Playing the Frugal Game is Fun!


Saving money makes me jump for joy!

Saving money makes me jump for joy!

A couple of days ago, I was about two thirds through my errands run when I realized I was really enjoying myself.  What’s this, I said to myself.  How can I be having such fun just buying groceries or picking up a ream of copy paper?  And then it came to me.  I was playing the Frugal Game, I was scoring point after point, and I was really feeling good about it.

Yes.  Practicing no-sacrifice frugality puts me more in control.  Helps me come out ahead.  Gets me in a winning mood.  And who isn’t going to feel good about all of that?

Too often, when frugality is discussed it is on the assumption that by being frugal one is giving something up.  Doing without.  Sacrificing one’s todays for the sake of one’s tomorrows.  But that definitely is not how I experience frugality.  To me, it is – literally – a fun game.

On that errands day earlier this week, I went to the office supply store for some copy paper.  Shelf price: $5.79 a ream.  But I had gone online for a rebate coupon and I had a credit for bringing in a spent ink cartridge.  My price net: $2.00 a ream for 2 reams.  Score!  And I got even better quality paper than usual, so I definitely gave nothing up.

Next stop, the grocery store.  I had room in my refrigerator freezer for more meats and a $5 off coupon in my pocket that I could use if I spent $25.  Hey, perfect combination!  Ten minutes later, I was walking out with packages of country ribs, steak and chicken – and a savings of not just $5 but over $15 thanks to my selections.  Score!  And I certainly won’t be giving up good eating either.

(I almost danced a little jig in the parking lot with that one!)

To play the Frugal Game successfully, I find that I have to plan my spending ahead of time.  Otherwise, I would not have had those coupons, would I have?  Hunting for and finding the deal is definitely part of the fun of the Game.

Last week, I went on a little camping road trip.  I planned ahead by making sure I had both my National Parks and Virginia Parks lifetime passes in my wallet.  In just 2 days I saved $15 on vehicle admission to the Skyline Drive, $8 on camping in the Jefferson National Forest and $4 on admission to 2 Virginia state parks.  Score, score, score!  And I got all the same benefits I would have had without the savings.

On that trip, my endpoint destination was Natural Bridge (and Caverns), which sports a hefty $29 admission.  But I scouted it ahead on the web and saved myself $6 by pre-buying the ticket.  Score!  And I gave nothing up on that one either.

I like playing the Frugal Game at home just as well.  That’s where some people are more likely to think that one has to give comfort up to play the game.  But… not so much.

Every day, one of the first things I do on getting out of bed is to turn on my classical music internet radio station.  That used to be Sirius, for which I paid a fee every month.  But now it’s Pandora, which is free  And you know what?  With Pandora, I have been able to customize my listening experience so that “my” classical radio station only plays musical compositions I really like!  Score on the savings and I improved my listening experience.  And I get to start every day with that little win.  How cool is that?

Another thing I do every day at home is to use electricity.  But I now play the Frugal Game to win by not misusing and wasting electricity.  I just got my bill for last month; $48.31 for 425 kWh.  A year ago, my bill for the same month was $125.83 for 1107 kWh.  Big score!  (And another little jig.)

What in heaven’s name have I given up by playing the electricity Frugal Game?  I have lights on whenever and wherever I need them.  I don’t limit my computer or television time in any way.  I don’t keep myself from turning on ceiling fans if it gets warm or a heater if it gets chilly.  I have NO idea what I have given up – if anything – except maybe the wasteful privileges of walking out of rooms (or the house itself) and leaving lights and electronics on willy nilly… or letting a near-empty freezer just keep churning away 24/7… or being so lazy that I would not take the time to switch out my inefficient incandescent light bulbs?

The bottom line is that my whole daily life is like this now.  I am playing an ongoing Frugal Game that keeps rewarding me with little “happy jolts” practically every time I open a bill or whip out a credit card.  And it’s fun.

Maybe it’s that it doesn’t take much to make me happy.  Or that I have a very strong Scrooge gene in my DNA.  Or maybe – just maybe – it’s that playing the Frugal Game puts me in touch with how much I am in financial control of my life.  And that, as they say, is priceless.

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image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at


  1. Oh yes yes yes, I love the frugal game! This week I went to Target: 3 bottles of Head and Shoulders Classic Clean 2-in-1 (the only kind my husband will use) $4.99 each – $5 coupon off 2 – $ target gift card for buying 3 – 5 cent bring your own bag credit – 5% Target card discount + tax = $4.96. The only way to make that better would be if there was a Cartwheel discount (I looked, there wasn’t).

    I also went to BJ’s, a local wholesale club. I’ve been trying to decide if the membership price is worthwhile for us. They offered a 2 month free trial membership this summer, AND a co-worker gave me his member coupon book which they don’t mail out to the trial members. I wouldn’t pay the monthly fee based on what I’ve seen so far, but I’ve bought a year’s supply of vitamins/vanilla/spices and thinking of going back for a mega pack of toilet paper before the membership runs out. The regular prices are good, the coupons are very good, and not having to pay the membership fee makes it very, very good indeed. :-)

    1. Good for you, Amy.

      I don’t search around for coupons, but I get a few good ones in my mailbox regularly from my primary grocery store. Not using them would be like leaving money lying on the ground, IMHO. So, of course, I do use them if the coupons are for something I would normally buy and the coupon discount leaves me ahead.

      I also practice stockpiling, sort of like you do. If it is non-perishable and the price is right, I buy a bunch. Come to think of it, thanks to my stand-alone freezer, the same is true for anything out of the butcher section. Hah!

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