Living Frugal Without Coupons

Living frugal without clipping coupons is possible. I know it is, because I have done it for years. Frugal doesn't mean living without. It means making smart choices. I decide what is important to have and what I can live without. Do I follow fashion trends or need to have the latest greatest gadget? No.

My cell phone story
Here is an example of my frugal living. I am on cellphone #4 in 12 years. And it should be 3, only the first one died at six months. Let's talk about how much I paid for those phones. #1 free for choosing Sprint. It broke and having no insurance plan on it, I paid a whopping $75 for #2.

#3 better than free. How can it be better then free you ask? I decided to get a new phone on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). I was out of contract with Sprint for several years but back then they didn't just give free phones to loyal customers. I knew from the sale ads on Thanksgiving that Best Buy had free Razors for new customers of Sprint, AT&T, and Cingular. But existing Sprint customers, i.e. me, had to pay like $55 for a phone and 2 year contract. So I go to Best Buy late in the day after all the crazies have gone and there is this Sprint rep in the store. I tell him I want the razor but I am going to switch to AT&T cause I can get it free. So he calls Sprint people and I talk to them and they say buy the phone and they will credit my next bill. So I buy the phone. My next bill comes and it has overage charges cause I used up my minutes. There is the activation fee for the new phone. And a big credit for everything except the taxes. A big ol credit for $70 or something. So basically they paid me to take the phone. Better then free!

#4 takes me to this LG Optimus that I am typing on now. It was $1. I could have been more frugal and paid zero if I had ordered it online. And I had to pay the $18 activation fee also. This is another Black Friday deal. I prepared for it by spending two weeks prior studying phones and plans. I believed some company somewhere was going to offer a free smartphone that day. I met a lot of nonbelievers and sure enough there were free smartphones out there on Black Friday. I stayed with Sprint because they had the deal for me. They will get me a new phone in a year but unless this one dies I will wait. I use things until they break which is another frugal habit/trait.

Update: #5 is a Samsung Galaxy 4 which I got for free on Black Friday 2013. The Optimus was still working but the problem comes with new technology. I had that phone for years and really liked it but they stopped supporting it and things didn't work quite right. With Black Friday sales coming I knew it was time for a new phone. Once again Best Buy offered the best deal because I had a "free upgrade" from being with Spring so long. I went to the Spring Store to see what they had to offer. I would have had to pay $100 for the same phone there. A year and a half with this phone and Spring is suggesting I upgrade and they have payment plans for the new phone. Payment plans! For a phone! If you can't afford the phone then you shouldn't have it.

This society we have here in America is very wasteful. People throwing perfectly good stuff away because they don't have a need for it. And I have actually heard people say they can always buy another one. What? How does that make sense? If you want to live frugal, you make sure all the people around you know that you are willing to haul away their "junk". Doesn't mean you are going to keep it all. Ways to get rid of this stuff: sell it, trade it, give it away to needy friends, Christmas is always around the corner, give it to a charity store...

Buying off the sale rack always saves money. Using a store credit card that offers more discounts on top of sale prices is even better. Having an employee discount on top of that is extreme savings.

Buying used is something a lot of people can't even image doing. I say most things in life work just fine used. But I have some pretty heavy lines drawn when it comes to certain used items. #1 underwear. Some things just don't work as used. I have loads of places I buy used items...and sometimes I end up with new items from these places but at a reduced price off regular retail.

Places to buy used:
Auctions - My favorite shopping activity/place is auctions. I can't get enough of them and seriously you never know what might come home with. Auctions also let you know what a good going rate for items is. Frequently if you wait until the end, deals are at their best. I have gotten box lots for a dollar. I got a box of over 100 pieces of flatware and silver for $2, a silverware wood storage box with two 6 piece sets in it for $2, and about 30 old red cookie cutters for $2. I bought a box lot once for $2 because of the wood router in it which turned out to be Craftsman. Also in the box a new 7" portable digital tv which has a $70 value.

Flea markets, rummage sales, and yard sales -  Flea markets and yard sales are much the same. People set out their stuff and you buy it straight from them. Prices are always negotiable. You just need to make an offer.

Antique malls - Places like Peddler's Mall, Trader Bakers, etc. are set up for anyone to rent booth space to sell their stuff. This kind of place can be expensive or cheap. It varies from booth to booth. And it isn't always antique stuff. You will find new or newer used items. Usually I find that if a place is just an antique store owned by an individual, the prices are going to be high.

Charity/resale stores - These are places like New To You, Salvation Army, and Goodwill. Great place to find jeans.

Internet - I get free stuff for signing up for company newsletters. I have an email address just for "junk" emails. Sometimes they have free offers or coupons. I have gotten items in the mail from companies just because I was signed up with them. Craig's List has a section for "free" items. Just be cautious of going to strange places.

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