Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Middle Name is Frugal

The last time we were at Grocery Outlet, I spotted this cloth grocery bag I just had to have. I keep cloth bags in my car trunk and wherever I go, whether it's grocery shopping or a Saturday morning yard sale spree, I have them.

This bag says it all for me.

"Call me frugal, canny, careful, conserving, discreet, metilulous, economically sound, penny-wise, preserving, provident, prudent, smart, super shopper, saver, skimper, sparing, thrifty, not wasteful, abstinent, ascetic, austere, content, moderate, restrained, the master of the deal, temperate, sustaining or bargain minded.  But don't call me cheap."

I was talking with a friend on the phone last night about budgeting and living a different life-style when it comes to money. It was an awesome conversation and I got to share with her my own thought processes on the topic along with an example of it from over the weekend.

Gene and I did a little yard sale-ing on Saturday. When we can't think of anything else to do while the weather is iffy, we end up wandering around our neighborhoods looking for treasures. I found a really pretty wind chime for $1. I've been dying to have a wind chime but I do exhibit restraint when it comes to buying some things brand new. I knew eventually one would appear and this one makes beautiful sounds. The fact that I held out and didn't buy a new one makes it even more beautiful to me.  Any spend-thrift reading this will not understand what I mean.  I also picked up a set of queen sized sheets at the same sale. They were neatly bundled with care and tied with a pretty yellow ribbon with a note on the tag that said "good condition". I normally don't buy such things at yard sales but a quick judgment call told me this was a nice lady and it wouldn't be money wasted.  I brought them home and washed them and have slept better than ever on those $2 sheets. Have you priced sheets lately?

So, on Sunday, while we were doing the taxes, I was thinking maybe I'd like to go to the movies afterwards. If I go to a movie theater twice a year, that's a lot. I usually go on my birthday. It's a real treat but there has be to something showing that I really must see on the big screen. I was thinking that it would just be a nice reward for having spent a good part of the day doing something I don't like doing. By the time we got done doing taxes, I had changed my mind about going to the movies. First, there's nothing playing that's worth the outlay of cash, and secondly, when I can run down to Redbox and rent a film for $1, it's hard for me to justify spending at the very, very least $15 getting in the doors of the theater. On the other hand, we ended up in the car with Missy, taking a road trip out to Prosser, which cost us about $10 in gas. In retrospect,  if given a choice, I'll always choose a road trip over just about anything else. When we combine a road trip with yard sale-ing, i.e. travel to another town 20 or 30 miles away, that's like a cherry on top of it all.

I have a lot of thoughts on living a frugal life-style. I haven't always been this way but I don't mind saying that it has been a lot easier living through this recession, having already tightened our belts a long time ago. Having the conversation with my friend last night just reminded me that there are still ways I could tighten my belt up more. I love the challenge of finding good deals and ways of making my dollars stretch. 

love, susan 


  1. does a name say anything about me. My on line is sec0ndhandr0se. Once you buy and it is used once....not new. I can do without the first use.

  2. @ Nancy ~ I love it! Yeah, there's also something about "things" coming to my house with a history. I have a couple of ceramic decorator tiles I bought last year from a neighbor who's mom died. I paid ten cents a piece for them. It isn't that they practically gave them to me, it's that I remember her talking to me about her mom. You don't get that when you buy something new. Whenever I look at those tiles in my kitchen, I can't help but to think about that conversation.

  3. I'm much more frugal than my husband is, which sometimes leads to some *ahem* discussions about the way money is spent, but for the most part we're on the same sheet of music.

    My frugality was taught to me from a very young age - by my mother. She grew up poor and had no problem with thrift stores, cast-offs, and found treasure while *curbside shopping* - as she called the weekly jaunts to pick through trash day offerings. In fact, I'm still using a set of Pfaltzgraff dinnerwear *picked* from a curbside trash pile 28 years ago.

    My brother makes a decent living selling treasures found at flea markets and yard sales on eBay. A lot of people don't realize that they're throwing out things that have value. His most impressive find was an old 1/8 size model car kit from the 1950s - only partially put together, and still in the original cardboard box with all the pieces intact. He got it for $5 and sold it to a collector for $300! I've never been that lucky, nor am I interested in buying for re-sale.

    Two of my favorite finds are a steamer trunk circa late 1800s (bought from an elderly couple for only $25 at a yard sale), and a very old Deacon's bench (put together with wood pegs), found in the attic of a vacant home that I was hired to sell when I was a realtor in NC. The sellers didn't want it. It sits in my living room, by the front door for people to use to remove their boots. The bench is worn where many bottoms have sat over the years. I sure wish I knew the story behind it.

    As for spending money on a movie as opposed to a roadtrip - I'm with you. Steve and I live frugally in most aspects of our life, so that we can afford to put gas in the truck and hit the road. This is also how we can afford to travel *outside* once or twice a year. It's all about priorities.

    Great post!

  4. Yes Sue... It is a great post in this time of our lives. How much can we do without buying? I bet a lot. I have cut down and need to do more after the move to Washington State. At our age there is not much we NEED....but health, family and happiness.


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