Living Frugally: The Little Expenses Matter

I am an avid reader. My favorite genres are fantasy, sci-fi, action-adventure, business and economics.  I can easily spend eight hours reading and be fully content.  I use both the Kindle and Barnes & Noble apps on my tablet and cell phone.  It is not uncommon to find me reading while following my wife around the thrift store as she shops.

I have over 270 books in my Kindle account alone. My goodreads.com account shows I’ve read 107 books…and that doesn’t include the kindergarten and elementary years.  So, considering the cost of books these days, how do I support my frugal lifestyle while collecting all this reading material?  Easy. Free books.

I estimate that 98% of my Amazon books were free and the other 2% were the $.99 variety.  Am I a cheapskate or penny-pinching Grinch?  Absolutely not.  I simply decided to pay as little as possible for my “edutainment” for a few reasons:

  • The challenging goal of attaining education without accumulating debt
  • The less $$ I spend the more $$ I keep
  • l am determined to set a good financial example for my children

It would not advance my financial well-being for me to spend an average of $2.99 for each of my 270 Amazon titles.  That’s a total of $807.30.  As it stands I’ve been able to direct that total to other things including savings, investing, and paying bills.

Why is paying so little for eBooks so important?  Discipline.  It would be easy and painless to spend $2.99 for the books I want.  It really isn’t that much to pay and yes, they’d be worth it.  However, if I intend to live frugally and remain debt free, I have to be disciplined, period.  This must include those “small” purchases because it’s the small things that subtly add up without most of us noticing.  Note the word, subtly.

 

Most of us realize the impact to our bank accounts when purchasing a vehicle, vacation or starting a business.  These are things we plan for far in advance and we realize the long-term commitment inherent in those decisions.  However, we also need to take note of how the small purchases add up and how they affect our financial futures as well.

Starbucks isn’t a success because their coffee is the best, they’re successful, in part, because consumers think to themselves, “It is a great environment and it’s only $5.75.”  They fail to do the math!  Five dollars and seventy-five cents, five times a week for fifty-two weeks is $1,495 each year.

Ask yourself, “How many years would you enjoy giving away that much money in exchange for something that doesn’t bring you any closer to your financial goals?”  My answer to that question is “Zero!”

Therefore, I remain vigilant.  I don’t buy coffee at Starbucks, I shop at thrift stores, and I refuse to pay more than $.99 for eBooks.  It is about Discipline!

James
 

James retired in 2005 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. During the latter part of his career, James' interest in personal finance was piqued based on his own experiences and observations of the way most Americans plan – or more accurately, fail to plan – for retirement and the difficulty many face in starting the process. His most valued education has been lessons learned from personal experience and through conversations with smart, savvy friends.

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