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Being Frugal Is An Art Form

By Erik Folgate

My wife and I were shopping for groceries today. We had put aside $130 in our groceries envelope for the next 12 days. For some reason, I went with her to go shopping this week. It’s not that I’m a male pig. She just doesn’t like me going with her, because we always end up spending more money than we budget. Food is my downfall. I see all of the wonderful goodies at the grocery store, and I just want to buy all of it. My point is that I may write for a personal finance blog and give my opinions about how to manage money, but my wife is MUCH more frugal than I will ever be. She thinks of more creative ways to save a few bucks than I could ever think of. Yesterday, she had the idea of going to get milk at the drug store, because they sell it for $2.49 as opposed to $3.49 at the grocery store. We always buy 2 gallons every two weeks, so that’s a savings of $4 a month, or $48 dollars a year. I know, that’s chump change, but if you think of 9 other things to save a dollar on that you buy four of in a month, then the conversation turns into $480 per month.

I have often criticized the notion that saving a few bucks here and there really affects your net worth, but it is true to a certain degree. It’s not that I disagree about halting the habit to buy a Starbucks latte every morning. I disagree more with the idea of being a freak when it comes to analyzing every penny that we spend. I believe that you should factor in some “blow” money to your budget. I’m not talking about a cocaine allowance. I’m talking about putting some money aside to do whatever you want with and not have to worry about tracking where it went. My wife agrees with this, but having said that, she blows me out of the water when it comes to knowing how to save small amounts of money on everyday items.

Are you the frugal one, or are you the free-spirited spender? I am definitely the free-spirited spender. Before my financial outlook on life changed, I had no problems running up balances on credit cards and buying junk with my student loans. My wife didn’t even own a credit card until she went on a trip around the world, and it was a requirement for them to have it as an emergency card. The thing to remember is that it’s okay if one of you is frgual and the other is free-spirited. It doesn’t mean that the frugal one is a tight-wad, and it doesn’t mean that the free spirit is horrible with money. It just means that you are wired differently.

Do you have any good stories of frugality to share? I’d like to hear them. My wife is always up for new ideas on saving money from life’s little expenses.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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