Everyone has their limits of how far they will go in terms of frugality. Sometimes it’s just because we refuse to do something, sometimes it’s because we just don’t want to do something.
For example, we all hear about how much money we could all save if we bring our lunch every day. But if you’ve been exploring the world of personal finance bloggers, you already know that there are a few bloggers who refuse to take that step. To them, it’s worth tightening other budget areas in order to go out with friends or coworkers every day for lunch and get that break.
While I’m a lunch bringer (more for health reasons than money), the other day, I was wondering what my frugal limits were. Some of them are obvious. I don’t want to give up my cable or my DVR. I don’t want to give up my home phone (though that’s because I was just tired of burning through cell minutes after I moved away from my family). I won’t buy cheap pet food (though I don’t feel like that’s a choice – that’s a responsibility I have to my pets).
I’ve been reading a lot about the Freegan movement on the blogosphere in the past few weeks. For those of you not in the know, Freegans do their best to not participate in the economy. They try to get everything without paying for it. The main highlight of this is dumpster diving for food. This just isn’t a step I can bring myself to take. I know that frequently, this food is in almost perfect condition, like day-old bread, or slightly bruised apples, and is completely safe to eat. But I still can’t do it. I’ll buy day-old bread at the bakery for a discount, but I won’t pull that same bag of bread from the trash.
Would I salvage items out of the trash? Maybe, if I stumbled across something. In college, it wasn’t unusual to see furniture and other items in trash piles at the end of the year, thanks to students who just didn’t want to move it home. (Of course, at our university, the St. Vincent de Paul society would come and pick up these items, so taking any of them felt like stealing from those less fortunate.)
There are probably other things I won’t do or won’t give up in order to save money (provided that I’m continuing to stay out of debt, of course). What won’t you do in order to save money?
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.