This comes from my last phone conversation with my mom. We were talking about the droughts and how wheat and corn crops are affected and how grocery prices are projected to rise as a result. We discussed the increases which we’ve already seen. I have a good handle on the prices of the things I regularly buy. In the early days of marriage, we would occasionally do the shopping together, and DH would be amazed that I watched the scanner and knew what prices ought to ring up, regular or sale. That’s just me and how God made me. I was sharing with Mom some of the things I’ve seen and related that salt had recently risen 10 cents for a two pound container, and the fact that it isn’t much…until you reflect on the fact that it was formerly 52 cents, so a ten cent increase is almost 20 percent. Kraft Mac and Cheese, regular box, is now 98 cents, when a year ago it was 66 cents. So, we’ve already had many of these increases and are looking at more.
I told Mom about a sale coming this week. We don’t shop the same store, so I wanted her to know that raspberries were going to be $1/box. It’s one of Dad’s favorites. Then we were talking about how I have some items that I stock up a bit on so I can just buy them when they’re on sale. People look at me strange when my cart has 7 or 8 bags of pretzels in it, but they’re better for the kids than chips and they keep. At a dollar a bag, it’s a bit crazy not to be willing to store them. We have a basement and a couple of shelves. Also, our store offers 10/$10, and the 11th item is free, so I keep tally marks on my shopping list to know how many free items I’m getting, or to see if I just need one or two more to get the freebie. Then Mom called me cheap. She wasn’t being mean, just observing. I have always had a hard time paying full price for things, but when it’s worth it, I will pay full price and not worry about it.
Mom’s comment stuck with me. I don’t know why. This isn’t a new thing. When in college, I came home with a new sweater and perfume. Mom asked if either were on sale, I replied that they weren’t, and she answered, “You ARE my daughter!”. So why did the ‘cheap’ comment stick? I don’t know. I do know that my job is to make my husband’s hard earned money go as far as possible. I know that by shopping smart, I’m doing my part to keep the family’s finances in order. Keeping the finances in order allows us to have a nice family vacation each year without going into debt. Shopping the way I do helps my children to learn how to make their future budgets stretch a bit further. Using sales and specials to our advantage allows us to have the things we want without paying through the nose. My children get new clothes, but many are purchased on clearance or on sale. We gratefully accept hand-me-downs. My kids have fun going through the bags to see what they got. We do the same for other families.
We aren’t poor (nor rich), we just understand that you can make yourself poor quickly if you don’t pay attention. A while back, DH was wondering how so many of his co-workers were able to spend so much on vacations, renovations, camps, etc. As he thought about it, he realized that many of those workers are not church goers, and therefore are not giving money in tithe. Then he realized, if we didn’t tithe 13%, we’d have a lot more to play with as well. That’s okay. We have plenty for our needs and won’t change our tithe, unless we decide to increase it. I’d rather our kids grow up knowing how to be happy without the latest and greatest of everything. I’d rather have kids who know how to wonder at driving through a huge herd of bison, or enjoying the prairie dogs along the road as much as an expensive day at a water park.
We all enjoy the things that cost money as well. Disney World wasn’t cheap, but it was a wonderful trip and we loved being able to do that for the kids. This last trip wasn’t cheap. I just want to pass on to the kids that when you look after the daily expenditures, you can afford the splurges without debt. Sometimes you find ways to curb your costs within the splurges to make them more affordable without taking away from the experience, and sometimes it’s okay to fully splurge, as long as you know your finances can handle it.
So, am I cheap? It all depends on how you look at it. To most of the world, the answer is yes. That part of the world is swimming in debt while we aren’t, so I don’t care what they think.