Frugality bloggers are all about the hacks, i.e., the conscious ways they stretch every dollar. My daughter recently wrote about unconscious savings – or, rather, savings she didn’t specifically pursue.
“I have an awful lot of unintentional frugality, just based on how I live my life,” Abby notes in a piece called “Life’s accidental savings.”
Among them: working at home (huge savings there), not having a pool (they’re fairly common in Phoenix), skipping manicured hands and a manicured landscape, not eating red meat or drinking coffee, having hermit tendencies, and laziness.
What she calls “laziness” has to do more with spoon theory than sloth. A near-fatal neurological illness left Abby with some permanent health issues, one of which is chronic fatigue. So when she says she’s sometimes “too lazy” to make a junk food run, it probably means she’s not sure she would be able to get back out of the car and into the house after the errand was completed.
(True story: Once when walking home from the bus in Seattle, Abby considered lying down on the public sidewalk because the two steps up to her front walkway seemed just too much to manage. She did make it into the house, but I expect she used her last spoon to do so.)
Judging from the comments sections, she’s not the only person accidentally saving money.
Her readers cite habits/personality traits like hating to shop, loving to cook, going for up to a year without a haircut, buying used books, and working out at home with YouTube videos.
The nice thing about accidental savings? You get to feel a little better about the frugal fails!
For example, Abby acknowledges that she and Tim don’t cook often enough. Dining out costs a lot more than cooking, which causes them continuing consternation. But they don’t buy work attire (let alone dry-clean it), get weekly mani-pedis, drink coffee or hit the clubs, so for now it’s a draw.
Lifestyle-based budget boosters leave some wiggle room for the stuff you truly want. A reader named “TLC” says she should probably dress a little better at work but she just doesn’t care enough. The money she saves on professional togs goes to restaurant meals and professional massage.
Can I play, too?
I’m with her on that last. No machine runs for 56 years without some maintenance issues, so when I drastically retooled my budget one of the line items was “a monthly two-hour massage.”
Bonus: A licensed massage therapist I know is about to go solo, which means the monthly cost will actually go down by $35. You could look at that as an extra $420 per year to put into my Roth IRA or my emergency fund. I might look at it that way, too. But some months I’m going to look at it as “the option for another massage if I truly need it.”
Some other default lifestyle settings that save DF and me quite a bit:
- We don’t have a television.
- We cook all meals at home, buying almost everything on sale or from the “manager’s special” bin. We make our own yogurt, and either bake our own bread or buy it for as little as 50 cents from a bakery outlet.
- The local newspaper hires me to review theater, which means two free tickets and a $60 honorarium.
- We do our own cleaning and home repairs.
- We garden, both for fun and because fresh fruit and vegetables are delicious. We also preserve food that we grow or glean.
- We live in a small-ish home that’s easy to heat, clean and maintain.
- Ours is a one-car household, and his 15-year-old Subaru doesn’t cost much to insure.
- We have library cards.
Your mileage may vary
Does this make us boring? Maybe. Some people can’t understand how we can live without television. But I have a frugal hack for that, too, based on my pickup truck theory of life: My friend Linda B. records anything she thinks I’d like, and every so often I’ll go over to share chocolate and gossip while watching a ton of TV.
We wouldn’t have time for regular TV viewing anyway. After all, we have a piano, a radio, a ton of CDs and vinyl, many unread books and, right now, seeds to be started.
Your mileage may vary. Maybe you can’t see yourself without a daily coffee or a weekly pedicure. As long as the books balance and you’re setting money aside for your future, I say go with whatever gives you a satisfied life.
So how about it: In what ways do you save money just by being yourself? Have you always been this way or have your priorities changed over the years?