Thursday, July 18, 2013

041 : Simple Living

My friend over at Thriftcore wrote 30 Cheap Bastard Ways I Love Being a Frugal Cheapskate: How Do You Save? then tweeted me that she'd love to hear my thoughts. So, I figured I'd write a post about it!

Here is the thing about me and money : I don't save it because I'm cheap, I just never make very much of it and have learned to live off of very little. If I were really fucking rich, I might not change a ton, but I wouldn't try to be cheap just for the sake of it. Sometimes, I feel a bit like a traitor, because I don't necessarily save for the sake of saving. Though, I am a minimalist and so I would naturally own less and spend less. Here are some of the ways I save (or don't).

No (or few) beauty products : I currently use only baking soda on my hair. I never use any other soap, conditioner, or hair products. Baking soda costs about $0.89 per box, and a box usually lasts me two months, so I probably spend about $6 a year on hair products. I do buy my soap from local artists and spend anywhere from $2-$8 per bar of soap that will last me about three months, which means I spend $8-$32 a year on soap. However, I don't use any deodorant or perfume. I use Tom's toothpaste and only Oral B tooth brushes. I buy about 2 toothbrushes per year and probably 2-3 tubes of toothpaste. Toothbrushes cost about $10 per year and toothpaste costs about $15 per year. I own some makeup, which I bought for a special event, but I don't wear makeup regularly, which puts my makeup cost at $0 per year. I don't wear perfume or deodorant, but I do use lotion after every shower and when I have a new tattoo. I use about 2 bottles of lotion per year and try to source it locally, but sometimes buy nice stuff (Aveeno) at the grocery store. I probably spend about $15 a year on lotion. I absolutely have to use sunscreen and will buy the cheapest brand I can, but do need 50SPF and won't skimp on it, if necessary. Sunscreen is probably about $30 per year. I also use disposable razors and Q-tips and probably spend about $10 a year on that.

Total yearly beauty costs: $128 (high side)

I keep my beauty routines very basic because I don't like having chemicals on my skin or paying for all that plastic packaging. It's a fact that humans need far less cleaning than we do and no one needs makeup. I just feel like I'm prettiest when natural. I gave up deodorant about two years ago and have noticed that the general smell of myself has changed for the better. If I'm feeling stinky, I just give myself a quick wash at the sink. It's taken me a while to come to a natural beauty routine, and I'm considering changing my soap and toothpaste to baking soda in the next couple of years. These choices just feel good to me, and I would practice them whether or not I was rich.

I really don't try to save on food : Unlike Vanessa, I don't live in a place with a year-round growing season and I have no space to grow my own veggies. I do dream of a veggie garden, though. I guess it would be nice to eat more veggies, but there is so much involved in grocery shopping, and I just buy the least amount possible from the grocery store. I don't buy cheap yogurt or cheap cheese, but when we're broke, I hit up the aisle with the microwave foods. I drink La Croix, which is expensive. I also eat out at least once a week sometimes more, because I really love food. I have no idea what I spend on food, but I don't really care. If I were wealthy, I would shop at fancy stores or eat out more. If I have it to splurge, I buy nice food. Because food is just great, and saving on it never makes me feel good.

I don't shop just to shop : I don't go to the mall unless I need something. I don't try to save on bras or underwear. I know what I like, and I buy good quality lingerie that lasts me. (But if I see some bras at the thrift store in my size, I buy them.) I buy good quality shoes, and I don't skimp there. As for all the other clothes...I'll go shopping if I need something and try to find it on the sale rack or at the thrift store, but I'm not too hung up on it. My entire closet is 1/4 to 1/10 the size of the average American. I wear my clothes until they fall apart. I patch clothes, I cut off pants for shorts, I dye light colored clothes as they become dirty. I make my clothes last, but I don't go out of my way to save on them. I just own less and wear what I have until it falls apart, which means that I probably spend 1/4 to 1/2 of what most Americans spend on clothes.

I use the bus when I can : I travel a lot. I put myself on a strict gas budget and stick to it. I ALWAYS maintain my car, which is why I often own cars that have well over 150,000 miles on them. If I can take the bus, I do. ESPECIALLY the Megabus. I can go from Cleveland to Omaha for $25 total, if I plan right. This is good for my wallet and for the environment. Traveling is something I love, and I make it a priority, but I'm a cheap traveler. I often sleep in my car. I try to get more people to come with me when I'm going to swing events. I go out of my way to stay at someone's house. I take the cheapest travel option. This enables me to travel far more than most people, because I spend so little doing it.

I eat fast food : I know, it's not cool, but $1 burger is a great deal, and I'll eat that when I'm traveling especially. I try to balance my fast food intake with more water intake, but I'm not too concerned about it. I can travel and eat for cheap nearly anywhere in the U.S.

I don't celebrate any holidays : I stopped celebrating Christmas 15 years ago, and money was a large motivator. Because I don't celebrate holidays and explicitly ask for no gifts at birthdays, I spend far less on gifts than most people. I still buy my friends gifts from time to time, but I never feel obligated to spend a ton of money at one point during the year. My friends don't expect it, and I find that quality time is always the best gift anyway.

I do free things with my free time : I go to the Cleveland Art Museum, because it's free. I take the dogs to the park, because parks are free. I go geocaching, which is free (it costs $10 to start up). I spend a lot of time outside and generally go explore new places over spending money at the mall or the movies. I live 5 minutes from a National Park, and there is so much to be done there...or I dream up photo shoots with my friends. Free stuff for free time is always more fulfilling to me.

That's really all I've got. Like Vanessa, I use Netflix (and Hulu+) in exchange for a lower cable bill (basic cable). But I have a smart phone, because it's awesome and I prefer to use Mac computers, which are more expensive. Like Vanessa, I am frugal with beauty supplies, but I do whatever the hell I want with food, because it is yummy. I generally try to save on clothes, but if I need a nice pair of shoes, I'm going to spend the money. I wouldn't call myself cheap,and I'm not even sure I'd use the word frugal. Instead, I just say that I live simply.


  1. I am emailing you about this because there is too much to say!!

    1. Got yo e-mail, will reply today!

  2. Like Steph I've got a lot to respond with but I'll just leave it here.

    On the year-round growing season: Almost everything I eat is imported since the staple of my diet is fruit like bananas. What my gardening saves me on is herbs at the moment because I eat a LOT of them. Though I am lucky to be able to grow lots of leafy greens and other veggies year-round. I use back yards offered to me by my boyfriend and another friend for growing space + a community garden project. Do you have friends with a back yard or local community gardens to take advantage of to realize your garden dreams? :D

    Also, when I slowly started to switch to eating healthier I ate a lot of frozen veggie (from WalMart) and lentil soup. They can be bought year 'round across the country. It was super quick, easy, and delicious and without it being my goal or even trying pounds melted off.

    On eating out: Totally support that, I used to be the same way. I LOOOVE FOOOOOD. I primarily don't eat out much now for health reasons, but the savings is nice, too. The biggest part of my spending outside of rent is food, I spend a crazy amount but don't worry about it because I love to eat it, make it, and it's healthy fuel.

    Christmas: Meh to it, I'd like to stop celebrating too. Quality time trumps all gifts, so true.

    Beauty: Yep, same here, no make-up, no deodorant, baking soda is good for EVERYTHANG.

    I'm often called "frugal" and "cheap" and I roll with it and mock myself with it on the site and with friends, but I too just see myself as a natural, simple-living person. I don't feel deprived, I don't go too much out of my way to spend the way I do. It's a natural lifestyle for me that I enjoy and that happens to save money and be environmentally friendly along the way.

    1. I have a lot of issues with food, in general, all of it. But I live in a very urban area and don't have any options for growing my own stuff. I grew some veggies in a planter this year, and it was not that fun. My living situation is not my ideal living situation. It's more complicated than I wish it were. So for now, dreams!

      Baking soda IS good for everything! I'm thinking of making it my toothpaste once mine runs out. Then, maybe it'll be my body soap too (although I like something soft for shaving). I also use very few cleaning products, 'cause baking soda and vinegar!

      Yeah, I think most of my motivation comes from not wanting to use up tons of resources. I just try to lose less in general, which results in saving more!