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Everyday Cheapskate: You Can Have the Things You Love

Mary Hunt on

Frugality. It's a word that for many people screams deprivation; poverty. I get letters from readers who say they've had it with trying to live below their means and never having anything they love. "What's the point if all of this deprivation if it just makes me feel even more miserable?" was the way one woman closed her letter.

Look, I can't know your particular situation. But I do know this: If you adjust your attitude, get a plan and then let nothing stop you from reaching it, you can have the things you love.

Frugality isn't just about cutting costs. There has to be a specific reason involved. And it can't be something nebulous like "Because I want to be rich."

Frugality is about scrimping and cutting costs like crazy on the things you really don't care about so that you can spend on the things you love. It's a matter of deciding what's really important and what's not -- and I mean on a daily basis and as a way of life. You have to get out of your "spending coma" and into conscious spending, where every expenditure counts and every dollar matters.

I could give you all kinds of examples of how this might work, but let's take something as simple as paper towels. A couple of rolls tucked in with the weekly groceries may not seem like such a big deal. And they are convenient. But do you really love paper towels? Enough to sacrifice things that you really do love in order to have that roll of paper always at the ready? I sure don't. I find that a collection of "bar mops," which are small terrycloth towels available in the automotive aisle at Costco or any number of places online, last forever and handle all of the tasks we believe require paper towels.

Experts say the average household uses 1.5 to 2 rolls of paper towels per week. At a going rate of about two bucks a roll that's more than $200 a year. Since I don't love paper towels, that's $200 I can divert to something that I do love or cannot live without. Now multiply this principle across paper napkins, paper plates, paper cups and plastic utensils and we're talking a lot of money I choose to not spend on these things that I neither love nor need.

 

Set a goal. No matter how frivolous, you need a goal that is going to make your trade-offs worthwhile. Giving up paper towels might be a pain for a while, but if your goal is so much more glorious, it won't be difficult because you will know that you are working toward something specific -- something you love.

Create a savings account. This is mandatory. I suggest setting up an online savings account at your bank, credit union or online (SmartyPig.com is a great option) because that just makes saving money brainlessly easy. Now you can transfer any amount anytime into your goal account.

Saving with a goal puts all of your decisions into perspective. It makes cutting costs mercilessly on things that don't matter worth the effort because in so doing, you're affirming and moving toward having the things you love.

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Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

 

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