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- Frugal Living
Saving and Splurging
I save when I can, so I can spend when I want
Much of living through economic challenge requires saving what resources we have and extending those we acquire. We all have something we can change about how we spend both our time and resources. It may require that we become more aware of expenditures and perhaps, even frugal. Frugal means practicing restraint in the acquisition of goods and services, and as stated above resourcefully using already owned goods and services (toward a longer termed goal).
Begin with the reduction of waste.
Waste is evident in the refrigerator filled with unused food (gone bad), expired pantry items, supplements, coupons, gift certificates, checks, film and any number of time limited items around the house. As we clear our space of excess we will discover where we are wasting our resources and exactly what is available today. Even if it was free, if we didn't use it or give it to someone else to be used, it was a waste.
Here are some suggestions for the "stuff" left behind: Shampoo is a great cleaner for the tub, cutting through grease and rinsing away. Small pieces of soap can be stacked together and formed in the next bar, especially if it is a favorite scent, saved though reluctance to pitch. Left over foods become compost for those with gardens or plants outside.
Sadly, some stuff will just be toss in the bin.
Curb costly habits
Besides buying all the good deals that gather dust, there are also the myriad conveniences that part us from our cash. It is still possible to have snack sized goodies without paying three times the price for someone else to measure your portion. Buy the big bag. Spend another dollar for press and close sandwich bags and divide up your portions. Accept responsibility for whatever amount you choose to place inside. That's what this all comes down to anyway, accepting responsibility for what you buy, what you have, and how you use all of it. There are lots of websites that support you saving money and finding the best deal before you spend, and never paying retail without a choice.
Investigate local websites like http://www.freecycle.org/ or http://www.craigslist.com/. The belief that purchases must come from a retail center limits the experience of both spending wisely and engaging with others who share a mindset of conscious consumerism. While big box stores and warehouse clubs may seem to offer bargains, beware, less your purchase go unused, sour and dusty. If the price per unit truly is a bargain, imagine if it will all be used. Find a friend to share the cost. Or, sell the excess, immediately.
Suppress instant gratification
You see it! You like it! It's yours! If the shoe fits, buy it! Today only! Have it your way! Open 24 HOURS! Give us your money, now! Stick'em up!
We are being robbed. Robbed of free will! Robbed of impulse control! Roped in the habit of habitually handing over what we call our hard earned cash. If you are singing, "Easy come, easy go" this is not the hub for you. Not that earning money ought to be hard, but really, did you do what you did to get your money so you could turn around and hand it to the guy with the big sign and the bright lights, on payday! Yet, we are inundated with the call to spend, and spend now! Spend now; pay later, and later, and later. I have yet to see signage that supports paying for housing, utilities, and nutrition.
Instantly gratification is a costly habit. Take some time to savor desire. Long for what brings you joy. Make a list. Write down what you desire, why this is the one, and how you will feel when the acquisition is complete. Investigate all aspects of owning whatever it is. Read reviews, especially the negative one. Take a picture. Visit the store, if available. And then, when all financial obligations are met, with cash in hand (or debit - not credit), go for it - slowly. Feel. Is the original desire available? Has it deepened? Yes? Go for it!
(I learned this technique around my longing for a camera, but what if we applied it to our relationships as well?)
Gas prices are rising and utilities are not offering any breaks. Combine travel. Run errands along the way (to and from other activities). Schedule car trips to complete all errands in a specific area of the city. Walk. It is nice to walk from home to those destinations within 30 minutes, but it is also possible to drive to a central location and walk to individual places. Besides increasing bone strength, we save fuel.
Allow the condition of the air to be. When the temperature is moderate outside, allow the inside to be warmed or cooled naturally. When we choose differently, close off rooms that are unoccupied so that cooling to heating is limited to those who will enjoy the comfort.
Of course there are more efficient appliances, but if we are using what we have, running the oven during the cool of the morning, cooling foods before refrigerating, vacuuming dust and debris from appliance elements, using timed dry and checking dryness instead of using the dry sensor, and turning off the lights when we leave a room with greatly increase energy efficiency.
Since "Being Green" is all the rage, we can find lots of compact florescent bulbs to meet our needs. Read the packages to make sure CFB will match the wattage and light element you are replacing. The nice thing about "green awareness" is that both products and information is readily available.
Defy expensive social norms
The personal is political. Whether we are deciding if and where to spend, or how to decline an invitation to an event outside of our budget, the decision we make will have consequences, especially as we become aware of our feelings. The current social norms encourage consumerism. Our (government) current solution to economic crisis is to SPEND MORE! Not spend more to make more as in reinvestment, but spend more to get more money in circulation.
So, without beginning a diatribe on where that money goes when we shop retail, we can affect change as we shop local vendors for goods and services. Give gifts that can be used repeatedly or consumed immediately, or that get better with age. Gift services of the self. Offer to complete a task, support a cause, show up for fun. We have forgotten the present of another's company.
Purchase pre-owned items. Remove tags so there is no discussion of the designer. Make things yourself or support a local seamstress or tailor. Expect that as you choose outside the norms where you are others may have feelings as well. Let them. Until they are feeding, financing, or otherwise personally investing in your wellbeing, their opinions are limited in effect. (As employers have a vested interest, and are presently providing for the continuation, their opinion may have more weight. You will need to be more creative.)
Time is money. Money is used to barter. Barter time.
We can all do something. It may take some thought to figure out what we have to trade. On the other hand, check a local barter website, community center, grocery store bulletin board and you may find an idea. Decide what you need and offer to barter for that. Someone who can meet the need will respond. Ask. It's an old idea whose time has returned.
Save when you can, as often as possible. Then, splurge. Let you heart be full. We need not be without, unless we choose. Haven't you heard? We live in the land of plenty.
Yours in Prosperity...Maria