Am I frugal? How frugal am I and why? My coworkers often buy fast foods for lunch and I don’t. They see me eating what’s available for free or cup of noodles that I keep in my locker for emergencies. They think that I probably have a lot of money saved because of my frugality. While I do have some saved, it may mean “a lot” to some people while it may mean “not enough” to others, depending on how comfortably one wants to retire. No doubt, relatives and friends in the Philippines most likely think that I earn a substantial amount because I get dollars here. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Please allow me to tell you about the reality of the situation. Sure, I earn a modest living – but just enough to pay the mortgage and other bills while saving a little bit for retirement. My biggest monthly expense is my mortgage like most people do, and I have about 10 more years to pay that off. I pay in full every month whatever I owe in my credit card. Because I only work one job now and am not inclined to work overtime any more, my income pretty much is in balance with my expenses. This is why I don’t eat out or go out as much as I did, say, a decade ago. Go on vacation? Forget about it! There’s just not anything much left after basic monthly expenses. So when my former classmates invite me for a reunion in the Philippines come September, I’ll be one of the missing again. I can only be with them in spirit and in cyberspace. This is not a sob story by the way. I’m fairly comfortable and content the way it is, barring any major life changes or emergencies.
Of course if you have been reading this blog, you already know that my major purchases the last couple of years have been exercise equipment, and that’s probably the main reason why I haven’t been able to save. However, I count that as an investment in the future of my physical fitness in case I’ll never be able to go back to running. Right now, I couldn’t possibly cut back any more on my basic expenses because it’s practically bare bones. My main form of entertainment is watching free streaming movies. I stay home on my days off from work unless there is some family gathering.
So what are these basic expenses I’m talking about that eats so much of my income? Without going into dollars and cents, here they are: mortgage, homeowner’s association dues, electricity, natural gas for heating and cooking, internet, cellphone, and gasoline. The rest would be for food and credit card purchases. I drive a 13 year old (old by U.S standards), thankfully reliable car. On an annual basis, there is car insurance and maintenance. How much more bare bones can that be?
So in short, let me tell you folks, I may live and work in the U.S., but in no way can you consider me well to do. Frugal? Maybe, but I’m just being realistic and practical.
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