Frugality — Our New Best Friend

(Through Rose-Coloured Glasses)

The recession is far from over. President Obama just handed the Congress a $3.83 trillion new budget, a plan that forecasts the government spending a record $1.66 trillion more than it takes in through taxes. God bless the America almighty dollar. Our pocketbooks continue to suffer.

Drastic time needs drastic measures. We have been combing through our family budget with a surgical scapel.

For the food budget, it is a multi-tasking approach. Before grocery shopping, we go through the supermarkets’ flyers for sale items and clip coupons. We changed our diet, eat more vegetables than meat, cooking in bulk and freeze them. We eat more home cooked meals than the packaged frozen food now, and eat less out in restaurants. We have our own patch of garden in the backyard and grow vegetables for own consumption (may be a pig/chicken or two if the laws allowed). We bake our own bread. For the office, we bring coffee from home, less trips to Tim Horton and Starbuck, and drink water instead of juices and pops.

For leisure and entertainment, we cut back too. Instead of going out to movie theatres, we rent movies and watch as a whole family, and play board games more frequently. Instead of buying new books, we go to the library, although the Top Ten List will take a very long time to appear on the shelves, it is worth the wait.

For vacation, we try the new “staycation” way. We take short trips around town or do own designed walking tours, exploring the different ethnic sections of town. These are quite entertaining and educational, actually.

For clothing, we no longer go for the brand names alone. Price comes first. Swap shop may be another option. Also organizations like the FreeCycle Network (http://www.freecycle.org/) are springing up everywhere and quite popular, where people recycle their used clothing to others, free.

We are re-assessing our use of the cell-phones and Blackberries, and wonder why we spent so much on such communication devices. We even consider to cancell the TV cable and newspaper for now.

We ponder joining the Compact movement (or a variation of it), a movement that started in San Francisco a few years ago. Members promised not to buy anything new (except essentials like food, medicine, consumables such as shampoo, underwear etc) for one year. (http://sfcompact.blogspot.com/)

Yes, drastic time needs drastic measure. Frugality becomes our best friend.

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