Personal Finance: Why Live a More Frugal Lifestyle?

Some time ago, I purchased a coin sorter from Target.

I’m a coin collector, so I knew I had a large surplus of coins in my collection. Some of these coins were in special coin containers, but most were organized in money boxes. And, add to that whatever coins were lying around the house in various “hidden” locations.

The coin sorter cost me $29.99 plus tax. It runs on 2 “C” batteries, and although it can sort coins accurately into 5 separate tubes, this particular coin sorter doesn’t have a digital counter. Those can cost $200 or more, depending on the quality.

The Ultra Sorter Motorized Coin Sorter

So, the coin sorter comes with those coin wrappers, the kind you can get for FREE from the bank. But, the wrappers that came with the coin sorter are preformed so that the coins, once they’re sorted, slide perfectly into the wrappers.

The only bad thing about this coin sorter is that once-in-a-great-while it’ll jam on me. And I have to open the top and take out the guilty coin! But other than that it works just fine to me, and quickly sorts the coins in their proper tubes. Once the tubes reach their full capacity the extra coins fall into an “overflow” area in the back. But at that time you’re ready to package the coins by closing the top, open end.

The Official Tally

I managed to package all my coins in the following manner:

$015.501 wrapper of pennies = 50 cents x 31
$100.001 wrapper of dimes = $5 x 20
$036.001 wrapper of nickels = $2 x 18
$010.001 wrapper of quarters = $10 x 1
$025.001 wrapper of dollar coins = $25 x 1
$186.50 TOTAL

Converting Coins to Paper Currency

So, imagine carrying around all these coins and going to the mall to buy something? The next logical step was to convert coins into more manageable paper currency.

When I went to the bank they were surprised I had so many coins. But this was probably about 5 years worth of collecting and storing. The teller mentioned that this money could’ve served better in a bank account, though in all honesty, if it were in a bank account it probably would’ve been spent by now.

So, I tend to think of these coins as “special” surprise money. But I agree, in 5 years time I could’ve made more money by putting it in a bank account earning interest.

But, I was very surprised and happy that I actually had THAT much money lying around the house!

The lesson learned? EVERY PENNY COUNTS! You just never know how much money you have lying around the house. But, even more important in doing this project, is becoming more attuned to the value of money, and just how hard it is to save it, and to keep from spending it.

These coins were just lying around the house, and maybe as coins by themselves or in small groups, they don’t seem to be worth much, until you gather them all together.

This reminds me that I have lots of stuff in my closets and in the garage that I could organise and sell. I’m thinking that I’m long overdue for putting together a yard or garage sale.

So, Why Live a More Frugal Lifestyle?

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits says it nicely, and pretty much to-the-point:

Why live frugally? First, because it allows you to spend less than you earn, and use the difference to pay off debt, save or invest. Or all three.”

We live in a society that keeps trying to convince us to part with our money. We all see it.

And let’s face it, we seem to be tempted more to spend money rather than invest it. Commercials and TV ads are always telling us in more ways than one to spend more money. And we seem to be susceptible to the trappings of consumerism and keeping up with the Joneses, than quietly putting our money in a bank and let our money do the earning!

I guess you make a bigger splash when you buy that brand new HD TV, or show off a brand new iPhone.

In Summary

Simply put. Living frugally means being smarter. Reducing waste and unnecessary spending, so that you can have a more meaningful life. Frugal living, though a necessity for many people because of the economy, is something that should be practiced in good times as well as bad.

In a society where there is much waste, and many products seem to have a short life, making way from the next big new thing, we all need to re-assess our spending, find ways to invest and making our money grow, so that we can enjoy life more fully into our later years and into retirement.



Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and

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