Friday, April 24, 2009

is being Frugal WORTH it?

Is Frugality Worth it?

This is the question I get the most: is it worth it? I mean, it’s work to save money. Why would you do this if you didn’t HAVE TO. Besides it’s not like saving $0.25 on toothpaste is going to make that much of a difference. This is part of a conversation I had with another shopper, someone I knew, who was criticizing my shopping cart contents….specifically my dried beans. But we’ll get back to that.

I’m a real-deal frugal shopper. Some people wouldn’t do the amount of work I do to score the amazing sweet deals and pay pennies for some food items. Some shoppers might not be alright with bringing their homemade shoebox coupon organizers to the store for grocery shopping, but their comfort level always changes when I tell them I save 35-50% off of my groceries. How do I do it? Well, it’s simple, you see. I plan, I map out my route, I clip, and I buy. That’s how I do it. And for the most part, I have fun while doing it.

Where I lose most people is in the first step: planning. I mean, no one WANTS to plan their grocery shopping. This one lady said to me, “I don’t want to plan. I just wanna stick things in my cart but pay less.” Well, I hate to break it to you but it doesn’t work that way. You have to plan. But the planning is truly the easiest part. You make a list of what you need. How hard is that?

The cashiers all know me and they’re still surprised when they see how much I save. They remark, “I don’t know how you do it…” Well, yes, you do. I plan. What they really want to say is “I don’t want to work this hard to save this much money. It’s easier for me just to give up my money….” Seriously, anyone can do this…

Are the sacrifices you make to live frugally really worth it in the long run? I mean you have to give up (or seriously reduce) luxuries – such as vacations, comfort services- does it mean your life won’t be as happy? It depends on several things…The real big question is: what does money mean to you? It is important to look at your goals and make sure that the way you’re living is advancing you to get your money to be meaningful. Does your frugal life now allow you to reach your goals with your money? Will it in the future?

For our family, it’s this: the frugal living now will allow us to eliminate our credit card debt. Getting that money off our back FOR GOOD. And that is worth it to me.

At times, we can start to feel low and sad about being frugal and focusing on all of the stuff we’re giving up, about choosing to not do things or not buy things. When people around you buy expensive gadgets or go out to fancy dinners every week, it is easy to feel deprived. Like you’re missing something. Like there’s a party going on and you’re watching from the outside, through the window. I know I’ve looked at other families and thought, “How can they buy that? They don’t earn any more than we do..” Then I remind myself that they might be living above their means, incurring credit card debt, and living for the moment instead of for their future goals. Our society is LOADED, spoiled and it’s evident that consumption is rampant and living above your means on borrowed money is the norm, frugal families are bound to feel out of place.

In all fairness, I was once like that. I felt like I deserved nice things. Didn’t want to actually work for it. I just wanted it. And that type of feeling gets me in trouble every time. I mean, money is not about feelings. Let’s get that right out in the open. Money is as literal as you can get. Nowadays, I try to think about the positives – what we DO have – instead of what we’re missing out on is enough to make this all worthwhile.

Our goals, getting out of debt (except for our house) will be realized in early 2010. That’s what I am working towards. And every time I clip a coupon, or skip the drive-through (which is terribly unhealthy anyhow) I remind myself to keep my eye on the goal. And that makes me feel powerful...

Since the economy has shifted and with it, many fortunes were lost, people look at frugal living in a different light now. Suddenly, everyone WANTS to save money. It’s no longer all about convenience. It’s about saving money. Maybe someone in your house is newly unemployed and you’ve discovered the glaring and vast difference between “want” and “need”. Maybe you’re saving to buy something, like a house or a car. Maybe you’re engineering your finances so you can stay home with your kids. Whatever the reason, you CAN do this.

I shop with coupons.
I rarely ever buy things at full-price (it annoys me)
I buy my clothing second-hand.
My kids clothing, too.
I dry 50% of my laundry on a clothesline. (towels, shorts & jeans)
I pay all of my bills on time.
I have extras.
My life is frugal AND good and bountiful.

Being frugal is like being on a money diet. That’s EXACTLY what it is. You want it (the donut, etc) but you know you shouldn’t. Just plug in new clothes, fast food or plasma TV where the donut is. Does that clarify it for you?

Now I will admit, sometimes I am much more frugal than others. I’ll spend $40.00 on my DVR and satellite TV subscription, but I won’t buy grapes unless they’re $0.99#....They are some things that I absolutely will pay top dollar for. Like when I bought my car: I bought a Volvo. The last Volvo I drove was 14 years old when I traded it in for the new one. I like to buy things to last. I have very nice cookware. My husband’s tools are all DeWalt and will last until Adam needs them.

So yes, for us, frugality is worth it.

To celebrate my upcoming 2,000th blog post, I'll be posting about coupons, frugal living, tips and hints for the next few posts. I'm going to TRY to fix whatever glitch leaves me link-less so I can share with you the fabulous resources I have: other women who are passionate about $$ and saving it!

Enjoy your Friday!


Berry Patch said...

I've been very interested in this so thanks for posting about it. My biggest question is whether this will work where I live. I live in such a rural area. The only stores I have (all within a 30 min drive) are Wal-Mart, Hannaford, & Rite Aid. Other than that I'm looking at least an hour drive one way. Very interested to see the rest of the posts.

rennratt said...

Just so you know, when I feel sad or down or stressed about money, I come and read your blog.

Your practical approach to saving money and frugality makes me KNOW that I, too, can DO THIS.

Thank you.

SB said...

aaaaww that makes me feel good!