However, there are three major things we fail to do to increase our savings.
I feel a bit guilty sharing this with you, but it will help us better face our financial weaknesses.
1) Not shopping at Macy’s
I am the only one guilty of this. Mr. FAF generally would wear whatever is comfortable (i.e. free T-shirts, free jackets, 10 year-old clothes).
I also wear clothes from even more than 10 years ago and mend socks and clothes with holes in them.
But when I see a really beautiful dress at Macy’s, I’ll just come up with all the excuses to buy it.
There are nice dresses at other less expensive stores too. But there’s something so formal, classy, and beautiful about Macy’s dresses (i.e. Calvin Klein) that I can’t resist.
This is how it usually goes. I often walk to the shopping mall nearby on the weekends when I’m bored, especially prior to starting Frugal Asian Finance. I think of it as a workout and a change of atmosphere.
I find the mall more interesting than walking outside because there’s more to see. Also, they have AC in the summer and heating in the winter (I know I’m so spoiled).
When walking around, I’ll see some pretty dresses. I’ll tell myself to try them on just to see if it looks nice. If the dress doesn’t look good on me, I’ll put it back on the rack.
But if a dress takes my breath away, the first thought that pops into my head is: “This dress was made for ME.” And then I’ll think about how I’m still young and should enjoy my youth and look beautiful for Mr. FAF to be proud. And then I bring the dress home.
One time I bought two dresses for $100/each. The happiness lasted for a couple of months and then disappeared. However, to be fair, I still get compliments on those dresses whenever I wear them.
My maximum budget for a dress is $100 if it’s extremely beautiful. But I want to find those within the $10-$20 range. Normally, $35 would be the max I’m willing to pay for a dress that I like.
I’ve searched for dresses at thrift stores a couple of times but haven’t had much success. I guess I just need to keep looking.
— Sometimes I regret spending $200 on those two dresses, but it’s a constant reminder to me that I shouldn’t do that again. It’s been working out great so far, and I haven’t bought any dresses that expensive since. Mr. FAF once bought me a $300 Ted Baker dress, and I told him to return it.
— I try to practice self-control when I’m at the mall. Sometimes I’d intentionally leave my wallet at home to prevent impulse purchases.
— I recently bought a $25 dress for events such as cocktails and weddings from Amazon. I was pleasantly surprised with the fit and design when I got it. I usually don’t have much luck buying clothes online, so it was a good price for such a nice item. From now on, I will look up dresses on Amazon as well. I can return those that I don’t really like since I have Amazon Prime.
2) Not eating out
I’ve written about how Mr. FAF and I love eating out although we’re still paying off our mortgage. I realized that we’re most vulnerable to this trap on Friday nights.
It’s the end of a work week. We want to try something different from what we cook. We want to be in a new ambiance where we can enjoy delicious food. And after going back and forth, we decide to head out to a restaurant.
Sometimes we successfully curb our urge to eat out on Friday nights. But it resurfaces on Saturday, and we give in. Our two most favorite and most expensive eat-out dishes are hotpot and Korean BBQ which usually cost around $50-$60 for two people.
I know we can eat hotpot or Korean BBQ at home. But sometimes it’s nice not having to shop for all the hotpot items and prepare them or not having the BBQ smell permeating the whole house for a couple of days.
Eating out is a big joy in our lives.
— Mr. FAF and I have decided to buy ingredients for hotpot and Korean BBQ to eat at home. That way we can still have a change of atmosphere by going to the grocery store. But we can also save money since preparing the ingredients by ourselves is cheaper. Also, if we have leftovers, we can save it for the next day. At all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, they don’t let you bring leftovers home.
— We have also decided to learn more cooking from Youtube and looked at inexpensive cooking classes near our house. Mr. FAF has been more diligent about this than I am. He’s a much better cook. But I know this is an area I desperately need to improve to be a better wife and mother and for my own sake.
3) Not finding/cutting coupons
I’ve heard about moms saving hundreds of dollars on groceries each month just by cutting coupons. But there’s something so depressing, time-consuming, and boring about this task that I just can’t bring myself to doing it.
If we get a coupon book from Costco, I’ll go through it to see what they have. But I don’t actively go out of my way to buy newspapers or look online to see what discounts I can get. Also, we usually just buy fresh meat, veggies, and fruit, which I don’t often see coupons for.
— The good thing is that most of what Mr. FAF and I eat are not processed or frozen food for which there are a lot of coupons, so we’re not missing out on many good deals. But we try to keep an eye out for the Sale sign at Costco and the grocery stores to cut costs.
I sometimes have a hard time balancing saving for the future and living life a little. There’s one voice inside my head that stresses the importance of being frugal for a better future. There’s another voice that tells me I’m still young and should enjoy myself when I can.
I want to please both voices, but I sometimes end up making one happy while disappointing the other. However, there’s one thing I know for sure. Those two voices do need a compromise in many cases to live with me in peace and happiness.