Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Can You Have Joy from Frugality?

...I would say a resounding yes! However it takes the right mindset to get there with discipline and learning to make the best choices. So, take a moment to consider your spending and to think about how and why you manage your finances the way you choose.

Personally, even being a "Fru-Girl", I find I have yet to get rid myself of more financially bad habits and tighten the belt more in 2011. I realized I can be saving more for the future when I listened to one of my favorite broadcasts...Janet Parshall on "In the Market" on Moody Bible Radio with none other than America's Cheapest Family, Steve and Annette Economides.

There are many misconceptions about frugality; Many people think being frugal is not a choice, or it is depressing, or that people are forced into being frugal because you aren't 'rich' or whatever...however Steve and Annette Economides really bring the truth about living joyfully without spending excessively. As Janet and the Economides family discuss on the recent broadcast, they are saving and without debt because as Christians, they are not 'owners' of their finances, but merely stewards of the financial blessings that God bestows on them. In being responsible stewards, we must save so that we can be generous in giving to others, help our families, friends, and community and live without going into debt. I highly recommend listening to the broadcast from December 15, Hour 1 found here. Not only do they talk joyfully about saving, but also talk about wonderful ideas for Christmas gifts and bringing joy into others' lives as well. Here's a little bit more about the Economides family from The News of Today:

"The family of 7 is known as America's cheapest family. They get by on under $44,000 a year, which seems almost impossible for a family with 5 children. living in Phoenix Arizona. Despite being almost impossibly frugal, the family still buys name brand clothes, they eat healthy food, and live in a very nice area of Phoenix. Their trick is to plan well in advance on spending habits, as well as look for bargains..."

My savings plan came into sharp contrast when Steve was talking about how years ago, while he was only making $6.25 an hour, he managed to save $1000 cash in less than a year. Could you do that today? What would you do with $1000 dollars?

I began thinking,....where could I begin to save more? What are my bad financial habits that are taking away my financial resources.

A big and basic bad habit for me is eating out. Unfortunately, I love grabbing breakfast at Starbucks + Panera on my way to work - and how is spending $6 on coffee + breakfast (or lunch) a couple times a week frugal? The answer: it's not! By cutting out my breakfast habit, I can be saving $20+ a week and investing it or putting it towards something substantial.

With an average savings of $20.00 x 52 weeks = $1040

Consider even the smallest 'frugal busters' or budget drainers, like small fees or ATM fees; even if you are paying one ATM fee with an average of $2.00 twice a month, that's an extra $48.00 annually and over 5 years, $240.00! If you are complacent in coughing up $2 every time you need cash, you need to rethink your savings plan!

Anyway, back to the subject of "Joy from Frugality". The truth is, once you start saving and implement some financial discipline, your savings will accumulate and you can "choose your own adventure" as my fellow frugal bloggers say....save to buy your first house, give generously to your charity/church, help a niece or nephew pay for college, start a saving's fund for your children, whatever you choose, saving money will help move you towards your dreams to bring joy to your own family and others as well.

Suggestions to get started in budgeting and establishing savings....

  1. Make yourself a weekly budget: Check out Kristin's ideas for a weekly budget from "Couponing To Disney" She saves so she can take her family on fun Disney World vacations! What will you do with your savings?
  2. Make some frugal friends...get your friends on the same page with you about saving...talk openly about each others' saving goals and just be real about saving. My friends and family know I am the "Fru-Girl" and we attend cheap or free social events and have fun without excessive spending!
  3. Choose your reason for saving and discuss this with your spouse and family members so you're all on the same page if you're all in on the same budget.
  4. Make saving a part of daily life! Be happy about saving!
  5. Gather up your Gift Cards - if you are spending, couple your gift cards with a coupon to save your bank account. So many people have unused gift-cards laying around the house. Make using them a priority! Use them for Christmas Shopping, Vacations, Travel, whatever, just use them!
  6. Spread joy with your frugal lifestyle! Bake something for your mailman, co-worker, favorite hairdresser....a small loaf of pumpkin bread (an idea from America's Cheapest Family broadcast on Moody Radio) only costs .30 cents to make and can truly brighten someone's day!

While blogging today I was reminded of not only a favorite Christmas memory from childhood, but also a frugal adventure courtesy of my wonderful parents. A song from "The Nutcracker" came on my free Pandora station (under Classical Christmas) and it reminded me how my parents used to usher at Columbus' Palace Theater so that we could all see the annual Ballet of The Nutcracker for free/discounted. That was truly one of my favorite holiday traditions,....my sister and I would get dressed up in pretty holiday dresses and our family would drive downtown Columbus to watch the Ballet; the music from the symphony is so memorable, the costumes so beautiful and the story, so magical!

The last note I would like to mention, is about the most recent "Frugal Farmer" in Leroy, Minnesota, a story currently on CNN. In life he was known as 'frugal' in a negative way, but after leaving over 3 million dollars to his town, the local senior center, the fire department, churches and more;"generous" is what they say, is how he'll be remembered.

Merry Christmas to all!
Nutcracker.jpg

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