Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tightwad Tuesday

Why do I never find time to blog anymore... used to be a daily occurrence. I suppose that's a good thing though - it should mean I'm spending more time doing other things and less time staring at my screen - but two blogs a week 'aint bad, if you ask me.


Here's the nugget I've been thinking on this week. By now, you all know that Jonathan and I are making conscious decisions to save more and spend less. We've made lots of (small) changes and (small) sacrifices to do so. And yet, I think Jonathan would even agree with me here, neither of us feels deprived in any way. If anything, we feel less stress overall simply because we know we're slowly making our way towards our common goal: Wealth by way of frugality.

What? Excuse me?

Let me explain. I'll use a quote from my new favorite book* to illustrate my point.

"...most Americans are confused about the relationship between frugality and wealth. This confusion has a profound impact on how Americans spend. Because we think frugality has to do with being poor, we see it as an admission of economic failure. We think only poor people bring home a good find from the dump [or, in our case, the curb], and only poor people cut their own kids' hair [or, in our case, make our own yogurt and crackers for sack lunches]."

"Because we don't want to be seen as economic failures, we spend our money the way we mistakenly think the wealthy do - usually on day-to-day extravagances. We feel good, because briefly, we've made people think we are wealthier than we are. If we do it often enough, we may even fool ourselves along with our neighbors."

"It is true that most wealthy people buy a few more luxuries than do poor people, but the total percentage of income they spend on extravagances is extremely small. Consequently, a person with a low income and a wealthy attitude would live as modestly as possible to create maximum surplus to save and invest. Poor people often remain poor because they spend any surplus income on short term gratification"
*The Complete Tightwad Gazette, Amy Dacyczyn, 1998

No no, friends, we aren't going for riches here. But, darn it, I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck. Also, "wealth" to me represents the ability to stay home with my son and not bring in an income. So, we're making lifestyle changes that, yes, make more hands-on work for me, but also allow us to add to our emergency fund, meanwhile totally reducing my worry factor over our financial state.

Another key point I wanted to add came from the sermon our pastor preached this past Sunday. Wonderful message, but for the life of me I can't remember exactly which point it was that fit with what I've already said. I've been listening through the sermon again (on James, 5:1-12, speaking to "the rich") and still can't pick it out. Suffice it to say, we ALL fall into the category James would have described as "the rich". And we should all heed his warning to the rich because before we know it, in the twinkling of an eye, Christ will return. And do you know what he is going to want to know?

"What did you do with what I gave you? Your time, your talents, and your treasures?"

And that point resonates with me. On that glorious day when I meet Jesus face to face, I want to be able to know that I used what I was entrusted with responsibly. I did not spend wastefully. I did not pilfer it away. I did not hoard, and become greedy. I did not build up my treasure on earth, buying stuff and more stuff and more stuff, to make me happy, and to give me a false sense of worth. On the day that I am held accountable for how I used my what I was given, I want it to be said of me "well done!". Because on that day, there will not be any more" tomorrows" to which I could promise I would invest in His Kingdom, and wisely employ what He entrusted to me.

And so it is with that in mind that I try to humbly remember none of this is my own. Not my family, not my stuff, and certainly not my money. And as such, frugality and humble living is as much my responsibility to God as it is my means to be a stay-at-home mother. It is a means to both ends.
Wealth. Frugality. Obedience.
They go hand-in-hand-in-hand.


Molly said...

I would love to hear some more of the ways that you are saving more and spending less!

Melissa K. said...


Gosh, well, it all comes down to the later: spending less. I've come to realize (recently) that it doesn't matter how good of a deal I got at the grocery store if I end up spending the same amount of money I usually spend. So, about three weeks ago, I simply started taking less "grocery cash" out of the bank each week. Presto! We're spending less on groceries.

But there are also little things I've been trying to do - things that save pennies in the short run, but dollars in the long run. Batteries for example, we bought a charger and rechargable batteries, now we no longer purchase AA's or AAA's.

Cloth diapers of course already save us a boatload, but recently I began hang-drying them which saves about $.50/load. The other day I also made 25 cloth wipes from a couple blankets a friend didn't need anymore. They work a lot better than I expected.

I also stopped buying individually packaged food(granola bars, raisin boxes, applesauce cups, yogurt cups, etc.) and instead bought a bunch of 8oz washable containers. They work great, and I've been quite successful at making my own yogurt and granola bars! Since Jonathan takes a sack lunch every day this has added up quickly.

I have a lot to learn. I mean, we have friends who have many more children than we do and still manage on a smaller budget. But if I pick just one or two things each week to improve on then it seams manageable. It becomes fun, actually.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting goes along with something that I read in a Dave Ramsey book, which we had demonstrated to us not long after reading the book. We were purchasing a used washing and dryer from an airforce family moving away. After a bit of time, they inquired as to my wonderful husband's occupation. When he said that he was a researcher for the Navy, the guy was like, "what are you buying my [used] washer and dryer for?" The guy was just shocked that someone who didn't "have to" would buy used items. Well, the washer and dryer work great, and we probably saved us the equivalent of a plane ticket home to visit the family. :-)
I enjoy reading your blog...


Katie Beeman said...
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Katie Beeman said...
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Katie Beeman said...

Okay so I'm a dork and kept posting the wrong comments but here is my THIRD try! We are getting ready to start a family and are going through the same process of spending less. We were having the discussion over whether or not I should stay home or work and one day it hit me - what better job or gift to my family could I give then being there and loving them! Even though we will have less, we will have so much more! I love your quotes and just want to tell you that reading your blog has helped me so much in my decisions I am making for my "one day" family. Keep up the tips as I am using them! :)

Brian said...

I can't remember if I told you this or not, but if you earn over $100,000 per year you're 200% more likely to use coupons. That statistic STILL amazes me!

Chelsie Hardy said...

I love this! I, too, want to live frugally, both to do better for my family, and to be able to give generously, because I believe these are things Jesus is pleased with. Thank you for restating what I believe! It's always good to hear it again, especially when I feel bummed out that I don't have more. More, more, more....sometimes I feel so silly for ever being discontent because I have what I need and am so blessed!