Tough Frugal Decisions

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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allisonwalker
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Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by allisonwalker »

Some people are living on low wages. What are some tough frugal decisions that you make, or that you had to make in the past? Which do you recommend or do not recommend?
livesoft
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by livesoft »

Here are a couple of them:

I was in college and paying my own way. I could not afford to go home for Christmas, so I stayed in the dorm. They shut off the heat. It was cold. I had no money for food, but the vending machine guy gave me all the snacks in the vending machine because they would expire anyways. Twinkies do get mold on them, but I picked it off and ate them during Christmas break anyways.

I was working in Europe. My sister announced her wedding. I had no money and could not fly back to the US to go to her wedding, so I missed it.

I guess I am fortunate that these were not really life-threatening decisions and in the grand scheme of things really small potatoes. I would do the same things again.
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Qtman
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Qtman »

My wife and I ate refried kidney beans and home made tortillas for decades, they are cheap and healthy. If you ask our children in their 30s they will tell you homemade bean burritos are still their favorite meal. Lettuce, tomatoes added make an excellent meal - and they are CHEAP. :idea:
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LowER
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by LowER »

If you make frugality a game and a challenge and a lifestyle, there are fewer tough decisions.
TMCD75
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by TMCD75 »

We have noticed that tons of our money goes to food. We have also noticed that going to the grocery, while still costly, is much cheaper than eating out.

This is obviously common sense, but most Americans, me included, eat out way too much.
Hazel-Rah
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Hazel-Rah »

I've never really thought of it as frugality as much as necessity. I was the first person in my family to attend a 4yr college coming from a family that put much more of a focus on a relationship with God and family over pursuit of higher education. I also had to pay my own way and made decisions out of necessity to accomplish my goal. When I needed the employment income to pay rent and the time to take final exams I missed my aunt's funeral in a neighboring state. Two years later I didn't return home, for identical reasons, to visit my dad who was laid up in a hospital after a gruesome motorcycle accident. Neither of which I am particularly proud of doing but the frugality(?) called for it, and if given the chance to do over would probably end up making the same tough decisions to set myself on the path to financial independence which ultimately put me in a better position to be able to help people.

Nowadays, frugality expresses itself mostly through telling my son no to toys & games when we go to the store together or explaining to my wife that while we technically can afford much nicer things in life we need to live below our means and not splurge on expensive vacations or multiple vacations throughout the year. Or that our car operates perfectly well and doesn't need to be upgraded. When my son was struggling at our publicly assigned school I eliminated private school as an option and worked out with my manager a few hours a week to be in the classroom with him and spend more time reading books with him in the morning and evenings.
basspond
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by basspond »

At first it was when we first decided to give generously to our church. We cut cable, newspaper, and ate out and went out to movies less. After a while our giving started to guide our lives and our spending. It didn't long for us to have more money left over then when we weren't giving as much.
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White Coat Investor
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by White Coat Investor »

It's been a few years since we had to make a frugal decision, mostly because we used to make a lot of them. We put off replacing some windows recently because we wanted to invest the money.

Years ago I biked a lot. Didn't own a car until 23. Donated plasma until 24 when I joined the military.
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Mrxyz
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Mrxyz »

Not sure if this belongs to this list. Delete it if its not appropriate.
There was not enough money to go around - so skipped meals so that I could save money to buy medicine for poor people who could not afford medicine in a 3rd world country. Usually skipped dinner as you can drink water and feel full enough to sleep. Helped a few but not all. After all, what are regrets made out of?
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HuckFinn
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by HuckFinn »

It sounds cliche' on a Bogleheads forum but the best Frugal decision my wife and I made was with the help from people on this forum to transition to a low fee, tax savvy portfolio. I can't even calculate the savings but easily $1,000 per month, possibly twice that.

Staying in our starter home for almost 25 years has also been a boon. We know some people do not have that option with job requirements but not having to refurnish, remodel, refinance, re, re, re.... it saves a lot of money over time.

Worst Frugal decision was buying 150 cans of Progresso Lentil Soup when they were on sale with the intention of taking them to lunch three times a week where I worked at the time. I did it though!
SGM
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by SGM »

This is what some of my friends did way back before they became Park Avenue lawyers and Wall Street types. Listen to the Hare Krishna people and get a free meal. Go to a now defunct Cambridge restaurant and eat very late for free food they otherwise would throw out on Sunday night only. Wait for someone's sister to show up to buy some food. Go to free concerts in the park. Ride a bike and use public transportation. Save on razors and haircuts. Hitchhike. Live in a commune and help with the dishes. Go to art museums on Sundays for free.
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cfs
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by cfs »

We tuff it out

Used to live in the wrong side of Dicken's Tale of Two Cities, went to bed with an empty stomach several times with my young wife, without jobs, without money, without food, and totally ashamed to ask anyone in the neighborhood including family members for a plate of left overs. Good character builder, it didn't kill me, it made me stronger.

Philippians 4:13
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hnzw rui
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by hnzw rui »

Hazel-Rah wrote:I've never really thought of it as frugality as much as necessity.
+1. Taking public transpo with a 4-hr daily work commute (first job). Almost daily diet of instant noodles (dorm during high school and college). They weren't tough decisions at all though. More like a lesser evil kind of thing.
Ron Ronnerson
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Ron Ronnerson »

Some frugal things we've done in recent times include:
  • -buying sunglasses at the dollar store
    -buying clothes for free (or almost free) by using coupons such as "$10 off if spend at least $10"
    -keep cars for a long time (I drove my previous car for 15 years)
    -attend timeshare presentations for free meals and shows
    -use coupons, rebates, and other discounts as often as possible
    -sign up for free movie channels during promotional periods and DVR everything; then cancel before the promotion ends
    -share meals with my wife at restaurants that give large portions (and don't order drinks, appetizers, and dessert)
    -drastically reduce childcare costs by living near our parents and sibling
    -maximize cash back and miles by using a variety of credit cards
    -call the cable company annually to renegotiate and shop for cheap cell phone plans (and keep those cell phones until they stop working)
    -get bonuses by transfering funds in IRAs to different brokerages and opening checking and savings accounts at banks
    -for entertainment, we often do these things: go to the library or park, take a walk, visit with friends and family
    -travel inexpensively - We recently went to Disneyland; tickets were won in a charity raffle, lodging was on wife's aunt's floor, travel was in a Corolla. Our next trip is to Maui. Roundtrip tickets for 3 are all fully paid for by using credit card miles and airline points. We're staying with family, but this time will not be sleeping on the floor.
We don't do these things out of necessity, though. The main motivation is to allow us to save a fairly good percentage of our salaries on a moderate income (we earn a little below the median in our city) and also to maximize time together as a family (by keeping costs down, we don't have to work as much).

As for which things I would recommend, I'd have to say all of them except for sleeping on a relative's floor. The floor was not very comfortable and we barely slept that night. A relatively inexpensive hotel would've been well worth it. We're in our 40s though; maybe sleeping on the floor wouldn't have been so bad when we were younger.
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GerryL
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by GerryL »

LowER wrote:If you make frugality a game and a challenge and a lifestyle, there are fewer tough decisions.
This has worked well for me.
During long-term unemployment this attitude kept me going. (Ate a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.) Once I was earning a good, steady salary it took a while to realize I could be a little less frugal and still make it. But I never felt deprived.

Now that all that frugality has paid off, I am enjoying spending more than I was ever used to, but in the past year or so I have changed auto insurance to save several hundred a year, negotiated a new broadband rate to get higher speed for 20% lower monthly bill, and changed cell plans to reduce monthly payment by 60%. (My previous plan was overkill for my needs.)
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Equitius
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Equitius »

.....
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red5
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by red5 »

See this previous Bogleheads thread

That Frugal Thing You Do


There are many frugal things one can do. Most of them will save a bit of money. Applying this to living expenses (mortgage, rent...) and vehicle purchases can be much more impactful.

Good luck.
Lindrobe
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Lindrobe »

My husband and I splurge on things that we enjoy and are pretty frugal with most other spending.

For example, I use a prepaid cell phone that is not the latest and greatest model even though I could afford the latest and greatest with an expensive plan if I wanted. Also, my husband and I live in a smallish $130,000 house even though we could afford to spend a lot more. We enjoy eating out on Friday nights, but usually spend about $30 at small local establishments.

We like traveling and nice vehicles, so I splurged and ordered myself a new Audi and my husband has a nice boat. We also take a couple nice vacations every year.
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BlackStrat
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by BlackStrat »

Thank God I've never been hungry or had to deal with the severe situations some others here have.

I guess living for decades in a modest 'starter' home while all my workmates struggle to make the mortgage in their large showplace homes, or driving a 19 year-old vehicle (which I plan to keep for the foreseeable future) would be considered frugal. I also pack a lunch for work while my fellow employees splurge daily on coffee and area restaurants.

But the savings that appear to 'drip' in start to add up and compound over time when contributed regularly to an index fund. And I'm actually in a position to consider a relatively early retirement as my fellow employees gasp when I ask if they are.
fourkids
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by fourkids »

back in college, lots of ramen noodles and eggs for protein.

now, shop ebay for most clothes, especially kids. can usually get items for $1 each or less. I buy in lots- so I can get a whole seasons' worth of kid clothes. Plus it saves me tons of time vs. shopping for individual items.
shop Craigslist for used furniture.
I take advantage of other Americans' throw away mentality
johnubc
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by johnubc »

LowER wrote:If you make frugality a game and a challenge and a lifestyle, there are fewer tough decisions.
There is more to this than just the above quote. Watch other people struggle to keep up the appearance that they are doing better than their peers. Get used to not having the latest and greatest product - I feel sorry for those that feel that they need the most recent iPhone - when an older model does everything they need. I hear of people that are paying roughly $150 per month on cell phones - why, I have no idea.
ddunca1944
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by ddunca1944 »

I was a single parent for a number of years (deadbeat ex- no child support). Frugality was not a game. It was a lifestyle. Made the kids sack lunches and took mine to work. Used a bus pass instead of driving. When the TV broke and we could only get one channel, we watched one channel for months (until I had enough money to pay for repairs). Bought our clothes from garage sales & thrift stores and altered them to fit. Vacations were camping with gear purchased from garage sales.

I am now comfortably retired, but we still eat out 2-3 times a month, periodically I have a week of meals from tne pantry or freezer and I still shop at thrift stores for the sheer fun of it. We still camp, but in a small travel trailer as I 'm too old to sleep on tne ground... :happy
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Utilize the social safety net if you are able or eligible. It's not a stigma to use the benefits you are entitled to. This may or may not be your current situation.

Food - the most nutritious and least expensive items in the grocery store. Eggs, pasta, macaroni, rice, beans, unprocessed foods - nutritional intake vs. caloric intake. I still take my lunch to work, as does my spouse and kids in school.
Avoid fast food dining establishments - you can eat 2 pounds of pasta for one small item of fries in Burger King or McDonalds.
Thrift shops for clothing. If you have a Kohl's near you, they usually have these 20 or 30% off coupons, that coupled with sales amount to good savings.
Use the internet at the public library.
No cable for tv or very limited selection of channels to keep costs down.
No vacations. Use public facilities if available - beaches, state parks, free or low cost locations.

Good Luck, once you've been there, you never forget it.
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scone
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by scone »

When I was very young, I worked my way through college, housing and feeding myself. This was the 70s. I remember one student squat where the landlord had led the plumbing waste pipes to the basement, and simply dug a hole in the dirt floor to catch the droppings. You can imagine the smell.

I lived in another squat, infested with rats-- I was sleeping on the floor, on an old mattress. I will never forget being awakened by little feet and claws running over my face.

For years I couldn't even afford a bus ticket. I used to walk home after my day job in a cabinet shop, several miles in any weather. I once walked right through an urban riot, but I was so tired, I barely noticed-- except for the guy running down the street with a TV.

I've been hungry, cold, and so exhausted I couldn't even raise my arms. At least I never had to sleep outdoors. And for some reason, I always kept my books-- hundreds of them. No matter how bad it got, I was determined to hold on to some symbol of civilization.

But don't cry for me, I'm doing very well today. And some of that was not hard work, it was sheer dumb luck. So, the frugal habits persist. The ancient Greeks said "call no man happy until he is dead" (nor woman either). One never knows when the goddess Fortuna will take it into her head to deliver a smackdown. :D
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michaeljc70
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by michaeljc70 »

Though I am past having to be frugal, I still try to live well beneath my means and be sensible. Growing up in a family of 6 without much money, here's what I've gleaned:

-Cars are very expensive. Not just to buy, but to maintain, insure, plates, city stickers, etc. Buy used and keep for as long as you can. Try and have only 1 car if you can for your family. Even though I could afford a new one at any point, I kept my last car 13 years.

-Eating out is very expensive. If you drink even more so. My family rarely went out to eat and if we did, it was nothing fancy.

-Nowadays, beef and seafood have shot up in price. Chicken is very cheap on sale (I've seen 39 cents a pound in the last year for leg quarters). Chicken can be healthy and you can do a lot with it. I have at least 10 ways I make chicken that are completely different and it doesn't seem like a cheap meal.

-Still on food, buy large quantities when there is a good sale and freeze it. This applies mostly to meats/seafood. Be careful about freezer burn though.

-Shop around for food and home essentials. Look at the sale flyers that come out weekly. It isn't practical (for most people) to go to 10 stores to save a few bucks. Pick the 2 or 3 stores that have the best deals that week and go. Hopefully they are close to each other or it may not be practical. Or go to 1 store for the best deals on one day and another with good deals 4 or 5 days later. Make a list based on the sale flyer. I almost never buy things based on what I want that day or week. I buy what is on sale (I typically have the meat I want in the freezer).

-Look at prepaid cell phones. Much cheaper.

-Evaluate everything all recurring costs on an annual basis (at least). That means check your cell phone plan, cable plan, home/renters insurance, car insurance, health insurance, etc. and see if there is a better deal. Calling some companies and pretending to cancel has garnered me discounts of $20 a month ($240/yr) from cable/satellite providers.

-Don't buy/rent place that is way bigger than you need. I had a 5 bedroom house with a living room, den and family room (still cost below my means). For two people, it was silly.Not only the cost of the place, but the utilities are higher, maintenance costs are higher, insurance is higher, property tax is higher. We live in a 3 bedroom townhouse now and it is still more space than we need.

-Keep track of your expenses. I use Quicken. A lot of people tell me they know how they spend their money but don't keep track. If you don't keep track, you don't know. Some things will surprise you. I don't really budget, but I compare and can see when I am spending way more than in prior years. It helps you focus on where to cut back if you need to.
Last edited by michaeljc70 on Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
2Birds1Stone
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Though not very tough these were some life changing decisions.

I made the conscious choice to drive vehicles that were at least 5 years 50,000 miles old instead of buying new cars.
Renting a nice 1 bedroom apartment with my SO even though we "could afford" a house like all our friends were moving into.
Doing a lot of happy hours and using Groupon to hit nicer restaurants vs lots of full price fine dining.
Maintain our spending over the past 5 years even though our incomes have tripled.
Buying high quality clothing/electronics and keeping them much longer than most people.

This has set us on a course to retire in our 30's while enjoying a VERY comfortable lifestyle.

Learning to increase the utility of each $1 spent is extremely powerful. Our quality of life increased dramatically over the past 5 years while our spending was stagnant, we invest the delta.
donaldfair71
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by donaldfair71 »

allisonwalker wrote:Some people are living on low wages. What are some tough frugal decisions that you make, or that you had to make in the past? Which do you recommend or do not recommend?
My then-fiancee (now wife) spent our first two years living together without furniture. We took a twin bed and throw pillows given to us by in-laws to make our own love seat. We used all hand-me down stands/lamps/etc. that people were gonna throw out.

Come to think of it, I don't think we were any less happy then. It allowed us to save for a wedding/house.
ActionJackson
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by ActionJackson »

allison,
All I do is try to make the best decision based on my primary goal, which is to take care of my family. Whether it is frugal or not depends on what your point of view is. I don't purposely intend to be frugal just to send the least amount of money, but sometimes that is what happens though.
cfs wrote:We tuff it out

Used to live in the wrong side of Dicken's Tale of Two Cities, went to bed with an empty stomach several times with my young wife, without jobs, without money, without food, and totally ashamed to ask anyone in the neighborhood including family members for a plate of left overs. Good character builder, it didn't kill me, it made me stronger.

Philippians 4:13
cfs,
I always dig your responses. I've never noticed you to have anything negative to say, always positive and encouraging others. Thanks for being you. Seriously.
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cfs
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by cfs »

ActionJackson wrote:. . . I've never noticed you to have anything negative to say . . .
Thanks shipmate AJ, I greatly appreciate your kind words. Really.
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Jack FFR1846
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I also paid my own way through college. Nothing was going to waste. You may want to turn away for this.......

So while cooking rice, I noticed that it was full of these tiny worms. It was easy to pick them from rice pieces, so while the water was getting up to a boil, I picked them out of the pot. Did I get them all? Don't know. And Yes, I ate all the rice.
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rgs92
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by rgs92 »

I still use my good old VZ flipphone for under $20/month. It's actually easier to dial a # than on a smartphone. (1 button speed-dial.)
I still don't have a need to text so far. The main useful app I think a smartphone is good for is tinder, and I'm a little too old for that.
I probably shouldn't say this because it'll make my poor Apple stock go down even more, but too late, I said it...
MnD
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by MnD »

We're flying coach to Hawaii on the way out next month. No first class seats available using miles.
First class lay-flat on the redeye home, but coach going out - OMG!
At least it's economy plus with the extra leg room and I did spring for first-class on the inter-island flights too.
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thomasbayarea
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by thomasbayarea »

I came to this country for grad school with $500 in my pocket, which was not very different from the $500 of now.

Lived in tiny shared apartments
Ate a lot of mac n cheese, dollar slice pizza and dollar Chinese food
Rode the bus (free college bus pass)
Bought a used bike in a year and life improved a lot
First summer internship was heaven on earth, could afford a trip to the movies, a coat for the winter, etc

Those frugal times taught me a lot. I don't like how much I've loosen up over the years. I always have this nagging feeling of too much expenditure and wastage.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by unclescrooge »

Hazel-Rah wrote: When my son was struggling at our publicly assigned school I eliminated private school as an option and worked out with my manager a few hours a week to be in the classroom with him and spend more time reading books with him in the morning and evenings.
No amount of money replaces the time a parent spends helping their child! This isn't the frugal choice, but doing what's best for kid. Throwing money at the problem is what many rich parents do, but it's the lazy option IMO.
wilson08
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by wilson08 »

livesoft wrote:Here are a couple of them:

I was in college and paying my own way. I could not afford to go home for Christmas, so I stayed in the dorm. They shut off the heat. It was cold. I had no money for food, but the vending machine guy gave me all the snacks in the vending machine because they would expire anyways. Twinkies do get mold on them, but I picked it off and ate them during Christmas break anyways.

I was working in Europe. My sister announced her wedding. I had no money and could not fly back to the US to go to her wedding, so I missed it.

I guess I am fortunate that these were not really life-threatening decisions and in the grand scheme of things really small potatoes. I would do the same things again.
Really interesting story here. I would love to see you write an article about
how you got through those tough times and later crossed the line to success.

Wilson
rustymutt
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by rustymutt »

I got rid of recurring monthly charges, such as cable TV. Got and kept a great job, with very good benefits and pay. Drove our cars for 20 years, and paid cash, or kept the interest very low. Cooked our own meals. Got my college education paid for my by employer. Kept our housing expenses to rock bottom, and lived below our means. Went to very few movies. Paid off our mortgage early. I retired at age 53, wife was 56 when she retired. No debt, and still driving a 2007 Montego, and 2015 4Runner bought to replace a 1994 GMC Suburban.

Hope that helps!
Even educators need education. And some can be hard headed to the point of needing time out.
mouses
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by mouses »

I have, thank God, never been desperate but I have had to cut corners.

When I was in grad school, I lived in a basement apartment in a building that had a terrible landlord. I ate mostly white bread.

When I bought a house, I used up just about my last dollar to do so, so I did not drive my car for a year or two, and instead used my bicycle even to go grocery shopping.

In later years, I was laid off and unable to get a new job at my age. I have put off having house repairs done. My house should have been restained a couple of years ago, and is now peeling. My plan is to have it done this summer. Years ago in a shorter house, I did the exterior painting myself.

I'm walking around on a plywood subfloor in some rooms, postponing spending on new flooring. Some postponeable dental work has been postponed. I don't spend a lot of money on clothes. No tv, although that is a choice, not a frugality decision. I look for free or very low cost kindle for pc books.

Update: I should add, I buy a laptop on ebay when the current one gives out. Since I changed to thinkpads from hp laptops, they last much much longer. I am careful to buy from near 100% approval large sellers. Similarly I like certain standard articles of clothing that can be bought cheaper on ebay. My impression is the manufacturer has a warehouse sale and ebay sellers stock up and sell at a discount. I go for new with tags for those and save about 20%.

I am happy with my Doro Consumer Cellular AARP discount flip phone. Occasionally I really wish I had GPS, but instead I have a bunch of paper maps.
Last edited by mouses on Fri Jan 08, 2016 4:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
cpumechanic
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by cpumechanic »

All my cars have rebuilt titles, rebuild cars to save money
Most recent is a 2015 Honda CRV with 3400 miles, total investment post all repair expenses including taxes and title fees was $14000
Use discount gift cards when we go out to eat, don't buy them unless the discount is at least 15% (Pays for the tip).
Use them at Wendy's, Burger king, Carrabbas, Logans steakhouse, Longhorn,
Buy 10% off coupons for Lowes/Home Depot on ebay whenever I need a new appliance
Buy 8-10% off Lowes/Home Depot gift cards so that when combined with the coupon I save at least 18%.
Buy appliances on sale to save more.
Never buy anything unless I check Fatwallet and Slickdeals to see if there is a sale somewhere, also always check prices on ebay.
Ebay sells almost everything at a competitive price these days.
Bought new heat pump and air handler over the internet total cost for entire 3 ton unit installed was $3400 including shipping from Florida to the Northeast. (All the local quotes 2x that).
Shut off Dishnet saving $66/month.. can watch whatever I want via the internet. (including live sports if you know where to look)
Change oil in all my vehicles, and do all routine maintenance (brakes, address check engine lights, air filters, spark plugs, wipers).
Use Manufactured spend last year to get 10 free tanks of gas x 25 gallons per event.
Got ~$2k cash back from credit card for same spend in 2014
Sign up for any/all credit cards that give points for initial spend.
Use Voip for home phone $3/month for unlimited calling in US (Google Ooma)
Change my electric supplier.. but make sure the supplier has a fixed price and no penalty for changing before term ends.
Just looked and I can sign up for a new supplier for next 12 months fixed and save ~25% on my per KW/hour price.
Pay off all credit cards every month.
Monitor weekly spend every Saturday AM with wife over coffee.
Understand where every $ goes every week so spend is tracked/understood.
Hope this helps someone.

CPU
stonerolled
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:16 am

Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by stonerolled »

By the time decisions were made, it wasn't so tough on these. Tough getting to that point though.

Trading an accord for a fit. (the fit actually holds more stuff)
ditching cable and buying an antenna. (mostly surf internet anyway)
going from restaurants to making food at home. (also for health reasons and not wanting to get back in car once home)
giving up FA and transferring assets to vanguard (read Bogle's common sense book)
paying off home with inheritance so wouldn't spend it elsewhere
rolling half of all raises into IRA's until maxed out.
pretending to have a car loan by setting aside future car money.
stay in home, do your own maintenance, insulate.
don't buy toys that wont get used much. (the urge to do this is overwhelming at times)
Last edited by stonerolled on Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
DVMResident
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Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:15 pm

Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by DVMResident »

As a resident, I lived in an empty house taking care of the property for almost no rent. It was quite a commute away to work and rode the bus for $11/month (work subsidized) instead of driving. Spent nearly 3 hours everyday commuting for 5 years. Got a lot of work done (reading journals, writing grants, etc.) on the bus with a laptop, but it was a real time sink on top of long working hours. There were days I considered moving into an apartment closer to work (min. $1,400/mo for studio), but I was too addicted to saving 3/4 of every dollar coming in.
btenny
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by btenny »

When I was senior in college I ate mostly left over frozen hamburgers from my roommates Dad. He gave us 2-3 cases of them to use after some local fund raiser party. We found tons of ways to fix burger into good food for pennies. We would also buy 10 bean burrows or tacos for a dollar on Saturday mornings from Taco Bell as the special. Then we would eat them all weekend and into the next week as leftovers. My girl friend (now wife) and I went on lots of dates to our local water hole for $1. I got a beer for 10 cents and she got a ripple for 25 cents (??). They had a band and we danced and talked and laughed the night away.

After I graduated my wife and I got married right away but had no money. But we did have credit cards for gas and other things. So we went on a honeymoon with maybe $50 in cash and our credit cards. We charged everything. We ate homemade sandwiches and walked on the beach and watched TV.

When I retired early I did not have enough saved to keep our big family home where we raised out kids. We needed to down size and pull the equity from that big home to fund our retirement. Downsizing also saved lots of money as our expenses went down drastically. That was 16 years ago and it all worked out great. We have had a ball and our retirement and future is secure. Downsizing was a good decision.

I had frugal wife was my best decision.
Good Luck
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abuss368
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by abuss368 »

We always look to cut and lower expenses.
John C. Bogle: “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
stoptothink
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by stoptothink »

Kind of an odd thread, I can brag about some unusually frugal decisions with the best of them. I was going through a divorce while finishing up my PhD. The dissolution of my marriage was almost solely due to disagreements about financial priorities; I kind of went extreme when we separated as my way of coping with the constant money battles I had when married. A few things I did:

-Turned off the electricity in my apartment. Pretty sure this wasn't legal, but I went the rest of the apartment lease (nearly a year) without any power. Was difficult at first (Houston in September with no AC), but got used to it quite fast. I took showers at the school gym. More than anything, I made a very conscious effort to be out of the house as much as possible (spent a lot of time at the school lab, library, and worked more than I needed to).

-Commuted by bike or working, everywhere. I had a truck, but I parked it for an entire year. Was very fortunate that the grocery store was across the street and that school and work were well within biking distance. I was still cycling well over 150 miles per week. I walked or cycled through some pretty gnarly rainstorms.

-Since I had no power and therefore no refrigeration, I had to get pretty creative with food. What this amounted to was eating almost ketogenic for long stretches of time (lots of canned tuna, whey protein, raw nuts...whatever else would last a while without refrigeration). At least once a week I would pick up some fresh produce, but it had to be eaten pretty quickly. For someone with my background (former college football player and powerlifter used to eating 5k/calories a day, exercise physiology & nutrition undergrad, PhD in Obesity Studies) this was by far the most difficult thing.

-I gave away virtually all of my worldly possessions. I was provided a lot of help with this (wife's father got into my apartment while I was at school and took almost everything of value we had accumulated during our marriage - nothing I could do because we were still legally married and my wife's name was still on the lease). I listed pretty much everything I owned on Craigslist and just gave it to the first person who showed up. Everything I owned could fit in a single plastic tub. I kept a single bowl, plate, cup, knife, spoon, fork, and can opener and gave all other kitchenware away. All my furniture and bedding was taken, so I filled a grocery bag with t-shirts as a pillow and laid a beach towel on the ground as a sheet/blanket. No furniture, no electronics outside of my work provided laptop. I did have my bike.

None of these things were out of necessity, I was actually making fairly decent money (for a student) thanks to a work-study setup by my PhD program; I was saving 70%+ of my income and had a small retirement nest-egg that I had accumulated before marriage. It was all a response to having lived the previous 5yrs with someone who wanted to live WAY beyond our means while we were both finishing school. I'll be the first to admit I was not of sound mind through most of this period of my life, but it taught me a lot of valuable lessons that I will never forget.
wesgreen
Posts: 223
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by wesgreen »

As livesoft wrote, not being able to fly to see loved ones as often as you would like is tough.
I've lived on nickels and dimes all my life, and have had a great time doing it (it suits my view of life, and it's not very difficult as long as you're lucky enough to be healthy). Not having much to give to those who really are needy also sucks. Otoh, living in/travelling around the world on a shoestring seems to me the most interesting way to see it, and besides, you get to meet nicer folks than you would if you were spending a lot. Compared to what many others in this world deal with, being a Boglehead is a privileged existence.
travellight
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Location: San Diego

Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by travellight »

I was traveling solo as a female when I was 28 and did not like the prices of accommodations in Rome. I spotted 2 American guys also looking and so I approached them and asked if they wanted to split a triple. They said Sure! They ended up being my escorts through the evening and it worked out fine.... much cheaper.
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GoldenFinch
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by GoldenFinch »

Frugal things my parents did while I was growing up:

Kept the heat at 55 at night during the northern winters, 60 during the day.

Cheerios for breakfast every day and p&j sandwich and an apple for lunch every day. Never enough for anyone to have seconds for dinner.

My dad rode his bike to work 5 miles each way including winters for 40 years.

One car.

Parents did all of their own household repairs, painting, etc. If something broke, my dad would go to the library and get a book and figure out how to fix it.

The word NO for for 99.9 percent of requests for stuff.

All vacations were related to my dad traveling for work.

One benefit was we were all thin and got a lot of exercise.

Disclaimer: I don't live like that now. But it wouldn't bother me if I had to. :happy
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Toons
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by Toons »

Many years ago when I didn't have 2 nickels to rub together I would frequently make a lot of ,..
Bread soup,and add a lot of salt and pepper :shock:
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee
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abuss368
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by abuss368 »

Bogleheads,

I have found Taylor's stories about the Great Depression era in our country simply amazing and fascinating.

Best.
John C. Bogle: “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
halfnine
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by halfnine »

Lots of frugal decisions made over the years many of which have already mentioned. But one that really hasn't been addressed is that accommodation is generally expensive so I've spent a lot of nights sleeping in my car, at work, or at walk-in campgrounds (1 dollar/night at the time)

I think the regrets are important, though. Of the top of my head, my three main regrets would be..
Not going to the dentist. Long term this have been very expensive.
Never asking for help. I was fiercely independent at the time. But, I've learned interdependence is a much more beneficial way to live life than independence and that there is no shame in asking for help when one needs it.
Not eating quality/healthy food when I could. It's the last thing I'd give up now and the first thing I'd reinstate if poverty forced it.

Most importantly, although there was a period in my life where I was in debt, I was never truly in a place where it was difficult to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Many people are much less fortunate. Additionally, and thankfully, at the time all I had to do was take care of myself as I didn't have any dependents to worry about.
tim1999
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Re: Tough Frugal Decisions

Post by tim1999 »

I have always been a firm believer in keeping one's fixed, recurring expenses low. Sure I spend lots of money on random one-time things or events, but those can always be cut back when times are bad. Not so easy to cut back your property taxes or car payment when things suddenly go bad.
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