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The details of our decisions can have a significant impact on our finances and wealth. It is how individuals managed to save while still living a comfortable lifestyle. It is a major reason why living below our means doesn’t mean depriving ourselves of what we want. It is also how I can tell you that giving up coffee is not an option when we are discussing about being frugal.
Let’s be honest. The “$4 coffee per day adding up” example has been thrown around so often that it’s improved my reading speed as I start skipping paragraphs. While the math is pretty clear, it fails to address that people like me actually like coffee and would give up many material things before I would stop drinking.
It was frustrating at first because I wondered: Is there really no way to be frugal without giving up coffee?
Then one day, I got lucky and let a salesperson sell me on a coffee machine. That day should be marked “my frugal tipping point” because that was the day I discovered the power of alternatives.
From then on, I found tons of other ways to save my family money without ever giving up anything. Here are a few highlights:
- TV – Our cable bill used to be $50 a month when we decided save money by cutting it. No TV? Oh we still get TV. Many shows are on the Internet nowadays, and we can order Netflix if we really wanted to. We just found $50 hard to justify when renting a movie is only $1 at Redbox, especially when we can still get TV by buying an HDTV antenna.
- Groceries – Trying out different brands is actually quite fun. I also learned that while I love ice-cream, the mental desire is for ice-cream and not just Hagen Daaz ice-cream. Another habit we developed is to let the coupons and specials decide what our meal would be. Most of the time, we are undecided anyway so why not let those flyers help us? If chicken was on special, let’s have Parmesan chicken tonight. If eggs were for sale, omelet for breakfast sounds great.
- Clothes – My wife still shops, but she likes to go to places like TJ Maxx or Nordstorm Rack where brand name items are sold at significant discounts. Cost of a pair of running pants retailing at $50 she bought recently? $7.99.
- Eating Out – We still ate out on occasion, but we started skipping the deserts and drinks. If we really wanted something sweet, we went to a different place like an ice-cream parlor instead. It actually turned out more enjoyable since we increased variety.
- Vacations – Most people are talking about not going to vacation at all this year, but instead of that overseas trip, why not go to somewhere domestic instead? If Las Vegas is too expensive, is driving somewhere close going to suck? If anything, it’s probably some place you’ve never been to which should be even more exciting!
Don’t let anyone tell you that a frugal life has to be about doing without. You can still enjoy everything you want to do, if only you look into the details.