The little things that make me frugal

While I would definitely classify myself as moderately self-indulgent, I’m not sure if it reaches that of my peers. I have some inherent frugal habits that keep cash in my pocket without me even having to think about it or make an effort. These include:

Keeping my natural haircolor. Growing my hair long and never bothering to highlight or dye it means I only see the hairdresser twice per year for a trim.

I pack my lunch. Every day. Food courts have nothing to offer except very expensive, nutritionally-devoid food substitutes. Just say no!

I brew my own coffee. Oh, I love Starbucks, and my local baristas will definitely see me stroll in for a latte on weekends, but as a general rule my daily brew during the week comes from home.

I don’t read fashion magazines. I don’t think there’s any other behavior that I’ve given up that has single-handedly done as much good as quitting my glossy-pages addiction. Getting rid of my magazines was motivated by my zeal for the minimalist movement, but it did a lot more for me than clear my bookshelves: I reduced my wants and my sense of not having enough. I found a survive just fine on a very small closet. I have no know idea what this season’s “must haves” or “hottest finds under $50” are, and know what? I don’t care.

I think of prices in the context of hours. I’ve calculated how much my graduate student stipend works out to hourly, and I keep this in mind when I’m buying. While a few beers at the end of a hard day might be worth an hour of work, a Coach bag would actually take me days to earn. Reasonable? Not really. I understand working days for food and shelter, but when accessories and clothing start costing me so many hours of my life, I find them much less appealing.

I only buy groceries once a week, and I go with a list. This keeps me from making impulse buys or double purchases, because I shop with a plan and only get what I need.

I don’t drink pop! Or juice, for that matter. And never anything that comes in a single-serving bottle. While I’ll sometimes buy milk, most of my daily beverages are water.

I take public transit, bike or walk everywhere. I will NEVER take a taxi if a bus goes along the same route and I think nothing of walking 5, 10, or even 30 (yes, thirty!) blocks in the right weather.

What habits to you have that keep money in your pockets with little to no effort?