I Was Frugal When Frugal Wasn't Cool

4:49 PMHeather

I'm sure that scientists will soon discover the frugal gene. All they have to do is study my DNA. I didn't know until junior high that T.upperware was something you bought NEW for your leftovers. I thought it just referred to old butter bowls and potato salad containers. My Granny actually washed her aluminum foil after each use and kept it in a garbage bag for reuse. She reused bread bags, too. She WAS the definition of frugal. Either that or she was early on the recycling trend.

Back in my days at good ole Baylor U, I felt like a foreigner--clipping coupons and pinching every penny. I was paying my own way, using my salary as a student secretary and a small government stipend each month to pay for all my bills, clothes, gas, groceries, and every other need. I can vividly remember dividing up our long distance bill by each roommate (yes, you used to PAY for long distance) and haggling with them over calls that cost as little as $2.00. I had to make my dollar stretch.

Somewhere after that, my husband and I became a dual income, no kid couple. Although we both worked for non-profits, we felt as though we were doing really well. We were never stupid with our money, but we also weren't as cautious as we should have been. I got sloppy, and to be honest, a little lazy. And it caught up with us.

After the birth of our third (and quite unexpected) child, I found myself fielding calls from collectors for her medical bills. We had made payment arrangements--but somehow our accounts were turned in to collectors. MEAN collectors, who called a post partum, hormonal mother often. For us, that was rock bottom, and we knew it was time to get back to my frugal, coupon clipping, money saving, cheap skate ways.

That was five years ago this month. It would take a book to fully express all that has happened. Let me give it to you in a "before" and "after" nutshell. Before, there was no margin for error. Anything unexpected (such as the birth of a child who has jaundice, RSV, numerous ear infections, and ear tube surgery all within 6 months) caused me sleepless nights. Scheduling the payment of bills was a carefully orchestrated event. We had medical bills, car loans, constant car repairs, student loans, and to my horror--we eventually had a credit card balance we couldn't pay off at the end of the month.

A little wake up call, Dave Ramsey methodology, lots of prayer, and by God's grace...we are now debt free, other than our house. We have bought a bigger house and two newer vehicles during these years, and have taken some great vacations. We also have a decent savings account. I pay all my bills as soon as they come in, without batting an eye. I don't cry or stress over bills anymore. There's a peace in my marriage and in my life that was not there a few years ago. And, to our absolute delight, we have the margins in our budget to give to others. We were intentional to get back to Biblical principles about our money...and we've been blessed.

I feel like that movie "How Stella Got her Groove Back." Okay, to be honest, I haven't actually seen that movie. But I feel like the title. I'm BACK to my deal seeking ways. I play the Grocery Game--and I win. I pile up Extra Care Bucks at CVS, earn Swagbucks, and just today received my first freebie from a freebie web site I've found. It's addictive, I tell ya'--to beat the system. I think my Granny would be proud! Especially if I could present her with a fresh roll of aluminum foil, purchased with a coupon at deep discount.

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