The Lost Sock Drawer and Books Galore!

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This was an interesting weekend as far as frugality goes. I scored a couple of big frugal wins:

The Lost Sock Drawer

A few years ago I decided not to throw out any of my orphaned socks that have no matches coming from the laundry. Instead I saved them in the "lost sock drawer." My thinking was that even if one sock was ripped or torn, it's partner may find another partner who has experienced a similar fate. Then they can live together (and maybe their partners will meet up in sock heaven).

Recently, it became very difficult to close my lost sock drawer. It was time to see if I could match some of them up.

I was surprised how many socks I was able to match up!

socks

That's 35 pairs of socks for those not interested in counting. There were so many socks that I couldn't put them all in my (found?) sock drawer. I ended up stocking many of them as pairs in the lost sock drawer. I hope they don't have hurt feelings, but I was able to give them the remaining 23 orphaned socks as friends.

It might be a very long before I need to buy more socks.

Books Galore!

Our family went to a church fundraiser this past weekend. I don't really fit in at an English tea, but the wife liked the idea. We weren't sure if the 2 and 3 year old were going to behave for it, but there was only one way to find out.

When we got there, we were surprised to find that they had a children's English tea that was Harry Potter themed. We changed plans and bought tickets for our kids. They did a terrific job with exception attention to detail. I think it helped that the teenagers volunteering to help run it were enthusiastic about being Harry Potter characters.

It was a great time and they had other things such as a petting zoo for the kids too.

As we were leaving, we noticed a book tent. It was mostly books, but there were also a lot of CDs and DVDs. I wasn't too interested in the books... I have a few dozen on my shelf that I want to read that I will probably never get to.

I thought about the DVDs, but they seemed to be either movies that I had seen or ones that I didn't have big interest in seeing. One of the exceptions was Rent. I figured it was probably worth a couple of dollars even though I've seen it a couple of times.

It was the end of the day. They didn't want to haul all the books away. Instead they decided they'd sell a bag for 5 dollars and let people fill it with whatever they wanted in the tent. We jumped on the opportunity. My wife and I must have come away with 20 books (and the Rent DVD). We even got the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Soundtrack for the kids. Yes, it's a movie they haven't seen, but maybe some day they will and we'll be happy to have the DVD.

My books tended to be personal finance books and self-improvement books (fodder for Be Better Now). My wife's books tended to be fiction books (typically ones that have been made into movies).

The lesson: While showing up early gives you the best picks of the litter, you can often score some big deals at the close as well. I've found that this works well for yard sales and farmer's markets.

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Posted on June 6, 2016.

10 Free Winter Date Ideas

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Cabin fever is the worst, especially for romantics out there. Sure, bundling up by a roaring fireplace can be a nice treat, but what happens when that’s all you have or you can’t afford to do much else? Luckily for you, the season presents a ton of amazing free or super inexpensive date ideas just about everyone will love.

1. Sunset Watch

One of the worst parts of winter could become one of your favorite parts! With the sun going down so early, grab a blanket, find a spot on a hill, and invite your date to enjoy the sights. Bring hot tea or cocoa to up the romance.

2. The Local Tourist

In the winter, when kids are back in school, museums often feature free days or hours aimed at getting people in during the slow months. Take a day off and hit the exhibits before it becomes overpriced or too crowded to enjoy.

3. Antique Roadshow

If you love anything old, take to flea markets, bazaars, and shops to learn about America’s history. You don’t have to buy anything, but bring along a smartphone or WIFI enabled tablet so you can look up the maker or see the real value of that vintage tea seat or painting.

4. Old School Sledding

Have a little fun by going back in time to your childhood. Sledding isn’t just for kids! Grab a plastic saucer, a pool inner tube, a tray from a cafeteria (shhh…), or borrow a real sled and go crazy! It’s a winter amusement park waiting to happen.

5. Take a Class

When winter comes, smaller communities love to offer introductory classes. These may be in fitness, art, cooking, etc. Scan your Facebook page, local newspaper, or event website to see what’s going on in your area for free.

6. Bookworm Challenge

Love to read? Bring your date to the library and challenge them to pick out three books for you (and do the same for them). Then grab a table and have them tell you why you should read it. It may sound cheesey, but it’s a great way to open up and get some awesome reading recommendations too.

7. Indoor Cookout

Don’t bring the grill inside! Inside, turn up a fireplace or stand by a burner and create s’mores, hot dogs, or popcorn. Then snuggle up to a camping or outdoor movie to complete the feel. It’s a tasty treat that doesn’t require much in supplies or even too much creativity, but it’s always a fun change up on routines.

8. Get Intellectual

Once college is back in session, schools start packing their schedule with presenters and lecturers from all over the country. And most are free and open to the public! Try a music rehearsal with a famous conductor, sit in on a talk on human psychology with a famed author, or even learn about a new social issue from a visiting politician. You’ll leave with so much to talk about!

9. Bar Trivia

Bar trivia is a winter favorite of frugal people everywhere. It often only requires the purchase of one drink (stick with soda) to play, and you’ll love the competitiveness of it. Plus, who doesn’t want the chance to win gift cards, money, or other great prizes just by answering a few random questions correctly? This one is always a win for nerds and know-it-alls!

10. Score Free Tapping Tickets

If you live in a major city like New York or LA, you’re in luck! Shows filmed in your area are always looking for live audiences to fill their seats and provide laughter or even contestants. Luckily for us, all of that is free! You just need to reserve your spots online or over the phone and read the rules very carefully.

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Posted on February 15, 2016.

Why Frugality Matters

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Lately, I've been reading some personal finance gurus who are against the frugal mindset. I understand their point. On one hand, life is too short to not enjoy it. It's easy to sell a "just earn more money" message. It also makes it easy to follow it up with, "Buy my book or buy my course." To put it simply, by its very definition, it is hard to sell training to frugal people.

There's a place for focusing on earning more. I had some kind of moment last September where I said, "Hey I can earn more." I hustled to get my dog sitting profile up and work on this site. So far the results have been great.

But there's the other side of the coin as well. Frugality matters.

I've always enjoyed reading about financial freedom and what people are doing to get there. Two of my favorite reads of late are Retire By 40 and Root of Good. They are extremely intelligent people who are focused on early retirement.

Neither of them are attempting to do it by going out and earning more money. They've saved a lot of money throughout the years. More importantly, they have learned to make simple substitutions to save a lot of money while not compromising their happiness.

Here's one example that most of us can relate to. Let's say you have a $60 cable bill. A frugal-minded person might say, "Netflix has more television than I could ever watch at $10 a month." I'm going to cut my cable bill and save $50 a month.

You might be thinking, "Big deal. That's nothing."

That $50 a month is $600 a year. This is where we need to apply the Rule of 25. The rule of 25 states that in order to afford a $600 annual expense, you need to have 25 times more saved. It's mathematically derived from a bunch of economic analysis that shows people can live on 4% of their saving mostly indefinitely by investing a large sum of money.

At the risk of putting an example in an example, if you have $1,000,000 you can roughly take out $40,000 to live on. And with the rule of 25, if you need $40,000 to live on, you should have a million in savings.

When we translate that to our $600 annual cable bill, we need to have $15,000 in our savings just for that.

That's just one bill. You multiply it by a lot of extravagances and you are going to have a hundreds of thousands of dollars in your savings. A little frugality can make a big difference in financial freedom.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't try to make more money. I'm simply saying you should be aware that frugality can being you to financial freedom early enough that you'll have plenty of years to enjoy it.

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Posted on February 2, 2016.

Major Money Mistakes: Things to Avoid When Adopting Your Frugal Way of Living

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The following is guest post by Connor Gray. He is known by his friends and family as Mr Frugal. He loves saving money, and helping others do the same, and writes for a variety of lifestyle and personal finance sites sharing his tips and tricks.

Being frugal is a great way to live. You will find that there are many ways you can save money while still enjoying yourself, providing you with a sense of satisfaction and a realization that you can make big savings when you want to.

However, there are a number of mistakes that you can end up making when you want to be more frugal, and here are six to avoid.

Mistake 1: Buying Inferior Products

When you start living a frugal lifestyle, you will want to spend less when you go to the shops. But while it makes perfect sense to spend less on cheaper products that are not particularly important, such as a cheaper brand of cereal, there are some times when you really should be spending more.

You've probably heard the phrase: "Pay peanuts, get monkeys." Keep this in mind when you make an important purchase.

When you buy a new dishwasher or vacuum cleaner, this is something that you want to last. Quality products last longer. They cost more, but in the long term you save money because you spend less on fixing and replacing them, so know when to spend more to save more.

Mistake 2: Not Getting the Most from Your Existing Possessions

Look after what you have and get the very most out of your existing possessions. Sometimes there are simple ways to protect what you own. They involve spending more at the outset, but they can save you more in the long run.

For example, take the car seat protectors from Shear Comfort. Buying them involves a cost, but you can protect your car seats and keep them in good condition. Then when you come to selling your car, this could help you to get a better price for it.

Sometimes you really do have to spend money to save money, and the trick is knowing where to spend your money.

Mistake 3: Buying Too Much Just Because It's Cheap

Don't make the mistake of assuming that just because things are cheap, you can buy more of them.

You may see a great deal on food at the supermarket, and it's so cheap that you end up buying it because it's cheap rather than because you need it.

But you'll either eat something you don't need, or end up throwing it away. So always ask yourself whether you really need something before you buy it.

Mistake 4: Creating More Problems through DIY

DIY can be a great way to save some money. Doing things yourself rather than hiring someone to do the job for you is very sensible. But there are times when it makes more financial sense to pay for professional services.

Know your abilities because DIY mistakes can be very costly. If you don't have the skills, don't attempt to fix everything yourself. You could end up causing more damage, and then you'll have to pay for a professional as well as paying extra to fix the damage.

Mistake 5: Spending Just Because You Have a Coupon

Coupons can be very attractive, but many people make mistakes when it comes to using them. There is often a need to use the coupon even if you don't really need the product on offer. You may think that it is an offer too good to refuse, but remember that you will usually be spending money. Again, ask yourself whether you really need the product in the first place.

Mistake 6: Forgetting to Enjoy Yourself

The most common mistake of all is being so frugal that you forget to enjoy yourself. Being frugal is great, and it can be very satisfying. But that does not mean you should stop enjoying life. Treat yourself and your family, know when to spend slightly more on a special event or day out, and don't miss out on all the fun things in life that involve spending a bit more money.

Save Money and Be Happy

These are all some of the most common mistakes that you can make when attempting to live a more frugal existence. Avoid these and you will spend less and get more enjoyment from your new frugal lifestyle.

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Posted on January 28, 2016.

Buy Jars for Gifts at the Grocery Store Instead of the Craft Store

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This time last year, I was looking to make creative, inexpensive Christmas gifts and needed several small jars to do it. In the past, I've bought Mason jars at the hardware store, so I went there first. The 12-pack wasn't too expensive -- just under $1 per jar -- but I only needed four, and sold individually, the jars were double the price.

I tried the craft store, the craft section of a big box store, even a discount store, and found that small, decorative jars were never cheap -- in some cases, they were even more expensive than big jars!

As a last resort, my now-fiance and I went to a grocery store and split up to find the crafts section. A few minutes in, I received a text message from him: "Come quick to aisle 11! They've got small jars for only 44 cents!"

I walked over and was surprised to find him among the diapers and baby powder, scanning the shelves excitedly.

"Only 44 cents… AND THEY'VE GOT BABY FOOD INSIDE THAT WE CAN EAT!"

The store, which normally sold baby food for 88 cents, was having a two-for-one sale.

The jars were perfect -- the right size for my application and a cute pear-shape, which was presumably intended to accommodate little hands but that made them all the more charming). And with flavors like apple, mixed berry, and pear (no sugar and no preservatives), we were also getting a cheap, healthy snack.

I thought of how many glass jars we'd just left out with our recycling over the last six months. If we had planned in advance, we probably could have gotten a hodgepodge of small jars for free just by saving them.

Plus, reusing stuff is also better for the planet. Sometimes, a bit of creativity goes a long way!

How to clean off the labels

I've found that the stickiness of the label varies widely depending on the manufacturer. It can be a real pain to get these off just by peeling. Here's what I do.

Boil some water, fill up the jar, then let it sit for a few minutes. The hot water will heat up the adhesive and make it easier to work with the label.

Carefully pour out the water, then rip off as much of the label and adhesive as you can with your bare hands. Of what's left, wash as much as you can with warm, soapy water.

If you've got a really tough label, try Goo Gone or nail polish remover with acetone. Both remove adhesive in seconds.

How to clean out the smell from the inside

Depending on what used to be in the jars and what you'll use the jars for, there's a chance you may not want the old smell to carry over.

I first give the insides a good scrub with warm, soapy water. Then, I stuff the jars with newspapers and a few tablespoons of baking soda, and let them sit overnight to absorb as much of the smell as possible.

If the smell still isn't gone, I pull out the nuclear option: fill 1/4 of the jar with white vinegar. I can tell you from personal experience that white vinegar will pretty much knock out any offensive smell.

After you've done all this wash and rinse the jar out thoroughly. Then add whatever it is you like -- loose-leaf tea, homemade jam, candy. The only limit is your imagination ;-)

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Posted on January 26, 2016.

Easy Ways to Cut Down on Gym Costs

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Starting a workout routine can be one of the best gifts we give ourselves. It improves our physical health and mental wellbeing. However, if you’re looking to join a gym or even take a few classes, you may be surprised at the cost. Between equipment, race bibs, subscriptions, drop-in fees, and memberships, being physical comes at a price. Fortunately, there are ways you can cut down on gym prices without missing a workout.

5 Ways to Cut Down on Gym Prices

Class-Hop

For those living in cities or larger towns, you are likely aware of social deals such as Groupon and LivingSocial, which offer discounts on activities and local goods. One of the most popular deals are for gyms and classes – especially when you buy in bulk.

While most of these only last a month, you can become a “class-hopper,” going where the deals take you. Each month, purchase another bulk deal on a gym membership or drop-in card as a new client. You’ll save 30-40% or more – a huge savings when you consider that gym and class memberships often cost $80 or more per month!

Save at Home

Gyms aren’t the only way to stay fit. If you don’t live near a workout facility or can’t get away, try internet workouts! YouTube, SparkPeople, and MyFitnessPal are all free sites that provide users with short workout videos or even home exercise lists that anyone can do without gym equipment.

That being said, you must be careful when trusting a YouTube or other popular video instructor. They may not be as qualified as you think. For peace of mind, consider investing in online programs that guarantee high-quality instructors that have been vetted. I personally love my monthly membership to an online yoga studio where I can learn from various teachers. Prices range from $15-25/month with unlimited sessions, which is significantly less than even one yoga class a week at my favorite studio!

Let Tech Take Over

Sometimes, the best workouts are the simplest ones. Staying active throughout the day can make a huge difference to your health and even assist you in losing weight. That is why one of the most popular fitness tech items out there is the FitBit. In the past, you would need to purchase a heart rate monitor, pedometer, food tracker, and more to make up what this one nifty device does. Even the older versions such as the Flex work great and are steals compared to the latest version!

But I really love the FitBit because it shows just how much I can do at home. It gives me encouragement to get up and move, and I never feel pressured to go to the gym to meet my goals. The option to workout and even compete against friends breaks me of the social need to attend a class.

Experiment With New Fads

From circus pilates to dodge ball leagues, fun new classes are popping up at gyms all over North America. The best part about them (besides being a ton of fun) is that they’re inexpensive! That is because, unlike Zumba or Barre, these classes are relatively untested or beloved. Teachers often put up trial classes to see what the interest level is before offering it to a wider audience. Take advantage of these testers to see if you like it enough to pay the full price and to get in a unique workout without the boutique prices you’d pay down the line.

Train With a Student

Personal training is a great investment on long term health, but training fees can be outrageous, especially if you want to work out with someone licensed or with great credentials. But all of those super star trainers and athletes had to start somewhere!

Many colleges and universities that offer degrees in athletic training, physical therapy, or exercise science need their students to have hands on learning experiences with their own students. Signing up to be a guinea pig doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with a newbie as more than likely, you’ll get the help of not only the knowledgeable student, but also the professor with years of experience.

Your health doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Instead of cutting down on your workouts, look for creative ways to get your sweat on without opening your wallet.

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Posted on January 12, 2016.

Cheap Alternatives to Men’s Gold or Platinum Wedding Bands

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Weddings are expensive.

Weddings are so expensive, in fact, that even as the typical wedding involves fewer guests, the average cost for what's typically a five-hour event has shot up to $31,213, as of 2014 according to a survey conducted by The Knot, a multi-platform wedding resource. And the price continues to increase.

And when you've already resigned yourself to the fact that you're supposed to spend tens of thousands to have your perfect day, what's another couple of thousand on a groom’s ring, right?

A wedding band is another piece in the up-sell of everything that goes into a wedding

It's almost too easy to want to spend money on your wedding; we see them as special, once-in-a-lifetime events wherein every item is a symbol, wrought with sentiment and meaning.

However, many of the aspects of a wedding that we think of as long-held, important traditions are actually relatively new inventions thought up by the wedding business to make money. The diamond engagement ring – almost entirely a 20th century creation at the hands of De Beers and its hired marketers – is perhaps the most famous example.

The groom’s wedding band is no different.

While there is evidence of women wearing wedding rings back to ancient Egypt, research indicates that it wasn't the norm for men to wear wedding bands before World War II.

There are a couple of theories behind the birth of the two-ring trend: when men went off to fight in the second World War, many of them were said to have worn wedding bands to reminisce upon their wives back home. Other sources point to the growing gender equality between men and women -- if the woman is wearing a ring, so should the man.

Whatever the reason, jewelers were all too happy to take the opportunity to sell yet another expensive item to American lovebirds -- and it worked.

Yet, while men and women have taken great strides toward equality, the same cannot be said of our wedding bands. It is not uncommon for a woman's wedding band to have a high level of artistry -- diamonds and semi-precious stones, halos, eternity settings -- while most men prefer a simple sliver of metal, which could be achieved easily by even the most novice jeweler.

But because they both fit into that same "wedding" box, men will pay far more than what they have to for what amounts to an inornate band, simply because soon-to-be newlyweds approach the purchase with their eyes closed and their wallets open.

Smarter options

The bulk of the upcharge comes by convincing men to stick to rings made of platinum or gold if they want something that will last a lifetime.

But the simplicity that many men want in their wedding bands offers the opportunity to go with a less traditional material that will be as durable -- if not more durable -- for a lot less money.

One option that is particularly well-suited to the simple designs of men’s wedding bands is titanium. While it is very difficult to solder and thus not as great a choice for more ornate jewelry that might have to be re-sized, titanium is inexpensive to machine into simple circles of a given size. Moreover, titanium is biocompatible – meaning you won’t have an allergic reaction to wearing it – and less susceptible to tarnish and scratches than more expensive metals including gold.

Another material that takes advantage of the relatively simple design of men’s wedding rings is tungsten carbide. This chemical compound is extremely hard so you wouldn’t be able to re-size anything made of it, but can be pressed into pre-determined shapes for a relatively low price. The resultant hardness means that tungsten carbide rings are extremely durable and very difficult to scratch. However, it is important to note that different manufacturers use different compositions of tungsten and carbon, with nickel and cobalt often involved as well, and that the different combinations can mean that these rings can differ greatly in physical properties. As always, read reviews to have the best idea of what you’re getting.

Besides these two, jewelers also offer men’s wedding rings in any number of novel, inexpensive materials that include, but are certainly not limited to, ceramics, steel, meteorite, and dinosaur bone. Needless to say, with a little creativity and legwork you can find something meaningful that won’t break the bank – a welcome relief given the high cost of other aspects of getting married.

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Posted on November 17, 2015.

This $2 Million Man Lives in a Van Down by the River

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Today is Opening Day for most baseball teams and that means the smell of freshly cut grass and cracking open a bag of peanuts.

It's also a great time to talk about the frugality of baseball players who are worth millions of dollars. Wait, what?

A few weeks back a friend forwarded me this article about a man who lives in a van. He wakes up everyday in his 1978 Volkswagon camper behind WalMart. He cooks some food on a camping stove. He doesn't look like he's shaven in months.

You'd think he doesn't have a penny to his name, but you'd be wrong. He is pitching prospect Daniel Norris and he was awarded a $2 million signing bonus by the Toronto Blue Jays.

This video shows some of his lifestyle in action:

The article mentioned above is a great read. You realize how different he is. Here are some excerpts from the article:

"All of their bonuses had been deposited on the same day, and one of the players suggested they drive to a Tampa mall. They shopped for three hours, and by the time the spree finally ended they could barely fit their haul back into the car. Most players had spent $10,000 or more on laptops, jewelry and headphones. Norris returned with only a henley T-shirt from Converse, bought on sale for $14. It's been a fixture of his wardrobe ever since."

"His advisers deposit $800 a month into his checking account -- or about half as much as he would earn working full time for minimum wage. It's enough to live in a van, but just barely. 'I'm actually more comfortable being kind of poor,' he says, because not having money maintains his lifestyle and limits the temptation to conform."

He's not materialistic with the exceptions of the a few items that he has a history with such as his van, Shaggy.

He's taken frugality beyond anything that I've seen on Extreme Cheapstakes. Those people have some kind of psychological issue against spending money. Daniel Norris doesn't spend money, because the life he wants to live doesn't require it.

I feel like I could write a few hundred more words on how unusual this is, but I'd prefer you read the other articles. They are written better than I could do by people who have spent time with Norris. Some have written about Norris from a personal finance perspective. That article features a great Wheel of Life from Money Quotient that I haven't seen before.

Update: I'm clearly late to the game in waiting until Opening Day on this article. The Today Show has a feature on Norris as well.

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Posted on April 6, 2015.

This is How You Live the High Life

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Yesterday, I heard some disturbing news. Windell Middlebrooks had died at the age of 36. Most people hadn't heard of the name (I hadn't either), but many are familiar with some of his work.

He was the actor in a few of my favorite commercials. He did other acting, but you'll probably know him for these.

"$11.50 for a hamburger?!?! Step aside mon ami.... $11.50 for a hamburger, you all must be crazy!"

And there's this one:

"Closest to the track, but farthest from reality..."

My favorite of the commercials is this one:

"Up here in section, 'La-ti-da'" gets me every time. It is one of my (and my wife's) pet peeves when we see people at sporting event not following the sporting event. The worst is when a television network will put its stars in the stands, so that they have excuse to bring up another of their shows.

This space is not typically one that highlights beer commercials. However, let's take a minute and recognize that these commercials do an excellent job of speaking to the average blue collar worker.

I love the focus on the frugality of "an honest beer at an honest price." (I can overlook the fact that you wouldn't likely find Miller High Life in a fancy French bistro or on ice at the Kentucky Derby.)

My only regret here is that I didn't highlight the commercials before Middlebrooks died. I know I should separate the man from the character, but let's pour out a little High Life for him.

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Posted on March 12, 2015.

Ultra Frugality Mode Activated!

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From the beginning of starting Lazy Man and Money, I've been a proponent of both saving and investing. I've found that this is kind of an unusual stance amongst personal finance bloggers. While most everyone agrees that both are important, I usually see them lean heavily in one direction or the other.

I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong way to work. I know people who make six figures that begin with a crooked number, but they have little savings. There are others who don't make a lot of money, but they find a way to squirrel it away and watch it grow to financial freedom.

The math is extremely simple, the different between what you make vs. what you spend equals freedom. You can create more freedom, or get freedom faster by making more or spending less.

I believe in the two equally, probably more than most personal finance bloggers. That's why you can go from one article yesterday: Time to Buy Yahoo Stock? to today's article about becoming extra frugal.

With that long-winded explanation out of the way, our family has embarked on a mission to kick the frugality up a notch for a couple of months... at least as much as possible.

Why the sudden change?

One of the tenants moved out of one of our investment properties. The kitchen cabinets and counters were the original ones from the early 80s... and I don't think they were particularly well-made then. Even with a small kitchen and the most basic cabinets, the costs kept rising and rising. We thought it would be around $6500, but legitimate, though hidden costs started to creep in. And then there was the mold removal from a pipe that had been leaking for who knows how long. By the time we are done, we're probably going to put 10-12K into this.

That's a lot of money to spend in a month, especially when you don't have a tenant in the property to pay rent.

None of this is really a surprise and I've created spreadsheets to depreciate and amortize most of the major maintenance. At the same time, it's psychologically a big deal. That's one of the interesting factors at work here.

Seeing a big drop in available cash is never a good thing. When it comes from one account it can seem worse than it is. My wife and I ran a comprehensive net worth that we tend to do every few months. The result was that we still had a plenty of accessible cash... it was just spread in a few different accounts (some mine, some hers, some shared). This was a huge step in mitigating the psychologically big hit.

The other interesting thing is that it triggered us to move into an "ultra frugality" mode. Well, maybe not "ultra", but "very, very mindful." Here are some changes we found we could make nearly right away:

  • Eat Out Less - We have an Entertainment-type book and though we feel like are getting a good deal, we are not saving money with it. We've been using it a lot this summer to "get out of the house." By a lot, I'd say about twice a week, not five times or anything like that. We should be able to cut it down a bit.
  • Eat Down the Food - We have a chest freezer and it's full of food. We also have shelving units full of food. I got most of this food by stocking on great deals. Now it's time to eat it down. We've challenged each other to make each meal with something from this storage. Aside from staples like milk, the hope is to not have to spend money to bring in more food for little while.
  • Have "Limited Spend" Days - My wife had Friday off and we paid for day care anyway, so we took the kayak to the beach and paddled around a bit. (Now you know why there was no article last Friday.) Saturday we took the kids to a free playground. Little Man (2 years old) had a ton of fun. Mini Man (8 months) enjoyed watching and doing a little crawling. Sunday, I watched the Patriots play one of their worst 2nd halves of football in the last 14 years. As they say, "Two out of three ain't bad."

    We still ended up spending money on these days... but it was small amount.

We're also trying sell excess stuff Ebay. In some ways, that amounts to drop in the bucket, and it can be a lot of work, but every little bit helps.

It sounds like a perfect plan except for two things.

The annual financial blogger conference is this month. That's in New Orleans. Fortunately, I literally wrote the post on how to visit New Orleans on a budget. Also, finance companies sponsor lunches and the occasional libation. (Note to any such companies reading this, please send me your invites.)

The other thing is a two-week trip to Aruba a couple of months later. We have our Marriott Vacation Club time share that was bought a decade ago now. I'll be applying everything from Save Money in Aruba and Save More Money in Aruba to minimize expenses.

I think what it comes down to is that I've always been frugal with my purchases, trying to maximize value. However, over the next couple of months, I'll try to combine that with an eye towards not spending money at all, when it is reasonable.

This post deals with:

, ,

... and focuses on:

Frugal

Last updated on September 8, 2014.

 
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