How Far Should You Go to Save a Few Bucks?

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Here’s a life-saving tip for you – if you don’t want to die, don’t let your eyeglasses snap in half while you drive.

And yes, this happened to me the other day. I drove my kids to school and my glasses just fell apart while I was still behind the wheel. The good news is that there were no damages and I still managed to hold my glasses up enough for me to see clearly and drive home safely. The bad news is that I now need a new pair of glasses.

I joked to my wife that I could theoretically just tape the lenses to my face and still manage, but perhaps my wife didn’t think it was a joke at all. After all, she thinks I go pretty far in order to save money. I haven’t really done that in a long time, especially with COVID and all, but I used to walk to the grocery store, then to the pharmacy, and then back to see which place sold ibuprofen at a cheaper price. Oh man, it must have been ten years ago, but I still remember those trips! It wasn’t super far, maybe a 5 minute walk each way, but spending that extra 10 to 15 minutes to possibly save a dollar just isn’t something people in the United States do.

As I write this, I’m also wearing a pretty heavy jacket because it’s pretty cold in my room. I could turn on the heater, sure, but I’m home alone and well, gas bills…

One of our friends always comments on how frugal we are compared to those around us. She just can’t seem to understand why we spend so little compared to how much she thinks we can afford. Many people would feel the need to defend themselves, but I’m totally comfortable with being frugal. That’s because being willing to live on less is one of the primary reasons we could live a comfortable life now.

You see, I took a 70% pay cut when I decided to give my full attention. It wasn’t an easy decision, and I only had the guts to jump in with both feet because I saved up and was living on a ramen budget already. I figured I could survive financially with the drastically reduced income. And if things didn’t work out with the website, I still had savings to rely on.

Luckily, I had some luck on my side and with hard work, I could now help people in the comforts of my home all while providing a very decent life for my family.

What if I was spending all my income and didn’t think I could live on less?
I was very close to buying a house a few months before I decided to give entrepreneurship a go. If that scenario played out, then I could never afford to quit my job. I would still be answering to a boss in a very stressful sales job. My job required me to travel all over the US to meet with customers. Who knows what will happen to me this year when no one would be willing to meet.

Do you see how being frugal changed my life? Having a savings cushion isn’t just for emergencies. It could also allow you to take advantage of opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

Even if you don’t become an entrepreneur, savings can be life-changing in other ways.

Remember that dollar I saved on ibuprofen? The savings was really $4 because a bottle of generics cost $2 on sale and Advil, the name brand version of ibuprofen, cost $6. What’s more, that $4 has turned into $10 because I invested my savings and continue to do so. In ten years, that $10 could be worth $20, or even $25. Give it another ten years, and you could be looking at $50 dollars.

$50 is a good number to talk about because if history has shown that you can withdraw 4% a year from your investments, adjust the amount for inflation every year and it won’t run out, then I can withdraw $2 out of that $50 every year. In other words, my original $4 investment allows me to withdraw $2 once a year, every year forever. By making that 5-minute trip and saving $4, I could afford ibuprofen for the rest of my life because let’s face it, I only need a bottle or less of that stuff a year.

If you save enough and save early, you can afford to pay for everything without working another day. Do you need any other motivation to save?

Before I wrote this last sentence. I just went to turn on the heater. I don’t need to rough it out anymore. I don’t need to go that far to save money these days, because I went pretty far to save money earlier in my life.

Do you want to live a more comfortable life in the future? Perhaps you should make some sacrifices now. In fact, if you are just saving it for yourself later on, is it really a sacrifice?

You won’t get rich overnight, but you will live a comfortable life. Some simple changes can really make a difference. I’m living proof.

Editor's Note: I've begun tracking my assets through Personal Capital. I'm only using the free service so far and I no longer have to log into all the different accounts just to pull the numbers. And with a single screen showing all my assets, it's much easier to figure out when I need to rebalance or where I stand on the path to financial independence.

They developed this pretty nifty 401K Fee Analyzer that will show you whether you are paying too much in fees, as well as an Investment Checkup tool to help determine whether your asset allocation fits your risk profile. The platform literally takes a few minutes to sign up and it's free to use by following this link here. For those trying to build wealth, Personal Capital is worth a look.

Editor's Note: Did you know about the service called $5 meal plans? For $5 a month, they send you recipes of delicious, healthy, yet cheap food that costs just $5 a meal.

Several of my friends signed up and they are able to eat at home more because the instructions are easy to follow, making everything convenient. The deal also comes with grocery shopping lists, which saves them so much time. Check it out yourself by clicking here and you too may be able to save more and become healthier at the same time.

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current AT&T DSL and U-VERSE promotion codes and promos and see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Beau W says:

    I can relate about the glasses. I despise buying new ones. My insurance only covers so much. I love being frugal with my money. I guess it’s become a habit because my dad was kinda cheap or frugal if you will. I’m a avid shopper of the local Goodwill for anything I need. Feels good to spend less money on something you can get used other than new.

    • David @ says:

      I still haven’t gotten a new pair. I keep thinking I can get new lens for my current pair, but then I should’ve done this while my other pair was still functional. Now, if I want to change the lenses, I won’t be able to see for like a week lol.

      One of these days I’ll have to get a new pair, but it won’t be today 🙂

  • Luke says:

    I can relate to your story about being frugal. I remember counting the cost per gram of protein in various products for comparison and the cost per oz of alcohol in beer, wine, and liquor. Now that I am 75 years old, I still hate to buy a product if it is less at another store. This started when I was going to college on the GI bill at $175 per month. Old habits are hard to break.

    • David @ says:

      Thanks for sharing Luke. Old habits are really hard to break. We just have to remind ourselves that we can relax a bit sometimes.

  • Edward Grozalis says:

    The problem I have is almost the opposite. I saved and worked about 35 years and retired a little early(58) but have a hard time spending the savings now that I have a more than sufficient nest egg. I don’t really count the pennies that I used too but I have to really work to spend a little more. I keep trying to push myself to spend a little more (slightly nicer car, not changing the oil anymore, turning up the heat a degree, etc.). It may sound ridiculous to some but the change from saver to (slight) spender can be difficult after years of saving. I could use some advice on the transition. Thanks!

    • David @ says:

      It’s not ridiculous at all to me because I sometimes have that exact issue. In fact, it’s fairly common for the frugal-minded folks so you are in good company.

      One good way to spend a little more, and it sounds like you are already trying to do this, is to buy slightly better quality (and more expensive) things. So instead of trying to spend money more often by buying more things, you are spending more each time you decide to spend.

      You should also consider spending money on convenience a bit more. A cleaner here, a car wash guy there to test the waters. It does make life a little less hectic!

  • Steveark says:

    I have good vision with contacts or glasses but am nearly blind without them. Been that way since I was a child. One day I was out on a big lake, 40 miles long and miles wide, by myself. A bee flew into my face and got between my glasses and my eye. That’s a scary thing, getting stung in the eye would be bad! Instinct made me fling my hand up to my face to brush the bee away but instinct forgot I was wearing glasses so my hand knocked them off my face into the lake that was fifty feet deep at that spot. So there I was, completely blind and having to try to run the boat back to the dock and cabin my family was staying at, miles away. It took forever but I did manage to find it without running into anyone or anything. This was before cell phones so I was on my own. So I feel you, big time. Great post. We are way down the road financially from you, living a very Fat FI existence after retiring. But it is still cold in our house and I’ve got a thick hoody on, old habits just don’t die!

    • David @ says:

      Heh old habits you say? I’m wearing a outdoor jacket even though our heat is suppose to be on reading your story. I’ve hit my glasses plenty of times trying to wave my hand at stuff that seem to be flying close to my face but I’ve never quite hit it off my face yet. I know I will one day. Hopefully it won’t be on a boat though! I’m glad you got to your family ok that day. I’ve never been as glad as I was when I got home that day. Fun times!!

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