Personal Finance and Frugality

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My mom and dad were very frugal parents.

Both of them came from farm families. Our mother, the 6th and youngest child, was born on a farm near Waldo, Florida, a very small town near Gainesville, Florida. Our father was born in a hospital near Novelty, Washington, a small town near Seattle, Washington.

Most individuals of our parent’s generation were impacted by the Depression and World War II. Mom believed in and lived the Pioneer Creed: ‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.’ Due to scarcity in the depression, little was discarded which might have a use in the future. Mom saved everything. She saved glass jars, 5,000 sandwich bag twist ties, plastic butter tubs, and soap and shampoo from hotels. Dad fixed oatmeal for breakfast all winter long.

Mom and Dad also believed in higher education. Mom believed that when you educated mothers, you educated families. They believed in tithing. Besides giving to church, part of their tithe was directed to an organization called World Neighbors, an organization that stressed helping others to help themselves. Now that I look back, it is pretty amazing they convinced 6 kids to go to college and gave 10% of their money away, all on one income.

As children we heard messages about spend less than you earn, along with the phrase ‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ attributed to Ben Franklin, one of the greatest inventors and minds of the late 1700’s. Our parents believed in delayed gratification. They didn’t believe it was necessary to keep up with the Joneses. To be honest, we weren’t always receptive to their messages.

The basics for personal finance are still the same after all of these years:

· Spend less then you earn.

· Seek out value for your money.

· Invest the rest. Through the miracle of compounding, the earlier you start the longer your money has to grow.

The plan of action begins with a:

· Plan – a budget is nothing more than a Financial Plan of Action.

· Automate your bills to avoid late fees and additional interest.

· Pay yourself first means set aside money for emergencies, fund retirement vehicles such as IRA/401K in low-fee mutual funds. Always take advantage of an employee matching funds.

How do you spend less than you earn? Be frugal.

Mom and dad always had a vegetable garden, along with flowers. (Didn’t everyone have fresh tomatoes and berries in the summer?)

Figure out what you want in life. People and relationships are more important than things.
Determine what is a need vs. a want. Much spending is framed as a need which is really a want.

Be very careful about comparing yourself to someone else who seems to have a lot of toys and other things. They may be very heavily in debt.
Consider bartering for something you want with something you can trade or do.
Get rid of student and credit card debt – pay down cards carrying the high interest first.
Use credit cards only if you can pay off the full amount every month, and delay the purchase until you can

Frugality doesn’t mean you never spend money, it means you only spend money on things that matter. Frugality gives you a level of financial stability that affords you options.

Strategies
Reduce and recycle does not conflict with the Pioneer Creed.

Spend as little as you can on entertainment. Find free or low cost activities and events to do. Ex: Have picnics and pot lucks. Rent from Redbox or Netflix, instead of going out to the movies.

Take good care of your body – it is the only one you will have. Buy healthy food. Reduce consumption of junk food. Brush and floss your teeth twice every day! Have regular medical and dental checkups. Prevention is important. It isn’t necessary to go to the doctor for every little thing. It is important to go if something seems like an urgent medical situation. Don’t wait.

Use your public library to check out books, movies, etc.

Eating out is expensive and should be reserved for special occasions and for quality time together. Frozen pizza is a better alternative to going out when too busy to cook.

Consider buying used items instead of new. Will the well maintained, used bike for sale at the local bike shop do the job as well as a new one? Maintain the things you own.

When buying something not urgent, think about waiting for 72 hours. If you’re prone to impulse shopping, don’t go into stores. Minimize temptation.

Never gamble. Do not be a day trader.

One of the easiest things to cut back on is your food budget. Learn to cook and prepare food. When you go shopping, shop from a list. Make menus from weekly store flyer specials. If you use coupons, only buy the things you would ordinarily buy. Be careful, a lot of coupons are for boxes of food!

Don’t shop hungry or when you are in a hurry!

Plan menus. Plan some emergency freezer meals, like pizza, when you are too tired to cook.

Buy real food. Don’t buy a lot of food in boxes. Shop the outer perimeter of the store where the real food is. Do your best to stay out of the inside aisles. Prep your weekly lunches on Sunday night.

Don’t Waste Your Food: Leftovers Must Be Eaten! Use them for lunches. Freeze for future meals.

Make a ‘Saturday soup’ with leftovers. My mom made lots of soups at the end of the week.

Eat less meat. Cook beans, split peas, or other similar items. Make hummus.

Drink water, milk, and tea. Minimize drinking sodas, which have high fructose corn syrup. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables for snacks. Bake cookies and cupcakes for treats.

Eat oatmeal for breakfast.

For even more savings, learn to make yogurt and bake bread.

Websites

Frugalwoods

The Thrifty Couple (They were over $100,000 in debt.)

Mr. Money Mustache (Very hard core)

The Power of Thrift

The Root of Good

Books

The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

Make it Last by Elmer Proulx

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

The Simple Path to Wealth by J L Collins

The Bogleheads Guide to Investing by Lindauer, Larimour, LeBoeuf

The Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam

The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko