The {Frugal} Family

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On my bed lays a quilt of brightly colored squares, hand sewn by my great grandmother and full of too many memories to mention.  The squares were hand stitched from rags or aprons well used as she cooked hearty meals for a house full of hungry mouths.  The aprons made from a dress worn until it was dirty enough to deserve cleaning.  This was frugality and stewardship at its best.  A repurposing of things with value until all value was gone.   

A more contemporary way of saving is in finding a deal, couponing or stocking up at the $1 section.   While there is nothing wrong with saving a buck when you would have spent more you may find yourself wondering if all that stuff really saves you anything.  Much of my extra time is spent moving all that stuff from one corner to another rather than simply enjoying life.

The Big Stuff

In a world of credit cards and second mortgages, living within our means becomes difficult.  Being patient and waiting for a good deal can often make the difference in what you can afford when it comes to your home, car or the other big things in your life.  For us, being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap.  A realistic look at our wish lists means saving until we can afford exactly what we want.

Food & Entertainment

A Penny Saved is a Penny earned.  ~Benjamin Franklin

When you are living within your means in every other area its easy to allow for over spending on eating out, grocery shopping and entertainment.  This is what I struggle with the most.  The envelope system and sticking to a list always keeps me on track.  Re-thinking our food is another way to live lighter (possibly literally).  Not only is a large amount of the food we purchase wasted and even thrown in the trash, it is often covered in tons of paper and plastic that overflows from our trash cans.  Making smart purchases, buying in bulk or shopping for locally grown foods are ways to save money, increase health and cut down on waste. 

Entertaining Ways to Save

~Using the library is a great way to get free books and movies.  Returning them when you are done helps cut down on clutter! 

~Host a weekly potluck meal for family and/or friends.  It’s cheaper and can be a lot more fun than going out.

~One thing our family has been able to do is turn hobbies into extra cash when we need it.  From harvesting Ginseng to arranging flowers, we have made an effort to add to our income, especially in leaner years.

Not Buying New

One of the best ways to save money is to stop buying things.  This sounds a little too easy but it worked for us.  Making a commitment to stop buying new for a year opened up a whole new world to our family.  When we needed drinking glasses we started using mugs and mason jars collecting dust.  Our comforter became too worn and we brought out grandmother’s quilts. There is so much stuff out there sitting in consignment stores, Goodwill and your own garage just waiting to be used.  We keep a list of things we need and keep our eye out for them.  It does require some creative thinking and time spent in thrift stores but we believe it’s worth it.  We continue to be amazed at how our needs are met so graciously and in perfect timing.

Simplify

Giving things away has become a new passion in our lives.  Not buying new has taught us that if we haven’t used it in the past year, it should find a new home.  We are finding ourselves enjoying more quality time with one another rather than trying to get control over our stuff.   Many things we buy today, especially clothing and toys, are made to be disposable and thrown away in a short period of time.  Re-thinking our purchases to include made to last items pay’s off. Considering the hidden costs to our environment and overseas workers reminds us that just because it has a cheap price tag, may not mean it didn’t cost someone a lot!

The Boy’s Shoes

There are moments that not buying new has been difficult.  It is easier for us to sacrifice our own needs than to ask that of our children.  One particular need was a pair of brown shoes for our son.  Our routine for new needs is to write it down on a post it note and wait a few days.  A couple of days later he reminded me about the shoes and my heart did ache to go buy him a new pair.  After talking about it for a moment we agreed that if we hadn’t found them in a week we would discuss buying some online.

Later that afternoon I was out running errands and decided to stop in Goodwill.  I quickly scanned the store and ended at the shoe rack.  As soon as I turned the corner I spotted a pair of brown shoes.  My heart sped up and I knew that they would fit my sweet son.  The clerk probably spotted by ear-to-ear grin and wondered why I was so happy to be buying a pair of shoes.

My son greeted me at the door when I returned home.  He doesn’t forget things once they are on his mind and I knew he would be hoping I would come home with his shoes.  I explained that through our patience we had been given these shoes as a gift.  God still wants to surprise us with the desires of our heart.  Most often we take that from him by hurriedly buying things as soon as we feel the need.  He took the shoes and sat by himself for a while.  Watching him hold and touch his “new to him” shoes reminded me that these life lessons are the reasons to live with less.  Living with less so we can give our family more.