I’m Frugal, So Why Am I Poor? Part 2

This is part of a three part series where I am examing why I am poor despite being frugal. In the first part I stated that the first reason is because I’ve never made much money. Today I’ll be examining the second reason for my being frugal but poor.

The second reason is because although I’ve been frugal in almost all areas I’ve had a couple of weak areas where I couldn’t control my spending.  My major weakness used to be gambling. It didn’t really matter how frugal I was because any extra money would be gambled away. I’ve had my gambling under control for a few years now. I still gamble occasionally but I don’t let it get out of control. It is much easier now that I no longer live in Las Vegas or work in the casino industry. The temptation to gamble is still with me though and I have to keep it in check or I know I could go back to my former ways.

My current weakness I’m not going to disclose. It is something I’m still struggling with and probably always will. I’ve kept it mostly in check this year but the temptation is still there. Unfortunately this temptation is one I can’t really move away from. I know I have to keep these weak areas under control or I’ll always be poor. This is another goal I am setting for myself. In the next part I will examine the final reason I’m frugal but poor.

I'm Frugal, So Why Am I Poor? Part 1

This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately. I’ve been frugal all my life. My mother was frugal when I was growing up. She grew up poor and then she had to support me and my sister on minimum wage while rarely receiving child support. She was frugal by necessity then but she stayed that way even when her financial situation improved. Frugality is a trait that I acquired from her.

I’ve come up with three reasons why I am poor even though I am frugal. The first reason is that I haven’t made much money in my life. I’ve probably had over 100 jobs in my adult life and the large majority of them were low paying. Even when I had a good paying job it didn’t matter because I never stayed at the job very long. My pattern was to work for a while,save up money,then quit and live off my savings. When my savings ran out then I would just start the pattern all over again. This has allowed me to travel and do some things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I just had a two week vacation every year. Although if I had been a little more patient I probably could have traveled without depleting my savings.

I’ve never liked working much though. My mom is a hard worker but somehow I didn’t acquire that trait. That is nobody’s fault but my own of course. Since I’m turning 40 this year I don’t have much time to fix this problem. To fix this problem I’m going to have to find a good paying job and stick with it. I’m making it a goal this year. That would fix the first reason why I’m still poor. I’ll detail the other two reasons in later posts.

My Monthly Expenses

Here is a list of my monthly expenses to give you an idea how I spend my money.

December 2006 Expenses

Car expenses 85.43
Household 549.28
Food 79.71
Entertainment 8.82
Books 87.76

Total $811

This was a slightly lower than normal total. My food expense was lower because I stayed at my mom’s for over a week for Christmas. That also caused my entertainment expense to be lower than normal. My car expenses included gas and a $25 parking ticket. Household expenses included my $435 rent plus gas, electric, and miscellaneous including Christmas gifts. Books were for school so that isn’t an expense I have every month but there is usually some large non-monthly expense every month.

This shows one can live on very little money if they have to. And I also don’t feel that I was deprived of anything I really wanted.

$7.08 A Month Phone Plan

My monthly phone expense is $7.08. Here is how I managed to get my monthly phone costs so low.

First, I already had an old T-Mobile phone that I wasn’t using. The good thing about T-Mobile phones is you can just pop a new sim card in them and you have a working phone again. Since I already had the phone my next step was to buy a new sim card for it. I bought a new sim card with 1000 minutes for $85 off eBay. The retail price for 1000 minutes is usually $100. The drawback to buying off eBay is the card already has a phone number assigned to it which will probably not be in your local area code. This wasn’t a problem for me since most of the people I call are long distance anyway. You can change the area code of the phone number but you have to wait 90 days.

When you buy 1000 minutes from T-Mobile the minutes won’t expire for one year. The biggest benefit to buying the 1000 minutes though is you qualify for the Gold Reward status. This means in the future I could buy as little as 30 minutes and they wouldn’t expire for a year. If I only bought a $10 card the second year my monthly phone cost would only be $0.83 a month. Of course I probably will use more than 30 minutes in a year. I might be able to get by with 1030 minutes in two years though, that would make my average monthly cost $3.96 over two years. If you keep repeating this for a third,fourth,fifth year you can bring the cost even lower.

Right now my cell phone is my only phone. Last year I supplemented my cell phone by using Skype or Messenger phone when I planned on having extended phone conversations. I haven’t used Skype this year since it is no longer free. At $14.95 a year though it wouldn’t add much to total phone cost. I haven’t signed up for it yet though since the people I usually have longer conversations with also have Yahoo Messenger and I can call them for free.

This plan works well for me but probably wouldn’t work for those who use their phone more often. I don’t really like to talk on the phone much so it is easy for me to talk less than 83 minutes a month on my cell phone. I usually use much less than that. Even if you couldn’t use this as your primary phone it would make a cheap secondary phone.