Monday, November 16, 2009

Frugal living: the lessons I learnt

This blogpost comes about because more of my friends in church are starting drugstore-deals and wanting to learn more about frugal living. I'm absolutely fired up about this because I believe good money management is a blessing to the breadwinner (mostly husbands in this case) and will teach us about contented living.

Since Mission R.I.C.E started last August, these are the biggest lessons I have learnt from our attempt at frugal living.

1. Focus: Relationships over Frugality!

In the beginning, it is SO easy to get overboard and carried away. With the wonderful resources of the frugal blogs, we can get SOOOOO many deals, save SOOOO much money and get TONS of freebies. I remembered when I was quite hooked, reading and searching. I remembered when I was quite affected, utterly crushed with every "bad deal" (no stock? won't take coupon? didn't calculate right?). I remembered when I was quite agitated, wanting the family move fast/change schedule so that we can do our "runs"!

Then I realize, what is the point of frugality (and saving money FOR the family) when I'm "away" from the family? So, God helped me to let deals go (even the REALLY good ones), and relax when deals don't turn out or stocks are gone. In return we had a more balanced family life. My children have more of my time and my hubby doesn't HAVE to do the runs every week. And since we're saving, we also do not forget to give and to celebrate (there are many frugal ways to celebrate, but if there are some special things we really love to do as a family, I'll think it's still worth some splurging!)

Now I clip coupons (only from the Wed circulars and only the ones I think I might need) and I don't even organize them (egad!). Lots of time saved.

Now I do the "runs" maybe once or at most twice a month?

I wrote another blog here before about this.

2. Benefit: Training over Results

Discipline is more important. True, saving hundreds of grocery/household money and thus increasing savings is so captivating. But I also realize the discipline of menu-planning, grocery list-writing, thinking through every purchases is better! Such discipline trains my character than my pocket.

Process is more important. In fact, one of the greatest phrases I learnt about money-management and kids was "don't say 'we can't afford it' or 'it's too expensive for us'". Cos that means IF you can afford it one day, you can buy it. Then the child has the wrong teaching: earn as much as I can so that I can "afford". But say more "we don't need this. or this is not of good value"

Integrity is more important. I learnt through some hard lessons that it's better to "lose" some money than lose your integrity. If the deal doesn't smell right, or the coupon is not legitimate, DON'T go near it.

3. Emphasis: Values over Deals

It's not about getting the deals. It's about the lifestyle change. The willingness to live on less and to give up more. We may not get the snacks/peripherals/eat outs as much as we used to (then again, we had more potato chips/cereal than before! haha), but we can really save and still eat great food. We may not be able to get that particular shampoo we dearly love, but we get to choose from 5 different other brands that come free. When mentality/values are altered, then we really can make a significant financial difference.

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