Looking for advice - how to be frugal!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Looking for advice - how to be frugal!
Tue, 08-26-2003 - 7:25pm
Hello everyone! My name is Kristy and I want to be frugal. LOL!

I'm 28, married with a wonderful daughter who is almost 2. I started a new job about 3 months ago that I absolutely HATE. Seriously - hate it hate it hate it hate it.

This brings me to why I want to be frugal. I have been in my profession for almost 5 years. I have a master's degree and truthfully, going into my field was the worst mistake of my love. I just don't enjoy it. I really feel that my calling is to teach and am in the process of trying to figure out how I can become certified to do so. And, teaching will give me more time for my sweetie - who I feel is getting slighted by all of the long hours her mommy has to work.

My goals for the next 3 years are to save enough money to build our dream home (a modest home that is), and learn to live on less than half of my current pay check. I make very good money - more than my husband currently. But being a teacher will change that. So...I need to learn how to be frugal - to save for these dreams of a new home and a career change and oh,yeah, the second baby I'd like to have in about a year to a year and a half.

I'll be honest - I don't even know where to begin. I'm not frugal. I blow money quicker than I get it, it seems. I spend a lot of money on things that mean nothing - like manicures. I eat out way too much. I mean, I know where to start making the cuts, but I'm looking for advice from you pros.

I really really really want to learn how to save money/be frugal in how I spend money. Any and all advice appreciated.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Wed, 08-27-2003 - 10:23am
Congratulations you are about to make some very important changes in your life. I taught for 5 years before I became a sahm. It's not great money but it is a wonderful career and if you can learn to live on less and dream of being at home with your children you eventually can do that too. I would recommend not too drastic of measures at first. Do not feel like you are depriving yourself or it might never work. I would maybe go from a manicure a week to 2 a month. I do mine myself because I can't afford a manicure (but have had them in the past and miss them terribly!). Cut back some on regular bills if you can-try to lower cable, phone, cell, etc. We have no cell, basic cable, and that's it. Make sure lights are turned off etc. Try eating out only 2x per week or less if you can. I know that might be a big adjustment but you'll be able to pocket that money immediately.Pack your lunch at work and start using that crock pot for dinners. Alot of people here have gone the even more drastic measures of cloth diapering (me included). I know if you have a child in day care you might not be able to do that. But keep it in the back of your mind if you ever stay at home. It is big BIG money saved with little work involved. If you are tempted at the mall/walmart/target etc. cut your visits back to once per month. You'll be amazed at how much money you save by not going into those places. That's all that comes to mind for now. Good luck and let us know how it goes. I pray you'll have your dream job soon. :)


Mom to Brennan 6 Noah 10 months and 5 ~i~'s


Avatar for janeyschwarz
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 08-27-2003 - 11:44am
Hi there. I haven't posted on this board in a while, but I thought I'd offer up my 2 cents.

The most important thing for me has been to add up the total costs of the "extras," then to weigh that cost against how important that "extra" really is to me. For instance, I could get my eyebrows waxed once a month at $10 a pop, and that would be $120 a year. On my eyebrows! I would rather keep that money and use it to help keep DH and me out of debt (I'm finishing up my master's and he's a law student) or use it for something that I really like.

Another tip (from the Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn) is when you're doing something little that saves money, figure out how much you're saving and make it into an hourly wage. An example (numbers grossly estimated): Making your own pizza costs about $2 and takes, say, 15 minutes of hands-on time. If delivery costs $20, that's a savings of $18. Take that times the 15 minutes of time it takes to make your own pizza, and that's a $72 hourly wage. That definitely makes the work it takes to make your own pizza seem worthwhile!

Congratulations on deciding to make a change in your life that will make you happier! Good luck!

Avatar for triptakers
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 08-27-2003 - 1:42pm
Hey Kristy! You don't say what you do or where you live, but it may be no big deal to get certified to teach, depending on what your undergrad & Master's are in....and depending on where you are - if there's a major teacher shortage, you may be able to get certified very easily indeed!

Is it your current job you hate, or your whole field? Would you buy yourself more time by working for someone else, but still using your degree?

In the mean time, just to see if you CAN switch careers with no regrets (would hate to leave the field just to decide later that the money you were making made the sucky job worth it..does that make sense?) I'd say find out what starting teacher salary is in your area, then try to live off that & your dh's paycheck for a while (putting the rest of your income in the bank to save for that house you want, etc). Be sure when you've made all the cuts & are living on that reduced income that you still have $$ over for saving each month. Sounds harsh, but that's what I'd do.

Something else to consider is how much you'd be making as a teacher- you may be better off financially (till the kids are old enough for school) as a SAHM. In the private sector I was ok, but I did look a couple of years ago, and if I were to be a speech path in the schools (which is the only place I want to do it now), I would've just broken even,after paying for child care, etc. Yep, it's a rewarding job, but worth having no discernable take-home pay? Not to me. The job of SAHM with no take-home pay is much more rewarding, IMO.

Years ago, when I was soooo broke, I took stock of every penny I spent for a solid month. I do mean every red cent. Then at the end of the month, I looked at the list, fit the spending into categories, and really looked at how much I spent and on what. I discovered I had spent $25 on those crappy frosted brownies at the vending machine. That's $300 a year! And how many fat grams was in each one? EGADS! LOL. Yes, I'm making light - but you see my point, I'm sure. Then as the previous poster mentioned, you can evaluate if the costs are worth it to you or not. (again with my silly example - I HAD to have a brownie every day, couldn't dream of cutting it out - so I made them & brought them in to work every day instead. LOL - but much cheaper!)

The dollar amount you spent during the month eating out will probably wow you into changing that habit. And with a little one, you'll want to homecook anyway, just for health reasons. So you can try to interest yourself in a new hobby - cooking. And your 2 year old will LOVE to "help".

I hear there are a few books that may help you too (I don't read these days, but if my vision improves, I hope to read these two soon)

The Millionaire Next Door by...ummm. I don't know...and Your Money or Your Life - both books were recommended on this board, and I bet they'd be a good spot to start.

Well, HTH, and let us know how it's going!

Avatar for monkeesmom
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 08-27-2003 - 2:40pm
Welcome to the board. I would suggest borrowing from the library a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette - it is a great reference for frugl ideas...Amy D is the master, lol. I bought my copy because I knew it was something that I was going to want to read over and over, and at less than $20 I felt it was a worthwhile investment. Someo f her suggestions might not suit you, but there is a whole lot of useful information to be had. Also read back in the archives of this board if you have a chance - the posters here have terrific ideas.

Another thought would be to post your monthly budget, and have the folks here take a crack at it. You don't have to take all of the suggestions at once (w hich might be overwhelming to begin with), but it may help to steer you in the right direction, starting with cutting out or back on a couple of items.

Good luck to you, and once you get started you'll wonder how you ever spent all that money before, lol :)



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 08-27-2003 - 8:46pm
Thank you so much Dina! Your message to me was very encouraging and full of really great ideas! Thanks for your prayers also - always needed!

I have only been doing the manicures every 2 weeks and was thinking of going to 3,then maybe 4 then....just do them at home. I really haven't been doing them that long but what a luxury they are! I just love them.

Yes, my DH and I have been talking about cutting down to basic cable and basic phone and we really need to cut out the eating out. I'll keep you posted!



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 08-27-2003 - 8:48pm
Thank you so much Janey! That eyebrow example really hits home! When you look at the big picture what a waste of money, huh?


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 08-27-2003 - 9:05pm
Thank you Triptaker!

I guess I should have provided more background info. I have a bachelor's in psychology and a masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. I am a Manager in Human Resources. I really think it is the field I dislike. My last job was my first real job - and I was bored out of my mind and felt like no one really cared what I had to say because I was only 23 when I started. My new job is just so stressful and I am expected to work from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. I went into HR because I'm a "people person". I wanted to help people. I/O Psychology is all about people in the workplace. But, in reality, it's a field where it's extremely difficult to make a difference, and employees perceive you as the bad guy, etc. I picked my field because I thought, money and a chance to help people. Well...the money is there. I make mid-50s. But, in exchange I sacrifice quality time with my daughter and my husband. I can't volunteer at my church or plan afternoon activities with my child, because I never know what fire at work I'm going to be there until midnight (seriously, some nights). I feel exhausted and depressed and I just don't like it.

When I was in college, I really thought of being a teacher, but my dad discouraged it because of the $$$. I have learned that money is NOT everything. Yes, it's important. But not as important as the time I am missing with my daughter. And, not important enough for me to wake up every morning feeling sick about having to go to work.

But....I digress. I apologize for going on and on. I have looked into the PACE program here (I'm in SC) and I could probably teach Business or Mentally challenged kids in high school next school year. And, I may do so, but I really want to teach Elementary and that will require some additional schooling probably. A teacher with a Masters here starts out at about 33k.

I really appreciate all of your advice and am taking it to heart. Living off of just my husband's income is a very good idea and we are planning to try to live off only his income and maybe one of my checks a month or so and see how it goes.

Thanks again!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 08-27-2003 - 9:07pm
Thank you Mil!

When you say, post your family budget....do you mean what you spend on house, car, electricity, etc... or just what you spend on "extra stuff"?

Avatar for triptakers
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 08-28-2003 - 7:27am
Hey Kristy - one of my old college drinking buddies is an IO (PhD, though, but I wonder if you could do what he's doing?). Last I spoke to him he was making up those questionnaires for job satisfaction & job performance with a huge international company....so he didn't have any "fires" to deal with, and felt good he was making quality, unbiased assessment tools. What if you try to get out of the HR side? (I always thought I'd like to do HR, but I know in many companies, that's where a lot of the problems lie, and HR doesn't really get much respect from the rest of the company)

Just a quick thought for ya.


Avatar for cl_lfbennett
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Sat, 08-30-2003 - 1:35pm
Hi Kristy -

Welcome to our board! :)

You really picked a tough career. Human Resources is probably the most important and least respected job at any given company. It's very stressful, and a lot of work. I can understand why you say you hate it. Although, with your education, HR isn't the only "outlet" for your background. Is it the JOB you hate? The COMPANY you hate? The HOURS? Something else? If you enjoyed earning your degree, there is probably something you did like about the field so perhaps all is not lost.

Have you thought about teaching at the local community college or even doing some classes for community ed? The pay might not be good, but it would definitely give you a taste of teaching before you quit your job (or between jobs) to see if you really like it.

Sometimes all you need is a break to kinda get a clearer picture. Psychology is one of those degrees that is applicable to just about anything. So, maybe if you just search the classifieds (newspaper, Monster.com, and others) it will help you focus on what it is that you'd like to do. If you want to be a SAHM, that's great too. I have a B.S. in psychology and left a successful career to stay at home and I haven't regretted a second of it. I do wish we had more spending money sometimes, but not enough to motivate me to get a job. LOL.

The very first thing I'd suggest doing to start your frugal adventures (-g-) is to write down your actual expenses. Start with the bills, be sure to include mortgage, car payments, cc's and their balances, insurance, medical, utitilies, lawn care or cleaning services, gas, groceries. Add in money you've spent on haircuts, manicures, clothes, shoes, misc. shopping trips to Target, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, etc. Dinners out, lunches at McD's, Starbucks coffees, ordering pizza. Get in absolutely everything you can think of. Use your checkbook and credit card statements to jog your memory. Add it all up and see how it compares to your income. If you're like most people, you'll wonder where the money goes because all your expenses don't add up.

Then start prioritizing and budgeting you can make a budget of the essentials. You'll be able to track your spending and see where you can save. Once you see how much a $4 coffee every morning costs you annually, it's much less important. (Oh wait... that's me! LOL)

Do you eat out a lot? If so, try *scheduling* your meals out. Commit to eating dinner out no more than once a week, for example. Set a date and then you can look forward to it. Decide how much you'll spend on it. Same with lunches.

Do you go shopping for recreation? Or go to pick up toilet paper at Target and then spend $128? My DH and I are guilty of going to the grocery store for one quick thing and coming home with 3 bags of stuff. We call this the "$25 gallon of milk". LOL. If you do this, bring cash and leave your CCs at home.

I think those things are more than enough to get you started. The key when you're just starting out is to figure out where your money is going. Once you got that accomplished, it's usually pretty easy to find where you can save money.

Hope this helps! Be sure to stick around. I think you'll find lots of good ideas here. :)


cl-lfbennett @ Frugal Living