Frugal living is an idea that is about to come into vogue again. With the economy being in the toilet and the future outlook not being much better, many families are feeling the effects of the economy in their wallets and at home. Sadly, if frugality hadn’t fallen out of vogue, perhaps the economy wouldn’t be in such bad shape but it’s too late for that. So before going on, let’s define what frugality is and then let’s look at some different things we can do to put this lifestyle into effect.
One way put frugality into use is to be aware of loss-leader marketing and then avoiding falling for loss-leader ploys. Loss-leader marketing by the way, is when a store of manufacturer, make an offer to consumers where initially, the store or manufacturer will be providing something at a loss. Once the consumer has taken advantage of the loss-leader, the store or manufacturer will profit by means of an up-sell, or reoccurring purchases. One example of this is the disposable razor industry. Gillette sends you the handle for the razor and a couple cartridges in the mail for free but they more than cover their cost through the high cartridge prices. Now compare that with old-school shaving. For the price of 5 Gillette Mach III cartridges, I can buy a year of disposable blades for my DE shaver. The bottom line is stay away from offers where you get something for free in exchange for a monthly plan **cough, cell phones cough** or reoccurring cost.
Probably the easiest place to save money is at the grocery store. A quick check on Safeway’s website shows a TV diner currently selling for $3.29. For a single person that might not be a big deal but if you’ve got a family of four, that’s $13.16 for one meal. If you ate like that everyday of the month, you’re looking at $400. Then consider what eating processed foods all the time does to your health. Homecooking, though it might take longer to prepare, costs a fraction and is better for your health.
The last frugal tip is for those in real dire straits. If times are really tough and you are without health insurance, know that you shouldn’t have to worry. Many hospitals have what are called charity care programs. These programs provide free or reduced health care costs. Though qualifying income levels vary, in many places, a family of four can qualify with an income up to 400% of the federal poverty level. For those that don’t qualify, if you lack health care or are financially unable, there maybe additional programs that can provide health services at a discount. And finally, many hospitals will let you negotiate health care at medicare costs or will work out a payment plan for you.