Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Freedom Thanks to Frugal Living

Typical media coverage of frugal people tends to focus on families that are experts at extreme couponing.  Case in point, the Wisconsin State Journal featured a local mom with a grocery bill of $300 - $500 a month for a family of 6.  The cover photo showed her along with her 4 children, three of which appear to be wearing homemade aprons.  A meal schedule set 6 weeks in advance is a key to the family's frugal grocery bill.  Six weeks?  Where is the room for spontaneous living?  After reading the article I put the paper down and thought, I am so lucky that I'm frugal by choice rather than necessity.

Growing up in a home that hovered at the federal poverty level, I learned to work at an early age.  I learned to save while very young, and I set my sights on higher education, knowing it would allow me to work reasonable hours and yet earn a comfortable salary.  For many years I was frugal because I had no other choice if I wanted to fund an education.

Now my education is complete. My student loans are paid off.  A legal practice is strongly established.  Yet, I'm still frugal.  Mainly because I cannot stand to see things wasted.  I also had the wisdom, or good fortune, to marry a like minded man.  Our brand of frugality does not fall into extreme, but it is sustainable for decades.

My blog does not talk about how to get a cart full of groceries for $1.52.  I tend not to do a lot of do-it-yourself projects. What I do share is the thought process behind financial decisions, being mindful about spending and use of items.  And a lot about cooking.  I like to cook.  Home cooking saves money for the most part. It reduces our footprint on the earth too.  But I also take pleasure in an impulse meal.

This past Friday my 3.5 year old son was suffering from an extreme muscle pull in his neck as the result of a dental exam earlier in the day.  After a healthy dose of Ibuprofen he finally felt well enough to sit up and eat.  Without thinking I ordered his favorite food, sausage pizza from Rocky Rocco's.  I used a coupon from the kitchen drawer, but spent the $20 for one meal and didn't blink an eye.  It was not planned, but it was fun.  And he promised that when he is grown and living in Seattle designing planes for Boeing (his current career aspiration), that he will fly back home every now and then to share a Rocky's pizza with Mama.  The meal cost $20, the bonding time was priceless.  Frugality does not always mean living without, but frugal thinking can give you the freedom to live.

The author's son, and a future Boeing engineer?  Please note he is wearing a Wisconsin Supreme Court sweatshirt.  He is intent on being an engineer, but should really give law school some thought.....the boy can debate like nobody's business.

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