Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seasons of Frugality

I've been reflecting lately on how being frugal is not a one-size-fits-all lifestyle, and how within my own life it seems that there will be different "seasons" of frugality.  However much money we might or might not end up with, my family always plans to try to live a frugal lifestyle, but I've discovered that it is going to look different at different times.  That in turn has influenced what content you see here on my blog.

For instance, when I started this blog back in January 2008, I focused a lot on DIY cooking and baking projects, and I was also getting into gardening.  At the time, I just had a two year old and a six month old, and my second daughter was such a wonderful sleeper (those were good days!).  During LuLu's long naptimes, I could do a lot of projects.

Well, ahem, those days are gone!  Now I have a 4-1/2 year old, a 2-/12 year old (who clearly slept so much as a baby to save up her energy for being a toddler), and an 8 month old (who is a terrible sleeper). Naptimes are fleeting and irregular these days, and chances are only one child will be asleep at a time.  For the past 8 months or so I've focused a lot more on online shopping when possible, so you've seen more posts on the daily deal sites and Amazon deals.

Yet, the pendulum is swinging back a little.  With some advance preparation, I can now make it through a weekly Wegmans trip with all three kids, remember most of what I need, and even use coupons!  I've gotten more efficient at home, and I'm squeezing in a few more baking projects.

It's all balancing act.  I'm constantly trying to balance how much time I spend on coupon prep, grocery shopping, and finding online deals.  I'm trying to balance my frugal blogging with the work I do to save money for my own family.  I'm trying to figure out what things are worth making on my own and which are worth buying.  I'm trying to squeeze in what DIY projects I can and trying to figure out if gardening is something that is practical for our lifestyle.

As our financial situation has developed, it has also influenced my frugal practices.  When I discovered frugal blogs in the summer of 2008, we were just barely meeting all our expenses, so I would pursue any option that might save a few pennies.  Now (thanks in part to all I have learned about saving money), we have a small emergency fund and a little more breathing room in the budget, and I have learned to be a little more discerning about what deals are worth pursuing.  Lately I've been trying to purge and simplify our home, and I am much more careful about what I bring into it, even if it's free.

This fall, my oldest daughter is starting kindergarten, which no doubt will bring a new season of life with it.  I don't know what the next season will bring, but I send my thanks to all of you who read here and come along for the journey.

I'd love to hear about the "season of frugality" that you are in right now.  How has it changed over the years?

Picture by Alfi007.


  1. Great post! I couldn't agree more. I started couponing at the beginning of 2009 and just had a 13 month old, who was great about running errands with me. We lived within walking distance of Safeway and she was perfectly happy to go on trips that had multiple stops so we would hit at least 4 or 5 stores a week. Now that my kids are 3.5 and 1.5 and I am pregnant, I am loving Amazon deals and limit myself (for the most part) to 1 store a week. I could use some tips on how you shop with all 3, though!! At this point, my 1.5 y/o is so cranky about shopping (I think she got that from daddy!) that I do everything I can not to take her with me. :) With the years of couponing, I do agree that you start to realize what really is a good deal and also about what a realistic quantity of items to buy/keep is and what should be donated. I've also started doing weekly meal plans in the past 6 months and they have changed my life! I always knew it was a good idea but never really needed to do it...well, life just gets crazier and come 4:30, I love just looking at my whiteboard to know what I'm making! It has relieved a lot of evening stress for me. Thanks for all you do!

  2. I agree with you. I see the same thing not only with the seasons as you describe, but also with how the ebb and flow of life in general affects our approaches. Adjusting is key.

    I think that our attempts at frugality become easier as we get more experienced too. I used to look for deals all of the time. Now I generally don't look at all. There is less temptation to buy if you don't look at all. However with what I have managed to learn, like you, I know a deal when I see it.

    Summer is a great time for frugality because the days just seem longer!


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