Search Frugal Divorced Liz

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Not to be TOO Frugal

Sometimes, I can cross over the line between frugal and the dreaded CHEAP. My budget is so tiny, that I get all panicked and think I can't afford things that I really can. One way I combat this, is I pay for all my weekly expenses in cash. Every Friday I go to the bank and I take out $150. That money breaks down into: $40 for gas, $40 for groceries, $40 for miscellaneous expenses and $30 for my sitter. When the money is gone...That's it, but if I manage to not spend it all, well that's a little extra in that envelope for next week. On the other hand, I can always spend all the money that's in an envelope.
Another way I stave off cheapness is to shop at Goodwill. If I try to shop for clothes or movies at a regular store, all around me is a sea of prices I can't afford. $10 for a kids shirt, $20 for a pair of jeans, $19.95 for a movie! It gets pretty discouraging, so I end up not getting anything...Even if I really should. Goodwill on the other hand, is filled with items that fall within my budget! I can buy really cute kids jeans for $3.75 and shirts for $2.75. Movies cost $1.01 for some and $4.04 for Disney movies that come in the plastic case. I can go into Goodwill with $20 and leave with complete outfits for each of my 3 kids! It's a great feeling to go into a store and know I can probably afford almost everything in there.
At the grocery store, it's easy to think about getting an item my kids would really like, but then not get it, because we don't really NEED it. When you only have $40 for groceries, it's hard NOT to be cheap! The way I beat that particular brand of cheapness: Coupons coupons coupons! I know I talk about coupons a lot, but it's because I really can't stress how useful they can be. Coupons allow me to get a lot of items I could never afford AND to stock up on items I CAN afford, so that I save some grocery money one week and have more to spend the next week! I use coupons to stock up on: Frozen vegetables, yogurt, dish soap, pasta, canned beans, frozen fries (Because they are free with the coupons!), sugar (for holiday baking!), canned tuna, canned tomatoes, canned "cream of" Campbell's condensed soups (for casseroles), juice, and ground turkey. Once I've stocked up on all of those staple items, it really frees up money in my budget to buy "extra" items, like refrigerated cookie dough, brownie mix and fruit snacks. In the past, I would've made my own cookie dough and brownies from scratch, but I get $1 off coupons for these items, so it's actually cheaper to buy them instead of making them myself! I make a batch of cookies or brownies on our pizza and movie night, so that's pretty much just a junk food day!:P We eat the fruit snacks at my daughter, Bella's piano lesson every week. It keeps my younger two quiet and I admit...I love fruit snacks too!
The last way that I ward off cheapness is: I try to remember that is IS only money. As long as I'm not going over budget or going into debt, if I have some extra money we SHOULD use it for something fun! My kids only get one childhood and I don't want them to remember it as a me constantly saying, "We can't afford it." My cheapness busting methods allow me to say, "Well we can't afford THAT, but how about we do THIS instead!" Maybe I'll even be able to teach them something about frugality and life along the way.


Mary said...

Don't forget public libraries for borrowing books and movies. Many of them have nice outside areas for picnics, too. In fact, picnics and playing at the park are also inexpensive and fun. When I was a kid (with no money), we played outside a lot, went to the library, and put on plays. We had a great time!

Lindy H said...

I have read nearly your entire blog now and you are very motivating and inspiring. We have been on a VERY strict budget for almost a year now and use lots of your same ideas for saving money (using only cash has been the BEST idea is truly unbelievable how much harder it is to spend cash than to whip out a debit card)

Anyway, I am not sure if you know about this site or not, but it has been a huge turning point and revelation in my couponing and money saving. It's called Southern Savers ( she matches up all the sales that Publix/Bi-Lo/Kroger (and drug stores, too) are having and then tells you what coupons are out there for that item...they have links to printable coupons or tell you what Sunday paper the coupon came from.

If you don't already follow this site, I think you will like it and I also think you could easily save over 50% on your groceries/toiletries/etc and easily build to your stockpile/food bank within your budget. I think we save around 70% a month now that I have gotten used to all the tricks and tips.

I hope you like it and I hope it helps you...I saw your story in Sunday's paper and was cuious about how you save money/eat healthy. Sometimes those 2 things are hard to combine. But, keep up the awesome work with the blog and your little girls. One day, they will find inspiration and pride in your sacrifice, determination and dedication.