One In, One Out

While affluence is a terrific thing, compared to poverty, it does have its downside: too much stuff. “Too much” can mean not being able to find what you need, because all the extras are in the way. “Too much” can mean additional expenses: storage fees, bigger rent for a larger home, buying things you know you have but can’t find, medical costs from tripping over the excess. . . .

Once you have enough clothes, enough dishes, enough canned goods, enough pots and pans, the next step is to limit the proliferation. “Enough” means different things to different people. Decide what your enough is, then stick to it with the one-in-one-out system. Tempted by that new shirt? So, is it really better than the shirt you’d have to give away if you bought a new one? If so, great. If not, you just saved the cost of a new shirt and saved yourself from a closet so crowded it’s hard to find anything.

One advantage of this system is that it makes us stop and realize how great the stuff we already have is. That contributes to peace of mind and positive mood, besides saving money.




A Two-Pronged Approach to Spending Less

One way to think about cutting costs is to come at it from both ends. What do I feel I absolutely must spend money on? And on the other hand, what are the obvious extravagances I have no difficulty in identifying and letting go of?

Perhaps one insists on having a home, not living on the street. That’s a good baseline for the housing part of the budget. On the other hand, perhaps one could cross expensive artwork for decorating that home off the list of future expenditures. That’s fairly obvious too.

Maybe have to have a vehicle to get around in a normal fashion, so I spend on that.  On the other end of the spectrum, maybe I don’t need to spend money having an optional moonroof installed on my vehicle.

These are wide extremes. As I’ve worked through the process of cutting expenses, I’ve gradually come closer and closer to the middle balance in all budget categories.


The Archeology of Adapting to a Lower Income

Every time I think I’ve reduced spending as much as humanly possible, I find another level of non-spending below the one I’m currently in.

They say that dirt goes on one layer at a time and comes off the same way. That’s why it takes several tries to clean a neglected baking dish or crudded-up bathtub.

When adapting to a lower income, don’t make yourself crazy thinking you have to change everything at once. If you can, great. If it gives you a kind of emotional bends, slow down and do one thing at a time. Start with what’s easiest. That way, you’re cutting the things you care least about, and so it hurts less.

Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely has a large range of ideas for spending less. Take what you like and leave the rest.

“What I Don’t Have to Spend, I Don’t Have to Earn”

About half the time when I say that to people, they stare as if what they heard me say was, “Erndampt, ag rojabrane.” I’ve tried saying it in different words, but sometimes it just doesn’t fit a person’s mindset.

If I arrange my life so that I don’t have to spend $60 a month on dry cleaning, then at least theoretically, that’s $60 I don’t have to earn that week. Of course when you have a steady and sufficient salary, you’re going to earn anyway. In that case, what you don’t have to spend, you can save up for something bigger that you want, like a vacation or early retirement.

When you’re relying on intermittent and unpredictable self-employment income, and your health isn’t reliable either, not-spending is a wonderful way to handle gaps in income. This is great for people who are retired, disabled, temporarily out of the work force for personal or family reasons, etc…..

If working overtime hours is putting pressure on your health or your family life, perhaps you could not-spend instead of working yourself into the ground.

For hundreds of examples of ways to not-spend (and still live a normal life), see my book, Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely.

Challenge Me!

My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.

Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.

A New Financial Start

Maybe you spent a bit too much over the holidays. January sometimes brings on a sort of financial repentance, and a desire to use money more effectively in the new year. My book can help with that. Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely deals with the need for financial change from both directions – spending less and earning more. Maybe you have friends or relatives who spend too much, or want to get out of debt. The book would make a nice gift for them, or just tell them about it. Want to retire early? Take a fantastic trip? The strategies in the book can help you move toward any financial goal.

It’s available on in both paperback and Kindle versions.

Wonderful review

I am so moved by this review. “Tightwad Gazette of the 21st Century” is exactly what I wanted people to think about it:

“Great book!, February 18, 2014

By Lita McRiley “Sorlina”See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely (Kindle Edition)

This book is jam-packed with tips, ideas, and strategies for saving money. It’s the Tightwad Gazette of the 21st century… internet addresses for DIY help, encouragement for readers, personal anecdotes, this book has it all. To top it off, it’s delivered in a light, easy to read style that isn’t preachy or judgmental. A very helpful, and enjoyable, read!”

The Tightwad Gazette has been the “bible” of thrifty living. My hope was to make it the ‘old testament’ and mine the ‘new testament’, and it seems I have succeeded.