This Is What Frugal Looks Like: Amy Reads

by This Is Frugal · 5 comments

in This is Frugal

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 Amy from Amy Reads Good Books and formerly of My Daily Dollars.

“What does frugality mean to you?”

For me, frugality is all about being in control of my money and spending wisely.  It is so easy to fritter away a few dollars here and twenty dollars there.  I try to be frugal in some areas of my life so that I can spend more for my big priorities.  I like to think of our family’s budget as a gauge of our priorities.  Since being healthy is really important, we spend more on organic food.  However, we cut corners on other things (our ‘eating out’ budget, for example) in order to balance the budget.

“What is something that you do that is ‘typically’ frugally?”

For big purchases, we try not to lock ourselves into high monthly payments.  For example, our mortgage is a lot less than what you’d expect as a ratio to our income.  Sure, we could “afford” a McMansion since housing is relatively cheap in our neck of the woods, and sometimes we daydream about a bigger house, but I love the flexibility that comes with a smaller mortgage.  There are always emergencies and unexpected expenses in life.  When you spread yourself too thin on the ‘must pay’ bills, it gets hard to address the unexpected.  For day to day stuff, I guess one thing is that I try to always buy the store brand.  Usually, I don’t need to buy a name brand of trash bags or pasta or coffee.  What’s funny is now I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of store brands.  For example, I feel like I’m splurging when I buy Target’s store brand chips or granola versus Kroger’s.

“What is something frugal that you do that is unusual?”

When I first started getting serious about paying off my debt, I went on a homemaking spree.  I made our crackers, bread, pizza crust, and pasta.  I canned all our tomatoes and jam.  I made all our cleaning products and laundry soap.  I even tried to make my own yogurt.  I really only bought the basic staples at the grocery store.  In debt-reduction mode, one side benefit was that I was so busy making things on the weekends that I didn’t have time to go shopping!  However, it got a little out of hand, and I drove myself a little bit crazy.  At one point, when I had turned our kitchen into a cannery and was boiling laundry soap, I had to ask myself what value I put on my time.  So, I backed things down a bit.  Still, it was a great experiment, because now I know which things are worth doing myself.  For example, it seems crazy to buy all those specialized cleaning products at the store when I can do a great job with water, soap, vinegar, and baking soda!

What are some of your long term goals that being frugal will help you to accomplish?

One long-term goal is to stay out of credit card debt.  We’ve paid off all our cards and will have our home equity loan knocked out in six more months.  After that, we’d like to send an extra payment to our mortgage each year and max out our retirement plans.  My husband would like to semi-retire early, so we want to invest money to help him do that.  I had to think long and hard about long-term goals.  Did we want to stay in “deprivation mode” for eight or ten years just so that we could pay of my (very large) student loans and my husband’s office mortgage?  I think you have to balance debt management with lifestyle choices.  For us, being debt-free is not necessarily the holy grail.  However, we do want to spend less than we earn, save more than average, and avoid high-interest loans like credit cards.

You can read more about Amy here. And here are a couple of her favorite frugal posts from “My Daily Dollars”:


1 Jennifer September 10, 2009

Excellent interview. I agree that for us, cutting back in certain areas is more about being able to spend the money we have on the things we really want. I would rather spend money being able to travel to see family than eat out all the time, so that is a deliberate choice we make.

2 Monroe on a Budget September 10, 2009

“connoisseur of store brands” …. What a great quote!
.-= Monroe on a Budget´s last blog ..Halloween and Thanksgiving decor on a budget =-.

3 Amy Reads Good Books September 11, 2009

Thanks for sharing my thoughts! I love the series!
.-= Amy Reads Good Books´s last blog ..Wives and Daughters =-.

4 Yum Yucky September 14, 2009

Oh gawsh, Amy’s frugal-ness is exemplary. Now I need to get my own frugal factor in gear!
.-= Yum Yucky´s last blog ..Taste Test: Pillsbury Simply Chocolate Chip Cookies =-.

5 Barbara September 25, 2009

Wow, Amy, you really went the whole nine yards, didn’t you?! Amazing. But you’re right, you need to put a value on your time, too. No point spending all your time in the kitchen trying to save a few bob. Sounds like you’ve got a good balance now.
.-= Barbara´s last blog ..Intermission… =-.

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