In the Midwest, we are hunkering down for ice and snow. Whenever we get a little bit, people tend to get a little crazy. With winter storms, the store shelves quickly empty of basic necessities like bread and milk. Thriftiness has left the building. But thriftiness is a gift.
Isn’t it funny how extravagant we get when we think we are going to be locked down in our homes for any period of time? Not only do we need bread and milk but, we better get some extra snacks while we’re at it. And we need battery packs for all our devices. I mean, we all remember the toilet paper shortage, right? It seems like the stores are still trying to recover from supply shortages.
Today, we’re talking about thriftiness. Do you spend only on what is necessary when you go shopping? There was a young woman in front of me in line at the grocery this week who spent over $250 on groceries! I can see it for a large family, but she didn’t have any kid’s stuff in the cart. (Next week, I should write an article about not judging others peoples’ stuff in their carts. Sorry.)
There was a time when I was couponing and I realized I wasn’t being thrifty when I would buy things just because I had a coupon for it. That felt more like hoarding to me. When will I ever use 10 bottles of hot sauce before the expiration date?
Do you set a budget? Do you have a set amount of money for food? Can you stick to it? You can’t just spend your money willy, nilly. Every dollar needs to be assigned to something, whether that’s food, bills or savings. You have to have a plan for your money or you’ll never get ahead. Sit down with your spouse and talk about the year ahead and what you’d like to do together. Then, stick to the plan. Put money aside in savings and retirement. It can be done when you are careful about spending.
When you follow a budget, it becomes a habit, then a routine, then, it’s just part of who you are. After a while, you figure out what you can and can’t do.
Less is More
This is the “year of less” for me. I am evaluating all the “stuff” in my home, using up the fabric stash I have accumulated over the years and making gifts for birthdays and holidays. I’m also trying to be more intentional about using the food in the cupboards and eating the stuff in the fridge before it goes bad. I struggle with that.
Thriftiness means you eat out only maybe once a month instead of once a week. You continue to wear the clothes you have in your closet instead of buying new things. Want to save even more? Drink filtered tap water instead of sodas or bottled teas. Make your own teas. We tend to spend a lot of money on needless things.
The rewards of being thrifty are many. You learn the discipline of saving and doing without. You learn to be content with what you already have. We are so spoiled in this country. We have everything at our fingertips. A couple of days of being stuck in our homes makes us all a little crazy. The opposite of thriftiness is excessiveness.
Don’t take thriftiness to the extreme. I’ve seen older people do this many times. They have a tendency to become hoarders and save everything. These are the people who reuse plastic wrap and aluminum foil. They like to use the excuse about living through the Great Depression. It’s not to say that we can’t learn lessons from that time but there needs to be a balance.
If you have too much stuff in your home, get rid of it! Donate it to some worthy cause. Then remember to not bring more stuff back into your house. When you leave this world, somebody is going to have to go through it all. Don’t do that to your family or friends.
Another pitfall of not being thrifty is that it tends to encourage people to borrow money. If you spend more than you make, you’re in trouble. Learn to save your money for the things you need. We all live in this world of instant gratification. There’s joy in saving for something and working hard to achieve it. There’s a lot of stress in having to constantly work to pay something off that you really can’t afford.
Bit by Bit
I used to follow this woman called the FlyLady. Man, she is good at organization and cleaning. She will have you walk through your house once a week and in certain rooms just pick up 5 or so random things lying around and have you get rid of them. That’s how you start, bit by bit. Do you really wear all 20 pairs of socks in your drawer? How many winter scarves do you need? How much is too much? I would say we all have too much. I know I do.
So as we ready for this winter storm, and wonder what to do when the electric is out, pick up a sack or bag and walk through the house. Find some things you don’t really need or use and put them in the bag. Then when the roads are clear take a trip to your local shelter and donate them. You could also put them in your garage and have a garage sale in the spring to recoup some of your cash.
As with everything in life, there has to be a balance. The Bible is clear about that. We shouldn’t always have plenty. We need to know what it means to be without sometimes so that we can fully understand and appreciate what we already have and can show compassion by giving to others.
Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.–Philippians 4:12
One day we will all give an account on how we used the gifts the good God has given us. Let us be thrifty. Share your excess with others. Now we just need to figure out how to share all this snow with others.
Want to learn how to be more thrifty?
- Keep a log of every penny you spend in a week’s time. –Every penny. Look to see where you throw money. Do you regularly stop at the gas station for a coffee or candy bar when filling up?
- Look over your receipts from the grocery. Are all those items necessities? Did you use coupons for the things you need?
- As you learn to spend less, take the money saved and put it in a jar or special fund and mark it for a rainy day. Assign it a use or purpose and treat yourself and family to something fun.
I appreciate you! God bless.–Barb