6.26.2012

Bottom Line {June}

This month, I want to talk about how our ideas of "Living Frugally" have changed. When you see the word, frugal, what comes to mind? Coupons? Hamburger Helper? Stay-cations? Target's Dollar Section?

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When we first returned to the U.S. in December of 2008, I did an online search of "ways to save money", which is how I stumbled onto the blogging world. I read MoneySavingMom's tips on using coupons and signing up for free samples, and I followed Jessica's journey to feed her family of eight on a surprisingly small grocery budget. I started printing and clipping coupons, but as I watched my pantry fill up with cheap foods, I also saw the numbers on the scale increase, and we never seemed to have more money, despite my attempts to be a "frugal" shopper.

In 2010, we started making changes in the way we ate - jumping on the South Beach Diet bandwagon and shedding a total of 73 lbs. between the two of us. We invested in a quality treadmill, removed many of the processed, high-sugar foods from our home, and cut down on our intake of pop. On the financial front, we paid off our car, purchased a rental property, started an electrical contracting business, and published a book. The future was looking bright.

{Isle of Palms, SC, July 2010, after the weight-loss}

As we approached New Years Eve, we wondered how 2011 would be able to top 2010. If we had gotten so much accomplished in the last 12 months, there was no telling what we would be able to do in the coming year. I'll tell you exactly what happened: We put almost 40 lbs. back on (between the two of us), realized that the business was costing us more than we were bringing in, we sold approximately ten copies of our book, and grappled with the giant elephant that we referred to as the Project House. 

Over the last six months, I've shared about our decisions to close up the PH, pay off our mortgage, and buy quality over quantity. During the month of June, we have been stunned by the fact that we are shelling out higher dollar amounts on individual purchases, and yet spending less overall while enjoying a higher quality of life. How does this work? How did we go from coupon clipping to splurging on kitchen gear and still remain frugal?

It wasn't that hard, actually. By cutting out the weekly (or daily) trips to Target or Dollar Tree, breaking free from the "It's only $4.99..." mindset, and planning ahead for meals so there are far fewer last minute runs to Sonic, it is possible to find yourself with more disposable income, as we did. In fact, I had the strangest realization last week as I tossed eggplant and fresh mozzarella into my cart: Fresh Market is my new Target, but it's saving me money and keeping my house clear of unnecessary clutter

By buying fresh, quality ingredients, I'm able to prepare better meals at home which also provide leftovers for Peter's lunches. Learning to cook well at home saves us money, because going out to eat has lost it's appealIn fact, over the last two months, we went from eating out (on average) 4-5 times a week (including weekends), to eating out 4-5 times a month. If you figure in the cost of tips, that's a lot of money that we've just saved, that can be added to the grocery budget - providing better ingredients which brings us full circle

I want to clarify that I still do the {happy dance} when I find a good deal, it's just that now I understand that it's only a "deal" if I was going to buy it anywayBy choosing to spend our money on things like food, day-trips, or higher quality one-time purchases, we're happier & less stressed, our home is simpler, and our health is better. Win-Win-Win. Being on track to pay off the mortgage? That's the bonus. 

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Has your idea of "frugality" changed over the years?
How have you done this month in working towards your financial goals?

Next Bottom Line Update: 7/31/12



4 comments:

  1. Love it! We've followed many of the same principles in our home and seen dramatic changes. We find that having kids leads into us wanting to use our money to have great experiences before they grow up and not so much wanting to pay off all our debt. It's a hard balance and we are often not sure which is more important. Dave Ramsey would say sacrifice all to pay off your debt, but we think family and a low stress lifestyle (not working 2 jobs) are more important. I'd love to hear what you think about Ramsey's philosophy.

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    1. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle, Angie. I actually typed out a BOOK in the comments with all my thoughts, but decided it could easily be turned into a post, so look for that...Coming Soon! ;-)

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  2. Carrie,
    Your blog is so much fun. And educational with posts like these too! You always make me think, and often smile.
    Kindest regards
    from Switzerland,
    Alison

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    1. Thanks, Alison! As always, delightful to hear from you - thanks for taking the time to comment! :-)

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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