Frugality: The right life choice
Build a life with meaning by embracing a frugal ethos. You won't be sorry. And yes, you can still have fun.
Relax: I'm not going to make you wash out Ziploc bags with homemade detergent and cold water. There's no One True Path to follow. You won't get kicked out of the movement if you forget your coupons.
Oh, and forget what you think you knew about the word "frugal," which has somehow come to mean "joyless self-denial." What it actually means is choosing to live a life without waste, a life in which each decision means something.
There's nothing cooler than self-determination -- and frugality doesn't limit your choices. It just refines them. (Post continues below)
My personal mantra is "I save where I can so I can spend where I want." Living this way means asking a few important questions:
- What do I want?
- Why do I want it?
- How can I get it with the least amount of impact?
Frugality might let you stay home with a child, start your own business, scratch that sabbatical itch or get two years' worth of toothpaste free with coupons. (Hey, we all have different dreams.)
Looking at money differently
Although the frugal life requires careful choices, these choices quickly become habit. Remember the first time you ever drove a car, used a computer, changed a diaper? Now you can do such things without thinking. They're second nature.
Creativity and careful spending kept me afloat during several tough times in my life, including as a broke 21-year-old mom in a big city and more recently after a protracted divorce.
Each time I found that you can live well without spending much money. Believe me, that's way more fun than living with the stress of books that won't balance.
The truth is that I'm living more fully than I ever have because I'm making specific, informed choices about the way I spend my money.
In the past half-dozen years, frugality has allowed me to pay off divorce-related debt, build an emergency fund, earn a college degree, travel extensively, save for retirement and donate to charity. And, yeah, to get a couple of years' worth of toothpaste free with coupons.
I want to help you look at money differently. (Hint: It's a useful tool. It is not a religion.) To that end I'll share a mix of freebies and frugal hacks that will save you cash in both the short and long term.
Living within your means does not translate to a life of lack. Come back every day and you'll see what I mean.
FRUGAL IS THE WORD that my country knows---where I was born in the 3rd world country. So when I came to this country, I don't have any family to run to -only the bank is my friend. I apply for student loans for 4 years and when I graduated I paid it less than a 3 years. Everytime I gotten tax refund I paid half what I am getting. My dream was to buy a house THE AMERICAN DREAM. Got 2 jobs save every penny. Bought a used car Honda and drove it for 10 years. After 10 years of saving being frugal and thrifty I have enough money to have a big down payment. I still have the house and now I'm remodeling. What I am trying to say being frugal/thrifty or cheap sometimes was and still in me because is the way I was brought up. So being FRUGAL is not stranged to me at all. One thing I observed when I new in this country people waste a lot of money. In my opinion, this country will live frugally because of our economy.
What's it like to be frugal? I call it playing heads up and living life low scale.Because of the Internet and understanding researching I've scored brand new clothes off EBay for 80% discount.Whats it like to get $400 in New Balance cross trainers for $160? Whats it like to get tee shirts brand new at $2 when at one point they were $10? Whats it like to get a myriad of things greatly reduced?
Good. Damn Good. I vote we pool ideas to take this blog to the next level for EVERYONE to get ideas on how to cut costs without cutting quality of living.
We don't call it being "frugal"...we call it "financial discipline". I feel that if more people had financial discipline instead of "keeping up with the Jones" this country would be better off. Whenever the economy periodically turns bad people would have a better chance of adapting & surviving hard times...rather than complaining & being on government assistance. The wife & I have lived the "financial discipline" life for 20 years now...retired in our 50's...watch our money & investments grow. When a unexpected medical bill showed up...paid cash...no worry. When the TV went out...paid cash...no worry. When we want something special or extra we save up for it.
Mr. Manners: Donna is not trying to convince herself. She has helped multiple people during her career. She's done more frugal living to get ahead than anyone I know. If she was lazy and on welfare, you'd probably have plenty to say about that.
I think you owe her an apology. That would be the 'Mr. Manners' thing to do.
Justin Wilson once performed a skit that ended with the Princess in the tiger trap calling out to the passing Prince " Frugal Me! Frugal Me!". I guess that makes me old. But the concept " to save" is a good way to live. Just living within your means once was enough, but today to ensure income over a lifetime requires saving at a much higher rate. One of the best ways to save is not paying interest. One of the biggest lies going is mortgage interest deductibility. You never get to deduct all your mortgage interest, you only get back the amount equal to your marginal tax rate. But you still spent the money! Hum what does that mean? You bought that $200K home and financed for 30 years @ 5% interest over the term you paid about $186K interest (PI $1074). Lets say your marginal tax rate averages 13% so you had a return of $24K over 30 years (avg $806 Annually). Actual money spent $162K. Why didn't I get a 15 year mortgage? Same $200K mortgage finance for 15 years @ 4.5% interest over the term you paid about $75K interest (PI $1530). Same marginal tax rate of 13% returns about $9750 over 15 years (avg $650 annually). Actual money spent $65K. What could you do with $97000.
How many are their that owe a lot of money( school loans, credit cards, mortgage or rent, car payments, or whatever) but still have all the TOYS, and are having trouble paying for it all? As I stated in the beginning, IT IS MY MONEY and I want to keep as much as I can in MY POCKET!
do i need a 50 in tv no want yes
need i pad yes need no
new car no so on
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WHAT IS FRUGAL NATION?
Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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