Frugal Friday: Mind Over Money

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Graphic for Frugal Fridays, Life as Mom.

When I was growing up, my parents were always very careful with money. Neither of their families had had a lot of money when they were children, and so they knew how to save. It took a long time for me to appreciate this.

I remember scrunching down in the backseat of the car when my mom would stop at garage sales because I didn’t want anyone to see me. And forget the idea of my actually wearing anything she bought there. For some reason, bargain shopping had a stigma attached to it.

I didn’t want to feel poor.

And throughout high school and college while I worked to earn my way and was very careful with money, I still wanted to acquire “stuff.” And, in the back of my mind, having nice (read: expensive) things was a goal and a symbol of success. This continued into marriage and motherhood until a few years ago when we received a “wake up call.”

My husband was starting a new business, and we went without an income for several weeks. Up until that point we had been living “speculatively,” that is, making our purchases with plastic and then counting on having enough money later to pay off the balances each month. This worked fine – until the month came when there wasn’t enough money to pay it off and still have some cash on hand. We were stuck.

“Coincidentally,” I heard about this guy named Dave Ramsey and started listening to his radio program about money.

FishPapa and I talked about our options and the “wild idea” of living debt-free. It sounded totally crazy considering our income at the time. Though we had little savings, we decided to bite the bullet and stop using our credit cards. We found ourselves in a heap of debt and I felt “poor.”

Listening to Dave answer calls about people in better and worse straights than us was so helpful to my morale. The “good” calls gave me hope to change. The “bad” ones helped me count my blessings and pay close attention to the advice Dave gave. One of the things that he said over and over was about the idea of being poor.

He said, “Poor is a state of mind. You’re not poor. You’re broke.”

That helped me so much.

And part and parcel with that idea is the thought that we need to do what we need to do in order to be wise with our money.

** If we order a la carte at a restaurant and the server raises an eyebrow, that’s okay.

** If we use coupons religiously in order to stay under budget, that’s okay.

** If we put on an extra sweater and keep the thermostat set in the low 60s to conserve money and energy, that’s okay.

We need to be okay with the methods we’re choosing in ordeer to be money-wise. We need to be okay with not “keeping up with the Jones.” Chasing status symbols is what gets people into financial troubles in the first place.

June 19, 2007 is a day that will live on in infamy. At least in our bank book.

In switching to cash we began to be much more careful in our shopping. We scaled back in our spending. And we lived on rice and beans that summer. We started “to act our wage.” And since then, praise God, we have climbed out of the hole. But, it was a most valuable education. We learned that there’s a lot of good in life that money can’t buy. And we learned to be okay.

One way to save money and make it more fun in the process is to shake off those attitudes that you need to drive a fancy car, buy name brands, or order a full menu at dinner.

Or that you should be embarassed for doing otherwise.

It’s a question of mind over money. Set your mind on the right course and don’t let your ideas about money make you feel “poor” or make you spend what you don’t have. Thinking rightly about money will help you save it, not be a slave to it.

Got a great money-saving tip or trick? We’d love to hear it.

Write about it on your blog and bring your link back here. Anyone is welcome to participate provided that both the blog and the post are family-friendly.

Please remember

1. to add a link to LifeasMOM, so that your readers know where to find all the other good stuff that people are sharing. (It’s always good to share, isn’t it?)*

2. to make sure that the link you share here directs us to your post, not the main page of your blog. You can find directions to do that here.

I can’t wait to get more ideas on how to be wise about money!

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  1. This week's frugal blog is "Home Made Kids' Meals." Check it out at!

  2. I have recently started living more frugal, becasue I want to not because I had to thank goodness; and it is fun! I just got back from Walgreens, and that is what I was going to link up for today.

  3. My husband and I also took Dave’s class about 2 years ago. We started his plans and then had some job changes and now are starting over. Thanks for hosting, today was my first time to join in. I have read your blog a few times before. Thanks for hosting!

  4. Thanks for hosting! I chatted a bit about meal planning!

    Being frugal rocks!

  5. What an excellent post. It’s so true – it’s easy to make spending decisions based on what we think we “should” have, or what success “looks like” rather than what we truly need or even want. Thanks for hosting!

  6. Thanks for hosting. I look forward to reading your blog.


  7. I love the quote “act your wage”! And realizing that it doesn’t matter what other’s think.

  8. I love this post. It has taken me a while to not chafe under the feeling of “living poor”, but I think I’m getting there. As my mindset has slowly changed to look forward to what CAN be if we live this way now, it’s easier to realize that I’m *choosing* this and not forced into it and that feels better. Live like no one else, baby!

    Welcome to your first hosting day of Frugal Friday, FishMama! Thanks for hosting it for us.

  9. My husband and I took the Dave Ramsey FPU class two years ago. We almost “got it” and paid off tons of debt. But, we didn’t really get it because we let things slide and didn’t go gazelle on our Emergency Fund. Now, our economy is a mess and people are losing their jobs left and right. We are now back into the DR thing and working hard to get rid of ALL debt and load up our emergency fund. If you haven’t checked Dave Ramsey out…you must. He’s SOOO right. I am so glad we “get it” now and we are never going back.

  10. Being organized about my shopping list and sticking to the list has helped me save money. No more multiple trips to the store and wasted gas because I’ve forgotten something. No more impulse shopping! I really like to use Cozi to help me with my lists and staying organized.

  11. I’ve been doing the frugal thing (sorta) for a few years now in the hopes of getting out of debt. So far, the best thing is that I’ve kept my head above water.
    The second best thing is that I’ve found this can actually be fun. I mean, can anything give you a better ‘financial high’ than 45% off your groceries? (Hooray for sales and coupons!)
    And thirdly, I bet you’ve also seen that things you totally and completely had to have just plain don’t matter now!

  12. We have learned so much from Dave Ramsey too. On Oct 26, 2007 we called his show to yell “We’re Debt Free!” It was awesome and we have never looked back. I agree poor is a state of mind. My husband makes a good income but we choose to live on about half of it. I would rather save and give, than spend every penny we make.
    Great post!

  13. I think keeping up with “these” Joneses will actually make you feel good–we’re so easy to pass up! 🙂 A great post!

  14. I usually do a bit on Thrifty Thursdays… so if it’s alright with you I’ll marry that with Frugal Fridays when you do it!! I love thrifty frugal ideas!!!

  15. Wow. I was just thinking about doing a post on this area since I am still in middle of it. When we first got married we had all kinds of money. Due to income loss for my husband and me now at home with a baby and a 2 year old. We’ve made the decision for me not to go back to work….but we’re having a tough time adjusting our $ mentality since before we shopped at the grocery store with no list and purchased whatever struck our fancy. Many times while clothing shopping for me or my first, I’d buy without looking at prices. I had a similar wake-up call to you!
    What a blessing to have read this and know that I wasn’t the olnly foolish one out there (no offense!)

  16. My hubby and I are taking Dave’s course now… I love his quote, “Live like no one else, so you can LIVE like no one else.” That gets me through the rough spots! 🙂

  17. You know, it’s interesting what you say about “being poor” as a mindset. Tony Robbins always talks about the negative associations people have with money, but it works both ways (having negative associations with NOT spending money- like being embarrassed about the garage sales).

    It’s kind of a relief to know that we have so much control over our lives, all with the power of our thinking!

    Danelle Ice from Homemaker Barbi