Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I believe in wanting to find the best value in every transaction. It only makes sense when one is exchanging life energy for paper energy. I've read blog posts differentiating between being frugal vs. cheap. Cheap being an approach where the lowest cost is sought even if it may not make sense in the long run.

Basically I want to put in place habits, behaviours, actions that will be sustainable and supportive of freedom and help me attain the quality of life I strive for. Curbing waste and unconscious money leaks is where I started from.

In order to make those changes stick, I had to understand myself a lot more. What am I working towards? What am I running from? What am I using to trick myself? What makes me miserable? What is my ideal form (mental, emotional, physical)? What are my goals?

As I asked myself better questions, I got better answers. Then it became easier to willingly make sustainable changes.

To this end, here is a initial list of things I have cut spending on:
  • cable/satellite--I don't watch TV. I take movies/documentaries out of the library instead.
  • cell phone plan--I don't remember my cell phone number most days as it is never on. I use it solely for car emergencies and I use a pay as you go plan.
  • books/newspapers/magazine subscriptions--again the library as well as the internet is my source.
  • eating out--I love food so this one was tough. Once I realized I could make a lot of what I used to order better helped immensely. The dishes I can't or won't because it isn't worth it, I will go out for. This has cut our restaurant bills by at least 75%.
  • meat consumption--We're working on cutting down meat by 50%. Better for the environment, our health and our pocketbooks.
  • transportation--I am within a 20 minute walk to work. We moved a year ago to facilitate this. My spouse works 2 days a week at home so that helps with gas costs. When I move to a 2 day a week work week, we will be considering not replacing one of our vehicles. We both drive 11 yr old reliable Hondas.
  • telephone--We have a basic line. That's it, along with an answering machine. For long distance we use Skype. (voip)
  • laundry--I have been hanging up clothes to dry for 10 years. I find it therapeutic. Not using a dryer saves a lot of electricity.
  • cooking--We cook with gas. It is lightning fast. I have noticed a minimal change in our gas bill compared to how much an electrical range used in electricity.
  • clothing--We buy mostly middle of the line on sale. Sometimes I'll stumble onto a great sale of higher end pieces. I believe in buying good shoes and coats and proper gear for exercise.
  • sports and recreation--This was a tough category to analyse. We already own sports equipment like kayaks, skiis, skates, tennis racquets, exercise machines. We enjoy going to theatre. It is now a matter of fully integrating what we already have before adding. We've put a yearly limit on how many theatre productions we go to.
  • travel--I've put this category last because this is where I've gone overboard in the past. I have a love affair with France. I've also paid many a cancellation fee for changing my mind frequently. When I realize a lot of bookings were frequently related to my being overwhelmed and wishing to escape vs. truly wanting to travel, then it was easier to correct. Instead of looking for the next place, I had learned to just slow down first and see if I still wish to go.

This area is a work in progress and obviously just one side of the equation. On the other side are things that I consider true luxuries which feed my soul that I am willing to pay for. More on that another time.


  1. This was a great post! There is so much turbulence in our economy right now, that having little ways to save is so important! I wanted to offer your readers a link to another blogger who is doing great work. He writes about our 'childhood money messages' and how the best approach to stability in today's market is to resist letting these emotions control our buying/selling habits. It is really fascinating work, and something you should all check out. His name is Spencer Sherman, and you can view his blog at http://www.curemoneymadness.com/blog.

  2. Thanks for the great tip Lacey and for your kind words. I definately am a product of childhood money messages (some good, some I've had to change!). We're linked and I look forward to learning more about it. Cheers!