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Old 09-13-2009, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Georgetown, Texas
107 posts, read 232,085 times
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To me frugal means being careful with making purchases and getting the most bang for my buck. Being cheap means buying the cheapest things without considering the quality of an item, it's cheaper so you buy it. A good example of this to me is buying something full price at a discount store but if I was being frugal I may go to Macy's and buy something on sale that costs the same but is better quality.
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:17 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
4,085 posts, read 7,450,988 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
So you say not just financial costs, but what else do you have in mind? Also, what is meant by "reducing waste", what sort of waste? Physical waste, wasted time, etc? Most of what people talk about on this forum seems to waste considerable time, while saving a little money.
I gave examples of other costs when I broke down my example; for each example (fast food and meal at home) I broke down the costs and itemized them. It was here:

Quote:
First scenario COSTS:
MONEY - $8 (that's bare minimum - more like $10 to $12 if I have another burger and/or buy a bottle of water); extra gas for driving a little out of the way to fast food and ice cream places
RESOURCES - Paper for packaging of fast food, soda, and ice cream is waste which I created to fill up our landfills that much more
TIME - time to drive a little out of the way to fast food and ice cream places, time to wait on line

Second scenario (FRUGAL) COSTS:
MONEY - $2 for 2 burgers and a soda, and about a quarter for the ice cream.
RESOURCES - Soda can, which goes into recycling; plastic cup and spoon, which I did not throw out but will wash and use again a few more times before throwing away
TIME - time to make the burgers, time to scoop out and package the ice cream for eating later.
Of course, you conveniently carved that out of what you quoted from my post (along with anything else that was convenient for you to cut out) so you could argue. Or you didn't read my post and therefore are now asking questions which were answered in my previous post.

But to sum it up, what other costs besides money? Resources, time, health/nutrition benefits, enjoyment/taste. My burger at home was less wasteful of time, money, and resources and it was more tasty/enjoyable and it was better for me because I use very lean meat and less salt than a fast food place would use. Going for fast food would have cost me more time and money, would have created more garbage to go into a landfill, and would have cost me in nutrtion and taste.

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
All of this can waste considerable time.
It can, and in a situation where it would waste too much time then it could be too wasteful to be frugal. That's when it goes into being cheap, not frugal. If you bothered to read my previous post you'd have seen that TIME was one of the COSTS I listed, a cost to be considered for frugality.

For example, I considered going to Shakespeare in the Park earlier this summer. It is free, but you need to get a ticket. If you didn't request a ticket weeks or months in advance, you can get a free ticket the day of a performance. The problem is that for the 8:00 PM performance, the ticket booth opens at noon or 1:00 PM. On top of that, people go line up at 7 or 8 in the morning. That means that I'd have to spend 5 hours on line before it opens, then another hour or two before I get to the booth, and there's still a chance of not getting the ticket. Well, my time is worth much more than that. I'd rather spend that time making money, much more than a ticket for a paid performance of Shakespeare would cost, and go see that. In that case, the "free" Shakespeare in the Park is actually too expensive because I am considering MORE than just the financial cost; I'm considering my time as well as my comfort, convenience, and enjoyment also as costs.

Frugality is about considering ALL the costs; being cheap is about considering only the financial cost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
I'm not talking about being "green", that is a different issue. These people knowingly "waste" their time for the sake of the environment for moral reasons, but from the personal perspective their actions cost them a lot of time with little benefit in return.
What people are you talking about?

I don't know if they waste their time or if they have a moral reason or anything, because I don't know who "these people" are. I'm not sure what you're trying to tell me here or what it has to do with anything I said (other than using the term "green").

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
Yeah, exactly. All you've done is switch from spending a bit of money to spending your time, you really have not saved anything just made a transfer from one form of "spending" to another. For someone with a decent wage, this is likely to produce waste. They will be working for a lot less per hour "being frugal" than they would while working.
No, I spent less time, if anything, and I spent less money, got a better meal in terms of taste and nutrition, plus I reduced the amount of garbage I threw away. I saved all the way around except in terms of effort; I did a little more "work" - very little - yet saved in all these other ways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
This is exactly the sort of thing that does not make sense to me. Why would I want to spend my time gaining some measly sum by making my own hamburger, packing up my own ice cream, cleaning everything I used, etc?
You wouldn't. Neither would I. That's why I did it to save more than a "measly sum". I do this about once a week, just to get a night out of the house for a few hours without spending a lot of money. I'm saving at least $8 a week, roughly $30 a month, minimum. That's $360 a year. That's $360 I can spend on what I enjoy, like a great dinner in Vegas, or on the craps table in Vegas, or on an Xbox, or on a weekend getaway, or however I want to spend it. And to save that $360 all I had to do was change a couple things, but also save time and benefit my health and enjoyment while doing so.

Would you rather have $360 a year, or would you rather have a Big Mac value meal once a week rather than make your own more nutritious meal?? For me it's a no-brainer; I'll take the better, healthier, less wasteful meal and the $360+.

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
It takes 20~30 minutes to make a hamburger, clean the stuff, etc. Going to a fast food place takes a few minutes. I would find it odd that there were not a number of food places by the shops you were going to, so there is little additional driving time.
I used to think that way, but now that I'm more frugal, I can see that it's the other way around.

For me to go to a fast food place on the night I'm going to the mall, I would have to go out of my way about 3-5 minutes, going and coming. Let's say it's 4 minutes each way, so that's 8 minutes. I then have to take at least 3 minutes to order and get my food. If there are people in front of me, that can be 6 minutes or longer. Let's call it 4 again, as a very conservative average. So that's 12 minutes to go get fast food.

To make a burger at home takes me about 10 minutes, total. I take out the meat (and take out rolls from the freezer), make a couple patties (if I haven't pre-made them, which I usually have done anyway), that's a minute, tops. I pull out a pan and get them frying, that's another minute. So we're up to 2 minutes. While they are frying, I wash my hands, get a dish, if the rolls are still frozen I give them a 10 second zap in the microwave. I pull out the condiments and any toppings I might want. All of that takes another 3 minutes, so we're up to 5 minutes. I flip the burgers and wait another 3 or 4 minutes, and during that time, if I need to, I slice some tomato or onion, or throw a slice of cheese on the burger. So we're up to 9 or 10 minutes. To clean up takes me a few seconds to throw the dishes into the dishwasher. I suppose if you took your time and did things slowly and inefficiently it would take 20 minutes to make a burger and clean up, but it doesn't take me nearly that long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
You are also ignoring the time it takes to purchase the items you are making.
Oh, and as for the time to buy the stuff, you can add a minute or two, because I have to go to the store for other things anyway, but I'll give you that it takes me a minute or two to swing by the meat counter and the bread aisle. So that makes my total about 12 minutes which is equal to going to get fast food.

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
Eating out makes the most sense when you are already out. If you have to drive out to get the food you are unlikely to be saving time, but in your case you're already out. Just simply go to a food place by the stores you are shopping at, or on the way to the stores you are shopping at.
Right, but for years, my mentality was to first go out to shop or whatever, and then eat, because I thought it was easier and cheaper and would save time. Many people, like me, think that because it's called "fast food" and because it IS pretty fast once you get there that it must be more fast and easy than making dinner at home. We are taken in by what ads and society tells us is "fast" and "convenient" and "easy" and we find ourselves just accepting what we're told, but when we think about things, we can find a different reality in many cases.

Fast food has its place, sure. It can be the frugal option in certain circumstances. But people generally think it's always the cheapest, easiest option.

Another example, people use and throw out ziploc bags with no thought of washing them. Why? Because they are called "disposable" sandwich bags, so people think they are supposed to dispose of them. Well, many times I use a ziploc for something that is dry and not messy, and when I'm done with it the bag is hardly dirty. I turn them inside out and hold onto them. When I have a bunch of them, I give them a soak in hot, soapy water, then a rinse, and then I reuse them. I can reuse a bag at least 3 times, sometimes more; when it's too ratty I throw it out. I figure I've reduced my usage of them by 75%. That's less garbage in the landfill, that's more money in my pocket, and it only costs me a couple minutes a month, a drop of soap and a little water to wash them. I also reuse any other containers I can, like cottage and ricotta cheese tubs, jars, bottles, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
No, not really. Your example to me is an example of being "cheap" and saving money for the sake of saving money.
Well, either you're not paying attention and reading my whole post, or you have reading comprehension problems, or maybe you're just looking to argue and will stoop to selecting parts of my post out of context to read and criticize, while ignoring other parts of my post, on purpose, so that you can continue to troll.
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:52 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,362 posts, read 2,847,174 times
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Being frugal, I would define, is being smart with your money. Spending 3 hours making soap to save $5 at Target is not being smart with your money, no matter what your income is, basically. Spending 15 minutes to bid on a hotel at priceline to save $50 a night for a long weekend is frugal, and smart with your money. Using the $20 trick at Vegas to get a room that would cost an extra $100 a night for the weekend is a frugal, smart thing to do. A cash back credit card is another example of being frugal that makes sense - you make money doing essentially nothing.

Most of this forum is pretty much centered around reducing expenses, which may or may not be frugal, depending on your hourly income and your goals. If you're unemployed and aren't making money, pretty much any way of reducing expenses will make sense. If you make $30 an hour, many of the suggestions won't apply. User_id makes a valid point in that you must consider the cost of your own time if you're doing things to save money. If it takes you two hours to save $10 and you could just work 2 hours and make $50, that really doesn't make much sense.
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Old 09-13-2009, 01:26 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
4,085 posts, read 7,450,988 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
User_id makes a valid point in that you must consider the cost of your own time if you're doing things to save money.
User_id only makes this point while ignoring the others (like me) who made the point, before him, that time is a cost to be factored in when being frugal.

It seems a lot of people who visit this "frugal living" forum don't bother to read much of it, and instead just assume that everyone who seeks to live frugally is just nothing more than a cheapskate, and these visitors then pontificate on how it's actually foolish to be cheap, blah blah blah, as if none of us are aware of it.

Of course, the irony is that not only do truly FRUGAL people know that "cheap" is nothing like "frugal", but we've known it for a long time and have improved our lives with being frugal instead of cheap. Such visitors to this forum don't realize how stupid they sound when they try to explain to US that "cheap" is not always a good thing, etc. etc. It's like watching a 5th grader explaining multiplication to a calculus professor at a big university.

People like user_id should really get a clue.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:40 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
2,221 posts, read 4,653,156 times
Reputation: 1682
Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
Being frugal, I would define, is being smart with your money. Spending 3 hours making soap to save $5 at Target is not being smart with your money, no matter what your income is, basically.
If you're unemployed, or a stay-at-home housewife that could take this on while watching TV (with clothes in the washer, dinner in the oven, and junior taking a nap), it's still not such a bad idea. If you enjoy it, ditto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
Spending 15 minutes to bid on a hotel at priceline to save $50 a night for a long weekend is frugal, and smart with your money. Using the $20 trick at Vegas to get a room that would cost an extra $100 a night for the weekend is a frugal, smart thing to do.
And if your retirement fund isn't fully funded, or you're paying interest on a CC balance, or an auto loan etc, then maybe the hotel room at any price is not frugal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
A cash back credit card is another example of being frugal that makes sense - you make money doing essentially nothing.
Only as long as you're not like the majority of people that studies show spend more money when shopping with a CC than they otherwise would using cash. Spending 15% more in order to save 1% isn't frugal at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
Most of this forum is pretty much centered around reducing expenses, which may or may not be frugal, depending on your hourly income and your goals. If you're unemployed and aren't making money, pretty much any way of reducing expenses will make sense.
Like even making your own soap...

Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
If you make $30 an hour, many of the suggestions won't apply. User_id makes a valid point in that you must consider the cost of your own time if you're doing things to save money. If it takes you two hours to save $10 and you could just work 2 hours and make $50, that really doesn't make much sense.
If you work two hours and make $50, and Uncle Sam and the state take half of it in taxes, and you had to spend another hour and $10 in gas/taxi/train fare to get to work, that tax-free $10 saved doesn't look nearly so inefficient. If you can do it at home at your convenience, even more so.

When I was working and making a comfortable six figure income, I still mowed my own lawn, changed my own oil, and fixed things when they broke rather than just replacing them. My neighbors didn't. I'm retired now. They're not.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:48 PM
 
Location: Bangor Maine
3,442 posts, read 5,433,699 times
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To me - to be frugal - is to not be wasteful. Throw away as little as possible, perhaps pass things on to those that can use them.
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Old 09-13-2009, 03:21 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,476 posts, read 16,976,529 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by younglisa7 View Post
Do you write down every nickel you spend? I used to and it is a real eye opener. Most people would be shocked how quickly the little things add up.
No I don't, I think that would be a waste of time


Quote:
Originally Posted by younglisa7 View Post
And yes you have to be frugal or at least hard working to become financially secure unless you were born into wealth and I don't know anyone like that.
I know people that are financially secure and they are not frugal and not anymore "hard working" than your average person. Nor did they come from wealth. Rather they simply were intelligent and did well in medical school, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by younglisa7 View Post
Taking on debt never benefits you more than being debt free. That's for all the sheeple who believe in the bogus benefits and tax breaks that really aren't better than being debt free.
Of course it does and the benefits have nothing to do with tax breaks. Taking on debt can generate income, if the additional income can service the debt and still give you extra money than it makes sense.

Avoiding debt because "it never benefits you" is like buying the latest gadget "just because you can".

Quote:
Originally Posted by younglisa7 View Post
You asked what it means to "me" and you don't have to agree.
The problem, is that I don't think you guys are that consistent. I think if someone came on here talking about their new computer every 2 years, their new gadgets, etc they would get criticized. This is because being "frugal" is really about being cheap. Its about finding ways to save money at the cost of your time.

You're definition is essentially that "you are aware of what you spend and you are financial secure", but there this can apply to the spendthrift just as well as the "frugal" person.

I created this thread because after reading a number of posts in the forum I got the impression that there was no consistent (and meaningful) notion of "frugal" being used, rather the majority of what is being discussed is simply penny-pinching.
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Old 09-13-2009, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,957 posts, read 17,013,046 times
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From reading the post in this thread I can see that way to many people equate "frugal" with being a "skinflint"

Frugal is the practice of........
acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and
resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to
achieve a longer term goal.[1]

Frugality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A skinflint is a person considered so miserly that they would even "skin a flint" to save something of it. A flint is a small piece of flintstone used to strike a spark in the tinderbox.
A 'skinflint' dislikes spending money and is also sometimes referred to as a 'tightwad', a 'miser', a 'piker', and a 'penny pincher' or 'a Scrooge'.

The term originated in Old England when the most prosperous citizens built their house walls of solid flint blocks, the most costly building material of the time. Imitators who wished to have the cachet of flintstone without the expense began to build their walls of brick with a facing of flintstone. The facing became known as skinflint, and the builders became known as skinflints.
Skinflint - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Notice that even the definition of skinflint is limited and tightfisted!!!

(P.S. Even tho my net name is Tightwad I'm frugal not a skinflint! )
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Old 09-13-2009, 04:15 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,476 posts, read 16,976,529 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BergenCountyJohnny View Post
Of course, you conveniently carved that out of what you quoted from my post (along with anything else that was convenient for you to cut out) so you could argue.
I did not post your entire post because ahem....it is already available in the thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BergenCountyJohnny View Post
Going for fast food would have cost me more time and money
I simply don't understand how it would "cost me more time", you are already out shopping there are undoubtedly places to get food right by the shops. Say, it takes 5 minutes to walk to one and then another 5 minutes to get your food, that is still a savings in time of at least 15 minutes or so.

You see, I never suggested you never considered your time rather the way you calculated it in your example made little sense. You even left out one aspect entirely, namely the time it takes to purchase the food from the grocery store. Also, working for 20~30 minutes is not the same as having an enjoyable walk to a food place, etc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BergenCountyJohnny View Post
Frugality is about considering ALL the costs; being cheap is about considering only the financial cost.
Again, what "costs" exactly? You mention some, but clearly there are others. I don't care about wasting paper, etc does that mean I'm not frugal? Are the costs relative to the person or absolute? If relative, then there is no meaningful way of discussing frugality as everyone is using a different measuring stick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BergenCountyJohnny View Post
No, I spent less time, if anything, and I spent less money
You say you spent less time, but that claim again makes little sense to me. Perhaps, you have the ability to freeze time when you make your hamburger.

Also, its unclear in what sense a hamburger from home is better for you than a hamburger out. Its bread, beef, cheese, etc regardless of where its made.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BergenCountyJohnny View Post
Would you rather have $360 a year, or would you rather have a Big Mac value meal once a week rather than make your own more nutritious meal??
I don't eat much at McDonalds, but I'd much rather eat out in the case you mentioned. I don't have that time freezer you have so it will take me more time to make the hamburger than eat out granted that I'm already out shopping. I don't find home made hamburgers magically more nutritious. But mostly, its simply more convenient and eating out is enjoyable. I'd also prefer to get fresh ice cream from a shop, making ice cream at home would take much longer.

Also, saving $360/year means rather little to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BergenCountyJohnny View Post
To make a burger at home takes me about 10 minutes...
Yeah, I just don't believe this. It takes a good 10~15 minutes just to cook the patty. You also left out a number of things, like again purchasing the food, putting the dishes up, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BergenCountyJohnny View Post
Another example, people use and throw out ziploc bags with no thought of washing them. .... I turn them inside out and hold onto them. When I have a bunch of them, I give them a soak in hot, soapy water, then a rinse, and then I reuse them.
This is a clear cut case of saving money by spending time. This time you can't claim that the reused bag is better some how, and you're clearly spending more time reusing them than otherwise. Even if you were washing 100 bags at a time, it would still be little savings for the time you're spending. My grandma does this though, I always thought it was funny.

You are doing this because you want to produce less physical waste and be more "green", a different issue entirely. As an individual you'll receive no benefit from doing this, unless you absolutely don't have the money to purchase new bags.

Last edited by user_id; 09-13-2009 at 04:37 PM..
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Old 09-13-2009, 04:37 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,476 posts, read 16,976,529 times
Reputation: 4304
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
From reading the post in this thread I can see that way to many people equate "frugal" with being a "skinflint"

Frugal is the practice of........
acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and
resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to
achieve a longer term goal.[1]
Yeah, but there is no mention of maximizing your benefit vs costs here but this is something a few people suggest is what being frugal is all about.

This definition is roughly what I think of when someone says "frugal" and I see it just as a difference in degree from a "skinflint" rather than a difference in kind. That is the sort of person that has a general tendency to restrain themselves form purchasing new goods/services and reuse existing ones. But this behavior may or may not be maximizing your benefit vs costs.

Generally though I see frugal (and skinflints) sorts in general to be penny-wise pound foolish. I'm much more interested in being pound-wise, worrying about the pennies is just too taxing on a daily basis.
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