• Posts Tagged ‘frugal’

    Back to My Old (Cheapskate) Ways

    by  • August 29, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Black & White Bean Salad

    Let's see how long it takes for me to hate this.

    My husband and I were moved into temporary housing this weekend. Along with gaining more space (I didn’t know I’d missed it until it was back in my life) and scaring our cat into a weekend hiding under the bed, this new situation comes with a variety of frugal challenges; namely, feeding myself and generally living this summer without spending more money than I’d like.

    A part of our unique living situation entails access to a dining hall during the school year. This is wonderful and amazing, and we’re very grateful for it, particularly considering our lack of a personal kitchen. This also means, however, that during the summer months we are on our own, food-wise. A word about my personal abilities: I am very good at things like organizing; cleaning; managing my life; making small clothing repairs; not spending money; silently judging people for spending too much money. I am not good at cooking. My repertoire, even with a kitchen, is limited to spaghetti, rice (if I’m feeling crazy), and making these little salmon cakes out of canned salmon from a recipe that’s been in my family for decades. That’s really it. I can barely put together a functional sandwich. It’s awful, and not something I’m proud of, but there it is.

    I also hate spending money on things I’m not good at (see: cooking). So this summer, with no kitchen and a husband (who generally cooks for us and makes sure I’m not eating cereal for every meal) out of town for an internship, I decided I needed to figure this out ASAP. Luckily, I am very good at: depriving myself of things that cost money; living off of cereal for many meals at a time; figuring out how to eat as cheaply as possible without forming too many vitamin deficiencies. I’ve lived on my own before and dealt with it much in the way I found myself dealing with it this weekend. I bought $30 worth of easily assembled food items that require little to no skill (like tuna salad, bean salad, and some microwavable Trader Joe’s rice – bless Trader Joe’s for catering to the cheap and culinarily-challenged masses like myself). Then I spent an hour assembling said salads (because when you don’t have a kitchen, simple tasks like chopping an onion or draining beans become their own intense ordeal). I plopped those salads in bowls, stuck them in the fridge, and called my cooking done for the week.

    We’ll see how my bean salad experiment goes. I’m hopeful that I won’t burn out too quickly, as I do have a few meals out with friends planned that should keep me sated with more substantial food. And I’m happy with how quickly I’ve reverted back to my cheap, live-alone-and-like-it ways. Yesterday I was heading out to run a few errands, and thought about what kind of snack I might pick up along the way. My internal voice immediately said, “BRING AN APPLE AND EAT THAT, YOU OVERSPENDING HAG” (my internal voice is very aggressive). And so, apple and refillable water bottle in hand (because “YOU DON’T NEED TO BUY AN ICED TEA RIGHT NOW, ABBY”), and bean salad chilling in the fridge, I went on my way.

    How do you handle the cost of cooking?

    image: cookbookman17

    Accused of Being a Spendthrift

    by  • February 10, 2009 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    This past weekend Trent at the The Simple Dollar, one of my favorite blogs, wrote a provocative narrative of how a media interviewer viewed him as a cheapskate and he wouldn’t think of him as a fun person to hang out with because of his frugality. After assuring his audience that he wasn’t a cheapskate, he states that the issue is all about first-impressions, most importantly the immediate assumption that making frugal choices is a negative, or the belief that not spending money and buying products will bring you sadness and ugliness and social failure and career failure.

    I’d like to explore the other side of his experience. If you’ve been a regular reader of our blog, you’re familiar with the flippant attitude we have towards our financial situation and money in general. We’re not hardcore frugality enthusiasts, we don’t write about saving money, and we don’t write about how awesome we are because we save for our purchases. For having this stance, we have been vilified, mocked, admonished, and ostracized. Spending money, wanting things, or even having things will not bring doom, destruction, blight, and locusts.

    For us, frugality is a tool that we use in order to help us get what we want in life. While we recognize the necessity of money management skills, we’re more of the type to enjoy nice restaurants, go to an art opening, or buy a goofy little trinket for ourselves or each other just to see even a fleeting smile. Frugality is simply a means to an end, not a lifestyle that we feel the need to fully embrace. What bothers me is the almost religious belief that frugality, above anything else, is the key to happiness and success. To spend money is a part of life, not an evil act that must be repented.

    What bothers me the most is the incredible amount of self-righteousness found on personal finance blogs. I often see statements on the order of, “Well I saved for the things that I bought, and everyone else just caused the financial meltdown so I’m so much better than you nyahh nyahh,” and it makes me GAG. It is that pretentious frugality that is not fun to be around. No one wants to be around perpetual Debbie Downers and have to restrict their fun.

    To me, it seems that frugalists don’t take kindly to hedonism on any level. It is of my observation that a large portion of money-savers are “fun-haters” who frown upon spending cash in order to get any type of happiness. In fact, oftentimes I read statements from frugalists that invalidate others’ feelings of happiness only because of the existence of their debt. Just as some of my most fun times have been when I haven’t spent money, I have a whole bunch of other memories that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t spend any money. Our having debt doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve to feel happy, whether it is money-fueled or not.

    Much is said on personal finance blogs on “needs” versus “wants”. To many, it seems that self-flagellation in the form of seemingly indefinitely delayed gratification is the only true key to happiness. To have too many wants is a Very Bad Thing. I disagree – having wants is what life is all about. Let’s face it, all one really NEEDS is a home to live in, some food to eat, some clothes to wear, and a pot to piss in. But for the majority of the frugalists, there is a belief that having too many wants will lead to ruin.

    I don’t disagree that spending money frivolously is a bad thing when done too much. And yes, having too much debt is a bad thing. The tenets of personal finance are true for everyone. But when debts are paid, retirement is funded, and savings are growing, then who cares what disposable income is spent on? Or should income NEVER be disposable?

    Trent gave the example of how a person who is driving a run-down vehicle can be a millionaire. Conversely, why can’t a person who drives a BMW be financially responsible? What if that person saved up for his car? Just because he owns a luxury vehicle he is automatically thought to kick puppies? That guy could possibly be in better financial shape than most.

    So before you assume that the Starbucks-drinking, Banana Republic-wearing, Mercedes-driving person is up to his eyeballs in debt, he may think that you’re a total bore. First impressions work both ways.

    Suck It, Black Friday

    by  • November 28, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    It is noon and we’re just waking up.

    And we didn’t spend a single dollar.

    Black Friday, you may have enticed us in the past. But not this year! SUCK IT.

    Wearing Disposable Contact Lenses Too Long: Cheap or Frugal?

    by  • October 17, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Contact Lenses Case

    Sometimes my contact lenses don't see this for a day or two.

    I have been nearsighted at least since I was in the third grade; thus I’ve had glasses at the early age of 9 years old. That pretty much disqualified me from becoming one of the cool kids. Then again, so did directly sitting in front of the television to watch all of those episodes of Tom and Jerry.

    When I hit junior high and had an accompanying hormonal response to girls, I desperately wanted contact lenses. After an appropriate amount of badgering and promising I was responsible enough to take care of them, my parents eventually relented and let me have my first pair of contact lenses. Back then, contact lenses were to be treated like gold, as disposables were unheard of. I don’t know how much my parents paid for my first pair of contact lenses, but they made me take care of them like a newborn child.

    Since then, I’ve gone though various phases alternating between glasses and contact lenses. Currently I’m in a contact lens phase. Over a year ago, I bought a one-year supply of 2-week disposable contacts. Today, in our bathroom closet I have about half of the order still remaining. You don’t need to do the math to figure out that I’ve been wearing my contact lenses past the recommended two-week period. At this rate, the remaining contact lenses will last until about another year from now.

    I’m fully aware of elevated risks of eye infection by wearing contact lenses too long. I always take them out at night and soak them in solution. My crime is that I wear them for a little over a month before disposing of them. Half of me does this because I’m lazy; the other half does it so that I can make my contact lenses last longer, thus putting off getting another eye exam, contact lens fitting, and a new supply of contact lenses.

    Am I being cheap or am I being frugal?

    For disposable contact lens wearers: do you follow the manufacturer’s schedule of disposal, or do you wear yours past that date? Is it to save money or for another reason?

    photo: .imelda