Thursday, July 29, 2010

How Frugal Are You?

Frugal. It's the new "in" thing to be, according to a news clip I saw on MSNBC a couple of weeks ago. There are books being written, advice being given, as people are changing their lifestyles to adjust to the present sad state of our economy. There is a whole community of frugal bloggers out there, sharing how they make their pennies stretch, or should I say "pinch"?

What does it mean to be frugal?
1.economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: a frugal manager.
2.entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty: a frugal meal.

I always considered myself frugal, even in my teen years. I babysat up to 7 kids at a time the summer I was 12 (probably illegal without some kind of license) and opened my first checking account. My older brother, who had a steady job, would borrow money from me. But then I met my husband, King Tight. As in bark on a tree. As in, "his shoes squeak when he walks". Tight.

John and I met and married during our sophomore years of college. We weren't just poor college students. We were poor, married college students with rent and utilities. We rented a mobile home from John's sister and both worked part-time. Our first year of marriage, we made a combined $15,000.00. The entire year. No kidding. Insert twangy country tune.."Livin' On Love"...

That's when I was brought to a higher level of frugality. We bought ONE burger at Sonic and cut it in half. We didn't buy ketchup or mustard or mayo. We stuffed our pockets full of the little packets from the university food court. I'm cracking up over here, y'all. That's really sad.

My husband's extremely frugal nature is mainly due to the way he was raised. His grandparents raised him and ingrained tightness into his being. Even they have said that maybe they did a little bit too good of a job. Yes, they created a monster of frugality!

Let me state here that I am so very grateful that my husband takes good care of us financially. I never have to worry about our bills being paid or our savings account running out. My man has got it all under control. But I wonder, does one's personality make one more prone to being frugal? Or is it all in how they were raised?

I consider our family to be pretty frugal. Here are somethings we do to keep within a budget:

1. Make a menu plan (weekly, bi-weekly) and shop for specific meals. Stick to the list. Makes a HUGE difference in our grocery bill.
2. Dry clothes on the line. Yea, our towels are rough. But it makes for good exfoliation :).
3. Shop 2nd hand, thrift stores, and yard sales for clothes. (It's FUN, too!)
4. Grow a garden.
5. Stay at home. Save gas and unnecessary spending.
6. Eat at home.

Check out these two blogs my husband and I recently discovered, for lots of great frugal tips:


So, how frugal are you? Not at all? Wish you were? Don't really care to be? Are you frugal because you think it's a valuable characteristic or because you don't have a choice? The video I mentioned in the first paragraph was about a book that's out named "The Ultimate Cheapskate" by Jeff Yeager. Check it out and see how you compare.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

All In A Day's Play

We've been having some internet issues around here (thus the lack of activity). My husband, ever frugal-minded, discovered we could save a few bucks a month if we switched from DSL to cable. I'm really hoping the kinks work out of the system soon because it is driving me crazy!!

It's did us some good to have some computer-down time, as my kids' imaginations have really been working overtime. Not that they spend a lot of time in front of the screen (30 mins a day each, max). But they will sit in the den and listen to Adventures in Odyssey or while they draw, color, or read. Without this option, they've found other ways to amuse themselves.

Wednesday morning, we had a tea party in their newly-completed playhouse (very early, before the heat smothered us). Tea parties are a great way to teach table manners and etiquette. Such as keeping your hand in your lap, elbows off the table, and asking (and waiting) to be served.

The same day, we kicked up the volume on some Bluegrass music and had a good time of silliness and exercise. Of course, they had to deck out in their "dance" costumes! My kids are a hoot! (video of bluegrass jig to come later).

Today, I sent them to their rooms for an hour or so of quiet time. I sat down at the couch to read the Bible and...ahem...fell asleep (don't tell anyone). I awoke 45 minutes later and rushed to check on my innocent, angelic, darlings. These are the beautiful faces I saw when I opened the bedroom door:

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry!! Thankfully, it washed off with a little soap and water.

With the unbearable heating being what it is, my normally out-doors playing children are being forced to find ways to have fun INdoors. How are you and your family "beating the heat" and passing the time inside? Are you having as much fun as we are?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Salsa And Relish And Jam, Oh My!

No, my computer is not broken, nor did I cut off a finger, rendering my hand unable to type. The only valid excuse I have for not blogging lately is that I have been BUSY. We did not STOP 4th of July weekend, coming home just in time to fall utterly exhausted into bed. I think the kids even went to bed without baths one night (ick). I figured the chlorine from their pool time killed any lingering filth. This is not something we do regularly, but it was a holiday after all.

Remember the little to-d-list I posted a couple weeks ago? One of those items on the list was "Keeping up with garden output". Yeah. We do not have a huge garden, but God has blessed us and given us quite a bounty this year. Mostly in tomatoes and squash. The watermelons have done nothing (pooh). My husband planted spaghetti squash, and it has been a fruitful endeavor. It grows to about the size and shape of a pineapple and is filled with noodle-like meat. Thus the name. I am at a loss with what to do with it all. One spaghetti squash goes a loong way and we have a LOT of it!

As for canning, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that my husband has done most of it. He jumps in and starts on it before I have a chance. He and I are different because I want to wait until a convenient time (kids in bed, kitchen clean, chores done), whereas he just jumps in whenever the mood strikes him. He has canned strawberry jelly and salsa. What a man!! ;)

My neighbor brought me two bags of cukes, so I am going to try my hand at some cucumber relish. We also have discovered a mulberry tree down the road from our house, so some mulberry jam will be forthcoming as well.

Sadly, the pictures we took of all these gloriously canned goodies are lost because the memory card was left in the computer and it has been snitched by some mysterious culprit. I'm guessing she is almost two years old and has blonde hair and green eyes. Here's hoping it turns up soon.

Any suggestions for storing spaghetti squash?