Cheap Trick

Illustration for article titled Cheap Trick

Since February, I have stopped putting out. I pledged a vow of frugality, and I plan on protecting it until I get into the right relationship with my money. No mall runs, expensive dining, or manicure/pedicure combo deals. It's my virtue.


I think far too many of us are spending too easily, giving up the loot without any thoughts about our financial future or the current weakened economy.

Once upon a time, I was financially promiscuous, giving up my cash to any peep-toe pump, nail salon or hair-dresser on the block.

The result? The nasty gift that keeps on giving: a credit card balance.

After all, the average household carries a credit card balance of $9,658, according to Far too many of us are victims of STDs, spending transaction diseases, and we are suffering.

Just like with any STD, there are varying degrees of symptoms and treatments. On the minor end, low credit card debt can be likened to a STD that can be cured with a round of antibiotics and a promise to stop spending on the card. On the extreme end, bankruptcy or home foreclosures, well, those are STDs worthy of a "Walk for the Cure" race.

We women need to stop opening our wallets to every mall or avenue that promises us clothing so fine, it will send chills down our spine. Men must stop sliding their debit cards in big-box electronic stores, in pursuit of the next hot video game.


Since taking my vow of frugality, I am a financially chaste, respectable woman. In February alone, I saved $400. In March, I saved about $200.

Taking a vow of frugality is not the easiest thing, but it can be fulfilling. I encourage others to join the gospel of frugalness. But there are rules. It may mean playing kitchen beautician, opting to style your hair at home. It most certainly means green lighting and no or carefully pruned cable.


In relationships, it means that instead of pining over mysterious lovers who don't call enough, you talk with friends about great recipes to cook at home.

Instead of being a paymaster at the bar—buying rounds of drinks for the crew—you sip slowly on your free happy hour cocktail. If you're a fan of Kimora Lee Simmons' reality show, Life in the Fab Lane, you don't run out and buy an LV luggage set. If you want to channel her "Fabulosity", check out her book at the local library. If you must spend money, buy something from her Baby Phat line, on clearance, at TJ Maxx, the week after Christmas…with a gift card.


Spending, when you are in a healthy relationship with your money, is a good thing. You need to spend money to buy a house, get investments, and take a needed vacation.

But, brothers and sisters, we need to stop putting out. Many of us have lost our frugality along the way, but it's not too late to be a born-again frugalist. I am.


Natalie P. McNeal blogs at The Frugalista Files and is Geezeo's frugality expert.