Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Making Frugality Permanent. Or NOT.

Morrison at All Doors Considered has a post wherein she posits that our forced frugality of the moment may and should become a permanent mindset.

I'm not so sure about that.

I recently commented on of Sharon's posts in Musings of a Midlife Mom--telling her, quite accurately, that the moment I get my debts paid off, I intend to rehire a weekly housekeeper. Actually, I have a mental list of non-frugal items I intend to add back into my life, including two-ply toilet paper and non-generic English Muffins (Thomas, here I come!).

Some days, that list is what keeps me going.

Still, I expect that Morrison is right about some things--I don't see myself giving up the bargain hunting or the coupons. I've learned to rely on my local library for books, movies, and audio CD's. Even when I become able to purchase these items, for the sake of my very cluttered home, I don't plan to.

The biggest lesson I hope to take away is to stick with cash and give up the credit cards. Having been down the debt road for the majority of my working life, and now learning to live without it (OK, without incurring MORE of it), I see the ways in which I hope the new frugality becomes a permanent way of life.


Florence said...

Grace, when we were paying off our house, we were on a bare bones budget. I kept a WTHIPO list (When the House Is Paid Off) and it helped me to realize that this was temporary and I really would get to repair the cracked window and eventually I would replace the broken dishwasher. It gave me hope!! So good for you with your list!!

slugmama said...

I think everyone will keep a touch of frugality about their lives and not go back to the 'before time of excess'..at least if they are smart they will.
Even you, with your list of things to reintroduce "after debt"...even though it's inflating your lifestyle it's hardly excessive.
Name brand English muffins and maid service once a week is a far cry from going back to the typical American excesses of car leases for Lexus or twice a year Bahamian resort trips, right?lol

You got the big lesson here--loosening your hold on frugality is fine as long as you can do it without debt.

Grace. said...

LOL--even in my glory days of credit card use, I was driving a Geo Metro and taking trips to Disneyland over Spring Break. A Lexus and the Bahamas would have been really great, but too much for even the spendthrift me.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you. While I'm very happy with many lessons I've learned and would like to hold on to some of them for life, there are many things I will happily bring back into my life as my debts vanish. A cleaning lady is definitely up there my love.

Terry said...

Same here Grace, once I pay off the little bit of CC debt we have, I'll never go back. Just the mortgage (9 yrs to go) and DH car payment (4 yrs). Im done!

Anonymous said...

Hi Grace. Thanks for the mention. If I can keep my life exactly at the level it is right now, for the rest of my life, I'd be the happiest woman this side of the Mississippi.

My life is exactly where I want it to be. It took me 10 years to streamline it. Now, I've got to hold on.

A little bit of cable TV, a basic cell phone, winters at my sister's Florida condo, a few trips in the summer to the beach, size 10 skinny jeans, a newish car, a nice comfortable home, some money in the bank, a little part time work: I'm golden.

I'll get a housekeeper if and when I can no longer do it myself.

Now, if I could bring back that monthly massage.......but I'm happy with the semi-annual ones I get now. :)

Barb said...

Grace...for most people, frugality is about saving in some areas and spending in others, this is true of me, and I live on ss and a small pension in addition. also, its worth mentioning that frugality during debt is different than perament frugality (for lack of a better description). I have no debt, but I live on a limited income. Im not in a hurry to pay down a nsowball or anything else-thats different than those with the Dave Ramsey "single mminded spend nothing aim for a cause" folks who are paying down debt.

Anonymous said...

My father is stuck on permanently frugal.

Us, not so much. As soon as we got a regular income and a nice sized emergency fund, luxuries started entering our lives. But we never did do debt-based spending.

I heard what the monthly take-home pay of the teachers at DS's school is and I blanched... Honest to God, their entire take-home pay is our monthly budgeting error (and would not pay our mortgage). That's not good. And yet, 5 years ago we lived on less than that in graduate school in a much more expensive city. (I presume that their husbands make more!)

We're much happier now with the spending. Weekly fancy cheese is much better than biannual fancy cheese.

Sharon said...

I actually was quite surprised by the supportive comments of the cleaning help! Part of the reason I'm hiring the help is physical, the other is mental. I refuse to be the only one who cleans, and lately, if I don't do it, it does not get done. I'm not sure I can even afford it, but in my mind, I can't afford not to.

Thanks for your support! I think you are doing great financially, especially with all the help you give your family! And I agree, CASH is king...I hope I hold on to that as well!

LC said...

We, too , practice a version of frugality that keeps us conserving fiscal resources on some things so that we can afford ("afford"= "pay cash for" some non-essential pleasures, such as visits to our favorite coffeeshop and travel (which recently has been somewhat limited to trips of several days due to my stroke and my 92-year-old mother's health issues.) Thank goodness we developed our spending habits early and did not wait for retirement to enjoy ourselves.

Grace. said...

LC--I do follow your progress on your blog since your stroke, and I'm glad to see how well you're doing. Twenty years ago, my 'can-do' aunt took my uncle who had had a stroke in his late fifties on the vacation to China they had planned for years. Even though he was was largely in a wheel chair, they had far fewer problems than anticipated--she said strong young chinese students were everywhere, and when they had to, they just lifted her husband, chair and all, to wherever they needed to go. Although he's older, my uncle is actually more mobile these days than he was then, and they are still traveling.

Diane C said...

Oh Grace, I love your blog!
One of my frugal strategies is to figure out the things I really do want and then try to find a way to procure them at a price that fits my budget. I'm from a large family and my mom always shopped at the Oroweat Outlets (now owned by Bimbo Bakery). and so do I these many years later.
Our local store closed recently, so I googled them to find the next closest location. It was a 45 minute drive, but on my way to somewhere else. I had a list for myself (Thomas' English Muffins!) and my 85-year-old neighbor. I got everything on the list, and a whole lot of attitude from one of their staff. I decided to call corporate to "share my experience" with them. I arrived home today and found an envelope stuffed with $20 in gift certificates. Oh boy! More English Muffins for me and my freezer and my neighbor. I'll just make sure to spend them at one of their other outlet stores. If I have a positive experience at the next store, I'll be sure to convey that, too.
My internet search revealed outlets across the country. They have Senior Discounts, Punch Cards, Double Punch days and other promos which really bring the costs down. Bread freezes well, too. If you really want your Thomas', you can find a way without breaking the bank.

Living Almost Large said...

I have someone come in and clean every other week. I admit a huge luxury. But at the same time since they come in, we actually pick up stuff more. FWIW, i never thought I'd be spending the money but turns out I like the results a lot.

That and geez, I always thought I was too broke to afford it.