'New Frugality' - or not...

grainlady_ksNovember 23, 2008

Article in today's newspaper, 'New Frugality' is becoming all consuming. What I found interesting is how one persons economy is anything BUT economical to me... Not that it's right or wrong, just different perspectives on "economy". But then, I'm a real frugalite, and have been one all my life.

One person previously didn't think twice about dropping $30 on a bottle of Chianti to go with dinner. NOW they pick up grocery store wine at $10. I've never perchased wine. What a savings! It just doesn't fit in my $50/week food budget and menus.

Emphasis on FOOD, as in whole foods, not junk food, pre-packaged food, processed food.... For just under $20 I can purchase 45-pounds of wheat - which equals approx. 158 cups of freshly-milled flour (which is the most I've ever paid for wheat). So a bottle of wine, or a year's supply of grain...it's a no-brainer to me.

Wal-Mart still has one brand of tea bags - 100 bags/$1.00 and I get several cups out of one bag. I'll have to reconsider the splurge on tea bags if the price goes up, or how often I purchase them and how often I use them. I've got boxes of them vacuum-sealed in storage hedging inflation prices.

Another point I found an economical flaw - for those of us who shop with a calculator and our trusty Price Book. The sales of SPAM are up, according to the article. I guess those who think it's "cheap eats" haven't figured the unit price, because there are a lot of less-expensive meats out there than SPAM when you figure unit price or price per serving.

The same goes for a can of tuna. Figure the price per ounce, then multiply it by 16 for the price per pound, and you may find it's more expensive than other types of meat. As an example: if a can of tuna costs $1.29/6-oz. = $3.44 a pound. .97 = $2.58/pound. .59 = $1.57/pound. Remember, 3 oz. of meat/tuna is still a serving. It's great you can stretch tuna in a casserole, but you still need to figure a serving. Lots of noodles or rice does not make up for the protein.

Interesting perspectives....


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This might be the first time many are actually making attemps at real frugality - and until they hit their stride might make some "mistakes"along the way.

The economy has not forced my hand in making changes and though I've never been a keep up with the Jonses, max out the credit cards type person, I've come to a no waste philosophy. I buy what I know I can use so that doesn't always mean bulk purchases for me - even though I really enjoy a monthly trek through Sam's Club. I'm not interested in growing any of my own food, preferring instead to support the local farmers markets. Likewise, I have neither the skill nor inclination to sew, hammer my own copper pots, handcraft my own jewelry. I have nothing but admiration for people who do these and many more similar things.

Sometime back - particularly when we retired, and it was funny that my entire social circle retired at age 55 - we all reached the same crossroads of becoming burdened by our possessions. All the things in boxes we were saving for rainy days became little more than just boxes to move. I'm using things now - no more putting aside for later. In this season of being thankful, I'm thankful my boxes of things don't have to go on Ebay or Craig's list so I can pay bills.

Frugality, in any of its many forms, might get a better foothold this time around - a major return to the old ways might not happen when this current downturn eases.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 5:40PM
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Spam is in the news all over. People think they are saving money. They just don't realize that the more processed something is when you buy it, the more expensive it will be no matter what.



*Thanks for the tip on teabags. Gotta check that one out.........

Here is a link that might be useful: Spam in the News

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 10:42PM
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I get quite a lot of "SPAM" into my computer ...

... FREE!

Yahoo used to label it "Bulk" ... then delete it after 30 days (if I didn't claim it) ...

... now labels it "Spam" ... then deletes it after 30 days (if I don't claim it).

I could send you some, if you figure that the Spam available in your area is too expensive.

No charge, on my part - hey, it's your Thanksgiving ...

... and I'm a generous guy!

Have a great week - and a memorable Thanksgiving, all of you southern neighbours ... neighbours to the south, that is.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 12:19AM
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I think the "New Frugality" has been around for a long time. Now there just more people practicing it.

I wouldn't necessarily discount a $10 bottle of wine as not being frugal. I think frugality depends upon a person's lifestyle and what they have and what they need. Some people 'need' to entertain for business or other reasons. A bottle of wine might be more of a necessity for them. Or maybe they really just enjoy wine and are still paying all of the bills and putting some into savings. I don't really drink, but I have forms of entertainment that I'm sure others consider frivoulous. I can't blanket a bottle of wine as something all people need to cut out even though I would agree that there are some people who really should not be spending their money on it.

I'm not sure of the origins of SPAM. I remember trying it as a kid and my family never buying it again. I never understood why people bought that or Vienna sausages. They don't appeal to me. They are unhealthy. I guess if people are considering them good buys then it must be the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. A lot of the posters on this forum like myself find our bargains over time. We usually wait for the sale or other deal and then stock up so we don't pay the top prices. Someone who is living in a paycheck to paycheck type environment might only have a limited amount of money and no real savings. They may only have $25 to spend on food and rent until that next paycheck comes in. They look at what is cheapest for the day that $1 can of tuna or that $10 roast. They can afford the $1 for one meal even if that $10 can be stretched out over several meals. They don't have $10 to stretch out over several meals. I've always felt that something that could be done to help poor people is to give them the tools to make their money go further. I think a cookbook full of low budget, healthy meals would be one way to go.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 12:48AM
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Some people actually do like the taste of Spam, and some buy it for convenience food - their version of fast food.
Not defending Spam, and agree there are many more things that would be better and economical. We are still eating Tuna, though, that was 2/1.00.

grainlady, I'm so interested in grinding my own grain, but years ago, I purchased a grain mill and it was such a waste of money. It wasn't cheap and it didn't do the job. I don't remember the brand, but I don't want to buy another that won't work.

I do have a Vitamix blender, but have never used it for grinding grain.

How do you grind yours?

What mill do you use?

Will it grind corn for cornmeal?

duluthinbloomz4,, I understand about the boxes of things. I call them my 'I'm gonnas'. So far, though, I haven't gotten to do mine.

My husband retired from full time, but retirement is not his thing. He works still and quite often we have to travel for work for extended times - and family illness has made it necessary to put off my 'do laters'. Hopefully, next year is the year.

We do raise a lot of our food, even beef at my son's place. We like the food better. For my husband mostly, growing food is good for him in many ways. He gets so much satisfaction from it.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 12:27PM
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Fascinating Spam (SPiced hAM) facts. Though the Hormel Co. in Austin, MN had been producing canned/tinned hams since 1926, Spam emerged in 1937. Didn't need any kind of refrigeration so tons were sold to the armed forces in WWII and became economical and popular when rationing became a part of daily lives. Many men had enough Spam in the military and requested it never again be brought into the house. For some reason, it's still extremely popular in Hawaii.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 1:36PM
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I guess that explains my mental picture of a chunk of Spam with a pineapple ring on it. ;)

Isn't Spam kinda high in fat, too?

I think frugality comes in baby steps. I'm still trying to get DS to quit spending so much money on fast food. He just can't fathom how much cheaper it is to throw something in a crock pot. At the same time he complains loudly about how he never has any money, and he makes more of it than I do! I'm not giving up, though. This Christmas I'm giving him some "home cooking kits" that I will put together. If I can get him sold on those, the next step is him learning how to throw the ingredients together himself. We hardly ever ate fast food when he was growing up, I don't know how he got on this unhealthy and expensive habit.

I, too, find "owning things" is bogging me down. I used to be an avid flea-marketer / garage saler. Now I stay out of the flea markets and I don't garage sale very much. When I do now, I only buy things we need. I can get jeans and really nice t-shirts for a dollar apiece, and once in awhile I find something I've always wanted to try for a lot less money than retail. I meet people and we have interesting conversations, so it's kind of part of my "entertainment" budget. Sometimes as a result of our conversations, I get or trade things. I end up with recipes, plant starts or seed, sources for free mulch and garden fertilizer, access to fruit trees, recommendations for contractors who do good work, and many times, new friends. --Ilene

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 9:53AM
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Sounds a lot like my son. My Daughter in Law is almost an invalid, so my son does all the cooking. He is a wonderful cook, but he's starting his own business and spends a lot of time with the kids and their activities, so I realize it's easier to 'drive thru', but I cringe.

He wasn't raised on junk food either. In fact, he had allergies until he was 7 and we finally found a doctor who said it was allergies and not just a cold. He told us to get some local honey and to try to feed him as much non commercial food as possible. WE had just bought our 'farm' and we began raising almost everything we ate. Within 6 months, there was a decided difference in him. He didn't eat junk food before the farm, but it was all almost all bought from the grocery store.

I, too, am cutting back on my buying at garage sales. Trying to make it just things I need, or maybe others might need.

Just can't resist fabric, buttons, etc., though. My husband just helped me bring home boxes of fruit jars from my son's place and knowing how many I have here, he suggested, oh so kindly, that maybe I had enough fruit jars. Actually, I never knew you could have enough of those -

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 7:49PM
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"New"? Frugality or new to frugality more like it for some of the Y generation. One thing a librarian mentioned to me is that their requests for my favorite "tightwad" series has been sky rocketing. There are many books out there for those just making the first baby steps but most of those people can just look to their parents or grandparents to be shown the way. IMO.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 8:05PM
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Sometimes it's hardest to listen to one's parents - often grandparents somewhat easier, I think.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 11:48PM
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Budster - I'm curious what book series were you speaking of...I'd like to read some more on being a tightwad...I'm working to cut our family expenses by 50% next year and put the extra into savings...It's something I never really focused on until we got involved in some volunteering and I saw how much I actually had...so I'm self teaching...I'm shopping sales, buying store brands, using coupons, giving up a whole lot of stuff that I don't need - I try really haard to categorize it correctly Need or Want and if there's a question about it when I'm out I don't buy and go home...if I find I need it - it's not like I won't go back. I also shop with a list - I know they are small steps, but again, I'm teaching myself so small steps is going to work.

Just curious - if it's one I haven't read, I'm going to check it out at our library.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 8:27AM
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LOL Lady Texan, your husband and mine are kindred spirits!

I'm a quilter and quilters think there's no such thing as having too much fabric. Still, I've been known to pass it up, seeing the panic in DH's eyes, and one time it really killed me to do so -- at a garage sale, a large box of assorted fat quarters for $20. Probably would've cost $100 or more if bought new. And canning jars -- he thinks I have more than I will ever need. Of course now I have 40-some quart jars full of peaches, 20-some in pears, maybe 30 or 40 in green beans, 20-some in tomatoes, and this year I canned some cooked dry beans as a convenience, about 28 jars, I think. I would've done more tomatoes but my plants contracted some kind of disease from all the rain we had in the spring. Since I store my empty jars in an unheated storage area, I can't very well store the full jars there and have had a little trouble finding space for them in the house, but he's quit grumbling a little about "all those jars".

My first exposure to frugality was when I was first married. Money was really tight, we had a couple of pre-school children and daycare for them cost nearly as much as I could make going back to work. So I went to the library and got a book called "Champagne Living on a Beer Budget". The book is probably not in print anymore because that was about 1970. But it was quite informative and I remember I took notes in a spiral notebook. Now it's so much easier, what with the Internet and all, to get ideas and learn new things. Even at my age I have learned so much since I've been visiting these forums. You really can, if you work at it, save enough money by staying at home to equal bringing in an income -- especially if you're not college educated. Sadly, most employers don't have much respect for a degree from "The School of Hard Knocks" and therefore the pay is not very high.

I am a grandparent and I would recommend to any grandchild that the single most important thing they could do that would affect their earning power for the rest of their lives is to get a college education, regardless of how expensive it is now (and there are grants if you're willing to do the research). I understand that parents are becoming hard-pressed to pay for college tuition for their kids and some of them are having to drop out. This is such a loss. Could the kiddo get a part-time job or switch to a local college so they could live at home. Rather than just dropping out they maybe could just sign up for less courses at a time. Now is the time to get creative, not give up and throw in the towel! --Ilene

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 8:35AM
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Check out:

The Tightwad Gazette series (3 total) - by Amy Dacyczyn (aka The Frugal Zealot).

These are books I've owned since they were published (the first one in 1993). There are many out-of-date or rather simplistic ideas, but I still read through the series while watching TV at least once a year and still find great hints and inspiration to do better.

You can still find lots of examples of her Price Book on line (see link below). I've carried a Price Book off and on since 1994. I up-dated it a couple years ago, and have used it faithfully when I decided to self-impose a $50/week grocery budget and I needed to keep track of things better.

I keep prices in the Price Book (I've noticed the price of white sugar has gone up every week for the last 4 weeks at Aldi), as well as inventory tally (I keep upwards of a years worth of food in storage), coupons, grocery money (I only use cash for groceries - when it's gone, I'm done shopping), menu plans and on-going grocery list - all in a 4-1/2"x7" 6-ringed notebook that fits in my purse.

"Make Your Own Groceries" by Daphne Metaxas Hartwig (1979)

Check at your local library. I know ours still has the same books I read in the 1970's (those horrible years of the Carter Adminstration).

A quick Google of - Frugal Living - will also give you plenty of sites that have great information.


Here is a link that might be useful: Make A Price Book

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 9:24AM
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I suspect that the 'new frugality' is simply a money diet, instead of a lifestyle change... all I hear my peers talking about it 'when things get better'. They talk about their credit cards like love affairs (I really shouldn't but I just can't help it, I miss them so much, I don't understand how this happened...) and it baffles me.

the only real difference? is that a few of them have started listening to my subversive muttering....that Beef Stroganoff is not a secret recipe that only Hamburger Helper knows, that you nails might not be so weak if you didn't have them filed down and soaked in fiberglass every few weeks, that awnings, or reflective shades for your south-facing window might be a better choice than sticking an extra air-conditioner in that window...

they laughed when we bought half a house, and rolled their eyes when we said we would gut the 1980 kitchen oh, 5 or so years down the road, when we'd put some money together, and decided what we wanted to do with it...but we bought half a house because it's how I was taught, that the bare minimum basic bills needed to be based on half your combined income, because you never knew what could happen.

so this year? we make our own cards, and this year, it's leather pouches and pendants for the guys, olive oil infused with home-grown rosemary for the cooks, and jewelry and scarves trimmed with 'muppet fur' (crocheted trim)... very much like every year. the difference? instead of me having the three hard-core crafty types show up at my annual 'craft camp' where I open up my stockpile of raw materials...11 people showed up, and five of them came back on sunday, because they 'had to have' stocking stuffers for coworkers or clients, and their budgets had been cut by 80% or more.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 12:56PM
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There is more than one way to 'skin a cat', so to speak.

Frugality is good & works.

IMO, an easier way is to earn more money. With more dollars one has more choices. And, since I've learned that life is all about choices...the more available to me...the better.

We lived on dried beans, water, & air in order to get DH through law school (it took 5 years). He worked 3 jobs & went to law school at night. He worked as a high school math teacher during school hours, did title work whenever he could squeeze it in around teaching, & worked at a bank part-time. He rode the bus to work & studied for law school during the ride because it was the only time available. Two babies at home to support & a SAHM. Then, after graduating & passing the bar on the first try it took us 10 years to pay off the student loans (we had to finance the entire sheebang). So, we spent a total of 15 years preparing to build our future. BTW, my DH doesn't practice law but that juris doctorate degree has opened up so many doors for him that otherwise would have not only been shut...they would have been locked tight.

Was it worth it? Yes, it was. Financing our future through education was a great use of leverage. Scrimping for 15 years means that now it isn't necessary. I learned great frugal skills during those years; but I'm disabled now & glad that we no longer have to pinch every penny until it squeals. Today, we have a housekeeper & a gardener. We always wanted to live by the shore in a little cottage & now we're living that dream. We didn't want to ever be broke again & so we've saved so that we, hopefully, won't ever have to stretch $10 to feed us both for a week.

Anyway, I soooo agree with the above post that wrote about the importance of an education. In today's world, it's not a luxury...it's a necessity for survival. Why? Because it provides us with choices.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 3:13PM
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IMHO, a formal four-year education is the key if you have a definite goal in mind. For example, doctors, lawyers, engineers and high-end managers make enough to justify paying the enormous cost of a four-year college education. Junior colleges and trade schools train students for good jobs at a fraction of the cost. For example, nurses, x-ray technicians, electricians, plumbers, mechanics and meat cutters can train at junior colleges for good paying jobs. Chefs make very good money, and they can train at a chef school for a fraction of the cost of a four-year college. On the other hand, a person is probably wasting their time and money to train at a senior college for a general degree in English, history or social science. Hundred of thousands of people have those degrees and can do nothing with them.

By the way, I saved over $100 today by cutting and coloring my own hair. I used to go to a hair salon, but now I am wiser.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 7:38PM
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Lexi, I agree somewhat with what you say. I know for a fact that the trades make excellent money and are in high demand in our area. Plumbers, electricians, heat/air repairmen and computer repair are all highly sought after and can usually name their own price when it comes to providing services to homeowners, but if they base their business on new construction, it suffers when there's a down-turn in the economy.

Other trades, such as culinary, beuticians and the like, also suffer at times like this. A chef, in order to pull in a good income, generally has to live in a resort area or in close enough proximity to up-scale restaurants and clubs in order to have work that pays well.

So it's good if you make up your mind when you're a kid what you want to do for a living for the rest of your life. l)

I prefer to work in an office. It's not seasonal, almost all areas have work of that type and I don't have to get dirty or breathe chemicals or risk electrical shock or go to people's homes or work out in the weather. I was a bright high-school student who wanted to go to college. The superintendent at my high school offered to loan me enough to go. But my mother said, "we will not be 'beholden' to anyone -- besides, you'll just get married and have children, anyway." By the time I was on my own two feet enough that I could've applied for a loan and gone to college, I was married and did have babies. When my babies were in middle school, I enrolled in college at night and I did get a little under two years' worth under my belt. But then my teenaged daughter got in with the wrong crowd and the psycologist said I wasn't home enough. And before I could responsibly pull myself out of my responsibilities there, she provided me with grandchildren which I ended up raising. Now I'm 62. Life would've been so much easier for me had I been allowed to go to college right out of high school, before I bought in to my mother's opinion that marriage was really the only option for me.

I have spent my life working 'under' people who were not as smart as I was but who had a college degree. When new college grads were recruited, I taught them their jobs, but from the outset, they made about twice what I was paid, and I had been there for nine years at that time.

There have been times that I have chosen not to have a job because my family has needed my time. But about ten years ago I had no choice but to go back to work when DH had to leave his work (he was a welder) because of degenerative arthritis. It has never been hard for me to find a job, but this time I needed one that provided group insurance and those are harder to come by here. DH's insurance premium ate up most of what I was paid and it was tough going until we were able to get him on Disability and Medicare kicked in. Even after I no longer had to carry him on my insurance, his medications were $500 a month. I have really good computer skills. The Administrator told me I made a higher grade on his standard intelligence test than anyone ever had. Had I had a degree, I would've been qualified for HIS job and the pay that came with it.

So that's what I'm saying, really. I don't look down my nose at people who aren't college educated, but unfortunately, a lot of people do. Because I'm not college educated, I know how they struggle and how quickly they can be laid off because they aren't considered to be the "talent" of an organization -- they're considered plentiful.

It is true that sometimes a degree does one no good at all. I have a niece whose father insisted she get a degree. All she wanted to do was get married and have a family. She chose a degree in marine biology. After college she married, had children and lived in the Virginia hills, near her husband's boyhood home. He hauled gravel and did things like that for a living. When they needed extra cash, she would clerk at a local grocery store. And this is fine if this is what she wants. But say something happened to him, or there was a divorce that left her raising her children by herself? Then she's got that degree to fall back on. Because of the field she chose, though, she'd have to move in order to use it, but maybe not -- the director of the agency that provides housing for developmentally disabled people in our area has a degree in horticulture.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 7:33AM
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lexi7 -

I let nature take care of the color of my hair, but I've cut my short, precision-cut, style for most of my life. I take what I've "saved" by cutting my own hair a step farther... I budget the going rate for a hair cut ($20 now) and then I shift it to what we call the Christmas/Emergency Savings account. Otherwise it's not actually "saved". So I really DO save $240/year by cutting my own hair.

In a good budget, every penny gets told what to do - even savings.

Other "found" money from cash rebates, aluminum cans collected in ditches and turned in for cash, bonus checks - I also save one dollar bills (like other people save quarters or change), etc. are also placed in the Christmas/Emergency fund. Between my $1 bill fund and my hair cut money, I manage to save around $1,000 each year just with those.

Now we have money for gifts and unexpected, non-budgeted, emergencies throughout the year. Each year, what's left at the end of the year in the Christmas/Emergency account gets donated to charity.

This account is separate from our regular savings account. We have 1/3 hubby's pay placed in savings (which is invested) and live on 2/3. As soon as the house is paid for (our only debt), we'll reverse that - save 2/3 and live on 1/3.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 8:04AM
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This demonstrates what I've said for a long time. What's frugal for one is spendthrift to another, and what's normal, healthy lifestyle is "how can you live like that?!" to another.

I found the Tightwad Gazette series to be inspiring. First it was light reading. Some things I was doing by nature and didn't realize it. Some ideas were nearly crazy and some were humorous. But it was enjoyable reading. I saw the first book and flipped through it, then bought it. Looking at the books a while later, I saw the second edition and I flipped through it and bought it. Looked forward to the future ones. Then I saw the third one was the last one. There also is a composite book, combining all three into one. Many libraries have these books and I highly recommend reading them, not so much for recipes or tips, but as an attitude adjustment. You really need to read it more than once. Then start looking at what needs to be changed.

For some, it could be cut down on fast food just one day a week. Pack a sandwich. Maybe bring a bottle of water (let's not go into that debate) and drink that instead of buy soft drinks with the fast food burger. If you buy a can of pop a day from the machine at work, could you painlessly save $5/week?

Grainlady mentioned the price book. Very important. But you don't even have to do a full book right away. Start being aware of prices. What do you buy often? Look at your last 4 or 5 grocery receipts. What's on there each time? Maybe it includes cereal, chips and soft drinks. How about trying the generic cereal, generic chips and Kool-Aid?

Saving money is a sensitive subject for a lot of people. Some need to fool themselves. I don't go with the idea of saving all change or something, rather I spend the change to save the bills. If I'm frugal with that I don't need to use the envelope system to say this envelope is for food, this envelope is for rent, this envelope is for electricity, etc. When I see my electric bill is lower, I cheer! I watch the bank account not be depleated. I don't keep my house cold enough to keep meat in it, but I don't keep it so warm that I have to turn on a fan to cool off. And in the summer I don't run the a/c till I have to wear a sweatshirt.

Coupons. Another touchy subject. There's times where coupons can be worked to advantage. There's times it can be a bargain. But, more often than not, I see people just buy things they wouldn't otherwise buy just because of a coupon. That's no savings, that's spending.

I've been using a Flowbee for 25 years. I don't like getting haircuts. Don't like the time in the barber chair. Don't like an expected tip for mediocre work. Now, I just wear my hair shorter and cut it about 4x/year. Sometimes less. By having shorter hair I use less shampoo, I quit using conditioner, mousse, gel and the like and it's more comfortable. This has resulted in a lower cost of living. I could fool myself and say I normally would get a haircut every 6 weeks so by skipping one of those I save (what, about) $20-$30 or more and put that aside for something else. I just don't do that. For some it works.

Same thing goes for electric use. By converting to CFLs I am saving probably $15-25/month in electricity easily. I suppose I could say that savings could be shifted to a budget for cable TV or something. It works for some, but not for me.

I don't have a clothes budget. I don't go through clothes that much. I buy when I need something and look for something on sale, clearance or something. I also look for something that will last a while.

I will splurge on certain things. But what I call a splurge, others may think are normal or even tightwad! I've been combining trips for a long time. I don't like shopping so that's a good thing. Not going out means not spending money on gas to get there and back, along with not spending money on stuff I probably don't need and might even not spend money on a snack or "meal" while I'm shopping! Money NOT spent is not money saved. It's money not spent. Coupons aren't a "savings". The only time coupons are truly money not spent is when you have the exact item on your list to buy and will buy it with or without the coupon.

I wish schools would do more to educate kids on some basic living techniques. I think balancing a checkbook and learning about credit cards are such basic necessities it should be taught by every school.

Last comment, and sorry this has gotten so long-winded. Being frugal is also knowing when to SPEND money. A bad DIY job can cost you far more than hiring a professional to do it. It can even cost you your life. It really hurt to have to spend nearly $700 to have my water heater replaced and I thought about doing it myself or getting a buddy to help when he was in town. But in the end I am happy I decided to have it done. He knew what he was doing, installed it right without using flex hoses and the like, tested for gas leaks and it even took him over 2 hours to do it. It would be an all day job. I did it last time. Seems to me I made two trips to the store for parts. The cost for the heater itself would be about $350, delivery would be $50, miscellaneous parts probably $50-$75 and it would cost $10-$25 to get rid of the old heater. I felt a little consoled that I was able to repair my washer myself a year ago for 25 when it appeared I needed to replace it. Did I "save" $600-$1200 for a new washer or did I spend 25¢ to not spend the other. All in how you look at it. OK, nuff said. Happy frugaling everyone, however you do it.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 2:09AM
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Sheesh... got sidetracked from a point I was going to make!

"SPAM" the registered trademarked luncheon meat product has a rather interesting history. There's controversy over what, if anything it stands for. Hormel in the past has said it was a contraction for Spicy Ham or Spiced Ham and they also have said it stood for Shoulder of Pork And haM. There was a contest held and the name SPAM was chosen. The winner won a prize, though I don't remember what it was. Today, according to Hormel, the name doesn't abbreviate anything, SPAM is just that, SPAM. Many people want to give abbreviations to things whether they have it or not, including and accordingly jocular backronyms have been devised, such as "Something Posing As Meat", "Stuff, Pork and Ham" and "Spare Parts Animal Meat". LOL

Did you know? According to trademark the name, properly spelled is in all capital letters, and curiously is to be used as an adjective as in "SPAM luncheon meat". However these days, Kleenex, Jell-O and SPAM are all transferred into the generic realm.

FWIW, the stuff from email would be all lower case letters unless starting a sentence. So not to be argumentative, but I don't see how my buddy Joyful could actually get "SPAM" in his email! ;)

SPAM is made in Minnesota and Nebraska in the US, and the SPAM you get in UK is made in Denmark under license. SPAM is also made in the Philippines and South Korea. There's a variety of flavors including turkey (which I've tried and is quite good for salads).

More than you wanted to know, eh? :) That's SPAM 101 for today.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 2:29AM
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I used to have a subscription to the Tightwad Gazette magazine. I still have them in a drawer. Several years ago, I took them to work and loaned them to the young woman who worked in the office across the hall from me. She was so excited about all the good ideas that she had never thought of before. You can show by example, you can share ideas verbally. But there's something about ideas that are in print...

I find couponing to be "iffy". Some swear by them but to me it's a marketing ploy. For instance, I do most of my own baking. So if I find a coupon for Ho-Ho's, which I don't normally buy, I don't use it because even with the coupon it's still more expensive than something made at home. Because it's something "different", DGS inhales them even quicker than he does my chocolate chip cookies. So for me, that's not a good buy unless the coupon is really big. There is one store that doubles coupons in my area. But they tend to jack up the prices quite a bit higher. It's time-consuming to do couponing. Although some people say they can get things for free or for just pennies that way, I don't find that to be so for me. Most coupons are so small in value that they do well to make the product comparable to store brands. My daughter, though, if she needs something that's kind of costly, will look for coupons on-line and if she doesn't find any, she will e-mail the manufacturer and tell them how much she likes their product and ask them for coupons. They usually send some. She gets really happy when the thing goes on sale and she has coupons. I think you just have to be really careful with couponing and not end up buying things you normally wouldn't. There's nothing wrong with using coupons to try something you normally wouldn't, mind you, but if it ends out that serving something bought with the help of coupons is actually more costly than what you would've made if you hadn't bought it, you might want to rethink it. And you can hear the groan throughout the store from everyone in line when somebody pulls out their coupon wallet. An added thing that a lot of people don't realize is that when you bring a convenience product into your home, you are getting your children accustomed to it, and when they grow up they are more likely to buy it and use it without thinking about it.

A lot of expensive products justify their cost in "time saved". Believe me, when you work for a corporation and you have an idea that will save time, it's really hard to sell it because they believe that saved time will just be spent hanging out at the coffee pot -- unless, of course, the time savings is enough to eliminate a whole person's job. It doesn't take much time at all to peel potatoes. You can do it while the water is starting to boil. And yes, you can cook a seven-piece chicken dinner for under $10, KFC!

I've never used a price book, but I might give it a try. I do notice that I'm having trouble nowadays keeping up with what is a "good buy". Before DH retired, I could remember all that. I'd get the Wednesday ads out, write out my list and shop three stores back when gas was cheap. It would take me all morning but I'd get some great deals for my pantry and freezer. What I learned is that no one store has good prices on everything, and you will need things that are not offered anywhere as "loss leaders". I saw a thread about Aldi's not long ago and I hadn't been there in a long time, so I went. I found really good prices on only some things. Their milk is more expensive than Walgreen's. Their eggs are more expensive than Walmart's. I bought some smoked sausage and some pre-cooked maple-flavored sausage patties there that we did not like at all. Their potatoes were about the same price as Walmart but they were not as fresh and they were covered with dried mud, which probably added some to the weight.

We combine trips also. When I retired, I sold my car. So now we are down to DH's new pick-up and DGS' old one. DH is ordered by his doctor to attend the hospital fitness center and he goes three times a week. So I have him pick up certain things on his way home. About every two weeks, or less often if I can swing it, I will do my "big" shopping and I have a kind of a "circuit" I follow. Here again, I put some thought into my "circuits", because so I won't find myself burning up more gas than I save.

Oh, and BTW, DH's membership to the fitness center was a huge drain on our budget for quite awhile. Now it's free thanks to the fact that it became one of AARP's "Silver Sneaker" fitness centers.

Cynic, you and I agree on most things, but I have to disagree with your comment "money not spent is not money saved". :) If saving coins in a jar or dollar bills makes it easy for someone to put a little back, they should go for it. Some people round up to the next dollar when they write the amount of their checks into their check register. It's all a matter of technique. I don't follow a budget per se, but I am constantly mindful of my purchases. I buy nearly everything using a credit card that pays me a percentage in "cash back". I can double the "cash back" by getting coupons for certain stores, but most of them are from places where I never shop and I consider that an marketing ploy, as well. I usually just apply the "cash back" to my bill. I never pay interest on the card because I always pay the balance when the bill comes. For me, it works, but for others it wouldn't. Credit cards make it hard for some people to resist impulse purchases. On the other hand, if you see an unexpected fantastic buy, your credit card allows you to stock up on it without having to worry if you have enough in your pocket, keeping in mind, of course, that if you get the bill and can't pay it all, you get tangled up in paying interest on the whole amount, which is not good, either.

I also cut my hair, and I have stopped getting perms and color because they tend to cancel each other out with my hair, anyway. At 62, I'm not trying to win any beauty contests. I'd like to have a Flowbee, but for now I just use the same clippers I use when I cut DGS' hair. He has thick hair that gets curly when it gets long, so he just about has to have a "buzz cut", although I use one of those spacers so he still looks like he has hair. I use the clippers for the nape of my hair only, and then I use my hair-cutting scissors for the rest. DH's hair is done pretty much the same way. Our hair grows really fast so I'm trimming at least every two months. There is a really good book for those that need it, called "How to Cut Your Own or Anyone Elses' Hair". I think Amazon.com has it.

I agree that there are certain things left to the experts. I once knew a office worker who replaced the muffler on his car. He got a piece of rusted metal in his eye and had to go to the ophthalmologist. However, there is something to be said for learning a new skill. I do my own painting, wall-papering, wall-board finishing and ceramic tile laying. These acquired skills have saved me a lot of money through the years.

I would apologize for this being long, but my posts always are, so it would have to be a blanket apology, at best. --Ilene

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 8:36AM
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Grainlady, I agree wholeheartedly that becoming debt free is paramount. I had rather my money be working for me instead of somebody else. Once your home is paid for, you will always have a place to live. They may come turn off your electricity, but they cannot kick you out as long as you pay your taxes.

Any saving plan is great as long as it works for you. We let our checking build up a cushion until it is enough to buy a CD.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 10:59AM
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I must respectfully disagree with lexi7's statement that "a person is probably wasting their time and money to train at a senior college for a general degree in English, history or social science. Hundred of thousands of people have those degrees and can do nothing with them."

While the subject areas in which these degrees were earned may have no bearing at all on the job the holder is hired to do, many employers arbitrarily designate the possession of a 4-year degree as a cutoff point when hiring. If a BS or BA is not present on the resume, it goes directly into the trash. I see this done all the time, particularly in government agencies. I've fished resumes out of the trash and wondered how my boss could fail to recognize that the person, although lacking a degree, has exactly the background and experience we need, but he is one of many who believe that a 4-year (or higher) degree indicates a particularly desirable level of character, determination, intelligence, and willingness to work toward a goal.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 3:18PM
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Probookie, I respect your right to disagree with me, and I agree with you that many jobs require a college degree. However, (and this is the rub) those jobs often pay less than $30,000 a year. Many young adults exit college with a huge debt, in the form of a student loan, of over $100,000.00. Many of them incur massive credit card debt as well on the easily acquired free credit cards passed out on college campuses. How can those people ever become financially independent? When the student loan collectors start calling, it is not funny. My point was that a person should map out a road to success by majoring in something that pays enough to justify the cost of college tuition.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 8:07AM
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"My point was that a person should map out a road to success by majoring in something that pays enough to justify the cost of college tuition."

OR they can go to a less expensive college/live at home and not amass that "huge debt, in the form of a student loan, of over $100,000.00" you mention.

And as far as the credit card debt goes... that is a choice they made. If they can't afford the credit cards, they should not apply for and use them!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 10:20AM
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LuAnn and Lexi, you don't have to be an inexperienced college student to rack up huge debt with easily-gotten credit cards! I know people who are otherwise seemingly successful people who are paralyzed with credit card debt that they acquired while employed.

I agree that they should teach consumerism in all high schools. DGS has a "Family Living" class that he has taken for the last three years. They learn to cook, sew, balance a check book, make out a budget -- that sort of thing. At home, we ridicule the commercials (it gives us something to do till our program comes back on) and we talk about how other people manage their money and some of the dumb things they do. I do think there should be more education given about how to resist sales pitches and understanding how credit works.

You both have a point in the college thing. I have worked places where they would not even read the resume of someone who was not college educated. I have been on the other side of the coin where non-degreed people were welcomed because they would never expect to be paid very highly. Some of this depends on where you live and what kind of degree you have earned. And yes you do need to have a plan and know what you want to "be", but most kids fresh out of high school have no idea unless their parents pick a career for them and we all know that usually doesn't work out in the end. If you live in an area where there are lots of office buildings then you'd be safe to get a degree in Business Admin or Accounting. If you're in oil country, a degree in Geology might work. If you're near the coast, Marine Biology. If near pharmaceutical laboratories, Chemistry. And so on. It would be so much better if a kid straight out of high school could work for a couple of years and then go to college. But by that time, most of them are married and have brought children into this world. Having a family and the responsibilities that come with it makes it really hard to go to school. Not saying it can't be done, just that it's real hard on everybody.

It is up to the individual whether they seek a job that takes advantage of their degree. Anyone can go to work at a fast-food place whether they have a degree or not. And there are times when you need to take whatever job you can get to put food on the table regardless of your experience and education. But a 22-year-old has forty years in which to earn income. That's a long time and surely somewhere along the road, an opportunity is going to come along that will require a degree. As for debt collectors, yes, they're a rude and hateful bunch. But there is no difference in the debt collector trying to collect on a college loan and one trying to collect on a car you couldn't afford on a non-college educated income, or a few loans you took out when you couldn't make ends meet.

As for myself, one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't get a degree. For me, it would've made all the difference in the world.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 10:52AM
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Love this thread! Interestingly, the kitchen threads are less active (and more frugal) and the money saving tips (which used to get almost no traffic) are now thriving. Anyway, I was an English major and I am now an English teacher...and I've just started a frugality blog! Check it out: frugalscholar.blogspot.com

Would love to know what topics people are interested in.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 10:25PM
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Ilene, I agree that a college degree would have opened many doors. I am without one also. However, many think I do; I was recently asked to teach a college art history course,and when I said I haven't an art degree, was asked what my degree was in. I don't go around talking one way or another about my education, but DH says I carry myself well. However well I carry myself, that degree would have increased my income several fold.

As to the New Frugality, I know all kinds -spenders and savers; we have always been to the frugal side, DH has brown bagged lunch for over 30 years. I did the same when I worked. I am one who saves by not spending, my brother is one who thinks he saves by spending - buying on sale (especially large ticket items) even though he may not use it for some time.

I don't need, and therefore, don't have a cell phone. We were several years behind others in getting a vcr, buying after prices came down. We didn't need one. We finally bought one so we could tape tv programs or watch rental tapes.

I have splurged a few times on haircuts, and always end up recutting it at home. Once the stylist thinned my hair and then tried to sell me a product that was supposed to thicken and add texture to my hair. Gee, if she hadn't thinned it, I wouldn't have needed a "thickening" product!LOL

I cut DH hair as well, and he likes it better than going to a barbershop. I am not as frugal as grainlady, not having been raised in making my own bread, etc - although I do love homebaked bread! I could not begin to store the grains. However, I shop on an "as needed" basis and watch for sales. I typically shop once a week at one store, otherwise my 6 mile trip to "town" includes any other errands and once a month a litte further to drop off newspapers to the animal shelter.


    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 2:57PM
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My husband cuts my hair as well. It used to give me perms and color it as well. I gave that up some years ago. He knows just how to cut it and I just wash and let it dry.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 1:54AM
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ladytexan, you are one lucky gal!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 6:39PM
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Yes, I am.

Truly, I just do not like going to a salon. It just makes me so very uncomfortable. For many years, I just let it grow long and pinned it up, then my husband cut it for me once and that was it.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 9:19PM
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