Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why I Do What I Do

Who is one dimensional?

Frugal people are not.

Frugal people are stereotyped as going way out of there way to save a nickel. Although this is sometimes the case, this is rarely the only cause for going out of ones way.

Sometimes, going out of one's way is the scenic route.

Here is why I do things that are frugal:

-Over consumption of resources means other people around the world are left with less. I see this as a form of stealing.

-My husband and I believe in a strong work ethic and we want to demonstrate that to our kids. Just because I don't get paid for work I do around the house doesn't mean it has no value.

-This one is huge with me. Knowledge is power. The more I know how to do myself, the less I have to rely on others to do things for me. There are things I do where I am unsure if I will save money at all, in fact the goal sometimes is to break even, but I am becoming a more capable and well-rounded person by doing them myself.

-There is so much I do just for fun. Sure, the activities may overlap in other areas, but fun is my primary motivation in soap making and sewing.

-Many things I do that skim a few pennies off a meal add massive amounts of nutritional value. I may or may not have done them just for those pennies, but no matter what our income is in the future, I will continue to make food from scratch for our health.

-I am God's steward of every penny he lays before me. I feel it is my obligation to think through my decisions and use his resources to the best of my ability. Yes, the pennies do come into consideration, but they are not the only thing.

-It takes less time to tumble my Wonderwash than it does to go to the laundromat. It takes less time to brew a cup of coffee than wait in line at Starbucks. And the more I do at home, the less obligated my husband and I are to have to earn money outside of the home.

As I think through many of the things I do, making pasta, line-drying clothes, sprouting foods, the reasons for doing these things are dynamic. For each of those, at least five of the seven reasons factor in.

What other reasons do you have for doing the frugal things you do?

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Anonymous said...

We're just starting on our frugal journey and my thoughts about it our still a jumbled/not defined fully but so far my reasons are:
- Wanting to be a good role model for my daughter; I want her to grow up enjoying the simple things in life and thinking that 'things = pleasure'.
- We are saving to buy our home so every penny saved is a penny towards that.
- I enjoy making things and the pleasure I get from making something my family needs is so much more than if I just went to the shop and bought it.
- Our health. Fresh fruit and veg are so much healthier than pre-packaged/pre-made things.

I'm going to be checking back on the thread with interest to see what other peoples thoughts are.


Domestic Goddess said...

I do it to save money (we are a one-income family), to teach my children not to be wasteful, to hopefully reduce my damage to the earth (because I think we are all responsible to do this), for fun (I love shopping and finding killer deals and bargains) and because I love my family and they deserve the hard work I put into it.

Susan said...

Why am I frugal? It was ingrained in me by my parents; who were raised during the Great Depression. As a child of the affluent '50's & '60's, I still learned a good work ethic, to spend money wisely, and to save for a rainy day.
I enjoy being a Hunter/Gatherer when I shop for bargains. It's fun to score a great deal on a necessity.
Being creative in the kitchen as well as the rest of the house and garden fulfills my soul. When I redecorated our home five years ago, my DD was so impressed she thought I should host a design show. Of course, she thought the show should be on how to use what you already have on hand.
All in all, being frugal is a way of life that is more fulfilling than 'shop til you drop' wasting time and resources just to be the most whatever on the block.


Simple in France said...

I think also sustainability is important. If I can do something today but won't be able to keep doing it in the future, why not change now?

Otherwise, my reasons are similar to yours--it's a mix between what I think is right and what I actually find challenging and fun.

morethanamom2four said...

Emily (and everyone), what activities do you do with your children? I know yours are still young. But my kids want to join something new each week, soccer, karate, skating lessons, whatever they send home from school. I mean, soccer is "only" $50, but that is per kid and I have four kids! What are some good frugal ways to do something like this, with other kids? What do you or your readers do with your kids so they feel involved with their peers?

Anonymous said...

Emily, have you seen this?
It is a Kefir 101 and MORE!
After reading this I totally get it and the site even has TONS of recipes to use the Kefir in!
I am so glad you posted about this. I saw it other place but had no clue what it was. I still buy Kefir at the store but I see now that this is the temporary method and I want the long term way!

crabcakes said...

For me part of it is saving money, but I really agree with your first item the most. In a world where people are starving to death literally, I feel like how dare I contribute to the consumption of so much excess unnecessary food. I'm not a saint, and I buy things I shouldn't. But I acknowledge that we have so much surplus in this country. If we can be buying bags of Doritos and drinking millions of gallons of soda every year, how dare we sit here as a nation and look at a dead starved child across the world and say "oh what a shame"

Consuming less means leaving more for others. Consuming more whole foods means maintaining as much nutrition in those foods as possible which means we can eat less and get the same nutrition.

For me, that's the biggest thing. We're all human and we're all equal. I don't see an American child as more valuable than a Nigerian child. No one should be proud of a circumstance that they had no control over (such as where they were born).

I'm grateful to be an American. But I view all human children the same.

Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom said...

For financial independence & teaching my children what it means to live below your means by example.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

"But my kids want to join something new each week, soccer, karate, skating lessons, whatever they send home from school. I mean, soccer is "only" $50, but that is per kid and I have four kids! What are some good frugal ways to do something like this, with other kids? What do you or your readers do with your kids so they feel involved with their peers?"
The way we did it when we were kids. This paying for soccer is new to this last generation. My generation (I am 32) went outside and played soccer. We formed our own teams and played. If we wanted to play Basketball or baseball we called our friends and went out and played. Life doesn't have to cost money, it does however require parental participation.
Put up a flyer at the local library that you are looking for kids ages x-x to play soccer on Saturday 9am-11am or whenever at x local park. Kids should come with shoes, water and a snack. Parents must stay (depending on the age of the kids). Then while the kids kick a soccer ball around and have a good time, the parents can get to know each other, read a book, knit a sweater.
If my kids bring home something from school they trul want to do they have to "earn the money" for the activity and they can only do one activity at a time.
The best things in life don't cost a dime, but they are not free, their cost is your time and efforts.

Diana @ frontyardfoodie said...

I love being frugal and now that I'm going to have my first child I want to do it even more. For the sake of my baby I want to teach it what I was taught, save money when you can, enjoy the simple things in life and love the things around you that were not bought with money (the outdoors, friends, and family).

I love spending time with my family and friends more than any other activity and it is completely free.

Katie said...

My husband and I are starting to be much more frugal because we are on a two-year plan to buy a home. We used to go out to eat every single night, believe it or not. We realized that my cooking at home, we could literally save almost $1,000 a month! Sounds insane - and it is - but it is true! Anyway, the more that we save, the more fun we have. It is like a game now - to see how much we can save. And already, just one month into it, we have saved $1,200.

Also, it is a great way to teach children to appreciate what they have. My stepson is 8 and really always pretty much had things handed to him - he came to expect going out to McDonald's or Denny's every weekend. Now we are teaching him we can make these same foods at home, and once in a while go out as a treat. He appreciates it MUCH more when we do go out now!

Esther said...

This is good. I was talking with some friends recently about our families' missions and focus. I go out of my way to make some foods my friends buy in packages because they feel their focus takes them away from the kitchen and garden in order to accomplish goals they have for their family and their mission. Meanwhile I'm doing much more than they are to be frugal and less than you according to the life and family focus my husband and I feel we're called to. You would obviously have to scale back on some of your activities to take on the duties of a doctor or nurse, as a couple of my friends have.
It is SO important to ask "What am I about here? What is my purpose in choosing to spend my time and money on x?" I applaud you for taking that time to intentionally choose your goals and the steps that will help you accomplish them.

sara said...

Beautiful post!
I am frugal because we are determined to get out of debt and no longer be a 'slave to the lender'.
I want to become as self sufficient as possible.
Being frugal is fun-I made my own deodorant last week and got such a kick out of it LOL!
And most important-by becoming more thrifty I'm feeding my family healthier foods, getting rid of toxic chemicals in our home, and teaching my kids to be better stewards of this beautiful earth we live on :)

mommyoffaith19 said...

its more environmentally friendly

Anonymous said...

I am no good at being frugal. I do not spend a ton of money on stuff that is not needed. It takes us a long time to decide on a purchase. We go to store after store to find the best price, and then we buy. One area I am not very good in at ALL is buying the girls' clothes. They are both stick skinny and noodle legged. I have a hard time finding them pants that fit, and then still have to tack the waist. Levi's are the only brand that fit my older daughter. No joke. So, I wait till they are on sale for BoGo an get her a few pairs at a time.

When it comes to food, I cannot/will not do what you do. We eat whole foods at least 75% of the time. This means, veggies, fruits, wild rice, wild salmon and cage free eggs. That is not a cheap diet. It makes me angry that eating healthy costs so much. We don't eat red meat. We don't eat pork. I make chickens a couple times a week. We eat ground turkey a few times a month. One thing I haven't cut out of our budget is cereal. I could probably save about $25 if I cut it, but then I'd have to buy even more eggs... I'll have to see the what the comparison is.

I can't drink milk. We do use kefir in our house, and greek yogurt. I have considered making my own, but for now, it would cost aprox $40 to get all the needed items to start. I shop weekly so I am trying to figure out how to do that.

I do buy a bag of potato chips and a box of granola bars a couple times a month. My kid love pb&j, and if I could figure out how to make yummy bread, that would be frugal. . .

We eat at home every night. The older kid eats lunch at school sometimes, if she forgets hers... THAT is not frugal. Can you believe they charge almost $3 for a school lunch now?!! Most days she takes a lunch.

I can't negotiate my children's nutritional health to be "frugal" though.

Lexie said...

I am trying to be frugal because I am a broke college student. I use a wonderwash instead of having to drag my clothes down to the basement of my dorm which is costly and is hard on my back. I also hope to start cooking frugally. All of these things that I am learning now I'm hoping to put into practice when I move to the city after graduation.

Karrie @ said...

Tree Huggin Mamma had some great ideas! I love the make your own teams for free!!!! I will have to try that! We do alot of hikes where we invite friends, swimming in the summer, and just having fun playing outside. Laser gun tag. My kids are into that right now. We have had the laser guns (kid appropriate) for years and I had put them away. We got them out last weekend when we had some friends over and was fun all over again! I do allow my kids to play some organized sports. We played soccer this year and the boys tried out basketball. We are taking a break this spring with baseball becuase I was really missing family time. We are also a big hunting family, so my husband, kids and I spend lots of time in the great outdoors. Use your imagination. We have to start using our minds and imagination and help our kids use thier imaginations because this world has robbed us from them!

SoMo said...

-Over consumption of resources means other people around the world are left with less. I see this as a form of stealing.

Can you explain what you mean by over consumption? Are you saying that if we in one country have something that others in another country do not have then we are over consuming?

Another commenter said that they don't think a Nigerian child is more important than an American child. I agree, but do you all realize that these countries' governments are very corrupt and some purposely starve their citizens?

-My husband and I believe in a strong work ethic and we want to demonstrate that to our kids. Just because I don't get paid for work I do around the house doesn't mean it has no value.

How does being frugal achieve this? You can still give your children a strong work ethic without being frugal?
I agree with the last statement, but again I don't think being frugal achieves that.

Erin T. said...

I love the thrill and fun of finding a bargain, finding something we need used, and I am often thrifty in certain avenues to offset a different thing that's not so thrifty, it's a balance for me. I agree though exactly with crabcakes: For me, that's the biggest thing. We're all human and we're all equal. I don't see an American child as more valuable than a Nigerian child. No one should be proud of a circumstance that they had no control over (such as where they were born).

I'm grateful to be an American. But I view all human children the same.

Well said, that is how I have always felt, GRATEFUL to have been born here, but not PROUD. How can I be proud that Jehovah God chose to put me on earth in this country? I had nothing to do with it. I am very grateful though. said...

I wouldn't necessarily call myself frugal (just poor, and picky, lol.) but like you I strive to live more sustainably and to be more globally minded.

I also really, really like what you said about learning to do something yourself as opposed to just paying someone else to do it. I find that very empowering too!
Of course, there are some things that I'm just not interested in learning and/or that even if I can do them I feel the time cost would not be worth the monetary savings, but I really LIKE to know how to do things and I LIKE to know how things work.

A couple pomnts I live by:

1. Quality is more important than a "deal"; it's better to have fewer possessions of quality that I actually use than a lot of cheaper things that I don't and that just take up space.
I especially feel this way about clothing. In the past I've purchased some cheaper items of clothing from places like Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe (which, especially on clearance can be ridiculously cheap) but I've worn these items MAYBE one or 2 times, or they just haven't held up. Instead, I look for higher end brands at consignment shops and thrift stores and scope out the clearance racks at places like Macy's, Younkers, or Bloomingdales (I serious just picked up a bunch of sweaters at Macy's that were on clearance for $5 each.)
I've found that the stores that are the most expensive to begin with usually have the best sales (sometimes up to 90% off!) and if you know where and when to look, you can end up with some really high quality items for much less than you would pay for a similar styles at places like Target or Walmart.

2. the only thing worth going into debt for is education.
My parents are both teachers and raised me to highly value education. And I do.
There is nothing I would rather spend my money on. Not only can more education improve my quality of life in the sense that I can make more money, but it just makes life richer, more fulfilling.
3. "You can't take it with you!" Savings are great; it's great to find a deal; however, it's not something I want to drive myself crazy over. In the end it won't really matter whether or not I paid $5 more for my coffee maker and I don't need to drive myself crazy searching for hours online to find THE cheapest one.

4. I live in an intentional community. I don't know if this is something you and your DH would be interested in, but for my husband and I it has improved our quality of live tremendously! We share meals, enjoy delicious fresh and seasonal foods, live, laugh and work together. Not only is our life a lot more "green", it's a lot more fun and a lot more meaningful.

So I guess my philosophy is:

Don't be greedy or live in excess. Don't drive myself crazy trying NOT to. Treat myself now and then. Let things go.
I get what I pay for, whether paying in time or money.
No person is an island, everyone and everything is interconnected--enjoy it! embrace it! I can't be too proud to depend on others, they depend on me too. said...

Hi Em , I have always been frugal , but even more so now that I have kids , I want them to understand lifes not about the cost of the journey or how good you look on the hourney , but the joy of the journey its self.

I also wanted to share todays post w/ you

As a Single Stay at Home Mom The Frugality pays , but it really hasnt lowered our standard of living because we enjoy the enrichment of LIFE vs Stuff.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Anon - I would say I am "frugal" but I also eat a whole foods/organic diet. Milk in my house is $10/week. I simply don't buy unnecesary items and cut back in other areas to have the funds to feed my kids well with good quality food.

Green In OC said...

Anonymous @ 11:50am:

Have you tried raw milk? Almost everyone who can't drink milk finds that raw milk works for them.

I've made kefir and greek yogurt.

All I needed for the kefir was my raw milk ($4/quart) and some kefir grains which I picked up for free after googling "kefir grains" and finding someone in my area to pick some up from.

Greek yogurt was 1 or 2 tablespoons of some greek yogurt that I had on hand and a quart of raw milk.

I am really confused as to why you would need $40 in supplies?

You can either buy generic cereal (my Dad used to by "toasty-o's" instead of Cheerios and once a year we got a box of Golden Grahams which lasted maybe 97 seconds!).

What about oatmeal instead - the old fashioned kind that's NOT packaged individually?

You can stretch scrambled eggs with a little sour cream, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, cheese, etc...

I have a family member that has modified a cookie recipe to use only natural brown sugar, only whole grain flours (i.e. spelt), adding raisins, cranberries, nuts, oats and a few dark chocolate chips. The kids think they are getting chocolate chip cookies for breakfast!

Are you buying whole bone-in skin on chickens? If not, start and then use the skin and bones to make broths and soups. Plus you get quite a bit more chicken off when you boil the bones again.

Instead of buying ground turkey - which is really expensive per pound (at least where I live) buy some bone-in skin on turkey. Remove the skin and bones (save for soup or broth later) and then grind the turkey yourself. SUPER cheap, fresh and the added benefit of knowing which parts are in your ground meat!

Join your local Freecycle or Sharing is Giving group and see if you can find a bread maker. Also, you might luck out and find some clothes for your kids. I have another family member that has found several families from there and they network to pass on clothes between about 4 families.

Green In OC said...

morethanamom2four - check out some homeschooling groups in your area, they might be happy to let your kids join in on some of the organized activities that fit your schedule.

Anonymous said...

We don't eat factory farmed meat because of the huge strain it puts on the environment. We don't shop at Walmart because most of their products are made in China and shipping a plastic spatula or roaster around the world is not frugal or fair to the rest of the planet. I want to teach my children that they have to think of the global cost to others before they snag that "good deal" and most of the things people consider good deals are actually environmental crimes or labor crimes against others. For example, Walmart's imported goods are almost never created at a fair wage.


Carmen said...

I like your way of doing things. Yesterday I went and bought some ingredients to make my own pasta so thank you for the ideas!

tarynkay said...

My number one reason is learning. I love knowing how to do stuff myself, and I love making/fixing things that no one realizes you can make/fix- like making peanut butter and darning socks. I find this stuff fascinating and delightful. And I never feel so rich as when I eat the first slice of freshly baked bread. This is just as satisfying when you bake the bread in the crockpot- thanks for that tip!

This reason verges into the political as well, b/c I hate how marketers have convinced people that it is not possible to make and mend many things. I really hated it when the gov't started calling us consumers instead of citizens.

I also decline to buy lots of stuff b/c of social justice issues. This is both a concern about how things are produced and a spreading-the-money around thing. The less I buy, the more I can give. When I do buy things, I try to buy them from charity shops or independent, local shops so that my money is at least supporting people I know and/or causes I agree with.

Sometimes, this isn't very frugal. For instance, we buy milk from a local dairy, local free range eggs, and we join a CSA in season. It would be generally cheaper to get food from the supermarket. But we don't want to buy dairy/eggs/meat/vegetables from industrial farms, b/c this conflicts w/ our beliefs about being good stewards. My husband's grandfather was an organic farmer starting in the 1950s, so this is a really important thing in his family. We still keep our grocery budget low (though I'm sure that many people have far lower ones) by not eating much meat and having more meals centered around beans and vegetables.

Finally, I want to save money. I am trying to pay off our mortgage and student loans as quickly as possible and I like to keep a good emergency fund.

This blog is really helpful in introducing new ideas and thinking about things differently. Thanks for all of your hard work on it!

Gizmola said...

I would be interested in a post where you compare frugality vs. quality. What I mean is that there are choices we all make - should I buy something cheap now or spend more money on something that will last longer?

I am very careful with my money but I do purchase nice quality items. If I buy a dvd player I buy the best quality brand I can afford even if it's twice the cheapest brand at the store. When I've bought furniture I shop the thrift and antique stores but instead of buying a serviceable couch I buy one that is well built and one which I know I'll treasure.

Dreamer13 said...

Great post! It's so encouraging to remember that there's more than one reason for doing the things I do :) and that there's always room to grow!

You've won an award :) Come check it out and pass it on!

Staci @ teaching money to kids said...

What is amazing is how many of the things that you write about used to be basic. Everyone and their mother used to do it. BUt I know for a fact that in the 60 my Mom, and probably her mom had a great rebellion and said no more. They totally bought into the idea that you don't have to know how to do things your self. Why breast feed, when you can buy formula, why use natural family plannning when you can go on the pill, why cook when you can buy a tv dinner.
Now all of those mothers don't have the information to pass on to their children, like me. Like who doesn't know how to make a loaf of bread? Well, actually I don't (although I have experimented a bit). and I am sure that my mom has never made a loaf before in her life either.
Except maybe in Home Ec. they used to teach that anyway. But even now those programs are getting cut from the schools.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting thread and I agree a discussion about frugality vs. quality would be fascinating.

I am frugal in some areas and I enjoy reading many of the posts here. However, I am similar to other readers in that I will spend money on certain premium things because it reflects my vales.

For example I try to purchase local, organic food. I buy organic chickens directly from an old order farm. The chickens are free range. I buy free range eggs and so on. We send our children to an excellent, private (and therefore expensive) faith based school. This costs us $10,000/yr per child. Not cheap but we will cut corners in other areas to do this.

For us frugality is about living very consciously and choosing very carefully where money goes. I want my decisions to reflect my values. For example, I will spend money on fairly traded goods and clothing made in humane workplaces. It means I buy less clothing but so be it.

Now I must admit that I am in a position that I can also afford these choices. I am grateful for that.

I would enjoy reading more re: this sort of discussion.

Daisy in Ontario

Anonymous said...

My reasons are simple, frugality has always been with me, I think I was born that way :)

It also comes in handy when your hubby is laid off, it also teaches our kids the value of the dollar.

I am really frugal with regards to grocery shopping and kids clothes........

Mom in Canada

Green In OC said...

Bella - You Go Girl! That was beautifully said and not some long drawn out rant like I would have written on the subject.

Anonymous said...

"Frugal people are stereotyped as going way out of THEIR way to save a nickel."

Also, where do you draw the line between being frugal and being cheap?


Mary Jane said...

The more I read this blog and other frugal blogs I've decided that I am certainly not frugal. I'd like to think that I make wise decisions with my money and I'm a good bargain-hunter, but I'm not frugal.

As others have commented upon I really prefer to try to get the highest quality for the best price. Almost all of our furniture is used, but when buying used we seek out the highest quality we can find. I do not want my money to go towards supporting factory farmed meat so we buy it locally instead. I might pay more for chicken, but I'm mindful of this and instead of a chicken breast per person for dinner it might be just one or two breasts in a stir-fry. Or, I'll buy whole chickens and carefully save the carcasses to make stock. My toddler absolutely adores dresses by a certain company that are rather expensive but known to be of exceptional quality. Instead of paying $50 to buy a new dress I'll buy her several on eBay (or occasionally luck into one at a thrift store) for much less. I garden and grow a portion of our own organic veggies each summer. This year I'm expanding the garden and will have a much larger space so I'm hoping to be able to can/preserve quite a bit. I'm also looking into getting a few backyard chickens (not at all frugal when you look at the start-up costs of building a coop compared with how cheaply I could just pick up a dozen eggs at the store instead.)

But, I really don't do any of these things due to frugality. Rather, I'm more motivated by quality and sustainability on a reasonable (but not necessarily frugal) budget.

Susan said...

Adding some more thoughts:

We don't skimp on our foods. I buy quality food ON SALE! I shop the loss leaders (on the front page of the grocery flyer, usually above the fold) for meat. If it's not a loss leader, we don't need it. I have found that our local, ground in store sausage is half the price of the major name brand on BOGO.

The clearance meat bin is a must look. DH loves to get his steaks there. We just either use the meat right that night or freeze for later.

Fresh fuits and veggies are a MUST. I have a price per pound I will not go above, usually $.98/lb. but we cannot go without. It is just too taxing not to eat right!

I found a shop where day old bread is $1 for two grocery bags. Ask around to find out if there is such a place in your community. Local food banks are a godsend to those in need. If you have extra, you can give.

When our income dropped low enough, we swallowed our pride and got food stamps. The government programs to help people out are a good thing. After the Great Depression, these programs were set up to see no one has to go hungry or be without housing in times of crisis.

How anyone cannot take advantage of what they have paid taxes to support is beyond me. Are you going to refuse Social Security when you retire? After all, you paid into that; just like you are paying into the food stamp program, WIC, and even welfare through you taxes.

No where did Jesus say that we must denouce help from others when we need it. He never said, "Don't take help from strangers." I was always taught to give what I could but when I was in need to accept what is freely given. It is a blessing to receive so that eventually you may give back to others.
Pay it forward.

Anonymous said...

Green in OC-

I do whole chickens a few times a month. No one will eat the dark meat, so I reserve that for soups. I usually can use a whole chicken for at least three dinners.

We do eat oatmeal. And I don't consider that nasty packaged crap food anyway ;)

The cereal is usually on sale. But the kids would prefer it over sweets on the weekend, so we go through a lot. Cheerios and bananas are one of their favorite foods!

I do put veggies in the eggs, but with a family of four, I still need at least half a dozen eggs. And I will ONLY buy local, cage free eggs. I'm looking into a place where you collect your own eggs. Yummy!

I've priced turkey and its MUCH less for me to buy it preground.

I make home made cookies, but my hubby makes them better! *I have an awesome husband who can cook like WOAH!*

as per the $40, its aproximate, but I have no containers to make it in. I have to buy the stuff to start the kefir and yogurt with (I looked at kits at the Whole Foods and Sun Harvest, could not find a yogurt kit for less than $15) I know in the long run, it will be cheaper... I also know I'm an obsessive person, and I don't want to end up calculating to the penny like Emily (sorry Emily, that's way to OCD, and I'm already that!)Wow, big excuse???? I should just bite the bullet.

I also forgot to mention that my husband and I are very athletic and need a lot more calories than most.

Okay, I'm gonna break down what we spend on food.

Honestly. I have kept track incessantly since Jan and I spent about $85/week on produce. It all gets eaten. Meat is a very small portion... maybe $15-20/week. Canned beans, frozen fruit, oatmeal, spices/flours/sugars/honey/etc (not really weeky but we usually need SOMETHING), lunch box items (bread, pb&j,sliced meat, cheeses) and frozen juice are about $25/week. Cereal is not a weekly thing, I buy as much as I think we'll need for 2 weeks, and generally spend like $25 month there. We also can't drink the tap water where we live. We pay $30 for water service. It is cheaper to buy bottled water but I can't handle throwing away all those bottles. We use cups and refillable culligan water.

You'll see we don't buy crap... its just all good, healthy food. I cannot cut back anymore. I already cut out boxed foods, premade foods, etc etc. I could make my own bread/tortillas etc, but I have to get hubby on board to buy the tools to do so (sorry Emily, I couldn't eat what you make... ulcerative colitis and your diet would = hospital)

Our Family Is His said...

I don't know if I am frugal. I use our money wisely. I don't always buy the cheapest because that's not a good use of money. If I buy a cheap blender, I might have to replace it 2 times. But if I buy a higher quality blender, I end up saving money by not buying 3 total blenders.

Health is also important to me. For instance, we bought a nicer set of cookware because of how nasty many of the cheaper cookware substances are and how bad they are for you (Teflon anyone?). Yes, it costs more, but after seeing the labs in my children that already have issues, I can see very clearly how much I am saving financially not having very sick children and what I am saving them from (not just talking hype, actual medical lab results).

Frugalness is a good thing, but buying smart, spending your money smart, and investing wisely is a better thing. Maybe that is the true idea of frugalness since you really do spend less money in the end by sometimes spending more up front.

We buy very nice foods (most times it actually costs less. ie locally grown, grass fed and finished meats are cheaper per pound and healthier) because we have true health concerns with our sons and refuse to put junk into our bodies. That might be more expensive up front, but if we skip obesity, skip heart problems, skip diabetes, skip all the sicknesses that go around because of the nasty toxins we put into our bodies, we are saving money.

Emily said...

I don't think that anyone thinks that getting low quality is frugal. Being frugal is thinking through your purchases. If you have to replace something in five years, you are obviously not getting a good deal.

Anonymous said...

Low quality food will have the biggest long term cost of all your purchases. Tonight when I made chicken noodle soup for dinner I used to carcass of a 7 dollar local free range chicken from last night, and vegetables purchased last summer at our local farmer's market and frozen for soup making. I made the noodles myself with eggs from our chickens. The rolls were made from whole wheat flour grown locally and milled at home. I know the environmental costs of this meal. I know that while it cost me more out of pocket than a Walmart chicken, I know it was fed well and not pumped up with horrible drugs.

I do believe wealth is important to self sustainability. You have to be able to provide for your own family. Having wealth doesn't mean you are an over consumer. It usually means the exact opposite. ;)

I don't boil up a chicken carcass and make my own stock for frugal reasons. I do it for health, taste, and what is right. This chicken died so we could eat. It is wrong to waste it.


Jessica said...

I appreciate that you are analyzing the reasons behind your frugality. Folks can often miss the reasons behind saving money, making it an idol in their lives and missing life due to an obsession with saving money. Much better to live inexpensively and use the time saved that would otherwise be used working!

I also enjoyed you stating that you want to keep from overconsumption in order to save these resources for others. Have you ever read the book/cookbook "More with Less"? It is based on this world view. A great thing to look into!


Anonymous said...

Guess I would be middle of the road frugal. I line-dry my clothes summer and winter. In the winter, we have lines in the basement with a dehumidifier and heat and that works. I wish I had the old washer-spinner machine that we owned when my kids were little. It took half the time, water, and electric.
I used cloth diapers, which I made, but... I was a SAHM and, to be honest, if I had been a working mum, I can't honestly say that I wouldn't have used disposable diapers.
I know that products such as sanitary napkins, kleenex, or paper towels( I do recycle - lol, the last 2) could be replaced but I won't ever go back to the days of rags and hankerchiefs! That is just too nasty.
As far as clothes, I never did buy that much. For my around the house items, I go cheap! I don't feel obliged to "dress up" to clean the floors. If I need to go somewhere special, then, I will pay very good money because it will last!
We've almost always had a vegetable garden & I love it! I hope to start a herb garden this year.
Groceries are problem area. I don't know what people in the various states in the U.S. pay for fresh fruit but here in Nova Scotia, for example, bananas are 79 cents/lb. and apples, the cheapest fruit, are generally $1.00 -$1.50 per pound. So we do buy JUICE which I realize isn't quite the same but... what can you do?
I agree with some of the posters about being more self-reliant, not because I'm anti- gov't, but they can't do it all for you! We have HST here in Canada (13%); it is a tax that is added to almost every good and service. There was talk at one time about taxing yard sales and going after those who barter for services but a huge stink was raised & that was never done. The point here is - if you are self-reliant, the gov't loses taxes!
Oh well, I've ranted enough. I do enjoy reading the posts about frugality and glad of any hints.

Jean said...

Most of the frugal things we do have multiple reasons.

I clean with vinegar and cloth diaper my son because it is better for the environment, works just as well, gives me less to lug home from the store and is less expensive.

We eat at home because with food allergies it is not safe for me to eat out, it's less expensive, takes less time, and we both like to cook.

I make my own yogurt because it is waaaay cheaper, healthier and impresses other people. Well, maybe not the last reason but people are often flabbergasted to find out I make yogurt, bake bread (without a breadmaker), and cloth diaper.

My husband works hard to bring home the money he does. It's his job to bring it in and my job to stretch it out as far as possible.

Green In OC said...

Anonymous @ 6:23pm - I was unclear with the cookie idea (hardly any sugar and lots of nuts, oats and dried fruits) - kids eat them for breakfast.

I am still confused about the "kits" you need for Kefir and Yogurt. You probably have everything you need and don't realize it.

For kefir you need something to put the milk and grains in that will cover it but still allow air flow. I put the milk in a Pyrex measuring cup that had it's own lid that I placed loosely on top. You could also re-use a glass mayo jar and just set the lid on top. Store in a dark place - I just put in the cupboard. When it's ready you shouldn't strain the kefir in a metal colander; I just fish out the grains with a wooden spoon and put them in fresh room temperature milk. I'm not sure what could possibly be in a "kit".

For the yogurt I used small individual glass storage bowls with lids that I already had. If I didn't have those I would have used one large glass bowl with a lid.

Turn your oven on to the lowest setting.

Put your glass storage bowls on a cookie sheet.

Heat the milk to just boiling, then transferred the milk to a glass bowl.

Let that cool until you can put your pinky in it for 20 seconds straight.

Next stir in 1 - 2 tablespoons of your favorite Greek Yogurt. Mix well until it is all blended.

Turn the oven off.

Pour the mixture into each bowl and cover everything with a clean kitchen towel.

Put in the oven.

Go to bed.

When you wake up you will have lovely thick Greek yogurt! If it's not thick enough you can strain it through cheesecloth to get out excess liquid. I think having it in small bowls and in a warmed oven does the trick though!

Put the lids on whatever you haven't eaten and pop in the fridge!

For you next batch, use the yogurt that you made as the yogurt to mix in to the warm milk.

You don't need any kits, just the power of Google. Yogurt and kefir and thousands of years old foods prepared long before electricity, plastic, marketing, etc...!

theresa said...

I enjoy the challenge of being frugal. It is very satisfying to know that you saved money and did something of value to your family.

I always look at money in terms of the choices I have in terms of spending it. I like to make the choice that makes the most sense for my family. I could go to Starbucks every day and buy myself a cup of coffee or I could save all of that money and take my family out to a nice dinner at the end of the week. I could buy myself a new sweater or I could put donate that money to a good cause. I find that when I think of money that way, I make better choices and feel better about myself.

I'm Jenny said...

I am into frugality as well, not to the level that Emily is, mostly because I don't need to be that frugal, but also because I wouldn't be happy in such a small home.

I've been a stay at home mom for 12 years. My husband does make a good bit more money than Dan (and always has) but doesn't have a high income either, more middle class. For me, frugality allows me to stay home with my children, that's a lot of it. However, I was frugal even before kids when we were both working. I like to save money, and everything I don't spend I save. Our savings has enabled me to keep staying home when a large expenditure becomes necessary. It's also a challenge for me, I get excited about great thrift store/garage sale finds. Finally, I'm just cheap, I can't imagine paying $90 for a sweatshirt at Abercrombie, but I do occasionally find that brand at a thrift store and I'll buy it for my kids then (and brag about my find.) Also, we can live better if I find things for less, every dollar I spend is a dollar I can spend on something else. I don't completely cook from scratch like Emily, we have cereal and frozen meals, canned soup, etc, but I buy everything on sale and use coupons.

Scottish Twins said...

I posted ways to save money on organics at Intended Temple. I'm not sure if you still read there, but I thought I would share because I thought you might find the info useful.

Anonymous said...

See, learn something from this blog... ;)

I don't have any of the dishes you listed above. Not even a glass mayo jar. Lol. I am going to try the kefir, you think I could use goat's milk?

finding my purpose in the 2nd half said...

"But my kids want to join something new each week, soccer, karate, skating lessons, whatever they send home from school. I mean, soccer is "only" $50, but that is per kid and I have four kids!

We have four children too. Early on, three of the four showed a real propensity toward a sport or extra-curricular activity (two started at age three). We supported them in these and looked at the expense as an investment in their development. Three also wanted to play an instrument. We also supported them in these endeavers. We believed the life lessons they received would be worth the expense. We did not allow them to try "everything" they wanted but encouraged them in their talents. The youngest was a little more difficult because he did try a couple of things before finding his passion as a junior in high school. But he did learn valuable tools in everything he did.

The payoff in all of this? Each is very healthy and concerned about nutrician. They made friends from all over the country which they will have for life. Each followed their passions into college and participated on college teams. The passions of three paid for their education. And we have amazing memories of watching each develop into wonderful young people. Was it expense - sometimes. Time consuming - yes that too. But if we had to do it again, we'd do it just the same.

craftevangelist said...

I echo a lot of the same things you mentioned in your post, Emily. I am more likely continuing to do something frugal if it also has other benefits, like health, environmental, and convenience benefits. Honestly, I find cloth diapering more convenient than disposables. If I'm out of diapers, I just run a load of laundry, instead of bundling 2 children up for a drive to the store to pay for disposable diapers that I have to bag up and get out of my house as soon as possible before they make the house stink. Same with making bread: sometimes it's just easier to make it myself than bundle up the children for a trip to the grocery store (it's been a long winter). Many times it's a bonus that my healthier, environmentally friendlier choices cost less.

Teaching Money to Kids said...

Okay, I am back to comment again.
1st to respond to the question about work ethic: Every time you pay someone to do something you are saying one of 2 things. 1. I am too good/rich/busy to do it myself, or 2. I don't know how. Not many people will admit this, but it is true. So you are teaching a work ethic that involves saying I am not better than the next guy, and I am smart enough to learn how.
I also feel that you missed a reason, and I find that you often gloss over this reason in many of your posts, but you may be trying to reach a different audience, so I can't fault you. But by certain life choices, you are also being a witness. Whether in choice of how money or time is spent, or earned.
Whether or not you beleive that your body is a temple of God and that you should be careful of what you put into it, it is hard to deny the cause and effect of food on our lives.
Choosing to be temperate or lavish says many things about who you are, what you beleive, and in whom you trust. Regardless of what may be critqued on a blog actual lifestyle will say so much more than spell check can ever filter.
Okay, I will put my soap box away.

samanatha said...

When you say "overconsumption of resources" don't you see that by having more than average number of children you will also be overconsuming resources ? Resources that could have been used by people aorund the world who are in poverty??

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