Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Frugal doesn't mean cheap.

Every now and then, I like to wave the banner of "why spend it when you don't need to (or have it)?" My kids are firmly grounded on the Knitternall family credo: spend less, get more.

1. I love to read. I'm always trolling for the latest and best stories. I just can't afford to buy ALL the books I read each week. I empathize with the authors (they have to make a living). But the library is my best friend. I go online to the DeKalb County library website, reserve the titles I want to read - I'm often 100+ in the queue - and wait patiently until it's my turn. I just finished The Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society book and it was lovely.

2. I love to knit. But I definitely can't buy every knitting book by favorite designers just for that single design. So I troll Ravelry to see if someone wants to sell a book they've loved and finished, explore the free patterns rampant on the internet, and work with a few designs of my own. The result is quite satisfying and affordable.

3. I love clothes and shoes. Yep, I do. My love is focused on perfect t's, stylish jeans, and really, really, REALLY comfortable outdoor shoes by Keen and Land's End and LL Bean. So I watch sales, consighment store shoe racks, and eBay. Scored in recent weeks : pristine royal blue Keen sandals at a thrift store in Greensboro, NC for $4.59, all-weather hiking books from the Lands' End store at Sears during their 75% off sale last season ($12.50), and Teva flip-flops for the pool, brand new for a measly $4 in a sale bin at Sports Authority. Lest you think I'm only about the sales, I just spent $90 on a pair of Merrell waterproof hiking boots for A because his feet are growing faster than his body and he's gotta have the good stuff for Scout hikes and camping trips.

4. I love outings with the family. But why pay full price when there are lovely bargains all around? For Spring Break, I paid just $15 a ticket for the Georgia Aquarium at a website John Heneghen kindly shared, we're hiking Stone Mountain ($8 parking pass and the outdoor parts of the park are all yours), and Helen, Georgia is just a couple of hours' drive and a kitschy day's worth of fun. Fun!

5. I love my haircut. Dunwoody salons often charge up to $100 to maintain your 'do, but I like Azima Salon. They let me stroll in without an appointment, clip and blow dry my hair for less than $35, and keep me within my "under 10 minutes" wash-dry-style maintenance rule.

6. I love dates with my husband. We've fallen into a weekly date habit at Olde Hickory House, sharing breakfast on Friday mornings after dropping off the kids at school and before we head to our respective jobs. We get some uninterrupted chat time, catch up and plan ahead, and revel in the couple-ness of the morning, all for less than $15 most weeks. We've been down the white-tablecloth-and-hovering-waitstaff route all around the world. Nothing compares to plates of simple breakfast staples and plenty of hot coffee in a to-go cup (him) and diet Coke (me).

Frugal doesn't mean cheap. It means valuing what you get.

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