A few ways my spending has changed

January 2, 2009 at 5:32 pm (Being Frugal) (, , )

The number one debt reduction credo is to spend less than you earn. Prior to last October, I never really gave my spending a thought. I’d occasionally look at my checking balance, but if I was concerned, I would actively avoid it, thus resulting in the dreaded overdraft fees that I had been afraid of all along. If I wanted something, I’d get it, not thinking much about how I was going to afford it.

If I was hungry, I’d go for the most expedient option. I rarely had leftovers in the fridge, or enough food to cobble a good meal together (at least not quickly), so that meant eating out. I never thought ahead enough to plan to shop for groceries to have items on hand.

If I needed clothes, I’d go to Macy’s, the GAP, wherever, and buy something new. Are you seeing a pattern here? It’s called living above your means, and living in denial, and being a good little consumer/debtor.

When I finally took the plunge to really look closely at my spending habits and really see where I stood, and how to get out of the debt hole, I realized things had to change. I instinctively knew that Icouldn’t afford large purchases of any kind, and I’d play poor, but then still spend elsewhere with a destructive habit.

I feel a lot more experienced now. I have no desire to shop at the mall. I have only bought clothes at the thrift store since October (and done quite well). I shop for groceries *a lot*, and (other than my December track record, which is still not bad, in comparison), I don’t eat out all that often. I’m trying to bring my lunch to work much more often. I shop for bargains on the items I consume, and buy in quantity when there’s a good deal.

Most recently (and the genesis for this post), I saw a breadmaker on sale at Amazon (listed at Boston Gal’s site). Yeah, major find I thought to myself. I’ve been seeing people at work bring warm bread to work for breakfast. I used to have one and can’t remember why I got rid of mine. I eat a lot of bread. I’ve been thinking subconsciously that I wanted a breadmaker. Then this thread made me start salivating over the process. But wait! I’m supposed to be living frugally, right? On sale for $90 – 100 is still a lot of money. I can do better. Tons of people want to get rid of theirs. So I looked on craigslist and there are a ton available. For $15-40. I’m going to shop and try and get one this weekend, for at least half or more of the “sale” price elsewhere.

This is what it means to be living within your means – shop frugally, buy used whenever possible, and only when you really need something. In the long run, I’ll save money with the breadmaker. I’ll use it a ton, at least several times a week. I’m going to be making my own lunches at least 4 out of 5 days starting next week (I’ll be writing about that in a future post). Flour and yeast is cheaper than $3.50 loaves of bread. Plus it will be warm and luscious.

Here’s to being frugal in the new year. Make it a habit!

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