Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Nature, nurture, or something else altogether


Sometimes I like to quantify my day by adding up how much money I've saved the family. I think a lot of us do this. Maybe it's because we've felt we needed to defend our frugal choices to others. Or, maybe it's our personality to want to count money, you know, we're the ones who always HAVE to be the banker in the game of Monopoly. Or, maybe it was our parents's training instilled, very thoroughly,  in us. Whatever the reason, I find the counting part to be very fun.

Yesterday was one of those "making and doing stuff" days. I made soy milk, strawberry jam with the wild strawberries, cut lavender for drying and using in some Christmas gifts, pulled the leaves off of a large cutting of dried oregano (will use some in a housewarming gift later this week) and a smaller cutting of dried thyme, did the laundry in cold water, had a meatless Monday sort of dinner, salvaged some purple tissue gift wrap before someone wrinkled it too badly to reuse, etc. I haven't added up all of the savings. But it sure made me feel good to know I'd been productive for the day.


I really think that for me, it's been a matter of having to defend my choices to others, as well as myself. And of course, keeping a tally like this really helps when one of those big bills needs paying. As I know I've done what I can, to be a good steward of our family's resources.

How about you? Do you like to keep a tally of how you've saved money for the day? Do you attach a number to the money that you've saved?

19 comments:

  1. Yup-watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves, a variation of Ben Franklin's quote

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  2. Such a smart thing to do. Not only do you realize all that you have done, but I'm sure it also provides added incentive to keep on doing what you're doing. As a result of a couple of your posts about tallying up frugal activities, I've started doing that in my head, on an almost daily basis. It really does help! So thank you for this gentle prod.

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    1. Hi Jayne,
      it really does keep me motivated. And especially if I've had a slow start to a day, I challenge myself to really kick it into high gear and finish the day out strong and with many tasks accomplished.

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  3. I don't keep track of money saved on a day-to-day basis, but I do tend to think in terms of "I saved X amount of money by shopping at Aldi instead of Meijer today". I think you are on to something with feeling the need to defend yourself to others for the choices you have made. It bothers me that I feel like I have to defend my choices and I am trying to make a conscious effort to avoid judging other's choices or feeling like I have to explain mine.

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    1. Hi Kris,
      I will do that, too, when I'm shopping and make the effort to buy certain items at particular stores. It keeps me motivated to go out of my way.

      I am also trying to make a conscious effort to not let other's judgements of my choices bother me. However, having felt criticism, over the years, it does help me to not judge someone else's choices or offer unsolicited advice. Live and let live.

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  4. So funny...brought a chuckle about us having to be the banker in Monopoly lol

    I am doing this frugality business like a retirement job. I think, the more you do, the more you want to do. Plus I see how it adds up since the frugal savings happens every minute of every day, in how you live, in other words, how resourceful you are, how good your DIY skills, how well you have learned to sacrifice, how consistent, persistent and tenacious you are, how well developed your decision making abiities are, which then determines what you buy or don't buy, in other words, the spending is only the end result not the beginning. I think that's where people get fooled. The difference is so significant...even earning in the 6 digits cannot guarantee long term financial goals if frugality is not part of the equation (ask my favorite cousin), whereas earning less but saving more can guarantee financial goals.

    I think you are on the right track, Lili. I know it is difficult to go against the grain of society, since the mantra is spend, spend, spend. But you are doing something very invaluable for your family and taking it to the highest level.

    Yesterday, was a day of "making stuff". We worked on our pantry doors, prepping and painting with the sprayer in the garage. Today or tomorrow, we might build the closet frame and hang the doors. Between the coats of primer and paint, I continued with my other project of making cat clothes for our youngest grandson's favorite kitties (he has about 6 stuffed kittens that are all the same, just different fur colors). He loves them so much, I thought it would be fun for him to have different clothes for each kitty. I have so many scrap yarns and fabric, I thought it would be a nice challenge to hone my crafting skills and creativity.

    Have another wonderful, productive day!!

    YHF

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    1. Hi YHF,
      I'm glad you mentioned they are your grandson's STUFFED kitties. Ha ha! At first, I had flashes of these poor cats being dressed up, as people do their dogs. It reminded me of my childhood when we tried to dress up one of our cats in doll clothes, one afternoon. She had claws, so she kind of won, on that one.

      What a sweet thing to make, though, for your grandson. I'm sure he''l love them!

      Keep telling me about your building-related projects, like the doors to your pantry. It serves as inspiration to give this sort of thing a try, myself. I've always considered myself unable to build things, simply because I haven't yet. But I've wanted some built-in organization in my closet, and I may just give it a try myself. Inside a closet, it wouldn't be highly visible. So if it didn't turn out perfectly, that wouldn't matter.

      Have a great day!

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    2. Closet organizers are a great way to start!! I know you can do it....with the internet to research ideas, materials, and how to. Home Depot and Lowe's cut wood exactly to your measurements. I noticed from years of doing this kind of work that it is the ideas and care that you put into a project that wins in the end. Without that, no amount of formal training will make the difference.

      YHF

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    3. YHF, as I was falling asleep last night, I was imagining how I could add some organization to my closet. I may just do this, this summer. Thanks for the encouragement! We have some scraps of shelving in the garage to begin with.

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    4. I'll be interested in what your ideas are. I could use some organization ideas.

      YHF

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  5. Hmmm... you know, reading this made me realize something about myself. I don't tend to think of things in terms of "I saved X amount over what I usually spend" - I generally look at it as "I spent X amount - Bad Cat!" I don't actually think all spending is bad, but I'm also not organized enough to have a "budget" in the conventional sense - I've always just tried to spend as little as possible. I think your method is much healthier!

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    1. Hi Cat,
      in the earlier years of our marriage, we didn't have an actual budget. We tried to just save as much as possible, spend as little as possible. The difference that I find, between then and now (with a budget), is a budget "allows" us to spend on some things without any guilt. And it helps us to be more generous with others, as we have a preset amount for giving.

      Having kids has certainly been a help in maintaining a budget, as it's a lot more palatable to say to a child, "that's not in our budget" than it is to say "I think what you want is stupid and I don't want to spend the family money on it". You have to do what works for you.

      And you're right, not all spending is bad. Not even all discretionary spending. I recently had to buy some gifts, and I specifically looked for gifts that supported our local economy. That type of spending is very good, I think, as it keeps my "neighbors" employed and happy.

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  6. You know, I don't actually tally up all I do and how much it saves every day. Perhaps I should. Do you also take that "savings" and put it into a bank or just use it as knowledge?

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    1. KCMama, we don't put the savings into the bank, directly, but the budget is adjusted, as we discover surpluses in the various categories, as a result of frugal efforts. When we save for specific projects or trips, we keep a separate budget category just for that item. But I do enjoy looking at the results of some of my efforts and think about the $$ savings.

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  7. It just doesn't seem right that you should have to defend your frugal actions since it's no body's concern except you and your family.

    Have you really gotten lots of comments or just a couple of pointed ones? Whatever the case, you should be proud of the life you are providing for your family. There are many routes that can be taken to the same end, and you have chosen what's right for you.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      At this point, I think I need to just stop thinking about other's opinions of my choices. It's hard to do, though. Almost all of my local friends have worked in careers outside of the home, and so have had much larger household incomes. The cost of living is somewhat high in the Seattle area, and without a second income, we've needed to forge a different path. But all of this is complicated by my own internal struggles, set by years of feeling like I just didn't measure up. Like I said, at this point, I need to change how I let other's opinions of me affect my internal dialogue.

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    2. I have gotten similar comments. I am currently job searching because I have had difficulty getting hours, but when things were going well at my current job, I would typically work 2-3 days/week during the school year and about 1 day/week during school breaks. I have learned to give vague answers to people about my work schedule--"Oh, it varies depending on the hospital's need"--because I would get comments saying "but don't you want/need to work more hours?" or "It must be nice ... ". We have several different factors which has led me to make the job choices I have made, the biggest one being that I wanted to have time to be a family and not feel like we are rushing from pillar to post to fit everything in ... it's easy for me to feel defensive about my lifestyle choice and I am trying to learn to accept the way I am wired and the needs of my family and to not let other's opinions influence me. It's been a journey for me! I appreciate that you share your own struggles with this, Lili. Makes me feel less alone.

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    3. "oh it must be nice . . ." I have heard that, too, so many times. Yet, I don't want to go into the whole discussion about how we've eliminated all sorts of costs like cable, smart phones, upscale shopping, so we can afford to have me home, or go on a trip or have work done on the house. So, I have also been vague, at times, especially in the years when I have paying work, like childcare. It's not a lot of money, but if people think I'm employed somewhere, they're less likely to question my choices. It's just silly, really, that I should feel I have to explain anything. Last I checked, I am an adult, and I do get to make my own choices.

      No, Kris, you are most definitely not alone in these struggles. Its hard at times, but you do know how to best live your life. Everyone gets to choose for themselves how to live their lives.

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.