The Fight for Frugalness

Fight for Frugalness

The Fight for Frugalness

Hello everyone! Welcome back to The Green Swan. We will continue with the frugal theme and topic from recent posts, Frugality: The Green Swan and Frugalwoods and The Frugal Millionaire. Today’s post will talk about why it is important to keep up the fight for frugalness, recognizing we are never perfect and there are always setbacks.

The Constant Fight for Frugalness

The fight for frugalness is never ending. Why? Because just when you think you made a win, there always seems to be a setback right around the corner. You know what I’m talking about, you find an unexpected way of making or saving a hundred bucks, but then the next week you get a speeding ticket and you kiss it goodbye. I’m reminded of this frequently throughout my daily life experiences. And while it may be tough and discouraging to depart with $100 for what seems like random and unlucky circumstances, I always try to remind myself that it is alright because of the $100 I work hard to save elsewhere.

Money comes and goes. Sometimes it seems like it only “goes” out, which is why it is so important to keep the fight for frugalness going to help save some money here and there. We can’t always save every penny we want to, but that is no excuse not to keep trying.

A Recent Win

As I discussed in my prior post, Lucy and I are expecting again! Kids are no cheap endeavor, but they don’t have to break the bank. One of the more costly line items for kids is clothing which we have always been focused on minimizing. Especially at a young age…they don’t care if they are wearing hand-me-downs or pre-owned clothing! So we basically do all our clothes shopping at the nearby consignment shop. Not only do they have clothes, but also various baby accessories like cribs and strollers as well as toys and books. It’s absolutely great and can basically be a one-stop shop.

Just a few weeks ago we did a routine shopping trip to the store to stock up on cold weather clothes for the upcoming winter. We’ve always had good luck finding decent clothes that aren’t too worn and they don’t really look much different than any clothes you own and wash a few times anyway. Instead of paying ~$20-$30 per outfit or more for brand new clothes, we are buying outfits for well under $10 and as little as $5.

This trip was an especially good one because we stumbled on none other than a bunch of clothes with their original tags still! They had never been worn, and they were really nice and expensive clothes…check them out!

Fight for Frugalness

These nice Nike and Jordan pants and jackets have original price tags on them for $38, $30, $35, $35 and $58 (from left to right) and we got them along with a number of other items of clothing (probably 7-10 additional items) all for ~$85. In the picture alone is $200 of merchandise…what a score! And aren’t those Jordan pants and jacket the best?! That, my friends, is a pretty big “frugal win” right there. Put one on the board for the good guys!

A Recent Setback

But as with all things, life happens and there always seems to be a setback around the corner. Earlier in the summer we had our experience of when bad things happen in threes. Those were a few expensive encounters. So what is it now? Hopefully nothing else too big…

Well how about a replacement pair of dress shoes for my wife after I broke the strap on her last pair dancing like a fool at my brother’s wedding in early September? Or the random infection I got in two different spots on my left leg (from a bug bite maybe…?) and the ensuring visit to the clinic and various antibiotics and creams to help it ($150 expense all-in)? Or the second time I busted my iPhone screen? All normal, albeit random, expenses…the fight for frugalness continues!

Side story I have to share…while at the clinic for the infection, the nurse practitioner said the antibiotics may cause me to experience “loose bowel movements” so would recommend I grab some probiotics. I asked her if she could help grab the right ones of the shelf…and of course when she finds them she loudly pronounced in a fairly busy CVS “this should help you with your diarrhea”…Lady, are you for real going to call me out like that in the store! I don’t have diarrhea…I simply may get it from the drugs you’re prescribing me…come on! Clearly there was no way to downplay that embarrassing experience, so I kept my head down and quickly checked out. Thanks again, lady! Hope you don’t catch my infection and end up needing to get yourself some probiotics…


Anyway, there are always minor victories and minor defeats we experience on any given day. What will it be next week or next month? Who knows, but life happens and we have to expect the unexpected. That is in part what fuels me to continue to exercise my unusual yet resourceful frugalness. A victory here and there helps offset the setbacks and keeps us motoring on toward financial independence (FI). And the big and enduring wins can help propel us even quicker.

The fight for frugalness shall continue!

Feel free to share some recent frugal wins or setbacks you’ve had lately in the comments below.

Thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan

Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach


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  1. I sometimes thing being frugal makes expenses like that hard to swallow…but it also makes them easier to afford. Once I picked up a prescription for my m and the pharmacist read all the side effects to me and everyone else in the store. ::swipe credit card and keep walking::

  2. An important thing for folks to remember is not to let those setbacks knock you off your frugality game. You can’t predict when your car’s oil pump is going to blow, for example, so reach into your cash reserves, take care of it, and don’t let it bother you. Hopefully as part of your frugal mission, you’ve planned for unexpected occurrences and can take care of them with no sweat. Success with frugality is long-term, so keep plugging away.

    Nice score on the clothes!

  3. Wit our passion for winter sports, we had to shell out some cash on two quality pairs of winter hiking boots for the boys. They have to be very high quality to withstand the subzero conditions where we hike in the North East. Thus REI were recipient yesterday of a nice wad of cash courtesy of family PIE. On the other hand we saved nearly $9,000 on our overall winter activities budget through awesome travel hacking, buying ski passes in advance and frugal mountain dining where we take our packed lunches and drinks and snacks.

    You have to pay for some things and then if you can win big in other areas, you will come out overall very far ahead. Always a trade off as you correctly point out.

    1. Perfect example there Mr Pie. Tough to swallow the pill of buying those expensive boots (especially if the boys will be growing out of them soon) but it certainly does help having that win with travel hacking. Thanks for sharing!

  4. With the way the economy is these days and costs always rising every year I think its a good idea to practice a certain level of frugality even if you don’t think you need to. You never know when an unexpected job loss or other event can happen. One of my sayings is “Things are good and we need to keep it that way”. I cut out a lot of excess spending etc even though I could probably afford it. It feels good knowing I am mostly doing things right and have a larger buffer if the economy goes south for a while etc. Not that you need to go to extremes or just hoard your money, but when you really look at it and question your spending and lifestyle, there are many things you don’t need or are even worth the money you are spending on them each month. Now in my later 40’s, its really true that time and freedom are more important than “stuff”. Do you want to keep working 50+ hours plus commute time just to pay for that premium $700 cell phone and plan? Or the expensive cable package that you aren’t home enough to even watch? I still spend money but I’ve taken a much more measured approach. Try cutting back for a while. You will probably find you don’t miss all these things that much and it will do wonders for your finances. Go outside. Ride your bike. Listen to some music with headphones. Many of the best things are almost free. Don’t buy into all the marketing hype. These companies are trying to manipulate you. Spread out the indulgences or save them for more special occasions.

    1. Right on, Argo! That’s been mostly the story of my life the last couple years. I’ve looked for lots of ways to cut spending of unnecessary things realizing how easy it is to get by with less.

      Thanks for the great comment!

  5. Keep up the good fight GW! I almost had a horrible scare this past weekend when I was walking my dog and couldn’t find my phone. I’d stopped by McDonalds to grab a $1 coffee, and thought maybe I had left it there. No such luck, they hadn’t seen it.

    Ms. FP though, being much smarter than me and a much better finder, remembered that I had bent over to pick up the leash when we were walking in the park. I told her I’d looked all over the park and didn’t see it. She goes over to where we last were, and there’s my phone, sitting face down in the grass. It was really hard to see!

    Anyway, that would have been a horrible frugal setback for me if I had lost my phone. Guess that’s why it’s important to keep up that frugal fight, because we never know what might set us back.

  6. We regularly pick up clothes from thrift shops for the kids since they grow out of clothes in what seems like weeks. The clothes still with the original tags are the best. My wife once found a yard sale where some lady had almost a whole kids wardrobe for her grand children that they never wore. It pays to look around. Our gain this month was on the revenue side, I didn’t see the vacation payout from my wife’s change in work coming which was great.

    1. Nice to see that check come in I’m sure!

      And you’re absolutely right on the kids clothes. We’ll have to continue to look for more that still have the tags on… Amazing to think how some folks will but this stuff and it’ll never get used or worn!

      Thanks for the comment, FTF!

  7. That’s a great mindset to consider frugality a sport. Maintaining frugality is just like a competitive athlete trying to maintain his/her edge. It isn’t a part-time gig. Our most recent shopping trip to the outlet mall scored us some nice outdoor clothes from Columbia for 60%+ off ticketed price and Kid’s clothes from Carter’s and Gymboree at a similar steep discount. Kids look cute no matter what, whether it’s full-price, outlet mall, consignment store or hand-me-downs. Why spend the extra money for full price?
    Also, hilarious story about the lady at the CVS. At least she didn’t use the intercom. 🙂

    1. Haha, the lady might as well have used the intercom! Gosh I think everyone heard that comment… You should have seen the shock on my face!

      Sounds like some great finds at the outlet store. We have a new outlet store not far from us in Charlotte that we need to remember to shop at when we need things.

      Thanks for the comment, ERN!

  8. Congratulations!!! Several years ago I helped a younger cousin who became unexpectedly pregnant. I craigslisted for a TON of stuff and was able to help her stock up on clothes, toys, furniture and other products with many of them for free or at a really low cost. Especially when it comes to babies, most products are only needed for such a short window that it’s easy to buy good quality second hand.

    It’s good to have savings set aside for all those emergencies. Helps to sleep better at night. Also, on the phone screen – I use an iphone se and almost died last week when I found tampered glass screen protectors at my local Dollar Tree. I bought 2. I hope to not need more than that – especially since my phone already has one. I fought the urge to buy them all, given the price! 🙂

    1. Great advice on the baby stuff, Penny. Sounds like you were a huge help to your cousin!

      Nice find on the screen protectors! Since you have a couple to spare now, I wonder if you could sell them on Craigslist or Amazon?

      Thanks for the great comment!

  9. Yes! We’ve been killing it the past few weeks cutting back on spending, so I was feeling awesome about it. Then my son tells me his car’s ABS light just came on. Isn’t that the way it goes!? I agree with Penny – I think being frugal can make those unexpected expenses more painful, but at least we can typically afford them due to the our frugal habits.

    And the pharmacy experience…Wow! 🙂

    1. That’s exactly how it goes! Sorry to hear that. Hopefully it’s not too expensive. I know my neighbor has replaced his own brakes before… For me though, I don’t think I’d go that far… That’s where an error in DIY can cost you big down the road!

      Couldn’t make up the pharmacy expertise… Just wow!

      Thanks for the comment, Amanda!

  10. The struggle is real to remain frugal! But of the expenses you’ve listed, I think they’re still frugal. It would be cheap to let your wife go around without shoes, and I shudder to think of the consequences of not paying for treatment on an infection! Anyhoo, it always feels like these unexpected expenses are draining the bank, but the reality is that being frugal is about taking care of yourself and your needs. If you bought a new car, I’d say you weren’t being very frugal, though. 😉

    A few financial setbacks we’ve had lately include

    -Our A/C motor breaking (used a home warranty to fix for $75; not too bad).
    -Our lawn mower exploded (plumes of smoke and all)
    -Our fridge water line came loose and flooded our whole house. Fun times.
    -Medical expenses.

    But either way I slice it, these expenses are still frugal because I’m taking care of my needs by spending money on what matters.

    But man, would it be nice to book a vacation to Mexico. 😉

    1. Oh boy those are some big setbacks! And you’re right, it can still be looked at as being frugal since it’s taking care of needs. But it certainly is a bummer having the unexpected large setback when you fight so hard for the wins!

      Thanks for sharing, Mrs Picky Pincher!

  11. Such is the ebb and flow of finances. Our frugal wins include big savings on our car insurance from switching providers and using one of those smart devices to monitor our driving, and getting a $20 gift card for my wife going over her medications with her health insurer. Losses include chiropractor visits for my wife after she hurt her back and NJ enacting a 23-cent/gallon raise on the gas tax. There will always be unexpected expenses, so you may as well find unexpected savings to balance them out.

    1. Great examples, Gary! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m sorry to hear that about your wife, I hope she’s doing better now!

      Gees, that’s a steep increase in the gas tax! Jeepers… Not much you can do about that though.

  12. Wow awesome deal on the Nike apparel. So very true about little kids clothing…they don’t care! Ridiculous that parents spend so much when they outgrow them so fast. Frugal set backs tend to pain us frugal people more, but as a result of being frugal, we can better afford to weather the storms. Oh and the nurse story was funny…hehe…at least she didn’t ask for a price check over the loud speaker for diarrhea medication for the gentle in the Nike apparel.

    1. Yeah I think it’s pretty ridiculous too! I guess it allows us to reap the benefits by buying them second hand…

      Haha yeah no kidding! Dang nurse…

      Thanks for the comment, Andrew!

  13. I remember at some point in college, after getting a flat tire, or a medical bill, or a high utility cost month, I finally realized, this is part of what money is for. It’s not just for saving, or for fun, or for cute clothes. It is for the expenses that are simply a part of life, whether we like it or not. Things break. People get sick. Accidents happen. If we accept this and have the money in savings because we’re overall wise with our money, it’s not such a big deal when shit happens.

    1. I think that’s a great mentality, Kalie. It’s important to stay frugal to help with the costs, no doubt, but no sense in getting too bummed out because that’s what money is for and shit happens. Thanks for the comment, Kalie!

  14. Love the consignment shop finds! We did that for both of our kids when they were little – it’s crazy how much money you can save! Save money there and spend it when they throw out their orthodontic retainer with their cafeteria tray in Middle School…. But we’d never be FI right now if we hadn’t saved in lots of places to be able to spend in the others!

    1. Ha exactly! The money can go out quickly with things like the retainers, etc. I remember putting my parents through that!

      Thanks for the comment, Vicki!

    1. Haha yes it could’ve been worse! Not a bad place to splurge at by any means. Plus I’m sure you saw all the really nice stuff and wanted to take advantage of the great deals!

      Thanks for the comment, Michelle!

  15. Good point about the continuous fight for frugality. It can be a slippery slope but sometimes not out of choice. On the probiotics front, I hear you on the embarrassing pharmacy experience. I wonder why they can’t be more discreet. You could simply eat a lot of yoghurt and get the same probiotic benefits whenever you take antibiotics. Nobody will embarrass you like that in a grocery store picking up yoghurt!

    1. That’s a good point about the yogurt, didn’t realize that! I wasn’t excited about the probiotics to begin with and thankfully I didn’t even need them.

      Thanks for the comment, TFR.

  16. Life always throws stuff at you that you weren’t expecting. Thats where being smart with money really pays off. Having the cash reserves to handle anything that arises is the difference between financial independence and being in debt. Great post on being frugal. Thanks for sharing your experience!


  17. Yeah in college when things were much tighter my car seemed to always break right as my credit card was paid off, my savings (a measly $400) was back up or I was ahead financially but like Kalie I wouldn’t bemoan having to spend the money, but rather be glad I had it TO spend. It still bites though when you’re trying to save and things pop up to keep making you spend.

    The diahrea lady, though – hilarious! I probably would’ve done the same and just hightailed it out of there, lol.

    1. Isn’t that the way it goes…!

      I know, I can’t believe her. I wonder if she was intentionally just busting my chops…

      Thanks for sharing, Mr SSC!

  18. Our big thing last month and this has been weekend activities. While the weather has mostly been perfect for cheap activities like bonfires, hikes and yardwork, we’ve had a bunch of spendy things like a trip to the fair, kid’s museum, and pumpkin patch. While none of them broke the bank, Little Bit wants to know “What are we doing this weekend?!”, expecting something big to happen again.I think her dad and I would happily putter around the house for a weekend or two, but the idea of what constitutes a fun weekend seems to have changed a bit, and we know we’ll need to rein it back in.

    1. Haha so those fun activities came back to bite ya. Interesting how it’s sort of set the expectation going forward. Our kids aren’t that age yet but we’ll have to watch that as it develops. Funny!

      Thanks for sharing, Emily!

  19. Congratulations!

    I agree, it can be hard sometimes! Life sure has a way to toy with you sometimes, but we have to keep chugging along.

    I remember when I had my old 1998 Jimmy. It seemed like every 6 months something would happen to that old thing and I’d be stuck with a $300+ repair bill!

    1. I remember the same with my old Toyota Camry. I was forced to set aside extra because I knew it was a matter of time before another repair was necessary. And I ran that thing into the ground since it was still cheaper than a replacement car.

      Thanks for the comment, Andrew!

  20. Our biggest struggle the past couple weeks has been finding good deals as we prep for holiday travels & gatherings. Plus we started Christmas shopping early. We have gone over our budget a little, so we will need to cut corners in January to make up, but, it is a constant stuggle when knowing a good deal is too good of a deal. We are still learning that sometimes.

    1. Yeah good point, Josh, thanks for sharing. We’ll be getting into the holiday shopping soon too so we’ll be on the lookout for deals and watching the budget as well. Always a spendy time of year!

  21. I love that you’re not breaking the bank when it comes to kids clothing. When I was a kid, I wore hand-me-downs from my cousin. There was no special dry fit work out clothing back in the 80s. We wore sweatpants and a t-shirt. Now kids all have the latest Under Armour or Nike shorts, shirts, wrist bands, socks, you name it. And that stuff isn’t cheap. Those mid calf athletic socks that are really popular right now are $25 a pair. That’s crazy! Especially when your kid is going to out grow all that stuff in a year or two. Just a pet peeve I have as I see parents compete with other parents through spending money on their kids. Glad to see you’re going a different route!

    1. Yeah that is crazy seeing kids with all that expensive gear! I can’t believe those new socks are that much, insane.

      That’s funny, I remember just wearing sweat pants all the time growing up. Nothing fancy needed!

      Thanks for the great comment, GFY!

  22. That is some sweet Jordan gear that you got. I’m not going to lie I am definitely jealous. My wife and I also scour thrift stores in our area and Craigslist. We have been able to get bags full of free clothes from Craigslist from people that are just giving it away for free 🙂 Normally these clothes are in awesome shape, we give them a quick wash and then put them on my son 🙂

    1. Craigslist is great place to shop and keep an eye open for deals too. I need to remember to look there more often.

      Thanks for the comment, MSM!

  23. My best recent frugal score was a pair of red pumps (for work) that I got from a consignment shop. I liked how red they were – very sparkly, almost like Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. They were only $20, but had been marked down from an original $90. I was curious what kind of consignment shop shoes would be priced $90 so I googled the name inside the shoes-Stuart Wietzman. Those shoes were $300 when new. What a score!

  24. I agree that frugalness is a fight – I’ve never heard it described like this, but it does take a daily commitment and truly is a fight sometimes. I tend to have a really great month of saving and getting ahead, and then the next month something almost inevitably happens that costs a few grand – dryer breaks down etc. etc. etc. It often dos feel like 2 steps forward and 3 steps back sometimes, so that’s why I get really excited about the months when I can take 5 steps forward to make up the difference. Thanks for the great post as always.

    1. I love those good months. You look back and realize how little your spending was and there were no surprise or unusual expense items… Those are great!

  25. Life is a constant battle of trying to be frugal – so it’s great to get those little victories along the way 🙂 Nice job.

    Our most recent frugal victory was pre-ordering an Xmas present for some day, 20% off with free shipping (was going to be no discount with paid-for shipping otherwise). Good stuff!


    1. Yes, nice win there Tristan! Buying Xmas gifts throughout the year is a great way to go and I’ve tried to do this occasionally. You can find great deals like season ending close out sales, etc.

      Thanks for sharing!

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