Thursday, October 09, 2008

Live a Frugal Life

Having read the following two articles on frugal living, I am struck by guilt and felt the urge to rectify matters.

In Tips to Live a Frugal Life, the part in the article that stood out is ‘don’t spend money online.’ It says that a lot of people make aimless purchases online and don’t really need to be buying the products they’re buying. Because I buy lots of books online, I know how ‘rampant’ things can be. With just a click of a button and in 60 seconds (which brings me to the next article I want to highlight), I could have easily shopped online for books, usually at MYR300 (or USD85) per click. It’s not just a one-time affair but in fact, a few times in a month which makes the situation even scarier. Even though I think I make meaningful purchases when I buy books, I need to hit the brakes and budget my book spending.

So now, let’s look at the more illustrative second article Your Cash: Gone in 60 Seconds?. One of the points highlighted was impulse purchases. It says: “Usually, impulse online buys go something like this. You read a review of a DVD or book that you like the sound of, you click onto Amazon or Play.com, you search, select, checkout, pay… you can go from the initial “That sounds cool!” impulse to handing over money in under 60 seconds (if you type fast).” Ouch, that sounds like me. And then here comes the classic advice: “Even when you’ve found the best deal around – don’t buy. Write down the item you want, and wait at least 24 hours before you consider purchasing it.” The problem is, I want the item NOW so exercising patience in this regard is something I need to practice a lot.

Another interesting but obvious point is ‘ban yourself from sites.’ I am not sure if I could stay away from sites such as Kinokuniya, MPH or Amazon.com, and the article even suggested using security software to block certain sites entirely. Coming to think of it, it does sound like I’m addicted and would need to enrol myself in some rehabilitation program. I think I have some idea how members of whatever-anonymous feel.

So swinging back to the first article, I quote from it directly, “[t]he whole idea of living frugally is to spend less and therefore save more money. In tough times like these where nothing is a sure investment the best thing you can do is live frugally and just keep your money for a rainy day.” It’s common-sense but just like the don’t-smoke-or-you-will-get-cancer advice, it usually falls on deaf ears.

So what should I do? I thought of the following:

  • Since I already have so many books waiting to be read, I don’t need to keep piling them on, right? Exercise self-control, that’s what I need to do
  • Use the wish list to include titles I’m interested in so that I can buy them—not now—but in the future
  • Enforce my book budget
  • For the purpose of book buying, I will set the last day of the month to visit online book websites—only once a month
  • To justify for every one book that I buy, I must finish ten existing books in my library

I have to at least try to be sensible. With the current economic situation, anything can happen and I want to start now and brace myself. Just in case, you know.

And before I end the post, here’s what possibly could be my last book splurge...

The latest box from Kinokuniya arrived today

And here's a closer look at the books, including Neil Gaiman's latest work

  1. Born in Fire
  2. Born in Ice
  3. Born in Shame, all by Nora Roberts
  4. Hello, Doggy! by Elaine Fox
  5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Oh-kay, with this I shall 'close shop' on book buying for the time being...