12 Frugal Compromises
When we talk about frugality, it can be easy to get into an "all or nothing" mentality. Our two options are to eat a big meal out or cook at home. To have a lot of stuff or pare down all of our possessions to the very basics. But the reality is that there are a lot of savings compromises that can be made — frugal things you can do that, while they may not save you as much money as other efforts, might also save you time, make you happier, or make your life easier. Here are 12 frugal compromises to consider. (See also: How to Agree Without Compromise)
1. Buy Part of Your Meal Already Prepared
If you're running short on time, buy part of your meal already prepared and cook the rest. Rotisserie chickens are especially popular for this, but also consider things like side salads, bread, dessert, or even a pizza that you could pair with a salad.
2. Hire Moving Helpers
One way that I've come to define adulthood is owning furniture that I cannot conceivably move on my own. But instead of booking movers for my most recent move, I simply rented a U-Haul and hired moving helpers for two hours to load and unload the items I could not carry myself. I saved at least $150 over hiring movers (maybe more — the estimates I received were in the very broad range of $350 to $900!), and I didn't have to worry about being unable to rally strong friends ot help with the heaviest items.
3. Meet Somewhere Cheap for Dinner
Going out to eat doesn't need to be a fancy affair. Meet at a diner, sandwich shop, or somewhere else that's not too expensive.
4. Buy New Accessories
Add pizazz to your wardrobe with tights, a brightly colored belt, chunky necklace, or other inexpensive statement accessories.
5. Drink Cheap Beer...or Just One Nice Beverage
Personally, I go back and forth on cheap beer — I'm not above (and, especially on hot days, legitimately enjoy) beers like PBR and Corona. But I also appreciate a well-crafted cocktail. The trick when ordering a fancy drink is to keep it to just one.
6. Hire a Cleaner Once a Month
Save time on house cleaning by hiring a house cleaner to do a deep clean once a month. You'll only need to do the more surface-level, day-to-day cleaning.
7. Don't Take the Car...Sometimes
All of the "take public transit" yammering can get old if you need to have your car for work, family, or other reasons. But you don't have to take your car all the time. Save on gas, parking, and wear and tear by carpooling, taking public transit, walking, or biking.
8. Get Takeout Instead of Delivery
When you get food delivered, you should give the driver a full tip (seriously...please tip the driver). But if you pick up takeout yourself, all you need to pay for is the food, plus maybe a buck or two.
9. Rearrange the Furniture and Buy One New Thing
Give a room in your house new life by rearranging the furniture and buying one new thing — art, a rug, a lamp, a slipcover, or even a small piece of furniture — to tie the new scheme together.
10. Have a Coffee Treat Day
By now, most of us have heard about the "latte factor" — the idea that small savings, like making coffee at home, can really add up. But you don't need to do it every day. Choose a coffee treat day for yourself when you'll get a coffee from the coffee shop — whether it's to ease yourself into the workweek on Monday or treat yourself for making it through on Friday.
11. Trim Your Own Bangs
If you have the skills to fully cut your own hair, by all means do it. (I cut my own hair for several years, although it left me for a bit with a style that could only be worn one way and could occasionally be described as "proto-mullet.") But even if you're a klutz with scissors, it's probably within your power to give your bangs a trim, extending the time between haircuts.
12. Use Disposables Alongside Reusables
Doing all of your cleaning with paper towels or all of your food storage in one-time-use bags is just wasteful. But sometimes those tools are helpful, which is why I fully believe that disposable zipper-lock bags can live in harmony with your use-again Tupperware, just as paper towels have their time and place in conjunction with rags.
What are your favorite frugal compromises?