On Being Frugal

Every once in a while (ok, quite often) I am startled by the realization that I am dirt poor. This is a problem – not because I am poor, but because I often don’t think of myself as such and purchase things like grande extra hot non-fat with whip and caramel drizzle lattes. Oops. Someday, when I am an independently wealthy professional philanthropist, I will get the aforementioned drink every morning on my way to lead a Bible study at a homeless shelter or to read books to little kids in the hospital, but those days aren’t here yet and my spending habits don’t always reflect that.

Sunday afternoon I decided to start living frugally. So far I’ve done alright. I spent two hours printing out and cutting out coupons and signing up for free samples of just about anything I could find. Then I looked up a bunch of articles about how to save money. I have to say that I was disappointed with the suggestions I found. Here are some of the ones I remember…in no particular order.

1. Stop going out to dinner. (I already don’t go out to dinner.)
2. Stop ordering $10 cocktails at bars. (I drink Diet Coke at bars and don’t have to pay for it. The only time I drink at bars is if someone else is paying. Tacky? Perhaps, but that’s the truth.)
3. Don’t get your hair done at fancy places. (I get about two haircuts a year and it costs $13 at Supercuts. Granted, it’s not the best, but I am never disappointed. I also have never had my hair professionally highlighted or permed or anything else.)
4. Buy used furniture. (ummm, have you SEEN my living room?)
5. Buy the generic brand of everything. (Are you kidding me? Did anybody NOT know that already?!!?!)

I could go on, but my point is this: I am already doing all those things. Except for coupons.

I don’t like coupons. Not because you hold up the checkout line, but because I don’t think they save you money when you live alone. In fact, most of the time I end up buying things I never would have bought otherwise simply due to the fact that I had a coupon for it. As my dad has said over and over, “It’s not a good deal if you’re spending money on something you weren’t planning to get.” I know somebody that recently purchased $280 worth of items for $38….that’s great. I’d be thrilled too. But does anyone really need 13 bottles of Axe shower gel? I think I’d get bored of using it before I ran out and throw it away.

If I really wanted to save money, there are some steps I could take. The problem is that I don’t want to make the necessary changes.

1. Stop drinking coffee and soda. I’d save about $20-25 a month. Water is better for me anyway. Unfortunately, this will not be happening unless Congress legalizes and a doctors prescribes me cocaine or speed for medicinal purposes.

2. Stop coloring my hair. No. My hair is a fashion accessory. You may find this strange, but coloring my hair a fun, neutral color every 6 weeks is a relaxing, stress-relieving luxury that is worth every one of the 700 pennies it costs.

3. Get rid of cable/internet. I could live without it. I would have to relearn how to spend time doing productive things, but it would save quite a bit of money. Unfortunately, this would require my roommates to also make this change and I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

Conclusion: I am just going to stay dirt poor for at least another 11 months.

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