Frugal Should Not’s
I do the things you aren’t supposed to do. Not as a card carrying member of Team Frugal. Not if I ever wish to become Financially Independent. Not as a devout follower of Amy Dacyczyn. Cardinal Sins. Poor life choices. I’m screwed. With my 2012 car depreciating in my driveway, as I kick back and stream the last season of Girls via one of my many iPaidTooMuch Apple devices. Skipping, dancing, and latte drinking my way down the road to (financial) ruin. Or so they’d have you believe.
Who? The ‘they’. Internal or external Them. Collective wisdom. Bloggers (oops), commentators, talking heads, conventional advice. If you make THIS choice, you need not apply to our club. It’s a comfy clubhouse. Furnished with second hand furniture, featuring low-cost beverages (tap water), and a 24 hour beans and rice buffet.
Me? I’m not a guru. I’ve got a Big Fat Mortgage, too many dogs, and only a failed attempt at major life change under my belt. Maybe all that is because I refuse to give up life’s little (or big) luxuries. I’d assert we need not be pop culture pariahs (among other things) in order to live this life. We can buy our trendy cupcake and eat it too. With some consciousness, creativity, patience, and my favorite tool in my tool bag, perseverance.
What are my frugal sins? And how do I mitigate them?
Television. As any cheapskate worth their hoarded ketchup packets will have, I gave up cable successfully long, long ago. Even if our break-up took a couple of attempts. That doesn’t mean I’m not a sucker for good TV. So I stream. (Doesn’t everybody?). I use the library, but living in a liberal bastion of the US, means so does everyone else. Gargantuan waiting lists offer delays of months and months on anything remotely current or popular, stymying even the most patient amongst us. It also means having to watch an entire season of a show at a breakneck speed to accommodate a hard due date, with no possible renewal. My life affords me about 40 minutes of quality TV a day. I don’t want that sullied with commercials, a rush, or worst of all a lack of quality viewing material. Justification for purchasing seasons of quality shows for my AppleTV. With iTunes Gift Cards. If you scour the interwebs, those precious little rectangles are available at discounts of as much as 15-20%. Add in potential swagbucks, Mr.Rebates, (not always available on GC purchases, it seems to depend) or plain old credit card rewards, and it stings less. I amass them a couple times a year for our entertainment bucks.
That Car. Never mind my TV habit. This alone is enough to get me escorted off the premises of any frugal estate. Buying a brand new car is never, never ever a good financial decision. I’m not even going to pretend. My financial ship would have been better served buying used. No doubt. No two ways about it. Maybe I’ll do it differently next time. Still. My high MPG, uber comfy, baby toting, german auto is not actually something I regret. I don’t feel had. My eyes were wide open, and I negotiated. Like a lot. Buy a car via email, folks. Invoice prices aren’t exactly ‘real’, but they are a far cry from stickers and MSRP. All my correspondence with salesmen was done via the comfort of my desk chair. Where I had ample time to consider my responses, their proposals, with none of this ‘Let me talk to my manager’ malarky. Total time spent at dealership? Under a hour. Lifetime of that car? It’s here to stay, barring any unfortunate incidents. Oh yeah, and its paid for.
Groceries. The on-going saga. While its been reigned in from the height of unsustainable crazy territory, I’m not exactly feeding this family of three on $20 or even $50 a week. Never gonna happen. Call me crazy, but I am simply not ok with factory farmed meat. I don’t think any of us should be. Since I am resistant to renouncing my carnivorous way, I’m going to pay for it. Ditto for produce from unknown lands, harvested by what often amounts to slave labor. Sure, its cheap for me! But, somebody is paying for it. This time of year in particular, with seasonal bulk purchases left and right, my budget is lower, but its not going to make any jaws drop. And that hard fought for low comes from compromises – sometimes local over organic, those aforementioned bulk purchases and a stocked freezer, leftover eating, chicken raising, sale shopping, a little gardening. My grocery spending is still a luxury, I realize. However, good food, ethical food, is cornerstone to our morals and beliefs. Not to mention our health. With that in mind, our budgetary limbo is limited.
Apples. Not the ones keeping the doctor away. Oh no. The capitalized proper, much more expensive noun. Of which much too many devices exist in my house. I finally bought that iPad. On Black Friday, after a full year of hemming and hawing over it. This breast-feeding mama does not regret it. While I still suck at one handed typing, having books, movies, and the interwebs at my fingertips during the many, many hours a day I am currently trapped in baby prison (I mean that in the nicest, most loving way possible), well that is worth every red cent. Keeps me from losing my mind. Keeps me connected to the world. Allows me some productivity. In fact, as far as I am concerned every breast-feeding mom should be issued one at the hospital, as a door prize of sorts. Mommy rants aside, Apple patronage is a suckers game. There are cheaper alternatives. Much cheaper and many. To which I wave a dismissive hand. Yeah, yeah, yeah. My shiz works. From my rock solid wifi, to my MacBook, to the beloved tablet, and all the awesome pictures I take of my kid with my phone. With little to no intervention from me, it all works. I’ll keep them for as long as humanly possible (and lets admit their lifespan is longer than most tech). I’ll buy them at any discount I can scrape together. I’ll utilize the mothership for service and repairs. I drank the kool-aid long ago. I’m good with it.
The above could be a list of reasons I may never be a millionaire. Next door or otherwise. In fact, the list goes on. Those dogs ain’t cheap. My sheets come from West Elm. I’ve an affinity for expensive chocolate. Broken rules. Shame on me. Somebody forgive me, for clearly I’ve sinned, right? Or. Or it could be how I am going to do it differently, maintaining the things that are important to me. Good food. Ease of use. A little Sons of Anarchy on the couch with those spendy dogs.
What rules are you breaking? And why? Is it going to keep you from reaching your goals?