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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When I'm not so frugal

So far, it must seem to you, that I'm extremely frugal. I suppose that's easy to conclude, considering what my topics for posts have been, up to date. I share all the frugal things I do, so that if someone is looking for particular information or inspiration, they may indeed find it. But not all in my life is frugal. I do not eat, drink, sleep and dream frugality.

It may shock you to hear that I've been to the mall twice in the last week. *gasp* (Quick get the smelling salts, Bertha's suffering from the vapors!) The first time, it was such a beautiful and sunny day, I wanted to be out in the sunshine. And believe it or not, our local mall is great for that. You see a good portion of the mall is an outdoor plaza, with fountains and lovely landscaping. And there is a sidewalk that goes all around the perimeter of the entire mall, which makes for a very nice walk. And while I was there, (hold onto to your hat) I bought a Jamba Juice. And I didn't even have a coupon! The second time I was at the mall, I was looking for a gift for a friend. That day, I spent a couple of mind-numbing hours in the mall. (But I found two pennies!)

I have a particular brand of shirt that I especially like, Lands End no-iron shirts. They fit just right, look great and wash well, time after time. They're not cheap. But to me they are worth the money. And I buy the mens' version for my husband and son. Quite nice, and they simplify my chores as they don't require ironing.

Socks. I have very fussy feet. I can't wear all-cotton socks. I can only wear acrylic, and my feet prefer a very specific brand that I get through mail-order. Again, not cheap, so I'll do everything I can to make those socks last as long as possible.

As a family, we go out to eat every so often. It's a nice family time, as the whole family is stuck together for the duration of the meal. I try to plan something that will feel special, like an afternoon at Pike Place Market, followed by a dinner out, or getting fish and chips down at the beach, or a Sunday afternoon poking around the shops in a nearby town, followed by dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant. I try to make sure that our dinners out are memorable.

I have patronized Starbucks a handful of times in the past year. I use these treats as pick-me-ups when I need it. For instance, after my frightening morning at the dentist a couple of weeks ago, my daughters and I went to Starbucks. Going there seemed to take the gloom out of my difficult day. But I will say, Starbucks has not become routine for me.  Each visit is not just another cup of coffee. I space them out and save those cups for a treat.

I buy the occasional bar of good chocolate. I could just buy a bag of cheap chocolate chips. But the good chocolate tastes so much better, and I'm more inclined to make it last.

I spend a fair amount of money on nutritional supplements. A lot of people think this is just money down the drain, but I'm easily convinced that just a smidge more of this or a liquid version of that, and my aches and pains would subside. And actually, there are some supplements that when I take then regularly, I do feel better and have more energy.

Those are some of the areas I'm just not so frugal. And I don't intend to change my ways with those indulgences. I work them into the budget by cutting back on things that don't matter as much or give me as great a reward.

So, when are you not so frugal? Are there some things that you just won't compromise on?


  1. I have finally started to buy more clothes from Lands End. I was getting great buys and decent clothes from Khols, except for the fact that their shirts always shrunk. I have a long torso, so they never looked quite right after I washed them. But I wore them anyway. I am buying fewer things now, but I feel better in them because they fit. And Lands End does have great sales. If you're not on their email list, you should join. Yes, you get more emails than you might like, but you do get a lot of good deals.

    BTW, you are mentioned on my blog today. Take a look.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I just love Lands End quality. And the fact that I can return to Sears makes it even easier. I'm very fussy about fit and fabric. When I order something, if it isn't exactly what I want I take it back. I'll have to sign up for their email list. Thanks for the heads up on that. I do receive coupons from them in regular mail.

      Thank you for your kind words on your blog today!

  2. I believe that the whole purpose of being frugal is so that you can live life on your terms. :-)

    I am brand loyal on a few choice, because I've tried others and realized if I was tossing it -- it wasn't savings.

    I only use hypoallergenic washing allergies dictate it.

    Hubby wears expensive suits, but he gets years of wear out of them. Still hurts when we buy them up front, but I know that he'll get tons of use. In fact, we just retired one that was 19 years old. We just look for the most timeless and traditional look we can find and go with it.

    Daughter cannot wear spandex -- in a spandex crazy world. Most of her winter clothes are from "name brand" stores because we have to hunt around to find cotton clothes outside of the summer months.

    The list could go on, but I think that making decisions to spend money isn't anti frugal -- I think that when you blindly spend and don't think or plan for it may be anti frugal.

    Anyway, I'd love to know where you order your socks. As I said daughter is allergic to spandex and we had been buying one kind of sock only for years only to see a new and improved sticker on the package stating how much spandex they had added.

    1. Hi Shara,
      A couple of months ago, my father-in-law asked me what my definition of frugality was. I told him frugality was thoughtful stewardship of one's resources. When I do spend a little extra here or there, I've tried to do so in a thoughtful manner. That seems to be what you are saying as well. Good suits do cost more, in the initial outlay, but they can last decades.

      I order socks through the Hanes catalog. I'll dig up the name later today and add it here. The socks have a name like "world's softest socks" but I'm not sure on that. Another brand that our family really likes is Gold Toe (not the brand, I don't think, but the phrase that is on all their packaging). I like these socks for my husband and son for two reasons 1) they clearly indicate what materials are used, and 2) the country they are made in. This second one is most important to me. I have boycotted socks (and other products) from particular countries with whose governments I do not agree. So I appreciate this clear labeling as to where the socks are made.

      Thanks for your comments!

    2. Shara, the catalog is But I just looked at the description of the socks (and they are called World's Softest Sock), and they do have spandex. Good luck finding a non-spandex sock, though.

  3. I like what Shara said! I would rather be frugal on daily expenses so I don't have to work full-time (and could stay home with me children in the pre-school years).

    I think you will see a theme in your posts today. I am willing to spend money on quality items which I anticipate will be used for a long time, such as for home repairs or upgrades. The second area in which I spend a little more money is in areas that affect our physical health and well-being--I've mentioned quality shoes before ... and while organic is beyond my pocketbook, I do try to keep a supply of fruits/vegetables/whole grain breads around. The third area is with relationships. I occasionally meet a friend for lunch (usually Panera or Subway so even that is frugal!) or coffee. My husband and I (not often enough!) have dates. I don't even think about the gas money it costs to visit our far-flung relatives. And while our vacations thus far have been frugal (usually camping), we DO take vacations instead of sitting home because it might save us a few bucks.

    My favorite semi-regular splurge is the Tuesday 94 cent latte day at a bagel shop/cafe here. In the summer I frequently take the kids--my son eats a bagel, my daughter and I split one, and I get my latte while they get ... water. We sandwich this in between a visit to Aldi's and the library. My kids love to read, but I don't think it hurts to enhance their love of the library with a little treat! :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      I think staying home with my kids was what propelled me into a frugal lifestyle. I can't think of any better reason for me to have made this choice.

      I'd be interested to know if there are certain brands of shoes (for women) that you look for. And I agree with maintaining relationships as a priority. We do a lot to maintain the relationships within our family. Sometimes this costs money. As you mentioned, travel expenses to visit relatives, date nights with your husband, and a little treat out with your kids. All these expenses are worthwhile, and thoughtful use of the resources given to you.

      And now I've got to run out the door and get my kids to school!

      Thanks for your input!

    2. Kris, like you we do a lot of family "things." I think nothing of hosting a big family dinner or traveling to my mama's house. Relationships are a big important part of our lives.

      I like that frugality has allowed me to stay home. We don't have two brand new cars or an extremely fancy house, but I've always been able to be home (even though I occasionally work with my husband it isn't the same as a full time job).

    3. Wow! SO many good comments here today! Isn't it great that we all share similar values and priorities?

      Lili, in answer to your shoe question ... since I no longer work full-time, I don't buy Birkenstock shoes because of the pricetag, but they do feel good on my feet. I have had variable luck with New Balance shoes. My most recent pair of tennis shoes are Asics and they are very supportive. BUT I just spent $55 on Skechers GOWALK shoes and love them. I have been looking for years for a comfortable walking shoe that looks presentable (i.e. not tennis shoes--you know, on the days you spend a few hours shopping or strolling at an event with family or friends). I think I've finally found it. I bought it in basic black--there are other colors available. You can wear them sockless (not my favorite) or with a lightweight sock. Everyone's feet are different but these work for me.

    4. Hi Kris,
      thanks for that info on shoes. I'll look for those brands. I, too, like to have a pair of walking shoes that don't look like sneakers. I don't always want to look like I've been mopping the kitchen floor. But the shoes have to be comfortable.

      Thank you!

  4. I'm not frugal about groceries -- I do look for deals but I refuse to buy processed junk because it is cheaper! I also have a secret obsession with expensive tea, a particular place that sells the BEST TEA EVER. However, I spend at most $15/month on it, and I cut back in so many other places that I feel like it's my right to get the things I really want and enjoy immensely ! Clothing I look for deals, but I am starting to buy more expensive clothes, as the cheap ones I buy fall apart so quickly that it's not even worth getting them. Again, I buy staple items so that it saves me money in the long run by having to buy less than if I were buying trendy pieces that go out of style. I also spend on going out every so often with my boyfriend, but I am frugal with what I get, usually avoid any alcohol because it costs too much and we don't do it very often. We need to allow ourselves to indulge as long as we are still on target with our budgets !

    1. Hi Gillian,
      In the long run I think buying whole foods instead of junk, at the grocery store, is frugal. If you're eating well, then you'll stay healthier, you won't need as many nutritional supplements and prescriptions. So you're doing the right thing. And tea as an indulgence is very cost-effective. You get the feeling of a splurge without breaking the bank. imagine if your idea of a splurge every month was a new Coach bag, or some other spendy item. I think you're right on track with finding ways to treat yourself, while still staying within a budget.

      Thanks for your comments!

    2. Gillian, can I come over for tea? :) Here's another thought--tea has health benefits, unlike soda pop. So you can feel good about that, too! And not only does eating well save you on nutritional supplements/prescriptions, but I'm convinced, after working in health care for many years, that it helps keep you from paying BIG healthcare bucks. Diabetes and heart disease are not cheap. I'm not saying you can't eat birthday cake ... just in moderation ...

  5. YOU GO GIRL! As you probably know, I'm not about suffering... the whole point is to enjoy your life, and frugality is just a tool that helps you get there. I don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying some luxuries - what I think is tragic is that so many in this society are literally drowning in luxuries which they never seem to enjoy. Here's to Jamba Juice, good chocolate and quality clothing!

    1. Hi Cat!
      Thanks for the encouragement! I could just sit around in the dark, in a cold house all day, eating nothing but mush (but even mush, if well done, can be delicious) and save boatloads of money, but what'd be the point?!

      Thanks for reading!

  6. I buy the Caltrate Gummy bites because my Vitamin D levels are always low and these cost almost $10 a bottle, but I buy them anyway because my back feels better when I take them regularly.

    We love drinks from Sonic and regularly stop during Happy Hour and buy the Route 44 cups of Iced Tea. They are $1.25 after school and wonderful!

    I could go on and on, but I will stop.LOL

    We eat out way too often. If you here me say on my blog that we ate every dinner at home that week, than that is a major accomplishment!!! lol

    1. Hi Belinda,
      Good for you taking your Vit. D. So what's $10, if this will keep you feeling better, and possibly save you a lot of pain and money down the road. Sometimes I think we just need to stick with what we know is working. I had someone sell me on this really expensive liquid formula supplement. I had been taking a combination of vitamins and minerals and actually doing fine. Well, I bought this expensive supplement for several months, and experienced no advantage except perhaps it eased my shoulder pain a teensy smidge -- by lightening my wallet of all that $! So I'm back to what I had been taking plus trying a different type of B vits. If the Caltrate Gummy bites are working, don't mess with it.

      And I'll note that, about when you say you ate all meals at home (I think you said that this last week, so kudos to you!).

      Thanks for your comments!

  7. I think it is an accomplishment to be able to balance frugality with spending appropriately on items that really enhance/enrich our lives. I have know a few people who were just plain cheap, and it sucked all the joy out of their lives. Money does not bring me joy, not does frugality. But being truly miserly can become a religion unto itself, and it is not pretty. So for me, balance is the goal.

    1. Hi Valarie,
      I think you're right. A good share of stewardship is knowing when it's appropriate to spend and when to save. Balance is key. And to me, that's the difference between being frugal (careful, thoughtful spending of one's resources) and being cheap (save money at any expense).

      Thank you for your thoughts!

  8. This year for the upcoming Christmas I haven't been frugal, but I made the gifts meaningful. Yes I do mean Christmas that is still 3 months away. My youngest son took a pay cut at his job, and the plan to update their kitchen was going to be put on hold so I spent $200 and 3 days of my time to give them a kitchen they now love. My oldest son bought a home this past month so instead of waiting till Christmas I helped with a few things they wanted in their home and several days of babysitting while they packed, cleaned and did the actual move. But it was well worth it and a one-time gift to each family.

  9. Hi Lois,
    That sounds really, really nice. I think sometimes doing things for our children brings us far more joy than if we'd done something for ourselves. And you've got Christmas covered, to boot! How very organized of you! But seriously, I think you gave them each something very meaningful. The essence of the spirit of giving.

    Glad you stopped in!

  10. I love this post (and judging by the comments so did a lot of other people)!

    Like a lot of other people I am not so frugal when it comes to food. I buy things like coconut oil, nuts, yogurt and even kale (yes it is expensive in my country!).

    I also tend to spend more money on big things, buying quality that will last a long time. Recently we bought a food processor that I am expecting to last for the rest of my life.

    I totally agree with those who say that the point of being frugal in most areas of your life is so that you can spend money on the things you want. We didn't turn our heater on all winter but will splurge on good quality food.

    1. Hi Economies,
      Buying quality items that will last is one of those things of importance to me. Not just because in the long run it will save money, but also I won't have to find a way to dispose of it when it breaks down, or deal with the hassles of trying to use a warranty and getting something repaired. It's just easier to buy quality, if you've saved for it.

      Now I don't think we could go the winter without heat here! But then we don't live where you can grow tomatoes in winter either ; )

      Thanks for commenting!


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