Frugal Living & Thrifty Ideas

What don’t I have?

As you can see from previous posts of my apartment, I hardly live a spartan life- in fact I think most people in my life would be shocked to find out that I consider myself frugal and am able to save over 50% of my income. For as much as I have, there are a few things that I forgo in the name of saving money, and here they are:

– I am 26 years old and I have never owned a car. I strategize where to live based on areas with great public transportation. Our goal as a couple is to never own more than one car. Back in the 1950s, most families owned only one car, now the standard has become one car per-person. Cars are one of the worst monetary investments you can make, they depreciate quickly and constantly, and gas is expensive- not to mention repairs. Even though our rent is expensive living in a city, we still come out ahead by not having a car and being able to take advantage of the above average salaries that a city can offer.

– I have never had a washer & dryer– At some point I will probably own a place with full laundry capabilities, but for now I am saving money on both the cost of appliances and utility bills by using my local laundromat.

– I do not own a microwave. While it doesn’t cost a lot to own and operate a microwave, when I found myself without one I made the decision not to buy a new one. Instead I invested in a set of Fiestaware plates which can go from oven to freezer safely- now we’ll never need a microwave! I thought adjusting would be tough, but now I can’t believe I ever owned one.

– I do not have a dishwasher. By learning to efficiently wash dishes by hand you spend less on water AND electricity!

-I line dry most/many clothes. This saves on drying costs, and it’s better for your clothes. We don’t have a yard so we just set up a clothesline in our bedroom that can be easily stored when not in use!

– I do not have cable, or a land line phone. Cable is one of those ridiculously expensive things that almost everyone pays for- between free shows on hulu (not hulu plus) and my basic Netflix subscription ($7.99/month), I have all the entertainment I could ever need.

– I do not have a smart phone. My phone was free, and because I’ve kept the same phone plan for years I still pay the starting cost (about $20 a month). Smart phones are considered “necessary”- I have no problem operating in modern society (as a 20 something nonetheless) without one.

– I do not buy pre-made foods. Microwave meals, pre-made sauces, and all those other convenience grocery items are a total ripoff. With a little bit of kitchen savvy, I have cut our grocery bill to between $100-$200 a month (and this is for two people in New York City, groceries are much more expensive here than in other places in the country).

– I do not buy disposable clothing and shoes- but I also don’t buy designer. Stores like H&M and Target seem like a great deal if you judge fashion’s value only based on a price tag. And brands like Prada and Gucci may seem like a good deal if all you value is a name. I shop based on amortized cost- or the cost per wear. For shoes, I stick to brands that are time tested: Dansko, Frye, and Carolina are some of my favorites. I own a winter coat from Columbia (which will last 10-15 years, it cost $98 on sale from Sierra Trading Post).  While these items cost more up front than their discount counterparts- they last for years and years, and can easily be re-soled or repaired. Before I purchase something, I have in mind the number of years that I want the item to last.

– I keep beauty and personal care costs to a minimum. I cut my own hair and I don’t dye it, I haven’t visited a salon in years. If you’re looking to venture into becoming your own stylist I would recommend youtube for tutorials. I make many of my beauty products myself.

– I do not buy jewelry or expensive purses/shoes. Beauty magazines love to use the phrase “investment piece”, unless you’re talking about stocks, bonds, or real estate- it’s not an “investment”.

I rarely go out to eat. Going out to eat is expensive, I reserve it for special occasions (think once or twice a month).

– I had roommates for years. Most people stop having roommates the moment they can afford it, I lived with lots and lots of roommates until this last year (when my fella and I got our own place).

I have a million other tips on how and where to save money, but these are all a great start. What are your tried and true money saving techniques?

10 thoughts on “What don’t I have?

  1. I think that at your age you show great character and appreciation for our world.By not owning so many items you create a simple way of life without all the added stress. I also live that way and unless I just do not know it there are not many of us out there. I cut my own hair, make shampoo, body soap, body butters, toothpaste etc. I do not own a microwave or a T.V. I have Netflix for the same price as you.We watch it on the family computer. I have just currently bought and waiting for the non-electric crank washing machine.I am so tired of electrical bills. I do own a car, bought outright so I just pay insurance, gas and some days I could do without it to. Me and the kids all wear second hand clothes, or donated. I still am lucky enough to fit in all my stuff from 10 years ago.We do not eat meat, cutting down on the grocery bill nor eat prepackaged food. I make bread by hand etc. I have a land phone, but no cell phone. I am not interested in all those things. We go eat out for birthdays or special occasions only. With 4 of us it costs the same as a weeks grocery bill.

    You are doing a great job, love your website —–

  2. I am so impressed with this post. I love to hear about how little one can live without. I feel like I live a 1/2 minimalist life…(is there such a thing?) Anyway, thank you for visiting my blog and leaving me a message. You have a wonderful blog with some very important things to say! 🙂

  3. I don’t have a smartphone either. In my mind all of those apps are just more clutter. While I still own a car, I manage to go “car light” during the warmer months. This means walking or cycling when possible to save wear and tear on my vehicle. It also means combining exercise and transportation.

  4. I got rid of cable last year and saved $80 per month. I have a land line and internet, and get all the movies and tv shows I need from youtube and hulu, not hulu plus. My public library provides all the dvd movies I might want for free also. I primarily use a microwave for cooking as it saves lots of money on electricity. Love my smaller slow cooker, as it also saves on electricity. Cranking up the oven or stovetop feels like I’m throwing my dollars away. Your ideas are great!

  5. I’m stunned at people who smoke, drink alcohol and gamble then complain that money is tight.
    It’s always good to hear about people who are being frugal. We have actually had people who smoke and drink ask us to loan them money. How ridiculous!

  6. You have great insight and wisdom. Came here via MMM, and thoroughly enjoying reading your blog! I am deeply impressed with the lovely home you’ve created, all while saving half your salary. Well done!

    1. Sure! I worked retail for years, so I have a pretty good working knowledge of garment construction. I use a few rules when shopping. For things like shoes and coats (i.e. things that I want to keep for several seasons), I try to buy high quality brands. I buy shoes that have a basic shape, and are made of leather. This way they can be repaired for many years. My goal with these items is to keep them for 5-10 years. Because of this, I will spend more on these items. $200 for boots that last 10 years is a good deal, $90 for a jacket that lasts 5 years is a good deal too. For things like tops (tank tops, t-shirts, trendy blouses, etc.) I don’t think it’s worth it to buy expensive brands. I try to get 2-3 years out of shirts, and at $20 a pop, that’s fine. For dress clothes you want a better construction, a silk blouse, when treated with care, will last 10 years. I shop based on fabric and construction, and don’t mind paying a bit more. I also try to focus on classic styles, nothing too trendy. For skirts, construction matters. I will happily pay $60 for a skirt- with the aim that it will last 5 years. Jeans vary, but in general I try to keep them for around 5 years. Because of my figure I often buy more expensive brands, if I had an easier size to fit I would probably buy cheaper jeans. Jeans that are 100% cotton last longer than jeans that have lycra or spandex in them, so I try to find those (just check the tag). If I decide to buy a party dress, or something very trendy and fashion forward, I buy the cheapest version possible. I know that my floral high waist shorts won’t be in fashion in another 3 years, but that’s ok- because I only paid $4 for them. I hope this helps!

      1. Your comment on your plates going from freezer to oven caught my eye, as one of the biggest reasons I use a microwave is that I dislike washing pans, and using a microwave leads to less dirty dishes. Interesting idea! I’d there something special about fiestaware, or would any plate work?

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