My Frugal Best Practice

28 01 2008

Mary and I grew up without ever having to see our parents struggle, and growing up like this, we never worried about price, and to an extent we didn’t understand the value of money.  In college if we wanted Starbucks, we would go and pay $4.00 whenever we “needed” one.  If we wanted to order take-out, or go out to dinner, or when Mary “needed” to shop (we did live in Los Angeles) it was no issue, because our parents were paying for it in the end.  Sure we both had jobs, I had internships all the way through school (most of which were paid), and Mary babysat for extra money, but we knew we always had a safety net in our parents.  

Now that we are truly independent (sans cell phones because it’s cheaper than paying $250 to break contract), in anticipation of our house payment, we have already begun to make sacrifices, and are living more frugal than we ever have. 

After tracking our spending for a few months we made some drastic changes to the way we live, and continued what we were already doing well… below are some examples. 

We carpool.  Sure we have two cars, but we both work at the same place so why not?  After all, we currently live more than 30 miles away from work, so it really does save us a great deal of money and we alternate by week which car we take to regulate mileage. 

We changed our routes.  We were taking about $4.00 worth of Toll Roads to and from work, costing us over $120 per month in tolls alone!  And even this route was taking us an hour to get to work.  We changed routes when an HOV lane opened on our non-toll route, and now it only takes us 30 minutes to get to work without tolls! 

We cut our Satellite package.  We were paying about $65/month for TV.  Now we are paying about $40/month, and we don’t miss the extras!  This expense will go away with the new house because cable will be included in our HOA dues. 

We Take Lunch to Work.  This alone has probably saved us at least $300/month.  It seems absurd, but when you add it up ($10 per person per day) it definitely is an expense!  Even if we are lazy and take a Lean Cuisine, it saves us money, because the frozen meal is only $2.50, vs. $5-10 for lunch. 

We Stay Fit and Eat Healthy.  This may seem minimal to most people, but we consider it an investment in our future and it’s been proven that when you are in shape you spend less on medical bills.  For instance, when I was on the high school swim team, it improved my breathing and my lung capacity by over 200%.  I used to have severe asthma, now my asthma is under control and much better.  Now there is a company gym available to us for only $10/month, and we will have a community gym in the new neighborhood that is paid for by the HOA dues. 

We Cook Our Own Meals.  Mary is a fantastic cook, and I dabble, but since cutting down how much we go out to eat we have saved well over $200/month.  And most importantly we have found that experimenting to see what we can accomplish in the kitchen is much more fun than a night in a restaurant.  We even bake our own bread once a week.  We haven’t starting inviting people over yet, but I have a feeling it would be a great double date to have another couple helping in the kitchen! 

We Shop at the Dollar Store.  I’ve been made fun of for this, but in all sincerity, try it out.  Mary and I buy all of our cleaning supplies, toiletries, and paper products at the dollar store.  And while we don’t often need these supplies, we have probably saved over 50% on each visit, and we get the exact same stuff we would have gotten elsewhere! 

I haggle.  Mary frequently will jab me or apologize to the other person out of embarrassment; but it works.  It doesn’t work all the time, not even most of the time, but every once and a while someone will hook me up! I never push someone for a better price or a discount (large purchases excluded), but I always ask.  Frequently enough the cashier will give me 10% off.  After my brother saw me haggling he decided to try it, and he ended up getting 10% off an already discounted grill because he asked the Cashier! 

These are just a few examples, and as you can see we’ve already cut our spending by over $500 per month.  I’d also like to hear about what some of you do to save money, so please leave some suggestions in the comments!




2 responses

20 03 2010
Learning From Others - Young and Frugal

[…] one.  Overall we’re pretty good about sticking to our budget and we are pretty frugal (see My Frugal Best Practice).  Our current major expense that puts us over budget is Gas, but that will go way down when we […]

5 08 2017

Oᥙtstanding queѕt there. What happened after?
Good luϲk!

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