holidays diary – Day 11

New Year is here – welcome 2019.

I am very indifferent, as you can see. I slept around 10pm last night and woke up not so enthusiastic about the day or the year, or anything else for that matter. My moody mood continues.

Anyways; I worked today as well. I did not have anything better to do – everywhere is closed. In the afternoon, I called my family for a quick chat and then focused on finding a good book to read. I reviewed maybe 10 books before I finally found one that clicked. It is by an author who has a highly demanding job and she says all the things I want to hear or see; she says what seems unbalanced for many maybe your balance (true – I prioritize work to reach my goals, so I work hard and long. Even I got in to thinking “I should have a balance” trap, but why should I? Nothing I do is something that will keep me from my goals (except those that are somebody else’s responsibility, which I need to shoulder to keep work going). Rather, I work hard to reach my own goals the majority of the time.

Why should I complain about this? Why should I feel tired about this? Why should I feel frustrated about this? Why on earth should i feel negative about this????

My attitude is not right. Hmmm. Will seriously consider to change this around.

Never fall into the trap of believing in somebody else’s truth – find and own your own truth. That is the lesson I have learnt by reading this book today.

Funny thing is that I had this book for many years. I am glad I did not give it away. Today was its time to mean something for me. Well done.

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I must work and finish things, but I think tomorrow I will rather enjoy my life. I am thinking about going to thrift stores tomorrow. I will look for books and extra-ordinary/unusual pots. It is always fun to be able to look for these items and exciting to bring one home. I do not need to spend a lot of time. I certainly do not need any of these, but I would love to enjoy my life for another day, without thinking about the 5-10 bucks I work so hard to earn. Considering that I spend around 5K each year to visit my family (yes, I am still angry with them), I think this amount of money I spend on myself is very minimal. And, I deserve what my money can buy for me.

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I am in a frugal and minimalistic budget again, which is great. My plan, my very ambitious plan, is to be able to save 500 bucks from my every pay cheque – this is after RRSP and TFSA contributions. I know it is not realistic; last year I tried the same, but I was not able to save more than 400 bucks at a time, and often times I was able to save around 200-300 bucks. Nevertheless, it is okay to ask for and it is okay to hope. 

I hope 2019 is treating you with Ease, Comfort, and Appreciation.

 

 

 

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shopping ban week

Gotta curb this spending habit I have been having lately (mostly cab and junk food expenses… yes, again… time to fix this).

What is the plan?

Well – I budget only $60 to consume till the next pay-day (12 days), including grocery and others. Should I walk in the morning and save the bus fare, this amount may as well increase a little bit. Then I can go buy some more pots from thrift store for my plants.

My choice now 🙂

I have everything I need; my fridge and pantry is full of food; and I have no urgent needs (except the physiotherapy and dental fees that I expect this week).

Let’s do it!

all the good things – check

  • deciding to feel good as nothing much in our daily/work life matters that much – check

I have had a kind of relaxing but also somehow nerve-pitching week. All work related issues of course. On the other hand, weather has been incredibly nice and Spring is really here. I have been feeling awesome about this – there is a real feeling of “hope” and “new beginnings” induced by the arrival of Spring. Should I be wasting these great feelings with focusing on shitty things and behaviors?

No.

Right. 🙂

  • walking to the office in the morning – check

I have been walking in the last few days from home to office in the mornings. This feels great really 🙂 Last year was the first time I had made it a routine activity to walk in the mornings (weather permitting). It makes me feel calmer, energetic, happier, and healthier 🙂

  • working without much of stress and taking care of a tricky document – check

I knew that it was gonna be tough but I also told myself repeatedly that I would do overcome this too. The last year has been particularly very challenging in terms of work, stress, agitation, changing myself and my work attitude, growing my gray hair (I did not update you on this, did I? Man, I have gray hair alright – looks better somedays than the others, but I am still resisting the idea of dyeing it 🙂 ), and undertaking new professional roles. One of the benefits of it has been to go through really tough time and tough decisions, so no new challenge is a big deal (at least so far) – great! 🙂

  • taking my time to enjoy the plants on my floor – check

it has been a pleasure really, looking at all the beautiful plants and flowers that have been around me for so long but have never been cherished or recognized by myself. I feel awesome now that I know each one of them. Plants are amazing, friends. There are so many different types of them, they do survive with little help, and they make one feel great emotions and joy…. Go hug a plant 🙂

  • walking to a nearby store and buying groceries – check

there have been many food that I needed and were on sale this week – I feel lucky 🙂 I want to get some succulents nowadays. There were some aleo vera that were on sale in this store, but I did not want to buy them this time. There is a store 30 min away on foot that I can go check sometime to see whether they carry succulents. Even reading about the succulent made me feel excited and happy yesterday 🙂

  • drinking fresh kefir – check
  • eating good home-made food – check
  • making a conscious effort to not dwell on negativity – check
  • enjoying a comedy show – check
  • having a simple life with minimal expenses today – check, check, check! 🙂

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all the good things – check

  • not spending on anything, other than the bus token – check
  • eating home-made meal from freezer (thawed overnight) – check
  • walking in the afternoon from office to home – check
  • working till late and taking care of some minor work – check
  • taking “me” time and watching a favorite show – check
  • eating apples at the office and yogurt at home – check
  • being happy for someone dear to my heart, who is having a happy day – check
  • being proud and excited of these – check

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frugal life-style makes me feel overly abundant

Frugality means a lot of things to many people. For me, it is all about abundance.

Is it strange that the less I spend, the more able I feel?

Nope.

There are two things I guess;

1) frugality enables me to spend my money on things that most matter. I remember the first time I very strongly felt that: I was eager to purchase commercial baking yeast, but it was not on sale. The cost was around 7 bucks or something. For some reason, this sounded to me like too much 🙂 Argh…

Was 7 bucks a lot of money?

No.

I used to have at the weekends breakfast with a cup of coffee and bagels costing around 10 bucks back in the day. I thought about these two costs and I decided it was time that I leveraged my money, considering how much I was interested in buying the yeast (my baking adventures 🙂 ) . So that weekend was the first time I did not have my weekend breakfast (my favorite treat for years), and rather spent the money on the yeast. It felt good to trade expenses after that.

2) Now that I spend less, money becomes more valuable. Strange, is it not? Only a week early I used to pay around 100 bucks/week to cab rides. I knew it was a lot of money, but did not care much considering how easy it made my stressful life. Today, I bought lots of great food and my weekly self-treat of chocolate for under 20 bucks. When I looked at how they made me feel, I knew that I felt happier and excited.

20 bucks versus 100 bucks…

This is what I call abundance.

Long live frugality 🙂

 

at last; frugal and simple life again

Today I have been completely expense-free; I took the bus in the morning even though it was icy on the road; I did not treat anyone at the office with food or coffee; I walked back to home in the evening; and I did not buy the junk food that I have had an habit of eating every day since July (aka the busy work season).

I saved $30.5 today by these today.

$30.5…. in a single day…

It feels like a lot of money for me today (although I did not care doing these expenses every single day in the last 7 months..).

I feel like during only Monday-Friday this week, assuming that I will keep repeating my frugal life-style today, I will be saving over 150 bucks of mine. This is like 15 x 10 pounds bread flour (more than a year’s of what is needed to bake a sourdough loaf every Sunday); 3 weeks worth of grocery; >1/2 sewing machine (new); a night at a hotel; around 50 bus trips to work; around 8 generous thrift store purchases; or a lovely pre-payment.

Can you imagine how abundant I feel??? 

Very abundant and wealthy indeed!

I am so excited and so proud of myself.

🙂

how blogging changes your life

I have been contemplating, however late it seems this year, about the changes I want to make in my life in 2018.

Then I realized I have already done quite a bit of changes and improvements that made my life abundant, easy, more self-sufficient, and satisfactory. I think I am good where I am 🙂

The majority of the changes I have made fall in the following categories: frugal life; simple life; reduced waste; and self-reliance.

Let me explain.

The need for frugal live was driven by the home-ownership that necessitated cutting costs and increasing age that require better investments so that I could handle the repair and other costs a house requires (a 100 years old house requires many) and the anxiety and uncertainty about my own future. While I was on the average pretty good in living below my means, thanks to many inspiring stories and bloggers going through the same journey I found some kind of strength and higher level of motivation. Score! 🙂 Frugal life-standards made me appreciate what I have had and the excitement coming out of finding ways to cut cost, better deals, and better financial management. As a result comes the feeling of being less dependent on material and being abundant in so many different ways.

As part of frugal choices, I also switched from automatic take of cab in the morning and the afternoon during the work days. It was a struggle alright and it still is. Bus operates only every 30 min and in our harsh Canadian winters it is not a pleasant activity to wait in an open bus stop. I still take the cab time to time when I am crunched in time or tired. But when compared to previous years, I say the reduction in my transportation cost is an impressive success.

I also walk time to time to work and from work. I am usually good at routinely walking in the afternoon. In summer time walking in the morning is also very pleasant. I feel great after walking 25-30 min and it also makes me proud of myself for having a day relying on my own abilities rather than others. It is one example of self-sufficiency and easy-peasy life style I have developed lately.

Other examples of self-sufficiency efforts are baking my own bread, making my own jams/marmalade, ad pickling. They are not only exciting activities, but I also share them with neighbours and friends, which gives me an extra level of excitement.

The frugal life also brings in reducing waste, particularly food waste. I now am very conscious about what I purchase and I also freeze food. Frozen food is very practical for me as I do not like cooking everyday and a ready meal is always appreciated, especially if they are home-made. I implemented other changes in my aim to reduce the waste. Plastic shopping bags is a good example; I mostly use my tote now. I donate my clothes and other items if they are in good conditions to prevent them from ending up in the landfill (and support people in need). I use mostly re-usable cleaning cloths rather than paper towels. I cut up old clothes (not good enough to be donated) and use them as one-time cleaning cloths. I make use of coupons, while not in great quantity, to help with my expenses. Last, I also purchase items from thrift stores that helps not only me and environment but also the people in need and the organizations that support them.

I also declutter once a year or so to identify the extra, un-wanted, or battered items, and then remove them from my office or home by dumping, donating, or re-using. Excellent activity I must say. What a relief once they are gone out of my life. Additionally, it helps me to see what I already have and make use of them and feel grateful for their presence in my life. How many times I found a pair of shoes or a piece of clothe in good condition that I could use? Blogs about decluttering was instrumental in doing this activity at a more conscious level.

When I look at all of these I kind of realize that they are all inter-connected; frugal life style is powered by decluttering and making smarter choices about expenses and needs/wants; waste and unnecessary expenses are reduced by many small acts; abundance increase by being aware and grateful; and life becomes quite easier once we realize the alternative ways to do the daily activities.

How is blogging related to all of these?

First, we by sharing our own stories and plans somehow support the others with the same interest. Second by sharing our plans, we move one step closer to implementing these plans in our lives. Third we often find new ways to enrich our lives and reach our goals; whether it is through shopping bans, or developing a hearty sourdough starter by looking at the others’ experiences.

My take on my current life style is that I in fact have done very well in reaching these aims and changing my priorities. It took me around 3 years, but I am content at where I am right now and I think this blog and blog sphere have been instrumental in it.

 

#2 topic for reflection during holidays

I kind of started doing my traditional holiday reflections today; I am early this year 🙂

Anyways.

#2 topic for reflections during holidays will be my life.

In the last few years my main personal interest was to have a more frugal but enriched and simple life. I have done a good progress in this. 

Life goes on and years pass fast. While I am busy with work and trying to control my finances, many other aspects of my life are neglected. One important thing would be my family. Other important thing would be my health and emotional well-being. It is time that I realize as I get old, things that I can do get limited. What is important for me in the remaining years of my life? I must find this out.

This year, I would like to remove money out of my main focus and rather concentrate on these under-served areas in my life. I know that I enjoy simple and frugal life and being resourceful. If I focus on these, I know that financial stability will follow. It is a shift in perspectives. Hopefully this will work out well.

Additionally I want to have a healthier and stronger body and mind. I missed my weight-training exercises and leisure walking. I missed my push-ups at home and exercises that help strengthen my lower back. Maybe I would care my eyes better; since I keep working and reading, I wear my glasses all the time. This is not good – my vision is negatively affected. I lost some weight in the last year and I can keep doing this by focusing on it. My aim would be to lose another 10 pounds. This is not a huge amount, but can take significant effort. I will see how it goes.

Also I want to keep developing new interests and abilities. Lately it has been pickles and marmalade. What will be the next interest of mine? Will I start writing that book finally this year? Is this my next project? Will I start a side-kick, an additional source of income this year? Will I start or undertake something with a significant impact on not only my life but others? Is it my time to start being an advocate?

What will happen to my work, though. Without the stability it gives me, none of these seems like a possibility. I am seriously fed up with the environment and the responsibilities I have. Maybe I should keep looking for work elsewhere? Other positions? What would it be? Where?

I feel like my life will reach a tipping point this coming year.

weekly budget check

I have not done these checks for some time. It was because I mostly over-spent since July, but I am almost back to my regular, frugal budget.

This week I over-spent my weekly allowance by $19.5. I have made silly choices and spent unnecessarily but I would love to stop doing this. Let me see what this week will bring 🙂

I made a pre-payment to my mortgage in the amount of ~$1,600 today and I am feeling fantastic about this! I think it reduced the interest by round $50-60 – what better feeling than this right now 🙂

I still have some fun funds left (around $800), which I hope to bring to around $1,000 till the end of the year. These funds will be useful in making yet another mortgage pre-payment. I was planning to make an additional pre-payment in the amount of $5,000 by the end of December, but I am not so sure anymore… I found myself shopping (to take advantage of the sales), I need a new hair treatment coming, and there is at least one hefty social that I must shoulder next month….. I should not lose my hope and keep working towards this goal of making pre-payment. I know that even if I can make half of it, it will be fantastic.

This is the beginning of a new financial week for me (starting tomorrow) and I know that once I set the tone frugal it will likely go frugal. My plan for this week is to be mostly using the food in my freezer and pantry. I have so much food! It is time that they are consumed. I expect this to keep my grocery expenses low this week. This will further motivate me to keep frugal 🙂

Saturday morning musings

It is another quiet and peaceful Saturday morning filled with the great scent of freshly brewed coffee and the excitement of all the possibilities that the day may bring.

Coffee GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

It is rainy outside, which tells me that being outdoors today is not a practical option. It will be a day of home-entertainment I guess, including the dreaded house chores 🙂

I am doing something out of ordinary and have the TV on. It has been sometime that I watched TV. Once upon a time TV was very important for me. So was reading books. Things change I guess. In the last 1-2 years, I switched to writing and reading blogs than doing these activities.

The following certainly does not apply to me 🙂

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I think three things influenced this change:

1) My lower back problem that makes sitting in the couch uncomfortable, so I rather prefer to sit or lie down on bed in the evenings. This means I am away from the living room and hence the TV.

2) Shopping bans on books that started as a short term ban, which later is extended naturally. I used to buy 2-3 books every weekend, which was a great pleasure that I always looked forward to. Two years ago I started my budgeting and frugal life journey, which told me that what I was doing was not a great idea, also considering that I have had many books that I have not read yet. The massive decluttering followed the shopping ban showed me this very clearly.

3) The fact that I am resentful towards the cable provider. I have a package involving phone, internet and cable. While I was able to reduce my bill by negotiating with the company, I must say I am pissed that all of these services cost so much. In addition, I cannot cancel my cable because it is a package, and if I do remove it, phone and internet together would cost me more!! Which kind of a mentality is this? I feel like my cable service is a waste and I do not feel great about it.

Processing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

But I would like to encourage everyone to call and negotiate with their service providers; I was able to reduce my internet-phone-cable service and another important service in the last one year. For two years in a row I also get my credit card fee to be waived. I will change my credit card sometime to get rid of this fee altogether. Hoping to get a cash-back one because honestly cards with loyalty points are not great; it takes a long time to accumulate the points and when you collected sufficient points, then the service or item you look for may not be easy to get or available. I was lucky enough to get 3-4 plane tickets and a number of great items through the loyalty points so far, but I keep asking myself whether it is worth it. 

Questioning GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

Anyways, back to best of life – I hope everyone will have a great Saturday today! I wish we all can get the best of this beautiful day 🙂

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I want to go back to my regular self

It is not good to work under stress and undertake too much.

It is not good to eat junk.

It is not good to drink so much soft drink per day.

It is not good to spend money on cab while I can take the bus or walk.

It is not good to feel like nothing I work on moving while they actually do.

I want to be fine again, like prior to 5 weeks ago when I was walking, eating healthy, visiting thrift stores, saving money, and feeling great about myself.

I really do.

I think it is time that I take a couple of days really off and slowly start doing what I used to enjoy; thrift stores will be a good start. Hopefully sometime soon.

semi-annual budget check

Now that almost 6 months have passed, I wanted to have a look at what I had budgeted and what I had spent.  Main numbers for variable expenses (i.e. not including the bills, mortgage etc.) are as follows:

1. I spend around $66/week for groceries, occasional cab and eating out. 

2. I so far have not over-spent my weekly allowance that covers the expenses listed above ($120/week budgeted)

3. However, I spent $232 for cab so far – the majority of the time I could take the bus or walk. That bothers me, but I must let go.

4. My “other”expenses including socials, treats, donations, gifts, medication/other health related expenses, personal care (such as hair cut), hobby/sewing notions, clothes, and cleaning product purchases constitute a higher amount than my “weekly allowance” expenses: a total of $2,281 or $88/week (averaged) so far. I have budgeted a total of $6,500 for this year. 

5. My total expenses per week (weekly allowance and “other” expenses together) come to a total of $154/week (on the average)

6. I also save by following the discounts, using coupons/loyalty card points, etc. This amounts to $1,899 so far – $73/week  (which is an amazing amount, by the way) 

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So some categories are doing awesome, others need some more careful thinking, but overall these are very good numbers.

This year’s budget has been really good and I have been doing really awesome – so let’s go get that ice cream!

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joy journal, April 16, 2017

It is a sad day because of something I cared most about crumbled for good today. 

In any ways, a living organism finds a way to entertain its survival instinct. In anyways, it finds ways to survive.

So here is my way for today.

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1. I am grateful for getting up early and having a long day in front of me. It is a challenge to fill a long day with activities. But it is also an opportunity to do things without rushing.

2. I am grateful for the coffee I have brewed at home. It is such an affordable and enjoyable activity.

3. I am grateful for enjoying my morning walk. It was chilly but a bright day and the walk was quiet and lovely. Looking at the houses on the street and assessing their characters is always an interesting activity. A good scenery makes a good difference.

4. I am grateful for not buying peanut butter today! Boy, I love this butter! The trouble is when I buy it, the entire 1 kg bottle is finished in 2-3 days. It is insane! So many calories.. It is not good when I am trying to lose weight. It has been a struggle to not buy it today, but I know that it was the right decision. I congratulate myself 🙂

5. I am grateful for drinking two tall glasses of milk. I have no warm relation with milk really.. Other than the fact that I am making an effort to drink it so that I can get some calcium and vitamin D. That is all. So when I drink not one but two glasses, naturally I feel great about it 🙂

6. I am grateful for the bean dish I cooked today. Friends, I learnt how to best cook beans easily (thanks mom). I am excited about the fact that I am consuming much less of canned bean. Feels awesome.

7. I am grateful for the two sourdough loaves I have baked today. I have had a great dough in the morning. Shaping and baking them was fun – the oven spring was nice and easy and the crumbs are much better than I had expected. what a great sourdough starter I do have! Come to think about it, in two weeks it will be a year that I started baking bread… what an exciting, satisfying, and healthy adventure it has been 🙂

8. I am grateful for speaking with my family and their well being. May they always be happy and healthy.

9. I am grateful for drinking water. I enjoy drinking water especially if it is kind of cool. what a refreshing drink.

10. I am grateful for eating tomato and cheese for breakfast. I am eating tomato quite frequently lately. I have never been a fan of this fruit (I think it is considered a fruit), but it makes a good breakfast material with a dash of olive oil. very tasty indeed 🙂

11. I am grateful for having the evening to myself. It is quiet and I can do whatever I want to do.

12. I am grateful for the movies I am watching and the songs I had listened to earlier. what would I do without the background noise at home? I am lucky to have my TV.

13. I am grateful for shopping my night cream today. It is kind of pricey and i am about to run out of my last bottle. So finding it on sale was an unexpected excitement for today.  

14. I am grateful for thinking and reading about how to be happy. How do we get happy? What is happiness? How do we make ourselves happy? One person was saying on a website that she was happy when she spends time with her husband, son, friends, and while driving. My goodness – I have none of these (no hubby, kids, or car – friends are on the other side of the world so I cannot spend time with them). Joke aside; what is happiness really? How do I make myself happy? How do I become happy with my life? With life? there are so many issues at life and I am so “incomplete” in some ways (being away from my family is the most important reason for that). They say we are responsible for our own happiness. Boy, is it really? Happiness, to me, is not a choice but may be a consequence of choices. Why do we need to choose? because we believe that one option is better than the rest and we take that option. It solves a problem maybe, maybe not, and then time passes and now we are somewhere in our lives where that choice does not matter anymore, yet the conditions are such that we are not, we cannot be happy.  Or may be we can be happy, but we think it is dependent on something that we do not have at that time. I do not know what happiness is but I know what makes me feel good. Perhaps that is what I should be focusing on – to feel good.

15. I am grateful that walking and doing weight exercises make me feel good about myself. 

16. I am grateful for writing these here.

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What am I appreciative of myself today?

I thank myself for being a resilient person – I may be sick, I may be down, I may fail, but I will always rise back on my feet.

I thank myself for making an effort to eat healthy and have a healthy life-style

I thank myself for making an effort to continuously save and for having a frugal life

I thank myself for loving my family

I thank my body for being healthy

I thank myself for being resourceful

I thank myself for not giving up on hope

I thank myself for still keeping going….

coupons make me think

I do not coupon, even though I am interested in limiting my expenses and saving more. I mentioned this a couple of times before; I am not against couponing. I understand that a large portion of us rely on it to make the ends and put food on their tables. I also understand, as someone who likes this kind of “seek-and-find-and save” activities, that couponing (finding them from a variety of resources, using them and making significant savings or even getting items free) must be an exciting activity after all.

These being said – I, however rarely it may be, use coupons when they fall on my head (not literally). For example when they show up in my mail box together with weekly flyers, are posted on the shelves at stores, or placed on the product itself. In the last one year I think I have had something like 2-3 coupon usage adventure.

I think even though you do not need it, couponing can be an interesting activity. My main (theoretical) interest in couponing is the fact that coupons are available to everyone. If one person can get the same product at a discount price, why should not the others like me?  Do people like me who do not use the coupons feel like they are being taken advantage of by not getting items at discount prices?

I must say I feel silly  for not using the coupons – why should I pay more while I can pay less, like others? So, why do I not coupon?

A couple of reasons.

First, I have limited time to look for coupons.

Second, when compared to many people, I do not make a lot of purchases so purchasing a newspaper for its coupon insert does not make much sense to me. (I however follow the sales and compare prices among different stores on walking distance to my house – that I think is a continuous and practical strategy for my savings).

Third, I do live in a city where many stores with great coupons are not available.

And fourth, sometimes I read couponers’ tales where they buy multiple items by their coupons, which would take years for me to consume. I just read a blog where there were more than 20 rolls of paper towels purchased. The blogger claims that all was free, which is awesome. But I just thought that it would take me 2 – 3 years to consume those. That is not bad as paper towels are durable items so if they were free, I would get them too 🙂 But some tales and blog-pics are somehow horrifying to me; like buying 10 bottles of shampoo or 20 boxes of cereal, or 10 mascara, only because they are on sale or at hugely discounted prices with coupons. I cannot possibly buy these items and consume…

I believe both cases are fine – for some couponing works perfectly, for some like myself it does not.

I have read this post a few days ago and I loved it as this person very clearly demonstrates that frugality has multiple faces, multiple ways, and “one size does not fit all“. Its main message is that there is no one right way to save money or have a frugal life and I fully agree with this.

 

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