Friday, January 9, 2009

Simplicity and frugality: Watch words for 2009

For a couple of reasons I have never made New Year resolutions. Mainly, I don't want to set myself up for failure. Life trips me up enough as it is without me putting up new hurdles to get over. Plus, I like to think I am on an ongoing quest to better myself. No annual lists necessary.

Nevertheless, I recognize that a new year presents an opportunity to assess and challenge ourselves. Since I have been meaning to write this post for two weeks, I assess that I have a tendency to procrastinate and challenge myself to complete tasks in a more timely manner. Also, looking at my most recent BJ's and Shop-Rite bills, I assess that I am a spendthrift - a welterweight spendthrift, but a spendthrift nonetheless. I am challenging myself to cut back on unnecessary purchases and to look for new ways to save money.

According to the the pundits, the economists and my investment portfolio, 2009 will be financially difficult for many of us. President-elect Barack Obama is issuing dire predictions that things will get worse before they get better. It is no wonder that groups and websites like Wisebread and Frugal Village that promote low budget living are gaining traction across the country. These sites give suggestions on saving money - from shopping at salvage grocery stores to homesteading. While buying dented cans of food or living and sharing expenses with strangers is not an option for everyone, most of us will admit that we have opportunities to be more frugal, and to simplify our lives.

Having accepted the frugality challenge, my first step was to unsubscribe from any mailing list aimed at selling me something. Gap, Old Navy, DSW, Zappos, Gymboree, Children's Place, Stride Rite, Piperlime,, Tuesday Morning, Sears, JCPenney, Target, Disney, AirTran, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines. And those are only the ones I can remember. I am sure I have forgotten some. I did not realize before starting the unsubscribing process that I was getting so many emails on a daily basis announcing clearances, season sales and 'low, low prices.' Each one an opportunity to 'need' and buy something else.

That process has led to other choices for simplification - and hopefully, savings. I have decided to wash all my laundry in cold water. I save time on sorting and money on electricity/gas. I have decided to cook every week day and to shop from a meal plan and only with a list. I save time contemplating what's for dinner and avoid the temptation of buying take out. I also save money on eating out and on unnecessary grocery purchases.

I am looking forward to seeing how these steps are going to make my life better - and also if I can save enough money to justify the giraffe Dooney bag I want.

Are you planning any changes in spending for 2009? Do you think your life can be simplified?

1 comment:

  1. It just so happens that before I left the office this evening I was having this very same discussion on savings with a colleague. I had pointed out that years gone by I did much better at stretching the dollar and making the salary meet my expenses.

    I tried to justify my pleasure spending in recent years, though moderate, with the fact that I have pinched for so long that I felt I got to the point of my life, where I should be able to indulge in some simple pleasures... without guilt. This I felt is only natural after working for over ten years of my life now, with no responsibilities except for myself. Yet some how it still felt like I am wasting.

    When I had just started working, I used to prepare a budget religiously, when really I had no choice but to make the dollar stretch and found back then that I was able to cover my immediate needs and the occasional emergency. Over the years I just gradually stopped. After realising that I was now trying to keep a tally in my head, last year reverted to this means of monitoring my spending and to my surprise and delight, rediscovered that it does indeed truly work. I now swear by a budget. Tested and true. I found that it helped me to manage my expenses and in most cases I was able to keep more for savings.

    I have no intention of denying myself the occasional treat, how could I? But I will, like you, look more closely at what I pick up in the supermarket and how much more I can save.