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Four Frugal Things That I Have Done Recently

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By Josh Katzowitz, WCI Content Director

Ever since I became financially literate, two phrases run through my head constantly. One, which you’ll hear often from WCICON24 keynote speaker Paula Pant on her Afford Anything podcast is that you can buy anything you want but not everything you want. The other that I read and hear constantly from Dr. Jim Dahle and gurus like Ramit Sethi is that you should spend extravagantly on things you care about and be frugal about things you don’t. In other words, spend intentionally.

Four Frugal Things That I Have Done Recently

For instance: this summer, we traveled to a faraway land and stayed at luxury hotels while, at the same time, washing our clothes in bathroom sinks instead of spending $50 on getting somebody else to do our laundry.

Today, I wanted to share some frugal moments I’ve engaged in over the last several months. It’s because I think they’re good teachable points (and we’ve talked about most of these experiences with my children, so hopefully, this philosophy is sinking in with them as well), and it’s because I want to remind myself that spending intentionally is one way to live life in the moment while also making sure I can continue to live the life I want for the rest of my existence.

First, a couple of caveats:

  • I’m privileged to be in a spot where I can be frugal on my own terms. I recognize that so many people in this country and around the world aren’t so fortunate. It’s my choice to be frugal when I want to be, and I don’t take that for granted.
  • Since my physician wife makes much more money than me, I oftentimes feel guilty about spending our money on large and sometimes not-so-large purchases that only benefit me. Sometimes, I have to give myself a pep talk if I’m going to spend $100 on a concert or even when I’m buying a $35 T-shirt. Sometimes, I don’t bother to buy them at all.
  • Though I think many, if not most of us, would agree that tipping culture has spiraled out of control. I’m not frugal when it comes to saying thanks to food service workers. I worked in the restaurant industry when I was in high school and college, and I heartily subscribe to the theory that if you can’t afford to tip appropriately for quality service, you can’t afford to eat out at restaurants.
  • I have not been compensated by any company that I write about below.

All that said, here’s where I’ve tried to save money recently by being frugal.

Examples of Being Frugal

Cutting the Cable Cord

After years of trying to bargain down how much I paid my satellite TV provider (a chore which I absolutely abhorred) and then even more years when I just accepted the fact that I was paying more than $200 per month for cable, I finally cut the cord in November.

We already subscribe to a number of streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV, DAZN, ESPN+, Max), and it was simply a matter of finding another service that could provide us with the live TV experience when we wanted. In reality, I’m the only one in my family of four who even watches live TV regularly. That’s why it made sense to say goodbye to the approximately $150 I was paying for satellite and cut that in half for a YouTube TV subscription at about $75 (plus, I got the first three months for $52).

I had been a longtime DirecTV customer, and I actually got a little sad when I called to cancel my service. But that feeling only lasted a few seconds, knowing that I’ll save nearly $1,000 in the first year after cutting the cord.

More information here:

10 Frugal Hacks to Automatically Save Money for Busy Professionals

Frugal vs. Cheap – What’s the Difference? (Plus 11 Tips to Avoid Being Cheap)

Shopping Around to Repair My Car

Four Frugal Things That I Have Done Recently

I did something careless several months ago. I was in a parking garage, snuggled up closely to a concrete pillar. Which I totally forgot about when, while backing out of my spot, I made a sharp turn in reverse. I popped the driver’s side mirror of our SUV against the pillar and chipped off a noticeable piece.

I don’t know why I bothered, but I drove to the dealership to see how much it would cost to fix. The answer: $1,900 to replace the entire mirror. I shopped around and called my regular mechanic who said I could buy a new mirror for about $400, get it painted to match the rest of the car, and then get it installed by him for $160. Maybe that would have cost me $700 overall.

But then my mechanic steered me toward a local auto body/paint shop. Instead of replacing the entire mirror, the owner of that shop ordered the turn signal piece that had been chipped off during my accident. It took him an hour to make the car as good as new again. The total cost: $200.

If I had listened to the dealership mechanics, who claimed that it was impossible to fix the damage without replacing the entire mirror, it would have cost me an extra $1,700. This whole process took several months longer than it should have, but it was eventually worth it.

Using Third-Party Ticket Sellers

Do I enjoy using scalpers or third-party sites to buy concert tickets? Not at all. Can they save you money? They certainly can.

First, let me rant for a second about the increase in concert ticket prices. I’ve been to a couple hundred shows during my concert-going career, and before the pandemic, there had only been a handful where I paid more than, say, $150. I saw Pink Floyd in 1994 for $36 (about $75 in 2023 dollars). I saw Foo Fighters in 1995 for $12.50 (about $25 in 2023)—to be fair, Dave Grohl’s band was still playing clubs at the time. I saw Tool in 1996 for $20.75 (about $40 today).

Now, $150, in many cases, would be a dream, and it would be nearly impossible to get good seats at that price for any of those bands listed above.

And that’s how much it would have cost to get decent-but-not-great seats when Duran Duran recently came to town. I enjoy the 1980s new-wave group, and I’d never seen the band live before. But I wasn’t going to spend a few hundred bucks, no matter how much of the Rio album I wanted to hear live.

Instead, I scoured the third-party ticket sites to see what I could find. After weeks of looking, I found this last-minute deal.

third party ticket seller

Were they great seats? Not really. Did I have to pay a little bit extra in fees? Yes. Did I still save at least $100? Yep. Was the show worth it? An unequivocal yes. The same thing happened with a recent Pearl Jam show. When tickets went on sale, they ranged from $200 (behind the stage) to thousands of dollars for floor seats. Thanks to a ticket reseller, I paid $175 per ticket in a section that would have cost me $500-$600 if I had purchased it firsthand.

More information here:

Justifying and Cash-Flowing a ‘Selective Extravagance’

Real Life Examples of Physician Budgets — From the Frugal to the Extravagant

Bargain Shopping for Premium Clothes

Despite my reluctance to spend, I’m happy to wear premium clothes. I like Brooks Brothers suits and Vuori shorts and shirts, and I won’t work out in anything but Lululemon. That might sound pretentious. OK, it definitely sounds pretentious. But hey, I'm speaking my truth. We’re obviously not talking about Armani-type prices here, but they’re also not cheap.

The best thing my wife learned recently was that Costco sells Vuori-type shorts and joggers (think some of the softest, most comfortable material you can find) for, like, $14 instead of the $68 you’d pay at the Vuori store. It’s not a perfect match. My Costco shorts (which, for all I know, is really Vuori masquerading under the Kirkland brand name) are a little longer than I’d like, but as far as comfort is concerned, it’s nearly a match. Plus, you’re saving more than $50.

frugal things i've done

As Dr. Jim Dahle wrote earlier this year:

“Spend your money on what you value most. Maybe you're into really nice shoes or nice vacations or nice handbags or nice cars or whatever. Great. Spend your money there. Save on everything else. Be generally frugal and selectively extravagant . . . Others might still think you're cheap, but at least you'll be true to your own self and your values. This is the whole point of frugality anyway—to be able to afford what you really want.”

We bought a Tesla, and we go on nice vacations. If I can save hundreds of dollars here and there for not much effort, I’m happy to be frugal.

Money Song of the Week

Since Dolly Parton has been in the news recently, releasing a new album that just hit No. 1 on the charts and performing at an NFL halftime show on Thanksgiving, let’s give praise to the song that NPR says “unites workers across decades.”

It's “9 to 5,” and it’s all about gender inequity in the workplace. The song—featured in the 1980 movie of the same name that starred Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin—expresses frustrations about the power dynamic that occurred (and that still occurs) in offices all over. That includes physicians, as well.

As Parton sings,

“Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'/Barely gettin' by, it's all takin' and no givin'/They just use your mind and they never give you credit/It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it.

9 to 5, for service and devotion/You would think that I would deserve a fair promotion/Want to move ahead but the boss won't seem to let me/I swear sometimes that man is out to get me.”

The song flabbergasted Fonda and Tomlin when they first heard it.

“Lily and I looked at each other and we had goosebumps,” Fonda said, via Biography.com. “And we knew, this is not just a movie song, this is an anthem.”

Yes, many doctors don’t work 9-5 jobs, but with more and more healthcare workers protesting to get what they deserve, everybody, rich or poor, can look to Dolly and find some country music-tinged inspiration.

Tweet of the Week

RIP to the financial guru Charlie Munger, who died this week at the age of 99.

What frugal things have you done lately? Do you like being frugal? Do you spend intentionally, or do you take a more scattershot approach? Comment below!

[Editor's Note: For comments, complaints, suggestions, or plaudits, email Josh Katzowitz at [email protected].]

The post 4 Frugal Things I’ve Done Lately appeared first on The White Coat Investor - Investing & Personal Finance for Doctors.



By: Josh Katzowitz
Title: 4 Frugal Things I’ve Done Lately
Sourced From: www.whitecoatinvestor.com/4-frugal-things-ive-done-lately/
Published Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2023 07:30:31 +0000

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