Questions to ask before paying more for quality

There's something to be said for spending more on a quality item. If frugality is about getting the most value out of something, spending more on quality can actually be thrifty. In a recent post, I admitted that I once splurged on a $200 coat. A couple of readers rightfully pointed out that an expensive purchase isn't always a waste of money. If it is a high-quality coat that lasts years, it may be a better purchase than a cheap $50 coat you replace every season.

Still, there is a fine line between buying quality and using quality as a justification to spend more. Here are a few things I consider before I plop down a bunch of money on a so-called quality item.

Can I find it cheaper?

Apologies for sounding like an infomercial, but quality doesn't have to be expensive. Ever found a big discount on something you know you will use often and that will last years? It's a great feeling! Here are a few ways to spend less on quality:<

Continue reading...
More about...Frugality

How to Save for a House

How to save for a house? It's a common question among newly married couples, but this was not our first marriage milestone. My wife and I didn't wait too long after our wedding to create a family.

We were parents one week before our first anniversary. Our apartment was too small for a third human, so we endeavored to buy a house. Unfortunately, we didn't have a lot of cash on hand since we moved from Florida to Virginia six weeks before we got married, and we footed most of the bill for the wedding.

A couple on move-in day

However, we were still able to buy a house, though barely in time for the birth, but amassing a down payment relatively quickly. If you're also scrounging for a down payment, here are some ways you can save and reach that goal faster.<

Continue reading...
More about...Budgeting, Frugality, Home & Garden, Retirement

Cold and flu season: Stock your medicine cabinet for less

Though our family has already had one sneak peek, cold and flu season is about ready to really get started.

Because I would like avoid as many sick visits to the doctor as I possibly can, I decided to check out our medicine cabinet and make sure it is ready for this winter -- and beyond.

What you should include in your medicine cabinet

Obviously, what you should include in your medicine cabinet depends on your needs, but here is a list to get you started. Oh, and I am not a doctor. Obviously. Read the labels. Use common sense.

Continue reading...
More about...Frugality, Health & Fitness

Will canning your food save you money?

When I was a child, we lived on a farm that had a grape arbor loaded with Concord grapes. Each September, my mom would can jars upon jars of grape juice, and I have fond memories of evenings around the kitchen table as our family ate popcorn and drank that delicious stuff (which doesn't taste like anything I've ever purchased from a store).

Well, apparently, nostalgia set in this year, and I ordered 1.5 bushels of Concord grapes. (And if you're wondering how much that is, it felt like a whole vineyard.) The grapes came earlier than I expected, so I texted my husband that morning: "The grapes are here and they're RIPE. We need to can the juice tonight."

He texted back: "Sounds grape." Yes, he really did.

Continue reading...
More about...Food, Frugality

A better way to calculate the value of your time

It's both fascinating and useful to calculate the value of your time. Financial freedom gives you options and flexibility. But without time, that means nothing. Time is a precious resource that we should spend wisely.

Knowing the value of your time is helpful for a variety of reasons:

  • If you're a freelancer, it can help you decide on gigs.

Continue reading...
More about...Career, Economics, Frugality, Planning, Side Hustles

Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough

I recently discovered the book "Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much." To be honest, I don't even remember how I came to find out about the book. Maybe someone recommended it; maybe I read about it somewhere. Lately, I've been overwhelmingly busy, and, as a result, my short-term memory is shot.

Coincidentally, that's what the book is about. Authors/researchers Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir explain how our mental bandwidth changes when we don't have enough of something -- namely, time and money.

Contrary to the belief that poor decision-making leads to poverty, the book's authors sought to prove that it's actually the other way around: poverty (or scarcity) leads to poor decision-making. What's more, scarcity creates an awful cycle of bad decisions. The authors point to study after study that proves this to be true.

Continue reading...
More about...Psychology, Frugality

How to negotiate when you hate negotiating

In an ideal world, you wouldn't need to go negotiate. In an ideal world, the weather would be perfect, there would be no war, and your employer would simply say, "Hey, your value to our company has increased. Here's ten thousand dollars."

If only, right? When it comes to earning more, negotiating is usually a necessary part of the equation. The negotiating masters among us have a serious leg up.

I do not have a leg up. In most circumstances, I dread negotiating. I'd rather watch paint dry than negotiate. I'd rather eat a chard smoothie. I'd rather give someone a ride to the airport at 8am on a Monday.

Continue reading...
More about...Career, Frugality, Psychology, Side Hustles

In defense of frugality

Frugality isn't very sexy. I'll admit that.

For most people, the concept of thrift probably conjures images of coupon clipping, stock photos of piggy banks, and Benjamin Franklin -- none of which are terribly glamorous.

Frugality, is, however, in line with the concept of getting rich slowly. We've learned that building wealth has much to do with living below your means. You have to increase your income, yes. But in the process of looking for ways to earn more -- whether it's negotiating, switching careers, picking up side gigs -- frugality is your friend.

Continue reading...
More about...Frugality

Giving makes us happier, but what if you don’t have much to give?

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, or maybe it's that I'm in a better financial place than I was just a few years ago, but lately, I've been thinking a lot more about giving back.

In recent years, it's becoming more important to me to be socially conscious and charitable. I'm secure, I'm healthy, and I'm free. That contentment seems to urge me to check in on the rest of the world.

Or, maybe it's coming from a more selfish place.

Continue reading...
More about...Giving, Frugality