How to have fun and stay frugal

Friday, May 9, 2008

One of my biggest fears in switching from an uber consumerist lifestyle to one of frugality was that I would be bored. How could I have fun if I didn't have the latest and greatest. As it turns out, I am having a blast learning about new (cheaper) things and enjoying the items I already have. I've also come up with a few creative ways to get some very enjoyable new (not so cheap) items.

One of the things that I have found to be very enjoyable is an old xbox, not the 360. The main reason I find this to be fun is because of XBMC. While this bit of hacking does void the warranty, it is extremely simple to load and expanded our entertainment choices in our house by a very significant amount. We were able to connect it to a wireless bridge and now have a wireless connection to our computers on our TV, which is great for watching movies or listening to music when we're not in the office. I ended up buying the xbox for $60 at our local gamestop, and I had to search and go to best buy 7 times and spend $100 to get the networking just right, but it was so worth it compared to how much money it has saved us. Also, with prices now it would cost about $100 to get the whole system set up, given that you have a wireless router already, which we did.

I've also gotten into <gardening. I am anxiously waiting for my beefsteak tomato sprouts to come up. They are very tasty.

Another way I was able to receive my favorite toy is through gifts. It seems to be somewhat overlooked way in the personal finance blogosphere, but it worked great for me. A little before Christmas I decided that I wanted to get an electric guitar. I have played my acoustic for about 7 years and never really done anything fantastic withit since I have short pickle fingers. I have a 20 year old trumpet that I played in band in high school. I haven't played it since, but my mom bought it for me and I didn't want to sell it without her ok, which I did not get. This is when I found craigslist. They had some starter packs for $100 to $150. This was so out of our budget it was ridiculous. We were still trying to dig ourselves out of paying for our wedding, and barely could cover our mortgage. So my wife brokered my parents (who are divorced and this is no small feat) and my sister, and they all chipped in to get me the starter pack I wanted. It cost us nothing, and I got a sweet new toy that I enjoy at least an hour a day, and sometimes 5 hours.

The third way I was able to finagle some new gadget was the ever hated extended warranty. A couple of years ago I worked some significant overtime, and was able to buy an 8gig creative zen mp3 player. It cost $200 at the time, and I payed an extra $0 for the warranty since I am hard on my items. About a year later, it died. So I went in to Best Buy and told them I needed a new one. The service clerk told took my old one and told me I had $200 on anything at the store. Well, Ipod nanos had come down in price and up in volume, so I got one of those. I was still in the extended warranty time frame, so I was still covered with my original $20. Dig it. Well, about a year after that Apple came out with the video nanos. I thought about pouring water into the headphone jack, but had obvious moral issues with that one. But, when the ipod started resetting itself when I would play a particular playlist, I took it back again. They refunded it and I got an 8G video nano. All for spending $200 almost 2 years before.

What are your creative way of having fun while remaining frugal?


Dividends4Life said...

Interesting read, thanks for sharing it!

Best Wishes,