Tips for Living Frugally

Did you catch the Colbert Report last night? I just happened to surf through when Stephen Colbert was starting to mock Wall Street on their claim of suffering from “frugality fatigue”. It seems that Wall Street fat cats are getting tired of cutting back on their spending because of the state of the economy. No joke. Stephen played clips from CNN of reporters talking about how the American people are tired of being frugal.

Where do they get these people? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Living a frugal life is a badge of honor for me, as well as the joy of being completely out of debt.

After doing a bit of research on “frugal fatigue” and reading some quotes by various psychologists I can understand it a little more. Apparently when someone perceives their financial situation as a burden and stressor they are more likely to get physically ill and become prone to splurging.

Generally, I agree with that. Perception is reality for many people. And if you don’t allow for the occasional small splurge (like the triple chocolate cake instead of the chocolate chip cookie) then you set yourself up for bigger “uncontrollable” splurges (like the brand new Accord over the 2 year old Civic).

Is the high cost of a smart phone really worth the convenience?
Is the high cost of a smart phone really worth the convenience?

The latest struggle with spending vs. saving that I’m having is in trying to decide on a mobile cell phone plan. Sure, if would be super cool to surf the web and receive/send emails anywhere in the US (almost), but is $70 to $100 per month really worth it? I currently have a traditional land line in my home– mostly for reliability and 911 calls– and an old pay-as-you-go cell phone that’s 5-6 years old. Pretty ancient technology by some people’s standards.

I try to step back and gauge whether that extra $80 per month is really worth it. At this point I’m thinking not. I really can’t justify that cost, even as a business expense.

It is a bit unnerving when I’m in meetings with clients and they casually reach for their Blackberry or other smart phone to check an incoming call. Most of these people have the latest and greatest of these kind of devices. I keep my little cheap-o phone tucked away in my purse (and off) to avoid their judgment.

Maybe in a year or 3 I can justify getting one of these devices, but for now I feel very content to stick with the cheap option. I do have to remind myself to change my email autoresponder to tell everyone when I’m on vacation, just so they don’t expect an instant response when I’m away from my home office.

The one thing I have “splurged” on is a membership to the local YMCA. I could just go out for daily power walks, even in the winter, but at $50/month I think it’s money well spent. You not only have access to great workout equipment in a safe, climate controlled environment, but a fabulous hot tub to soak in during the winter months. And, if I happened to slip on the icy sidewalks around here that could actually end up costing me a LOT more in medical bills.

What are you proud of in living a frugal life? Share a tip or 2 with us 🙂


The Cheapskate Guide

Frugal Living Tips

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