Friday, March 28

Frugal Identity Crisis

Decision making help...This may sound hard to believe, but after dealing with some very frugal circumstances I'm now finding myself pondering what should be simple decisions.

For example, I'm thinking I might like a cut of beef other than "ground beef" once in a while. Instantly, I question this thought. Am I on the road to throwing away money just because I actually have a few dollars for a change? Should I just stick with ground beef because it is cheaper?

I guess this is a symptom of forced frugality. I really didn't have to make many decisions concerning spending because most of the time there wasn't anything to spend.

I am happy to report that I'm still using the rice cooker and cooking up batches of chili. These are easy ways to make those food dollars stretch. Oatmeal for breakfast is becoming a staple again though I did need to take a break from it after living on it not too long ago.

However, the issue that is giving me the most pause is the fact that I'm looking forward to applying some cash here and there. Different cuts of meet. Something more elaborate than a bologna sandwich at lunch time. Replacing some of the threadbare clothing that may not even fit anymore. Buying a pair of shoes for work that don't have a sole that is nearly worn off.

Individually these items wouldn't amount to a hill of beans, but taken together, after years of neglect, there are a ton of little issues waiting to be solved. Combined with all the expenses of moving to a new city and starting a new job, it's disconcerting.

Just because I have a good job doesn't mean I want to start throwing my money away...

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Anonymous said...

Have you considered the Cost-co or Sam's club approach? You could get your shoes there, a better lunch and everything cheaper. With an Executive membership it pays for itself and you get a check back to spend in the store. Walmart has nice work shoes or Payless shoes. You can get a 10% discount with a Triple A auto club membership at Payless. You could get money saving coupons sent to a po box or ask for them at the membership desk. Bologna is not good for you unless it is lean. Health costs can get expensive too. You are worth a lot to yourself and family. Don't forget that and give up. Good luck. My group of pals were worried we had not heard much. Glad you are ok. If you do not replace your shoes you could get germs in there such as gangrene so, be sure to take good care of yourself. Annette Frugality is an art but, saving on expensive health threats is important too. Once you lose your health you can't get it back. Another good place for shoes is Outlet discount shoe places for name brands.

Anonymous said...

Ps. They have lean cuts of meat that cost the same as Oscar meyer bologna at the store. Nice work clothes there too or you could go to thrift shops too.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I think it is fine to spend a bit more on things you enjoy-as long as you can afford to do so. If you've paid bills/debt, put some % in savings/retirement etc then why NOT make the rest of your life a bit more enjoyable? Of course it depends on what your goals are too, but a small reward will make you feel less like you are suffering for any reason.

Just look at the things you feel you may "need" (like clothes for work etc) or "want" and prioritize them. Then get/do/have a few of them each month.

At least that's what I would do.

Anonymous said...

another good option for meet is bottom roast it usually runs about the same as ground beef, you buy a five pound roast slice it into thin stakes. freeze what your not going to use in the next 2 days. also investing in a needler (divice for tenderizing/cubing)is a HUGE help. you end up with good tender stakes for the same cost as ground.

Penelope @ Our Fourpence Worth said...

I've been living the frugal life for a few years now and can understand what this can be like. You do need to treat yourself once in a while because there is no point to life if you have to deprive yourself of everything and live in misery. (If you haven't read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, you should. It gives a good perspective on taking frugality too far.) The benefits of an occasional treat can make a big difference in your overall quality of life.

We don't eat beef in our family, so I'm not really sure how much beef costs in comparison, but have you ever tried pork shoulder butt roasts? For the past several months, I have been purchasing these large chunks of pork shoulder roasts for both human and canine members of our household because they are very affordable. Our grocery store is the only one for 40 miles so prices are quite high compared to other areas, but these roasts are usually between $0.99/lb. to $1.99/lb at our store. And they are good, quality meat. You can defrost them in the microwave and cut them into pork chops to cook on the stove, pieces for stew, roast them whole in the oven, etc.

Frugal Guy said...

Anon, Jenn, Penelope,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and advice on this issue.

I like the idea of having a base budget for expenses, debt, savings and so on -- then putting a little aside into an "improvements" category.

For example, the faucet filter/aerator in our new place had a bit of a random spray problem. Replacing it at the cost of a few mere dollars brings ongoing satisfaction.

There is definitely room for taking care of some of the things that had to be left to slide over the years... but a bit of a budget or plan to keep things under control will help.

I do also need to scout out new low priced sources of food. I am new to the area after all.

DCMerkle said...

I get that way some times myself. I do crave a nice piece of beef, so what I do is compromise. I buy the cheapest piece of steak and marinate it over night. I make up anything for a marinade. It's amazing how creative you can get. Once it's done marinading, I bake it in the oven, litely covered with foil,, smothered in onions, mushrooms, and green peppers. I save the marinade and make a gravy out of it mixed with a little cornstarch. A side dish and I'm good to go.

Things like clothes really should be replaced when needed. It's like buying a new appliance. I buy that new because after awhile it pays for itself. Clothes can be worn till they fall off, but why wait to give someone a thrill?

Kate said...

I know how you feel, i have lived so long without lots of money and not buying things that others take for granted, that when things do start to look shabby (all at once) it does end up giving me heart palputations just thinking about spending money on things like shoes, clothes, haircuts etc.
Like you say the costs individually aren't very much but togeather yikes.

Amiyrah said...

Very valid issue. My belief is that frugality is great but once you get to a level where you can treat yourself to something different, do it. Life has its ups and downs, and you may be in a situation where you won't be able to do that for yourself. You were in that type of situation and i'm sure there were times when you wanted a nice steak or a breakfast that included other things than your famous oatmeal. I would say a treat is great but radically changing your whole lifestyle would be a bit much. And don't you dare feel bad about it! You deserve it!

Anonymous said...

Just don't forget you are worth it!! Annette

Mom2fur said...

If you don't treat yourself once in a while, what's the point of saving money in the first place? To me, being frugal isn't's getting as much as I can for the best price. Sure I pass by sirloin most of the time, but if it's on sale for a good price, why not? You can't live on ground beef alone. You'll start to hate the stuff. Set aside a little money each week, if you want, for your 'sirloin steak' fund. Then when you see it on sale, you've saved up for it instead of just splurging.

Frugal Guy said...

Dcmerkle, Kate, Amiyrah, Anon, Mom2fur, thanks for adding your thoughts.

I little bit of validation and reassurance can go a long way... ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't know what area you live in, but if there is an Aldi store there you owe it to your wallet to check it out. I've been shopping there for a couple of years now and I feed the family (two adults, one teen) very, very well on about $140 a MONTH.

As for the shoes and clothing shop the thrift stores. I don't mean consignment shops. I mean Goodwill and Salvation Army. You can dress yourself well if you are willing to put the effort into shopping carefully. It takes time to find things in your size and to examine the items carefully for damage or stains, but you can get fabulous finds for your effort. No one has to know it comes from the thrift store.

You'll feel great when you get what you need and REALLY save money. New isn't always better.

George said...

The other readers' comments on meat are good ones. Costco has surprising good ground beef, leaner than what we used to get at the grocery store. The only catch is you have to buy them in 5-pound portions. Easy frugal tip is to immediately parcel and freeze them in 1-pound ziplock freezer bags when you get home.

Then anytime you feel like cooking chili, hamburger, etc. defrost a portion in the fridge the night before.

The other common tip (I think also mentioned) is to take a lesser cut of meat and marinate it OR do the slow-cooker (crockpot) thing. If you cook something at low-heat for a looooong time, it will be as succulent as any fancier cut of meat. There are zillions of crockpot recipes out there. Many are one-pot recipes, where you throw everything in (meat, veggies, sides, etc) and it all gets cooked at the same time.

Both these paths to a full stomach require some planning, but then again, being frugal you kind of have to plan ahead anyway, right?

Plus, it's kind of fun to have something delicious to look forward to in the week (beef stroganoff on Wed night, or whatever) if you've mapped out your menu.