparents did without much of the time, and they were very frugal with their money.

They sold their house when they retired and lived in a 5th wheel trailer parked on the side of our lot, less than 20 steps from our house.  All of their possessions fit in that space, and their home was not cluttered.

Has the Meaning of Frugality Changed?

Lost FrugalityNow, the definition of frugal seems to be different.  People try hard to avoid doing without.

Now, the motto seems to be, “Why do without?”  Live like the Jones’ without spending money like the Jones’.

Whereas my grandparents carefully bought the groceries they needed, today’s frugal zealots clip coupons and create grocery storage spaces out of their garages.  They have rows and rows of processed food that they got for pennies on the dollar thanks to couponing.

Many mom bloggers are making their fortune sharing all the hottest deals available.  Kids’ winter jackets for $8!  Hurry, buy women’s turtlenecks for $4 today only!  Get your child the Barbie princess house for the low price of $48!

Hurry!  Hurry!  Buy the bargain.

Do You Really Need That Bargain?

So many consumers are on the hunt for a good deal that they never stop to ask themselves if they really need the item that is on sale.

What if your child doesn’t need the Barbie princess house?  What if your child has so many toys, she whines about picking them up and doesn’t take care of the ones she has?  Is that Barbie princess house still a good deal?

What if you never even thought about buying that item until you saw it on sale and didn’t want to miss out on the savings?

We’re Overwhelmed with Stuff

Look back at pictures of people’s homes from 60 or 70 years ago.  Their homes were not cluttered.  They were much more like the minimalists’ homes of today.

Now, we take advantage of so many “deals” that our homes are overflowing.  Here in Arizona where there are no basements, and therefore no built in storage, most people can’t park in their garages because they’re stuffed with possessions.

We don’t need all of this stuff.

Snagging a great deal on something we don’t need isn’t a deal.

It’s a waste of money.

Keep More Money in Your Pocket This Holiday Season

We’re entering into the busiest shopping season of the year.  There will be good deals, plenty of them.  You’ll likely be tempted to buy as many gifts for yourself as you will for others.  After all, the prices are so good.

But ask yourself one simple question–Do I need it?  If you don’t, it’s not a deal.

Do you think the definition of frugality has changed?  Do you or someone you know struggle with buying more than you need because something is on sale?

 

 

Do You Compare Your Finances to Others?

I belong to several Facebook groups, and recently, a woman in one group asked the seemingly innocent question, “What do you pay for cell phones and car insurance?”  She added, “We pay $180 a month for our cell phones and $345 a month for our car insurance.”

Say what?

When you read that number, you automatically think one of two things–“Wow, she’s paying a fortune for cell phones and car insurance!” (that was my initial thought), or, you think, “Sounds about right.”

Comparing FinancesA few of you may even think she’s getting a good deal.

My husband and I each carry a cheap cell phone from Tracfone that is for emergencies or occasionally checking in with one another.  We don’t spend any more than $10 to $20 a month on them.  Our car insurance is about $55 per month.  (We only have one vehicle.)

After reading how much this woman spent, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  But why?  I really don’t know her situation.  Her cell phone plan might include cell phones for the whole family.  Her car insurance is likely for multiple cars.  Maybe she has teenage drivers, or maybe she or her spouse has gotten a ticket recently.

Besides, I have no idea how much money she makes.  These bills might not be that extravagant in relationship to her income.

There’s really no point comparing my situation to hers.  To do so would invite complacency toward my own budget at best, and a loosening of the purse strings at worst because, hey, other people are spending a lot more than me.

The Only Time You Should Compare Your Spending to Others

Generally, I try not to compare my spending or budget to others.  Circumstances vary widely, and knowing another person’s exact financial situation is difficult.  Too often, especially online, we get a snapshot of someone’s finances and think we see the whole picture when we don’t.

We make assumptions of our own financial situations based on others.

Ultimately, we need to strive to do the best we can do with our own budgets.  To beat ourselves by spending less and/or saving more than we did the month before or the year before.

The only time it makes sense to look at someone else’s finances and spending is when they are doing considerably better than you, and you want to learn from and emulate them.  For instance, I knew my husband and I were spending too much for groceries.  One blogger I read has grown a large garden and planted fruit trees so that she can feed her family of 9 for less than $300 per month.  (Yes, you read that right.)

I know I won’t  ever have a grocery budget of $300 per month, but reading her techniques and strategies has encouraged me to cut my grocery budget and try to spend less.  It’s even inspired me to try out once a month shopping to reduce costs.

Ultimately, we shouldn’t compare our finances to others, but if we’re going to, we should only compare to those we wish to emulate.

Do you look at other people’s spending to make you feel better about your own or to motivate you to improve your finances?

5 Tips to Make Black Friday Shopping Work for You

I’m not a big shopper.  Never have been, never will be.

However, I do love scoring a great bargain, which is why I do some shopping on Black Friday.  However, I always remind myself that even the best deal isn’t a deal if I’m buying something I don’t need.

If you want to snag some great Black Friday deals, but you want to be mindful of your money (and your spending), trying using these strategies.

Make Black Friday shopping Work For YouMake a List of What You Need

Notice I didn’t say, make a list of what you “want.”  There are lots of things you might want looking through the Black Friday ads.  You might want the electric blanket that will keep you toasty all night long, but do you really need it?  Your son might want the latest gizmo toy, but does he already have so many toys that he doesn’t have room to put them all away?  Move on.

Make a list of things that you truly need.  Last year, my  husband and I noticed that our kitchen pots and pans were getting scraped up at the bottom and the non-stick coating was coming off.  We bought a set from Kohl’s on Black Friday, and after the sale and rebate, we got the pans for less than 50% of the retail price.  I was also tempted by the deal on a Kitchen Aid mixer, but I didn’t need the Kitchen Aid mixer, I just wanted it, so I passed that deal up.

Think Beyond Toys and Electronics

Many people think of toys and electronics when they think of Black Friday deals, but expand your horizons.  If you need new towels because yours are ragged, Black Friday is the perfect time to look.  Look around your house at anything you think you may need to replace in the next year and consider taking advantage of the Black Friday sales.

Shop Online

Thanks to the Internet, there’s no need to go shopping on Thanksgiving to score the deals or to fight with the hordes of people flocking to the store.  Most of the time, the stores only stock a limited supply of an item that will likely be sold out before you get to the right aisle.

Shop online from the comfort of your home, and you’ll find almost  everything you want in stock.  Better yet, many retailers offer free shipping, so it can be delivered right to your door.

Capture Additional Savings

If you’re shopping online, make sure to take advantage of additional savings.  Use a site like Ebates to get cash back for some of your purchases.  You can also shop online codes to get free shipping if the store doesn’t already offer it.

Learn When the Sale Starts

Now that Black Friday sales are so popular, retails are trying to extend the Black Friday shopping season.  First, they began opening their stores late on Thanksgiving night.  Last year, many retailers offered their Black Friday sales online during the entire week of Thanksgiving.  I think we scored our pots and pan deal on Monday, four days before Black Friday.

Find a deal blogger to follow, if you don’t already, to get the latest scoop on when the sales will start.

Use these tips to score the best Black Friday deals, keep your budget intact, and enjoy your time with family on Thanksgiving.

Do you shop on Black Friday?  What other tips would you add to this list?