This is What Frugal Looks Like is a series that highlights different ways that people can be frugal in their lives- after all, frugality doesn’t have to be drastic or just about clipping coupons. Frugality can be fun and easy. Each respondent answers the same four questions.
Today’s interview is with Paula from Monroe on a Budget.
What does frugality mean to you?
Frugality means resourcefulness. I look for every way possible to stretch my family’s finances. I didn’t know we were a frugal family until I read examples of what other frugal families do. I looked at my family’s situation as “getting by on a tight budget.”
What is something you do that is ‘typically’ frugal?
I’ve kept a grocery coupon box since my college days. I have certainly ramped up my efforts in recent years, but the concept of couponing itself is “old school” to me. I was clipping coupons even during the times my husband and I felt we had plenty of money.
What is something frugal that you do that is unusual?
Most people do not expect to learn that my daughter is attending a private, out-of-state college. It is far more common in our area, and frequently recommended by financial experts, for students to attend a nearby public college or attend community college and transfer later to a university. I do recommend community college for situations where the student has not decided on a long-range goal or needs time to settle in with college-level academics. Besides, there are certain career options that require only a two-year degree.
The difference was that my daughter expected all along to earn a bachelor’s degree with the possibility of getting a master’s degree eventually. She was offered a partial, four-year scholarship to her first-choice college. We did the math for that scenario against the other options. Given that commuter students still have expenses while living at home, the other schools offered only one-year scholarship awards, and a four-year scholarship would be good motivation for completing a degree on time, it made sense for her to take the offer. To help make this happen, we keep up with applications and deadlines for any and all other financial aid.
Private college might have been a far more difficult decision if my husband and I had other children to raise. I’m the oldest of seven, so I understand how decisions involving children can ripple throughout the family. But when there is only one child, parents don’t have to be concerned about setting precedents or building up expectations.
My daughter, to her credit, is making the most of her opportunity.
What are some of your long-term goals that being frugal will help you accomplish?
My husband and I would like to have our home paid off by the time both of us retire. We don’t want the burden of a house payment or rent at that stage in our lives.
The more immediate scenario is to get through the recession with as little damage as possible. This is quite a challenge because the southeast Michigan economy has been hit very hard, and we have personally noticed the impact. My husband currently works in the automotive industry because his former job in radio broadcasting no longer exists. I still work in the newspaper business (20+ years at daily newspapers in Michigan and Ohio), but that industry is struggling as well. Our household income for 2009 will be lower than in 2008, and our 2008 income was noticeably lower than in 2007.
Monroe on a Budget is sponsored by The Monroe Evening News of Monroe, Mich., and written by one of its reporters, Paula Wethington.
The journalist’s perspective means you will see more economic / financial headlines and public service announcements on Paula’s blog than on a typical freelance or hobby blog. One of the most popular features is a huge blogroll with links to government and non-profit agencies and resources aimed at her southeast Michigan audience.
But you also get stories of Paula’s own experiences and perspective of family life on a tight budget. She’s written about family vacations, trick-or-treat candy, garage sale finds, interior painting projects, school supplies, senior year photographs and what’s for dinner.
The interesting thing is, despite an intensely local focus, Monroe on a Budget has picked up a national audience.
Some of Paula’s posts include:
- Drastic frugality, or what to do when the money runs out
- The crayons in your frugal living crayon box
- The ethics of living on a budget
- Grocery shopping on a budget: the 8-week plan
You can also follow her on Twitter: @MonroeOnABudget