Tight Wad in Utah: Living Frugally Starts By Refusing to Conform to Traditional Consumerism (Guest Post)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Living Frugally Starts By Refusing to Conform to Traditional Consumerism (Guest Post)

Guest Post by Monique

If there were a way to measure the number of times that the word “frugal” has appeared recently in both online and offline articles, undoubtedly, the trend would show an escalating upward rise over the past few years. Over ten million people lost their jobs over the past decade, and although roughly 20% of those lost jobs have been regained, nearly one out of three American households have been forced by economic conditions to realize the true value of a single dollar in today’s world.
For many, the process has been grueling, but for those that like a challenge, the learning process has been filled with minor triumphs. Victory gardens have found a new following, and living “green” can produce value from common sense conservation by simply lowering the thermostat. Living frugally need not mean living cheaply, but one must resist the constant stream of messaging that encourages all consumers to buy, buy, and buy some more. Minimalism may be a pejorative term used by advertisers to discourage breaking from the pack, but only buying what you truly need is basic common sense. You do not need two refrigerators or two toasters, or two coffee makers for that matter.

Once you accept that living a frugal lifestyle is about getting the most out of your precious dollars, the world of possibilities opens up before you. Establishing spending priorities after a careful analysis of your personal spending patterns can be entertaining if the process yields a comfortable living base while allowing for savings and the occasional reward or two. There is a healthy balance today between mindless consumerism and extreme frugality.

What are the common venues where common sense has true value? Here is a brief list for your consideration:
  • The Grocery Store: How much time do you spend shopping for food? Comparison-shopping is actually facilitated in most stores, but most of us speed through the aisles half unconscious, as if trying to set a record for completing our designated list. If left to the unconscious mind, selections will be made based on familiarity, which comes from advertising impressions from various media designed for that purpose. Brand names cost more to cover these heavy advertising budgets. Buying quality can be accomplished for less cash. Simple condiments can range from $1 to $5. Surely a less expensive offering will satisfy your discriminating taste buds. Are pre-washed and pre-cut vegetables really necessary? Must paper towels replace an ordinary rag of choice?
  • Eating at Home: Recent statistics indicate that American families eat out from two to three times per week. Our parents were lucky to eat out once a month. A prudent balance may be closer to the latter. Quality and cost favor the latter choice, even if convenience begs for the former. Learning to cook and eat healthy at home has more benefits than just short and long-term cost savings;
  • Buying Big-Ticket Items: Cars, appliances, and furniture fall under this category. All should be bought to last long after they have been paid for, and never forget to comparison shop for each as far as price and support. Most consumers also accept price tags as final. Salesmen will bargain in this day and age. Cars, at a minimum, should last six years or more before a replacement is considered. If you must buy a new model, make it last.
A frugal lifestyle need not be a life of deprivation. Stretching the value of the dollar is a common sense approach that enables an enjoyable standard of living.
Bi Line: Tom Cleveland is a market analyst and writer for ForexTraders , an online resource for currency news and investment. 

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