Yesterday, totally by chance, while browsing for 'cookies recipes', I arrived at Gourmet.com which is the online version of an old magazine that has been in existence as far back as the 1940s.
Being the curious reader that I am, my eyes started to wander around the page and saw the title (click) 'Extreme Frugality' on the sidebar. The economy being what it is and my own 'tight' financial situation, this title certainly is something that I couldn't miss.
What I saw upon clicking was a thought-provoking series of household-financial diary of writer W.Hodding Carter who chronicled his effort to bring his family to live within means starting from within their home.
W.Hodding Carter's diary on living within means at Gourmet.com
The reality is many people spend like they earn $120,000 a year when they in fact earn only around $41,000. Mr. Carter is, of course, talking about a typical American family where credit cards contribute billions of dollars to the total consumer debt.
The consumer spending in my country certainly is different. An average Malaysian family wouldn't spend triple times of what they earn. However, for us, we are kind of forced to live beyond our means simply because our disposable income does not match the current standard of living. That is where the lure of credit card comes in with banks lowering the eligibility limits to apply one.
I remember the time when you have to earn MYR60K a year to get a credit card. Reasonable. That would be someone with a MYR5k monthly salary. That was a long time ago and I was a wee kid. Now, you only have to earn MYR1.5K a month to apply for one. I even have friends with even LOWER salaries who have credit cards. Crazy!
Anyway, it is interesting to read Mr. Carter's real-life adventure of growing his own garden, using firewood and rearing chickens to save on grocery and bills.
Talking about bills, I paid off my July bills last night via Internet banking. Within minutes, my bank balance was slashed to half. Phew! However, I applaud the convenience of Internet transaction as it really opens up one's eyes when one actually sees the figures of one's bank balance as opposed to carrying cash around. With cash, I hardly realized my spending and suddenly the MYR100 note has turned into one MYR10 note within a week.
So, here's to Extreme Frugality!