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!