Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Frugal Basics: Staying Grounded in Reality

The kids, being kids this past summer.  In a blink of an eye, we'll be moving them into college dorms!

This week marks a huge milestone in the course of our little frugal family; our children start school.  The eldest will be in kindergarten, and the youngest in preschool.  Both will be attending five full-days.  While we were marking their outwear with our last name and gathering comfy blankets for their afternoon rest/nap time, my husband and I found ourselves talking about college.

To my surprise my husband was bracing himself for the not so distant future when college will present itself on the horizon.   College for him marked the first time he saw people spend like crazy.  It was college, spare no expense.  And it was clear he was concerned about that tidal wave hitting our home.

I do not fear the tidal wave.  Why?  It is the same thinking we've been exposed to on our journey into marital life.  First it was the wedding -- "it's your special day, indulge and spend".  Then a child was born -- "he must have the best of everything!"  When we bought a house "borrow the maximum that the bank will lend -- money is so cheap!".  Time and again sales people, and those who have bought the sales pitch, encouraged us to do the same.  Basically saying for this one special thing, forget your frugal ways and have fun.  To date we've never followed that path.  Our wedding day was special, and unlike most marriages these days -- very simple, very frugal.  Our children have all the clothes and and items they need, even though most were not new but rather from thrift stores.  Our home is relatively modest, and far less than what the bank thought we could afford.  We never suspended our critical brains and "just went nuts".  And so as we enter the school years I have no fear that we'll go crazy when college applications before a focus.  I assume we'll take our same frugal approach"

  • avoid or limit the use of debt to make the purchase;
  • pay cash or in advance in order to receive a discount;
  • analyze options and compare features;
  • look for hidden costs;
  • seek out discounts or freebies (i.e. scholarships or grants);
  • create a budget and live within it
If a big life event is upon you, do not get swept out of your reality.  Remember that people are selling you things.  Their sales numbers are their main concern, not your financial health.  Stay grounded.  Accept what you can afford.  Question the value of what you are being sold.  Aim for long-lasting quality when possible. And remember a frugal life does not mean a life without nice things.  We just do not have the nicest of everything, just the things we really value.  For us they are: food, travel and education.



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