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 Betsy Talbot from Married with Luggage.
What does frugality mean to you?
Frugality isn’t about being cheap; it is about using your money in the most effective way. A great example of this is the blender I bought this summer. I started drinking fruit and veggie smoothies for breakfast as a way to improve my health, and shortly afterward my cheap blender (bought a long time ago to mix the occasional margarita at parties) broke. Instead of replacing it with another cheap blender, I knew I needed one that would stand up to the daily grinding of fruits and vegetables, so I spent more to get the right one. This is a good use of money. Had I bought a cheap one, I would have just had to replace it sooner, spending more money overall.
This is a really small example, but in my experience those are the ones that make a big difference. If you learn to think twice about something as inexpensive as a blender, you’ll really think twice when it comes to clothes, electronics, and cars.
What is something that you do that is ‘typically’ frugally?
I plan our meals and shop for groceries based on the menu. It saves money, time, and aggravation at the end of the workday. I never really believed this would save a ton of money until I started doing it, and now I’m kicking myself for not realizing it sooner. Mom was right. 🙂
What is something frugal that you do that is unusual?
Our situation is a little unusual in that we are getting rid of almost everything we own so we can travel around the world. From a frugal standpoint, this is an ideal situation. Not only do we not accumulate anything new (or used, for that matter), we are getting rid of all the junk that was holding us down before. Whether you realize it or not, your possessions do own you in the sense that you have to maintain them, even if that just means finding a place for them.
Craigslist is a great way to alleviate yourself from the junk, learn how freeing it is to live with less stuff, and make money at the same time. We’ve made thousands of dollars doing this and have sold everything from a box of random cords ($5) to a nice dresser ($500) and everything in between.
My favorite method of getting rid of stuff has been planned for the last month and happens on December 9. In honor of my 39th birthday, I’m hosting a “Birthday Boutique” for my best friends to auction off 39 of my favorite items. Add a cake and a few appetizers, and you have the makings of a heckuva party with the added benefit of reducing my possessions and padding my savings account.
What are some of your longterm goals that being frugal will help you to accomplish?
My longterm goal has always been extended travel, and on October 1, 2010, my husband and I will be taking off for Ecuador on the first leg of our 3-year tour of the world. It took a few years of work to eliminate our debt and simplify our lifestyle followed by 2 years of heavy saving and purging of possessions to make this happen.
Having a goal for your frugal lifestyle will make it so much easier to stick with it. When I want something new, I only have to think of the trip to make it go away in a flash. Over time my craving for “new” has become almost nonexistent.
It would have been really hard to live this way if I didn’t know why I was doing it, or if I was doing it because someone else told me to. You have to want it for yourself and be able to envision why. When you do that, frugal living becomes part of the process of achieving your goal, and that means you get to live your dream a little bit each day.
Betsy Talbot writes about carving the lifestyle you want out of the life you already have. When she’s not writing, she’s paring down, saving up, and getting ready to travel the world with her husband Warren.
Three Frugal Posts on possessions, money, and psychology of living frugally:
And there’s an ebook called “How we saved enough money to change our lives (and how you can, too!)”. I’m offering it for free on my site as an incentive for people to sign up for my email list. It has 55 pages of content – our story, universal money lessons gleaned from our experience, and success stories of other people who live well on a tight budget.