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?

 

 

How Avoiding Vanity Has Saved Me Thousands of Dollars

Facebook is certainly a time suck, but it can also be a fun way to catch up with old friends and even high school acquaintances.  Just yesterday, I followed a rabbit hole of people I had known in high school, which ultimately led to Kimmie’s page.

Where Beauty and Fashion Meet

I’m sure you had a Kimmie in your high school.  She is pretty–perhaps beautiful.  She wears stylish clothes and is one of the most popular girls in high school.  Her parents have a lot of money and are happy to spend that money on their kids.

The Kimmie I went to school with married her high school sweetheart, who was a popular prep himself.  Thanks to their Facebook pages, I see that they now have three equally beautiful children.

What struck me most, though, was how pretty Kimmie still is.  Some popular,  pretty high school girls don’t age well, but at 42, Kimmie is just as pretty, if not prettier, than she was in high school.  She looks like she could be a model for a fashionable clothing line.  Not just because of her face, but because of the stylish, chic way she dressed.

For a moment, a part of me was a bit envious of her put together, stylish look.  But that thought quickly disappeared because I have neither the time nor the inclination to be a fashion plate like Kimmie.  (Besides, there’s no way I could pull that look off as well as she does!)

Avoiding Vanity Saved Me ThousandsHow Not Being Vain Has Saved Me Thousands of Dollars

Women like Kimmie make looking beautiful easy, but I know a lot of time goes into picking just the right clothes, make up, and hair styles.  I also know it can be very expensive.

Thanks to my lack of vanity and acceptance that I will never be one of the Kimmie’s of the world, I estimate I’ve saved thousands of dollars.

Here are some of the ways:

Embrace the Features I Have

I would love, love, love to have naturally straight hair, but I was born with naturally curly hair that has become curlier after each pregnancy.  Rather than spending time and money straightening my hair regularly, I instead bought a bottle of hair gel to tame the curls and make them more manageable.  This one bottle lasts forever!

Take Advantage of DIY

My hair began to go grey when I was 23, long before I had children.  By 25, I had to have it dyed for the first time to cover up the grey.  I had my hair dyed professionally for about six years.  However, for the last ten years, my husband has dyed it for me at home.  Every time he does so, we easily save $40 to $60.

Avoid Being a Trend Follower

I tend to rely on the same classic clothes and colors.  I don’t follow trends.  This allows me to wear the same clothes for years without looking particularly in or out of style at any moment.  This also allows me to buy classic pieces at garage sales and second hand stores for a fraction of the retail price.

A Kimmie I will never be, nor do I want to.  Instead, I rely on practicality, and doing so has saved me thousands of dollars.

How do you cut costs on personal appearance, care, and grooming?  If you like to follow fashion trends, how do you keep it affordable?

January Financial Reset

You’ve had your fun.  You spent the holidays with your loved ones, did some frugal gift giving (right?), and probably ate way more than you should have.  But, the new year is upon us, and it’s time to get back to business.  It’s time for a January financial reset.

With tax season right around the corner, there’s no better time to get all your financial books from the last year in order, take a good look at the balance sheet, and decide on the directions you’re going to take your finances in the coming year.  For some of you, that will mean finally getting a handle on your debt.  For others, it will mean finally paying off your debt.  And for more of you, it will mean finding the best ways to make your money work for you as you build your net worth and make strides towards financial independence.

For those in that last group of people, this post isn’t likely to help much, but you might want to take a peek at my Lending Club page for a great way to keep your money working for you.  The rest of you, stick around.

Reformulate your debt

January Financial ResetIf you’ve still got debt hanging around, a new year financial reset is a great time to investigate reformulating it. What the heck does that mean?  It means taking a good look at the debt that you’re carrying, and considering the options you may have to pay it off earlier.

  • Reduce the rates: The worst feature of credit card debt is the interest rate that they like to charge.  12%, 15%, 22%, or more.  The interest payments eat into any payment you make on the debt quickly, and make it that much harder to make any meaningful progress.  If’ you’ve got good credit, consider finding some good 0% balance transfer cards to transfer your existing balances to.  You should be able to find something with a 12 to 15 month 0% rate.  Be aware of the balance transfer fee when you do this, but otherwise it can be a good way to help you make some good progress on your credit card debt repayment.
  • Refinance: In some cases (mostly secured debt) you may want to look into a refinance of the loan.  If you can reduce the rate on a loan and extend the length of it, it can free up some of your debt repayment money to go towards loans with higher rates and speed up your debt snowball.

Recalculate your debt snowball

Now is also a really good time to update all the numbers on your debt snowball plan.  (or debt avalanche if you’re so inclined) Unless you’ve been keeping it updated throughout the year, the numbers are probably pretty out of date, and need to be freshened.  Take the time, while you’re doing this, to determine if you need to move one debt ahead of another, or if you can afford to increase the snowball payment to speed it up.

Seed your budget

Your budget can be the lifeline for your financial life.  It’s a blueprint for how you’re building your financial house.  Even a simple budget can help tremendously, and the beginning of the year is a great time to give your budget a full inspection (or just to start one) and make sure that it’s got all the categories you need, that it’s still balancing, and for planning out where you’re going to focus your efforts in the new year.

Examine your bills

We all get bills throughout the month.  In many cases, we throw them in a pile, then enter them into bill pay, (or, gasp, write checks) and then forget about them until they show up the next month.  While you’re going through your finances from the previous year, pay attention to the bills that you’re paying.  Are there bills that have increased?  How about ones that you meant to cancel the service but didn’t?  Or maybe there are some that you just haven’t called to try and get a better rate for?  Know what time it is?  You guessed it.  It’s time to cancel that service. It’s time to call and see why the rate increased, and if there’s a change you can make to get a better rate.  It’s time to compare your services with their competitors and see if there isn’t a better rate/service available out there.  You may think it’s a waste, but you could end up saving hundreds a month.  And that can quickly make your debt snowball grow!

Keep on your financial path

Here’s the most important thing you have to take away from this post.  You’ve got to keep on that path.  Once you’ve done the things above, you’ve taken some really solid steps on your path to being debt free, but they’ll only work if you keep working with them.  Keep that budget going, keep a close eye on your bills, keep your snowball updated, and know how much debt (and at what rate) you have left.  Whether your debt feels like a mountain, or just a molehill, knowing the what/when/where of it make the climb that much easier.

Will you take the time to do a January Financial Reset?