Am I a frugalist, consumerist, minimalist? No. I’m a realist.

Sometimes people, we just have to spend money. You can hem and haw. You can do without. You can do with less. But sometimes, you have to face the fact that you just have to spend money AND sometimes you just have to pay full price. That’s being a realist, which is oftentimes, exactly what I am.

I’m a frugalist by birth. A consumerist never. A minimalist almost never (but I loathe clutter!) One thing I am most assuredly NOT, is cheap! I don’t keep up with any Joneses. I just try to live the best possible life I can on whatever income comes our way. I wouldn’t say we live below our means. I would say we live AT our means. Over the years, I have tried to keep our lifestyle within our parameters. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose.

I’ve been thinking lately that I have been spending entirely too much money over the last year. Rule of thumb: if you think you are spending too much, you probably are. Between paying off the newish Florida condo furniture and taking on an RV, I think I have lost my mind somewhere in-between. After a lifetime of intense frugality, why, at age 66, am I being so nice to myself lately?

new shoes

I very rarely indulge myself. I’ve been wearing thrift clothing for like decades. I clean my own home. Sometimes I cut my own hair. I wash my own cars. I do my own repairs. You literally have to force me to spend any money. On myself. At the beginning of this summer, I thought I had an appointment in NYC, so I bought myself new shoes (on sale, of course) because I didn’t want the person I was seeing to see the actual shoes I really wear. They’re white canvas grasshoppers that I bought 4 years ago at a discount chain and they have a serious rip on the side. But I whitewash them with shoe polish and cut off the strayed and ragged edges the rip sometimes causes and for me they look and work just fine.

Well, that NYC appointment never happened. And all summer long, I never got to wear my new shoes. As you can see, they are still in the box. Oh, I will eventually wear them soon enough. Just as soon as my white grasshoppers completely fray and become unwearable. Also, over this summer, I did NOT buy myself one piece of clothing or any accessories. What I have is good enough, wearable enough and as long as people don’t see me every day, they’ll never know I have about 3 outfits and I just wear them over and over and over again. Sometimes I cringe when I see different photos of myself at different functions because (gulp) I’m usually wearing the same exact outfit in the picture. Most of my clothing is several years old.

Hubby is almost about the same as me. Unfortunately, however, he is very hard on shoes, so he gets at least two new pairs per year. And he is very hard on clothes, so he gets a few visits a year to good quality thrift shops (if there is such a thing!)

We owned our last TV, a 19inch Sony Trinitron (remember them?) for nineteen years. Guests would come over our house and be stunned we didn’t have a flat screen TV. Once that Sony died, however, we’ve since bought 4 flat screen TV’s, the last one being a 60inch Vizio for our condo living room. As I said, I’m a realist. I knew it was time to spend money AND buy the best we could comfortably afford. After nineteen years of frugality, we deserved to finally experience new, modern technology.

Which brings me to the point of my post today. I’m an Apple Computer geek. I owned my own store for four years and was privy to the latest innovations Steve Jobs spewed. When other women were buying clothes and makeup and sneaking them into the house while their husbands were gone (plus hiding the charge cards) back in the middle 1990’s I was buying scanners and printers and software and displays and sneaking those inside my house and hiding them under the bed so hubby wouldn’t know. I turned my fetish into a career but once I closed my business, I reverted back to my cautious, frugal self.

Apple products really don’t have to be bought every single time another new product is introduced. My laptops can last five to six years. When the iPhone first came out, I waited until a few models were under Apple’s belt. At the time the 5 model came out, I was able to buy a 4 for only $99 (vs the $350 original price). By the time the 6’s came out, I could afford to buy a 5s (for those who don’t know the iPhone 5s came out in 2013. I bought it in 2015 at the reduced price of $250 vs the original price of $450).

Ditto for my laptop. I purchased it in 2010 for $900 and it is still going strong today in 2017. The laptop has however, almost reached the end of its line as it can no longer be upgraded nor can it have the newer SIRI technology. To a geek, such as me, that’s a big deal. To a frugalista, it’s just unnecessary noise.

Which brings me to today. I had to make a choice. I’ve become involved in my photography hobby and if I wanted to learn, progress and become more professional, I had to up my game. I had to take on the newest technology in order to fully experience all that the world has to offer me. This is where my realist personality steps in. I had to bite the bullet and buy the latest and the greatest Apple Computer (free standing, no more laptops) if I was really going to be serious about my hobby. That decision cost me $1604. No sales haggling. No discounts. That’s what it came to. No buying a PC or different brand. No buying a discount model or a leftover. I had to buy the latest and the greatest.

Next came DH’s and my iPhone 5s. They’re all paid for and work somewhat fine BUT if DH and I are to continue onto our chosen paths (he: his career requires that he keep up with technology. me: I’ve expanded onto vlogging and I need a larger screen for when we start traveling on the road). Our four year old, technology- lagging iPhones were becoming obsolete for what we wanted to do in our future lives. (if we just stayed still, however, there would be no need to upgrade BUT DH and I are somewhat progressive when it comes to real life).

Apple Computer is coming out with iPhone 8 this September. That means the current 7 is scheduled to go on sale. It also means that our 5s will no longer have any resale value if we wait too long and the 8 comes out. This was a very difficult decision for DH and I to make. Our current cell phone bill is only $80 a month. Buying two iPhone 7s will bring our bill up to $135 a month, plus tax.

In this instance, DH and I decided it was time for us to spend the money. Because the newest model is coming out next month, our carrier gave us a discount of $100 per phone. I’ve posted our invoices. It shows the original price of $870 for an iPhone 7 Plus (me) and $750 for an iPhone 7 (he). When our monthly bill comes, there will be a $200 credit issued and included. Our provider also waived the $25 each activation fee, saving us another $50. We also got $75 each back from another reseller. So, instead of paying $1,620 for both iPhones, we are paying $1,220, saving ourselves $400 in the transaction.

I had to sit back, look at the numbers and take all of this in. We’re ‘spending’ $1,220 on cell phones. That’s a heck of a lot of money! Think about that. Remember when we used to pay Bell South $14 for a rotary phone and that thing lasted for decades? Or when cell phones first came out, you could buy a left-over, flip model for only one dollar? Granted yes, today we are getting interest-free financing and that comes out to $25 (he) and $29 (me) per month BUT we have to pay that charge for the next thirty months! Is it any wonder why most cellular phone companies, such as Apple have become the biggest, most profitable corporations in the universe?

But I digress. There are things DH and I want to do in our lifetime and sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and pay. And pay and pay and pay. Thankfully, our data plan is still viable and appropriate, so I see no increase in that. For $54 more dollars per month (plus tax) DH and I will be utilizing the former greatest and latest, once September comes and the new iPhone 8 rolls off the assembly line.  In any event, our newish phones will be a hellava lot better than the 5s 2013 technology.

Am I being a consumer? Am I cheating on my frugal beliefs? Am I bucking the minimalist trend? No. I think I’m just being a realist and if DH and I want to be part of the 21st century, continue to work and expand our horizons, we have to be realistic.

In the interim, you can check out our soon-to-be YouTube vlogging channel, ‘The Adventures Of Cindi And Nick‘ by clicking here. I haven’t uploaded any videos yet BUT Nick and I are getting ready to record our RVing travels. And NOW we can! Stay tuned.

That’s what it’s all about.

Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.

my old shoes

my current shoes: grasshoppers. with & without polish

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24 thoughts on “Am I a frugalist, consumerist, minimalist? No. I’m a realist.

  1. We both have iphone 5s for past 2 years (that I got for $99 ea) but a few months ago DH’s started shutting down on him, so we bit the bullet and bought him a 7 for $650/$27 a month interest free. It about killed me to pay that, but it works well and more importantly, for him – he knows how to use it and can’t handle change well. My 5s keeps chugging along and I’ll probably wait until it dies (hopefully not for awhile) before I get a new one, but dang…..his takes such better pictures than mine. LOL. We are on the “small” 2gb a month data plan and we hardly even use that. We spend most of our time at home, so on wifi and many of the places we regularly visit (local restaurant) have free wifi. Plus the unused carries over to the next month so always have plenty for us.

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    • HI One Family. Almost the same story here too. We are usually on WiFi, so the smallish data plan we have is working out for us. When we are on the road, however, I don’t know if our current plan is going to work out. We have to wait and see.
      Thanks for sharing your cell phone story with us.

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  2. Yeah, I financed phones before, but I hated the exhoribant bill. I figured I just had debt, in the form of a cell phone. Instead, I paid them off, and our cell phone bill (for four) comes to $160/mos with unlimited data. Both my kids pay me $20/mos. and my husband’s work reimburses him $30/month, which brings the total bill down to $90. When we were financing all of the phones, my monthly bill was close to $300. Perhaps you can put that on your speed pay as well, because paying extra on your phone is going to get old. Trust me on that one.
    By the way, I am your first subscriber to your YouTube channel. :)!!!

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    • Thanks Sharon for subscribing to my YouTube channel! Now, I just have to make a video! LOL.
      That’s a good idea you have about paying off the phone a bit quicker. I consider it the cost of doing business. DH’s is a business write off for him. Me? I’m just another expensive wife! LOL.
      Thanks for your comment.

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  3. I think you just have to bite the bullet sometimes and enjoy yourself. Honestly I thought in retirement I wouldn’t buy myself any new clothes but hello, I’m not in the work force and most of what I had for day to day wear needed updating. And I did, and I’m happy I did because I like to look cute for a 60 year old LOL.

    DH and I don’t go crazy with money but there are things that need replacing or upgrading that we find the best price for and just buy. One of those was new living room furniture at Rooms to Go at 0% financing for 18 months. And no we are not paying it off early at 0%.

    We also enjoy traveling and do so 2-3 times a year (frugally) using our credit cards and paying them off when we return. I don’t lose sleep at night over this because again, if we are careful, we can do it.

    Even if we are in a little bit of debt it’s ok with me right now (we are less than $1000 in debt). I don’t mind but I also don’t go crazy. My brother and sister in law cannot afford to retire (he’s almost 70) because they owe a massive amount of debt, yet they continue to spend, spend, spend.

    So, everything in moderation. A little debt is ok with me and I am not willing to live like a pauper. I want to enjoy life while we have relatively good health.

    Good luck to you in your upcoming travels.

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    • Teri, like minds think alike. We did our living room and guest/study via Rooms To Go. No interest for 5 years. $24 a month and we were done! I don’t even think of it as debt. Just a way and a means to furnish our new condo. We’re going to be traveling soon in our RV and we’re going to try boondocking (no hook ups) a few of the day (nights) we’re out on the road. It’s free. We’re going to combine the boondocking with staying at nicer RV resort locations AND we’re going to be paying for it on our credit cards, paying them off when we get back, much like what you are doing. I still keep my eye on the bottom line and have cut back two of the upcoming trips a bit. Do we really need to stay in one location in Maine for 8 days? I cut it back to 5 and we’re saving money. Ditto for The Grand Canyon. Was 10 days a bit too long? 7 days seemed much better. Especially on the wallet.
      Live and learn. And adjust accordingly.
      Thanks for your comment.

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  4. Kind of off topic, but you might like the Danskins Memory Foam shoes they sell at Walmart ($12 or $13). I teach in them all day and think they’re comfortable.

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    • Hi Kim. I love, love, love the Danskin line! I have several of their shirts, shorts (love!!) and leggins. I didn’t know they made shoes too. Wow. I’ll give a look next time I am in WalMart. I also have to get a long pair of their leggins for when I start hiking in the fall. Thank you so much for the tip. It wasn’t off topic at all!
      Side note: last year I bought a whole bunch of Danskin clothing at my fave Goodwill. So, this summer I was ready!

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  5. When I was selling phones back in the early 90’s, the Motorola flip phone was $1599.00 and the lobbyists and government officials were buying them like crazy! A couple of years later, a company in Texas started GIVING them away with a two year contract! Buying electronics is hard for me because I know that whatever it is will be cheaper in six months to a year. My good old HP is about 6-7 years old and Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7 so I guess I have to finally upgrade it. Bummer! I hate the fact that Microsoft can force you to buy a new computer. I enjoy your blog and I look forward to following you on your travels.

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    • Thanks Ann M. I also remember when the first Quasar Video recorder came out. That was $1200 and my then-husband HAD to have it!
      Life is silly sometimes, right?
      Oh the things we used to think was so important! Good shopping for a PC. At least you can find some good deals. As an Apple Nut, I’m limited. LOL!
      Thanks for reading my blog.

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  6. Hi Cindi, I was channel surfing last night and Suze Orman was on PBS with answering questions from the audience.I watch a short segment and she said something interesting that relates to your questions. Any form of credit is filling a desire for something now that compromises your future ability to provide for your needs. If your phones were still functioning, then you were fulfilling an unnecessary desire and as a realist you would have recognize this situation as a desire, but still getting them, you would know this was being a consumerist. Macs and IPhones are not the frugal choice. The RV was a desire- consumerism, although using your frugalist way of hunting for the best price.
    You and Nick both had health issues and family issues that have impacted fulfilling your own desires or dreams sooner than later. I so so understand the change, but realistically doing so is more consumerism. Deprivation and self imposed severe budget constraints seems to throw people into overspending and indulgence because they rationalize they deserve the reward. And so they want it now and use credit to fulfill the want.
    I myself feel I too have started to be more of a consumerist doing renovations and purchasing more art supplies, traveling more, and really only practice frugal ways occasionally for groceries, sales on clothes and Christmas gifts and recently taking advantage of travel rewards.
    I remember your minimalist stage, clearing out and donating a huge amount of stuff and telling your daughters to get their stuff.
    And finally, IMHO If you already bought new shoes stop wasting your life energy to repair the white canvas, their not doing your feet any favors.
    🍀Lara

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    • Hi Lara. Our 5s phones were NOT functioning into our present nor our future. Many of the new programs my husband’s employer was utilizing in order to get their work completed wasn’t compatible on his old phone. He works in audio/video and if you know anything about that field, it moves at warp speed. As for me, if I am to be serious about my photography, and I am, I needed a new iMac with Retina display, a faster processor to work on images and I needed newer software. None of these could be done on my laptop. Or my old 5s to do YouTube videos.
      So what do you do? Have time stand still and let life pass you by because according to Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman you have to wait and save up for these things? Maybe when you’re 19 and 21. What both DH and I don’t have a lot of at this point in our lives is: TIME. That commodity is priceless. Doing and buying something that will enhance your life and be an investment in your career is NOT consumerism. Being a consumer to me is someone who goes to the mall, whips out their charge card and buys unnecessary things that in the long run, have no value. Only to come back home and stuff those things in a closet, never to be used or utilized. That’s consumerism. Or buying the latest gadget simply because its the latest gadget. I only buy things I NEED. Not what I want. There’s a BIG difference in that.
      As to traveling, I made a big mistake selling my last, paid for RV BUT hubby made an even trade with it and bought an almost-new car, that he NEEDED because the car he was driving for work was almost 10 years old. It would have needed expensive repairs to keep functioning. At that time we thought we made a good decision. If we didn’t, hubby would be NEEDING a car now and I wouldn’t want to be taking out a car loan.
      You seem to forget that last year, as we took on purchases, it was our intent to pay cash right there and then BUT Nick had a serious heart event and couldn’t work. If Nick didn’t get sick, I don’t think we would be in the predicament we just found ourselves in. Now that he is back at work, granted yes, one year later, we have almost paid off ALL that debt. We have another 2 weeks to go and all the old debt will be gone. YES! Even the $5700!
      Which brings me to the new debt: the RV loan. As time progresses, DH and I still want to see America. I worked out all the numbers and traveling by car or plane, hotels, car rentals, dog sitting fees were starting to rack up in the thousand and thousand of dollars. Just to spend a week at the Grand Canyon would have cost us $3,000. Then what? We still want to travel. PLUS in the summer we still want to be in Newport RI and weekly rentals cost $2,000+.
      I ran the numbers and came to the conclusion, if we thought small and bought well, we could ace another RV. Yes, I have to cash to do it, but at today’s low interest rates AND Nick’s shaky health (I may need our money for heart operations etc) I financed the purchase (with no prepayment penalty)
      I wouldn’t classify that as consumerism. I’d call it a smart move to improve the quality of our lives for the last remaining years we have left on this earth. (2 of my dear friends have passed since DH and I bought our RV. another friend is dying now, laying in a hospital, with brain cancer). So, that’s another reality Suze and Dave don’t talk about: quality of life. There is no price tag you can put on that. We’re not gambling. We’re not frittering away our money. We are finally enjoying our lives and investing in our time. I would NOT call that consumerism. Just my opinion.
      You have every right to indulge in art supplies, traveling more and renovating your home (that’s an investment with returns). That’s what life for us, at this time, is all about.
      We paid our dues. We sacrifices and we did without. We raised our families, paid for colleges, weddings, yada,yada, yada. This is OUR time. Enjoy it however you can (within reason, of course) LOL!

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    • PS: my daughters baby clothes are still here. Two closets in the house are filled to the brim. My basement has 12 of their storage bins from their college days. And now, Nick got suckered into sneaking 13 MORE containers of baby crap into our barn!!!!!! I almost screamed when I say the pile. And my granddaughter is only 4 years old! Now, THAT’S consumerism!

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      • Lara, go back to my post. I uploaded a picture of my current shoes at the end. With and without polish. This is how I know I am NOT a consumer. I will wear out these shoes till I can no longer wear them anymore. Once they are done, I’ll start on the new sketchers I bought. LOL!

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      • Consumerism, as defined by the ‘powers that be’ is the obsession with acquisition. I’m not obsessed with anything. The Huffington Post wrote a nice article whereby they stated: “What needs to be eradicated, or at least greatly tempered, is consumerism: the obsession with acquisition that has become the organizing principle of American life. This is not the same thing as capitalism, nor is it the same thing as consumption. To explain the difference, it is useful to draw on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. At the bottom of this hierarchy are basic creature comforts; once these are sated, more satisfaction is drawn from affection, self-esteem and, finally, self-actualization. As long as consumption is focused on satisfying basic human needs — safety, shelter, food, clothing, health care, education — it is not consumerism. But when, on attempts to satisfy these higher needs through the simple acquisition of goods and services, consumption turns into consumerism — and consumerism becomes a social disease.” You can read the whole article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amitai-etzioni/the-crisis-of-american-co_b_1855390.html
        American consumerism is what brought down the whole 2008 economy. I don’t think my spending is going to bring down anything, unless its the price of something. 🙂
        I most certainly don’t think I have any social disease. If anyone was going to base their income on my spending habits, they’d be broke in no time. I can’t even tell you the name of my favorite brand, unless its called ‘Generic’. 🙂

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  7. Interesting post and discussion. I hadn’t thought about some of these things. I guess I have always been a frugal person. It is how I was able to stay home with my children. Now that they are grown and on their own for the most part, I still keep my frugal ways on a lot of things so we can splurge on other things that are important to us. But we are more like Lara than you, Cindi. It is hard to strike a balance like you said above. We sacrificed for many years also. I know I had written you about my health problems the past few years, so I hear what you are saying about wanting to travel while you are able to. I feel the same way and we are doing a little more than we used to also. We are not retired yet, so do still have to strike that balance between saving for retirement, paying off our house, and having some fun. Right now we are saving b/c we want to do one of the Alaska cruises and have our master bath redone. I know it will take several years to save for both of them, but it is ok.

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    • HI Chris. I heard great things about the Alaska cruise. Good for you! And for saving towards redoing your bath. That will pay you back if and when you sell.
      Maybe by the time you retire, there will be a new invention or something. Hey! You never know. Thanks for your comment. And keep on doing what you are doing.

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    • Chris, consumerism, as defined by the ‘powers that be’ is the obsession with aquisition. The Huffington Post wrote a neat article about it here:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amitai-etzioni/the-crisis-of-american-co_b_1855390.html
      Consumerism is what brought down the 2008 American economy. I don’t think my shopping habits are going to bring down anybody.
      According to The Huff Post:
      “What needs to be eradicated, or at least greatly tempered, is consumerism: the obsession with acquisition that has become the organizing principle of American life. This is not the same thing as capitalism, nor is it the same thing as consumption. To explain the difference, it is useful to draw on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. At the bottom of this hierarchy are basic creature comforts; once these are sated, more satisfaction is drawn from affection, self-esteem and, finally, self-actualization. As long as consumption is focused on satisfying basic human needs — safety, shelter, food, clothing, health care, education — it is not consumerism. But when, on attempts to satisfy these higher needs through the simple acquisition of goods and services, consumption turns into consumerism — and consumerism becomes a social disease.”

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  8. So glad I found you again. You were gone far too long, and I could NOT find your blog. Thank you for always writing something that educates and encourages your readers. Had to look up what a “free standing” computer meant…sorry, I am one of the very slow ones. Glad you are making the investments to enjoy this stage of your life.

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    • HI Dellann. Yup, rather than get a laptop (MacBook) for myself, which has limited processing features for what I want to do in photography and video, I had to buy an iMac. I bought the latest and greatest model because it had the fastest processor, larger hard drive, more powerful RAM (memory) and this thing called ‘Retina’ display which really makes the photos pop!

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      • I became a Mac user last year when my PC died. Naturally, I was hesitant at first because of the cost, but now (other than my work-provided PC) will never go back for my own personal use. LOVE my MacBook Air! I am curious if you think you’ll miss the portability of a laptop. I’m always on the go with my laptop, even in my within my own house. I think I’d have a hard time staying put in one room.

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      • Lucy, I’m keeping my 2010 MacBook laptop BUT I just bought myself the iPhone 7Plus (the one with the larger screen) Apparently people have been using the later iPhone models in place of their laptops. I’m going to try it out that way and see if it works for me. I don’t know if I can afford another laptop right now. I have to wait and see.
        I’ve been a Mac user since 1994. I bought 50 shares of their stock in 1998 when it was $14 a share and The Wall Street Journal only gave Apple Computer Inc. three more weeks to be in business.
        Now, look at them. And my stock? It’s worth over $100,000. Not bad for a $700 investment, eh?
        Enjoy your Mac. I have found over the years that my computers have become my best friends. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gotcha! I really shouldn’t comment on anything until I’ve had a few cups of coffee! Lol. I’d love an iPhone, but can’t beat the price of my company paid android.

        Liked by 1 person

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