Tag Archives: saving

Frugal Opposites?

I’m beginning to think that my husband and I are frugal opposites, not in the classic saver vs. spender situation, but we’re frugal in such opposite ways that we still somehow disagree on spending (and saving) priorities to some extent.

First off, we are both fairly frugal.  However, I am more willing to spend money when I think it saves time, like on like housecleaning, moving or computer tech help and the like.  My husband is more of a DIY-er especially related to household things like dishwasher installation, property fixes, etc..  even if it can take him a lot of time and it’s not always easy to figure out. And I guess since he’s more of a DIY-er in aspects that he’s good at, he’s also hesitant to spend money in areas just to save time (since in theory we could tackle housecleaning, for example, on our own).  After having kids, he did come around to hiring housecleaning help and I guess he was never completely against it; he just saw less reason for it than I did/do.

If any spending is remotely related to career or career-advancement, he will spend the money (or want to), while I still like to weigh the return on investment.  This is a tough one because there are countless job-related spending opportunities from books to classes to conferences.   As for measuring ROI, how do you know if that networking event or conference will result in leads and work? I tend to give it one-shot and that’s it.  Say, I attend one conference but if I don’t get much out of it, I won’t go to ANY ever again. My husband wouldn’t rule out all conferences that way; he would look into another conference or would still be open to returning to the same conference after some time has passed.  Since work-related events are often costly, this can become  a sore point.  I think I usually “win out” but I wonder if I’m holding him or myself back from true career opportunities.   He’s been creative at networking on the cheap (with real results) and I do try to be open-minded about pricier opportunities but I still have a hard time justifying that spending.

I have a harder time pulling the trigger on purchases in general.  My husband doesn’t really pay attention to small-item purchases but hesitates on big item purchases (like furniture or appliances).  I guess I believe that little things add up and this is why I still use coupons, look for  sales to stock up on household items, send in rebates, and pay attention to recurring expenses/bills.  I know that my husband doesn’t really understand why I call our internet/cable/phone provider every year.  However, one year, I knocked down $40+ per bill ($480 annually) and I’m pretty proud of that!  

Our different spending habits haven’t been a contentious issue, however, because we do always talk about big purchases.  Even if we don’t always agree, both of us have a say.  I also think that it’s been a fairly even split in terms of who “wins” in the final decisions.  In many cases, we reach a compromise by setting a budget that we both feel comfortable with, delaying the purchase a bit, or not spending at all, without the other one holding a grudge.

Are you and your significant other opposites in terms of spending/saving?  Are you both frugal yet still have different spending habits?

What Won’t You Pay For?

I love reading magazines, from money to fashion/design to family/parenting, to the point that I could easily subscribe to a dozen.  However, in the interest of saving money and reducing temptations, I limit myself to 3 or less at a time.

Despite my love of magazines, I haven’t paid for a subscription in years, not since getting my first free subscription via expiring airlines miles.   After that, I realized that there are a few ways to get my fix for free.  This works for me because no magazine is a must-have for me.  I enjoy Real Simple and Self, but as long as I get any glossy lifestyle magazine, I’m pretty happy.

In addition to airline miles, which I can never seem to redeem for travel, I have also gotten free magazines via online surveys.  I don’t waste too much time on these but I’m part of a consumer panel and I actually enjoy giving feedback so it doesn’t feel like a waste of time.  Over the years, I’ve gotten 15 – 20 free subscriptions from Lucky to Smartmoney to Martha Stewart Living.

Another way I’ve gotten free magazines is via purchases.  It’s not so common but Harry & David had a promotion — offering a free subscription with X amount purchase.   I had to email customer service but it was really easy and I think I got Sunset or Martha Stewart Living magazine. I also got a free issue of Dwell from an online furniture/decor store.

Right now I have 3 magazines coming in — 1 via surveys and 2 via Recyclebank participation.  I’m still not sure how Recyclebank works (or makes money) but I get points for reporting my recycling so I figure why not participate.

Anyway, this post wasn’t supposed to only be about ways to get free magazines. I was just wondering if other people had similar experiences.  One friend finds it hard to pay for designer jeans because she used to get it for nearly free via a work connection.  Another friend hates to pay for parking. Do you have something (or things) that you just can’t bring yourself to pay for?

My “Saving Big At The Supermarket” Story

I’ve known for a long time that our grocery bill is insanely high even for a high cost of living area.  With our current reliance on convenience foods and Trader Joes, this bill is not likely to come down.  That’s why I was pretty ecstatic to discover a new way to reduce our grocery bill.

I’m sure most people already know about the clearance bin section in every grocery store. Oftentimes it’s just an industrial looking bin/shelf tucked away in a dark corner.  Despite my frugal tendencies, I had never taken a good look at those bins, assuming that anything placed on those shelves were past their “sell-by” date.

My recent experience at a Fresh & Easy supermarket changed my perspective, which goes to show you that even old dogs can learn new tricks.  I was at F&E to buy a few items during my lunch hour.  I had been at this F&E several times and while not a favorite like Trader Joes, I liked some of their store-brand products and their smaller store size made it a good option for a quick shopping trip. 

While perusing the perimeters of the store, I noticed the clearance bin, a rather non-descriptive shelf located in the farthest corner of the store.  Instead of bypassing it as usual, however, I took a look this time and I’m so glad I did.  Two of my favorite organic baby food brands were discounted by an amazing 75-90%!  Neither Amazon.com nor Walmart could match those prices.  I immediately checked the expiration dates.   With the exception of a few jars that would expire in a month or two, the majority of items were almost a year away from their expiration date.   Without hesitation, I piled most of the items into my basket, leaving a few jars behind because I didn’t want to stockpile too much.  In hindsight, I probably should have just bought everything!

The next week, I dropped by the same Fresh & Easy store and went straight for the clearance bin.  I was hoping to find more organic baby food deals but these were all gone by then.  However, I did find good snack items on clearance at 75% off.   I also took a look at another clearance section with vegetables, fruits and other fresh foods.  While there were a few sad-looking, bruised avocados, there were also bell peppers, egg plants, corn and other still-edible vegetables.  I would have bought some if I had inclination to make dinner that night.  

I guess I longer view the clearance bin as the land of misfit foods.  Instead it’s a great option for shoppers on a budget and you can find good foods (and household products) at amazingly low prices.  Just be sure to check expiration dates!

Do you shop the clearance bins? What’s the best deal you ever got?