The Frugal Misconception

We are frugal, NOT stingy.

 

I think frugality is often given a bad rap and mistaken with being stingy.

Frugality is “being thrifty, efficient, and managing your resources.*”

If you are stingy you are “being scant in your using, giving, and spending.*”

We are frugal. We look at the money and resources that we have and try to use them to the best of our ability. We try to spend our money wisely. We take time to think before we spend. We try to use things we have before buying something new. We often buy used, but not poor quality. We are a single income, home school family and are thriving, with more than we need, due to managing things wisely.

We DO eat out, but its once every week or two instead of every night. We DO wear nice clothes, but many of them are purchased second hand. Why pay full price when I can buy a nice American Eagle shirt in great shape for $2.50 at a resale shop? We DO live in a nice 4 bed, 2 bath house in a nice neighborhood but have a small mortgage due to buying below our means and having a big down payment. We DO give and can give quite a bit because we have extra from living below our means. We are frugal but we are by no means suffering.

We may not have a fancy new car in our driveway, but we also don’t have any car payments. Our kids are happy, healthy, and have plenty of toys to play with.  We are updating our house, one room at a time, and it is all payed for with cash.

The only downside to our lifestyle is that we have to be grown-ups and delay some of our gratification. We can’t rush out and buy something the minute we want it because we need to have the cash in hand. I wouldn’t trade having money left at the end of the month for that shiny new toy though.

 

*Definitions paraphrased from dictionary.com

I am Spoiled

I am spoiled. I have a servant, or is that not the proper word anymore. Maid, assistant…whatever the correct term is now; I have a couple of them. They help me get more done in a day than I could by myself. My helpers take care of menial tasks for me so I can focus on other things. My helper’s name is an appliance 🙂 I know…not what you were expecting, but think about it for a minute.

200 years ago how did they do laundry? Each person had maybe 3 outfits (2 work dresses and 1 Sunday dress) and laundry was a day long ordeal. You had to haul the water from the well or river, heat it, scrub the clothes by hand, hang them to dry, and repeat. The harsh soap made your hands raw. It was very hot and sweaty work. How do you do laundry today? I’m doing laundry right now! I am lucky enough to put in a load of clothes, add some soap, push a button, and walk away. When the machine beeps I transfer it to the dryer (or hang it outside) and start the next load. I still may spend a whole day doing laundry but my day is not consumed with that one task. I also have plenty of time to do other things at the same time I am washing clothes.

I can wash a days’ worth of dishes while I am sleeping at night. After each meal we load our dirty dishes in the dishwasher and before we go to bed we push the start button. We have crock-pots and ovens that don’t need to be constantly monitored. We have microwaves that can heat up a meal in 2 minutes. We have indoor plumbing. No more emptying chamber pots or midnight runs to the outhouse. A bath no longer requires the chore of hauling and heating water. We just turn on the spout and relax.

I know that I take these modern ‘maids’ for granted all the time. I still feel like I don’t get anything done in a day. Perhaps I need to prioritize better? As I am writing this I am washing one load of laundry, drying another, washing dishes AND baking muffins! At the SAME TIME. Can you imagine what our ancestors would think of these conveniences? It would blow their minds! So yes, I am spoiled and so are you 🙂

Parade of Homes

This past weekend my hubs and I attended our local parade of homes, something that the Home Builders Association in our county does each year. This year we got to tour 7 new construction homes and 1 major remodel which were spread throughout our county. It allows you to see the newest styles and trends as well as meet and talk with several different builders in one day without an appointment. We are not planning on building anytime soon. And quite possibly never. But we love to look at houses and see if there is anything that we can incorporate into our own home.

Here are a few of the observations that I made about the homes this year.

The average size of these new homes was 2,600 square feet, 3 bedrooms, and 2.5 baths. The average price of these homes was $390,000! Since I talk about money a lot on this blog it shouldn’t be a surprise that the price tags made my eyes bulge out of my head!

The most expensive house was selling for $520,000. We walked through a HALF MILLION-DOLLAR house people! The thing that struck us most about it was that it wasn’t that impressive. We felt the layout was not conducive to a family. The bedrooms were really far apart, the main living area wasn’t that big especially since it was touted as being ‘great for entertaining, and the lots in this area were right on top of each other so that all you saw from your gorgeous, big windows or your patio was the neighbors. When I personally think of spending that amount of money on a home I think of it being on a big lot with mature trees that would give us room to move about in privacy.

The smallest and least expensive home was a condo in a retirement community with a price tag of $220,000. We did like the layout and size of this home especially for the intended two-person occupancy. However, all the finishes were pretty low end and un-impressive for that amount of money.

One builder asked us if we were looking at building and we told him that it wasn’t an option because we simply couldn’t afford it. His first comment was that interest rates are very low and that he often builds homes for less than his $400,000 model. At this stage in our lives, building wouldn’t make any sense for us. We are working hard toward paying off our mortgage so why would we want to plummet backwards with a new construction? I’ll never say never, but…

Although we always enjoy making a date day out of the Parade of Homes we are content, as a family of 6, in our 4 bedroom, 1,900 square foot house. We are definitely NOT normal and are certainly not judging those that have large and/or expensive houses. To each his own. We are quite comfy and enjoy adding our personality to this house. In the end it will help us to reach the goals we have set for ourselves.

What do you think…are these homes overly large or pricey? Do you live in a large home and love it?

P.S. We were not allowed to take pictures but I would have loved to! You can see the layouts and some details on our Home Builders Assoc. webpage: http://schba.org/parade-of-homes/

Accepting Responsibility

*This post will most likely make people angry. It is a rant on my part about something that frustrates me and is COMPLETELY my opinion. This is my blog where I get to voice those opinions. I do not expect you to agree.*

I decided that I wanted to buy a house. I found the one that I wanted in a nice neighborhood close to where all of my friends were also buying houses. I went to the bank and got a loan for the most they would allow. I signed my name saying that I agreed to pay the full amount back plus interest. I understood that I was responsible for this because my name was on the loan. I understood that no matter what happened in my life circumstances I would need to figure out a way to pay my mortgage payment. Five years later my job wasn’t paying as much as I had hoped and all my friends were moving away. I decided that I no longer wanted to live in this house, but I also wasn’t able to sell it. I started bemoaning the fact that I had taken out such a large mortgage and ‘ruined’ my life by not being able to see the end of these mortgage payments. I blamed the job market in America because they don’t pay enough. I blamed the neighborhood for costing so much. I blamed the bank for allowing me to borrow so much money to start with. I began to see that the big problem was really the government. Isn’t it their job to make sure that I get to live ‘the American Dream’ without it causing any type of financial burden to me? It was the government’s fault that they even allow banks to loan people like me money when I can’t really afford it. Housing should be free for everyone!!!

Does this sound ridiculous? Crazy! Absurd! Why would anyone expect that?

Change the scenario to college and the above is true.

I recently saw this cover of a magazine while I was in the grocery store.

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I later found the article online so that I could read it. Here are my thoughts on the subject. Notice I said my thoughts. I am not expecting you to agree.

I understand that college is expensive. Quite frankly everything is more expensive than it was 10 years ago. I understand that many parents are not able to pay for their kids’ college and many aren’t able to help at all.

What frustrates me is the mentality that our culture seems to have… ‘I had no choice, but to take out a loan.’ ‘Jobs just don’t pay enough to cover the high cost of school.’ ‘College ruined my life!’

I hate to tell you this, but college did not ruin your life. Yes, you have a mess of debt to clean up. Yes, it is going to take lots of time and effort but don’t play the victim. You had a choice. You signed on the line to take out the student loans. You agreed to taking on a large amount of debt, no one forced you to do it! There is no shame in waiting a year to go to college so that you can save up some money. There is no shame in starting your degree at a local tech school and transferring later. There is also nothing wrong with working while going to school.

Articles like these make me realize how entitled people now feel. They feel they deserve to get a degree at whatever school they want, in whatever state, despite the costs. Then when they realize that they made a bad choice they think others should accept some blame and help them fix it.

To put it bluntly: Grow up and take responsibility! It is your problem and you need to take care of it!

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