Making do

February 1, 2009 at 11:40 am (Being Frugal)

Are you frugal? I think I fall into the middle-of-the-road frugal category. I’m far from a normal conventional person. I don’t watch tv, I don’t have cable (haven’t for years and years). My last 2 cars were used and not expensive, and I bought them both outright at the beginning. If I didn’t have a bf, I’d have a room mate (that’s normal to me, to share housing expenses with a total stranger). I don’t plan on extravagent holiday trips, nor fly around the country regularly for this friend’s wedding or that reunion. I’m a bit of a couch potato actually, which isn’t always a bad thing.

What don’t I do that stops me from being mega-frugal? Well, for one, I don’t coupon clip! Partly it’s because the food I buy doesn’t often *have* coupons! I shop at the co-op and Whole Foods (oddly enough, they are waay cheaper than a lot of other places around town, which is why I have never referred to them as whole paycheck). I don’t buy conventional, full-of-chemical cheap drug store products, so I can’t play the drug-store coupon game. I don’t sew, so I can’t make my own clothes (plus come on, they never look like real clothes anyway, right?). I am the most un-handy person you could imagine, so I could never fix something if it broke. I do like to buy very high quality the first time around, so that’s rarely a problem. I don’t grow my own food – I live in a commercial building (technically it’s illegal to live there, but half the people in my building do) and my backyard is a train track. My front yard is a semi-busy industrial street. However, due to it being a commercial space, I pay a hell of a lot less in utilities. My electric is approximately $20/month. Gas heat during this past month was $86 (we only heat one small room, the rest is a waste of time). With 14′ ceilings and no insulation, and an old wood factory building, what’s the point? We turn the heat off while we’re gone and when we go to sleep. Sometimes I don’t take my coat off when I come home – it’s too cold. In fact, I have a permanent scar on my tummy from sleeping with a hot water bottle from last winter. I’d have internet if I could, but neither cable nor DSL are available in my building. I tried clearwire for their required year contract and it flat out didn’t work – my space had bad connectivity and it was worthless.

I don’t go to the movies. I stopped buying books of any kind once I started this blog and my debt freedom journey. I only use the library. I do have Netflix – it’s my only entertainment vice, and at $18-19/month, it’s a small one. I work about 50+ hours a week at my job, and do nothing on the weekend, so I rarely spend money.

My dansko shoes have a big hole in them, but I haven’t bought a new pair. They work just fine. My last pair I wore for so many years that the sole was litterally in separate pieces. I even impressed the shop keeper at the store with how bad they were. I just don’t want to spend another $90-100 on a new pair when they’ll look just like what I have now. I wear 1 pair of shoes in summer – my chaco sandals. I wear 1 pair of shoes in the winter – my dansko clogs (trust me, they are the ubiquitous Seattle foot wear just like the Subaru is the state car, which was my previous car, and would still be my current one if someone hadn’t hit me and totalled it last year).

Most of the people I know or work with are kinda like me. To me it seems normal. Maybe I don’t go out to the bars drinking several nights a week like they do, but I still consider myself within the norm. And every time I see a story on the news about a family making multiple mega-salaries, owning multiple houses, new cars, you name, I just don’t get it.

My debt comes from living off of borrowed money for a year and a half after finishing school, then working part time for another 8 months. Stupid, and I should have bucked up and gotten a job when I graduated in 2005, but that’s water under the bridge. At least I’ve acknowledged the problem, stopped buying, stopped using the credit card, started a budget, started a blog, and started saving. I’ve started the journey and I’m in it for the long haul.

Happy New Year and here’s to making it, this month and this year!


1 Comment

  1. devil said,

    To me, being frugal means cutting costs everywhere you possibly can while still living a good life. The time and trouble you’d need to spend sewing your own clothes or growing your own food wouldn’t pay off in happiness for you. It does for some people, but we’re all different.

    The problem SO many people had (and still have and will always have, unfortunately) is that they think living a good life requires throwing money in every possible direction. They try to fill the voids in their lives with things they don’t need.

    Debt is not wealth, it’s a prison and it creates a lot of stress. I like reading blogs from writers like you who realize this.

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