Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frugality & Contentment

I'm not even sure frugality is a word. But for the sake of humoring me, let's just flow with it. I was raised by a frugal family. Therefore, it makes perfect sense (or perhaps it doesn't make perfect sense, as opposites do attract, but by the grace of God I did marry someone who thinks the same way I do when it comes to money) that I married someone who is just as frugal as me obsessed with saving pennies. I sometimes joke with Drew that if I die he will sell the house, all of our belongings and live out in the wild eating ramon noodles and raw meat. It sounds drastic, but if you knew my husband, you would realize that it might not be as far fetched as it sounds. Thankfully Drew and I balance each other out. While are both "nerds" financially, I do like to splurge on myself every now and then, so Drew keeps me from going overboard, while I help him realize that it's ok to buy things for ourselves if it is in our budget.
I have friends who always ask me how I do it; stay within a budget and shop the way I do. Truth is, it's a sacrifice. There are days and even weeks, that I don't want to drag my kid to 3-4 different stores just so I can get the best deal (on a typical week I make a trip to Walmart, Aldi's, Sams Club and the Discount Bread Store-- and that's all just for groceries). I clip coupons and save ads so I can get price matches. But I feel like I owe my husband and our family that hard work, since he so graciously lets me stay home with our son. People always comment and say that I should be thankful I can stay home. I really believe that ANYONE can stay home with their kids if they are willing to make the sacrifices that it takes to do so. We don't have cable tv. We have BASIC high speed internet. We still own a 1983 JVC tv, in a 30 year old entertainment center. We drive what, to some, are old beat up cars (an eight year old Civic and a 10 year old Ford Ranger). Our home is small (relatively speaking). I buy mostly off brand foods, shop at TJ Maxx and sales racks for clothes, and we rarely eat out. Reading back over that paragraph, to the average American today, our lives sound pathetic. But guess what? I don't worry about when Drew gets paid because we are debt free (besides our mortgage, which costs less than rent would for a 2 bedroom apartment). If Drew got laid off, it'd be a tragic event, but it wouldn't send us into a tailspin of worry wondering what we were going to do when bills came in three weeks.
 Do I want a new car eventually? Yes, if we can afford it. Do I want a bigger house? Absolutely!  I feel like we're bulging at the seams in our 1300 square foot house now... who knows what I will feel like when we add another kid to the mix. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you there is part of me that daily battles with learning contentment in the things that I have. It's especially hard now that a lot of my friends are buying bigger houses, newer cars and have all of the latest and greatest phones, tv's and computers. I struggle with resentment towards the military for interrupting Drew's career path the way it did through 2 deployments. What's even harder is that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. So on that bad day when I see a friend enjoying a new large family vehicle, or purchasing a newer home that has much more living space, I have to try extra hard to make sure I don't put unnecessary stress on my husband (who works so hard to provide for us!). And to be honest, sometimes I fail, and fail hard. Thankfully, Drew is understanding and gracious to me on those days when it seems like I am ungrateful for everything that is around me. It's a daily struggle, and one that I don't think will go away anytime soon, especially living in the world we live in.



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