Pick Two: Fast, Cheap or Good?

28 Jul

With the exception of my birthplace and a brief stint out-of-state for my first year of college, I’ve lived in the City of Angels my whole life.  The advantages of being a native are plenty.  I never really had to adjust to the sticker shock that transplants get when moving to a metropolis that is currently ranked the 2nd most expensive city in the United States in which to live.

I know surface street routes to stay off the freeways during daylight hours, free places to park in highly congested areas, and the little “pockets” of neighborhoods where you can get more for your apartment rental dollar.  I’m familiar with inexpensive dive bars containing great jukeboxes, happy hours at higher end restaurants, and the cheapest places to go bowling.

I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for the better part of 15 years now.  I first learned about The Project Triangle at age 20 in my college production management class.  My professor drew this triangle on the board:

He was applying it to film and television making.  Indie films can take 5+ years to make (cheap and good), summer popcorn movies are predicated according to a pre-set studio release date (fast and good), or you can churn out a couple of dozen direct to DVD films per year (fast and cheap).

That was the first time I had ever seen The Project Triangle, and seeing it back then was a bit revelatory for me.  It took me several years to realize that this pretty much applies to everything in life.  I’ve seen it time and again for projects in all professions.  Now, I certainly apply it to my frugal lifestyle.

If I order something from Amazon, but want to use the free Super Saver shipping because I despise paying for it, then it will take 5-7 business days.  Good and cheap.

If I have a last-minute event that I have to attend that evening and just HAVE to buy a new outfit (that doesn’t happen, but for illustrative purposes here, let’s just say that it does), I’m probably going to head to Target and Old Navy for an outfit that I may not really love because it’s an impulse buy and may only last a couple of seasons.  Fast and cheap.  (Truly, there’s no store-hating here, I shop at both places all the time.)

If I’ve been eyeing that designer leather handbag that will last me at least 5+ years and I don’t want to copiously track it until it goes on sale, it’s going to cost more than your average purse, probably upwards of $80-100, and that’s on the low end.  Fast and good.

A frugal person like myself will go for good and cheap the vast majority of the time.  My friend and I treat ourselves to dinner during the Dine LA program twice per year; otherwise, it’s too expensive for our everyday budget.  When I cave and go for that designer handbag or leather jacket, I most likely have indeed been looking at them obsessively, waiting for them to go on sale.

I don’t believe that a frugal lifestyle is about depriving yourself.  For me, it’s about saving your dollars for future peace of mind, or stretching them as far as you can when you do choose to spend them.  It’s not about accumulating as much stuff for as little as possible, but taking advantage of opportunities for your basic necessities and experiences or things that you may want.

Thanks for stopping by – I hope you come visit often!

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