Guest Post by Kari Patterson from KariPatterson.com. This is the second post in a 3-part series.
On Monday, we looked at my humdinger of a frugal failure. Today let’s think big-picture. If you have ever felt frustrated in your pursuit of frugality, you’re not alone. Some of us are swimming in the sea of coupons, discounts, sales, and specials and still not achieving the frugal life we’re striving for.
The deal is not working. We’ve got all the coupons, but the register is beeping and nothing is going through. And we’re frustrated.
We’re saving our pennies but losing our joy. We’re gaining a dollar here and there, but spending so much energy we wonder if it’s worth it. Perhaps there is some frugal fine-print that can save us from spinning in frustration and from overspending. We might even discover some joy in there as well.
So what’s the frugal fine-print? What do we need to squint our eyes and make sure to see if we’re going to make this deal go through, this lifelong deal of making our dollars count?
I love the 4-point tagline at the top of this site. In FrugalLiving 101, we discussed each of these, but I’d like to suggest one more. Perhaps it’s hidden under contentment or tucked into wise spending, but no matter what our frugal goals, simplicity is the critical component of making this work long-term. We’ll never leave a legacy of contentment, wisdom, and generosity if our lives are so complicated we throw in the towel at halftime.
Simplicity gives us staying power.
Remember, for something to last we’ve got to gain more than we drain. We will not persist in that which is complicated because no matter how much we’re “saving” the process is draining more than we’re gaining. It’s exhausting. No one likes complicated relationships; no one likes complicated couponing.
My family recently did a fun Food Stamp Challenge. We wanted to see if it was possible for a family of four to eat fresh, healthy, local and mostly organic food on a food stamp budget. To my amazement, it was. And, it became very apparent that the key to achieving a healthy diet on a frugal budget was simplicity. Simplicity is key. Out of that experiment came a little idea called The Simple Diet, one simple way to achieve health and frugality without the headache. The gist of it all—live simply.
So what does that mean? By definition simple means, “Having few parts. Not complicated, complex, or involved.”
To simplify our diets, budgets, and efforts in frugality, we must distill everything down to a simple process with as few parts as possible. While complicated things take much of our mental space, time, and energy, simple things can quickly become second nature. Effortless. We can easily assimilate a simple diet and money-saving plan, leaving lots of mental space for the things in life that matter most.
So, in the spirit of simplicity join us tomorrow as we look at a few easy ways to cut complexity and increase your simple staying power.
Leave a comment! In your opinion, what is the one secret of lasting frugality? If you could write your “life tagline” what would it be? We’d love to hear!
Kari Patterson is a pastor’s wife, ministry mommy, writer, runner, blogger, reader and frugal living enthusiast. She enjoys green tea, line-dried laundry and Alexander McCall Smith novels. Her musings can be found at KariPatterson.com.
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Traci Katz says
Thank you Kari. I was blessed.
John Woolley says
My take-away is the reminder that money is a tool – nothing more, nothing less. We are given tools & gifts by our Creator to use them wisely. When frugality becomes my idol instead of my characteristic, life gets complicated and stressed. I think that’s what I hear coming through 🙂
I have found that we eat much healthier and less expensively when we don’t worry about, nor use coupons. We are a household of 3 adults and 2 children and I spend about $95/week on food and personal and cleaning products. I shop every two months at Sam’s Club for bulk items, about every two weeks at Winco for produce, bread and sometimes other sale items. Milk, some produce, bread, yogurt I will buy at the two large chain stores in town, but ONLY if they are on sale. I buy LOTS of whatever is on sale so it will last at least two months, longer if it has a long shelf life. This way, I am never having to purchase when things aren’t on sale.
My purchases at Sam’s Club equal about $45/week and then I use $50/week cash to buy those sale items. We rarely eat processed foods, I don’t spend hours scouring papers for coupons and clipping/organizing and I don’t spend the money for the gas to shop out of town. It’s simple and frugal.
And there’s the answer to living a simple life…contentment!
I grew up in a third world country where one sweet woman said, “I pray for Americans every day. It must be so hard to have so many things.” It’s true. Every big company has it’s marketing department. Their job is to make me pretty sure I just can’t get along without whatever it is they’re selling. Like those vibram five finger shoes! I’m just dying to have a pair (in my mind I’m sure that would turn me from a non-runner into a runner of a lovely svelt build) My decision maker has become : Can I be content without that? And the answer is almost always, YES.
Lol! “in my mind I’m sure that would turn me from a non-runner into a runner of a lovely svelt build”. Thank you for your honesty! We all think that and I appreciate that you put the thought into words. It made me laugh. And I love your conclusion.
amen 🙂 When saving becomes frustrating I step away for awhile and clear my head. saving is natural for me, I grew up with it, but sometimes the bargains are too overwhelming and I feel defeated.
thanks for the post.
My family keeps things simple and frugal by going car-free, and choosing schools, jobs, activities, childcare, etc., that are within easy biking, walking, and transit distance of our home. That has saved us a ton of money and time, and made our lives simpler, healthier, and more fun. That one big decision has changed our life enormously, and we’re all better off for it.
Actually the bible tells us that God does not like things simple, but yet he wants us to become more like him. Say what?? Yeah… we have to strike a “balance” (which is also morally important) don’t we? It’s certainly not easy.
I would certainly have to agree with that Zina.
What keeps me on a frugal path? Well, to begin with it’s knowing I’ll have more money to buy the things I want/need down the road. I suppose I sort of have that thought engrained in me. Weather its having money to buy organic etcetera, go for a fun leisurely trip or just be able to go have a good quality cup of coffee and a pastry… I like to be able to do those things–they inspire me and keep me going.
A good way to keep yourself energized weather for saving money or for any heavy task is to always make some time for yourself to do something invigorating. Even if that’s listening to your favorite music and looking at inspiring pictures [that’s me ;-)] of a topic your interested in, it will really help you re-energize and build momentum for all of lifes’ tedious tasks and give you the zeal to do them too.
Thanks for your 3-part series Kari.
I felt a little calmer and more relaxed reading this too. This is exactly where I am coming around to in my frugal journey. I do have to admit that my grocery budget has gone up a little bit, but we are learning to live with less (especially processed foods) and making so much more of what we have. I felt like the busy, busy couponing lifestyle was taking away from the lifestyle I was looking for.
Enjoying my kids, enjoying the sunshine, enjoying our days without feeling “tied” to my coupons or grocery shopping has been such a wonderful blessing. It has been really invigorating realizing how we can make what we do have stretch and I feel like we are eating healthier. My kids eat every vegetable that comes across their plate, simply because I’ve become more creative in using what we have.
Kari Patterson says
Agreed! I love the Frugal Homemaking posts/series on this site, it’s so wonderful to be able to have just a few ingredients and make everything we need. Yes, more time for what really matters — those wonderful kidlets!
It just made me feel calmer reading this 🙂 I like simple.. saving shouldn’t be stressful and give you a headache.. it should make you happy and excited to do more. Although getting the hang of the coupon thing can take a while..
Kari Patterson says
So glad! We all need a dose of calm in our day, don’t we? Or maybe that’s just me … 🙂 Yes, getting the hang of things does take some time, huh? Just like moving into a new house, it just takes more effort for a while! Thanks for joining us here…