Friday, August 3, 2012

The Upside of Living Frugally - Indulge in Travel

Upon learning that I am a frugal person people commonly offer something akin to their condolences.  Frugal living gets a bad wrap in my opinion.  Why does restraint equate to deprivation?  Frugality to me means the efficient allocation of time and money.  Impulsive purchases are nearly non-existent.  Time allows me to ask if I truly need something, determine if I can enjoy it in a way other than ownership, and locate the best purchase price.  When applied to the big ticket items in life, it can save you thousands of dollars a year.  And the upside is that you have a pool of cash freed up for passions in life.

And for me one passion is travel.  So, as you read this I will likely be driving north on I-94 to St. Paul, Minnesota.  For the first time since becoming a mother (four years on August 18th), I am taking a Girls Weekend with a dear friend.  We opted for St. Paul because the weekend coincides with a 5k run.  The hotel I selected is on the river and is the site of the event.  I booked the room, no coupon, no discount.  Ease was what I wanted, and it is what I'm getting.  No rushing to find parking.  Just get up, go downstairs, and run.

If I lived every day that way, and executed every financial transaction that way, this would likely not be feasible.  So, after my weekend on the river, I will return to Madison and my frugal ways.  If you want to free up space in your budget for indulgences, consider the following big picture frugal methods:

  • rent housing if the price per square foot is less than owning (we rented for several years, right through the bubble, holding off because rent was less expensive than owning);
  • if you take out a mortgage, take it out for 50% less than what the bank wants to loan you;
  • challenge property assessments if you bought during the bubble.  Ours was lowered and saved us several thousand a year;
  • drive a reliable, older car (a 7 year old Honda and 9 year old Mazda reside in our garage). Paid for in full, there are no interest payments to worry about and insurance savings considerable;
  • be a one car household if you can (we were for the first 4 years of marriage, adding the second because of a change in work habits that made biking simply impossible for my husband);
  • borrow or rent instead of own as much as possible (extend the lending library concept to anything you can);
  • determine what you can spend money on that will allow you to make money (for me this was hiring a college student to do basic administrative tasks in my legal office, freeing up hours in which I could see more clients); and
  • buy used -- from clothing to books to cars to homes, you realize a steep discount once the shine has worn off.  
With that I leave you to your weekend.  Thanks for reading, and I'll be back next week with more thoughts on frugal living.

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