Even before I lost my job I always had a flair for frugality. I would look to lower my expenses whenever possible much to the amusement and even embarrassment of my family. I am the guy who brings drinks into the movie theater to save 20 bucks. I sometimes reheat day old coffee in the microwave. I always buy store brand at the supermarket.
At the end of the day I know that these little gestures are not really going to make a big impact on my target retirement date. Only big changes like housing and number of family cars will typically make a noticeable difference in the bottom line. However I continue to play this game; and I consider it a game because I look at this lifestyle as resource management and not strictly financial.
What do I mean by resource management? It’s simple really…money is a resource so I look to spend as little as necessary. But the bigger picture is about all resources that go into every purchase and transaction.
I don’t want to get all “tree hugger” on you, but have you ever considered the inputs and outputs of your purchasing decisions? Consider these examples to get a feel for things I think about and that help drive my frugal lifestyle.
If I am at a restaurant that serves large portions I will share plates with my kids. I save money and avoid waste of half eaten meals. Don’t feel ashamed to do this even if few other people do.
If I have an errand to run that is close to my house I will ride my bike. I will gain exercise, lose weight, prevent pollution and save resources of gasoline.
Carpooling saved me a butt load of money when I was working but I really enjoyed reducing traffic by one car, producing fewer greenhouse gasses, and of course saving money on fuel and car expenses.
Although my financial choices sometimes embarrass my kids, I will continue to teach them about waste and resource management. Frugality is certainly an exercise in saving money; however, the tangents of minimalism and conservation of resources are great side benefits that help reduce distractions and streamline my life.