Save Big Money by Being a Frugal Opportunist

By - June 28, 2014

FrugalityWhen frugality meets opportunism there are dramatic savings.

The Rolling Stones said, in their 1969 hit song, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need." That is exactly the attitude to take if you want to be a frugal opportunist. Getting what you need at a lower cost, instead of chasing after exactly what you want (and paying top dollar) can save you a lot of money, even if it is saved a little at a time.

(Flckr Photo by Matthew Hunt)

For example, you might want oranges, but really just need some kind of citrus fruit, so you could be happy with grapefruit. Recent government data shows that the average price for navel oranges is $1.15 per pound in U.S. cities, while grapefruit averages about $1.00 per pound. Of course if you're a true opportunist, and all you want is to have some kind of healthy fresh fruit, you might wait to buy oranges or grapefruit when they go on sale and buy bananas at 60 cents per pound for now.

If you spend 13% to 47% less (as in the example above) on enough of the things you buy, the savings can really add up. But for this strategy to produce the best results you need to be flexible and pay attention to what you really need and what acceptable alternatives exist. And in the long run you might still get all the variety you want, but not always exactly when you want it. In other words, you might still eat oranges, grapefruit, bananas, apples, and other fruit, but only when each one is on sale or is cheaper because it's in season.

Save on Everything

You can apply the same opportunistic strategy to almost any budget category. If you want to go to a movie, wait for a weekend matinee. For example, according to the AMC Theatres website, an evening ticket at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago will run you $12, while a matinee is just $6 per adult. But that's just one possibility. Maybe you just need to get out of the house for a while and do something. In that case you could check online for events where there are free movies or documentaries. Alternately you could go to a friend's house to share snacks and a rental movie on DVD. Think broadly when considering your potential choices.

Whether it's new furniture, an education, a vacation, or a meal out, there are less expensive alternatives to what you initially think you want. Here are three steps to getting what you really need at the lowest cost:

1. Reconsider and redefine your needs and desires.

2. Identify lower-priced alternatives.

3. Search out and wait for lower prices.

It takes some serious thought to be a frugal opportunist. Do you want a new car or just reliable transportation? Do you need guacamole or just a healthy tasty snack? Knowing what's really important makes it possible to find the right lower-priced alternatives. Patience helps too, because even when you find cheaper items to replace what you initially desired, you can save still more money by searching out inexpensive places to buy them, or by waiting for a sale. You might not get what you first wanted, but you'll spend a lot less to get what you need.

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