Living Frugally Even When You Don’t “Have” to

We Americans live in a world of WAY too much excess.  It is seriously insane.  I am finally beginning to realize just how crazy insane it is.  Seriously, the bazillion ways to spend money do.not.stop.  I know you know what I mean.

One area I have felt the Lord convicting me in lately is my spending habits.  We have had times in our marriage where I HAD to be extremely frugal, because we just barely scraped by.  However, I have found that as our income has grown, so has our spending.  I find myself more and more often buying whatever I feel like buying on a whim.  In the back of my mind I seem to think I just have to have this to make my life easier or better in some way.  It has not caused us to go into debt yet, but it has caused us to not be able to save much, when we should be able to be saving a lot each month.  If we did come by an big emergency, or job loss, we would be in trouble.

I have also started noticing some painful results of this type of careless spending (aka “You Know You Have a Problem When…”)

  • I find myself getting rid of things not long after buying them, because it turned out I really didn’t end up needing them like I thought I did.  Often I have to just give it away, because I can’t even get the money back that I spent on it.  That hurts.
  • I have even had times where I regretted purchasing something soon after I bought it, but felt like it was not possible to return it.  Major guilt!
  • Guilt that I am frivolously spending the money my husband works so hard to make.  (Although he is so kind to me that he rarely says anything to me about it).  Even more importantly, that I am not being a good steward of the money God has entrusted to us.
  • The knowledge that we could be working towards being completely debt free – house and all, but can’t if we spend all we make AND that we could then be freed up to give even more in whatever ways the Lord directs us to give.

I know I could do a lot worse.  But, I also know I could do a lot better.  I am thankful God hasn’t allowed me to continue on this way, though, and has really been putting it on my heart this week to make some changes.

Here are some ideas that have come to mind for making changes in spending habits:

  1.  Get rid of/unsubscribe from all emails coming from retailers notifying you of sales, deals, etc. It just becomes a temptation to buy things on impulse. Things you really don’t need, and might regret purchasing later.
  2.  When something you want to purchase or feel like you need comes to mind, write it on a list. Keep that running list, and continue adding to it when things come to mind. Wait a few days, or even a few weeks, and think about if it is really something you should purchase. Don’t let yourself impulse buy. If it is something you decide you need, see if there is a cheaper way to buy it. Shop garage sales, goodwill, and online resales(Craigslist, Facebook, eBay, etc) and try to find it cheaper first.
  3.  See if there is something you already have at home that you can use to make it or re-purpose to use for the need.
  4.  Meal plan and prepare all meals at home. Limit eating out. (once a week/once or twice a month – you decide as a family what’s best for you). When you do eat out, do so frugally. Drink water instead of buying a $3 drink for each member of the family to go along with their food.
  5. Talk to your husband first about the things you are thinking about buying, instead of just buying on impulse. 

What would you add to this list?  I am looking for lots of great ideas!

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