i The Frugal Law Student | 2007 | April

Law School
Personal Finance

What Does It Mean to Be Frugal When You’re Wealthy?

Written by Brett McKay

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately. I don’t plan on being a starving law student for the rest of my life. My goal is to one day become wealthy. But what happens to my frugality when I get there? I’ve come up with three possible responses.

Frugal born, frugal bred, when I die I’ll be frugal dead.

One response to a frugal person finding themselves with lots of wealth is to not change their lifestyle at all. For me that would mean, I would still live with my in laws, I would buy new clothes once every 3-4 years, I eat out only once a week, I don’t buy CD’s, books, or video games, only have one care between me and my wife, ect. There’s other stuff, but you get the point. I don’t know if I could do this. What’s the point of having all that money if you’re not going to use it? I can see someone doing this if they gave their money to charity. Then maybe there would be a point to having all that money.

I’m frugal… for a rich person.

This response would entail making more splurges. You might go on more exotic vacations and have another car, but you would still use coupons, by generic brand, still not buy expensive clothes, ect. If the Millionaire Next Door is right, this seems to be the way most Americans become millionaires. This probably would be my response if I were to ever become wealthy.

Frugality? What’s frugality?

This scenario would entail ditching any frugal habits that you developed on your path to get wealthy. You buy new gizmos every time they come out without comparison shopping, new clothes all the time, you don’t care of the stuff you have, you buy new cars all the time, ect. This response is a quick way to bankruptcy. I don’t think there are too many frugal people who become wealthy who would respond in this way. Habits are a hard thing to break.

What do you all think? How would you respond if you were plunged into wealth?

[tags]frugal, wealth, shopping, personal finance[/tags]

5 Things You Should Never Buy New

Written by Brett McKay

Being frugal doesn’t mean you have to give up the niceties in life; you just have to be more creative in acquiring them. Here’s a quick list of luxuries you can buy used and not sacrifice quality.

  1. Cars. Once you drive off the lot in your new car, it depreciates in value by 12%. By Buy a used car, when its rate of depreciation flattens out, you put yourself into a cost-effective automobile that ought to last you several years. And let’s be honest with ourselves. There’s really not much of a difference between the 2004 model and 2007. Car makers just want you to think there is.
  2. Books. I used to be a sucker for buying new books, but then I realized I can get them for much cheaper online. Here’s how I get a hold of books. First, I check my local and school library. If they have it, I just check it out and read it. Cost? Zero dollars. If the library doesn’t have it, then I check Amazon. You can often save up to 60% on books at Amazon. I’ll go to the bookstore to find books I’d like to read. But I hardly ever buy there.
  3. Homes. First, a used home will usually have a lower property tax, as new developments tend to grow in outlying areas that start with little or no tax base. Accordingly, the city often looks to buyers in the new developments to raise revenues for things like police and fire services. All and all, this can result in long-term savings for you. Additionally, a used home is more likely to have a negotiable price, whereas a builder/developer will adopt “take it or leave it” sales tactics
  4. Sporting Goods. If your sports fanatic, sport equipment can get pricey. Instead of buying new, check out Craig’s list or EBay for all your sporting needs.
  5. CDs/DVDs/Video Games. I try to take the same approach with these items that I do with books. Always check Amazon out before you buy CDs/DVDs/Video Games. You might be surprised by the selection of DVD’s your local library has. You can avoid spending money at all on DVDs if you use them. If you watch lots of DVDs or play lots of video games, services like Netflix and Gamefly might be a cost effective way to get your entertainment fix.

[tags]shopping, house shopping, cars, DVD, Netflix, Gamefly[/tags]

Holy Crap! I’m Back in High School!

Written by Brett McKay



If the lockers and bringing your lunch in a sack wasn’t enough, then the Student Bar Association elections has really brought law school back to high school. When I walked into school the other day, the walls were covered with homemade campaign posters for SBA delegates. It really creeped me out to seeing pictures of grown adults photoshoped pictures with Will Ferrel in order to promote themselves.

I was really big in to the Student Council thing when I was in High School and honestly thought I left those days behind when I graduated. I guess I was wrong. Somebody save me from law school/high school!

[tags]law school, student council[/tags]

Blog Scouts: Personal Management

Written by Brett McKay


I thought the first merit badge we’ll work on this month should go along with the theme of this blog. The personal management badge encourages people to learn how to manage their money and time. That’s what The Frugal Law Student is all about! Here are the requirements. Remember, each requirement is a separate post.

  1. Do the following:
    1. Choose an item that your family might want to purchase that is considered a major expense.
    2. Write a plan that tells how your family would save money for the purchase identified in requirement 1a.
      1. Discuss how other family needs must be considered in this plan.
    3. Develop a written shopping strategy for the purchase identified in requirement 1a.
      1. Determine the quality of the item or service (using consumer publications or rating systems).
      2. Comparison shop for the item. Find out where you can buy the item for the best price. (Provide prices from at least two different price sources.) Call around; study ads. Look for a sale or discount coupon. Consider alternatives. Can you buy the item used? Should you wait for a sale?
  2. Do the following:
    1. Prepare a budget reflecting your expected income (allowance, gifts, wages), expenses, and savings. Track your actual income, expenses, and savings for 2 consecutive weeks. When complete, present the results in a post.
    2. Compare expected income with expected expenses.
      1. If expenses exceed income, determine steps to balance your budget.
      2. If income exceeds expenses, state how you would use the excess money (new goal, savings).
  3. Discuss in a post FIVE of the following concepts:
    1. The emotions you feel when you receive money.
    2. Your understanding of how the amount of money you have with you affects your spending habits.
    3. Your thoughts when you buy something new and your thoughts about the same item three months later. Explain the concept of buyer’s remorse.
    4. How hunger affects you when shopping for food items (snacks, groceries).
    5. Your experience of an item you have purchased after seeing or hearing advertisements for it. Did the item work as well as advertised?
    6. Your understanding of what happens when you put money into a savings account.
    7. Charitable giving. Explain its purpose and your thoughts about it.
    8. What you can do to better manage your money.
  4. Explain the following in a post:
    1. The differences between saving and investing, including reasons for using one over the other.
    2. The concepts of return on investment and risk.
    3. The concepts of simple interest and compound interest and how these affected the results of your investment exercise.
  5. Select five publicly traded stocks from the business section of the newspaper. Explain in a post the importance of the following information for each stock:
    1. Current price
    2. How much the price changed from the previous day
    3. The 52-week high and the 52-week low prices
  6. Pretend you have $1,000 to save, invest, and help prepare yourself for the future. Explain in a post the advantages or disadvantages of saving or investing in each of the following:
    1. Common stocks
    2. Mutual funds
    3. Life insurance
    4. A certificate of deposit (CD)
    5. A savings account or U.S. savings bond
  7. Explain in a post the following:
    1. What a loan is, what interest is, and how the annual percentage rate (APR) measures the true cost of a loan.
    2. The different ways to borrow money.
    3. The differences between a charge card, debit card, and credit card. What are the costs and pitfalls of using these financial tools? Explain why it is unwise to make only the minimum payment on your credit card.
    4. Credit reports and how personal responsibility can affect your credit report.
    5. Ways to eliminate debt.
  8. Demonstrate in a post your understanding of time management by doing the following:
    1. Write a “to do” list of tasks or activities, such as homework assignments, chores, and personal projects, that must be done in the coming week. Use any organizational system you want.
    2. Make a seven-day calendar or schedule. Put in your set activities, such as school classes, sports practices or games, jobs or chores, or church or club meetings, then plan when you will do all the tasks from your “to do” list between your set activities.
    3. Follow the one-week schedule you planned. Keep a daily diary or journal during each of the seven days of this week’s activities, writing down when you completed each of the tasks on your “to do” list compared to when you scheduled them.
    4. Review your “to do” list, one-week schedule, and diary/journal to understand when your schedule worked and when it did not work. IN a post, discuss and understand what you learned from this requirement and what you might do differently the next time.
  9. Prepare a written project plan demonstrating the steps below, including the desired outcome. This is a project on paper, not a real-life project. Examples could include planning a camping trip, developing a community service project or a school or religious event, or creating an annual patrol plan with additional activities not already included in the troop annual plan. Discuss your completed project plan in a post
    1. Define the project. What is your goal?
    2. Develop a timeline for your project that shows the steps you must take from beginning to completion.
    3. Describe your project.
    4. Develop a list of resources. Identify how these resources will help you achieve your goal.
    5. If necessary, develop a budget for your project.
  10. Do the following:
    1. Choose a career you might want to enter after high school or college graduation.
    2. Research the limitations of your anticipated career and discuss with your merit badge counselor what you have learned about qualifications such as education, skills, and experience.

This gives you 10 posts to write about! Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about money and time management. Also, don’t forget to send me a link whenever you write a post, so I can include it on the site. You can either email me or send it through my handy contact form. Whenever you finish all the requirements, download the cool personal finance merit badge to display on your site. Get to work blog scouts! I’m looking forward to reading your posts!

New Blog Writing Project: Blog Scouts

Written by Brett McKay


I’ve been thinking a lot lately of different ways to combine a self improvement regimen and a group writing project. The result is Blog Scouts. Here’s how it works.

Each month, I’ll be focusing on an actual merit badge from Boy Scouts. I will adapt the requirements so that they can be written about in a post. Each requirement is a post topic. Whenever you write a post to fulfill the requirement, send me a link to your post and I’ll put it on my site so others can see what you’re doing to fulfill the requirement.

After you finish the requirement, you’ll get to download a nifty merit badge to display with pride in your sidebar.

The goals of Blog Scouts are:

  1. Encourage myself and others to learn new skills and new things.
  2. Give other bloggers something to write about on their blog.
  3. Give some link love.
  4. Have some fun!

I think this should be a lot of fun and I hope you all take part in this with me. Get ready!

Monthly Review- March

Written by Brett McKay

I’ve decided to do a monthly review of how The Frugal Law Student is doing. It’s a nice way for me to see how I’m progressing and hopefully my success can inspire others with their blogs.

During March, I had 3,800 visitors in March. That’s up from 1,700 in February. Not too shabby. Thanks to all those who visited my blog for the first time during March, and thanks to all my continuing readers.
My RSS subscription is sitting at 9. I really want to improve my RSS subscription. If anybody has suggestions on how I can do this, please feel free to contact me.

This month’s popular posts

My jump in traffic can be attributed to this month’s most popular posts.

  1. How to Get Rich Quick Meaningfully. This is what caused the spike in my traffic. I was fortunate enough to get included in The Kirk Report’s Weekend Reading. Thanks for the link, Kirk!
  2. GTD and Your Finances: The Weekly Money Review. Thanks to a link and Digg from Legal Andrew, this post brought in some new readers. Thanks, Andrew! And thank you new readers for stopping by and reading.
  3. 11 Free Video Games That Will Develop Your Business & Personal Finance Skills. This was a fun post to write and research, and it looks like you all had fun reading it.

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