Could You Give Up the Goods and Buy Less?

I must have certain things in life aside from food and shelter. I like to get my hair done every few weeks at a nice salon. I occasionally go for some shoe therapy. And I love my once-a-week smoothie from Robeks. If you asked me if I could live without these things, I'd probably say, "Yeah, definitely. I'm not that materialistic." But could I really?

That's what Jeff Yeager challenges people to do in his first book, "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches." He says Americans buy way too much and thinks we rely too heavily on material things for happiness. We work long hours for big paychecks to keep up with our love of cars, electronics and designer clothes. He, on the other hand, lives a frugal life, only buying the things that he absolutely needs to survive. He rides his bike everywhere and grows some of his own food. I heard the Southern Maryland resident talk a little more about his lifestyle on Sunday. Here are a few of his tips:

Tip #1: Go on a week-long fiscal fast. That means don't spend a single dime on anything. Not sure if this means cutting off your cable and phone service, but Yeager says to utilize those ketchup packets you stole from McDonald's, use those tiny shampoo bottles you swiped from hotels over the years, use public transportation and ditch entertainment to re-connect with the fam.

Tip #2: Live forever in your starter home. People used to do this in the old days and it's just in the last few years that families upgrade to larger houses.

Tip #3: Eat healthy foods. Yeager says fruits and vegetables are far cheaper than the bad stuff like cookies and soda. So being a cheapskate at the grocery store will make you healthier.

Tip #4: Most of our spending is unnecessary so wait one week before you make a purchase like a pair of shoes or a new television. There's a good chance that you won't go back for it.

Tip #5: Don't buy any food that costs more than $1 per pound. That includes fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood. Yeager says it will force you to eat only items that are in season and you'll end up trying foods you never would have before.

Tip #6: Use your stuff until you just can't use it anymore. That includes shoes, clothing and cars. Yeager says we replace stuff too quickly, donating perfectly good items to second-hand stores.

Tip #7: Negotiate for lower prices on everything. Yeager says most retail chains are open to negotiation or to at least matching their competitors. The best time to ask for a lower price is on Fridays, especially before a three-day weekend, because salespeople are anxious to make a deal and end their week on a positive note. He sometimes just simply asks for a discount because he's a nice guy and he claims it actually works.

So what do you think about buying less? Will it make you happy to give up the "nice to haves" in your life and just buy the "must haves" like food and clothing? I like the idea but certain splurges truly make me happy. And many of Yeager's suggestions are unrealistic in my eyes. I challenge you to find any food that's selling for less than $1 a pound. Yeager also doesn't have kids, which add to the expenses. What could you live without and what splurges do you absolutely need? Could you "fast" for a week? Post a comment below.

By Tania Anderson |  June 3, 2008; 3:00 AM ET Tuesday Tips
Previous: Shopping at the Butcher | Next: Off the Beaten Path: Downtown D.C.

Comments

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Not a chance - it would be stupid to go that far. But I am careful and do have a plan.

Posted by: Gary E. Masters | June 3, 2008 5:35 AM

I'm living tip 2 - can't afford a new condo in my neighborhood anyway. And I've
done tip 4, especially while internet shopping! All good ideas, hard to put in practice but worthwhile to try.

Posted by: WI | June 3, 2008 9:15 AM

Not at all stupid.

I've done it for small periods like a week and long periods when I was downsizing after my children left home. But now many people are doing all sorts of modifications with children in tow.

Let's get back to being citizens and not just "consumers."

Fiscal "fasting" is, actually, GENIUS.

It is a real eye-opener to try - whatever your circumstances. Stores are overflowing with useless things. Our homes are overflowing with things that are never used. You don't see this until you look with fresh eyes.

Produce is cheaper when in season even if not below $1 a pound - local farmers have to live and eat too.

I highly recommend thinking and trying some things out. (Cures depression, too, in many cases!)

Posted by: annpatricia | June 3, 2008 9:28 AM

fruits and vegetables that are $1 per lb? what is in that category? just potatoes and bananas, methinks. obviously this dude doesn't try to go grocery shopping in NoVa. and if I go somewhere else to buy my fruits and veggies I am spending a huge amount on gas.

otherwise I think the ideas a great.

Posted by: jessica | June 3, 2008 9:48 AM

The tips are incredidbly, and pretty much credibly impossible for the DC area. Maybe in Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, etc., but not around here. I agree, buying fresh fruits and vegetables for less than $1 pp? Bananas are the only thing that fir into that category. I'm thrilled cherries are in season, but they're never less than $3 pp around here. And farmer's markets around here are a joke- they're fashionable shopping, and the prices are often higher than our local grocery stores. I'd love to bike everywhere to save on gas money too, but first I'd have to shell out a bunch of money to buy a bike before I can not spend it.

Posted by: amah | June 3, 2008 9:53 AM

I meant the tips are incredibly optimistic, or something to that effect. Still waiting for the (free, office-style) caffeine to kick in.

Posted by: amah | June 3, 2008 9:54 AM

Along with #5 #3 is also false

25% failure rate means this "expert" has no clue

I swear one of these days I am going to write a book. There are enough idiots in the world to keep these things going.

Weather its weather forecasters, politicians, oped writers, or almost any kind of analyst its amazing to me that people can be wrong so often yet they still keep their job and in many cases they even get promoted

Posted by: clueless | June 3, 2008 10:27 AM

Whenever my husband goes on one of his trips, I almost completely "fast". (The exception is food - to help keep my weight down, I keep little food in the house, so I'll probably shop twice a week.) It's amazing how much my bills are reduced when he's not home - he's the major "consumer" in our household.

But like many others are noting, Tip #3 and Tip #5 are almost mutually exclusive these days. Out here in the heartland, I can get full-fat steaks and fatty ground beef for under $1/pound, but poultry is insanely expensive. Forget seafood, I have to get it all frozen. Great if I want the occasional steak, but harder to eat a diet composed of healthier white meats and fish.

And unless my store has one of its "surprise stock up" sales on tomatoes, I haven't seen them under $2.50/lb in ages. (I tried growing them, the local deer used them as a buffet.) I can get apples and bananas and certain greens for under $1/lb I think, that's about it.

However, we joined a CSA farm this year, and are so far loving it. http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

We get all sorts of fresh items that last all week (since they are freshly picked and there's no store lag time). And something different every week - Kohlrabi, broccolini, amazing mustard greens or sorrel - it's great and pre-paid for the summer. Next year we'll probably actually help on the farm and take a reduction in the price of our share.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | June 3, 2008 10:30 AM

Aw,c'mon, give it a shot.

But first: why is is that children make this impossible? Just because they want something doesn't mean Mom and Dad have to buy it. Unless Junior has grown out of his shoes, Mom and Dad are the ones to determine if he needs seven pairs of Keds.

#1. I KNOW I could my neighbors and I could live for a week on what I have in my freezer alone, so I could go a week without even shopping for food.

#2. More difficult: a 2-bedroom condo can house 4-5 people, but not without purging a lot of stuff I probably don't need (like letters from high school).

#3. Fresh fruits and vegetables aren't cheaper than junk food, but they're healthier and there's less landfill material from grapes than there is from a bag of chips.

#4. Impulse control is a fabulous way to save money. It has worked for me many times in the past.

#5. Frankly, I think he's insane because even a can of beans is more than a buck, but as a guideline, why not.

#6. I had my last TV (a raffle prize with no remote) for 15 years, my computer for eight years (until software required a new processor) and my winter coats for 18 years. My sneakers start losing their soles before I get new ones. My only must-buy on an annual basis are my running shoes. This one's a no-brainer.

#7. This does work. Price-matching is easier than "will you take less," but what's the worst that can happen to ask?

There's a huge difference between Gotta Have and Wanna Have. You just have to decide in which category the new MP3 player belongs.

Posted by: Chris | June 3, 2008 10:52 AM

Food for $1 a lb: you can often get whole chickens for .99/lb. Right now Giant has them, but you have to buy two. So my menus for this month include a lot of chicken dishes. I butcher them myself. Also, you can sometimes get pork shoulders for the same price. Again, chop some of it off for use in stirfries, etc., then cook the rest on the bone for barbeque or put in a pressure cooker. In the past, you could find beef bones on sale for about .99/lb, but I haven't seen that in a while.

Apples are sometimes on sale for .99/lb. You can get good deals the last few weeks of the farmers market on potatoes, apples, winter squash, etc., that keep well. Carrots and celery can be bought for less than $1/lb.

But, yeah, you have to spend more than $1/lb for most things. Better to reduce consumption of these items--eat stirfry with some meat in it, but that is primarily vegetables. Use higher priced items as accents, but use them sparingly.

Even better, reduce food costs by cooking at home more and reducing use of prepared food. That is more realistic than sticking to a per lb price limit.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 11:07 AM

I've been doing things like this for years. Some advice:

1) Buy in bulk. I buy a lot of "dry goods" (soap, detergent, tissues etc.) in bulk. It's cheaper and, because it doesn't spoil, lasts.

2) Buy generic. A lot of the generic brands works just as well as the name brands -- and they have about 99 percent of the same ingredients.

3) Buy in bulk (food). At Safeway, you can get 10-12 chicken drumsticks for $5. As a single guy, this lasts me for a week. But be careful: The cheapest cuts of meat -- beef, pork -- often have the most fat.

Posted by: Andrew | June 3, 2008 12:55 PM

I really like the idea behind these ideas - but I think that moderation is key. I'm sure I spend too much on clothes, but as a woman in a professional environment, I know I would feel worse if I came to work looking shabby. So I don't wear my work clothes into the ground before I replace them. Tips 1, 2, and 4 are my favorites.

Posted by: Professional | June 3, 2008 1:05 PM

My husband & I have been doing this for years, ever since we were poor graduate students. We have continued to eat what is on sale; stocking up on nonperishable sale items and eating whatever fruit and/or vegetable are on sale. One simply has to learn to be more disciplined. Do the above and cook and bake from scratch at home and food costs will be dramatically lower with the food tasting much better.

Oh, yes, and our garden (behind our 1/4 acre starter home in the "close-in" MD suburbs, which will be our home at least until we retire) provides us with "free" and much better produce from April into November. This year we've already had asparagus and strawberries and are looking forward to the eggplants, peppers (thai, green, jalapeno, and poblano), tomatoes (!!!!), broccoli, tomatillos, cucumbers and gooseberries yet to come. Our neighbors always seem thrilled by the extra tomatoes I give them, and say they want to grow their own, but in the nine years we've lived and gardened on this site, no one ever has.

I also agree with the poster who wondered why having kids should make this impossible. We often reminisce about our parents, who made a very occasional bottle of "pop" or a single candy bar a great treat simply by making it an extremely infrequent purchase. There's no reason why parents can't just say no.

That same previous poster also said it all: "impulse control."

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 1:11 PM

Try these ideas--I did, and what it forced me to do is REALLY pay attention to prices. For instantce, it makes sense that sliced cheese is more expensive than a block, but when you see how much more (by percentage)--that's a real eye opener. The hardest thing was getting my kids away from brand name food. I told each of them that they could pay the difference. I took them grocery shopping and it was a real eye opener for them. Beware of one thing, tho--Costco isn't always the lowest price. I read some where that people usually by the same 40 items all the time, so I started keeping a spreadsheet to comparison shop. This turned out to be great--then you can really tell if something is a bargain or not.

Posted by: wdc | June 3, 2008 1:58 PM

Love the comments to this post. Can I also recommend www.thestoryofstuff.com for an amazingly informative -- and entertaining -- video.

Posted by: tia | June 3, 2008 2:44 PM

The list doesn't include alternatives to new items - hand-me-downs, yard sales and thrift stores, church sales, etc. For kids who outgrow/wear out clothes and toys at a rapid rate, this is a real budget helper.
Also, small things like using cloth napkins and towels vs. paper ones. Reusing your worn-out clothes as rags to wipe up or clean vs. buying cleaning wipes.

Posted by: Mom | June 3, 2008 2:57 PM

I would say that #5 is near impossible these days. The only way you would find produce at $1 a pound is if you shopped at main-stream grocery stores where I've found the produce to be mediocre at best. I've been seduced, and am now used to, the insanely priced, but excellent, produce at Whole Foods. I never thought I would spend $5 on a pint of cherry tomatoes. Ugh, maybe I do need to re-evaluate my priorities...

Posted by: Once-starving student | June 3, 2008 3:18 PM

I recently looked at my budget and decided to do some similar scrimping. Of course, that lasted about 5 minutes, but what I did realize is that every little bit counts--from that $2 cup of coffee to putting a little extra in your grocery cart. We've come to expect we HAVE to have things that weren't even around 15 years ago (uh, high speed internet, cell phone are two things I "can't live without" that come to mind). I've realized that if I ever want to achieve #2 and actually GET a starter home, I'll have to do more of all of the rest. I have to laugh at people who say (such as on HGTV house hunters) that they've "grown out" of their house when they have more bedrooms than people. My mom came from a big family and each room had at least 3 kids in it and I shared a bedroom with my brother until I was 8. Either way, isn't the point of having a family to be able to see them? I agree w/ the other posters that the under $1 thing is kind of nuts--I mean, maybe beans, rice, potatoes, and apples. I feel like to stick with that, I'd either be malnourished or spending so much time growing and locating my food that I wouldn't be able to work!

Posted by: Christine | June 3, 2008 6:00 PM

I agree this is hard, but here is another food that is $1/lb or less: rice. Much of the world survives on rice, it is pretty nutritious, and it keeps forever. Pair rice with vegetables and a bit of meat if you wish, and you have a nutritious meal.

I think a better way to look at this is a price per meal/serving than per lb. I won't buy steaks, but you can find good meat at good prices. I second what the other poster said near the top--buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself. I can get 4-5 meals (for 1 adult, two primary grade girls) off a 5 lb chicken. That is a pretty good cost per serving, even if you have to pay more than $1/lb.

Another great tip is to not waste food.

I am wary of buying in bulk--it is not always cheaper, and for perishable items you have to plan carefully to avoid waste.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 7:02 PM

I have been doing most of these tips for years now--the result? I have over 110K in the bank, pure cash on hand. This doesn't count what I have invested in securities, stock, etc. Yet I live in a modest 3 bedroom, 2 bath 1970's era house (completely paid off), work a Fed. govt job making a Fed. employee salary...and I can say there isn't a single thing I lack!!

Posted by: Frugal Follower | June 3, 2008 10:34 PM

I agree with the poster who said it is not a good idea to wear your professional clothes into the ground before replacing them. I don't think you need an entirely new wardrobe every year but if you start showing up in the office in threadbare or similarly ratty clothing, you are far less likely to get promoted or even increased responsibility that could lead to a promotion. It is simply a fact of life that in our professional lives we are judged as much on how professional we look as on our performance.

Posted by: Dublin Traveler | June 4, 2008 11:31 AM

Thanks for a lively debate Shop To It readers. I too am dubious of buying produce and meats for $1 a pound. So I challenge you to find them and let us know when you do. And if any of you decide to go on a fiscal fast, let us know how it goes.

Posted by: Tania Anderson | June 4, 2008 5:55 PM

for the clothes comments, I don't think that the author is suggesting wearing threadbare (that is worn out) clothing to work - you can however still reuse some of it - my dad always used his old work shirts (white button downs) for yard shirts after they became too grungy/old/threadbare for work. You can use old pants for the same thing - cut them into shorts for painting/home improvement or yard work. Those kinds of things

Posted by: thrifty | June 4, 2008 6:55 PM

Why not average your food prices at about $1 a lb? You'd find yourself eating a lot more pasta, beans and rice. I can usually find boring supermarket cheeses like cheddar and mozzarilla at $2.50 to $3.00 a lb if I shop carefully, and there are almost always either pork chops, chicken legs/thighs, or beef ribs on sale for $1.00/lb. B/S chicken breast, pork loin, London broil, and various beef roasts will go on sale for $2/lb.

If you have a banana a day at $0.59/lb, balance it with something around $1.50/lb--that's not impossible in the fruit-and-veg world.

Since starting to shop as if I were broke, my eating habits have gotten much better. I cook a lot out of the recent Gourmet cookbook and a handful of other beautiful-food books, and most of the recipes use either very expensive meats (tenderloin) or the kinds of meat I can get for cheap on sale. The cheap meats cook slower and get more flavor, and it's been a revelation. I can't remember the last time I bought hamburger or rotisserie chicken.

I also really watch the grocery fliers and occasionally grab coupons for things I know I'll buy. It is possible--at least my variation on the $1.00/lb is!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 4, 2008 11:50 PM

My most effective 'fiscal fast' strategy is to visit the ATM once every two weeks for the cash I'm allowed to spend during that pay period. And then only pay for something if I have the cash in my wallet -- this includes dry cleaning, eating out w/friends, groceries, etc. This makes me much more mindful when shopping for groceries especially since I have gotten to the cash register and been over my limit a couple of times! Avoiding that embarrassment is another incentive to be mindful.

As for groceries under $1/lb -- that is a tough one. But what I usually do is shop the weekly specials with my Safeway/Giant/Harris Teeter cards. You can get some great deals and are usually assured a varied diet from week to week. Oh, and I have also learned that if you have one of the store cards, you don't have to buy the 2 chickens (or 10 packages, or whatever) in order to get the sale price.

Posted by: ArlVA | June 5, 2008 6:42 AM

Ethnic grocery stores are the ticket to savings on produce and meats, but definitely not on dry goods. At Bestway the other day, I bought apples, summer squash, and eggplants for 99 cents/pounds, 4 oranges for $1, and 3 lemons for $1. A gallon of milk cost $2.99. I wouldn't recommend the meat or fish at Bestway, however. Super H Mart is even better with excellent seafood and an even wider selection of good, cheap produce.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2008 8:24 AM

I have some more tips that are similar, but are focused on keeping my life simple. I am all for saving cash and not relying on "shopping therapy" to lift my mood - but I like to focus on de-cluttering and de-stressing my life. Many people can't find enough time each day to go take those expensive clothes to the dry cleaners, or get that shiny new car washed, or get those electronic gadgets serviced, etc.

1. Get rid of your TV - between warping your sense of reality and numbing your brain, advertisers day in and out yell at you to BUY stuff. Watch Netflix and read the news online instead.

2. Get off the subscription lists for sales catalogs. Do you really need see which sofa is on sale at Crate and Barrel every 3 months?

3. Don't plan social events around shopping or malls. The peer pressure can lead to empty wallets. Dinner parties, hikes, and drinking are more fun anyways.

4. Quit worrying about 99 cent a pound fruit and veggies - take some action besides criticizing.

Posted by: Jaylin | June 5, 2008 9:47 AM

Good advice Jaylin!

Posted by: tlawrenceva | June 5, 2008 10:18 AM

The idea behind these tips is to change your long-term habits, not to treat the tips as if they were the guidelines to the latest fad diet. Living frugally can't happen in a week or by buying food you and your family will hate (I'm picturing cases of saurkraut on sale, right next to the leftover pumpkin pie filling left over from last Thanksgiving).

I've lived frugally for about 12 years. I started when I was living on about 12K annually and literally could only afford to buy food (rent was 6K, and I still paid payroll taxes, about 8.5%, even though I paid little income tax). That left $415/month for food, clothes, gas, insurance and entertainment.

The really useful tips are about keeping things (clothing, homes, cars) for their entire useful life and doing things for yourself. When my only choices were debt or frugality, I chose to learn to cook from scratch and to use every bit of everything I bought (one chicken starts roasted, goes into salads or onto homemade pizza and into sandwiches and the homemade broth goes into homemade risotto; I never buy chicken pieces because generally they're more expensive per pound and they don't stretch for as many meals). I also learned to do things for myself rather than paying someone else to do it. I not only washed my car instead of taking it in, I changed my own oil. I used a laundromat in those days but I hung clothes to dry instead of paying for the dryer.

Even when life became easier financially I didn't have the habit of shopping so I was able to save money. Living frugally for many years meant that when my boyfriend went 4 months without pay (he earns 80% of the household income) while he started a new company this year, we didn't exhaust our savings, we didn't go into debt, we didn't miss a house payment or even worry about it.

Sure, you'll save a little by not going out for coffee or smoothies, but frugality will come only if you view your choice as a positive step toward a different path rather than "giving up" your luxuries.

Posted by: esleigh | June 5, 2008 10:41 AM

While I agree about living more frugally, some of these things are, if not impossible, extremely difficult in this area. I think we can eat more cheaply by not going out as much as a society, by eating more in season, by not eating as much, and by having more collective meals/sharing of bulk food with friends and family. However, cheap often conflicts with green so there is that balance (cheaper produce, even in season, often isn't local). Also, one of the reasons why poorer people have tend to have bad nutrition and obesity is that, believe it or not, it is cheaper to eat badly. Hot dogs, ramen noodles, frozen pizza and other high salt/high calorie foods, pasta (which is great in moderation, but you need veggies and some sort protein and is a lot of empty calories if it has no fiber), soda (on sale or grocery store brands), off-grand snack cakes, cookies and chips, as well as off-brand canned goods (high salt, often high fat) contribute to bad eating habits but allow you to satiate hunger cheaply. Also, how many people have tons of time to cook? It takes more time and, more bluntly, thought to making a meal every night and making sure you have lunch packed every day (breakfast can be a simple, non-sugar cereal). I know at the end of my 10 - 12 hour day plus a 30 - 40 min. commute each way, I often don't feel like taking the energy to cook when I can heat something up (unhealthy unless I made it and froze it) or order-in (often unhealthy, always more expensive). And I don't even have kids. I try to mitigate this by doing cooking on the weekends but that doesn't always happen due to other errands or obligations.
That said, what my husband and I did to save $45K in two years is that we live cheaply in every other way. We do have high speed internet which is our highest cost monthly item outside of my husband's student loan and we have limited basic cable that we only got because internet alone or internet plus the TV cable was the same price. We have also had Voice Over IP for phone service for the last 3 years saving a ton of money (our bill for cable TV, internet, and phone including tax is $90/month). We do not carry over credit card debt. We bought our last car that gets 30 MPG slightly over 2 years ago in cash (that and paying off my student loans brought our savings to almost zero), used (neither of us have ever owned a new car), and only have one car between us. We used the same computer which we bought used for $100 for 4 years. We limit the number of movies we go out to see and use online movie services (first netflix then blockbuster) for entertainment. We don't drink a lot of alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks when we go out to restaurants and bars (tap water please). We limit (at my insistence) what we spend on gifts for family and friends (still getting nice things, just not as many of them). We also live in a cheap, kind of crappy apartment that is close in to DC (I commute by bus/metro and my husband has a 15 min. drive to work where he has free parking). Most people we know wouldn't live where we live but we know that we live there on our way to purchasing a home and will not be moving unless it is into a place we own. In that 2 years, along with the $45K we saved, we also went on a family vacation to Brazil, a belated honeymoon in Cyprus, bought my in-laws a refrigerator, and got ourselves a new computer without using any debt. We are also about to purchase our first home in the next month or so. We could have saved more by not going on the two vacations and by eating out a bit less, but we tightened up without fiscally starving and never did anything with debt. Unlike a lot of people, we have more in assets than debts and all of this was done without the bank of mom and dad (or grandma and grandpa or whatever other wealthier relative you choose). We also don't have kids though which makes things a lot more simple.

Posted by: Meg | June 5, 2008 10:48 AM

My problem with generics is that they don't have the same quality control as brand names because there's no brand name to damage when there's a re-call. They also use more chemicals in their inactive ingredients.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2008 10:52 AM

Excellent post. Not having kids really helps. Good Luck finding a house.

Posted by: Way to go Meg | June 5, 2008 11:57 AM

I remember as a kid complaining about how so-and-so in school had more/better/nicer whatever than we did, and my mother saying "Your dad and I would be millionaires if it weren't for you guys". As a parent I now know it to be true! But I'm not going to say to my teenagers "look, we're on a budget, drink less milk", but I really tow the line at brand name foods (see above post), and that includes everything. My son suddenly decided that he didn't like store brand peanut butter, so I invited him to use his allowance and buy his own. He did--once. That's all it took. Gotta train them young.

Posted by: wdc | June 5, 2008 2:14 PM

To the commenter who said "I'd love to bike everywhere to save on gas money too, but first I'd have to shell out a bunch of money to buy a bike before I can not spend it."
I don't know what kind of bike you think you need but you can often find great deals (and some not so great ones) on Craig's list. I commute year-round and when I needed to replace my bike, I bought a 2 year old bike that originally listed ~$550 for $120 on Craig's List. That's probably less than 2 tanks of gas for a big car or truck. If you haven't biked much before, consider buying a used good quality bike rather than a new low quality bike. Either way, you don't need to spend a fortune on a bike so don't let that hold you back. If you decide you want to get something snazzier, you can just sell yours on Craig's List and buy a nicer used one. Besides, you can cancel your gym membership too.
good luck, ride safe.

Posted by: Al in Philly | June 5, 2008 2:24 PM

Hi -

Thanks for talking about my little book. It's my first book, and I'm really proud of it. As with any book, I hope you'll consider reading it first (by all means, borrow it for FREE from your local library)before judging its worth/content or deciding it has nothing to offer.

It's interesting from the posts to see the different perspctives folks have on needs/wants and happiness/stuff/money. My contention is simple: For most American (not all, but most) at the present time, the quality of their lives will INCREASE and they'll be happier if they spend and consume LESS, not more, as 5,000 commerical message tell us every day. So, I don't write about a life of sacrifice and deprivation, I write about choices, and the choices we make every day when we decide what we spend and consume.

That said, I live in suburban Maryland just outside of DC, and, in fact, I shop successfully (and happily)using my Under $1 a Pound rule of thumb (again, as I explain in the book, I sometimes make exceptions, but it's my basic "search engine" when shopping). Obviously it forces you to eat lower on the food chain. Come on now, anyone can get whole grains, legumes, and lots of fresh veg/fruit - in season - for less that $1 a pound. And, as at least one poster pointed out, chicke is regularly on sale for under $1 a pound in the DC area, as is turkey and some cuts of pork. Just check out the front pages of the weekly sales tabloids from the major supermarkets. No, I'm not talking about $5 pound cherries or shopping at upscale chains; I'm talking about eating like most of the rest of the world. This type of diet is healthier - and I contend more enjoyable, because it forces you to actually think about what you're going to cook/consume and try new things.

Thanks again for your comments about my book, and please feel free to contact me directly (UltCheapskate@aol.com) with any questions or comments.

Stay Cheap!
-Jeff Yeager
Author, The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches

Posted by: Jeff Yeager | June 6, 2008 3:15 PM

I learned as a small child, that eating healthy, but cheaply, can bring happiness and success. Shopping private labels from stores such as A&P and SuperFresh, can save you a lot of money. Try America's Choice at A&P/SuperFresh. With a $1 coupon from their Easy Solutions monthly magazine, the $2.99 2x 50 oz liquid laundry detergent becomes $1.99. Great cleaning power at real savings.
Use manufacturers coupons. I've gotten plenty of items for free after triple coupon savings at my local A&P/SuperFresh.
Then do average shopping. You can save big bucks and enjoy 93 percent lean ground sirlion instead of that 75 percent 25 percent fat stuff some stores pass off as hamburger meat. Pasta sells at A&P/SuperFresh for 80 cents a pound, another example of real savings.
Yes, you can live well, have 1.75 qt of super tasting supermarket purchased ice cream instead of Ben & Jerry's. Living smart within your means is living well.

Posted by: Cheeri-AID | June 10, 2008 3:10 PM

I have retail-fasted, usually when anticipating or experiencing unemployment. Most of these ideas are highly impractical for home & car owners. Spending isn't always on products but services that are needed for maintenance. These costs, coupled with extensive insurance (property, casualty, life, disability, long term care, etc.) consume most of my earnings.

Posted by: metak8 | June 17, 2008 8:48 AM

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