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 Barbara Bryn Klare who writes about personal finance for the San Francisco Examiner.com. She also owns CafeFAQ Communications.
What does frugality mean to you?
To me, being frugal comes in two flavors:
–how you spend
–what you do with what’s leftover
As a writer, my income over the years has been comfortable but not high, so I’ve had to watch how I spend. I’ve also concentrated a lot on making the most of what I do have, like setting up low-cost DRIP (Dividend Reinvestment) accounts and such.
I started out a compulsive saver. When I was in my twenties, I lived on half my income because I was dead-set on buying a house in the Bay Area (no small feat). Eventually I learned I had to loosen up; it was too much. I was unhappy always checking prices and worrying. You have to have fun once in a while when you are saving long-term. But it set me up for some good habits later on, like going to thrift stores and things like that.
What is something you do that is typically frugal?
I still roll coins and take them to the bank. I feel like a little kid when I do that but I still do it anyway. At least I don’t still have that pink plastic coin sorting machine I got for Christmas when I was eight.
What is something you do that is unusual?
I think the strangest thing my husband and I did to save money was to groom the dogs. They looked like they had been mowed. I think most people can relate to a frugal idea gone bad. I still get comments about it on my blog.
What are some of your long term goals that being frugal will help you accomplish?
My mother made an interesting observation about me. She said, “You don’t make much money, but you always seem to be able to go to the ballet.” She’s right; I’m willing to skimp here if it means I can spend on something that I truly enjoy or that has meaning or really lasts. That’s the definition of a “rich” life to me. I want to be able to keep doing that the rest of my life: making small concessions for bigger choices and eventually I would like to be able to give away my little riches altogether.