Scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning I came across a List from a local TV station's feed -- 25 Ways to save $1,000 in the new year. Always eager to find new frugal ideas, I took a look. In the end -- not one new idea. Most I agreed with, such as buy one-generation old electronics. My husband just bought at "new" phone, one that was new 18 months ago. He paid cash, got a great deal, and no one knows the difference (unless they read my blog). Avoid the ads for "Phones for $100" and skip the fine-print. Trust me, you are paying the $600, $800 cost of that snazzy phone through the service agreement. It's hidden in the fees.
My point? To be frugal, really frugal, you need to be skeptical and shrewd. There is no such thing as a free lunch. My husband is an electronics engineer and can easily guess that cost to design, build and sell those Smart Phones. There is no way they cost $100 unless they are fake or stolen. Knowing this, he can guess the true price is hid someplace else. This is true of many "deals" you see. Someone, somewhere, somehow is getting paid. From investment insurance policies to phones to time shares, the devil is in the details.
Also, don't just adopt what some list maker says about saving money. One suggestion was ditching the gym and getting a set of weights, DVD player and tennis shoes. Yes, that may work, but it may not work for everyone. What if you like to swim? If so, then figure out what you pay per month for the gym, your average swims per month, do the math and figure out how much each swim costs. With that number, you can now shop it. I did recently. And in the end, realized my current gym is the best option. It is close, which reduces gas costs -- I can even bike there. The hours are far better than places where a swim costs $5/time. It is not weather dependent. And, when we pay for a year at a time, in cash (check is cash to them) we get even more of a discount.
To be frugal is not to act like a sheep, following the herder around. It is to go our own way, to question, to think, to revisit an issue because times change. Question, question, question....and then you'll find ways to save $1,000, if not more, in 2015.