In Defense of Frugality

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I went to Wal-mart this evening to do my monthly shopping and I had an interesting discussion with my checker. As she started scanning my groceries, she stopped and said, "You must have a big family!"

I smiled and said, "There are six of us." Then I explained that a lot of this food is for the whole month. She couldn’t imagine buying enough food all at once to last a month. (I don’t actually buy everything for a month either. We go to Sam’s once a week for milk, eggs, juice, Cheerios, and other things that we get a better deal on there.) So I explained that I planned out our dinners for a month. By this time, I’m beginning to feel like I have two heads.

Then she said, "What do you for a living?"

To which I replied, "I stay home. (I wasn’t going to mention homeschooling if I didn’t have to.)

She then proceeded to ask me what my husband did for a living. I was still trying to be friendly, but I was getting a little bit annoyed at her nosiness. After I told him my husband was a teacher, she was even more amazed that a family of six could live on one teacher’s salary. Then she wanted to know what we did about holidays! I was getting a little flustered at this point so I not so eloquently said, "Oh, I guess maybe we don’t buy as much as other people."

As is typical for me, as I was driving home I realized all the ways I could have told her that we have lower monthly expenses than many families.

  • We drive old, paid-for vehicles
  • We do not have cable TV
  • We do not have cell phones except 1, $7/month emergency phone
  • We do not go to the movies
  • We eat out extremely infrequently (once every 2 months or so)
  • I do a lot of cooking from scratch
  • We buy most of our children’s clothing at consignment sales
  • I cut everyone’s hair (except my own, which hasn’t been cut in over 6 months.)

I could have told her all that stuff. But, I’m kind of glad I didn’t. If I had said that it would have sounded like I was complaining. But I’m not at all. Because we have given up those things:

  • We have a comfortable home that we enjoy.
  • We spend time as a family going on hikes, visiting museums, and playing games.
  • I stay home and am the primary influence on my children’s lives.
  • I have the privilege of homeschooling.
  • Our children are not materialistic. (We have a terrible time thinking of gift ideas for them. They never know what they might want.)

I would never ever trade the opportunities I have at home just to be able to go to dinner and a movie every week. Really, what is more important? So what if everyone thinks we’re weird.

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10 thoughts on “In Defense of Frugality”

  1. How wonderfully said! We get buy on probably about the same income as yours with a family of 6 and people can't figure out how we do it either. It really isn't as hard as they think once you have the lifestyle down.



  2. Kristen-you are so right tho-I think way too many people feel they couldn't stay home because they really do not want to "give up" those things. But, like you pointed out, you can find so many wonderful things to do that are cheap or free and are much more entertaining. I have clerks ask me all the time if I have a big family-cuz the size of our order, and I say "well we have 6, 3 of em teens and well, this will last about 3-4 days" you should see their faces! I bet tho, if folks added up their weekly "eating out" expenses-it would total way more than my 2 weeks worth of groceries!

    And that clerk sounded a tad-well nosey!

    Have a great day today and I will catch ya on the TOS board.

  3. I have awarded you a blog award! Stop by my site to pick it up. Visit me at cabin in the woods.


  4. In a culture that tries to obtain happiness and value from "stuff", yet continues to be increasingly unhappy, it is definitely a good thing to be WEIRD. I'm right there with you!

    Heidi P (TOS Crew)

  5. Dave Ramsey is famous for always saying "Live like no one else now so you CAN live like no one else later". If this is what works for your family and everyone is happy, continue on girl. I learned the hard way to stop trying to impress people who will just find something else to put you down about. God's word said "do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". You are doing just that. Your post has encouraged me because being a black family with not a lot of money and one that homeschools we feel so alone at times having no support from friends and family. Thank you.

    Edited by crossrhodes on Jun. 1, 2009 at 1:22 PM

  6. agirland4guys

    I feel so "normal" reading how "weird" you are!! I have a friend who keeps whining about how she wishes she could stay home. Her husband works at the place, doing the same job as mine. Yet, they have two nice, new vehicles, a fancy house in an uppity neighborhood, and go to nice restaurants whereas we have one vehicle (how's that for weird!), got to restaurants that have "dollar menus" and don't think we have to have all the latest and greatest gadgets. So many people value stuff over each other. Like you, I feel that what we have-a family that is close and knows that they are loved-is more important than anything else.

  7. I'm glad to be "weird" lol. Great post! It's funny when they start the conversations with us, we have a great opportunity to share Christ with them, and I end up talking about everything except Him. OOOH those convictions!! 🙂 Thankfully He gives us more opportunities and forgives us quickly. 🙂

  8. Great post! I enjoy being weird. LOL We don't have a cell phone, my DH wants to get a prepaid that we can just add minutes as we need them, we no longer have cable or satellite. Our van will be paid off in full come next tax season. Our other car is paid in full. We shop at thrift stores for clothing and I am trying to learn to make our own. New clothing usually comes from Grandparents. We borrow books from the library, we use bdays and Christmas for a chance to buy special books for the littles. etc…… some don't understand. oh we don't have central, our house is less than 700 sq ft for 5 (hopefully more later) people. So it's okay to be weird and I love it – I've always been weird though so it's normal for me LOL


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