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December 03, 2010


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You don't drink coffee?!? Hmmm, I might need to reevaluate everything that I have ever read on this site. I find it hard to trust people who don't like coffee.

- I buy the same amount of generic or store brands as before--a minimum. Most of our grocery bill goes towards fresh fruit, veggies, chicken & steak.
- I always buy lunch at the company cafeteria. It's cheap and I need a break from being in my office.
- We drink bottled or filtered water because the tap water here tastes horrible and is often embargoed due to farm runoff contamination. When they say it's safe I still don't trust it. I get the bottled water at a warehouse club.
- I enjoy goumet coffee--but I only drink it in the morning and I make it myself at home. I don't buy it at work because I don't drink it any of the rest of the day.
- I haven't had a land line in years. I cancelled it not because of the cost, but because the only people who called on this line were annoying telemarkets and people doing "surveys"--ugh.
- I have some pretty aggressive saving and investing goals--so that is why we are careful not to eat out very often. Taking the family out to even a cheap chain restaurant (like Applebees, beloved of FMF!) costs way more than it's "worth", IMO. They do basic food, nothing special, so why spend 10X more than what it would cost if we just ate at home? I enjoy cooking anyway.

We're pretty frugal to begin with, so this is going to sounds weird, but we actually increased our spending.

We are able to do this because of 2 reasons:
1.) Our desire to help the economy in our own small way.
2.) We are totally debt free (including home and car).

Of course we are still saving 25 to 30% of our income, and we still spend less than the typical US family, but at least we are picking up the slack from others cutting out their spending (which is great, don't get me wrong!!!)

Frugal folks keep their habits no matter what the economy is like. Except I tend to purchase more when times are bad because prices come back to earth. For instance, now is a good time to buy EnergyStar rated windows, doors and insulation because retailers are reducing prices AND Uncle Sam is offering 30% tax rebates.

We rarely buy generic because it's cheaper to buy when brand name products are on sale, combined with coupons.

We still pack lunches, as we have done forever.

We don't do bottled water regularly more because of health concerns - our own (the plastic) and that of the environment. I buy it on sale, and use coupons so that we can take it with us in situations FMF describes. I pay no more than $.10/bottle.

Like FMF we don't do coffee. We usually do not buy drinks when we are out and about.

We have very cheap cell phone service so we stioll have a landline.

We have not intentionally cut back on spending. We're not big spenders to begin with and have no debt.

We watch our expenses already, so we didn't really adjust our spending when the economy started tanking.

I refuse to give up my landline because I am not a fan of using my cell all the time.

I buy generics some, but there are a lot of generic products I do not like. (Especially not dryer sheets!)

We rarely use bottled water, unless we are on vacation. I love to freeze them and use them as ice for the cooler on long car trips. Then when they defrost, you have hyour drink for the amusement park or wherever you are at.

since I started to record every dollar that I spent, I realised that I started to save more or spend wisely for example, take lunch at the company canteen at cheaper price. Eat company provided cookies & coffee as breakfast, eat fruits in between of meals instead of going to cafe.

- We have always bought generic, unless there was a true taste difference

- I have cut back on when I eat out at work, but I still do it sometimes because I find that its good for building work relationships.

- I don't really drink water on the go, but usually find a cup works fine. I have never really bought bottled water.

- I only buy coffee when I am traveling during the day (not stopping at the office first), or as a treat on the weekends. When traveling, I usually go to panera, and if i bring my own travel mug they charge for a "refill" instead of the normal coffee price. The treat on weekends is maybe once a month....

- my husband and i have never had a land line. In fact, the last time I had a land line was in 2000. We have an extra "land line" cell phone on our family plan. We originally got it so that my husband could have a separate work number, but its also good to have a cell phone to leave at home for the babysitter if she needs to call us. We are getting a bluetooth "phone" that uses cordless phones. Just set the cell phone near the dock, and you can use cordless phones anywhere in the house. We looked at getting a land line, but its too expensive.

A lot of our spending habits have changed throughout the course of the recession, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's BECAUSE of the recession. We're actually making more money than we ever have before, but we also got married, bought a house, and the reality is that our priorities have slowly but surely changed over the past 2-3 years.

How we spend money on food has changed in the regard that we actually PLAN meals now and shop weekly from a targeted shopping list. This has dramatically reduced our food budget in two ways: First, we almost never throw food away anymore, because we don't over-buy. Second, because we have a plan and always know what's for dinner, we never resort to going out just because we don't know what else to do or are to lazy to figure it out. We DO still go out to eat on occasion, but now we got to excellent restaurants and have great meals, rather than going to mediocre casual dining establishments and having something we could have made at home.

I've always taken my lunch to work every day, so nothing has changed there, but my husband has started to do the same much more often. Unfortunately, he works in an environment where EVERYONE goes out to eat almost every day - something that is very much a part of the office culture - and opting out can work to his disadvantage in a lot of ways, so he's trying to strike a balance.

One of the most obvious changes we've made in our habits - partially as a result of the recession and partially just good ole' common sense - is that we stopped watering our lawn about 1/3 of the way through the summer.

We live in an arid, high-mountain state where municipal water is very spendy (it would make your head spin FMF. I grew up in Michigan and know very well how cheap water is there. Such is not the case here). Very light watering on our part in June - before it even got hot - resulted in a $120 bill for ONE month. Lunacy!

So, we stopped watering, the grass completely died, and next spring we'll be taking advantage of a tax-credit in our water district that will enable us to convert our yard to xeriscape.

I also keep the thermostat at 62 degrees at all times now.

Bottled water and Starbucks seem to be the only real changes that aren't new. Generic purchases are unchanged. MORE people are eating out lunch. The change in land lines has been a trend for many years now so thats nothing new.

Personally we haven't changed our attitudes about any of these recently. We buy generic, I pack my lunch, we use a water filter and there are no daily coffee purchases. My wife does buy coffee occasionally but its more like 1-2 times a week. We do have a landline still for a few reasons.

I still have my land-line.... but only because I still use dial up for my internet. It works good enough for me and only cost me $13 dollars a month for internet. I do have to skip most of the you-tube videos though. They just take to long to download. Maybe someday I'll splurge and spring for high speed internet. ;-)

I've been frugal ever since I came from Soviets:)
- I buy either generic or brand on deep sale (don't care as long as the price is cheaper than any other option)
- I always packed my lunch, since I was a child, and I am 41 now
- I never buy water - there are always options to refill, find water fountain, use restroom, or go without (nobody died of dehydration in this country in this day and age, if we go without for a day)
- I never bought coffee in the morning, but I do buy coffee once a month as a reward - does it count either way?
- Not doing land-line cancelling as I have a teenager who's one form of punishment is removing his cell phone - and then I need to know he is home. In general, even when he has a cell phone in use, I call the house number - cell phone can be taken anywhere.

My spending habits really haven't changed at all for over 6 years - "Spend as little as humanly possible."

I guess the only thing different is that I ended up selling my 19-year old truck back in 2009, and have not bought any other vehicle (so I don't pay car insurance other than a minimal $10 a month to cover me in the case of me driving someone else's vehicle and obviously I don't pay anything else that goes along with owning a vehicle)

-I buy a lot of generics.
-I bring my lunch most days.
-I drink unfiltered tap water at home and drink delivered water from large bottles at work. We have a water club at work- costs about $5/mo per person. I work in a large old federal building in DC where the tap water has had problems (like too much lead).
-I don't drink coffee.
-I still have a landline, I use it to get DSL internet service. I also hardly use a cell phone, but I have a cheap minutes pre-paid Tracfone that use for travel and emergencies.
I am pretty frugal already.

In the last year, I have tried to increase my passive income a bit like using various credit cards for cash back money in particular spending categories when I need to buy something. I keep a piece of paper in my wallet to tell me which card is offering 5% cashback in what category for what month. I also started up a new checking account that pays about 3.5% interest if I meet certain conditions- mostly bank electronically and make 10 debit card purchases a month. I moved a lot of my savings acct money into it to take advantage of the interest. I lend money in Prosper and Lending Club peer-to-peer lending online to get a better interest rate, but I don't have too much in there because the loans unsecured.

I cut back cable TV services and telephone services to a minimum about two years ago. If I don't use cable I can't get any TV reception at all- I only get the broadcast channels plus a few more now. I use ECG long distance service to save money. I am constantly working on trying to cut my home energy costs. During last year's very cold weather after one high energy bill, I blocked off the return air vent in my kitchen (I live in a condo) to stop it from sucking all the warm air out into the building return air system. I will only do that during the real cold months or when I am not cooking, as some ventilation of the kitchen is needed. Now I am thinking about putting bubble wrap on the inside of some of the ceiling to floor windows I have in each room. I already use insulated drapes and keep them closed most of the time when it is cold, but this is an extra step I can take to cut down on the heat loss. I also blocked off the 2nd bathroom fan vent to keep warm air from seeping out. This is a guest bathroom that hardly gets used. I am asking Santa for an electric blanket so I can turn the thermostat down a little more at night.

I am starting to eat more beans- cheap and good for you. I shop at Costco and try to buy in bulk to save. I get some savings ideas from

By just cutting out the cable tv (or to limited basic) and getting ONE minimal/economical phone plan is $100~ a month saved. Netflix $.99 plan vice $9. etc.,...Turn the T stat to 65-68'F when home, 58'F otherwise and at night saves a LOT. Get some weatherstrip and change the filters. Use minimal lights/electric/water, wash in cold, hang it out to dry. Drive a LOT less, take the bus more or "heaven forbid" - WALK! REGULAR gas vice premium. Increase car/homeowner deductibles to $1K and eliminate duplicate coverages saves $$ at every bill. COUPONS in the free papaers and that come with the junk mailare useful. ANYBODY can take a typical family and chop $50 week/$250 mo/$3K+ a year w/ no pain. Even more isn't that hard....

Switched from Venti to Grande. Switched garbage collection from weekly to monthly. Disconnected downspouts and received lower water/sewer charge. Increased deductibles on homeowners/auto insurance. As youngest child turned 23 went from family health insurance to individual coverage - huge savings! - my wife has her own coverage through work. Reduced life insurance coverage, as 2 of my 4 children are now on their own, and a third likely will be on her own soon. Total savings about 640/month. I'm thinking of adding cable, after going without for 10 years. Ditched the second car 4 years ago. Always had storm windows/doors since buying 1st house in 1981. Convinced my wife to stop using bottled water. Installed fuel efficient gas furnace 5 years ago when the old furnace quit. Replacing regular light bulbs with CFLs as the old ones burn out - about 2/3 of house lights replaced. Installed low flow showerhead. Last summer I too allowed the lawn to go brown - but I kept the garden watered; estimated savings of $200; will likely do the same next summer.

No health insurance.

I can already hear people screaming over that one. But here's why.

We used to spend $1000 per month for our family's health insurance, and we were ALWAYS sick. Three years ago, we decided to put that money towards actually keeping ourselves healthy. Now we spend $1000 per month on better groceries- organic produce, grass-fed beef, organic chicken. It requires making nearly all our food from scratch to eat chemical-free, but it is absolutely worth it. We have also learned how to treat minor illnesses the old-fashioned way, with natural remedies and allopathic medicine.

We have seen a doctor only once in the past three years (which is nothing short of a miracle for this family), and that was because I tore a ligament in my ankle after a fall. Guess what the doctor said- "Sorry, there's nothing I can do except write a prescription for pain" (which I didn't use because two over-the-counter Motrin would do the same thing).

Health insurance is one of the worst investments out there, in my opinion. Investing in keeping your body *genuinely healthy* is a much better deal. I'd rather invest in myself than an insurance company any day of the week.

It's funny that americans try and cut corners with such small things. When there are much bigger things to cut out. For instance, if I cut out 100 dollars a month by buying generic brand foods, then I go home and write a check to my bank for my car loan, I could save a lot more money by learning how to finance my own purchases and store the money in my personal private banking system then I ever could save by cutting small corners. Small corners are good, but big corners are better.

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