Sunday, July 7, 2013

Money, Frugality, Humility and Lessons I Still Haven't Learned....

 On Being Catholic and an American...

We've been dreaming of a new, bigger house, and then getting smacked down with so many left over medical bills that our credit will not allow for a new house, even though our current home's value is finally starting to climb again due to all the oil and fracking folks buying up everything in our county.

This of course, has led me to whine and complain and generally be ungrateful for all that we have. mean, with this many kids, we should have a bigger house, right?! And we totally need more bathrooms, right? And we need a bigger yard, right? None of that will help my kids get to heaven, though some of it may save my sanity.  We have a sweet little home that has housed us all just fine for over ten years. It will continue to suffice as long as we need it to so I need to just get over it, already. The fact that is known in the neighborhood as "the house with all the kids" is just a testament to how well this little house can hold a dozen or so people.  The furniture in this little house looks like we bought it at a garage sale and then tried to raise 10 kids on it...and well, it's just embarrassing. Another lesson in humility. No one ever went to heaven because they had nice furniture.

We used to be broke, like, the poor kind of broke. Now, I am not sure what we are, but it isn't poor. We make plenty of money, I just can't seem to ever carve out enough to make ends meet. And yes, I know what you are going to say - we have a lot of mouths to feed. Yes, that's it, but it is not the whole story. At some point, post-poor but never solvent, I decided that certain things were allowed. Like, mega-expensive toothpaste, just because the dentist said so. Dove soap, because so many of us have that horrible dry skin that turns into a rash if you use anything else. And buying actual baby wipes, instead of making my own as I had always done. And not really bothering with resale shops and just going whole-hog Baby Gap and Gymboree. Now, I only ever buy sale items, but still.

And of course, groceries. We used to shop mainly at Aldi and other less expensive stores. Now, we rarely take the time to do that, and when we do, we wonder why we don't do it all the time.

So, my checkbook this week? Well, I have a tendency to think that ya know, $1000 is actually $1,000,000, so you can imagine what happened there...and no, it wasn't on shopping or anything like that. I tend to get overzealous, pay a whole bunch of stuff, and then leave us nothing to work with as far as gas and groceries go. Soooo, ya know what I do? I will go shopping for groceries on Thursday, knowing that we get paid on Friday, so I am actually spending the next paycheck before we even get it. Super smart, right? And forget coupons. Who has time to clip coupons? Certainly not I. I must spend that time doing just about anything else you can think of, because unless it basically just falls into my lap, I don't do coupons. I want to... but, seriously, don't even know where to start or how to fit that into my schedule.

So the first thing I need to get over is this pride thing. You know, if you take this many kids out in public, they better look great, or you are going to get know, the looks that say, "Wow, you have too many kids, you obviously can't even afford to dress them!" I need to remember how cute my kids always looked even when I was only getting them what they needed, as opposed to what I wanted them to have, or even a particular daughter's case, what they are bugging to buy, find or order. And that they don't have to look cute to get into heaven...

And I have to really plan our meals. My current favorite meal plan is me wandering into the kitchen whenever the kids start begging for food and rummaging around until I come up with something - usually something really simple. If I planned out our meals, I would probably save money on groceries - at least, that's what I hear. We don't buy chips, or junk food or anything - ya know, extra. But I am no where near as careful with our grocery dollars as I should be, especially since during weeks like this, there aren't any.

And the diapers - oh jeeze. I really like the soft, pretty diapers. I honestly believe my baby's bottom deserves the softest, comfiest diapers - if you had to sit in a diaper all day, you would want it to be comfy, right? BUT, I could probably switch her over to something a little less pricey...right?

As far as electric goes - this is a HUGE part of what is wrong in our world. My kids just won't turn lights out...even the 23 year old leaves her lights on all the time. It drives me crazy, chasing around turning stuff off all the time. I mean, what the heck? How hard is it to flip the switch, people? We are always getting those comparisons from the electric company, telling us we use way more power than anyone else.

So, yes, my old frugal self was really a better self. I gave more away, I made more meals for people, I somehow found a way. I was  used to doing better with less. I know I can find ways to be more frugal, to make the money we have go a little farther, so we can breathe a little easier as well as doing more for others. I need to let go of the pride thing...and that is tough for me. My kids are homeschooled, but I don't want them to look the part, if you know what I mean. I want them to be able to bring friends in the house without being embarrassed by the horrible carpets, the falling apart couches, and the garage sale recliner. Where do you draw the line between frugality and just having some pride in your home?

Suggestions welcome.


  1. Take heart! It's not that much different for many of us right now. I need a new area floor rug in the livingroom so badly, and must pinch pennies to save for it...I wish we had more revenue to work with - maybe in time here. I'd love to move also..really because of location -- there could be yet another vehicle here in a couple more years ....we have FOUR cars trying to be parked here and it just doesn't work with a shared driveway and small workshop turned garage that barely fits two! I'm dreaming of the house for auction around the corner from's a brownstone with awnings and another can live in it - (like 2 apartments), I'd love to move my mom into it....and us with her. She's in a gorgeous home in the country with land, but too much to care for on her own ....and I wouldn't actually want to live that far out - no sidewalks for kids, not close to anything....
    Anyway! I completely understand ....this fall, I'm making an effort to buy groceries elsewhere at least once a month to help the bill. Wish me luck!!! LOL!!
    Here's the dreamhome around the corner from us....

  2. Hello, Megan!
    I offer two ideas to help discern between frugality and pride in your home. One is a book. It is a very solid Catholic book called:
    Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom
    by Thomas DuBay (Author)

    You can look at it at Amazon :

    It is well worth the read.

    The second idea is a story I read along time ago. I can't recall how it goes exactly but I believe you will get the idea.

    A man leaves everything behind and lives the life of a hermit in a cave . The only thing he brought with him was his cat. After many, many years of living like this, he asks God what his reward would be. God sends him to visit a man in some town and that his reward would be the same as that man. The hermit goes and fins the man but much to his surprise the man has many things and living a comfortable life. When the hermit gets back to his cave, he tells God he doesn't understand. He left everything while that man had all kinds of things and was living comfortably. God replies," That man has as much attachment to all of his possessions as you have to your cat."

    It is not always what you have as how great is your attachment to what you have. Linked to this is using what God has given you wisely knowing that what God has given is not just for our benefit but for the benefit of others as well. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

    2446 St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs."239 "The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity":240 When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.241

    If you keep all this in mind, read Fr. Dubay's book, and pray then you will find the path of frugality that God asks of you.

  3. Thank you!I am going to look for that book~ I am sure it will be helpful.

  4. I have had that book on my shelf and read it years ago, but I may have given it away....I will check though - just so you know :)


A blogger loves feed back, and a part time narcissist needs it! If you have a comment or question, I promise to get back to you right away, it's not like I have a houseful of kids to feed or anything!