Feb 032011
Authors: Lydia Jorden

Tough economic times are certainly a reason to be a bit more frugal. Saving money is crucial to ensure financial security; however, making a jump from out-of-control spending to saving is like my grandmother asking me if I’m hungry — purposeless, as she will force food down my throat regardless of my answer.

So what’s the point in telling yourself you are going to stop spending frivolously when you know you will not? Coming to the conclusion that you need to spend wisely is the first step in becoming thriftier. The second step involves taking advantage of my past experiences, outlined in this column, to guide you on the way to a value-driven lifestyle.

Frugal shopping is easy shopping if you understand a store’s policies. It is easy to shop at American Eagle Outfitters knowing that their corporate policy reinforces customer power. An individual can return any item, as long as they have the receipt, in exchange for original form of payment. You did read that correctly. There is no “time period” outlined, or “in exchange for store credit only” small print.

Intrigued? Returning a 3-year-old pair of jeans was easy for this fierce frugal. Only a few bizarre looks later and I was on my way with my original form of payment in hand. Is it the classiest move ever? Certainly not. However, if I am spending my money at a store, I want to know that it is living up to their corporate policy. A.E. undoubtedly lives up to their policy, as demonstrated by accepting a pair of 3-year-old jeans.

Understanding a store’s policy will only help your wallet so much. In order to truly become frugal, one has to identify how they passively spend. Embarrassingly enough, I have spent more than $35 on Starbucks in a week. When I’m on the run and looking for a quick guilty pleasure, I’ll usually swing by “Sweet Sinsations” in the Lory Student Center. A “sin” that will invisibly take your money, leaving you penniless, destitute and in need of a caffeine fix.

I will admit, it’s easy to give in to coffee at 8 a.m. on your way to class — especially with the invasion of coffee shops on campus. If you don’t stop at the Behavioral Sciences Building for that morning cup-o-joe, the Morgan Library coffee cart will sure get you. If your willpower takes over and you have avoided those places, it isn’t hard to swing by Rockwell Hall before you continue your day. The point is that when your brain is on overload from seeing so many coffee shops it seems almost normal to purchase a cup of luxury coffee daily.

Although at the time the purchase isn’t a budget buster, it will add up. You may find that what was merely pocket change is now something that you wish you held onto. Especially when your utility bill mocks the fact that if you didn’t drink coffee for the past week it would be easy to pay.

My last and certainly most difficult tip is to partake in a “no spending spree.” Restrain yourself from spending for at least five days. Five days doesn’t sound like a long time, but you will soon realize that spending is a very passive activity.

Once you recognize what items you involuntarily buy, you will be able to recognize your weakness and begin to live life independent of un-frugal purchases.

Now, buy me coffee!

Lydia Jorden is a sophomore business administration major. She has actually spent far more than $35 in a week on Starbucks and has never gone more than 30 minutes without spending money. Feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:25 pm

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