I just got off the phone with TIAA, where 3/4 of my net worth resides. Two out of three reps made me upset (with the first, I cried). They must have terrible training scripts!
But instead of writing about that experience, I will share a happy story about small frugalities. I am a pennywise person. I don't think I'm pound foolish, but I'm definitely not poundwise. Every time I try to save on a big ticket item (insurance, for one thing), I end up confused and frustrated.
Generally it's hard to figure out what effect these small frugalities have. Sometimes I feel like I'm nuts: I will NOT spend that for a jar of peanut butter! That kind of thing. Finally, though, I have some evidence of how things add up. Miss Em graduated last May. She just got her final settlement check from her university. Yes, a check FROM her university. It was pretty hefty for a recent grad.
$1600 of the check was for Dining Dollars. Each semester, students are required to buy $300 in Dining Dollars. This is mostly for coffee and snacks at the campus Starbucks, but can be used in the dining halls and at some off-campus venues. Miss Em reports that many of her friends blew through the money in a few weeks. Miss Em obviously spent some--out of $2400 (8 semesters), she spent $800. She said, I used it to go out with friends, not to get caffeine. She pointed out that--in addition to her dorm room where she had a coffee and teapot--she had access to the free coffee in various organizations and offices, in her case, the Honors College, the University Fellows Program office, and Creative Campus. She also carried her little thermos everywhere. In fact, the Starbucks was rather out of the way for her so the thermos was a time- as well as a money-saver for the most organized and time-efficient member of my family.
You go girl!
P.S. The check covered her new laptop and she still has some left over.
P.P.S. Should I move my money to Vanguard when I retire?