Being frugal is cool these days. I like the new name — frugalistas, people who are experts at finding frugal ways to enjoy life. Becoming or remaining debt-free is one of their top goals. (See link below.)
I was born a coupon clipper and a recycler. There’s a photo of me as an infant with a pair of scissors (blunt, of course) with the caption “Cathy’s first tool”. OK, I’m just kidding about the photo….. (I did recycle the photo above from my post on consignment stores.)
Couponing and shopping at sales are two obvious ways to save, but only if you buy items or meals you need. (Yes, need is a vague term, which is why our houses are full of stuff we thought we “needed”. ) These days, the half-life of a coupon seems to be about ten days, so some of the joy is gone. What happened to “No expiration date”? Of course, companies don’t last that long any more, either. Being a frugalista is much more than coupon clipping, though. It’s an attitude. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy life. You don’t need as much as you think. Sometimes, it’s a decision not to buy something or to find a different, cheaper way to do something you enjoy.
- Check out books and movies from the library. Yes, it means you won’t have a clue about this year’s Academy Awards nominees, since you’ll still be catching up on last year’s. But so what? We haven’t rented dvds in years, but I have bought a few dvds that I want to keep. (More on those dvds in a later post, probably entitled “Shameless Promotion”.)
- Walk in the park. Kansas City has more than a two hundred miles of walking trails in stream-side parks with lots of access, so that’s easy for us. You can be a bird-watcher, cheap entertainment.
- I save the newspaper plastic sleeve and use it to clean out the cat box. (There’s no way you can make this fun, sorry.) Plastic grocery bags, if you’re still getting those, can line trash cans, but everyone knows that!
- Consignment stores. I’ve bought some great stuff there and sold some stuff, too.
- Garage sales. Yeah, I know, it’s pain in posterior, if you conduct one yourself. However, sometimes it’s the only way to clear out your house. You can donate your stuff to charities, which is good, too, but a lot of that stuff gets dumped, unfortunately, because charities don’t have the resources to sort, display, store and distribute the zillions of tons of donated stuff. When someone invests a dollar for an item in your garage sale, they might actually use it. There’s also www.freecycle.org Conversely, you can get some great stuff at garage sales. We’re working on putting together a garage sale right now, because our neighborhood and several others around us are having one May 1-2. I’m going to try to enjoy it.
- Eat at home, including making your own espresso and lattes. I tried giving up coffee, mostly to avoid caffeine withdrawal in the morning, but I just couldn’t do it. I have a cheap machine, but I’m not picky about my foam, which is a good thing because the foamer is clogged. I order my coffee in bricks by the case from www.cafebustelo.com with free shipping in the U.S. on orders over $50. I order six months’ worth of ground coffee. I’m not hung up on grinding it myself. I’m happy if it’s strong and full of caffeine.
- Since recycling is the theme this week of Earth Day, I’m recycling another blog of a young frugalista from Kansas City who explains how she does it. She also has other great frugalistas on her blogroll. Carrie on the Cheap, a young frugalista.
I’m recycling this blog post of mine because I forgot to put tags on it the first time around, Coffee, the Miracle Drink. I’m sure it’s still steaming hot, ha, ha.
“Austere Times? Perfect” — Article from the New York Times on Frugalistas.