So being a first generation immigrant doesn’t really qualify you as frugal, even though quite a few are. I have a lot of friends who are exactly not that. They make good money, and they know how to spend. That’s not to say they’re up to their eyeballs in debt, because they’re not. How do I know? It’s simply because they’re Indian, and we just don’t take on debt the way Joneses do. Yes I generalize, but you get the point.
Being Indian and a first generation immigrant means I have an interesting relationship with frugality.
To be or not to be… frugal
Growing up in a middle class family in the 70s & 80s meant that we were frugal. Unfortunately this is no longer the case in the last decade as branded goods and hedonism seem to have taken precedence, but I digress.
When I came to the US, I was exposed to stuff I had only seen in movies and frugality went out the door. I was making money in do$$ars and had enough to spare and then some.
Marriage and kids meant we started to watch what we spent, but weren’t consciously frugal.
Then I discovered the concept of financial independence and I became consciously frugal, sometimes to the point of being cheap. I’ve tried being cheap and 4 times out of 5, it has bitten me in the you-know-what.
Somewhere in between subconsciously & consciously frugal, my wife became frugal as well. She was never a big spender, but will make the case for spending on things that matter. I like that because it provides balance, and it reminds me to take my blinders off now and then.
We are frugal and I am cheap (although I try not to be).
We bought our current bed from a furniture chain that went out of business a long time ago. This was in our ‘spending’ stage. I think we spent $1,500 plus another $1,250 for the “plush” King-sized mattress. 5 years later that mattress was trash. Somehow the bed had also looked better in the showroom vs. our small bedroom.
I would loved to get a new bed, but it’s solid wood and pretty sturdy. We decided to stick with it and make some minor tweaks. We also went with a $600 mattress from Ikea. Surprisingly, both are still going strong 5+ years later and I kick myself for not doing it sooner.
A similar story here. The first car I bought was used and a few years old. The second one was a flashy new German car that handled pretty nicely on tight corners. I upgraded to a $45K ‘luxury’ SUV a few years later as our second vehicle.
We’ve since then moved to getting rid of the German car in favor of a used hatchback. The SUV is still around but paid off and 10 yrs old as of this month. We plan to ride it until it falls apart or doesn’t pass inspection any more.
3. Kids’ Clothing
A ‘no’ for Payless & Banana Republic, but a ‘yes’ for Stride Rite & Old Navy.
Payless is cheap but the kids go through them like paper. Stride Rite is the only shoe that lasts my son 3-4 months. Every single time.
I like Banana Republic clothes but my son (yes, him again) will wear a perfectly good pair of jeans to school one day and come back with the knees torn and ripped. Sometimes I think all the teachers must think we live like homeless people.
4. Honorable Mentions
A 60” TV without the latest bells and whistles that was on sale and 50% cheaper than the 65” one with awesome colors that we really wanted to get.
A $1,200 Lasik surgery in a third world country (guess which one?) by a doctor visiting from London vs $3,000 one here in the US.
Getting another year of life from our dining table set by reupholstering seat covers to give it a more updated look. Unfortunately, this is overdue for a replacement. I’m curious to see how we end up. Are we able to stay frugal while trying to adhere to the contemporary look we’re looking for?
The Official “Frugal, Not Cheap Challenge” Chain Gang
The idea for this post originally came from XYZ over at OurFinancialPath, and then picked up by other bloggers. Here’s a list of all the other posts in the chain. Please go and check them out, whether you’re frugal or cheap or not.
- Anchor: Our Financial Path
- Link 1: Othalafehu
- Link 2: Working Optional
- Link 3: The Financial Journeyman
- Link 4: Kiwi and Keweenaw
- Link 5: Physician On Fire