The Flip Side: What Frugality Gets You

This past weekend, I attended GenCon 2010, a gaming convention in Indianapolis, IN, with a group of several friends. I had been saving up to attend this convention for a while, and that savings consisted largely of money saved in the way I described this morning: making lots of small choices that saved money and didn’t negatively impact my way of living.

During the convention, I had many opportunities to chat with people and I found that at least a few of them had done the exact same thing. They didn’t have the income or resources to travel to such things regularly, but they chose to cut back in other areas. Some of them didn’t own televisions at home, for example. Some of them ran small side businesses for income. Others simply did frugal things, like eating meals at home and putting the savings away for their trip.

In each case, the rule of thumb is the same: they took money away from something of less importance to them to use the money on something of more importance to them.

Translate this to your own life for a moment. What things in your life would you love to be doing but you can’t because you can’t afford it? What do you sit around daydreaming about but never actually do because you don’t have the money?

Maybe you are deeply passionate about travel, but you can only travel once every few years.

Maybe you dream about having the perfect home entertainment setup, but you balk at the price of the television and other equipment.

Maybe your idle thoughts focus on something like attending a convention related to your hobby, but the trip and the expenses are just too much.

You spend years dreaming about these things, but they just keep being out of reach.

That’s where sensible frugality plays a role. The trick is to cut back – hard – in the areas that don’t matter as much to you and save that money where you’ve cut back. This enables you to live your life without misery. (Of course, there’s nothing saying you can’t also choose to make sacrifices in specific areas important to you, too.) At the end of the year, though, you find yourself with the money for that trip or that television or that convention – and you can just do it.

I’ll give a very specific example.

I’ve seen an absolutely gorgeous 60″ LED HDTV for sale at Sam’s Club for about $2,400. It’s beautiful – I won’t deny that. If someone deeply wanted an absolutely amazing home entertainment setup, they might very well make this television the centerpiece of that room. I could see someone who played a lot of video games and/or watched a lot of television purchasing this flat screen and installing it happily in their living room.

But they can’t afford it! What’s a solution to get there?

The person spends $300 a month on their energy bill. Installing a programmable thermostat will cost about $40 up front, but the reduction in energy costs will be about $50 a month or so if properly programmed. This adds up to a total savings of $560 over the course of a year.

The person does three loads of laundry a week. Making their own detergent saves $0.20 a load. Over the course of a year, that adds up to $31.20.

The person drinks a couple bottles of soda a day. Switching to refillable bottles of water stored in the fridge eliminates about $1 a day in spending, giving you $52 more (and it’ll do wonders for your health).

The person commutes 20 miles to work every day for an 40 mile round trip. Setting up a car pool with just one other person four days a week eliminates 80 miles of driving a week. Using the government reimbursement rates, that simple switch will save you $1,040 a year.

The person eats out three times a week. Eating something inexpensive at home once a week instead of eating out saves the person $10 a week, adding up to another $520 over the year.

The person subscribes to a couple premium movie channels that he barely watches. Eliminating these subscriptions and joining Netflix instead reduces the monthly cost from $25 to $9, a savings of $192 a year.

Those moves saves the person $2,395.20 over the course of a year. If he’s socking that money away faithfully in an account bearing 2% interest, he’ll wind up with $2,420 at the end of the year. Time to go buy that television.

Here’s the thing, though: none of those changes required much time investment and they didn’t affect that person’s quality of day-to-day life much at all. He didn’t give up anything life-affirming, but at the end of the year, he had enough cash in hand to make that daydream come true.

You can just substitute in your own “dream” and your own frugal methods of getting there right into this plan. Browse big lists of frugality tips and free things to do and be selective with them, trying out only the things that work for you. Keep track of what you actually save and sock away those savings.

Eventually, you’ll find that you’ve built up some money for whatever it is you’re dreaming of. Even better, you’ll find that this kind of savings is very sustainable and it’ll help you keep building for whatever dream comes next after that.

You can use it to pay off debts. You can use it to build an emergency fund. You can use it to fly to Maui. You can use it to redo your kitchen. Whatever it is you dream of, sensible frugality can do it.

You just need a goal – and you need to start taking the little steps to get there.

Are you ready to start today?

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50 thoughts on “The Flip Side: What Frugality Gets You

  1. Wesley says:

    I’m going to be “that guy” right now and say you forgot to account for Tax on the TV, which will be pretty intense. Depending on state could be upwards of $175.

    But great article none the less, and something to really think about.

    And the soda tip can do amazing things in terms of saving money, drinking less soda at home caused me to reconsider buying soda all the time at restaurants and vending machines. Giving up soda was probably the best life changing decision I have made in quite sometime.

  2. Amanda says:

    Wesley, you have a point but a year later that TV would cost less then the original $2400. So the amount you saved would probably cover the lower cost plus tax.

  3. Jessica says:

    Thanks for writing this blog. I am glad that I am not the only one who does this (I don’t feel so alone). I gave up cable in order to put money away. TV is not that important to me, besides I think the tv watches me more than I watch it. :-)

  4. Jane says:

    I agree in general about soda drinking, especially if you buy your sodas from a vending machine or gas stations all the time. But I don’t think that eliminating the one 12 oz. soda that I drink everyday will do “wonders” for my health. That’s exaggerating things a bit. Now perhaps if my husband who probably drinks a liter (or two sometimes!) a day did so it would probably improve his overall health. We have our own soda making machine, so it’s much cheaper. I don’t even thinking the estimated savings of $365 a year (I assume you don’t think there are 52 days in a year?) is at all worth considering if you enjoy drinking soda. That’s not much money a year if it brings you satisfaction. I agree, however, with the person above who mentioned foregoing soda at restaurants. That adds up fast!

    I’m not sure your advice about saving for the things you dream about really holds in all circumstances. For instance, I dream of living in a house with energy efficient windows. Does that mean I should spend the $5,000 it would take to have that? Not really, especially considering we don’t plan to stay here forever and would never recover much of that money in a sale. Plus, just because I dream of that doesn’t mean it’s the best financial decision overall.

  5. Adrienne says:

    This is a great post. It shows that you can be frugal without being miserly. You can save money without depriving yourself of pleasure as long as you prioritize. I’ve found that I don’t feel guilty about well-thought-out purchases when I’ve saved money for them, but I feel terribly guilty when I put purchases on my credit card. Now if I can just convince my husband to save small amounts now for a big purchase later. :-)

  6. David @ The Frugality Game says:

    The key is learning to spend less on the things that aren’t important to you so you can actually afford the things that are. To me, this is what frugality is all about.

  7. This makes it sort of sound depressing. You can really save a lot more, a lot faster if you want too. It doesn’t take a year if you’re dedicated!

    My husband and I wanted to pay down our debt ($1,700) and it was so important that we literally pulled in our belts and sucked in our spending for a very short amount of time and pounded down that debt. It was SUPER tight for a little (like, don’t drive anywhere because we don’t have gas money tight) and now we’ve got an extra couple hundred bucks each month that pretty much was only hitting the interest of that darned cc.

  8. WendyH says:

    I just wish our vehicles didn’t get jealous of our big, carefully saved for purchases and decide that they want attention too! We’ve had 4 major car repairs ($2000+) over the years, all right after we did a major purchase or paid off a debt of some kind. Kind of puts a damper on enjoying things.

  9. valleycat1 says:

    I started saving a lot on soda after seeing several articles about the foul things that live in soda dispensers & ice machines. If that’s my only option, I think twice before deciding whether to get a drink.

    #4 Diana – Good for you, but not everyone’s willing to make the big sacrifices to get there sooner. (&, by the way, $1700 in debt really isn’t all that much compared to the national average) Trent’s describing a way to get there more painlessly.

    #5 – Wendy – been there! I think that’s why the advice is to have an emergency fund, & then this saving for a planned purchase is in addition to that.

  10. John Swart says:

    I have been using Netflix for years and even cancelled my Cable completely! There are so many movies and TV shows to watch, who needs cable? Got the Roku box so I can stream directly to my TV. Awesome!

  11. John S says:

    Are there really people out there who eat out 3 times per week? My god. I would love to have a frivolous habit like that, which I could easily “cash in” for new frugal savings.

    It’s easy to set up fictitious examples in which someone doesn’t *currently* live frugally, then makes some serious cost-cutting lifestyle changes and frees up $2500 per year in free and clear spending cash.

    If only real life worked like that for someone who is already living frugally.

  12. Wesley says:

    #7 John S

    I know people who eat out 10-12 times a week, every week.

  13. Leah W. says:

    #7 John S — I KNOW! I read Real Simple Magazine regularly, and I remember at the first of the year in the January issue they did a feature story called something like “101 ways to save.” It was all really idiot stuff that anyone who’s interested is already doing! So frustrating! Stuff like make a grocery list, plan your meals, take a lunch to work, make your own coffee in the morning. “Saving” to others means cutting out the things I never got in the habit of doing in the first place. I am on a never-ending quest to find some actual tips for people who already live frugally. Show me something I haven’t thought of yet, you know?

    Rant over. Thanks for listening.

  14. cp says:

    John,

    For me, eating out as a treat once in a while involves a whopper jr. no-mayo, and a value diet coke. Total splurge: 2.17

    A whopper jr no-may is the healthiest thing in the fast food burger realm! No-mayo cuts 200 cal!

  15. Jenny says:

    I enjoy travel immensely and I used to save for a trip by not buying many things- new clothes, shoes, restaurant food, tv, an endless list of things- and when I had enough I took trips where I enjoyed classy lodging and very nice food and drinks without a care. To me, it was well worth it because traveling is what I enjoy most in life (after my family of course).

  16. KC says:

    I can say first-hand where frugality will get you. When the recession began to hit (June 2008) my husband was in a medical practice that was starting to “leak” money. After looking at the books and trying to figure out the future we decided this was not where we wanted to be. So we started looking for another place to live/work.

    He found a practice about an hour from his parents and an hour and a half from mine that looked like a wonderful opportunity. Most people would find it daunting to move during a recession, especially one where houses simply weren’t selling at all. But we didn’t care – we were in the same small townhouse we’d began our marriage in. We hadn’t moved up despite more money. We kept out non-mortgage debt at 0. We were saving over 40% of our income because we didn’t step up our lifestyle.

    So being frugal and living beneath our means with no debt (other than the house) allowed us to buy another home and continue paying the mortgage on the other one until it sold. We were able to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity cause we had the money (or more accurately we didn’t have too much “overhead” allowing us to have monthly cash flow).

    Frugality gives you freedom, it gives the the financial independence to do what you want.

  17. Gretchen says:

    John’s point is very well taken.

    Once you get a certain point, cutting back on the “easy” things isn’t easy.

  18. criskadinsky says:

    I lived frugally by choice most of my life. Did not do or buy many things I wanted to in order to save $$s for my old age. I then intended to travel, buy new large TV, computer etc. Old age arrived; savings had gone down the drain in the recent recession. Now I have no choice but to be frugal. Wish I HAD bought or done what I wanted!!

  19. Sandy L says:

    It’s so easy to mindlessly spend and extra expenses creep in over time.

    I think one of the keys to your post is really about goals. If you have a goal to work towards it’s a lot easier to be mindful of your spending.

    Saving up for something positive like a vacation or a newer car is a nice carrot to keep spending in check.

  20. If you can resist the temptation of “keeping up with the joneses” then you can definitely live frugal. The key is simply living below your means and delaying your gratification.

    One of our mentors told us to write down every dollar we spend for an entire month, then evaluate our spending. We were shocked to see how much money we were spending on items we could’ve went without.

    Try it, you will surprise yourself!

  21. Piggy Bank says:

    I have found the advice given in the book “Your money or your life”
    has helped me evaluate my spending. Tracking my purchases and rating how much satisfaction I have get from each purchase has worked wonders. Helping me eliminate things I don’t need even after I think I have made the easy changes.

  22. JMS says:

    This is a very simple idea that most don’t think much about. Very simple to implement and can add up to huge savings. You are basically eliminating things that don’t mean much to you in favor of things that do. It is along the same lines as a time management technique. Take time away from the things that do not matter and apply that time to things that do matter. I use it at work…I try and not pay attention to the little fires that will just go away and focus my time on the big things. Budgeting dollars or budgeting time, it’s all the same.

  23. jay says:

    I, too, agree with John. Oh, well.

  24. Carol says:

    Being frugal takes allot of work, time, and continous effort – when it comes down shedding waste and setting priorities – to me it’s a neccessity thing – when we really HAVE to save some money, we can.

    Not so sure about making cheap detergent though.

  25. Brandon says:

    I was at GenCon as well – of course, I live 40min from it, so it wasn’t quite the sacrifice of spending it was for others.

    Out of curiosity, what was your interest there?

  26. Systemizer says:

    “I could see someone who played a lot of video games and/or watched a lot of television purchasing this flat screen and installing it happily in their living room.”

    I could see that same individual purchasing a used piano, installing it at home, letting it collect dust and regretting not buying the home entertainment setup.

  27. michael bash says:

    You said in your report on the conference that some saved by being “frugal”, e.g. eating meals at home. How is that frugal? Where else do you eat? Eating out is/was for a special occasion, a celebration. When did this happen? I’m 65; eating out was not normal when I was growing up. If nothing else, eating at home was better quality. I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

  28. Robert says:

    @Michael: As people have become busier (or at least felt busier) eatting out has shifted from a very infrequent event to something that many people do daily. Restaurants, both sit-down and carryout, of course encourage this by trying to make themselves as convenient as possible.

    I work with some people that go out to eat for lunch and either eat out or pick up carry out food for dinner every single day. For that matter, I had fallen into that mind set for a while at one point, accepting it as a normal part of a busy life.

    I’ve since cut back on throwing away my money on eatting out. Of course I had to make a couple changes to free up some time to do my own cooking and the other little things (meal planning, shopping, cleaning the kitchen, etc.) that one needs to do to cook good meals for yourself, but I found that I prefer that to eatting out these days. And not even necessarily just for saving money, I enjoy cooking and like to experiment with recipes I find online.

  29. Trent

    You really nailed it this time. Life is about choices, and for most, we can’t have it all.

    Your “buying” life is about choosing what is most imporrtant to you and making sacrifices in other areas so you can buy/do the things you want. This almost eliminates buyer’s remorse, if you really think about it…

  30. Kevin says:

    @Wesley, re: taxes

    Yes, yes, we all noticed about the taxes. Thanks for being “that guy.” Of course, the point is not how to save up exactly $2,400 – the point was that a series of small changes, over time, can add up to significant savings. The specific dollar amount is irrelevant and is not the point.

    @Jane:

    “I don’t think that eliminating the one 12 oz. soda that I drink everyday will do ‘wonders’ for my health.”

    1 12 oz. can of Coke is 155 calories. A pound of stored bodyfat is 3500 calories. Thus, if you drink 1 can of Coke per day, that’s the equivalent of 16 pounds of fat after a year. If you stopped drinking your soda, and changed nothing else about your diet or lifestyle, you’d lose 16 pounds in a year.

    Your husband, with his liter-per-day habit, would lose 46 pounds.

    I’d say that qualifies as doing “wonders” for your health, wouldn’t you?

    @John S:

    I hear you. While I certainly recognize the benefit of articles like this, I don’t personally get much value from them. I typically read through the list of suggested “frugal tactics” and mentally say to myself, “Check, check, already doing that one, yup, carpool, already doing it, yup, yup…”

    I also noticed a bit of a contradiction in the examples. The guy cancels the movie channels so he can buy a nicer TV? Hmmm.. Would our fictional TV connoisseur rather watch the latest movies on a small TV, or PBS on a big TV? Sophie’s choice!

  31. Skeemer118 says:

    DH & I paid off $10,000 in debt last year using this method & setting a monthly budget. (This dollar amount doesn’t include paying down our mortgage) We started trying new things & seeing what we could/couldn’t live without. We hope to be debt free with the exception of our house by next year. Every dollar adds up & every dollar should have a name. :) I’d rather tell my money where to go & make it work for me.

  32. Annie says:

    I have cut back on my expenses so that I can afford to work at home and be a stay at home mom despite being the only paycheck in the home (I’m divorced). My daughter and I can afford to enjoy ourselves more (and she has the benefit of a parent at home fulltime) because of our frugality.

    Also, I am saving up for either a camper trailer or very small RV–we want one to travel in and I intend to downsize into one when my daughter grows up, so I want one for my future home, I guess you could say!

    Good article! Pennies add up, and are more than a penny earned in this economy!

  33. Stephanie says:

    I’ve read studies that suggest that high fructose corn syrup may spur on cancer…so in that respect not drinking a soda a day may do “wonders” for your health. Ditto in the diet soda as no artificial sweetener seems to be safe…

  34. Johanna says:

    @Kevin: “1 12 oz. can of Coke is 155 calories. A pound of stored bodyfat is 3500 calories. Thus, if you drink 1 can of Coke per day, that’s the equivalent of 16 pounds of fat after a year. If you stopped drinking your soda, and changed nothing else about your diet or lifestyle, you’d lose 16 pounds in a year.

    “Your husband, with his liter-per-day habit, would lose 46 pounds.

    “I’d say that qualifies as doing “wonders” for your health, wouldn’t you?”

    I apologize in advance for talking about weight loss in yet another comment thread, but there’s so much misinformation in these three paragraphs.

    First of all, we don’t know what Jane and her husband weigh, so we can’t say anything about whether losing 16 or 46 pounds would do “wonders” for their health. Even if you believe that being overweight is necessarily unhealthy (which I do not grant), there are at least as many health risks associated with being underweight.

    Second, while these “calories in, calories out” calculations sound nice and scientific, the human body very obviously doesn’t work that way. If cutting out a liter of soda a day means that you lose 46 pounds in a year, does that mean you’ll lose 92 pounds in two years, and 138 pounds in three years? Or, if somebody started drinking a liter of soda a day, do you really think they would *gain* 138 pounds in three years? And do you really think the human race could have survived if we really could gain or lose vast amounts of weight that easily?

  35. This advice really works. Again, different people will have different choices to make, but the main idea is reasonable and workable.

    Understanding where your money is going and how to use it to your best advantage is a central part of being financially wiser.

  36. Deborah Beyer says:

    Waiting on that electronics purchase probably would have another advantage – the price would drop. I learned a long time ago that being first in line for every electronic gadget means paying top dolllar. Anyone besides me remember the original prices on digital watches, solar calculators, plasma TVs, e-readers? They’re a fraction of the price now. Want waiting helps work out the bugs – a new Iphone with its wonky antenna, anyone?

  37. Kevin says:

    @Johanna:

    I guess you figured you’d counter my alleged “misinformation” with a healthy dose of your own? ;)

    “Even if you believe that being overweight is necessarily unhealthy (which I do not grant),”

    It’s not something for you to “grant” or “believe” – it’s a scientific fact. People who are overweight are at a dramatically higher risk for a wide range of ailments, compared to people of a healthy weight.

    “There are at least as many health risks associated with being underweight.”

    Now that’s simply an outright lie.

    First of all, let’s highlight the fact that there does in fact exist a happy, healthy middle ground between “overweight” and “underweight,” which you seem to have completely ignored. The alternative to “overweight” is not “underweight.” So there’s that.

    Secondly, while there are of course numerous issue with being underweight, the problems associated with being overweight or obese are far more numerous. Underweight people might have heart problems, joint pain, or neurological complications, but overweight people have EVEN WORSE heart problems and joint pain, plus a dramatically increased risk of diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, ulcers, and on and on and on.

    Thirdly, I suspect in making such an outrageous statement above, you sought to draw a comparison between a dangerously underweight individual (likely suffering from anorexia or bulemia) and a mildly overweight person, perhaps only carrying an extra 10-15 pounds. Then, when I called you on it, you could point to it and say, “See? Told ya.”

    Sorry, I’m not biting. Both have risks, but being a healthy weight is the ideal.

    Also, about the “calories-in-calories-out,” once again, it’s not something for you to “agree” with or “believe.” It’s simple math. The fat doesn’t come out of nowhere, nor does the energy. There are a number of complex factors at work (people modifying their diet without realizing it to compensate for decreased caloric intake, metabolism adjusting to a changed caloric intake, varying levels of physical activity as people become more mobile, etc.), but it all comes down to raw math.

  38. Crystal says:

    I am all about prioritization…low priority on spending that isn’t as important to us and high priority on the things we truly enjoy. In our case, we don’t have daily drink habits, buy new cars every 3 years, or own smart phones, so we can afford the 47″ LCD TV, cable, high speed internet, and big annual vacations. :-)

    Am I the only TSD commenter that thinks that saving $31 a year on laundry detergent isn’t the best use of my time? Just wondering…it’s mentioned all the time but it seems like a nitpicky way to save $31 a year. Wouldn’t cutting big expenses make more sense if you’re trying to really save money? Like housing or car payments or daily habits?

  39. Jane says:

    @Johanna
    I’m surprised you decided to discuss Kevin’s bogus claims at all. I found them so ridiculous I thought it best to ignore them altogether.

    And high fructose corn syrup spurring on cancer? That’s about as silly as the claim my step-mother-in-law recently made that people who drank as little as two 12 oz cans of soda a week (and she never even could substantiate whether it would be diet or regular, caffeinated or non) are X numbers of times (I forgot the bogus number) more likely to get pancreatic cancer. Yeah, I’ll keep enjoying my bubbles and HFCS in moderation.

  40. Ally says:

    Other ideas if you’re not interested in making your own laundry detergent:

    -use less laundry detergent in a wash. I use about half as much as is “recommended” and have never had any problem getting my clothes clean. We do laundry often and are only on our second bottle of detergent for the entire year.

    -make sure your load is full. It often allows the washing machine to run more efficiently.

    I appreciate the idea of paring down on something like laundry. There are definitely other ways to do so even if you aren’t interested in making your own detergent. Thanks for making people think about these things.

  41. Johanna says:

    @Jane: Well, not everyone finds them so ridiculous – I’ve seen a lot of otherwise very smart people churn through calculations like that without thinking through what the results really mean or realizing that they can’t possibly be true. So I do think there’s value in discussing them.

  42. Justina says:

    @Crystal: The laundry detergent tip struck me as a false economy, too. Admittedly, I haven’t tried making my own, but it seems to me that the time and mess (I’m a spiller) involved wouldn’t be worth the cash savings — for me, anyway. My laundry detergent savings come from buying the brand that I’ve found to be reliable; buying only when it’s on sale, I have a coupon, or (most often) both; and pouring the liquid detergent to the first (lowest) mark in the measuring cap.

    I do completely agree with the point that economizing in several small-seeming ways over time can realize appreciable savings. And if I can’t think in terms of “I’m saving xx here and xx there and xx there, so I’ll have xxxxxx at the end of the year to spend on Big Thing,” I can think something like “Hey, the $31 I won’t spend on Tiny Thing this year will pay for one or two Christmas presents.”

    @Michael: I, too, consider eating out to be special. Heck, I consider it a treat to buy a latte at Starbucks — I don’t do it more than once every couple of months, and I pay attention and enjoy it when I do. Over the years, a tremendous number of things that people used to consider luxuries have become “necessities” — and even entitlements.

    @John S., @Gretchen, @Jay, @Kevin: Yeah, me too. I’ve been frugal for so many years that I should be writing tips, not reading them :-) Except … I think of it as being normal, not as being frugal.

    Not sure why I keep reading about frugality, except maybe some day I’ll spot that magical tip for the one money-saving thing I haven’t yet thought to do …

  43. rosa rugosa says:

    @Johanna: I had wondered about the dinghiness concerns with the laundry detergent as well, but finally decided there was only one real way to find out! So I made a batch on 6/13/10. It took less than 1/2 hr to make; it took a little longer to bottle it up. We had just had a party featuring vodka punch, so I had vodka bottles full of detergent which really amused me! I’ve been using it since and have to say I’m satisfied overall. I suspect that all households are different, but a lot of my laundry isn’t very dirty to begin with since I work in an office. I do spend a lot of money on my clothes, and I would not be tolerant of poor results. I wonder if it might be less effective on dirty whites like T-shirts, athletics socks, etc., but I don’t have a lot of that type of laundry. My sheets are one thing that might be looking a little less bright, but that could also be due to this hot sweaty summer, no a/c, and my inclination to launder with cold water. I think I spend in the range of $60 – $80 per year on detergent, so I think it was worth the minimal effort involved. I also feel very domesticated and self-sufficient when I do something like this :) Now I’m trying the rubbing alcohol/water recipe I found online for a daily shower spray – we’ll see how it goes!

  44. Stephanie says:

    @Jane
    High Fructose Corn Syrup is an artificial ingredient that is incredibly hard for your body to digest. It is made by humans (not found in nature) and its full effects are not totally known to us. HFCS has been proven to increase one’s risk for Type 2 diabetes as it wears down the body’s ability to respond to sugars effectively. There is also some research that suggests that cancer uses HFCS as “food.” So, go ahead and drink your bubbles and HFCS, that’s your choice. But you should really know what you’re ingesting….poison in any amount is still poison.

  45. Jane says:

    @Stephanie
    I certainly would agree that we don’t know the full effects of soda, but we really don’t know the full effects of much that we eat! Like Michael Pollan says, food science really is still in the Middle Ages. But your argument about poison is really spurious. When discussing ingestion or exposure to anything, quantity and amounts matter a great deal. It even matters in the ingestion of “poison” (and I put that in quotes because your indirect description of HFCS as poison is truly laughable).

    Geez, HFCS and soda truly are the bete noire of the moment. It went from blaming the artificial sweeteners in particular – a trend that dates back to their creation – to blaming soda as a whole.

  46. ruth says:

    @Stephanie

    I really have to disagree with your last statemnt. Obviously you have never heard of hormesis. It’s the scientific phenomenon where a substance at high or moderate levels that will kill you, at small doses it actually produces a beneficial effect. This is seen thousands of times a day in every person that takes a vitamin on a daily basis. If you’ve ever read the list of ingredents most of whats on there would be enough to kill a person if taken at high doses (this is also why an overdose of vitamins can be so deadly). and it just isn’t the metals and minerals in vitamins, it works the same for radiation and other “deadly” substances as well.

    And for those that are concerned about the “problems” with high fructose corn syrup. Do you realize that here in the US because of federal subsidies to certain interests we pay up to 5x what the rest of the world does for a single pound of sugar? Can you imagine, if those subsidies are removed how many recipies (pepsi throwback anyone?) would be able to revert back to using real sugar as a sweetener instead of HFCS?

    I’m not trying to be political, but ripping someone for their personal choice isn’t right. and if it wasn’t for governmental interference we’d have more choices!

  47. amy says:

    Please don’t use the government tables. It’s not realistic. I work for the state and the amount of money they want to reimburse me for for traveling by my car is NOT realistic. 50 cents a mile, really? Gas is at 3.00 a gallon and at 20 miles a gallon, that’s reimbursing $10 a gallon. Plus, most of the time, you get reimbursed for the gas purchase. If you have a quality car, you do not cause this much wear and tear on your car.

  48. Landon says:

    This is a great article, and pertinent to me because I am looking at getting a 55 inch LED haha…

    I’m in no rush right now, so I’m going to wait some time while scanning for deals (delayed gratification). I’ll make a purchase with a 0% credit card and pay it off in small increments over a period of time (BEFORE the 0% runs out).

  49. Kevin says:

    Wow.

    I made a comment to follow-up with Johanna, but it’s been sitting in moderation for *5 days*. WTF?

    Luckily, I saved it. Here it is again, maybe this will make it through this time.

    5 days. Un-freakin-real. What a joke.

    —-

    @Johanna:

    I guess you figured you’d counter my alleged “misinformation” with a healthy dose of your own? ;)

    “Even if you believe that being overweight is necessarily unhealthy (which I do not grant),”

    It’s not something for you to “grant” or “believe” – it’s a scientific fact. People who are overweight are at a dramatically higher risk for a wide range of ailments, compared to people of a healthy weight.

    “There are at least as many health risks associated with being underweight.”

    Now that’s simply an outright lie.

    First of all, let’s highlight the fact that there does in fact exist a happy, healthy middle ground between “overweight” and “underweight,” which you seem to have completely ignored. The alternative to “overweight” is not “underweight.” So there’s that.

    Secondly, while there are of course numerous issue with being underweight, the problems associated with being overweight or obese are far more numerous. Underweight people might have heart problems, joint pain, or neurological complications, but overweight people have EVEN WORSE heart problems and joint pain, plus a dramatically increased risk of diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, ulcers, and on and on and on.

    Thirdly, I suspect in making such an outrageous statement above, you sought to draw a comparison between a dangerously underweight individual (likely suffering from anorexia or bulemia) and a mildly overweight person, perhaps only carrying an extra 10-15 pounds. Then, when I called you on it, you could point to it and say, “See? Told ya.”

    Sorry, I’m not biting. Both have risks, but being a healthy weight is the ideal.

    Also, about the “calories-in-calories-out,” once again, it’s not something for you to “agree” with or “believe.” It’s simple math. The fat doesn’t come out of nowhere, nor does the energy. There are a number of complex factors at work (people modifying their diet without realizing it to compensate for decreased caloric intake, metabolism adjusting to a changed caloric intake, varying levels of physical activity as people become more mobile, etc.), but it all comes down to raw math.

  50. Kevin says:

    2 comments, still “awaiting moderation,” 14 days later.

    Fantastic.

    Here’s a question for the next reader mailbag: Why does it take so long to have a comment moderated?

    Here’s another: How are we supposed to have a meaningful discourse if it takes 2 weeks for our comments to appear?

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