4 On Your Side: Thrifty Lifestyle
It used to be all about the bigger house, the bigger car, the bigger bank account. Now people are bragging about saving money and simplifying their lives, and they're spilling all their secrets online.
When Cristin Frank and her husband got married and bought their first house - they suddenly realized they didn't have any money left over for furniture.
"Seriously, it was like a card table in the kitchen type thing. And it was, 'how are we going to furnish this house?'" Cristin recalls.
So they started garbage picking--reclaiming discarded furniture and refurbishing it. Cristin says, "In our suburb, people were throwing things out left and right--things you couldn't even imagine."
Items they didn't need themselves, they sold after fixing them up. In less than eight years, they were able to pay off their mortgage and live completely debt free. "We've saved tens of thousands of dollars," Cristin exclaims.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, six out of ten Americans say they now enjoy saving rather than spending--with 57% spending less money than they used to.
Heather Cabot is the Life Editor for Yahoo. She recalls, "15 years ago--according to a survey we did, 7% of people used the internet to find coupons. Today, it's more than 70%."))
Heather says the Internet is fueling the trend. With blogs, forums and social media sites full of money saving tips and tricks from everyday people who have experimented themselves.
"They know that other people are struggling as well. And when they find a good deal, they want to be like, 'I found this, I want to share it with other people," Cabot says.
There are thousands of sites, like Cristin's, which is called 'Theeveofreduction.com'. Others include: 'The One Dollar Diet Project' where a San Diego couple blogged about spending a dollar a day on food for a month, or 'The Compact' --where a group of San Francisco friends made a pact to buy nothing for a whole year.
There's also former fashion editor Melissa Massellos--who decided to stop buying new clothing all together. She started sponsoring huge clothing swaps instead.
"You know, pretty much anything you find at an upscale boutique, I've found at a swap for free," Massellos boasts.
Melissa and her partner launched 'The Swapaholics' to help others learn how to swap instead of spend.
"I think when you see other people doing that, it inspires you to think about, 'Hey, I can do that and it really doesn't take that much effort,'" Massellos says.
Of course, heather says you should keep in mind - these bloggers aren't necessarily experts.
"I think it's important to make the distinction between someone who gives you that anecdote about, 'Hey, this worked for me', and somebody who's saying. 'I invested in X, Y, and Z and this really worked.' Who is this person? I think it's really important to consider the source," Cabot says.
But she says, as long as you exercise caution, you may find some great ways to live a simpler life--like Cristin and her family do.
"Here we are in our mid-thirties with no mortgage. All just because we were thrifty, really," Cristin exclaims.
The best way to search for these kinds of thrifty websites yourself? Cabot recommends entering the keyword 'frugal' in your search engine.