This is more of a personal blog about how I’ve learned to be frugal with my time and money over the past year, and how that led me to a scrappy mindset. There are no affiliate links here – just sharing my thoughts on the small, incremental steps I’ve made that helped me and my family on a journey toward financial independence.
I hope my experiences help you evaluate whether you are being frugal (not cheap) with your time and resources, saving where needed and spending it toward your goals.
Got rid of the luxury car
Yes, I was one of those bachelors who went out and bought a little something something after finding success in the professional world. My guilty pleasure was a new black 2015 Audi A3 Premium Plus with the sport and lighting package. That was a wonderful ride and I enjoyed every moment in it.
Four years later, I found myself with a wife and a newborn, and I had to make a choice: to keep my bachelor ride and run it to the ground or get something cheaper and functional. I ended up selling my car and getting a non-luxury SUV. This was the right choice for my family.
Some benefits I immediately noticed after selling my luxury car is it has prevented lifestyle creep. As an owner of a luxury vehicle, I felt the need to have other luxury items. I would often feel out of place wearing old, cheap clothes and driving a luxury car. I felt the pressure to keep up with the luxury lifestyle. This way of thinking is toxic when living a more minimal and financially responsible lifestyle. There is no one I need to impress any more, and owning a luxury vehicle became a liability to my family.
Maintenance costs for luxury vehicles are extremely costly. Often, typical service charges (oil change, etc…) are a few times that of a non-luxury vehicle. While at the Audi dealership, I would internally be appalled by the maintenance costs but made sure it didn’t show on my face. I wanted to feel like I was a baller and could easily pay for it just like the rest of the customers in the service center. I now see how foolish I was and how unfortunate it is for all those customers that get ripped off just to get that luxury feel. It is not worth it; learn from my mistake.
Shift from upgrading gaming PC to leasing gaming PC
Playing video games was my past time as a bachelor but it has slowly been phased out of my life after marriage and having a child. I was resistant at first but I’ve realized how little time I have, and I need to make the most of it with my family.
I slowly shifted away from playing less video games, especially when my gaming PC died on me. Normally I would have taken that as an opportunity to budget for a new gaming PC, potentially costing me $500-$1000 (the hardware gets out of date and will need to upgrade as time goes on). That was a high cost for a gaming PC that I know I should be playing less of. I would also lose on my investment since computer hardware depreciates faster than cars.
This is when I discovered cloud gaming, specifically using the Shadow Gaming program ($35 a month). They have the gaming hardware and you rent it by the month or year. All you need is a decent Internet connection and you’ll be on the pay-as-you-go model that is popular with anyone familiar with cloud computing.
Since then I’ve used Shadow for about three months this year, starting and ending the monthly subscription whenever it suited me. I feel this is a good stopgap for me at my current stage in life, enabling me to schedule time to play when life was less busy and then stopping it when it became busier.
I’m on a gaming hiatus now after my baby girl was born; there is not much “me” time and I wouldn’t want to spend it playing video games. This practice alone has already saved me a lot of money and more importantly, time. Playing video games and escaping are fun, but I’ve realized how much of a time suck it is and how it hinders me from meeting our goals as a family.
Cutting my own hair
Haircuts are expensive, especially if you are a guy with a short crew cut. I’ve spent some time in the military and grew accustomed to having short hair. It became a habit to get my hair cut twice a month at my local Hair Cuttery. I knew all the hair stylists and it was nice to catch up with them. It was like therapy for me.
The haircuts used to cost about $18 years ago, but with the rising cost of inflation it has now averaged $24 without tips. That adds up to hundreds of dollars a year spent on a haircut that I’ve found can be done myself easily at home.
Even after a few bad haircuts I was still accustomed to going to “professionals” to cut my hair. I didn’t feel like I could do it on my own, and I enjoyed the service. One day, the hair stylist offered to trim my beard and, thinking nothing of it I agreed. I was charged $5 for 5 seconds worth of trimming which I normally do every morning. That was the final straw for me. Between bad haircuts, the rising cost of haircuts, and other additional charges, I went out and bought myself a $52 hair trimmer kit online. I’ve since cut my own hair twice and did a decent job of it. The trimmer paid for itself!
As a wise man once said, “the difference between a good haircut from a bad one is one week.”
Cooking more at home
I grew up in a family where my parents cooked regularly for us. I didn’t find the need to cook until I was living on my own and even then I was too lazy to do so on a regular basis. When I did cook it would be something simple, usually involving grilling some form of protein.
After getting married, I’ve learned the value of cooking at home. Not only does it cost less but it gives you a sense that you are providing for your family’s well being. You feel satisfied with what you made and having fed your family and friends.
We’ve used HelloFresh and BlueApron whenever they offer discounts. The meals came out to about $10 per person, which is the cost of convenience for the ingredients to be shipped to your door. It gives us the flexibility to choose how many meals we want for the week and the type of food. Although it costs more than buying all the ingredients on your own, it has been a gateway for us to cook at home.
Since then I’ve made a few meals, simple and quite tasty. =)
On that tasty note, I hope this challenges you to go against the grain and not feel compelled to live in the fast lane. Learn from my experiences and use your time and resources wisely.
Please feel free to share your scrappy ideas in the comments below!