Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Making Cents


I distinctly remember one of the magical moments when I fell in love with my husband.

We were "studying" (or something) at his apartment when two little girls knocked at the door. They were selling homemade lollipops and wondered if we'd like to buy one. (What can I say? It was Provo...things like this happened all the time.)

Both Brad and I were poor undergrads, who often ate microwave popcorn, Top Ramen and, on one infamous occasion, ice cubes with ketchup for dinner. Pocket change was saved for the laundromat and dollar movies were our weekend splurge.

But the little girls were darling and the homemade suckers looked really good, too.
Brad didn't hesitate. He jumped up and went into his bedroom, where he kept an old Planters peanuts can filled with loose change. Counting out the exact amount, he bought five lollipops from the delighted young saleswomen and gave them each a $.50 tip!

That old Planters can stole my heart.

No matter how dire the circumstances, my guy always has a cash stash. He lives frugally and carefully and avoids unnecessary expenditures. But when it's time for a lollipop, a weekend getaway, or (in tonight's case) a slice of Chocolate Polenta Pie from a favorite restaurant, Brad's got it covered.

I find it very attractive that he knows when to save and when to splurge. And that he always has money in the bank.

Needless to say, it is difficult for someone so careful to be married to one so careless. I can't help it. Like Scarlett O'Hara said, " Whenever I'm wearing a new bonnet, all the figures I know go right slab out of my head." I don't have good head for numbers.

My parents didn't teach me a whole lot about bargain shopping or coupon clipping. (NOT that I'm complaining...Hello?! They took me to Europe twice before my 16th birthday, introduced me to the Nordstrom ladies' lounge and taught me the virtue of cooking with real butter. I wouldn't trade my childhood for any amount of savings bonds.)

Still, it took me awhile to learn the importance of saving. To live on less. To hunt for the bargain. Some would probably say that I still have a lot to learn.

The other night, we had a talk evaluating the family finances. Because we have been married almost 18 years, the discussion was calm. No fingers were pointed. Nobody was accused of being extravagant. No one had to be the Voice of Doom. There is plenty in the bank and a steady paycheck every week. My husband works hard and invests wisely.
Still, we came to the conclusion that with rising fuel and food costs, a shaky economy and four increasingly-expensive young children, we need to tighten the belt. Shave a few unnecessaries from the budget. Focus more on needs, less on wants.
I would love to hear your penny-pinching secrets, my frugal friends. How do you stretch the paycheck? What deals have you found? Where do you shop? What are your tricks for making ends meet and saving a little for a rainy day?
And, while you're at it...any cheap ideas for Father's Day gifts?
I'm thinking a can of Planters peanuts. Or maybe some homemade lollipops!

24 comments:

Sherry said...

My husband and I are both really frugal. Before buying something I frequently ask myself, "Would I rather have this or have X number of dollars?" It doesn't always keep me from spending, but it can be helpful.

I'm also really keen on keeping a tight budget (not since we moved to New Zealand, but in general), especially when it comes to grocery shopping. I look through the ads and plan meals and make lists. And I try my best not to buy things at the store that are not on the list. Sometimes I do better than other times.

lusciouschaos said...

I quit my job exactly 11 days ago and we cut our income by 60%. I did some hard core saving before the change. Now I have a certain mental amount that I can spend each day. Yes I get rollover dollars just like cell phone minutes. A rich life can be had for so little cash. I know have time to serve, time to share and time to ponder who I want to be.
Thanks for letting me share.

Kenny and Linsey said...

My husband sounds a lot like yours - he told me the other day that he has been saving for the last year for our 5th anniversary celebration and a year of saving equals a weekend of more fun than my head can even comprehend. A saver I am not. But, living in a third world country helps. I do a fair amount of damage on the internet, but I'm getting better with age.

Ashlee said...

What a cute story! Life is getting more expensive isn't it? Sure makes shopping less fun. Being a responsible adult takes the excitement out of it! :0)

TravelinOma said...

Brad is so wise, and you were so wise to choose Brad. I love the planters peanuts can story. Budget tips are not my area, but I like this quote: Money isn't everything as long as you have enough!

Amy L said...

Ok, I actually have a really good tip for online shopping. I shop online a LOT. I haven't been to a mall in years. Better selection, and great online-only deals. But anyway, here's the tip: Before you make any purchase, do a google search for a promo code. Just type in the store name and "promo code". 90% of the time I find a promo code for 25% off, $10 off, etc. It's great and it adds up! I just ordered from Overstock and found a $30 off promo code.

Annemarie said...

I've been having a lot of thoughts about this lately, too. I am NOT the best frugal shopper, but I love a good deal when I fall upon one. I've been working on paying more attention to the weekly grocery ads. I heard once that when you "save" with a coupon or a deal at the store that you should actually SAVE (put aside) the money you saved. Make any sense? It's not a bad idea.
Also, my husband is a hard worker and great provider and I figure that this is something I can do to "cut back" or help out.

mama jo said...

i'm not frugal...i've decided never have been, never will be..that used to be a source of contention with me and tom...i guess i take after grandpa jiggs...so, guess i'm not much help..unless you're looking for someone not to follow...

mama jo said...

i'm back...not saying it's not good to be frugal...just way tooooo hard.

Rochelleht said...

I'm putting my head in the sand and buying premium gas until this is all over.

What?! Not a solution? Sheesh! Let's go shopping together this summer! :-)

Annie said...

The Planters can! I love hearing stories of your dating years.

Anyway, we have a similar dynamic in our marriage and I was raised like you were: use money to enjoy life, have adventures and be comfortable! I like it but admit it's not the best retirement plan.

Every once in a while I go on a money fast, where I really don't spend at all besides the very basics. Other times (especially over school breaks) I've involved the kids and said "we have $___ for this week's extras. How should we spend it?" Involving them in prioritizing has helped. Then, when it runs out we get creative :).

But, really, I'm not that great at frugality. I'll check back for others' ideas...

Christie said...

I am married to a guy like yours. Frugal and happy to keep the money in the bank, but willing to spontaneously break it out for some fun.

I've been trying to cut unnecessary items from our budget, too. Gas, food, and kids can certainly eat away at any savings.

Marci said...

I remember visiting you and Brad in your Wymount apartment and thinking "this is what it is all about." You two have always seemed so happy! I love the Planters story. He's a keeper for sure.

I love reading everyone's tips - we could all used them right now.

andrea said...

chocolate polenta pie? i'm really confused by that...

i'm so frugal. actually, "tightfisted cheapskate" is also appropriate here. did you see paige's adorable red dress she posted about? i fell in love with it. and i BOUGHT IT. for about FORTY BUCKS! i'm not lying when i say that is the first time, other than a coat or formal dress, that i've paid forty dollars for a piece of clothing.

my favorite thrifty tip is to shop the end of season clearance for next year's clothes. mostly at old navy and aeropostale. if i see something i like, i wait, because it will go on sale. same for the kids.

Dancin Queen said...

I need to be better too. Thanks for the motivation! I do groan everytime I fill up with gas.

Cathy said...

Although I've tried all the coupon deals and clubs, savings and whatnot, neither my husband and I are very good at it! Neither of us grew up wanting, but then it seemed needs were always easily met. We will be in "dire straits", when it comes right down to it! I do agree with the online deals and promos, I've done well there especially if you can get free shipping! I still do coupons and I've cut way back on the auto use(of course it helped being released from being RS pres. and now teach in primary!). I too am always opened for suggestions!

Lauren said...

I am careless while my husband is frugal...I really enjoyed this post...it spoke to me on many levels...I chuckled at, "The Voice of Doom" comment...I am really blessed that my husband doesn't point fingers, though.

We have recently decided to discuss EACH and EVERY penny...it can be a pain in the keister but, it has really helped him see that I am not as careless as it may have seemed and me to see where I can be more careful.

Tristan said...

No money saving secrets here! Frugal is not in my personal vocabulary! ;) Lollipops sound like a great idea for a Father's Day gifts!

Jessica said...

I was just talking to Ryan about this today. He is also so amazingly good with our money that on one income, while going to school full time, we have been able to buy 3 houses and keep 2 of them as rentals. Without rich parents.

I think the reason this has happened (besides huge blessings and a hard working husband)--we don't spend money on EASE. We don't have someone clean our house or do our yard work. We don't have our groceries delivered. We drive instead of fly (though that's a little less cheap these days), we stay at relatives when it'd be much easier to stay at a hotel, we fix stuff ourselves rather than pay a handy man, I make dinner most nights instead of buying it.

All of these things are fine to do, but you can't do ALL of them (unless you are crazy wealthy)...you have to choose and we choose to do it ourselves instead of paying someone to do it for us.

Bridget said...

I'm like Jessica. I clean my own house. We do our own yard work. My parents are/were extremely frugal. Thus my dad now has lots of money but I never knew this growing up. I want the same thing for my kids. I want them to grow up being frugal with money, saving and not thinking mom and dad have much to give them. At least not enough to ever spoil them with. The only cash handout I got from my parents was a $500 check when Nathan and I got married. I think we used this for rent and food the first month. I appreciate so much more the lessons my parents taught me on money. Much more valuable than the money itself. Anyway, I am rambling. Nathan is not so good with money. I like to save. We meet in the middle somewhere. I prefer to use all types of checking withdrawls possible. We contribute the max for 401K, IRAs, 529plans and mutual funds. The money we have left in our checking account (less tithing of course) we use for bills and whatever. I can't do the tight budgeting where Nathan is not that way (gotta put marriage first) so I figure we're fine month to month as long as we're not going into any debt because all our savings happens without having to think about it or do anything. And as everyone knows from my Winco post, I do shop the ultra cheap grocery stores. It saves big.

Bridget said...

Another thing we've done (then I'll shut up) which totally goes against conventional wisdom, is buy less of a house then we can afford. We're on house number three in our marriage and we always buy less than our max so our monthly income is not so weighted our a mortgage payment. This brings much more happiness than a bigger house ever could.

Guru said...

To save money, I have stopped paying full price when dining out. I use a site called www.metroseeq.com where they put all the promotions, deals, coupons on the google map. Very convenient, saves me a lot of time and money.

Holly said...

I sure could use some penny pinching tips too. I don't seem to be wired that way, however I appreciate that trait in others.

Love your Planters can story. He's a keeper!

Ilene said...

Penny pinching tips... I hate window shopping so I try to stay away from stores and go to the library instead. However, with a traveling husband, sometimes you gotta get out of the house and go to Target or TJ Maxx, you know? However, I try to only buy things on sale or from a discount store. I also try to stay away from fast food or going out to eat because those expenses add up quickly.

Oh, I LOVE Winco too Bridget. It is the happiest store on earth. Discount grocery shopping makes a HUGE difference.

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