Full Circle: Pinching Pennies

Simplicity has returned as many Americans have become thrifty due to the economy. The hot trend, thanks to a wealth of books and blogs, is how to live cheaply and more simply. Once upon a time, thrifty-minded people were called cheapskates. Now, it’s cool to be frugal.

I recently learned about the “100 Things Challenge” by writer Dave Michael Bruno. The challenge is Bruno’s way to break free of American-style consumerism and not be “stuck in stuff.” We all have things that seemed like a good idea when we bought them. My “stuff” includes framed decorator pictures stored under the bed because I have no more wall space and an accumulation of hardly used serving dishes packed in boxes. There’s a lot more, but you get the idea.

I’m not sure I’m ready for Bruno’s challenge to pare down to only 100 things. However, I do like his three-step advice for consuming responsibly: Reduce (the stuff you have), Refuse (to get more stuff), and ‘Re-jigger’ (your priorities). If you do this, Bruno explains, you may find that less stuff makes room for more joy in your life.

And since we can all use a little more joy these days, I hope these tips for frugality will help:

Tip Yourself: A friend of mine keeps only a couple of $1 bills in her wallet. When she breaks a larger denomination, she puts the single bills away in a small bank labeled “New Carpet Fund.” At the end of last year, she had saved over $1,000 without feeling a pinch.

Share The Bulk: Buying from large warehouse stores is hard for one- or two‑person households. Find someone to split bulk packages with, and you both save. I like pine nuts, but the cost had become almost prohibitive until a friend suggested that we share a large bag.

Down The Drain: When brushing your teeth, turn off the water to save on your bill. I admit this is a harder habit to develop than I expected. I’m still working at it.

Credit Pays: If you must use a credit card, get one that pays cash back or gives reward points. I use my credit card points for gift cards to my favorite bookstore. I’m pretty much in the habit of waiting to shop for books until I have enough points for at least a $25 gift card; then it feels like Christmas when I peruse the latest best-seller aisle. While I’m waiting for the points to accumulate, I go to the library or a used-book store where I can trade-in my old books.

Reduce The Shock: Take advantage of the free energy-saving audits by local electric providers. Their suggestions could make your next power bill less of a shocker.

Keep It Simple: Whether you are designing homes or magazine pages, simplicity pays. Uncluttered looks are always more attractive and easy on the eyes, not to mention less expensive.

You don’t have to earn more money to be rich. In fact, life’s most satisfying pleasures are often found when you’re looking for ways to spend less. Pushing a child in a swing at a park, taking a walk hand-in-hand with your spouse, or baking cookies with your best friend are free, yet priceless memories.

Happy reading,

 Join The Discussion

What are some of your tips for thriftiness? E-mail me or post a comment to Lake & Sumter Style’s Facebook page.

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