Budget Living: It’s Not a Race


Children, at least mine, are competitive by nature. Often, someone will say, “Let’s see who can ———- first.” It doesn’t matter what it is; it could be who makes his bed the fastest or who gets his seat belt on first. Everything is a potential competition. If the “opponent” is not prepared, he will object, “I’m not racing!” Usually a squabble ensues, only to be smacked down by my saying, “It’s not a race.”

I have found myself feeling like I am racing when it comes to “getting the deals.” It’s as if my reputation is on the line if I spend more than the rock bottom price on something. Who cares?

I guess I do.

Do you ever feel like this?

Over the last month or two, I’ve had to check myself, “It’s not a race!” I have had to remind myself of some simple truths. The whole point of getting a good deal is to help my family practice good stewardship. It’s not a competition. I’m not a better wife, mother, or blogger if I can score the screaming deal. Instead, it’s a means to an end – getting and staying “in the black.”

For one family, good stewardship might involve heavy coupon use and shopping at lots of different stores. For another family, it’s planting a garden. For a third, it may be cooking all meals from scratch. For you, it may be all of those, none of those, or a combination. The point is that each of us needs to figure out how to live in a way that best serves her family.

What about you? Where are you on the frugal living continuum? Do you pinch every penny? Do you have certain areas where you “splurge?”

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Comments

  1. $5 Dinner Mom says:

    Great post :) I’d like to think I’m all three…At least I will be soon. I’ve got big plans for my garden this year. And will do whatever it takes to stay “in the black”!

    Erin

  2. We have major plans for the garden this year, and I still hope to score awesome deals with the coupons. And, well I’m hoping to continue my quest of making everything from scratch..so I guess that I am all three as well. I would have to say that I plan to be more frugal this year as oppossed to last, and hope to share more of my blessings this year.

    Phoebe

  3. Donna(mom24boyz) says:

    I think through the past year I finally got it. I have to say thanks to moneysavingmom for teaching me this concept. I use to struggle with when to stop. Oh it is such a good deal! I need to buy 10 of them at that price. That sort of thinking always screwed me up.

    But now I have learned to stick to my budget. Having my purse strings set to my limit of $125 a week lets me know how many I can get. There have been weeks when I was tempted to go to CVS and get another tube of toothpaste for pennies, but the truth is I was down to my last 10 bucks in my budget and I feared the need for milk or bread may arive before our next paycheck.

    Another tube of toothpaste would not look as necessary as bread or milk.

    Yep, I grab some deals, but I don’t go overbudget to get them anymore. That has eliminated stress for me as well. I really lean on God now for those things. I just say to myself to trust in him. I do my part and stick to my budget knowing he will do his and make sure we have what we truly need.

  4. mamalibby says:

    I really “fell off the wagon” during the last six weeks of 2008. One of my boys in the hospital for a few days, company, company, company and of course the whole holidays piece had me focusing on convenience instead of price. No coupons, little planning and a big bill. In early 2009, I am trying to get back into planning and “making work” whatever happens to be in the house. Costco and one other grocery store, usually Meijer because I can get the non-grocery essentials I need there at a good price. We have also joined a food co-op for produce and eggs, which is not a huge savings, but provides fresh, organic, usually locally grown produce.

    Last summer, I realized that I was spending hours and hours to save money, but for where we are right now, not enough to make it worth my time. I was also buying more junk food “because it was cheap.” Which I can live with occasionally but not as a habit.

    Blessings to all for a productive and happy 2009 “in the black”!

  5. i always tell myself i’m just gonna read your post and get back to my busy life, but your posts generally provoke some sort of response i feel compelled to share! i’ve actually been contemplating whether or not i should try to save more money on groceries, i’m terrible about coupons and HATE shopping so running around looking for deals is so not me. i do LOVE being frugal so it is a battle of priorities. i feel as if you let me off the hook since i can be a steward by cooking from scratch, it is an activity i do often and i don’t let errands encroach on cooking time EVER.

  6. I’m somewhere in the middle. I hate to go into a grocery store or Target without coupons- I feel guilty, like I’m wasting money, knowing how many cheap/ almost free things I could have gotten if I had my coupons with me.

    On the other hand, I have no problem paying full price for sodas and craft magazines. And even though I love to cook, I regularly buy frozen meals to have on hand for the nights when I’m not up for cooking. I know I could do better both money-wise and nutritionally- but that’s what works for me.

    I’m with you on making one trip with kids and maybe paying a little extra. I only have two, but at 5 and 2, they’re no fun to shop with. I pick one store and we go there, period.

  7. I go through phases. Sometimes I have the time to spend going to different stores, getting the great deals. But then I start looking in my closet and realise that I seriously don’t need 20 tubes of toothpaste, even if I did get paid to take them out of the store. So I lay off for a while, usually still keeping an eye on deals in case there is something so ridiculous I can’t pass it up (like 1500 diapers for less than $50) It’s all about balance.

    Michele@Philoxenos
    philoxenos.info

  8. Briana Almengor says:

    I gotta say it’s refreshing to hear such balance in this post. :) I have to constantly remind myself of the real goals, not just w/ bargain shopping but all kinds of things I make apart of my day.
    For me frugality is a means to an end. For this season, it is a means to get our student loan paid off. Once that is paid off, it may be to be able to send our kids to our church school. Ultimately, it has always been and always will be to be able to give as much as we can. Sometimes, though, giving the time and spending the $ is more valuable. SO, I do need to remind myself of the goal.

    Here’s where I’m at.
    I take a trip once a month an hour away to visit an Amish run 2nd’s grocery store where I get all kinds of groceries for soooo much less than I would pay at local grocery stores even w/ double coupons. I do this with a friend which is great b/c we get some great fellowship time in the car ride up and back.
    Additionally, I shop at Aldi’s, try to only shop the grocery stores’ circulars.
    And, the best thing I’ve done is what you’re going to be attempting and that is to lessen my shopping trips altogether. I do one major shop at the beg. of the month where I may hit 2 or 3 stores and for the rest of the month I just get the perishables once a week or so. Freezing bread and meat at the beg. of the month helps out a great deal in terms of staying home, too.

    The other thing we’ve tried harder to do is not to eat out as much as we once had.

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