Cheap or Frugal?

I wrote this before I got the most expensive electric bill of my entire married life….$450 That’s totally unacceptable. You should have seen Mr & Mrs Frugal out watching the meter turn last night. We’d run in and shut off stuff and run out and watch. The neighbors probably thought we were nuts. Confirmed!!! It was pretty amazing stuff. The thing that made it spin the fastest was the water pump….build an outhouse! The other was the electric heat….pray for spring! Stay tuned to the end of this post, I will give you many good frugal ideas to live by to keep more of your money in your pocket.

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I wouldn’t say that I’ve always been frugal or cheap, but I have been influenced by those around me. When I was growing up my family went through some very hard times and I remember how my mom would make something out of nothing. When I got married I use to think my husband was cheap (there’s no good way to say that!) but now I know he was just frugal. We haven’t always done the best job at budgeting our money, but lately we (me) has seen the light.

I realized one day after listening to Dave Ramsey, that any type of credit card use was borrowing. I’d never thought of it that way, but it’s true. From that day on, for the past 2 yrs we (me) stopped using credit cards. This has been the most amazing freedom I’ve ever known. We never ran up credit, we always paid our bill every month. Sometimes it hurt terribly, but I had vowed that if I couldn’t pay it, I’d cut up the card. This was even better because it was totally voluntary. We are starting our 3rd yr with strictly using cash. We actually have a savings acct and can make better judgments about what to buy. There are no impulsive purchases. Scripture says, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” Dave Ramsey says, “It ain’t called ‘Master Card’ for nothing”.

I think the biggest thing anyone can do to help prepare themselves for the future is to get out of debt. Pay off your home loan by increasing your payments a few dollars each month …you may not think it will matter but it will. Larry Burket was one of the most influential money managers in my life. He died several years ago from cancer but he used his gifts to change my life. He always said to tithe 10% and save 10%. Just about anyone can do that. The secret in giving is joy. Oh my how I love to give. The funny thing is, we are never and never have we been in need, want yes, but need no and we have always given. We are by no means “rich”, however I have seen the poverty of the “Third World” and ALL of us in America are “rich”.

I digress. I said something funny to my husband yesterday as I was folding some packing paper from a package I’d received…..I said, Oh my I can’t believe I said it….”I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I am becoming like you. I just might need this paper. Look at it, it’s perfectly good paper they used instead of those God forsaken peanuts. I mean, I can use this paper for steaming my painted silk. It’s perfect. Look at all those bubble wraps I’ve saved, I’ve sent so much kefir out and wrapped them carefully with that stuff instead of piling it in our landfill. I’m being a good steward.” Laughter filled the room. He was nearly rolling in the floor. You see, I have chided him for years about “saving” stuff. He always said, he might need it….. we are kids born of depression era parents and frankly it drove me crazy at times. My husbands parents are 86 and moving for the 1st time in 50 yrs. You talk about an accumulation. The echo is deafening…”I might need this”.

As one Mennonite woman said to me one day, “Oh you’d make a good Mennonite. Do you rinse out plastic bags?” Now that’s where I draw the line.

1) Give, tithe whatever you want to call it….give it away!

2) Shut the main power breaker switch OFF for an hour every day in the spring an summer.

3) Buy a side of beef, a dozen chickens, 10 gallons of milk, extra TP.

4) Grow your own food.

5) Don’t drive needlessly.

6) Watch your meter spin!

7) How could I have forgotten—get rid of the credit cards and other debt accumulation.

8) Shop at Second Hand or Thrift stores for nearly new clothes and stuff.

9) Don’t eat out! It’s healthier and cheaper!

10) Pack lunches! It’s healthier and cheaper!

11) Don’t fall for TV commercials! You DON’T need it! You might want it, but you don’t need it.

12) Cuddle up and cut back the heat!

13) Unplug all appliances when not in use, esp. digital which have a display running all day, everyday and those power sucking chargers when not in use they still suck energy.

14) Replace all you light bulbs with the new florescent energy saving bulbs.

15 Learn to grocery shop 1X month except for perishables.

16) Find a Trader Joe’s near your home. I travel 1X/mo, 1 Hr round trip to the nearest TJ’s but I save $400-$500/month on organics and all my household products, including organic/all natural cereals, breads, lunchmeat, cleaning products, paper products and whatever else is needed. I only shop at the health food store for organic produce. All my grassfed/all natural meats are in the freezer bought in bulk from local farmers.

17) The biggest and best tip I could ever give you is to learn to be content. It took me a long time, but I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars. Scripture says it’s to be prized.

I have no idea where that cute smily face came from…hmmmm wish I could figure this stuff out. Oh well, he’s cute.

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