6 Frugal Promises I Have Not Kept
When I started blogging for Wise Bread many eons ago, I was making a great salary and had just bought my own home. I was filled with frugal ambitions, ready to lean how to invest, be a good home owner, and save lots of money for retirement.
Five years later, I honestly can't say that I have accomplished all that much, to be perfectly honest. Lots of Wise Bread writers are people who found themselves in a financial bind and reacted by pulling themselves together and changing their lives. I am not that kind of writer, and that's one of the reasons I never write about investments or savings accounts — because I don't have any.
I've written about a lot of my other money-saving ideas and goals along the way, but to be honest, I haven't made many of them. Here are some of my more spectacular failures.
Giving Up Caffeine
I have quit drinking coffee several times over the past few years, but I always go back. To be honest, it's my one vice. I don't smoke, and I quit drinking alcohol (I have a sip every now and again, but I don't consume unless there is a toast being made). I don't think that getting up every morning and stumbling to the coffeemaker before I can focus my eyes is healthy for me, but I haven't managed to get through more than a couple of months without at least a strong cup of tea.
The thing is, I know the relying on caffeine for energy is depleting; caffeine is bad for bone density, and living on borrowed energy isn't good, either. But although I don't go to a cafe every morning and usually brew my coffee at home, I still haven't managed to totally kick the habit.
Letting My Gray Hair Grow
A couple of years ago, I cut off all of my dyed hair and let my natural color grow out. I started getting my first gray hairs when I was right out of college, and so it's not like it was a surprise that I have a significant portion of gray and white hair among my natural reddish brown locks. I had experimented with letting my hair be natural before, and had failed, but back in 2008, I suddenly realized how much I was spending at the colorist and decided to give it another go. I wrote a blog post about it, feeling all proud and ready to face a life with gray locks. I would be the female Jon Stewart or Anderson Cooper, all silver-foxy and chic.
Instead, I looked like someone had run over me with a tractor. I looked tired, old, and dumpy. No matter how I changed my makeup colors or styled my hair (including ample application of gold glitter), I looked terrible. My mother had warned me, too. She said, "Andrea, you have my hair. It's awful, and I am sorry. Stick to the coloring."
As usual, my mother was right. My hair IS awful. It is gray around the sides, like my fathers, but not really at all on the top. Having gray hair not only makes me look old, it makes me look like a man.
I've gone back to coloring it, usually from a box. It's cheaper than a salon, although I still go in to see a stylist for trims and deep conditioning treatments.
Learning Not to Give Too Much
My very first article on Wise Bread was about how my combined vanity and guilt over having grown up privileged combined to make for some really bad spending habits. Although I no longer blow my entire paycheck at Nordstrom, this is partly because I have so many other steep bills to cover that I simply can't afford to buy nice clothing anymore. I'm also still guilty of feeling the need to help other people monetarily, even if it means having to take out a loan to do so (not wise).
Also, I'm still madly vain and overly concerned with my appearance. Fortunately, a drastically reduced salary has curbed my trips to the manicurist.
Grooming My Dogs All by Myself
I have two small dogs that should be easy to groom. They are not. I bought a rather expensive pair of clippers and wrote an article about how I can groom my dogs at home because I am just that talented. It turns out that I cannot be trusted with clippers. In fact, even the strongest clippers I could find would not cut my Pekingese's hair, which apparently is made of some kind of ultra-strong polymer from the future. In fact, just finding a good spot to do the grooming is impossible in my house. Short of placing my dogs on the kitchen counter, I don't have an adequate surface or appropriate room to give the dogs a sense of safety and stability. In addition, there is no way to prevent dog hair from flying everywhere.
I still bathe my dogs in the bathtub using one of those showerheads-on-a-hose. But I pay to have them trimmed, plucked, flea-dipped, and dentally cared for. The DIY option is more work than I can handle on my own.
Not Having A Television
This one isn't a failure so much as a semi-renege. For years, I didn't own a television. I watched what I enjoyed online, and had no use for extended cable. My father, however, was horrified at his inability to watch golf for hours while visiting me in Seattle. "This will never do!" he proclaimed, and marched to Costco to buy a flat screen TV.
I still don't watch TV per se; I catch episodes of Modern Family on Hulu.com if I have time, which is rare. But I do technically have a television in my home, and we do use it to watch movies. My fiancé has improved upon it with a sound system that probably wouldn't fit in my Prius, because men cannot watch a television unless a subwoofer is hooked up to it.
Back when I owned a Toyota Avalon, I found that driving around 50mph saved me a lot of gas. I drive a hybrid now, and although it doesn't respond well to sudden acceleration, the optimal driving speed for my Prius is around 70mph. Of course, the speed limit on Seattle freeways is 60mph.
I still drive more slowly when I am heading home for the day, but am a bit more harried in the morning. Because the car is a hybrid, I spend less than half of what I used to on gasoline.
Do you have any money-saving pledges that you have not managed to keep? Tell us about them in the comments (and go ahead and justify them, it's fine).