If you read many financial blogs, you know that there are two deeply entrenched camps. One camp believes that the secret to getting ahead financially is to be as frugal as possible.
The people in this camp were avid viewers of Extreme Couponing and use coupons excessively themselves. They read frugal blogs, scout the deals, and probably have a copy of Amy Dacyczyn's The Tightwad Gazette on their bookshelf (that has been scavenged, of course).
The other camp says forget frugality. The secret to financial success is to make more money. Indulging in a latte is okay. Just focus on making more money. These people read investing blogs and books like I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.
The Middle Of The Road Approach To Wealth Building
In the middle is a small pool of people who believe that both sides are important. Frugality helps conserve the money that you have, but making more money is also important to get ahead. These people probably aren't extreme couponers. Instead, they believe in more modest frugality such as switching to Ooma from a regular home phone service. They believe in simple changes that help stretch their dollar.
More and more I'm finding myself in this camp.
Our Grandparents' Lifestyle May Be The Key To Livable Frugality
I'll never be an extreme couponer. I don't like to buy stuff I don't need just so I can get the items I do need for the lowest cost. (When I played the drugstore game, this happened to me all the time.)
I used to buy the cheapest foods I could find, but then I started having health issues, in part related to the many processed foods I ate.
Extreme frugality doesn't work for me, and I don't see it as a solution for my financial situation.
However, I have found that in part, using strategies that worked for my grandparents works for my family both to save money and to improve our quality of life.
For instance, since my husband and I have been married (12 years now), we've been a one car family. Sure, having two cars would be nice sometimes, but I love not paying for gas, insurance, or maintenance on another vehicle. My grandparents were a one car family for their entire marriage.
We now cook 99% of our meals at home, from scratch. The only time we go out to eat is when we're traveling, on the road driving to our destination. Otherwise, even when we do travel, we bring our food with us in a cooler. That saves us hundreds of dollars every vacation, and we're eating better than if we ate out at restaurants every day while on vacation.
For awhile, I thought I should make the effort to clip coupons for toiletries, at least, because they can be so expensive. Still, I loathe coupon clipping and driving to many different stores for the best soap, shampoo, etc. deals, especially with 3 kids in tow.
My solution? Making my own cleaning chemicals at home. Thanks to Pinterest, there are many, many recipes for low cost homemade cleaners. I've even started to make my own dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, and liquid hand soap. Sure, these items take time to make, but I'm not spending any more time making these than I would clipping coupons and running to different stores. Plus, I can make my own cleaners for less money than buying store bought, and I don't have to drag the kids out.
While I'm thankful for the many inventions since my grandparents' days, I'm also seeing that borrowing some of my grandparents' strategies, such as cooking from scratch, growing a garden, and making my own cleaners, can save me time, money, and improve the quality of our lives.
Which financial camp do you fall into? Frugal? Make more money? or Middle of the Road?