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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thrifty Living

I was born and raised by a thrifty family. There have been some times (like in the late '80s, most of the '90s, and the early 2000s) where I spent like a drunken sailor, but throughout most of my life, living thrifty was was just normal. Now that the spouse and I are both older and wiser, we are just automatically thrifty. Here's a snapshot of my thrifty lifestyle:
  • The heat is set low (55 degrees) at night. It's best to sleep in a cool room anyway and just pile on the blankets if it gets too cold.
  • Beverages in the morning are made at home instead of at Starbucks. Ditto for breakfast.
  • For beverages on the run, we make them at home and put them in an insulated tumbler with a cover.
  • Lunch is made at home and taken to work. I simply don't eat out unless it is a business lunch and someone else is paying.
  • Conferences and meetings are great places to eat and drink for free.
  • Dinner is made at home every evening.
  • On the rare occasion that we are caught away from home and hungry, we head for a $5 sub at Subway to split, the $1 menu at Burger King/Jack in the Box (it won't kill you if eaten rarely), or the like. A guy brought in a $6 two piece chicken meal to the office the other day and I thought--wow, I bought a whole chicken for $2 just a few days ago!
  • Shopping is done once a week by buying loss leaders at all of the local stores. Some weeks may be fish, fish, and more fish if that is what is on sale at all of the stores.
  • The internet is used for new recipes instead of buying cookbooks.
  • Internet, phone, and cable is bundled at a discount price. Also, when better deals are offered for new customers, I call and ask for the deal myself since I am a loyal customer; I usually get it.
  • The heat is only on in our home if we are home, if not, it is set at 55 degrees. Lights are only on in the room we are in, ditto for TVs.
  • Lighting during the day is done with the sun--just open the shades, unless specific lighting is needed.
  • Laundry is done once a week using half the recommended laundry soap and half a dryer sheet. The clothes aren't THAT dirty and a whole dryer sheet is too perfumy. Also, clothes that don't get dirty are worn more than once before going into the laundry basket.
  • Entertainment is done at the library, free community events, or at friend's homes. Movies are watched when they come out on basic cable or TV. It is a very rare occasion that we go to the movie theater or watch on-demand movies that you need to pay for.
  • We rarely shop. Part of that has to do with the fact that we have had our home for years and everything works. Why buy a new TV when the old one works fine? Clothes are purchased at 50% off clearance sales and in the clearance sections of Walmart, Ross, and TJ Maxx.
  • Most food is made from scratch. The spouse enjoys cooking which is helpful and we make our own processed foods (granola cereal, cookies and pastries, salads, salad dressings, yogurt, Asian/Indian/Mexican/Italian food, etc).
  • Housework and yard work is done by us. In our yuppy days we had both a housekeeper and a yard guy but really, two people shouldn't need two other people to take care of them.
  • Hair color is done at home. Haircuts are done at the local, generic haircutting place. We tried the home haircut thing before which didn't go so well.
  • The products we use are basic--soap, shampoo, toothpaste. My friend's home has no less than a dozen products in the shower which to me is expensive overkill. A bar of soap and bottle of shampoo will take care of all of your shower needs.
  • If we do need to shop for an item we usually hit thrift stores, Walmart, the internet, check out the ads for local stores, and try discount stores. Never pay retail.
  • Maintenance is also done by us. Things like changing furnace filters, changing the wax ring on a toilet, and car upkeep, are simple and cost effective to do yourself.
  • Cell phones are bundled on a cost effective plan. Why pay for 3000 minutes a month if we only use 1000 or less?
  • I always ask for discounts and deals in most situations and if there is a problem with the service or product I receive, I don't hesitate to ask for compensation or an upgrade.
  • I'm still enjoying riding the bus so with one car and one bus pass, we get along just fine for transportation.
  • We exercise which I am thinking will save money on future medical costs.
  • We don't drink or smoke so that probably saves a lot of money.

I think that's about it. While it may seem that we live a spartan life, we really don't. Most importantly, we don't do these things just to be thrifty or save money because we "have to" or "should" do it, but rather as a conscious choice because there are other things we would much rather spend our money on including travel and an early retirement.


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