My name is Misti and I'm 27 years old. I live with my husband and 7 year old son. I started living a frugal life after I realized one day that I've been working for 10 years and I only have $200 in savings to show for it. I mean come on, shouldn't a 27 year old have more to show for all the work I've done? So I started 2007 off with a bang. My New Year's resolution was to cut expenses as much as possible and save, save, save.
The first step I did was make a budget. I went through all my spending and bills and cut out tons of unnecessary expenses. I went through my entire checking account statement and called everyone that was making automatic debits from my account. I didn't even realize most of them that were still doing it. I paid off my credit card and put it away for real emergencies only!
Then I looked up money savings tips and frugal ideas online and bought cheap books from Amazon on the subjects. I thought a couple bucks on these books would be ok since I knew I would learn a lifetime of information. I've learned how to organize my stuff using free stuff around the house, how to shop garage sales for everything I need, how to save on groceries, how to cut utility costs, and lots of other little tips that have added up to big savings. We now make our own pizzas at home which saves us $20 a week and joined the Blockbuster DVD program that mails DVD's. I figured we needed one entertainment luxury while still being frugal and this is the one we choose and it's still cheap at only $17 a month. We have rented all kinds of movies well more then the cost.
The challenges that I do face is that sometimes I think I'm being so frugal that I can be lazy and spend today. I end up spending on stupid stuff that I haven't spent in months. I just try to stay focused. One of my #1 rules is to not spend one dime on Friday's. That way, I go into the weekend already saving money. (My biggest spending weakness is the weekends).
Life has become so much simpler. I don't have to worry about paying bills anymore. I always have the money ready and still have leftovers. My husband and I have a much better relationship as the result of being frugal because we feel like we are becoming financially secure. And we don't argue about the money each other spends anymore because we only spend out of necessity. If we do splurge, we really deserve it. I hope this story inspires others to be frugal everyday!
Misti from Burbank, CA
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WHAT BOOKS DID YOU BUY ? I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN GETTING THEM MYSELF
Someone once said that a dollar today is actually worth 3 dollars by the time you retire. So just look at the item, multiply the price by 3, and if you still want it, then it's worth 'robbing' from your retirement.
Well, that was an eye opener!
PS Maybe you can brown bag your lunch instead of doing take out?
Thank you for writing this article. You gave me hope that I will succeed in similar fashion in trying to become frugal and get out of debt.
My favorite book (now out of print?) is HOW TO LIVE ON NOTHING. I have read practically everything there is on the subject & thin about writing one myself! the older books are especially good for basic tips you might not have thought of. There is a Tightwad Gazette Book, too - but it's not well organized....
My daughter is 16 she keeps all our change and rolls them in coin rolls when she gets a chance. She came up with the idea of never using a plain dollar bill she keeps them in her lock box. We saved $165.00 in a few months. Good Luck!!!
Dear Misti, Excellent post! I am happy to finally read an article on living simply and thriftly without turning one's life into a medieval monastery. I despise the word "frugal" - it conjures up awful images of withholding even the smallest of pleasures in life to save $2.
I love that you belong for a DVD club. Usually, entertainment of any kind is the first cut people make when trying to save. As a huge movie fan, I joined Netflix and for $7.99 per month I have access to all the films I need to last me a year. Of course, the Netflix plan I signed up for is through computer streaming, but I am fine with that.
I can watch a movie just as easily on my computer monitor, as my tv screen. I have 4 locations of Redbox [at $1.30 a movie], but that requires the inconvenience of returning the movie the next day. By the end of a month, I have watched triple the $7.99 I spend on belonging to Netflix, and probably save $25-$30/month by not using Redbox.
I am very fortunate to live in an apartment complex, where electric, heat, trash pick-up, water, parking, laundry facilities, and maintenance are included in my rent. I never feel guilty in the summer using my air conditioner, or having the thermostat set at a very comfortable temperature in the winter, sans heavy sweaters, bootie socks, or sweatshirts to save on my electric bill.
I own one credit and one debit card. The credit card is used only in extreme emergency situations, and when I am sure I can pay all or at least 75% of it off at the end of the month. I am very proud that I did not use my credit card once for Christmas. There is no worse a feeling than having credit card debt hanging over one's head.
If there is a book I would like to own, I shop online at the used book site, BetterWorldBooks. Free shipping and books can start as low as $.05. I have never received a book that isn't in perfect or near perfect condition.
I also keep a spare change coffee can, that I empty my coins into when they start to weigh down my wallet. I never dip into it! In my town, there are a few coin exchange machines located in the major grocery stores. I use those when the change can has reached the very top. I know I am not getting my full amount of money return, when using a coin machine, but to me, it is well worth the no hassle of using banks. They require coins to be stacked in rolled wrappers, which is far more trouble than it's worth.
I wanted to share a few thoughts on simple living without feeling the need to beat yourself up while doing it.
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