Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Me?

When people think about thriftiness it is usually synonymous with deprivation, cheap, or being in want. It doesn't have to be that way. I have chosen to be thrifty and might I say nifty too! My husband grew up having no choice but to be frugal - his dad was ill and his mom was only able to work low paying jobs so they did everything they could to save money which included public assistance, thrift shop clothing and basically doing without. He will always tease me that I was "rich" growing up but I like to remind him that he did have a pool - even if it was a blow up!

So at times we are at odds - Dave Ramsey likes to call it being a nerd and a free spirit. The nerd loves to save and the free spirit, well is a free spirit. We have had to come to a place of compromise in our marriage. We started out as poor seminary students and quickly became poor seminary students with a child! It was in those first years of marriage that we established how we were going to make money and more importantly how we were going to make the money we did have last longer.

Along the way we learned how to be frugal without feeling deprived. I think that is what makes it work. When you start feeling like you are missing out, or not getting what you "deserve" you give up on frugality! The trick is to scale back as far as you can and if you go too far, bring it back up a notch!

For example, if my kids would complain that there were no good "treats" in the house - I would step up my baking that week. If Cam was pushing to go out to dinner, I would make a special home-cooked meal. If child number 4 was complaining about hand-me-downs, I would ask what it was they were looking for in their wardrobe and see if we could find it (usually looking at the thrift shop first, and then moving up from there - or should I say down from there!)

If you read the directions on your dish washer detergent it will say " pour in 1 Tab." but how many times do we mindlessly fill the whole cap - equaling about 1/2 cup. The same goes for the washing machine - if 1/4 cup of detergent cleans my clothes as well as a full capful, why waste the rest. Look for ways you can cut back and make things last longer, do without or find an alternative.

We have 3 cars that are over 10 years old - if we can make them last as long as possible that is cheaper than replacing them every 5 years. That is a big ticket, but I do the same thing with plastic baggies - I will rinse and dry them and put them back in the drawer to be used again. I have the money to buy new ones, but being frugal is a lifestyle choice - and it also makes me look green!

Try scaling back until it is uncomfortable, ineffective or not worth your time. It might be cheaper for me to bake my own bread, but the time and effort it would take are not worth it to me.

If you are being thrifty to pay off debt - do everything you can to quickly dig out and get your finances in order - it will be hard and uncomfortable but it is well worth the effort. Dave Ramsey calls it "gazelle like intensity" - doing everything that possible to be debt free.

But if you are trying to make your money last longer, be a better steward of all God has given you and set a good example to your children, then thriftiness doesn't have to be about deprivation but about making better choices and for me that makes cents and sensibility!


  1. Sure can relate to your comments Mary, they are all about being a good steward of what God has given you. My husband and I like to go shopping, but we call it "idea shopping," so that when we go to expensive NYC we bring our sketch books to collect ideas instead of merchandise. That makes us feel rich!
    Denise H.

  2. Great post! I am the youngest of 4 and always used to complain about hand me downs. However, my oldest sister is 10 years older, and grew up in the 70's so the bell bottoms were so UNCOOL.

  3. Remind me not to take home leftovers in one of your green plastic bags.


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