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Am I Really As Frugal As I Think I Am?

 

Over the past few days, I’ve come to realize that I’m not as frugal as I use to be before I became mortgage free in 2010.

Now you might think that my post about buying my son an iPod touch is an excellent example of the ways that I’m losing my frugal ways, but actually I believe that was money well spent!  It was a wise move because the benefits outweighed the costs.

No, what set off the alarms in my head was that we have been going out to eat almost 5 days in a row now, and at $50 to $80 a crack.

Back in the mortgage paying days, I would feel sick to my stomach when the bill would arrive.  Unfortunately, that physical alert no longer works for me.  With no such barriers to prevent lifestyle creep from happening, if I don’t quickly put some other mechanism in place, I’m in danger of spending too much.  This lack of having a barrier effectively zapping my asset gathering process, slowing my journey towards financial independence.

Luckily I’m awake and alert again, so what am I going to do?

Well, since I’m not a fan of budgeting, I never even consider that as an option.  Instead I’ll run my life at a slightly elevated stress level by constantly asking myself and family “Do we really need to do this?”.  As long as I stick to that question, I can analyze if a cost is really a need instead of a want or luxury.

Like a pendulum that was swung to far to the left, I’ll swing back to the right until I’ll take the frugality phase too far.  Hopefully less than in the past, but I’ll definitely swing to the far right, eventually.

As a first step, I think I will start packing my lunch more often, that act alone should save a lot of money.

Next, I’ll bring up my concern with my wife, she’s still more frugal than I am, and likely to jump back into the frugality pool that she enjoys so much.

Finally, I’m going to create a morning mantra and write it down and tape it to a door.  Then I will read that saying whenever I get up in the morning.  I’m also thinking about creating a wallet sized card with the saving on it that I can take out and read aloud (but not too loud) during my lunch break.

Hopefully, this will get me back on track!

MR

30 Responses to Am I Really As Frugal As I Think I Am?

  1. I’m frugal based on my overall budget, but I am not frugal in terms of spending what I’ve been allocated.

    BTW, how did you put the Google+ button up? I should probably do the same.

    Thxn, Sam

    • I’ve gotten sloppy with keeping my finances tight. I’ll have to keep it in mind more. Hopefully the silly little saying that I’m going to put up on the door and card in my wallet will help! Especially the wallet!!!

      I’m just playing with the Google+ button. I’m not entirely sure I have it configured right yet…

  2. I think you deserve to treat yourself and splurge a little if you have already paid off your mortgage. For any American family, the mortgage is probably the biggest monthly expense they can have. Shoot if you got it paid off, I’d say live a little. You aint getting any younger. Might as well enjoy life. =)

    Just dont go out and lease a new BMW X6 for $1500.00 a month (someone I know did that)

    • Hmmm, BMW… That’s almost what my month house payment was too… Hmmm (lol). Not me, having such an expensive car payment would make me have ulcers (I’ve had stomach problems before).

  3. Eating out is a trap and a bottomless money pit, it seduces not only with the convenience at the end of a long day when too tired to cook, but also with the large portions and refills. Bottom line? Depleted wallets and expanding waistlines.

    • Good point, and it seems like when people go out to eat, they want to get their moneys worth!

      Then later they spend much more money on a diet (or via health) to get in shape again. Kind of ironic, isn’t it

      • Yeah, I try not to think about that, especially when I go to fast food restaurants. Kind of reminds me of “Fight Club” where Tyler Durdan handles the food (yuck)…

  4. I eat out too much as well (but not at $50 or $80 a pop!) Also remember that eating at home is healthier as well. That might be good motivation to reduce eating out.

    • It’s the kids plus tip that makes the actual cost in the 50 to 80 range (family of four).

      Yeah, I need to eat at home more… I would like to try to grow my own vegetables too, if I had the land…

  5. We go in phases where we eat out more than I would like, but that is usually when life is so busy and my husband and I are at different events for different kids.

    Now that it is summer, I am reveling in home cooked meals. Have you thought about why you have been eating out so much? Did you enjoy your meals? If so, then don’t beat yourself up about it. However, be careful as eating out continuously can get very, very costly (as you know), and it can be an easy pattern to fall in to.

  6. not sure i can define myself as frugal. i do save a big chunk of what i make and spend “guiltlessly” otherwise. as long as i am meeting my saving and investment goals, i don’t pay much attention to the rest. i suppose on a macro level i am budget conscious relative to my income.

    • Yep, if you can get above a certain level of savings, the rest is all gravy! Unfortunately, I’m still trying to get to that level. If I could save $50,000 each year, anything over that I would spend half of the surplus… So if I had $80,000 extra money, I would spend $15,000 guilty free and save $65,000 (or at least I think I would).

  7. Definitely, you should be paying yourself first and making sure that your investments are funded before spending anything. Then I would have to agree with the money pit comment by 101 Centavos. At the end of it all, you have nothing to show for all that expense except weight gain.

    • Yep, very true. My largest investments are in my 401k and it’s somewhat automated.

      The funny thing is that I’m eating out a lot but still losing weight. Sometimes it hard to find low-carb items on the menus though…

  8. When I was really watching my spending I brought my lunch to work a lot. I did the pbj thing, leftover pasta and such and it really helped me save. Now that I’m not as crunched for cash I buy my lunch to save time and just try to avoid the expensive places. Spending $5-7 is manageable but $10+ for take out lunches just feels wrong. -Sydney

    • Not bad! not bad at all!

      I use to have to scramble eggs and eat ramen noodles, but I don’t anymore. So you can imagine that our dinning out close a lot more less.

  9. Congratulations on being mortgage free! I feel like every time I pay something off, I should use the money not spent on monthly payments for something ridiculous like a new TV. It’s hard to reign it in sometimes. Going out to eat is a huge money suck, and doing so several times a week can be extremely expensive. It’s good to treat yourself, though. Switching to a packed lunch is a big money saver, and something I do at least 4x a week. I go through stages of frugality as well, but increasing my retirement savings contributions has helped me to keep my eye on the prize, so to speak.

  10. Hmm, i am like you, i becomes less frugal as i close to pay of my mortgage and debt free..

    I eat out a lot, buy iPhone, iPad etc…

    I am still in my 30s and have 500k worth of saving plus soon a home with no debt…

    I need to start saving more, never know when I need the cash

    Money comes easy wih me because from my saving I invest in
    The stock market and generate high return..

    I have a thing with the market and i can understand business and know exactly where to deploy the capital..

    • Sounds like you are doing great!

      I’ve done okay in the market, about average and maybe slightly above average since I don’t scare easy anymore with market fluctuations…

  11. I feel like I’m going through a bit of frugal burnout myself.

    I’ve gone without so many things for the sake of mortgage payoff that when I look around, there are things in every direction that need replacing. I need new work clothes, sports equipment, kitchen stuff. My biking clothes are all stretched out with patches and that’s no fun when you’re a chesty girl on a bumpy trail.

    I probably should have budgeted to replace one or two “me” things a year all along because now I have a mile long list that in itself is overwhelming.

    I’ve been feeling bad that I’ve lost some of the intensity I have had with saving, but I think this year I may just need to take a little break from the extreme frugalness for a few months. Yeah, I’ll still clip coupons and shop sales and think twice before buying something, but it won’t be my sole hobby for 2011. I think that’ll be a good thing.

    • Sounds like you have been playing a great frugal game for years, so yeah! I think you are due for a frugal vacation!

      You sound a lot like me minus the chesty girl part 🙂