th1 Wealthy people think you could live on less. Here’s a piece of advice from the rich: You ought to be able to live comfortably on $25,000 to $50,000 per year.

This was one of the takeaways from the Country Financial Security Index, a survey of about 3,000 U.S. residents published a few months ago. More than half (55 percent) of the respondents consider themselves “middle-class,” even though some of them made incomes of as much as $200,000 a year.

Depending on where you live, $200k might not be enough to live on, at least comfortably. Which brings us to another result, something called the survey authors call the “comfort gap.” Nearly half of the respondents believe that $50,000 to $100,00 is enough to live comfortably. Yet only 34 percent consider the people who earn such incomes to be “financially well-off.”

Sure, they may have nice stuff. But actual security? Not gonna happen on that salary.

And here’s the part that concerns me: More than half of the respondents who described themselves as “wealthy” believe that an individual could live comfortably on $25,000 to $50,000 a year.


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th 1 How much underwear do you have?While chatting with a relative recently about small vs. large savings, I mentioned that I wasn’t interested in making my own laundry soap. The money saved would amount to about 8 cents per load, and DF and I generally do no more than six loads of laundry per month (and usually fewer).

The relative was shocked: “We do two or three loads a week for just the three of us.”

Then again, one of those three is a very active 8-year-old – in other words, lots of dirty clothes. That also means an extra set of sheets each week. And for all I know, that family uses a bath towel only once.

That’s how I grew up; my mom didn’t think it was sanitary to reuse a towel. Boy, did I get over that idea when I moved out on my own.

But that got me to thinking: Are we really grimy people for not caring whether the towel gets used, reused and re-reused?


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th 8 pointed questions to ask before you buy.A comment on a Get Rich Slowly article got my attention today. In “Four ways to make money with your old junk,” a woman posting as Winterlady noted one of the tactics she uses to prevent overbuying:

“I hold the item and think ‘How quickly will I want to garage-sale this?’”

Having seen more than a few like-new or still-in-the-shrink-wrap items at yard sales, I expect her comment is not particularly flippant.

I also liked another thing she said: “It is easier to control the purchases than figure out how to dispose of them.”

This.

I’m a big fan of informed consumerism, i.e., of asking the right questions before you decide to buy something. In a post on Wise Bread, I described the queries along the lines of, “Do I really need it? Do I already have something like it? Is there a way to get it for free? If not, what’s the most affordable way to get it?”

Yet even after applying this frugal filter, you sometimes just waaaaant something – right now. That’s when you ask yourself a question like the one cited by Winterlady.

I’ve got a few more to add. They’re not all questions as such, but they should encourage a little self-interrogation.


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new book Giveaway: The Cheap Chicas Guide to Style.I like Liliana Vasquez’ style. Not just her sartorial sense, but her common sense. Here are a couple of examples of the blogger and author’s advice:

“Labels don’t define us – they’re just little pieces of cloth that tell you how to take care of your garment.”

“Remember: Style can’t be bought. It comes from confidence and creativity.”

“Age is nothing but a number, but our style has to evolve as we get older whether we like it or not.”

“You don’t have to adhere completely to the fashion world’s rules to curate your own style.”

Vazquez, who blogs at The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style, from her smart, practical and, yes, thrifty advice. “The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style: Secrets to Shopping Cheap and Looking Chic” is this week’s giveaway.


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th 1 One way to celebrate National Splurge Day.Yet another holiday invented to make you spend money! Just what we need, right? But I’m sorta-kinda okay with National Splurge Day, as long as the splurges are done frugally.

In fact, I think you should splurge on something today – but that you should do so in as cost-effective a way as possible, and with an eye toward postponing future splurges.

Does that mean you can never have nice things? Not at all. In fact, what it means is that you can likely get those nice things faster – but only if you’re willing to grow up, wise up and stop ignoring future goals in favor of fun-right-now stuff.


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