If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, then you know I am a lover of all things frugal. I am also a very detail-oriented person with perfectionist tendencies…
What do you get when you combine those traits? The potential for an annoyingly-ultra-frugal-crazy-person. (Just ask my hubby) 😉
When I first started my journey as full-time homemaker and stay-at-home-mom, I was obsessed with frugality. It absolutely fascinated me, because for the first time in my life, I actually had the time to put some effort into managing my home. We had been followers of Dave Ramsey ever since we first got married, and I was ecstatic that I could finally stay home and work towards saving money.
I read every book and blog I could find on the topic, and happily dove into the world of pinching pennies and saving money everywhere I could.
Fast forward to almost 3 years later. Am I still a lover of frugality? Yup.
Do I still take daily measures to pinch pennies and “Waste Not, Want Not”? Yup.
Do I obsess over frugality as much as I did at the beginning of my journey? Not so much…
I guess you could say that I’ve “mellowed” out a bit as I’ve matured in my role as homemaker. I still absolutely believe that we are called to be good stewards of what we are given. However, I’ve also come to the realization that it’s possible for frugality to overtake and control your life. And that’s not a good thing.
Today I want to share six warning signs to watch for if you think that frugality has the potential to control your own life. These are the points that I double check personally to make sure that my frugal practices are rational and reasonable.
Six Warning Signs of Over-Frugality:
1. When you sacrifice your time
Many aspects of being frugal take a bit of extra time, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, that is often considered one of the benefits of “simpler living.” It’s okay to slow down and be more intentional about our actions.
But sometimes our frugal practices can monopolize our schedules and when that happens, it’s time to reevaluate. When your kiddos are begging you to come play and you repeatedly tell them no because you are standing at the sink washing a mountain of Ziploc baggies, it might be time to rethink priorities. (That’s a silly example, but you get what I mean…)
2. When you sacrifice your sanity
By themselves, most frugal practices are fairly simple. There is nothing horribly complicated about reusing baggies, hanging laundry outside, making homemade laundry soap or or cooking from scratch. However, when you combine all of those little duties, it’s very possible to become overwhelmed. Last summer was rough for me. I had an insane number of irons in the fire and could barely keep up with my gardening, the watering, the animals, summer activities, kitchen tasks and our homestead projects. I became incredibly stressed out and quit enjoying my so-called “simple life.”
When you get to that point, something’s gotta give. After some urging from my hubby and sister, I went into “survival mode” and gave myself a break. I purchased a few more “expensive” items at the grocery store that I generally made from scratch (Yes, I even bought a few packages of bread and tortillas…), simplified our meals, and might have even thrown away a Ziploc baggie or two. Scandalous, I know.
But, I survived and happily went back to my normal frugal practices once the crazy season was over.
Don’t let frugal living become an idol in that you will drive yourself crazy by trying to do it all. It’s not worth it.
3. When you sacrifice buying quality goods
Sometimes after we’ve stressed over balancing that monthly budget, it’s easy to grab the cheapest version of the item that we are looking for at the store. But sometimes, this can actually end up costing more in the long run. For example: Back in the day, I prided myself on always buying the cheapest kitchen tools I could find. Why pay more for the “exact” same item, I always reasoned.
My theory seemed sound until the items kept breaking and I found myself continually repurchasing things. I’ve learned that it is much wiser to make small investments in quality items that will last a lifetime, instead of only a few months. It keeps more items out of the landfill, and more money in your pocket, even though it “hurts” more at first.
All those cheapo non-stick skillets I bought back then have long since been trashed because of scratching, rusting, and warping. (Not to mention they aren’t healthy to cook with…) But my cast iron/stoneware pans and skillets still look brand new, and they are something that I can eventually pass down to my children.
4. When you sacrifice your health/nutrition
This is another area where I’ve drastically changed my views. I used to love going grocery shopping to see how much I could put in my cart for the littlest amount of money. Those lovely packages of ramen noodles? Heck yeah! They were only 28 cents each. And I always stocked up on margarine– after all, you can’t beat 88 cents a pound for the stuff.
Oh my, how times have changed! I now realized that it is vital that we invest in our health by making good choices of what we put in our mouths. While you might be saving a few pennies by purchasing cheap “food” (I use that term loosely…), we will most assuredly be paying for it later in our lives through medical bills for our sick bodies.
This is the main reason I don’t clip coupons. While the savings you can gain from coupons are very, very appealing to my frugal nature, most of the items that coupons are available for aren’t food. (I know, I know– there are occasional organic coupons out there. But the majority of the coupons are not like that. Please don’t yell at me for not liking coupons.) 😉
I now purchase much more “expensive” food items, but I know that I’m investing in my family’s long-term health, and that is totally worth it to me.
5. When you sacrifice giving
Not gonna lie, during the times when our budget has been tighter than normal, I’ve glanced at the money we give to our church and charities and thought, “Man, it sure would be nice to put that money somewhere else and just “pause” our giving for a little while…”
My advice? Don’t do it.
That’s one thing I love about Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover. Even though he is a huge advocate of do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-out-of-debt living, he encourage folks to set aside money in their monthly budget for giving to others each month.
All I can say is that God has never left us hanging when we have faithfully given, even though it totally went against my frugal nature at times. You might not be able to give much, but do give something.
I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned about frugality is BALANCE. It’s a wonderful thing, as long as you keep it in check, make it work for you, and don’t become a slave to it.
So, I want to hear your thoughts- have you experienced this “struggle” with frugality that I have? Any tips you can share?