Frugal living: what’s the cost?

Every day, students from ARHS stop at Dunkin Donuts or other coffee shops for their fix of delicious caffeine. This is not something I do, mostly because I’m too frugal to drop that much money each day for something I can make at home.

To step out of my comfort zone, I decided I had to get into the mindset of these morning people and make a stop at Dunkin Donuts in the a.m.. Being my normal self, I didn’t leave with any coffee, but I observed friends who did.

They happily handed over their three dollars a piece, like some of them do several times a week. A couple of feet behind them, just out of the line, I was tempted to break my frugal streak, the smell of donuts and coffee wafting around.

Jen Hodgkins said, “I do go to Dunkin a lot. I need some caffeine.” She added that it is very popular amongst her friends to spend this way, and all the people I spoke with who spent money on food and coffee tended to buy it while out with friends.

Nathalie Dougan, like Hodgkins, often comes into school with an iced coffee in hand. “The rest of my money goes to gas, easily,” she said.

Finding frugal people to interview turned out to be a little harder than I thought. Maybe most students at ARHS do not consider themselves frugal, or maybe many people have never presented themselves with the question about how and why they monitor their spending.

But ARHS students shared many innovative ways they have found to save money. “Half of my clothes are my sister’s,” Andrew Zhu said, explaining he doesn’t care what he looks like at school.

Jayden Nambu also described himself as very frugal, and explained that he practically never eats out or buys himself clothing that he doesn’t absolutely need.

Noah te Velde describes himself as frugal, but admitted he has to spend a good amount on gas money to drive to fencing practices in Boston, the only thing that goes against his normal spending habits.

“I don’t eat out. I don’t spend unnecessarily on clothes. I don’t really spend on entertainment. We don’t pay for tv. I just watch sports live streams,” he said.

Many students expressed both a frugal streak and an indulgent one, too. Willa Hartl admitted that most of her money goes directly toward food. “Pita Pockets and snacks,” she said, “I snack quite a bit. I’m a big fan of snacking.”

While she spends when it comes to eating out, Hartl said that she saves a lot on other things. “I don’t buy like makeup or clothes. I like to thrift,” she said, referring to a spending style that is popular amongst her friends and peers, buying apparel at second hand stores.

Calder Robbins is nearly the opposite of Hartl, speaking of his love for clothes and shoes, although he rarely buys them for himself. “I eat a lot of leftovers,” he said.  “I don’t go out to eat a lot. And I don’t have to buy my own gas.”

When asked about what they are saving for in the future, whether it be college or a car, most did not have a solid answer. Many, like Dougan, noted that they do not like to spend lots of money at once. “I don’t like making large purchases,” she said.

I, on the other hand, prefer big purchases, feeling less afraid to invest in something of great value, rather than temporary things like food.

As for the coffee runs? You still won’t find me at Dunkin’ spending my change.