I watched Dave Ramsey’s special, Townhall for Hope, last night and watched several Earth Day specials (OK I watched Oprah) this week and couldn’t help but find links back to living a frugal lifestyle.
I caught a reoccurring theme of consciousness in everyday life, whether it be with finances or how we treat our environment. In my opinion, frugality is all about being conscious with how you live. We choose to live on a budget and to limit our indulgences so that we can instead focus our resources on the things that are important to us. We constantly choose to trade off short term gratification in an effort to focus on the bigger picture.
An example of this is our conscious decision to stop using paper towels. It may seem insignificant but I used to spend $12 or so a month on paper towels- that is $144 a year! While that may seem like a small amount, if you consider our $35/week grocery budget, I was paying almost 10% of our budget toward paper towels. We consciously decided to stop using them in both an effort to save money and in an effort to become a little more green. It has been months since I paid for paper towels and we haven’t missed them for a second. It is all these small choices we make in our every day lives that ultimately contribute to the bigger picture.
This lesson really hit home to me last year when we were house shopping. We found a lovely bank owned home in a nice neighborhood that we had placed an offer on. The homeowners had clearly been forcibly evicted as they had left a house full of items ranging from children’s toys, to food to the flat screen TV. We were amazed and frankly disgusted at the amount of waste- considering the bank was there literally throwing things in the trash. Being frugal in nature, I couldn’t help calculate all the little things that probably would have easily amounted into one more mortgage payment to keep that family in the house. There was a bag of Bath and Body Works lotions and soaps, a little girl’s dress with tags still on it, all sorts of fancy food items in the pantry, toys scattered everywhere- not to mention that giant TV. All of it representing time those people spent away from family, probably working in jobs they hated, the stress of not being able to pay the bills and ultimately what I can only guess was tremendous humiliation and terror at being forcibly removed from their home– all of it going straight into a dumpster.
So while it may seem like only $3 a week for paper towels, it is all those little things that add up in the bigger picture. We take shopping bags to the grocery store and when I forget, I bring back the disposables to recycle. I rarely use ziplocs as tupperware serves the same purpose. I choose not to buy a cart full of produce every week as I know we can’t possibly consume it all. Every time I throw away spoiled food it equates to time my husband spent working and time I spent shopping rather than having fun as a family. To me, learning to coupon and living a frugal lifestyle is about being responsible and taking control over our lives. A wonderful side benefit to taking responsibility is that we are more informed consumers and we are less wasteful in our lifestyle.
We have also made the conscious choice to surround ourselves with motivated and happy people. I always figure you aren’t going to lose weight working at a donut shop, therefore I choose to surround myself with positive people that take responsibility for their actions and that are leading productive lives. That is why I love reading all the positive and motivating frugal blogs out there. We also watch Dave nightly on TV to stay focused on our ultimate goal of becoming debt free.
I enjoyed reading SimpleMom’s post here about becoming debt free. Stories like hers always pick me up when I start to feel a little deprived or lose my motivation. Imagine- no debt. To anyone! What an incredible freedom.
Crystal also had a nice perspective on Dave’s program here. I find MoneySavingMom to be a great inspiration in her zen approach to frugality. Whenever I start getting a case of the I wants I can also count on MSM to help put things back into perspective- especially when it comes to couponing! I could easily have 10,000 free bottles of shampoo in my garage and even if I got them all free there was still a price to pay in effort and time. Did you know Crystal and her family are on track to pay cash for a home? Truly remarkable!
So overall this week I came away with a renewed sense of purpose and pride. What about you? Did you learn anything new this week or set any new goals?
If you missed Dave’s special it is being rebroadcast on Saturday on the Fox News Channel.