At the wise old age of 31, I’d now consider myself a frugal person. Like anyone, I’ve been known to splurge from time to time (the latest? buying a camera to try my hand at vlogging) but overall I work hard to ensure my money is well-spent. To be sure, being “frugal” is different than being “cheap,” but some of my habits are right on that line. That said, there are a few others ways I could probably save but refuse to.
This brings me to the Meat Loaf-inspired title of my column today. For this week I thought I’d have a little fun and share with you some of the less-than-glamorous ways I save money along with a few lows I’m not willing to reach in order to save a buck:
I’d Do Anything to Save Money…
Dining out? Nothing goes to waste
If my wife and I going to splurge on dinner out, we’re getting our money’s worth. So you better believe we’d like a box for that! As for the occasional fast food, any extra napkins or dipping sauces are coming home (sorry, ketchup packets). In fact, I can’t tell you how many at-home dinners have been enhanced by the discovery of a leftover Chick-fil-A sauce container.
Pack the freezer
Similarly, when we go grocery shopping, we won’t turn our nose up at a good deal. Often times this means buying a large piece of meat that the two of us couldn’t possibly get through before the “best by” date. No worries — my wife will chop that hunk of beast down into portions and fill our tiny freezer to the brim.
It’s electric (boogie woogie woogie)
Maybe it was my dad yelling at me to turn the lights off when I was a kid, but I’m now very mindful of my utility bill and strive to keep it as low as possible. During the winter and summer, this means resisting the instant temperature control I have at my disposal and remembering how much that luxury might cost me. This isn’t to say that I’ll let myself freeze or melt, but… let’s just say you don’t want to see what I’m wearing as I type this on a 95-degree day 😉
Coach it is — and pack that carry on tight
Flying is far from my favorite thing. Of course many of the things that annoy and stress me out most about flying could be diminished by spending a little extra. But, while those priority upgrades always tempt me, I’ve never pulled the trigger. Furthermore, I couldn’t tell you the last time I checked a bag as a well-packed carry-on is all I need. Granted, if someone else is paying and wants to put me in first class (which has happened), by all means…
But I Won’t Do That…
Short a waiter on a tip
While I mostly resent the practice of tipping and prefer locations and countries where it’s not done, I never take out my hostility on the staff providing hospitality. In fact you could probably screw everything up during my meal and still get 20% from me. Most other times you’re looking at 25 to 30% — post tax! To answer your next question, no, I have never worked as a server but I still get how hard it must be.
Pirate media (anymore)
OK, I’ll admit I was a total Napster kid when I much younger. After that got shut down, I moved onto Kazaa and Limewire until iTunes finally came around. Now my entire music collection is on the up and up — and before you say that’s just because all of those P2P services are gone, I assure you there are still plenty ways to pirate music if I wanted to. As for movies and TV, I honestly don’t even know how to use BitTorrent and I don’t plan on learning.
Eat exclusively junk
When I was living on my own, my diet was not exactly the best. It wasn’t quite instant ramen day in and day out, but chicken nuggets, Hot Pockets, and Little Debbie brownies were frequently featured. Thankfully, that changed when I got married. Now, although we’re good about shopping for deals on our grocery trips (as mentioned above), we are sure to eat foods that are not only better quality but also healthier for us. So while the occasional Hot Pocket sounds oddly appetizing, it’s no longer a mainstay on my menu.
Buy generic cola
I don’t have many vices but, when I reach for my one soda a day, it better be the real thing.
There are plenty of great ways to save money but there are also a few methods you should probably steer clear of. The important thing is that you care enough about your finances to try different thrifty ideas. So what are some of the ways you make the most of your money?