Why do you do it? And what are you getting out of it?

peanutmomDecember 13, 2009

It sometimes seems as if we have all seen and heard it all when it comes to the money saving ideas. I think it would be nice to hear from some people about what saving money has done for them. Something that they wouldn't have been able to do any other way. It would also be nice to hear why some people started living a frugal lifestyle.

For me, I was born to a poor family. We never had money. You would think that would be all it would take to make you frugal, but that isn't the case. When you have no money, you never learn to handle it either. I had to make a conscious choice to make my money do the most it could and work for me. I think I spent about 15 years trying to figure out the best way to make money and it only took about 2 years to figure out if I didn't spend it, I didn't have to make as much.

My main goal right now is to get out of debt and finish remodeling my home. We have been doing so on a shoestring budget and it is still paying off.

So what is it doing for you? And what made you make the choice to live the life you live? Motivation is always easier to find when you know what to look for. :p

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Having the same standard of living after retirment as before, was what I hoped and planned for. When the time came, there were no big surprises and so far retirement is great. I grew up in a modest home and learned some frugal ways from childhood - frugality is something I've always been interested in and embraced. My style of retirement does not include things like cruises and any exotic travel - nothing wrong with that if that is what you desire - it just wasn't something I was interested in.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 12:49PM
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Funny how things are!

For me, I was born to a poor family. We never had money.
Because of that, we (me and my 3 siblings) learn how to bargain shop and get the most out of what little money we had.

All four of us have always been frugal becasue of our poor upbringing!

That does NOT mean we are misers... we all like to have nice things and have fun.

But all of us own our homes.
All of us have no credit card debt.
All of us are saving for retirement.

Our lifetimes of frugal habits - which came from being poor - keep us financially secure now that we have money.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 4:09PM
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I grew up in a middle class family who paid cash. If my parents didn't have the money for something, they just didn't buy it.

When I got married after college, we didn't have much money, but still lived within our means. We made a very smart decisions at that point to set up direct deposits etc into savings/investements/retirement accounts. It was pathetically small amounts at the time, but it was a great first step. Every time we got a raise, we just upped the percentage going into these accounts. Within a few years, we were putting away substantial amounts of money and didn't feel like we were scrimping or sacrificing at all to do it.

Even though my wife and I are both pretty frugal, I don't think we could have made this rapid of progress without automating our savings process. We sit down at the end of each year and set financial goals for the next year. We adjust our accounts accordingly so that $x goes to our 401k's, the balance of the paychecks are direct deposited to a central account, $y per month auto transfers to retirement accounts, $z transfers to other investments, $a goes to long term savings, $b goes to the mortgage company etc. We just have to make the decision once and then month by month the money just goes where we want and we reach all our goals by December. Then, we start it all over for the next year.

BTW - we love to travel and it is something we gladly spend money on AFTER our other savings goals are met.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 10:40AM
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My husband has always been a saver. When we got married he had a paid for car and a parcel of land which he rented out to his farmer brother and had life insurance policies. I wasn't a saver until I married him and I took on his ways. We wanted to buy a house, so we lived on my salary (except for the rent) and banked his. In 2 years we had enough saved for a downpayment.

The benifit was our own house.

Then our son was born. We decided I should stay home with him and figured out how we could manage on one salary. I cooked nutricious meals with cheap meats that needed long slow cooking and learned how to make them delicious. I sewed and knit all my clothes, most of my sons and mended my husbands work clothes. We grew a large garden and I canned and froze our winters vegetables. I made jams, pickles and canned fruit.

The benifit--I watched my son grow into a fine man and I had the priveledge to be a stay at home mom.

We have always saved our change daily for Christmas. At the end of the day we empty both our pockets into a jar. You'd be surprized what it adds up to in a year.

The benifit--Few out of pocket Christmas expenses.

During this time we did save money and when mortgage interest went sky high we saved every penny so we could pay off the house when the mortgage came open. After that we sold the land and made a tidy profit and started investing in retirement savings, as well as saving for our son's education. As it turned out the interest from the land sale paid for our son's education along with what he had saved for it and his summer jobs.

The benifit--our son learned our habits and paid for over half his education himself.

We continued to save for retirement and had a good nestegg set aside when my husband retired.

The benifit---We never pay interest. We owe no one anything and we live quite comfortably on our income. We can go see our grandchildren whenever we want and even travel if we want.

Living frugally does not mean going without. It means you prioritize things as wants and things as needs. You spend on the needs and save for the wants. It's recognizing the difference that makes things work.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 1:14PM
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It's interesting what lessons we learn in life that instill certain values in us, including being frugal. I didn't have parents that were good examples of using money wisely, although the abject poverty we lived in certainly taught me that wasn't the lifestyle I should duplicate. If they had money (inheritance), they blew it, with nothing to show for it - like the proverbial broke lottery winner....

Thankfully, there were neighbors who were wonderful teachers. Back then, they bought savings bonds every pay day, even though they didn't make any more money than my parents did. They made savings a priority, and didn't waste money. The neighbors didn't buy steaks on pay day, and then wonder what they would feed the family the rest of the week like my parents often did...

The neighbors retired with dignity, while my parents struggled on less than $1,000/month (combined) from Social Security (they passed away in 2000 and 2001), so I saw the value of saving.

Like many others who already posted, we are committed to a frugal lifestyle in order to take care of retirement. We've never "done without" either, but have always been considerate of purchases we make, and look for value for our money when we DO spend it, not necessarily what is the cheapest.

We're also with those who have money automatically placed in savings, as well as fully-funded retirement accounts. Pay cash for things we purchase, or we don't get them.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 4:29PM
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It has been interesting to hear what motivates people to save money. My biggest change was getting a divorce and learning to take care of two children basically on my own. I never thought of myself as being frugal until I came here.This was before meeting the wonderful man who has become my partner in making the most of life. Financially and otherwise.

Many of the things I have read, I did without thinking. It has actually been the bigger picture kind of thinking that I still am learning. I truly enjoy hearing about the lifestyle that many of you live without feeling restricted. I am learning. It is not doing without. It is doing what you can with what you have that counts. I wanted to thank everyone for the motivation and the reminders that keep me moving forward.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 9:35PM
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I agree with everything but it brings small pleasure yet, to save cents with any small ruse.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 1:46AM
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Peanut, your situation sounds exactly like DH. He grew up very poor and it has taken the better part of 15 years to get a handle on the money situation. A good friend of mind told me I needed to take a leap of faith and let go of controlling the money and let him handle the bill paying if he was to learn anything. And it sure did take a lot of faith and lots of stressful financial mistakes later - but he's really got the hang of it and actually now takes a lot of pride in getting something for free or discounted or figuring out a way to just make do (like fixing something first) without buying more stuff.

I think some of the out of control spending habits stemmed from some built up anger at watching his father spent want little discretionary money there was on his own habits like smoking & drinking rather then on his wife and kids.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2009 at 8:00PM
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Gonativegal, I can understand exactly what you mean. Even after my divorce, I was angry. I spent 13 yrs building up our credit, only to have him ruin it during the divorce out of spite. I went through all of those years doing without and buying him everything he wanted, only to be left with the short end of the stick during the divorce.

Sorry, that is mostly a family forum type thing, but it explains why I am so crazy about controlling my money now. I refuse to be taken advantage of, now. Guess it is a good thing my DH treats me like gold. The hardest part is getting him not to buy me expensive things when we have some money. I would rather save it. He has learned, if it won't save us money in the long run, don't buy it, I won't want it.

Heck of a lesson, I'll tell ya!

Anyway, I can agree that your past definitely can change the way you look at money, for sure.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 8:42PM
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My parents were both raised in large families like the Duggars. They had to be frugal. It was just a natural way of life for them. They raised us the same way. One of the benefits was that we were raised to be creative and learning to make do without having to do without. Being frugal sometimes also has a payoff in that you have the resources that others don't. Money doesn't control you. You don't have to sit around and think about purchases any more than usual because if you don't spend your money on frivolous things then it's there in the bank (or other investment) waiting for you when you really want or need it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 11:34PM
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When I first talked to my 5 year old GD about putting money in the bank, she promptly informed me that she was not wasting her money "putting it in a bank." I attempted to explain the reasons for saving, but she was still dubious. I think she is one who wants to see her money. Now at seventeen she has a part time job, but we never know what her financial status is. I think she is still keeping it where she can see it when she wants to.

Oh what a lot to learn!!!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 12:39AM
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Wow, I'm happy I couldn't sleep and happened upon this forum tonight. I'm usually over at the decorating forum (talk about opposite of being frugal at times) and sometimes the organizing forum, but never even noticed this forum existed before, when it truly fits the lifestyle I was born into and still live to this day.

Speaking of my being born, I was born in the mid fifties, the youngest of three to parents that lived through the great depression. I guess you'd call us middle class, but if I thought of us in any way at all, I always thought of us as being rich since we had so much. And no I don't mean I was the first one to get white jeans or denim tennis shoes with orange shoelaces when they were first out. In fact I was probably the last one to get the jeans and when I did get the denim tennies they had white laces. No that's not it. We were a happy family that had all we needed. We lived in a wonderful neighborhood with loads of other children to match each our ages. On weekdays during the school year we walked back and forth to school (home for lunch too) sometimes trying to catch the dog that got out and wanted to follow us. On Sundays we walked together to church. My folks bought new cars now and then, we wore pretty dresses to school and church. Mom making the prettiest ones with coats to match on Easter. Yes we were "rich".

Looking back now I realize the reason we had so much was because my folks were, well.... frugal. They paid cash for almost* everything, sometimes after saving for awhile. *Vehicles, our home and utilities were the only bills they had. I imagine all our neighbors in the Galbraith Acres were like that. Yep. Frugally Rich. That's how I grew up and that's how we still live.

I was a stay at home Mom only working when our children were in school and only because I wanted to. We based all our large purchases on my hubby's salary alone. I'm now a stay at home grammy that baby sits our two year old grandson. Our daughter is very wise with her finances though our son, the oldest, has yet to lear, but he's getting there.

I happen to think living Frugally Rich is a happier way to to live than if we were dollar rich.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 4:18AM
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My parents were comfortable but paid cash for everything. I grew up watching my mom count out pennies to pay for groceries. If we didn't have the $$, we didn't buy it. For my mom, it was important to eat well. Eating well made other "deprivations" more bearable. We always ate well - good cuts of meat, fresh fruit & vegatalbes, a few "extras" every week.

My husband's family was the opposite. His parents spent $$ on vacations, expensive cars, etc but his mom cooked like she was stretching the last pound of hamburger in the world (and still does). So when we got married, we had to work that out. DH came around to eating well and doing without expensive cars, vacations, etc. We eat well but drive old cars, etc. Having a pork chop instead of tuna casserole makes it all seem better! ;)

I try to wring a few $$ out my buget every week to put away for "direct charity." Not giving to an institutional charity, but to give directly to people I know in need. I do it annonomously, when I hear that a friend or acquantince is having a hard time. In the past year I've saved about $500 and used it to either buy things for people I know in need, or to give them cash when they need it. That's why I practice extreme frugality - not to have "extras" for myself, but to provide necessities to people who need them.

My son who is in HS told me a story about a girl in his youth group at church that made me cry. The girl is a sr in HS, and has 4 paper routes for a weekly paper. She does two routes on Tuesday and two on Wednesday evenings. She saves all the $ she makes off the paper routes to buy toys for children in need at Xmas. Ever year she has about $600 to buy toys. I find that so touching that a teen girl would do this, instead of buying makeup or Iphones!

I also get a "thrill" out of finding a deal or saving a lot of $$ on something. I get more of a thrill out of a good deal at a thrift store than I do by going to a department store and buying an expensive item!

I practice extreme frugality so I can give my boys a few extras, too. Their jr. high has an 8th grade trip to Washington DC every year. I was able to save the $500 for my oldest son to go last year, and I'm saving for #2 to go next year. I am also albe to buy them musical instruments, pay for ski club (about $400), sports leagues and Boy Scouts. I happily scrimp and save so they can have a few treats, just like my parents did for me. I'd rather spend $$ on experiences for them than "things."

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 1:50PM
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We do it because we hope to enjoy our retirement. Mommabird, my grandmother always said "No one can take your memories." So you are right to ensure that your sons have experiences. Those are lasting "gifts."

Peanutmom, I totally agree with you - when you are poor, you don't learn how to handle money. We should not have been poor - my father was a physicist - but he spent his pay on the commodities market. My mother never asked to see the bankbook (remember those?) and believed it was going into savings. We wore hand-me-down clothes from the neighbors and rummage sales. We had a big garden, so we ate pretty well. But compared to other families in our neighborhood, we were very poor. My mother ended up divorcing my father when she found out where the money went.

I had no idea of the value of an education until several years after I left home. After all, my father had an excellent education, but we were poorer than most. (At the time, I didn't know what he was doing with his pay.) I married at 19 to my HS sweetheart. He came from a wealthy family and didn't know how to stop spending. I was the opposite - it was hard for me to spend it. We parted ways over several issues. I made my clothes, knitted my sweaters, rigged a "valance" for my window from cardboard, etc. I would walk a mile (in the '70s) to save ten cents.

Finally went back to college at age 26 and got a decent job after graduation. I am still frugal, buying clothes at the thrift store, etc. DH and I have only been married for 17 years, but the house is nearly paid for (18 months to go) and we have no other debt. We buy our car new these days with cash and keep it until it "dies." We share one car.

We do like to travel, so that is where the extra money goes, after savings. I have listed elsewhere all the ways we save money. Even our financial advisor is impressed. He apparently isn't accustomed to frugal clients, LOL! Since we have not been "living" on our full salaries, we will have more cash in retirement than we do now. Have no idea what we will do with it, but that is a comforting thought.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 7:28PM
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I never thought I would get all of the great stories from one question. It amazes me. I find it to be very inspiring to hear what people think of when they are saving their money instead of spending it. It has been hard for me to adjust to hearing the saving instead of spending mantra that everyone is hearing now. It is nice that I don't have to be ashamed when I tell someone. I don't have the money to pay for it in cash and I don't "need" it, so I won't be buying "xyz" today.

I have also found that being frugal for me means feeling safe. No more sweating about where the money is going to come from for the bills. It is there and when it goes, now I know where. It gives me a sense of freedom I never imagined. Thanks for the inspiration everyone.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 5:38PM
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AMEN, Peanutmom, you nailed it. Having savings means we have options which we would not have otherwise. There is a huge comfort and feeling of safety in that. For me, that is better than material goods and a big house any day!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 9:30AM
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My dad was born in 1922, grew up in the Great Depression, and went off to WWII. Part of "The Greatest Genmeration". He was always telling us kids lessons from his past. He grew up with six older brothers and one older sister.Yeah, a family of ten. When the Depression came, his Mom had a garden. save for that, they would have had no food. His own Ftther did have a job. He was a longshoreman (stevedore) and always seemed to "find" an extra package of meat at work. Dad's first job was working for a butcher. He knew the butcher's tricks. Ever buy ground beef that's red on the outside and brown on the inside? It was sprayed with red dye to make it look good. And it probably won't make you sick, as long as you cook it thoroughly. Dad's one regret was that he never went to college. But he was short-changed. He was drafted into the Army and spent four years with Uncle Sam. When he got home, he married Mom and bought a car, not sure of the order. He was a hard worker. When I was little, he missed a lot of evenings at home because he was working "overtime". He was the most honest man I ever knew. He never took a sick day at work. The only day he ever came home early was the day he lost his wallet, or maybe it was pick-pocketed. He had ulcers. He was smart enough to quit smoking in his 40's. But when he was in his 70's he met someone he coulkdn't beat, Killer Cancer. I still miss him. I didn't give him enough hugs and kisses.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 7:38PM
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It doesn't matter how much you make--if you save in some areas, you get more $$$ in others.

I spent $150 on clothes for me this winter at Kohls and Macy's. 21 shirts. Yes, 21--I actually needed that many because just about everything I had was worn to ribbons! Several were very NICE name brands, too, from "better sportswear." Retail price? $550+. I'd rather spend it on something else! Why pay more than I have to?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 7:29AM
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It has been a while since I have had time to hang out in the forum. I can't tell you how nice it is to hear how the frugal lifestyle has done so much for so many people. I love hearing the benefits. It is not so much the actions taken by some people, but the attitude that it is done in that makes it a wonderful lesson. I have learned so much from hanging out here on the forum and use much of what I have learned. It is great to see that a lifestyle can bring people together in a way that is totally opposite the "keeping up with the Jones's" lifestyle we hear about daily. I hope to keep learning and enjoying the lessons learned. Thanks for the momentum to keep going.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 9:23PM
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It would seem I'm a bit younger than most here. I'm 30, grew up in a home with one sister, and parents that were relatively frugal. My father was the more frugal one, avoiding debt, not wanting to spend money on anything he didn't need. He didn't have much of a reason, just that debt was a bad thing to have, for several reasons. We never went without, though, taking family trips each year to various places around the country. We always had good food, nice home and vehicles, etc.

I started a summer job when I was 14, then an afterschool / full time job through high school and college. I started with my current employer 10 years ago, making less than the rest of my peers.

Living on my own, and making more than I ever had before, I thought it would be wise to start furnishing my apartment and buy a brand new car, despite having a perfectly good vehicle already. This new car wasn't designed for Colorado winters, so I kept the other car as well as the new one. Along with that brand new car, I got brand new insurance, which was quite a bit. This all stretched me pretty thin, living paycheck to paycheck. At one point, my company was going through layoffs, and I was concerned that I would be one of those laid off. I was pretty worried about how I was going to pay my bills, and whether or not I was going to lose my vehicle and whatnot. My father payed off my car for me, and even though I didn't get laid off, I continued to pay him what the loan payments would have been. Bonuses and other extra payments went to pay off the car a couple of years earlier than I was scheduled.

This opened my eyes to what could happen if I "lived the American way", and bought whatever I wanted, at whatever price I wanted. At some point, I could be in this situation again, and I don't want to have to worry if something should happen to my income. I paid off all of my debt, and then started finding ways to live more frugally.

I started shopping around for the best deals, taking things that others didn't want anymore, and didn't buy things I didn't need. When I wanted something, I usually waited at least a week, at which time I rarely wanted whatever it was in the first place. I was able to direct deposit money into two accounts, so I gave myself an allowance each paycheck, with the rest going to a savings account. The allowance was enough to cover all bills, and still have some left over for entertainment. I also started contributing to a 401k, and each pay raise translated to an increase in the percent going to the 401k.

After a few years, my winter car died on me, so I found another winter vehicle for around $1000 to get me around. I did this a couple of times over the next 5 years. All the while, I was still finding ways to lower my outgoing expenses.

After those 5 years, I had enough to put down 20% on a house. I found one that had a low mortgage, even though I could qualify for much more. I readjusted my allowance, and continued finding ways to lower expenses in my house. My father never did much in the way of home or auto work himself. He always paid someone else to, so I don't have much knowledge in that regard. That hasn't stopped me from using the internet and friends to figure out how to do things myself, which has saved me countless dollars.

I finally paid cash for a good all-use pickup, so I won't have to worry about vehicles for quite a while. All through this, I've continued to build my savings and emergency fund. Once the economy went down the crapper, nothing really changed for me. I still lived my life how I had before, quite comfortably. All of my friends, who have continued to make more than me, are struggling to pay their bills. Throughout the years, they gave me crap for being cheap, yet look at us now. I have no stress, as far as money is concerned. I have over 9 months of living expenses in a true emergency account, am funding a 401k and Roth IRA, and managed to save enough for my honeymoon cruise to Antarctica next year.

If something were to happen, my fiancee and I would be in a decent position to handle what occurs. We have everything we want, and need, and are able to do basically what we want. If I screw up my timecard, and don't get paid, I don't have to worry about waiting an extra week for my money. If something breaks in my house, I know I can take care of the problem, one way or the other. Once we have children, I know we will be able to meet their needs, at least financially. Once we retire, hopefully we will be comfortable at that point, too.

Ultimately, what I am getting out of being frugal is peace of mind, with regards to money. It's also nice to see just how far I can stretch something, how many different incarnations an item can turn into before it is truly unusable.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 11:35PM
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Mndtrp, The only suggestion I would add is to consider an allowance separate from the rest of the budget. When you get married make certain that each of you has money separate from the household accounts. Saves a lot of marital stress to have your own money and not have to ask if you can take some to use for yourself.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 1:39AM
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A word of advice from someone who's been there.
You sound much like my husband when I married him. Marriage puts a whole new spin on being frugal. Make sure both of you are in the loop on money matters. One can pay the bills and handle the money if that's the way you want it, but the other one should know just were the money is going and how much there is. Make sure you are both aiming for the same goals.

The first year we were married there was a constant battle about money. He thought he should handle all our money. I resented handing over my pay cheque and never knowing where it went. I finally got through to him and once a month we went over all money issues together. We payed the bills, and figured out our short term goals. Our long term goals were already set, but we went over them too.

I felt so much better about this arrangement. I could see just where the money was going and my input was valued. Somethimes I came up with ideas that he hadn't thought of, in other words I became frugal too once I could see the value of it.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 4:30AM
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I hope I didn't give the impression we were just going to pool our money together. We've been together for several years, and have had many discussions about money. She's accrued a decent amount of debt, through cars/student loans/general spending, and doesn't like not having any choice as to where her money was going. She noticed that I didn't have that difficulty, so we worked out a budget that allowed her to start paying things off. We discussed how much she should put towards the mortgage, as well as bills, and what our general goals were. As far as the mortgage, she pays an amount relatively proportionate to her salary, although I do pay extra just to get rid of it quicker.

Our intentions will be to continue like we have been. Since the mortgage won't change, her portion won't change. I told her if she gave me extra money with the express interest that it be applied as extra principal, I would, but that was up to her. If we decide to have a major upgrade to the house (new carpet, deck, whatever), we'll determine how much we each need to put in, and once we hit that amount we'll make the purchase. Maybe the same with bigger vacations, it will just depend on her financial situation at that time.

I am asking her to get an emergency fund set up, and use it for true emergencies. She is putting into a retirement account, and finishing up paying off her debt. She is all for those suggestions. Other than that, I don't care too much how she spends her money. I know she will never be as frugal as me, which is probably a good thing.

If that doesn't work, we'll try something else.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 7:20PM
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I do it for a few reasons

1 is because I am on a budget.

2 because if the SHTF and our word decomposes we will need these skills to make do.

Even if I was rich I could not heat my house in the 70's in the winter. I spend a lot of time out in the freezing cold so need to do cold training for my body. The other side of this is I need to keep my gas bill down. But just because I was rich, I still need to train in some tough areas that require sacrifice.

3 it is fun figuring this all out.

4 it helps with waste and pollution to use less.

...see the story of stuff DVD

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 6:22PM
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I don't have to worry about paying for things such as replacing a dead appliance, a major car repair, medical or other insurance deductibles. Gasoline going up doesn't interfere with buying groceries or paying for medication. Credit card interest rates are of no concern.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 9:31PM
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Save, don't spend much, buy used at garage sales, estate sales, craigslist. I use a clothes line in my garage (rich area), never been to blockbuster, netflix, redbox, get dvd from library, read a book a week, live simple. Life can be very difficult if you don't adjust you living expenses to your income. When I was in the service stationed in japan, i rented a small home, no heat at night, very very cold, but I adjusted, no car so I saved alot on that expense. You would be surprised how easy and well you can live being cheap.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 8:51PM
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