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Monthly Newsletter – February 2011 www.seniorsrealestate.com Frugality the New Black? want to plump up retirement accounts, some really common sense strategies often By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau yield huge savings. Believe it or not, some people have sailed Try these 10 ideas: through the recession without feeling its pinch. One of them is Anitra Lynn McLeod, Curb Your Appetite a Salt Lake City, Utah writer. How? She's embraced frugal living. The strategy let her 1. Track cents--You've heard it before, but double her car and house loan payments financial gurus say it's critical to know where and she now owns both. It also allowed her every dime goes. It's the only way to to flee corporate America a few years ago. identify and cut wasteful spending, according to McLeod. Frequently those Belt-tightening models go by many names, leaks are called the Starbuck's effect--the whether its extreme couponing, voluntary couple bucks wasted on daily treats that simplicity, or just plain being a cheapskate. add up to big bucks annually. As the recession plods on, its adherents grow. In fact, a recent headline announced Several online site make tracking spending that frugality is the new black. Jeremy and creating budgets a snap and they also Vohwinkle, a financial planning writer provide a complete snapshot of your (http://genxfinance.com) who has the financial life. Even Vohwinkle, who's savvy Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor about finances, was surprised when he test- designation, agrees and says, "Frugality is drove such a site and discovered his taking hold. What was a fad is now a new grocery spending was excessive. By normal." spotting it and planning more carefully, he slashed that bill by about $200 per month. Whatever the name, the lifestyle entails Vohwinkle says that for lots of people, these slashing consumption and ensuring that online tracking sites create light bulb every dime is spent wisely. moments. For some, the process brings the realization Resources: www.mint.com, that excess stuff and frivolous spending www.bundle.com drain time and energy, dwindle savings accounts, and derail long-term goals. 2. Want it or need it?-- Before buying anything, especially a shiny new object, Whether you need to cut back because McLeod asks whether it's a need or a want. you're facing a fiscal catastrophe or if you It allows her to decide what adds value to her life. If it's a want, how much pleasure, over 20 years old and her car is 17 years ease, or contentment will it bring? What old. would you give up to have it? Weighing such things is, of course, very personal. 5. Clothes: Most closets are bursting with Some value art supplies more than tech unworn items. Again, before bringing home gadgets. So do your own calculations and something new, ask whether you need or create your own rules of thumb want it. To purge or modify your stash, organize or attend a clothing swap or visit Resource: www.smartypig.com helps you consignment and thrift shops. plan purchases and develop a savings strategy to pay for them. Tip: Shops in upscale neighborhoods and suburbs often feature designer duds at a 3. Lighter eats-- Processed food is fraction of retail. expensive, and you can cook your own meals for a fraction of the cost that you shell Resources: out for convenience foods. Slash bills by http://clothesswap.meetup.com; using coupons, tapping bulk discounts, and www.resaleshopping.com hunting for the best prices on items you buy 6. Diet challenges: You can participate in regularly. McLeod carries a book listing the numerous challenges aimed at slashing prices of her favorite foods so she can grab consumption. Six Items or Less and capitalize on deals. When she spotted (http://sixitemsorless.com) dares you to broccoli on sale, for instance, she loaded up wear the same six items of clothing for 30 and bought 15 pounds, blanching and days. The Great American Apparel Diet freezing the vegetables to preserve them. (www.thegreatamericanappareldiet.com/rule Tip: Ethnic markets in big cities often s-for-participation) challenges participants to feature rock-bottom prices on staple items, wear, for one year, only things in their such as beans, lentils, rice, and spices. closets and the 100 Thing Challenge (http://guynameddave.com/about-the-100- Resources: www.bulkfoods.com, thing-challenge) encourages you to couponcabin.com, www.couponmom.com, embrace minimalism. Challenge participants www.grocerycouponguide.com. McLeod typically report a sense of freedom. relies on Can I Freeze It?: How to Use the Most Versatile Appliance in Your Kitchen by 7. Entertainment: Tap all the freebies in Susie Theodorou for tips on freezing her your city that you can. Museums offer haul. discounted or free days, movies are cheaper during the afternoon, and an array Wise Buys of alerts are available depending on where you live. Do an online hunt to find sites and 4. Buy quality--Yes, that $200 washing publications that promote discounted and machine is cheap. But how long will it last? free events. Paying more for quality typically is the less costly long-term choice. McLeod consults Resources: www.Groupon.com (sign up Consumer Reports whenever she needs both for your own city and in vacation something new. Her washing machine is destinations), http://freethingstodoinsanfrancisco.com, http://chicagofree.info. Search for freebie gn=th_nav_gogreen; sites in your city. http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go- green/green-index/home-garden- 8. Purge--Excessive spending often goes guides.html hand in hand with excess stuff. For a sobering portrait of what can happen when 10. Delay gratification--Vohwinkle stuff piles up, take a look at some of the frequently sees baby boomers getting hoarding television shows. People are financially derailed because of their love of literally buried by possessions. cars. Some devote up to $2,000 per month to car payments and insurance, put away a A whole industry--think professional mere $500 toward retirement monthly, and organizers, the Container Store, and rental still expect to retire in five years. "They say, storage units-- has emerged to help people 'I've worked hard and deserve a nice car.' purge and organize their excess stuff. But But cars are a depreciating asset. If you you needn't pay professionals. Take a DIY replace them every five years, payments approach by starting small, such as purging never go away," he points out. Do you one kitchen drawer or one shelf. Donate or need an $70,000 luxury ride to commute 50 sell the leftovers. miles a day? The same goes for tech toys. Resources: Why camp out and pay top dollar for a brand-new gadget, potentially riddled with www.oprah.com/home/Conquering-Clutter; http://zenhabits.net/18-five-minute- bugs, especially given that their price will decluttering-tips-to-start-conquering-your- likely drop dramatically? "You're the one to mess; find those bugs and to pay for the privilege," points out McLeod. www.flylady.net/pages/FLYingLessons_Dec lutter.asp Additional resources 9. Green saves green--Houses can be The internet teems with articles, blogs and energy hogs, but you can reduce those tips about cutting costs. If you're planning to utility bills by boosting energy efficiency. read any of the books, tightwads would tell Your local utility company may offer free or you to borrow it from the library. low-cost audits to determine the projects that will bring the greatest savings. Some Books: also offer rebates and incentives, as do local, state and federal branches of the The Cheapskate Next Door by Jeff government. Other inexpensive DIY Yeager(http://ultimatecheapskate.com/nextd projects, such as weather stripping, oor.html) programmable thermostats, new insulation, The Complete Tightwad Gazette and The along with eliminating phantom loads (those Tightwad Gazette III: Promoting Thrift as a blinking green lights on electronics) can also Viable Alternative Lifestyle by Amy have a significant impact. Dacyczyn Resources: www.energystar.gov; Frugal Living for Dummies by Deborah www.dsireusa.org (database of rebate and Taylor-Hough incentives); www.treehugger.com/gogreen.php?campai Websites and blogs: www.financialintegrity.org/index.php?title=M www.suddenlyfrugal.com--Get the lowdown ain_Page--A program that promises to on all things frugal, some of which are a bit transform your relationship with money. off-beat. www.bargainmoose.ca, www.walletpop.com--Offers articles and tips www.simplyfrugal.ca, on everything from retirement and taxes to www.canadiandailydeals.com --The frugal living. Canada-based sites feature freebies, coupon codes, and deals, along with Be certain to plow all your new savings into frugality tips. The Quebec outpost of the vehicles that earns long-term benefits. Voluntary Simplicity movement can be McLean, for example, socks away 10 found at www.simplicitevolontaire.org. percent of every single check that comes into her hands, even if that check is for $11. www.bradsdeals.com--Deals on everything, And, she says, her frugal habits have not including electronics, restaurants, home diminished, but enhanced, her life. "I find supplies and clothing. solace in it, and I really appreciate the things that I do have," she says. "You live Gail Vaz-Oxlade serves up tough love modestly and below your means, and if the money advice at her site and blog, worst comes, you have confidence and www.gailvazoxlade.com/resources.html and know you can feed and house yourself." on Canadian television, www.slice.ca/shows/showspage.aspx?title_i d=93097 Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the Mature Market (Company) (Address) (City, State, Zip) (Agent Name and Designations)