Okay, okay, that's enough rabbit trails. So what does this title mean? Well, let me give you a little background...
First of all, we have been hands-on, learn-from-our-mistakes money managers since before we were married. We made some doozy financial decisions in the beginning, but for the most part (by the grace of God and some parental generosity), we have been spared the horrors of credit card debt and overwhelming student loans. In fact, at the moment, the only debt we are holding are our two mortgages (one for our house, one for the PH), and I know that our two house payments combined are less than one monthly payment for other people - so we aren't complaining.
Even though our money management and financial decision-making has gotten better over the last 12+ years, we recognize that there is always room for improvement. When we lived overseas, our budget was tight with no financial pillow in case something went wrong. We learned about trusting God for everything and relying on Him to supply our daily bread. That was a good reminder and we never once went hungry.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" ~ Matthew 6:25 & 26
Once we returned to life in America - land of Target clearance sales, Starbucks Coffee, and $3+/gal. gas - it wasn't too hard to lapse into some of our old money-mis-management ways. It was during the early days of trying to work out a new budget and come up with some kind of plan, that I stumbled upon blogs like Life as MOM and Money Saving Mom. Their posts about freebies and coupons and freezer cooking were super encouraging to me when I was trying to figure out how to be a better steward of what the Lord was giving us.
Let's skip ahead two-and-a-half years to present day. We are now a two income household with a primary residence and a secondary rental property. We have no children, no pets, we don't travel a lot and we haven't flown anywhere since we came back in August of 2008. We buy clearanced milk and eggs, we shop at the Grocery Outlet, and we grow produce in our backyard each summer. While we own two cars, they are both paid for and were purchased used (one is 7 years old, the other is 17). We support missionaries, we put money in savings each month, and we don't go to the movie theater because we can't stand the thought of paying $20 to see a movie we can rent for $1 in a few months. In short, compared to many in our country, we're downright frugal.
But here's the Bottom Line: We can do better. Since I got my job, we have allowed ourselves to slip. We're going out to eat more often because I don't feel like cooking when I get home late at night. We've been shopping a bit more than normal because the budget feels more relaxed. Instead of building that rainy-day cushion, we've been enjoying those rainy days at our local Dunkin' Donuts. $7 here, $36 there - it all starts to add up.