Creating a Frugal Home

[This is a continuation of yesterday’s post The Difference Between Thrifty & Frugal]
Frugal living is a big learning curve for this convenience-loving girl who is addicted to clearance shopping (whether I need it or not!)
(But don’t panic, if it’s more than 75% off and I can get my thrifty hands on it, I will be stockpiling my bargain finds. It’s hard to teach an old shopper new tricks. I’m also planning a new DIYP series called Dollar Store Decor, coming soon to a blog near you.)
But in these unstable days, I want something greater than the best bargain out there:
I want to gather my family around me and protect them from the world I cannot trust. I want to cocoon, to become more self-sufficient.
I don’t know how to make bread. I don’t know how to grow a garden. I don’t know how to can food or store it away for lean times. I don’t know how to sew. But I want to (especially after reading this amazing post). 
Every time I visit my in laws farm, I’m surprised at how self sufficient they are. They don’t rely heavily upon modern conveniences. They rely upon the land. I feel useless without the Internet or a Target. But in a way, I envy their simple life. 
While I don’t see myself packing up and turning this blog into We are THAT Family: The Green Acres Edition, I desire to simplify.
Will times get harder? Will I need to know how to survive on less because I must? Will the unstable job market knock on my door?  I don’t know.
But I want to turn my thrifty home into a little more of a frugal one.
Either way.
Because I think it will feel really good to work together as a family and create and provide for each other. 
Want to join me?
Here are a few of my goals to become a little more frugal and a lot more self-sufficient:
  • Cut back expenses and get out of debt-we owe on one car and our house, but have six months of living expenses tucked back. We are saving as much money as we can and trying to pay off our car by Christmas. My advice: get out of debt, don’t add more. Dave Ramsey has a workable plan.
  • Eat at home
  • Learn to bake bread
  • Learn to grow food
  • Learn to can food and create a stockpile
  • Buy second hand (more than just kid’s clothes). I’m challenging myself to look for used instead of new (This one scares me!)
  • Balance- I’m looking forward to learning new things with my family, but I want to remember balance is important.  I don’t think being an extremist will benefit my family. I want to be honest with myself and with you. For example, I will plan to drink Chick Fil A sweet tea regularly and go to Family Camp this summer (mainly because we finished paying for it in December!) and continue my life, but thru frugal-colored glasses.

[I’m hoping to add these books to my library soon Frugal Living for Dummies ,Chick Living: Frugal And Fabulous and The Self Sufficient-ish Bible: An Eco-living Guide for the 21st Century] 

I’m going to chronicle my journey and share what I learn along the way, pitfalls and all.]
I’m hoping what I share will be helpful, but I’m completely prepared for hilarity. 

You know, because it’s me.

The Difference Between Thrifty & Frugal

I’ve always thought I was frugal.

I buy gently used clothes for my children. I look for restaurant coupons before eating out. I decorate my home from clearance items and garage sale finds.
This weekend instead of running my car through the car wash, I powered up the hose. Instead of hiring a carpet cleaner, I got on my hands and knees and let Google guide me to a great stain removal. I served food from my stove 6 days (one day was leftovers) and ate out just once.
But for the first time, I’m left feeling unimpressed with my efforts.
Watching our economy cripple and borrow unthinkable amounts of money from my children’s future, has me rethinking my life. 
Because for me, thrifty isn’t frugal anymore.
There’s nothing wrong with being thrifty, but it is different than being frugal. As a thrifty shopper, I buy cheap things I don’t need. As a frugal shopper, I purchase items I need at a good price.
So, for example when I showed you my window seat makeover, it was thrifty because I did it for a small amount of money and shopped the sales, but being frugal would have said, my window seat is fine just the way it is.
And that’s a little hard for this decor loving girl to swallow. (I’ll still be sharing my thrifty projects with you! I’m taking baby steps.)
But since America is pretty much broke these days, and the value of our money and the security of jobs are uncertain, I’ve noticed my desires are changing and I’m more aware of what I buy.
And at the rate we’re going, I firmly believe our money will lose it’s value and our way of life will change.
I have this deep desire to grow food in a garden and put away jars of jelly.  I want to pay off my house and drive my car until it can’t go another mile. I want to shave off some of the fluff and cut back. 
I’m learning I’m not so frugal after all (although I am happy to be thrifty!)
But I have a plan.
To be continued……..

In Which I Confess I am Actually Not Mary Poppins

Yesterday I mentioned we were making some changes in our home. (Thank you for your encouraging comments!)

Now, before you get the impression that our lives are a Disney Movie, in which I’ve reprised the role of Mary Poppins and my delightful children are Pollyanna, you must know that change is never easy. 
On hearing that our TV was being turned off more than on, my six year old son, wept. 

And my oldest child kept asking for the date and time of the turnoff, so she could get in as much cable TV as possible.
Oh, yes, you could say we are human.
For months now, I’ve been feeling stressed about our schedule and the demands on our time. I usually spend hours every week dropping my kids off at various extra curricular activities after school. We eat a rushed dinner and hurry off to bath and bed.
Now, I know the car shuffling is a normal mom activity, but seriously, my kids are 8, 6, and 1. Do they need to master every sport, right now? Won’t there be plenty of time for those things when they are in junior high and high school? I’ve heard in our town, just to make a team sport in public school, you have to be an expert by the time you’re seven.  
Maybe it’s time to move.
The plethora of activities offered on a sliver platter to my kids boggles my mind. Am I a bad mom because I don’t have my daughter in tumbling lessons so she’ll have a shot at being a high school cheerleader or because I don’t have my 21 month old daughter in Spanish class?  
I mean, sure, we’d love for our six year old son to receive his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, but he’s on pace to do that when he’s 8.  Why the rush?
And so, we decided to put everything on hold, except for monthly Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings, where we participate with our kids.
Do you know how my kids reacted?
[Please note that this was a personal, family decision and I know it’s not for everyone. We’ll still do summer YMCA sports and we aren’t being fanatical, just deliberate during this season.] I know my kid’s will develop individual passions, but it’s hard to hone in on that when there’s so much noise.
We’ve decided to be intentional with our new found time. My kids have been so excited about our One Day to Give plan, that they jumped at the chance to plan monthly giving projects. We’ve freed up money normally used on activities to fund our One Day to Give ideas.
Our calendar is sprinkled with family craft nights, we made this at our last one.  
And my son is itching to try this.
On weekly Family Nights, we watch old home movies or play games. We’ve also planned date nights for me and THAT man of mine. They are a high priority.  Date nights with our kids is a new addition to the calendar.   
And I’ll be sharing about What’s Your Beef Night tomorrow; it’s a new hit in our home.
So, I know there’s a lot of differing opinions on the over-scheduling of kids.  What’s yours?
I feel like I’ve been in a fog and indecisive in the past regarding the busyness of our lives. But for the first time in a long while, I’m actually thinking clearly. 
And I’m sorry about the Mary Poppins thing.

The Big TurnOff

Y’all are going to think I’m losing it.

Shoot, I think I’m losing it. 
So, I’m just going to say it: we’ve been making some changes in our home.
There.  That wasn’t so bad.
{feeling panic rising…deep breaths…better now}
Let me start at the beginning with the one word I cannot shake from my head: SIMPLIFY
For weeks now, my hubby and I have had a desire to simplify.  
Now, I’m not talking about eating my own homegrown food from my non-existent garden and hand-sewing all my children’s clothes while wearing a head covering.
Because that would leave us hungry and naked.
And I’m not talking about less home decor.  God forbid.
I’m talking about a deep desire to slow down, to parent our children intentionally and to make every day count.
Since becoming parents eight years ago, we have worked hard on teaching morality and character. We’ve gone to church and even memorized a handful of Scriptures. We’ve tried.
But do you know who has tried harder to teach our kids?
The media.  
Now, I’m not against TV. I’ve even considered hiring someone to teach my toddler to watch 30 minutes of Sesame Street (any tips?) so I can hop in the shower.   I think there are some great preschool shows that help with numbers and colors out there. Talk about handy.
But I am against bad TV.  And the mindless, senseless prattle that is offered in huge doses to my kids. When I was a kid at least there was Little House on the Prairie and Happy Days. We could find bits of value, even from Fonzie.
Now, my kids are inundated with junk.  And I’ll be the first to admit, we’ve subscribed fully. We’ve turned them lose with the kid’s programming for hours a day if their homework was completed. 
And we’ve discovered that just because it says DISNEY, doesn’t mean it says VALUE.
For months now, we’ve noticed our son can quote entirely too much garbage.  And it makes me sad.
I’m sad that it’s directed towards him and I’m sad that we’ve allowed it.
My daughter can tell you all about Hannah Montana. And lately, she’s not exactly role model material.
On the radio the other day, I heard Focus on the Family say that the number one problem with Christian families was the amount of ungodly media they allowed in their home.
And so, we decided to turn it off. 
We aren’t tossing out the TV, but we did have Cable disconnected, which is pretty much tossing out the TV because we’re left with a handful of channels.  
I’m not a big TV watcher and my hubby decided he can handle watching Nascar on the local channel. And for Pete’s sake, we’re still up for Family Movie nights and good TV. (Which may be an oxymoron). 
Our kids can watch 30 minutes of quality programming a day, if we can find that much. It’s called weaning, I think.
We’re replacing the hours we would normally watch TV with quality family time. 
And going against the norm of our society, we’re also slowing down our lives.
Tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you exactly what we’re doing.
How about you? Do you think the media affects your home? Your kids?
Do you think I’m losing it?
Or am I actually starting to find it?