Fellow blogger Mapgirl recently shared a list of what she does to live frugally. What I liked about it was that the list was done in a very positive light. Too often when you read about living frugally it feels like you are depriving yourself of something… I don’t buy this, I don’t buy that. I find it easier to save when I focus on the benefits of the action, in addition to saving money.
Everyone has their own way of living below their means (I absolutely refuse to give up my TiVo), but here’s a sample of things I do which don’t constantly remind me that I’m being frugal:
Buy dependable, quality, used cars. My wife and I both drive cars which were acquired when they where 3-5 years old, after most of the deprecation had kicked in, but while there was plenty of life left in them. Both have plenty of horsepower, run reliably and have never broken down, and have all the common features like keyless entry, air conditioning, and power everything. Accordingly, our cars depreciate in value by $1,000 a year or less, which keeps our total cost of ownership very low. Since the values are only about $3,000-$6,000, our insurance payments are only about $100 a month for both.
Take advantage of public parks and amenities. You’re already paying for them through your tax dollars, so why not also try to take advantage of all the public recreation opportunities available to us. For example, you could take a hike in a nearby trail, pack a bag lunch and take a picnic by a nearby lake/river/ocean, play some tennis at the park courts, or jog on the local high school track. Drive to the beach! Recently, we have also discovered the local public pool. I stopped looking for a local gym when I found that I could get a great workout by swimming laps for 30 minutes a day.
Along that same vein, I remain a huge fan of the public library and all it’s online perks.
Making cooking at home fun. Everyone knows that cooking at home is cheaper than eating out. But you can actually eat better tasting, customized food too if you’re willing to try. I buy fancy honey wheat walnut bread and make my own extra-thick peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – still less than $1 each. (I secretly like smoked turkey and peanut butter sandwiches as well.) Look up the recipe to real macaroni and cheese (not from a box!) and make it using all the cheddar you like…. so good. Buy some random veggies and try to make your own tempura. Craft a quick burger with whatever funky toppings you want – I like mine with slightly burnt onions and gobs of hot, melted blue cheese.
My next step is to get up the courage to invite my friends over to eat my cooking instead of meeting at a restaurant, I’m always afraid it’ll taste horrible but they’ll be too nice to tell me…