Frugal Living – Have I Seen the Light?

April 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Spending

frugal_sunriseMr. ToughMoneyLove has several times mentioned on this blog that he likes to refer to himself as a money strategist, not a frugalist. By that I mean I make sure our long term investment plans are fully funded, that we have adequate cash reserves for emergencies, our debts are eliminated, and our essential costs of living are covered. After that, I pay a lot less attention to spending. Based on recent events, I may need to reconsider things.

The Skeptical Frugalist

Maybe I really am a frugalist or, if not, maybe I should be. Let’s start with recent events. I’ve started a painting project in the upstairs bedrooms. This area is the former domain of our three sons. Two are out of the house completely. The third is still in college so he returns to his domain during school breaks. You can imagine the wear and tear on paint and walls inflicted by three active sons over 15 years. It took several days to patch, sand, and prime all of the dings, cracks and holes just in one bedroom.

So yesterday it was time to go to Home Depot to buy paint. Mrs. ToughMoneyLove alerted me to an advertisement from Sherwin Williams offering 30% off each gallon of indoor paint. She thought Home Depot would match it. I was skeptical because the products were not identical – different brands of paint. She called Home Depot and asked. They said yes. I was still skeptical. My attitude is that Home Depot has decent prices generally so why spend a lot of time trying to do better?

Well shame on me and my know-it-all attitude. Mrs. ToughMoneyLove was right. I weakly handed the Sherwin Williams ad to the Home Depot checkout person, fully expecting a derisive look when my “will you match this” request was rejected.  Instead, Home Depot quickly took 30% off three gallons of its own brand of paint, saving us over $20.

I think I might like this frugal coupon stuff.

A Frugal Future – the Bigger Picture

The experienced frugalists among you are probably laughing at me right now.   Go ahead – I probably deserve it. (But don’t laugh at Mrs. ToughMoneyLove – she’s on board.) But I am trying to use this little experience to look at the bigger picture of our financial future. One of the important elements in our big picture is that our family income will decrease.

In fact, my peak earning years may have come and gone. That happens to everyone and baby boomers are now experiencing it, some worse than others. Even if my gross income doesn’t decrease, our net income will, as taxes will be taking a bigger piece of the action. Massive federal spending will see to that. Inflation will take its piece of our spending power as well.

So an increased sense of frugalism is a natural reaction to the reality of declining spending power that is staring me in the face. It’s a harsh reality to be sure. But now I know that I have a new tool at my disposal to combat that reality:  frugal living.

More important, I have a fantastic partner in our financial future. Thanks Mrs. ToughMoneyLove for showing me the light.

Have you transitioned to a new world of frugal living?

Image credit:  shoebappa

Feed Mr. ToughMoneyLove

FREE UPDATES: If you enjoyed this, please subscribe to receive the newest hard truth from Mr. ToughMoneyLove automatically by RSS feed (what is RSS?) or by spam-free Email.

  • Banner


11 Responses to “Frugal Living – Have I Seen the Light?”
  1. Welcome to the Frugal Side, Mr. TML. There’s plenty of room. Now, back to clipping coupons…

  2. Foxie says:

    “Money strategist,” I like that… :)

    Frugal living still isn’t for me entirely, I don’t think. My husband and I have been doing good eating at home more often, but we still like to splurge on lunches or dinners out. I don’t see myself as frugal, so much as I make sacrifices in some areas so we can splurge in others. Maybe that is frugal, maybe it’s not… As long as we’re still in the black and putting some money away, I don’t mind if we eat out a bit often.

    Even so, when I did use coupons it didn’t ever make a big difference… It’s hard to trim expenses that are already fairly low because there’s only two of you.

  3. katy says:

    ..The experienced frugalists among you are probably laughing at me right now…

    No way am I laughing; I’m cheering you and Mrs. TML on! You got a nice chunk of change, too.

  4. I would be careful anytime you say: “After that, I pay a lot less attention to spending.” After all, spending is what will run your ship aground. In addition, I don’t care how much money you make, you can always outspend your income. It isn’t hard to do.

    Somewhere, some man has my ex, and she is proving me to be correct at this very moment.

    I consider myself frugal, but I consider myself to be first and foremost a wealth accumulator. Someone who accumulates wealth so it can be effectively targeted on something that is worthwhile.

    The idea of accumulating wealth is so much easier with higher income and much lower spending, so I have always watched what I spend, and except for those “married days,” I have never had any problem at all getting what I needed and wanted.

    Think about the “millionaire next door” who never made lots of money, he just saved most of what he earned. The whole idea of minimizing expenditures is foremost in my book because no matter what your income level is, you’ll be able to accumulate wealth.

    And, having wealth affords you options that make life much more pleasant.


  5. Rob Bennett says:

    The interesting question to my mind is: Why did you object to the idea of saving money before?

    I was very much this way for a long time. There was a day when I would sometimes toss pennies in the trash when they came to me as change. That’s NOT frugal behavior!

    What drove me to do that? I think it was a need to keep up a certain self-image. I wanted to think of myself as someone too important to need to worry about pennies or even to be bothered to go to the trouble to carry them around in my pockets.


  6. TStrump says:

    I’ve tried to transition into being more frugal but I’m all about saving time, first.
    Much of this ‘frugal living’ requires spending a lot of extra time and I sometimes feel it isn’t worth it.
    I’m all about saving money but I won’t go to extremes to do it.

  7. I have to agree with TStrump – especially in the early stages, it’s a fairly time-consuming process, though there are some basic strategies like Mrs TML’s price matching deal that involve minimal effort for a pretty decent return – well, decent compared to clipping a couple of grocery coupons to save $2, which would have taken about the same amount of time. The thing I don’t like is the awkwardness and the attitude you sometimes get, which Mr. TML didn’t mention but I do wonder if it figured into his initial hesitance. Like, did asking for the 30% match make him feel like a smart shopper or a beggar?

  8. Mike Pastore says:

    Using discount coupons is not bad at all. Though it only offers small discount on certain products, if combined, you will accumulate a decent amount saved from your purchases. There’s no room for pride nowadays. Being fugal is not a crime you need to hide.

    For tips on personal finance, visit

  9. My wife is the coupon clipper. I try to shop around to maximize purchases, read consumer reports, and we typically use Craigslist to buy anything we need or want that isn’t electronic (I recently purchased a road bike), but I don’t clip coupons. I’ll check for online coupon codes, but that’s my limit. I’m definitely not as hard core when it comes to frugality as a lot of other people, but I think of myself as frugal (I don’t make my own laundry detergent).

  10. Ralph says:

    I’m not there yet. I am careful and price sensitive when I buy things but I keep thinking that the time I would spend clipping coupons and looking for ans soliciting deals is worth quite a lot too. My aspiration is to have enough income to make deal hunting unnecessary. Frugality I still value.

  11. Mary says:

    Well, what is frugal living? Is it just about spending less? Or prioritizing what really matters? We eat at home as much as possible, I brown-bag, I drive an 11 year old car and shop at second hand stores for my kids’ clothing–but we just booked a trip to Costa Rica for the family for spring break 2010. Travelling together as a family is a top priority for me. But new cars, the latest clothes, and going out to eat are not.

Speak Your Mind

Please leave a comment and tell us your version of the hard truth...

You must be logged in to post a comment.