In Everything Give Thanks

Like most good things, the blogging world has its drawbacks. Along with the ability to learn and share ideas, tips, recipes, etc...comes the battle of comparing and competing, guilt and envy. While having so much information is empowering, it can also be exhausting because a whole new world of ideas, causes, opinions, and "mandates" is thrust upon you. There is always more that I could do, more ways that I could be "better" and both sides of every topic pulling at me to agree that they are THE right way. Well, the only THE WAY that I know is Jesus (John 14:6), and as for the rest of that stuff, the verdict is still out and the color is more gray. I loved how Elisa titled one of her posts "As for me and my house..."

I also like full circles, so I thought it would be fun look at the etymology (origin, history, and evolution of words and their meanings) of the word 'Frugal', since Elisa started us off with the definition in her first post.

Frugal: 1590s, from M.Fr. frugal, from Latin frugalis, from undeclined adj. frugi "useful, proper, worthy, honest; temperate, economical," originally dative of frux (pl. fruges) "fruit, produce," figuratively "value, result, success," related to fructus. Sense evolved in Latin from "useful" to "profitable" to "economical."

I'm happy that "Frugal" was our February theme, because as I was mulling over ways that I save and enjoying everyone's posts, I also was mulling over that good 'ol Love passage, and this particular verse kept coming to mind:

1 Corinthians 13 (NASV)

The Excellence of Love
1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

There is so much we can do. But as we consider what we can do, as we sift through all the information and clamoring voices, as we reconsider what we already are doing, we shouldn't just jump to "is this economical?" but should consider "is this profitable?" Like Jeni posted earlier, what are my motivations for being frugal? Because if it isn't love (for God and what He has blessed me with, for my family, for His Church, for the world He created), then, as Paul said, it profits me nothing. If I am busting my tail to do all of these things because they are frugal, but then have no energy or patience left over for my family, then why am I doing them? and is that really profitable? If I spend so much time thinking about things, even if it's about the best, most economical way to use them, they become a burden instead of a blessing. I believe you can be frugally materialistic.

Matthew 6:25
"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Worry goes both ways. I can worry about frugally using what I have just as easily as I can worry about getting what I have when my motivations get skewed and my focus gets shifted away from "how can I honor the Lord with what He's given me?"

This anecdote really struck me as I looked up the etymology of frugally:
Morton's Fork
1889, in ref. to John Morton (c.1420-1500), archbishop of Canterbury, who levied forced loans under Henry VII by arguing the obviously rich could afford to pay and the obviously poor clearly were living frugally and thus had savings and could pay, too.
Frugal is as frugal does.

I'm not exactly sure how to get across what I'm trying to say, because I believe strongly in stewardship. I guess I'm just trying to reiterate Jeni's point of not letting even this good thing become an idol or source of security/conflict/worry in your life. It's great to share ideas, inspire, and even challenge each other, because then we can try new things. And sometimes we will like them, like Sarah trying Aldis at her husband and brother-in-law's recommendations, and sometimes we will realize we are best with what we were already doing and can keep on doing it with more contented focus. But whatever we do, whether it's cash envelopes or spreadsheets, cloth or disposable diapering, whether we sprout our grain or buy WonderBread, or everything in between, we should do it with thanks unto the Lord for His provision and appreciation for the resources and luxury of choice that we enjoy.

here are some last resources before I forget. Seriously, there is so much one could say on this topic!
Coupon Database:

Kid's Clothes:


Free Nutrition & Fitness Tools:


Frugal Wall Art

Silver Sharpies:
they are WONDERFUL! I still have dreams of doing a whole wall design with one, but for now I have used one to write some verses from Psalms 37 around my kitchen.

And to create my "pauper's beadboard" in the dining room. I taped the lines off and used some of the leftover gray ceiling paint in the middle. Most people assume that it's wallpaper. I never know what people are going to think of my goofy ideas, but I love it when they don't get noticed because that must mean it's not too jarringly weird or obviously cheap! =)

Plastic Plates:
You can find all kinds of cute plasticware designs in the after-summer clearance sections for excellent prices.
The blue plates I found at Walgreens became fun, big, 3D bubbles in the kid's bathroom.

And the daisies I found in the Target clearance section prettied up my daughter's nursery wall.

along with the daisies are some metal coasters that had a daisy motif (garage sale), a vintage daisy print (garage sale) *I LOVE that picture, sigh* and the oil painting of the swans is one of my most favorite Goodwill finds ever! I have several original paintings that I love and I found them at Goodwill, the Salvation Army store, and garage sales. Never underestimate what you can find in those places!

This is one of the paintings I found at a garage sale. I love it! Who would get rid of such a thing?! I sure am glad that they did, tho! As much as I loved it, I realized that it wasn't quite the right scale for our headboard. So it got moved over to another wall where it shines because it get's all the attention. But I didn't have a lot of money for a headboard. Thankfully a local grocery store had some really large, cheap prints. The art was really cheap&ugly, and in the end I was able to buy two huge canvases for $10each, paint them brown, add some grass cloth placemats (Pier1 clearance) that I cut up and some green ribbon, and suddenly the bed had much more presence and felt anchored!

Even if you don't find great secondhand artwork, you can always make your own!

Fabric, Shoe box lids, & Glue
One of my all-time favorite frugal ideas was for my son's room. I was wanting inexpensive (the kid is gonna grow out of it someday) but cute and colorful tree artwork, so I decided to make it myself. I opted for repurposing old shoebox lids instead of putting money towards canvases.
WalMart has a great $1 fabric table for projects like this.

These little critters were actually shirts my son wore, and stained. But they were too cute to toss out. I'm glad I saved them! They added a great graphic element. That Christmas I gave our extended family the materials to make one for my son's Christmas present if they wanted. This was really fun because it brought some great variety of artistic idea, while still having the continuity of the same fabrics. Jeni made an adorable snail- it was a favorite with the kids, in fact they loved its eyes off and the rest of it to pieces, so it is sadly no longer with us =) And that, my friends, is yet another reason for frugal children's wall art!

My oldest two now share a room, so I brought in one of the pictures that had been in my daughter's nursery. A card that my family had given me for my 16th birthday which I love for the art and the memories. I found the frame in the Kohl's clearence section for supercheap and then backed the picture with a piece of the green gingham curtain (Goodwill) that I had cut up and used elsewhere in her nursery.

Using fabric is a great way to add color and whimsy or elegance while saving on buying custom mats and frames. I've had this watercolor up on the wall for years, always planning on getting it matted, but never ready to spend the money on it. Just last month I realized that I had some great green, sheer crinkle fabric that would add the right touch of color and added texture. I love it. Cost: $0 Improvement: huge!

Photos and Cheap Garage Sale Frames:

Using pictures that mean something to me or evoke a strong memory is my favorite wall art, so
I'm always checking out the clearance aisles and garage sales for inexpensive wooden frames. They are great because everyone has some to get rid of, and a coat of paint makes them work
exactly for your need.

I alternated black frames with dusty-celery painted frames up my stairway. I found great textured $1 mats at WalMart and grabbed them, knowing someday I would use them. I love personal photos, and the old family photos that are surprising and interesting just grab my fancy. I love this wall because it holds so many stories, but still has a cohesive, gallery look to it.

Another project (not shown) for the kids room was some collage frames with pictures of special vacations we took mixed with coordinating color print outs of a favorite book character.

This is my most recent project. I'm hesitant to put it on here because it still needs work. I still need to sticky tack the backs to keep them all straight -this picture drives me crazy- but it's another example of the inexpensive fun you can have. We have really tall ceillings that I wanted to hi-light. All it took was cheap, open frames, several coats of black spray paint, hot glue, a $10 roll of sheer curtain print from Ikea that I have always loved, 8x10 family pictures in sepia tone, and a picture that I created using picknik.com.

my favorite photo resources are
picknik.com where you can upload your own photo and add text and other fun things to it. Recently I just made a poster with a favorite picture and verse
and printed it at Walgreens photo - they are always having some sale or coupon so if you have time you never have to pay full price!

Those are just some of the ideas that I've had fun with around our house. I am no artist, but I love art, and I think a home should be full of fun, meaningful beauty. My philosophy is that if you find something you love, you can find a way to use it. And if you find it on sale, even better! There are so many wonderful, inexpensive ways to add pretty personality to your walls. Go for it!



My God will always provide.

Sometimes it's the financial freedom to be able to say "yes".

Sometimes it's the self control to say "no".

Sometimes it's the patience to wait.

Sometimes it's the wisdom, tho begrudging, to see that a "need" is actually just a "want".

Sometimes it's an amazing store sale, craigslist deal, garage sale find etc.

Sometimes it's the contentment to joyfully accept my present situation.

Sometimes it's the brain storm to see how I can better utilize what I already have.

Sometimes it's a gift or thoughtful gesture from a friend or even a stranger.

Sometimes it's a Word of love from Himself that reminds me how blessed beyond measure I already am.

Sometimes it's the recognition of need in someone else's life that helps me see beyond my own situation.

Sometimes it's a coupon for my favorite brand.

Sometimes it's the perspective to understand what real value is.

Sometimes it's the creativity to make or re-purpose something to meet my need.

Sometimes it's peace that passes all understanding, keeping/guarding my heart and mind through Jesus Christ.

Sometimes it's the lyrics of a hymn or song that pop into my head at just the right time
"Stayed upon Jehovah/ hearts are fully blessed/finding as He promised/perfect peace and rest"

Whatever the situation, my God is so wise, so powerful and so creative. It may not be the answer I was looking for, but He is always providing for me!

Jehovah-jireh, the Lord Who Provides, literally, the Lord Who Sees, sees beyond the need that I am experiencing. Each and every situation is an opportunity to help me realize my true dependence on Him, His true love for me, and a way to draw me closer to Himself, and to make me more like His Son.
And that, really, is all I need.


How to: Freeze Fresh Ginger

Marathon cooking has helped me in more ways than just having a bunch of meals on hand. It has helped me see the freezer as the great asset it is. Big sale on bagels/bread, frozen vegetables, meats, or shredded cheese? Buy a bunch and freeze it up! Fruit going bad? Peel it, chop it, and stick it in the freezer to use in smoothies or yogurts or baked goods later. I REALLY dislike handling onions, so I buy a couple bags, chop 'em up all in one tear-filled standing, freeze 'em, and don't have to deal with them for a while again, but they are ready to saute or add in whenever a recipe calls. Like canning, it's just another way to stock up on seasonal items. Right now I'm wishing I had frozen some bags of cranberries when they were out over Thanksgiving/Christmas. Did you know that every brand of canned whole berry cranberry sauce has high fructose corn syrup in it?! I'm sure that there's an organic brand out there without it, but every brand that I checked at two stores had it listed under ingredients. Boo! But I digress. Point is, the freezer is your friend.

This is is one of my favorite new tips (Thank you, Mary Dunham and "The More Beef for Your Money Cookbook") because I love the kick ginger gives foods and soups but it seemed like, no matter what size I purchased, there were always leftovers that would go bad in the fridge and be wasted. No more! Here is how to get the most out of your ginger:

Buy whichever size seems appropriate for your usage.
(Go ahead and grab a big 'ol root; it's so tasty, and you won't have to remember it next shopping trip because your freezer is stocked!)

Cut into 2inch-ish pieces and pare/peel

Wrap pieces individually in foil

Place wrapped pieces into dated and labeled freezer bag/s

When a recipe calls for some ginger, pull out a piece and grate away!

I like to only partially unwrap it because the foil keeps my fingers from getting too cold.

Some resources
Freezer Chart:

Proper Freezer Packaging/Prep

Share the Cold!
Another great idea is to have a Freezer Swap with some friends! Similar to a cookie exchange, everyone puts together a freezable/storable entree (should feed 4-6). The number of meals that you make depends on the number of participants. Then everyone gets together and takes one meal from everyone else. The benefits of this system is that you only have to buy the ingredients and prepare all the food from one recipe, so you can buy in bulk (save money), and you can do it all at once (save time and dishes), but everyone walks away with many different meals to enjoy.


Food for Thought

I get so tired of food! Some days it feels like between meal planning, ingredient reading, price checking, shopping, prep, set up, clean up, and, of course, the ever-important snacks, all I ever think about is food, what is in it, is it the right thing for my family, and how do I need to plan my day around getting it on the table and in their tummies on time. Oh, I forgot to mention being the sole food source for a four month old...food food food. But I have discovered a system that frees me up a lot because I freeze up a lot! You may have heard of Once-a-Month cooking, Frozen Assets, or, as I like to call it, Marathon Cooking. Right now I'm doing twice a month cooking (although I just did my second shopping trip and there's less than 10 days left in the month and I still have 2 meals in my freezer!).


Saves time:

* Two days of work affords two-plus weeks of entrees and lunches!

It gives me a concentrated time of focused super organization and work, and then the rest of the time I can fly by the seat of my pants like I like to! No more stressing out because I forgot to get dinner started in time or don't have all the necessary ingredients like I thought I did! This system works really well with the way my mind works/doesn't work.

* Instead of peeling, paring, chopping, sauteing, browning, etc... every dinnertime, I do a ton of it in one day and then am done!

* Same thing goes for all those dishes and pots cooking requires- one of my favorite realizations of the perks to doing this: Post dinner clean up is a breeze!

Saves Money:
* typing out my menu plan and grocery list makes going through the grocery store ads and coupons much simpler. I don't have to carry all those coupons on me because I know exactly which ones I need. Same goes for sales (like BOGO or "10 for 10") on non perishables- I have a good idea on how much to stock up and what to pass up.

* Doing the bighuge grocery trip makes me extra careful to go exactly by my list, which is carefully made up after going through my calendar, recipes and pantry. Knowing that my grocery bill is going to be in the three digits always gives me a knot in my stomach. At the same time, knowing that every item that I am purchasing is going to get used and not forgotten or wasted is such a great feeling!

* Added bonus- after I've done my big shopping trip and collected my receipt I usually have no desire to go shopping or spend money on anything for a long time. =)

* Cooking from scratch is always more cost and health effective!

* Having all those meals planned out and made means spending less on eating out or random trips to the grocery store, which always add up. Not feeling great? Tired? Just get home from a busy day out? Dinner is still right there just waiting to be heated! And I know it's more cost effective and healthier than buying frozen entrees at the store; I know exactly what went in, and more importantly, what didn't go in (preservatives!)

Saves Me:
* I always feel prepared for mealtime

* It has helped me overall have a idea of what meals go over really well with the family, and to realize that I don't need to serve them a different meal every night. I repeated my two week menu plan in the same month to get a really good idea on prices comparisons, and nobody complained that we were eating the same things! duh, sarah!

* Hospitality isn't as stressful because I can spend time with guests instead of cooking and cleaning up.

* But I think my favorite aspect is that once all I've done all that thinking, planning, organizing, and cooking, I can just FORGET about it for a week or two!
I don't have to worry about running to the grocery store or keeping up on sales, and to me, that is a thing of beauty!

If there is one problem I've found with this system, it's that after I've filled up the freezer I just want to stand there and soak it all in; the temptation to hoard that precious treasure hits. =) But in reality, I feel so much more ready to bring a meal to someone in need.

Saves Hubby:
I especially recommend this if you are planning to become pregnant, or are about to have a baby. Watching my husband scavenge around in the kitchen while I was seriously sick during the first trimester of my second pregnancy was one of the main impetuses for me trying this. When we started talking about having Baby no. 3 I got to cooking! It was so helpful. And then towards the end of my third trimester I started cooking up a storm again and, together with the meals from family and ladies at our church, we didn't have to do major shopping for a month and a half! Such a blessing.

It takes a lot of organization, freezer space, and a free day (although I've managed to do it over the course of two days with all the kids at home, and stayed somewhat sane) but I did want to share this because it really has made life easier for me, and I feel so much more on top of our food chain and food budget!

If you're like me and sorely under-utilize the internet, you can still totally figure out a system that works for you and make it happen. However, you can also check out some of these online resources.

* Mimi Wilson is a Believer, she grew up on the mission field in Africa, later, she and her husband served in Ecuador. I was talking with my mom about her cookbook and found out that we actually went to the same church in CO. when we lived in Denver. Small, crazy world...
* Frugal Alert! Our local Half Price bookstore is currently carrying her cookbook for $4.99

If the thought of marathon cooking is overwhelming, (and I do recommend starting off with a 2wk plan before you attempt a full month's worth) you could still do your menu planning and shopping, but split it up with half crock pot meals, another great 'fix it and forget it' cooking method!


A shopping trip to Aldi

I mentioned in my previous post that I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi. This has not always been the case as I used to shop at another local grocery store. At the prompting of my husband (he had several years of practice being a bachelor before we were married) and my brother-in-law, I decided to give Aldi a shot. I insisted that my husband go with me because something about that store scared me and intimidated me!! Here are some pointers for shopping at Aldi:

1) Always take a quarter with you! It costs 25 cents to unlock a cart, but you get your money back when you return your cart. If you see someone in the parking lot and they offer you their cart...make sure to give them a quarter.

2) At Aldi you must bag your own groceries. Therefore, you either need to take your own bags, pick up empty boxes while shopping, or buy bags when you check out.

3) Aldi only accepts cash and debit cards.

4) Some items are only carried during particuliar seasons. For example, cocoa is only available in the winter.

One thing I do to make my shopping trips quicker is to use a grocery list that has the items in the order of the store. I have a typed list of the items that I buy most often listed in the order of their location in the Aldi store and I highlight the item if I need to purchase it. This allows me to shop faster and it keeps me from purchasing unneeded items.

Overall I am able to do over 90% of my grocery shopping at Aldi. The prices are fantastic and the quality is great. I highly recommend giving them a try!

This post was strictly my opinion and I was not reimbursed in any way by Aldi.


Saving Cents

I love saving money! Don't ask me why because after reading Jeni's post here, I am not sure I want to answer that question. Here are some practical ways that my family goes about saving cents:

1) We buy and sell on Ebay and Craigslist. For example, my husband was wanting an office desk for home. He kept checking the newspaper ads and the desks were all so expensive. One afternoon while he was checking Craigslist he found one that said "free desk". He was excited but I told him that sometimes people put that in the ad heading just to get people to look at the ad and that there was no way the desk was free. I was wrong...the desk was free and all he had to do was go pick it up. Here is a picture of his FREE desk:

2) We shop at places like Bargain Depot and Aldi. Bargain Depot is a local store located in Lawrence, KS. If you haven't been there...do yourself a favor and check it out!!

3) I just recently hopped on the online banking bandwagon. It is so nice not to have to buy stamps anymore (or at least as many).

4) We buy generic or use coupons. I haven't done the generic vs. namebrand with coupon comparison. I should and then I would find out which is better. The problem is that most coupons are for food items, which don't help me too much because I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi.

5) Walmart offers price matching. I have only taken advantage of this a couple of times, but it can really help. All you need is a copy of the sales ad showing the lower price on the same item and Walmart will match the price.

6) We rarely eat out...by rarely I mean two or three times a month. And when we do eat out I usually have a coupon or we pick a place with low prices.

7) We live outside of town and do not have the luxury of running to the grocery store every time we need something. This requires a little bit of planning to make sure the pantry is regularly stocked. I just started menu planning in 2011 and I love it. I plan our menus two weeks at a time and therefore go grocery shopping every other Saturday. We usually run other errands that day and so we try to map out our route so we spend our time (and gas) efficiently.

I hope that this post was enlightening and helpful and that I wasn't blabbing about things everyone already knows or does. If so, sorry to have wasted your time. If not, I hope you are able to take something away that will help you and your family be more frugal.


Freakishly Frugal

Frugal Idea #1. - Eliminate as many paper consumables as you are comfortable with.  
Notice I did not say as possible, because there are a few paper consumables that are possible to eliminate that I am just not comfortable with yet. *Though I make it a point to never say never anymore - Because I have previously and adamantly said no to most of the things on my current list.* 

WARNING:  I am about to get very personal here.  You are probably going to find out things about me, that you may never have wanted to know.  Also, I know this list is not going to be for everyone.  We all do different things to cut costs, and that is what makes sharing our adventures so much fun!  

I looked for a list of paper consumables on the internet, but was unsuccessful, so I will just let you know what we have replaced around here.  

These diapers were made as a gift and aren't made out of t-shirts or receiving blankets.
The first thing I replaced was disposable diapers.  This was something that terrified me for years.  I would research and then chicken out.  It seemed like a good deal, but just too gross to tackle.  Then there was the upfront cost.  Since I was starting this with my 4th child and not my 1st it was hard to see purchasing diapers as a real long term investment.  But after some encouragement from a friend we took the plunge.  It's not for everyone, and it's certainly not glamorous, but it has worked really well for us.  I ended up making all, but a couple of our diapers out of t-shirts and receiving blankets, so our investment was minimal.  We still purchased a diaper sprayer and covers.  I also had to buy things like elastic, PUL and snaps to make the diapers.

If you are using cloth diapers it's actually easier to use cloth wipes.  You can just wipe their little bums and then throw the wipes in with your diapers.  I tried to continue to use disposable wipes for a while, but it wasn't very practical.  I always found myself wandering around with a befouled wipe in my hand looking for an appropriate trash receptacle to throw it away.  

The cloth "paper towels" at our house are just squares of cut up receiving blanket.  I had quite a few blankets from my own kids and then had some graciously donated by Sarah when she found out I was turning them into other things.  I use the cloth towels just like you would a paper towel.  If the spill in question it too gross for me to consider washing and reusing - I just throw it away.  I know that that is not super "green" of me, but I'm doing this for the savings first. 

With all the other changes, napkins just seemed like the logical next step.  I used receiving blankets for everyday, and then "real" cloth napkins, from when we got married, for company.  Just yesterday I made some new everyday napkins that the girls and I are going to embroider during "Pioneer Days."  Those are the ones in the picture.  
In case any of you are wondering, after using the cloth towels
 and napkins, I throw them in a tiny lidded trash can in the kitchen.  
When it is full I wash them with a load of towels.

#5 ok...now...deep breath....MENSTRUAL PADS-
I seriously considered not putting this one on here.  Now I feel like when I see some of you face to face, you are going to be wondering "Is she wearing one right now-ewwwwww!?"  But I'm trying to keep it real, and part of being real is being vulnerable.  This one was my biggest mental hurdle.  Fact is, I didn't even like pads, much less reusable ones.  And though I could handle the washing out of poo because, after potty training 3 kids, it was already something I had experienced.  Washing out blood, not something I ever wanted to experience.  Yet here I am.  I could probably write an entire post on this subject alone, but I am going to spare you the details and just give you a few quick reasons that I use them.  
a. Cost savings
b. Shorter periods
c. Minimal to no cramps
d. Comfort
d. I'm stark raving mad.
In case you are curious, here is what they look like.
I have never actually tried purchased cloth pads,
but my homemade ones work just fine. 
Folded up and ready for travel.
Now these are the things we are doing.  The next one that I will probably add to my list is cloth kleenex. I am ridiculously uncomfortable with snot, so a hanky is out of the question, but cloth kleenex I just might be able to deal with.  

Now I know some of you are probably thinking, "How much does a person actually spend on Kleenex, paper towels, napkins...?" or "How much would I actually save by doing any of this?"  The answer - I have no idea.  All I know is that if I'm not buying something I'm saving money, even if it's only $5 a month by foregoing paper towel purchases.  

Also Sarah mentioned in the comments earlier that some friends of hers had to discontinue using cloth diapers because of their water bill.  This really peaked my interest.  I certainly didn't want to be saving money in one area only to be losing in another, especially when poo is involved.  So I checked our water bill.  Our water bill went up $3.00 a month when we started doing cloth diapers.  It has gone up another $4.00 since this summer.  I'm not sure what changed in the summer, but there you have it.  I wash the other cloth things with loads I would have been doing anyway, and I don't think they make too much of an impact.  So, for us, the water cost doesn't outweigh what we are saving, but that is something that you would need to examine for yourself.  In case it makes a difference, we just have a regular old washing machine - it is not high efficiency.  Now as far as the impact the water usage has on the environment vs. less waste in the landfill - I have no idea.  This is just what is working for us right now.  In the future, who knows?

If nothing else I hope you enjoyed a tiny peek into my world.  I know I am always curious how other people do things in their homes.


Frugal Failure

As I sat down to write this post I had so many ideas to share with all of you.  I wanted to share all of the ways that we pinch our pennies and tighten our belts.   But as I started writing down my ideas, it all began to sound hollow and self important.  I then started thinking about what it really means to me to be frugal.

Why am I trying to be frugal?
What are my motives behind all this "frugality"?
Am I saving money to have money?
Am I trying to keep myself "safe" by having something to fall back on if the worst should happen?
Am I doing this to glorify God, or to glorify myself?

These were hard questions to ask myself and even harder to answer.  As I searched deep within myself I began to see all my false motives behind my frugality.  I am trying to save money to keep myself safe.  I do feel more comfortable with an emergency fund.  My faith is in my ability to save enough money to keep us from some unknown disaster.  As the contents of my motivation spilled forth before me I was truly disturbed.  I had no idea that my "being a good steward" of what God has given me, was really a way of replacing Him in my life.   It was time for repentance, and a change of perspective.

So what now?  Do I give away all of our money?   Do I stop being frugal?  Where is the balance?

I don't think so.  I still believe that God wants us to be frugal with what He has given us.  But the motivation behind the frugality needs to be to give Him the glory and Him alone.  If it is going to feed my sense of security, my pride, or anything else it has become a worthless idol.

Though this was not what I had intended to write for Frugal February.  I'm am so glad my previous plans were thwarted.  Oh, and I will still be posting some frugal tips and tricks.  But this time with an entirely different set of motives!


As for Me and My House ...

All week long I have mulling over how I work to be frugal with my resources. My focus is mainly on how I do this as a wife, a mother, the “household manager” around here. Rather than carry on for an extensive post of rambling … I will make it most “list-like”.

- Keep a cash budget. Once there is no more cash in the envelope for designated categories, we don’t spend. Sometimes with diapers and stuff, it can get a bit dicey as I budget very tightly, but it helps us to stay low in entertainment, clothing, grocery, household, and misc. spending.
- Cook at home. No order out, no take out, and rarely eat out at all anymore. I do attempt to bake most baked goods as well. But, occasionally Eli requests a loaf of store-bought sandwich bread. I don’t know why he likes it, but sometime he just does.
- Shop garage sales, Craigslist, etc., for clothing, furniture, you name it!
- My kiddos (and me!) wear LOTS of hand-me-downs. And I am SO grateful to those who share with us!
- Attempt to make homemade gifts when I can. And we also shop sales for birthday and Christmas gifts all year long. Clearance can be a good thing!
- Keep our heat as low as we can with kiddos in the winter, and just comfortable in the summer with the AC.
- Buy store brands and use coupons.
- Try to live simply. Eli’s salary had a significant drop when he changed jobs. We made the determination in our hearts to not “sweat it”, but give up things, mostly material, and focus on being grateful for what God has graciously given to us. Save, Re-use, Re-purpose, etc.
- Keep a to-do list on my fridge to keep my mind and actions focused during the day.
- Make a point to have occasional date nights with Eli to keep a priority on our marriage.
- Spend time with the Lord. He reminded me this week that “His yoke is easy, and His burden is light”, and that being frugal and resourceful is a wonderful thing, but only when it stems from His leadership in my heart. Otherwise, I risk becoming resentful rather than enjoying the challenge of it!

- I admit. I adore Tide detergent. So, I do pay for name brand laundry detergent. I have lots of sweaty, stinky workout clothes, and it just really cleanses them. So, I don’t cut a corner here, but I do in other spots.
- I don’t use cloth diapers. Again, an admission: totally afraid of them. Yes, I realize I have spent more on disposables, and yes, I realize it is MUCH better for the environment. But, I am super intimidated by them and haven’t yet had the guts to take the plunge.
- We still pay for cable TV currently. It’s always on the discussion table, but our love for KU basketball is currently trumping the desire to save that $$ each month.
- and yes, there are many more, I’m sure!

We all do the best we can, I believe. Probably everyone that reads this blog is much better than I am at conserving and using what you have. I’m not going to get caught up in comparing myself to anyone else. I just hope that I can look back and be confident that I was obedient to the Lord in what He asked me to do, and that Eli and I worked together as a united team to best raise the boys and manage the household “stuff”. I’m looking forward to what else is shared this month!



We have a theme this month at BITH: Frugal. This topic can obviously take a great many turns and different directions. But, one thing all the contributing women on this blog have is common is that we work to be frugal. To be good stewards of what God has placed in our hands to oversee. That could mean finances, time, resources ... all sorts of things!

Let's start off the discussion with a definition - from good 'ole Merriam Webster:

"characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources"

So, what about economy? One click further:

1. archaic : the management of household or private affairs and especially expenses
a : thrifty and efficient use of material resources : frugality in expenditures; also : an instance or a means of economizing : savingb : efficient and concise use of nonmaterial resources (as effort, language, or motion)
I find that putting those two together really brings it together. By working to "reflect economy in the use of my resources", I am (hopefully) being "thrifty and efficient the use of material resources" as well as with non-material resources!

Yesterday evening and through this morning ... I mulled over this topic in my head as I went about the things I was already doing. I felt the Lord continually bring up Proverbs Chapter 31 in my heart. Here is a description of the "Wife of Noble Character". Certainly, as we are to emulate her, she used frugality and economy in her household.

- "She brings him (her husband) good, not harm, all the days of her life" v. 12 She must have been efficient with her time and her love for her husband to keep their love strong within their marriage;
- "She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands" v. 13 She worked with her hands to create clothing, coverings, household items for her family;
- "She gets up while it is still dark" v. 15 She knew how to manage her time wisely and was willing to sacrifice sleeping in to accomplish what needed to be done;
- "She considers a field and buys it; out her earnings she plants a vineyard" v. 16The lady had money smarts as well. She was willing to take a risk in order to see a payoff later on down the road;
- "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks" v. 17 She managed her time and was able to help herself healthy in order to best oversee what household tasks were overseen by her;
- And it goes on ... she "sees that her trading is profitable", she "makes coverings for her bed", "makes linen garments and sells them", "does not eat the bread of idleness". It terms of using her resources wisely ... well, we can learn a great deal from her.

I would be the first person to admit that while I attempt to use the resources God has given to Eli and I - to work to be frugal in our time and in our finances - I am so not perfect! But my heart's desire is to be obedient in what the Lord asks me to do as the woman, the wife, the mother in our household. I feel like everytime I talk with friends and other women, I see clearly how this differs from household to household, doesn't it? But the wonderful part is about that is that we can learn from each other, we can encourage each other, we can teach each other.

My next post will just be on some practical ways that I work to be frugal in my home. And then I am excited to see what else follows!

***one side note: although the theme for February is "Frugal", not all posts may relate. Sometimes there's just something too good, or too fresh from the Lord that we want to share! Either way, we hope that a bit more "focus" brings some cohesiveness to BITH.