Monday, November 16, 2009

Journey to Frugal Living

Frugality is getting popular nowadays in case you didn't notice. As a wife and mother who doesn't work for pay,  I like to gather tips to spend less and save more of my husband's hard-earned money. So, I enjoyed listening to the Focus on the Family broadcast last week with Jonni McCoy, author of Miserly Moms. I was very interested in her background of extravagance and her journey from making 55% of the household income to becoming a stay-at-home mom within 4 months.

Truth be told, I was a little disappointed. Not that Mrs. McCoy didn't have great ideas. Not that I haven't reserved her book at the library. When my mom asked me if I heard the program and my dad expressed amazement that one can make her own pancake syrup for less than 11 cents, I joked that I actually make mine for a little less because I use vanilla flavoring instead of maple flavoring and leave out the corn syrup.

I listened carefully when she promised that we could save 35% of our grocery bill by following one tip. The tip? Shop only loss leaders from the front and back of the store flyer. Excuse my own ignorance, but are there really informed Americans that do not know this? Apparently so. Gayle of the Grocery Cart Challenge mentioned that a lot of grocery shoppers don't know about or own their store's loyalty card. That seems very basic to me.

 Photo courtesy of coneslayer

Through all this, I have realized a core principle in the quest for frugal living. Everyone has their own personal journey to more simple, frugal living. To the person that visits Starbucks on the way to work every morning, Keurig K Cups might be a frugal idea, but to the person that doesn't drink coffee, that would be a very extravagant plan. To the person that goes out to eat every week, Jonni's tip for switching to pre-cooked foods in the freezer would be a frugal step. To the person that goes in to the store and shops by impulse, it is a very frugal plan to scan the loss leaders on the sale flyers.

 Photo courtesy of dmal
 I heard someone describe the difference between a trade and an art last week. A trade can be learned and achieved. An art always has something higher to learn or a level to which to attain. By this definition, I think frugality is an art. I am much more frugal than I was when my husband and I got married--I shudder to think of my wastefulness and grocery budget (or lack of one) in those early days. However, I know there are higher levels to attain when I see the bag of cheese curls in my pantry and bagged lettuce in my refrigerator.

Another aspect of the personal journey to frugal living is that each one has to decide for herself where the threshold is for her family. Some may not want to sacrifice organic foods to spend a little less in the produce department. Others may choose grass-fed beef even though it costs a bit more. On a personal note, quick cooking oats look more and more like cardboard to me, so I prefer rolled oats for my granola. Before you label me as a snob, let me remind you--it's still cheaper than the Lucky Charms I used to buy!

10 Ways to Save on Groceries (Without Clipping a Single Coupon) @ A High and Noble Calling
A Frugal "Real Food" Budget @ Passionate Homemaking (be sure to check out her links, too!)
Menu Planning Help from the Money Saving Mom @ Shop At Home


  1. I'm an Aldi's girl - it saves all the coupon clipping and ad studying and run around time. :-)!

  2. Very good post.


  3. Wonderfully written! Thank you for pointing out that everyone is at a different stage and I think this applies to much of life. If only we could all be more patient and less judgmental of one another. Thank you for the encouragement!!

  4. I always get so excited to read and listen to programs on saving....only to be disapointed because they never really teach me anything new! I feel that I will always be on the artistic journey of frugality, but I'm not sure if I will ever actually master the art.

  5. What a wonderful article. It is so true that everyone has a different journey to frugality..there really is no right or wrong way but findning a way that works for you! I would love your maple syrup recipe, by the way :) And what a sweet suprise to see that you linked to my article on saving on groceries without coupons. Thank you! I love your blog and am blessed to have found it. Your are promplty added to my Google reader :)

  6. And I am typing in a hurry, so forgive the misspellings above ;)