I have always considered myself to be thrifty and frugal. I used the two words interchangeably, but I am learning that there is a difference. Thrifty living was what we were doing before. Thrifty shops for a "good deal" and purchases it because its a good deal, not because its something that is needed at the time. I confess, I have been unable to resist a good deal.
I have always been thrifty, my mother taught me to be so and I suspect that her mother taught her. I happily shopped garage sales, clearance bins or sale racks at retail stores, and purchased gently used clothing for the kids at resale shops or off ebay. I could sniff out a sale at 50 paces.
But I realized about a year ago that we had WAY too much stuff. And that the house was very chaotic. I couldn't always put my hands on the things I needed, because I had to sift through so many things. Things we definitely didn't need, or use often. I found the kids had the same problem with toys, the sheer amount was overwhelming. When I started purging through all of the clothes, toys and house goods it really enlightened me to what was going on. I mean yeah, I got a "good deal", but we didn't need the item and I could have just saved that money and put it towards a more quality purchase that while more expensive, would have seen more use.
Now, we are trying to practice Frugal living. Frugal living is more akin to "simple living". I am finding it to be SO much more organized. About seven months ago I spent a month or two purging our house of the excess items, so that what I was left with were all things that we currently used or wore. Now we evaluate purchases based on whether we need them, do we have something we could re-purpose to fill the need, will use them, and what value will they bring to us. An interesting phenomena has occurred, we buy fewer things; but what we buy is quality and we are willing to spend a bit more to get what we really want. Because we aren't doing all the superfluous spending our purchases are thoughtful. A strange sense of gratitude and of it being "enough" has settled in. We are more content with what we have.
I still shop at thrift stores and garage sales for clothing, but I have devised a system to make sure we are able to use everything we buy. I selected (with the kids help) a color palette for each of the kids (the girls wanted the same ones). This way, everything I buy for them, no matter where I buy it, will color coordinate and fit into the wardrobe.
We want to maintain what we are already doing, but We are still in transition... and we have goals for this year:
- We want to save the eating out for special occasions. We have cut down a lot of the dining out at family style restaurants, however, we still find ourselves being caught unprepared, or unexpectedly delayed and driving through somewhere, or catching a quick bite. I would like to eliminate this all together. First of all, it isn't healthy and I would like for our dining out decisions to be more thoughtful not to be forced into them.
- The girls are so excited about wearing dresses, and they like to dress like "twins". I would like to take advantage of this and make a big push to sew about six dresses each for them to add to their summer clothes.
-I want to have a quicker turn around on laundry AND to choose clothes the night before so that we utilize what we have. We also need to find some system for shoes... because only having one shoe to wear doesn't work well
- We purchased family annual passes in lieu of a vacation to Schlitterbahn, Moody Gardens, the Zoo, the Children's Museum and the Health Museum and I want to make sure that we get our value out of them. Having prepaid for our family fun time, I want to make sure that we use it.... lots and take advantage of other free fun as well.