Friday, May 30, 2014

Frugal Friday..........Frugality: It isn't a poor person thing, its a smart person thing!

A few weeks ago I was standing in line at the library waiting to check out the stack of books and movies my daughter and I had selected. Standing in front of us was a woman and her son, they had an impressively large stack of items that the son was struggling to hold. Fed up with the armload the woman's son sat the books on the table beside the line and began arranging the books to better fit his arms. A few books I have read in the past came tumbling off the tower of books and landed in the check out aisle and I immediately recognized them. The books were about frugal living and saving money. I stepped closer and bent down to give them a helping hand when I heard the mother scold her son in a loud whisper, "hurry up and hide those books, we don't want people thinking we are poor!" The boy who looked to be about my own daughters age, anxiously glanced around him while fumbling to hide the frugal living books under the piles of other items they were checking out. I was immediately filled with pity and sadness for this mother and son who were now sporting bright red faces and trying to plaster fake smiles on their faces.  Unfortunately what I had witnessed just then really illustrates our current societies attitude regarding frugality.

Not too many generations ago frugality was looked upon as a worthy virtue, it had no barring on whether or not someone was "rich" or "poor" but rather was a show of character and brains. Most everyone was frugal in one way or another, it was a way of life that demonstrated good stewardship, appreciation and a good head on your shoulders. A man, no matter if they were considered rich or poor, was considered a fool and of weak moral fiber if they did not practice frugality.

Nowadays our society has made the word "frugal" an ugly word and has attached shame it. My only guess to why we have taken such a drastic turn from our roots in this matter, is that the recent generations of Americans have become more materialistic and consumption driven than any generation in our past. We have fallen into the "bigger is better" mentality and are obsessed with what other's think of us. We place our value of ourselves and of each other on material items and how things appear on the outside. This type of thinking as driven the notion that only the poor and less worthy are frugal. The real truth however is quiet the opposite.

Some families that are poor in finances may have to be more frugal out of necessity, this is true, but not all folks who are low on funds practice frugality. In fact, many people who consider themselves "poor", actually would not be as much so if they were a bit more frugal. Sadly societies definition of what is poor is strongly mis construed. Even if you have very little money, you can be rich in more ways than even the top financially wealthy people in our country. Money is only a small part of it and even so, American families who live at the poverty line or below have more money that most of the worlds population.

Many families who are not struggling with finances choose to be frugal as well. These families might not have to be frugal just so they can put food in their bellies but they make the choice because to them it is a matter of character and because it is the smart thing to do. I read a study a few years ago about millionaires that really made me think. The study showed that most super wealthy people are extremely frugal. These people drive older vehicles, live in homes that are nowhere near luxurious and appear to their neighbors as average low to middle class folks. They are wealthy because they are frugal, they are wealthy because they are smart with their money and resources. Oh sure there are lots of wealthy people who love to show off their money, big houses, fancy cars, lots of shiny things, you know the type. This type of person usually has poor relationships, is internally unhappy, over stressed and of low character. I want none of those things and I am sure many others would agree.

My husband and I  confuse many people I am sure, especially those who know enough about us to know how much my husbands salary is. We are very frugal yet my husband earns a wonderful living. People often assume we are stingy and cheap if they know his salary or if they don't they assume we are poor because of our frugal ways. Truth is we are neither. We choose to live in a way that is a reflection of our beliefs and what we consider to be of good character. It is important to us to be good stewards with what we have been blessed with, to do anything less would be wrong in our eyes. Does this mean we are rolling in the dough while we spend very little? Not at all. While we do have a very decent income we also have some not so decent medical bills that we have to pay every month. Also we like the idea that the more we save means we can give more. If more people were frugal then more could be given to others so that we may all survive. We have higher goals for our money than to spend it all on material things and to some this seems silly.  Stewardship, wisdom, character and security are far more important to us than having shiny things to dangle in front of others.  We live in a very average modest home. According to the banks assessment of our income we could qualify to live in a home twice if not three times the value of our current home. But why struggle to pay a bigger mortgage and be stressed out when a more affordable option is just as good and frees up more money and resources for other goals. We have lived in much larger and fancier homes and truth is they didn't make us more happy just more stressed. As a stay at home mom I can tell you I have much better things I could be doing with my time than cleaning 5th bathrooms spread out across 3 different floors! Never again!

I am not trying to say that there are not those who truly struggle on a daily basis and for whom frugality is the only way to survive. I am also not saying that we are better than others for choosing to be wise with our money when it may not be a necessity for our family. (Trust me, we have made plenty of unwise choices in our marriage but we have learned from all of them and if anything they have taught us the value of living frugally.) What I am saying is that being frugal is a good idea and way of life for everyone. The poor and the rich can be frugal or not, thriftiness isn't really a good way to judge someones financial wealth but it can be a good way to judge someones priorities and moral fiber. I know plenty of people that earn very little yet appear wealthy because they eat out constantly, live in a fancy home and have expensive vehicles and toys. These same people struggle with making it from pay check to pay check, are up to debt to their eyeballs and are unhappy and over stressed trying to have it all and live above their means. A frugal person that earns more money is far wiser than a poor person that has lots of "stuff" because they are frivolous with their money, yet on the outside the more financially wealthy frugal man appears to be the poor one. Its all about perception of reality and finding those lost priorities that our parents and grandparents had right generations ago. Being frugal is nothing to be ashamed about but rather should be celebrated. In truth, frugality has very little to do with how much money you have in your bank account, it has everything to do with how much character you have in your heart.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Simple Front Door Decor

Front door wreaths are kinda an obsession of mine. I love decorating my front door and making it look cheery and welcoming to my guest. Most of the major holidays I have some sort of festive door decor going on but then there are those times of the year where we are in between holidays and I need something more "every day" and simple. I decided a monogram themed wreath would be perfect.

After going through my craft reserves I realized I didn't have what I needed for a wreath so I decided a large monogram would be different and fun. I had picked up this large letter from a craft store for 50% off which made it $5. Also wait till your craft stores have their sales folks so you don't overpay! Our stores here usually run the sales on a cycle so even if what I need isn't on sale yet I know it will be within a matter of a few weeks.

The letter was brown cardboard type material I knew I wanted to paint it but didn't want to waste money on another can of spray paint when I have boxes of leftover paint from previous projects. I found the hammered copper spray paint we used when we gave our dishwasher and vent in the kitchen a face lift and thought it would be a perfect neutral for my monogram.  There was just enough paint left to give a good few coats and it dried great. You can't see the finish very well from the photo but it turned out to be a nice metal look which I adore.

Next I wanted to add some sort of spring/summer color so I went through my ribbon box and found this green burlap with white polka dots left over from Christmas. I had just enough to fashion the sort of bow I wanted. I used plain burlap for the actual hanging part and then just fixed the bow on top. What I really love about this method is that anytime I want a different look I can just change the bow out.
This project turned out exactly how I wanted it to, simple and cheap. Besides the $5 for the letter form I already had everything I needed really. I have gotten several compliments from neighbors and the oversized letter evokes a sense of whimsy which I love.

Not everyone enjoy decorating their front door but I do, to me it makes a statement about the people that live inside. Also I always feel more welcomed when I approach a home with a cheery wreath or such on the door. Maybe I am just weird though. hahahaaha

English Muffin Bread

I can never, ever, ever get enough fresh bread. Unfortunately due to all day morning sickness that has lasted for weeks, I have opted to buy bread from the store which isn't nearly has frugal or healthy. A few weeks ago however I had a day where I woke up and felt much so I took advantage and made some homemade bread. Sill not having as much energy as usual I looked for an easier recipe that didn't require lots of kneading. After checking some of my favorite blogs I found this recipe.

This recipe was crazy easy. I didn't have knead and make my counters a floured mess and the entire process went quickly. As you can see from the picture I had a little trouble with one loaf sticking to the pan but that was an error on my part.

All in all this recipe turned out delicious. We ate it covered in butter and jam, plain and it made wonderful sandwiches as well. I haven't priced it out per loaf yet but it can't be that much compared to the store bought bread, plus it is much healthier. If you are looking for a new bread recipe that is quick and easy, I highly recommend this one.

Menu Plan Monday

( I am bringing this post over from my previous blog so it is a few weeks old but still wanted to share)
Happy Monday folks! I have been a fan of Menu Plan Monday over at Organization Junkie for some time now and thought it would be fun to join in.
My family is working towards our goal of being debt free and living simply, so making a budget and sticking to it is important. I know many families have the same goal so with that in mind I am going to include how much our food cost this week are. Keep in mind I don’t usually count in the price of some spices and such if it is an item I typically have on hand. I am also not going to include breakfast and lunches in this post, this time. We don’t all eat breakfast everyday and lunches are varied each day but usually include either leftovers or sandwiches of some kind but my total food cost for this week are counting what we eat for three meals a day plus snacks. Here is our evening meal menu for this week….
Monday-Baked Sweet and Sour pork chops, Pea Salad, Cheesy Oven Taters ($6.00 ish for the entire meal and because I bought a large family pack of the pork chops we will have leftovers for lunch the next day for sure)
Tuesday- Chicken Parmesan Pasta with Salad ($5.00 for the entire meal )
Wednesday- Breakfast Casserole and Fruit WE LOVE BREAKFAST FOR DINNER ($6.00 ish and we always have leftovers because my recipe makes such a large dish of this)
Thursday- Hamburger Pie, Green Beans ($7.00 ish and this makes two pies so we will have enough for leftovers for lunch the next day)
Friday- Homemade Pizza ($5.00 ish, I make my own crust so the only cost really is the toppings which I do a plain pepperoni  and then a loaded veggie one)
Saturday- Goulash with Salad ( $5.00 ish)
Sunday- Squash Casserole, baked chicken, mashed taters, rolls ($8.00 ish, this is my most expensive meal but not only we will have leftovers of the squash casserole for lunch the next day but I will have leftover chicken that I can stick in the freezer to use for another meal too)
As you can see our dinners come to approximately $45 for the week. I spent $130.00 total on food for this week when I went shopping over the weekend for this weeks meals. The rest of the money went stocking up on some pantry items, staples, breakfast and lunch stuff for days we don’t have leftovers and some extras for snacks like fruit, cheeses, crackers and such. I was little over indulgent at the grocery store this week I am afraid. I am pregnant and have some cravings and I just couldn’t help myself from buying a few items I would never normally purchase. I know I can work on the food budget if I can handle breakfast, lunches and snacks better so that is my next goal to work on. All in all I don’t think $130 a week for a family of four is too bad, I will work on getting down lower though next week.