Saturday, April 21, 2012

Attempts at Living Frugally

Oxford American Dictionary defines frugal as:
-sparing or economical with regard to money or food: He lead a remarkably frugal existence.
-simple and plain and costing little: a frugal meal.

I think it all started with the food budget. We blew it every month. It's not like I didn't keep track of my spending, because I did. It just wasn't working for me. I wasn't using what I already had. Last year I started planning my meals around what was in our cabinets. I'm not a big stocker of food, unless there's a crazy-good sale. Our cabinets and fridge aren't usually brimming with all types of food. I've got staples that I use frequently like rice, quinoa and certain spices. But for the most part I use what we have then replenish. I re-evaluated our food budget again recently because it didn't seem to matter how many "budget" meals I cooked, we were still going over. One thing blared loud and true. Eating out, even once a month, seemed to tip the scales. And eating out for us is Panera, or Qdoba, or Subway even. Not places one might expect to find a big bill. But that extra $20 was a big factor in our over spending. And so was coffee from Grounds for Thought, and individual cups of Greek Yogurt and other little niceties like gum and orange juice... :( So anyway, as I've been evaluating spending in our food budget, the thought of using what I already have has been haunting me. It's been a good kind of haunting though. As I decorated our home for the first Easter we would celebrate here, things looked far from festive. I mean, we have a lot of extra space now so the couple of decorations that seemed to over-crowd the Enterprise house seemed a bit sparse here. I began to brainstorm how I could use what I already had. I really wanted to buy some fresh flowers for a centerpiece, but we only budgeted for a certain amount extra for our Easter celebration and I had used that on food for brunch and an egg hunt for our Easter guests. So I grabbed a cake stand, some wooden eggs, a candle I was saving for a special occasion and cut some flowers from outside. A touch of brown rice kept the eggs from rolling and added some texture.

Then I was really wanting something festive with a little bit of height to sit on the armoire in the living room. I loved the idea of an Easter egg tree like we always had growing up, and I was fortunate enough to find the ideal egg-hanging branch right outside. It fit perfectly into a vase I had sitting empty under the kitchen sink. Add some ribbon that I had collected from old gift packages and used some of the left over eggs we weren't using for the hunt and Voila! I grabbed a frame that I had normally hung on the wall but was now replaced by a hanging wooden Easter egg and a lantern that set on our dresser upstairs as finishing touches. The plant already lived in the spot previously. Just the arrangement I had been hoping for!

As for the kiddo's Easter baskets, I did break down and purchase them. But 50 cents a piece at Goodwill plus the cost of spray paint wasn't too bad :)

They were filled with some kid friendly gardening tools, a little pot with a sun flower seed to be planted and a ball to play with outdoors. Best of all, we got them the Big Picture Story Bible. Best Bible for toddlers ever!

I've also been trying to be frugal with our clothing. We are so blessed to have so many clothes (and cute ones at that!) for the kids passed down to us. It is SO tempting to buy new outfits for them, especially the girls stuff, but it makes me a little sick inside to buy something new when there is so much used floating around. For myself, clothes swaps or give and gets have been a HUGE blessing. It is so amazing to be able to do a clean sweep of my own clothes and then walk away with something that someone else is done with for FREE. Mosaic has also been fun. I've made money selling some of my own things and have used that money to purchase some items there. In fact I was really hoping (and checking the store weekly) for a dress for Easter, but was not having any success. I was really hoping for a dress just right for this special holiday, but didn't want to spend more than 10 or 20 dollars and was desiring to buy something used. As a last ditch effort, the day before Easter I hit up Goodwill and found the perfect Easter dress. It was a sheer chiffon with a beautiful floral print in different shades of purples and white. Right next to that dress was a dark purple dress from H&M that I grabbed to try on underneath since the dress was so sheer. Despite the scuzziness of that Goodwill dressing room, I rejoiced in finding something so perfect and so affordable, all without buying new. Each dress was $5, so I walked away spending a grand total of $10.07. I was thankful to God for giving me the patience and self control to not run out to Target earlier that week like I SO wanted to do. I'm still riding on the high of this killer find and can't wait to wear it again!

Those are just some of the ways I've been attempting to be a better steward of what God has given us. Buying used can definitely take extra time and even extra work, but it's worth it. We reap the benefits in our pocketbook and sense of a job well done. And our precious planet benefits as well! So go used when you can. Just pause to think about what you already have. Or when you need to make a purchase, think of what you might find at a Goodwill or a consignment shop instead of at Target. (no offense, Target- you still have a piece of my heart!)

1 comment:

Leslie said...

In awe of my daughter. Clearly she gets it. That's all.