Joey Amato is the publisher of Frugayity, a personal finance advice website geared towards helping the LGBTQ community live a more frugal life and save for the future. Amato has been in LGBTQ media for over a decade, having published his own lifestyle magazine UNITE in Nashville and Indianapolis. He is also the publisher of Pride Journeys, a syndicated LGBTQ travel column, and a website. For more information, visit:
In our society, it is not easy to live a frugal life. We are surrounded by influences that may cause us to do things that aren’t quite financially responsible. From fancy dinners to exotic vacations, the LGBTQ community loves to flaunt our fabulous life. Unfortunately for some, they are piling on debt just to keep up appearances. I used to be the exact same way until I realized that I didn’t care what others thought of me, or my Target shirts.
For the past few years, I have made a concerted effort to live more frugally. I only spend on things that mean the most to me. In my case, experiences and memories are more important than material items. I live in a moderately-priced apartment, drive a 2008 car and am within a few months of paying off my last bit of credit card debt. However, I had to make sacrifices along the way in order to accomplish my goals.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned which help me live a frugal, but fabulous life.
Throw a Dinner Party
The next time you want to go out for dinner with a group of your closest friends, invite them over to your place instead. Explain to them that it makes more sense than going out. You’ll probably get laughed at the first time you suggest this, but don’t let them deter you from your ultimate goal. Think about the last time you and some friends went out for dinner. Do you remember how much the fun evening out cost the entire table? With an average entrée cost of about $20 plus a glass of wine each, you can easily spend $120 for a party of 4. For less than half the cost, you can prepare a wonderful and elegant dinner at home. Embrace your inner Julia Child and invite a group of friends over to your place the next time you all want to get together. Find a few recipes that are fun and affordable. Another idea is to ask everyone to bring a side item or a beverage of choice. As the host, you should always prepare the entrée, but asking guests to bring a side will not make you look cheap. If someone has a problem with it, don’t invite them next time. There is no room for negative people in your life. I actually enjoy when people bring items to my home because it encourages dinner conversation.
Don’t Buy Fancy Cars
I will never buy another car I can’t afford. And by can’t afford, I mean one that I couldn’t buy with cash if I wanted to. If you don’t have the equivalent amount of cash saved up, then you don’t need a car that expensive. And if you do spend a bit more than you should, keep it until it’s completely paid off. I now drive a 2008 Infiniti G35 with 137,000 miles and counting. I recently paid it off in full. It’s mine and I will drive that baby until the very end. I can’t stress enough how great it feels to not have a car payment anymore. That dreaded $395/month is now money in my pocket. That’s almost $4,800 per year that I can add to my investment account. Warren Buffett is famous for driving cars into the ground. If one of the richest people in the world can drive an old car, so can you!
Credit Cards Always Equal Trouble
If you don’t have the cash in the bank to pay for something, don’t buy it. It sounds like an obvious piece of advice, but trust me, it’s easier said than done. Especially when it comes to things that would seem more manageable if paid for over time, like that new Rolex or a trip to Paris. If you want to carry plastic, carry a debit card. You will get the same feeling and satisfaction as swiping a credit card, but you’ll be using your money instead of someone else’s money. And if that some else is charging you more than 5% interest – which is extremely low in this environment – then you really don’t need to spend the money, to begin with.
Ditch the Trendy Gym
I’ll be the first one to admit, I get wrapped up in the moment every time I visit – or see – a swanky new gym. It’s usually filled with hot people all the time as if they were planted there to sucker me in. I used to be a member of a high-end gym which charged by the class. It was a group fitness boutique-style gym and the hottest people in the city were members, so of course, I had to be as well. The cost of these group fitness gym memberships can run anywhere from $60 to $120 per month or more. Some gyms don’t offer a complete set of fitness equipment and have limited hours, so oftentimes, you are forced to have yet another gym membership to supplement your fancy gym membership. Stick to the basics. A $10 membership is all you need in most cases and if you live in an apartment building or complex which offers a gym, use it. Why spend the extra money if you have a fitness center steps away from your home? You’ll actually find yourself going more often, and it’s free. It may not be fancy, but you’ll never have to wait to use a machine. Life can’t get much better than that!
Surround Self with Right People
This may be the hardest task I ask you to do. It means you may have to distance yourself from certain people in your life, and that is never easy. It will be really difficult for you to achieve your financial goals if you hang out with a group of people who don’t have the same vision as you do; to become financially independent. You will get invited to things that you will be forced to say ‘no’ to. It will be extremely difficult at first and you will feel isolated because, after a while, you’ll stop getting invited unless you are honest with people about the reasons why you can’t attend. Saying ‘no’ all the time without a proper explanation will certainly get your gay card taken away. Have an open and honest conversation with this group and let them know what your intentions are and what you are trying to save for the future. If they care about you at all, they will understand. Some may even join you on your journey.