Are you frugal? Some random thoughts on stuff

The rest of our stuff came last week.  Wave 3 of the attack, if you will.  I mentioned before, that I didn’t miss too much of it.  Now it is here.  I’m trying to convince myself that this is a good thing.  Or it will be.  Once we get it put away.  I think it will all fit.  Progress has been slow because, you know, KIDS.  And it feels like a shell game.  I need to put X in here, but I can’t because Y is in there, and I can’t move it until I sort Z and get it moved.  And so on and so forth.

My goal for this weekend is to at least get things out of Henry’s reach.  I miss before when he wasn’t randomly walking up and handing me an iron.  Or a flashlight.  Or my box of Christmas cards.

Living with less stuff really wasn’t hard.  I’d like to get back to that a little bit.  But I’m having the same problem I was when I tried to purge before our move.  Selecting the things you want to take is easy.  Looking at all the things and eliminating them is hard.  When I didn’t see this stuff, I really didn’t miss it.  But now–even though I didn’t need it for almost two months–I look at things and think I should keep them.  You know, just in case . . .

I asked James the other day if we are frugal.  The Frugal Girl has a funny post up about how to How to be an obnoxious money saver.  The comments are interesting.  I don’t identify with a lot of these things, particularly noticing price changes of a few cents.  I would never notice that.  My general philosophy is that I can buy whatever I want at the grocery store because it is much cheaper than eating out.  I mean, within reason, of course.  I’m not buying all filet mignon, foie gras, and crab legs.  But we don’t have a grocery budget.

I recognize that we are fortunate to be able to think this way.  I know not everyone can.  I know I may need to think that way some day.  Besides the other reasons I mention here, I think this is one of the reasons I haven’t hired any cleaning help yet.  We could afford help now.  But I think I want to try on what would be like if we couldn’t.  I don’t know what the next step is.  If we opt to do something very different with a very different income stream, I’d like to know what it feels like.  Is this a deal breaker, ladies?

One of my new friends here has asked a few times if we have been to the mall yet.  Nope.  Besides that whole driving thing, I’m just not that into it.  The kids are not super fun in stores.  And I know I want less stuff if I see less stuff.

Similarly, a new favorite blog is The Mom Edit.  The writing makes me laugh.  The pics are gorgeous.  It does give me outfit ideas.  But it also makes me want things.  I find myself with 5 new tabs open after reading a post before I talk myself down that, no, I do not need another gray sweater.

In Clutterfree with Kids, Joshua Becker talks about working towards minimalism after spending a day cleaning out his garage.  Let’s just say it was not the most fun day, and he wished he could have spent more of it with his son.  It was a realization that your stuff owns you.  You have to put it away.  Clean it.  Organize it.  Take care of it.  Right now I feel a little like the stuff is owning me.  I need to be vigilant about eliminating the things that don’t find homes.

So, no, I don’t really think of myself as frugal.  I don’t budget.  I spend money on kindle books without hesitation.  I’ll drop some money on a dinner out.  But I’m working towards less stuff.  And recognizing that putting myself in less opportunities to acquire stuff generally results in less stuff.  I definitely don’t want to be holier-than-thou like the obnoxious money savers above.  I do love stuff.  Particularly gray sweaters.  And gray pants.  And gray purses.  Yes, I have a problem.  I think the goal should be stuff that works for you.  Right now my stuff is not working for me.  Time to recalibrate.

What’s your “stuff” strategy?  Do you consider yourself frugal?

3 thoughts on “Are you frugal? Some random thoughts on stuff

  1. maggie says:

    I was once given the nickname Frugal McThriftypants, and I am not ashamed. At the time, it was out of necessity. Science grad students may be in better financial shape than say English students or med students, but a budget is still an important thing to have and curate carefully. Now that J and I both have grown-up jobs, we’ve decided to make a conscious effort to continue to live as close to the grad student budget as is reasonable in order to save but also so that we can invest in the things that actually will make our lives more comfortable.

    There are some places where I think it is more frugal to buy nice things. Truly decent shoes are worth every penny. They last longer, and I’m convinced that one day I’ll save on podiatrist’s bills in return for investment now. Of course this policy only works for me because I am not the kind of girl who needs a different pair of shoes for every day of the year, and I despise the process of shopping.

    Places where I’m cheap possibly to a point of ridiculousness are services and food. I cannot imagine paying someone to mow my lawn or wash my car or hem my pants. Luckily, cleaning really is J’s jam. He’s home a lot more than I am these days. As for food, I’d happily spend a little money on restaurants if there were any nearby, but mostly we eat at home. And there is almost no amount of work that I’m not willing to do to save a few bucks on groceries. When I need something specific, I’ll pay what it costs. But since I buy in bulk, freeze, can, etc., I rarely need something specific. I have a price threshhold for what I’ll pay for the things I use regularly, particularly meat, and I stock the pantry or freezer when they’re below that price. I make a point of knowing how to turn a less than stellar cut of meat into something delicious and can usually plan to get a whole second meal from the bones and drippings.

  2. maggie says:

    Well, once you have stock, you add some beans and vegetables, and you’re pretty much there. Winter squash just started happening here, so the current favorite is to boil tomatoes (frozen from the garden this summer), onions, and acorn squash (cut this in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down on a plate; microwave for 5 minutes, then scoop the flesh out of the skin) in stock for a while, then puree, strain, and spice to taste (salt, pepper, basil, thyme, oregano, cayenne, etc). Add black-eyed peas (dry or canned, cooked according to package directions or drained and rinsed, respectively) and frozen spinach or kale (also frozen from the garden).

    Another common one at our house is butternut squash and/or sweet potato soup. This one is the same deal. Just boil the peeled vegetables in the stock until they’re soft, puree, season (basically the same as above, but toss in a bit of grated Parmesan cheese too). Instead of beans, I add protein to this one with plain Greek yogurt.

    My traditional Thanksgiving turkey leftover soup is made with celery, onions, and rice. It can be done with chicken too. With a beef or venison stock, I like cabbage, onions, carrots, green beans, and corn. A ham bone makes a nice bean or potato soup.

    I canned a bunch of beets this year, and I might even have a second crop coming along if the frost holds off a few more weeks, so a borscht might be in my future. If I can look past the color.

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