How a Not-So-Frugal Dad Thinks and Spends During This Halloween Weekend
I wrote this update this Saturday morning (Oct 29, 2022) to all my clients, because one of them requested it.
October 29, 2022
On Thursday, Oct 27, 2022, one of you requested me to write more about tips and tricks on how to be frugal. I used to teach a class on this, but have stopped doing so, because I want to focus most of my work-related time on higher priorities such as investment research.
Let me give you a quick background before I talk about what I have spent and will spend from Oct 28-Oct30.
I’ve always been frugal ever since I was a kid. I moved to the US in 2001 and I worked like a madman and lived like a caveman from 2001 to 2004. My girlfriend at the time, Cheryl, who is now my wife moved in with me in 2004, and I still worked like a madman but no longer lived like a caveman. I would describe my spending from 2004 to 2014 as “semi-frugal”.
Around 2014, my oldest daughter, Sophie started Kindergarten at a private school called Mayfield Junior School. From 2014-present, I would describe my spending as “a tiny bit frugal”. I could continue spending like “semi-frugal Earl”, but I am deliberately choosing not to do that to my kids, which most of you may see as a good thing but a few of you as a bad thing. There are pros and cons to the way I currently spend my money.
As I detail my weekend below, some of you may think that “Earl, you are starving your family.”, but some of you may say, “Earl, I spend much less than you and I have more kids than you.”
I could spend my Saturday morning doing something else, but I thought writing this update may help some of you who don’t know me that well to get to know me a little bit better, and help give inspiration to some of you who may be overspending.
Friday, October 28, 2022
1) Mayfield had their Harvest Festival event. For those of you who are in the Philippines, you can think of this event like a school fair, but a super small and shorter version.
I gave my kids $20 each and told them that if they needed more money, it’s going to come out of their own savings.
Both kids didn’t ask for more money. My older daughter without any training or prompting did something pretty cool.
There were leftover pizzas that weren’t going to be consumed. She used $7 out of her $20 to buy one whole leftover Costco sized Cheese pizza that was being offered at a discount to bring home for the family. She used a few $ to buy pizza slices for her friends.
We also bought $20 of raffle tickets to just support the school.
“Semi-frugal Earl ” would have only given $10 each to the kids. This is what I have done during most of their years in Mayfield and this may have been the first year I gave them $20 each. “Semi-frugal Earl” would not be buying any sort of raffle tickets EVER.
“Caveman Earl” would definitely have the kids use their own savings every year and would also not have bought raffle tickets. The kids would, of course, not be going to private school if Caveman Earl were in charge.
Yesterday, we ate Chick Fil A for lunch. Not the one being sold in school (because that would be overpriced), but one I bought from the store and brought into school.
“Caveman Earl” would have only bought a sandwich and fries from a McDonald’s value meal for lunch. Chick Fil A is expensive.
2) Cheryl and I had an eye doctor’s appointment. We both spent $184 each for the eye and contact lens exam. Dr. Andrew Gore in Pasadena is excellent, and I highly recommend him.
Every year, I would schedule our eye appointments in late October, so I can time my contact lens purchases for Black Friday when the prices are super cheap. I’d never buy my contact lenses from Dr. Gore, because he and other optometrists would charge full price.
Because I am self-employed, vision insurance doesn’t make mathematical sense. But I do contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) which allows me to make medical expenses, including contact lenses and optometrist visits, tax deductible.
“Caveman Earl” would find a cheaper optometrist to go to.
3) We attended the best Halloween party I’ve ever seen. The cost was free, which is something all versions of Earl love.
I wore a “Mr. Bump” shirt with a band aid on my forehead, and bandage on my right arm. Cheryl wore a “Ms. Princess” with a tiara and some fancy accessories (which I believe were all freebies from somewhere). Sophie wore an Attack on Titan vest and cape. My youngest daughter, Sage, wore an Attack on Titan cape. We have worn these costumes for multiple years.
“Semi-Frugal Earl” would not have allowed Sophie to buy the vest, just the cape.
“Caveman Earl” would not have allowed purchases of any costume attire. “Caveman Earl” would specifically wear no costumes. I did that from 2001-2014, except where I painted my face for 1 year and bought a cheap mask which was reused for some years.
Saturday, October 29, 2022
1) Cheryl told me this morning “Oh no, the host said she would love to see us again next year, and I’m worried about wearing the same thing.”
My response, “It’s okay, you can wear that again.”
2) I’m detailing all my expenses for this 3-day period, so I will disclose that Cheryl spent around $7 for laundry. We rent a small apartment and we have to do laundry in a common area. There are specific reasons renting cheap and investing the savings is better than buying a home (but we don’t have time for this discussion in this update, and I’ve already shared my thoughts on this before).
3) We will be eating the pizza that Sophie bought. Cheryl will be adding some bacon pieces to the pizza.
“Caveman Earl” will not need to add anything more to the cheese pizza.
4) Sophie has a debate event until 2PM today, and we will be visiting Little Tokyo to walk around and be around fellow Anime lovers.
We will be paying for parking. I will be annoyed. I normally will park far for free if I can, but it is inescapable today. We could park at Marukai and get 90 minutes free, but I think it gets expensive after the free 90minutes, so I may have to move the car if we go that route. Most likely expense $2-$3 street parking.
As a reward for Sophie’s hard work to prepare for this morning’s event, we will eat at some place “nice”.She gets to pick the restaurant. Estimated expense $80.
“Semi-frugal Earl” would have suggested Chick Fil A (if we hadn’t had that yesterday).
“Caveman Earl” would have suggested rice and spam which Sophie loves and is super cheap.
5) We will likely be playing board games before and after our Little Tokyo trip. I don’t consider boardgames an expense. This is a whole different topic that I don’t have time writing about today.
Sunday, October 30, 2022
1) We will be going wall climbing. We pay about $200 a month for the 3 memberships which includes 3 free guest passes which I use.
“Semi-frugal Earl” would use previously bought sports equipment and find a free place to do it. For many years, we would do strength training at home and play badminton in the park for free.
2) We will probably visit Little Tokyo again to buy take out at Cafe Dulce. The steak burritos are fantastic. Best steak burrito I’ve tasted. Total cost for the 4 of us is around $45. No parking fees will be paid as we will be double parked.
There is some chance we will eat elsewhere as we have some friends joining us for wall climbing. You can bet I’ll only suggest a restaurant that is not expensive.
“Caveman Earl” isn’t spending more than $20 for a meal for 4 people unless it’s a special occasion. He will definitely not be having lunch with friends who aren’t used to his level of spending.
3) My kids will go to Speech and Debate class.
These classes are expensive. We just started it this year. Even “Semi-frugal Earl” will not allow this.
4) We will play more board games.
That’s it. I hope you found this update interesting and learned more about me. Those of you who know me well will not be surprised. I no longer live like a caveman, and am spending at a higher rate than I have historically.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
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