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Playing the Frugal Game is Fun!

December 15th, 2013 at 12:30 am

A couple of days ago, I was about two thirds through my errands run when I realized I was really enjoying myself. What's this, I said to myself. How can I be having such fun just buying groceries or picking up a ream of copy paper? And then it came to me. I was playing the Frugal Game, I was scoring point after point, and I was really feeling good about it.

Yes. Practicing no-sacrifice frugality puts me more in control. Helps me come out ahead. Gets me in a winning mood. And who isn't going to feel good about all of that?

Too often, when frugality is discussed it is on the assumption that by being frugal one is giving something up. Doing without. Sacrificing one's todays for the sake of one's tomorrows. But that definitely is not how I experience frugality. To me, it is -- literally -- a fun game.

On that errands day earlier this week, I went to the office supply store for some copy paper. Shelf price: $5.79 a ream. But I had gone online for a rebate coupon and I had a credit for bringing in a spent ink cartridge. My price net: $2.00 a ream for 2 reams. Score! And I got even better quality paper than usual, so I definitely gave nothing up.

Next stop, the grocery store. I had room in my refrigerator freezer for more meats and a $5 off coupon in my pocket that I could use if I spent $25. Hey, perfect combination! Ten minutes later, I was walking out with packages of country ribs, steak and chicken -- and a savings of not just $5 but over $15 thanks to my selections. Score! And I certainly won't be giving up good eating either.

(I almost danced a little jig in the parking lot with that one!)

To play the Frugal Game successfully, I find that I have to plan my spending ahead of time. Otherwise, I would not have had those coupons, would I have? Hunting for and finding the deal is definitely part of the fun of the Game.

Last week, I went on a little camping road trip. I planned ahead by making sure I had both my National Parks and Virginia Parks lifetime passes in my wallet. In just 2 days I saved $15 on vehicle admission to the Skyline Drive, $8 on camping in the Jefferson National Forest and $4 on admission to 2 Virginia state parks. Score, score, score! And I got all the same benefits I would have had without the savings.

On that trip, my endpoint destination was Natural Bridge (and Caverns), which sports a hefty $29 admission. But I scouted it ahead on the web and saved myself $6 by pre-buying the ticket. Score! And I gave nothing up on that one either.

I like playing the Frugal Game at home just as well. That's where some people are more likely to think that one has to give comfort up to play the game. But... not so much.

Every day, one of the first things I do on getting out of bed is to turn on my classical music internet radio station. That used to be Sirius, for which I paid a fee every month. But now it's Pandora, which is free. And you know what? With Pandora, I have been able to customize my listening experience so that "my" classical radio station only plays musical compositions I really like! Score on the savings and I improved my listening experience. And I get to start every day with that little win. How cool is that?

Another thing I do every day at home is to use electricity. But I now play the Frugal Game to win by not misusing and wasting electricity. I just got my bill for last month; $48.31 for 425 kWh. A year ago, my bill for the same month was $125.83 for 1107 kWh. Big score! (And another little jig.)

What in heaven's name have I given up by playing the electricity Frugal Game? I have lights on whenever and wherever I need them. I don't limit my computer or television time in any way. I don't keep myself from turning on ceiling fans if it gets warm or a heater if it gets chilly. I have NO idea what I have given up -- if anything -- except maybe the wasteful privileges of walking out of rooms (or the house itself) and leaving lights and electronics on willy nilly... or letting a near-empty freezer just keep churning away 24/7... or being so lazy that I would not take the time to switch out my inefficient incandescent light bulbs?

The bottom line is that my whole daily life is like this now. I am playing an ongoing Frugal Game that keeps rewarding me with little "happy jolts" practically every time I open a bill or whip out a credit card. And it's fun.

Maybe it's that it doesn't take much to make me happy. Or that I have a very strong Scrooge gene in my DNA. Or maybe -- just maybe -- it's that playing the Frugal Game puts me in touch with how much I am in financial control of my life. And that, as they say, is priceless.

How about you? Do you get the same kick out of playing the Frugal Game? Tell us how!

2 Responses to “Playing the Frugal Game is Fun!”

  1. snafu Says:

    How do you use the benefits of your Frugal Game? We've been involved in similar action calling it 'Cost Avoidance.' The 1st year we kept tally in our DayTimer. Year 2 we began switching those intangible savings to our linked Savings Account. I just transfer the differential between regular price and sale/discount/coupon price. It hasn't been possible to take advantage of the savings for some of the really large sums as I wouldn't have bought at regular asking price.

    A few weeks ago I replaced our old living rm sofa and was able to add $ 50. cost avoidance delivery fee and $ 100. from selling the old sofa & chair on Kijijji [local electronic Buy 'n Sell] to Savings. Since I bought the sectional from a liquidator, it was half price of the major furniture retailer's sale price and paid in full from cost avoidance Savings Account. For the most part, I buy an investments product when sums permit.

    It's likely not helpful in your circumstances but I keep a list of when items regularly go on sale. With retailers so competitive these days, they'll often price match or give a discount for cash if you just ask.

  2. Retired To Win Says:

    Hi, Snafu...

    You asked how I use the benefits of my Frugal Game. Well, I manage my finances using a baseline budget and a discretionary fund. The baseline budget has an $18,000 reserve, equivalent to one year's baseline expenses. Each month, after all sources of income have come in, I reconcile the baseline budget reserve account(s) back to $18,000. Any surplus gets swept into the maximally flexible discretionary fund.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Retired To Win

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