Sunday, June 25, 2017

Frugal? Thrifty? What Are These Words?

I may have forgotten what either the term, frugal or thrifty, means. I'm not anticipating putting a lot into our savings account in June, and in initial looks at the check book, I am a bit frustrated as to why.

To remind myself, Merriam Webster says this:

Definition of frugal: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources
Definition of thrifty: given to or marked by economy and good management

In reminding myself of the definition, I feel better about our use of resources, and where we have economized as a family. There have been a few indulgences, but nothing gregarious or out of character. Some of  the cash flow impact has to do with large out of pocket medical expenses, but not yet reimbursed through my flex account at work. I need to get on that. It is unlikely we'll see this yet in June, and that is a whopping $1300 out of pocket but  will be made up in July. 

I am currently sitting at total grocery and household spending for June at $575, that is $225 above my stretch goal, and $175 over my realistic target and may still need before the end of the month.This is huge, but to consider, included in this is the money spent on strawberries and more sugar for jams, more seals, and pectin. Some jam will be gifts. I've made 13 jars so far, plus a container of each strawberry-rhubarb, and straight up strawberry, for our immediate eating, not in jars. DD2 is home for lunch everyday and I'm not spending on school lunches. We are stocked up for the rest of summer in laundry soap and for July with toilet paper and personal items, plus earned $10 in gift cards from Target. July should be better. We're also stocked up with  higher quality frozen pizza, keeping us from ordering take out. I believe I am using good management in the grocery and household stuff area. Is there room for improvement? Of course, but with the stress I've had from work, the fact that I didn't just blow the budget on restaurants and take out is a mark of good economy. 

Here are a few of our extra costs:
  • New sheets from Kohls, but good quality at 70% off plus and additional 15% off
  • Starbucks gift card for DD2's friend as a thank you for playing a duet with DD2 on violin at a special church service for DH's father. (this is a whole story in itself)
  • Gift card for family friends who passed a barely worn  formal black orchestra dress on to DD2
  • Pianist honorarium for DD2's recital and treats for the reception
  • Funds spent on Graduation presents 
  • Funds spent for funerals/condolences
  • Slew of birthday presents that normally wouldn't be part of our spending  
  • Concert tickets for Journey
Things really add up quickly with $20 here and $50 there. However, when I think hard, we had some good efforts at economizing as well. Food waste has been so much better in June. Items left at the cabin memorial day weekend were used again on Fathers Day (stuff for guacamole still good!) I made a refrigerator vegetable noodle soup using all the odd vegetables. Leftover plain yogurt and bananas that turned faster than we ate them went into seven small and one large loaves of bread, perfect for 4th of July when we will have a cabin full eating breakfast and for snacking. DD1 found a second hand perfect little black dress that will get oodles of wear, plus the formal black dress for orchestra passed on to her that even with the gift card as a thank you, it is 1/4 f what it would have cost to order her one in the fall. We brought back two items to Walmart that were bought for school projects for DD2 but then not needed. 

I don't know if canning is cost effective, still costing about $1.75 a jar, but little jars of homemade jam are very much appreciated by family and friends. If I could source pectin (or do without), and lower cost lids, bands, and jars, I could get the cost lower. I found 13 jars in my laundry room but will need to buy more to make more, which will up the cost. If you have ideas,let me know. they are never in garage sales.

If you are like me and get down on yourself for not saving enough, or not thinking you are doing enough to move your family forward, take heart. You may be doing more than you think. Plus, life can't all be about squeezing every grain of copper from those pennies, but enough to have a good balance of spending now and saving for later that aligns with your values.  


A few pictures from my jam making.

Stirring the bubbling fruit.

Two batches:. 6 Strawberry-Rhubarb, 7 Strawberry.



12 comments:

  1. My kids won't eat commercial jam or applesauce and haven't since I first started canning years ago. Blackberries are quite abundant here...a nuisance, actually, and our plum trees are quite prolific. My apple trees give me plenty of apples for sauce, as do the branches from the neighbor's trees which hang on our side of the fence. (He allows us to pick thwm from his yard even, but I don't.) The only expense now is if I treat myself to a few half flats of raspberries or strawberries, the sugar, pectin and the lids. The jars I have had for over a decade...and those can be bought for pennies at the thrift shop. You can also make no pectin jam, but I don't. I tend to find pectin on clearance. I know I will have a need, so I stock up. No pectin requires you to cook it down so it sets. It doesn't take long on a gas cooktop...12 minutes or so. The advantage to no pectin jam is it takes less sugar.
    In any case, I like canning, and my whole family helps, from picking the fruit to washing jars, to timing the canner, so the I figure the cost also covers entertainment!

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    1. Oh I would love to have access to so many different fruits. When my parents lived in the country, they had currants. My son's favorite jelly was the currant jelly I made from those berries.

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  2. You are absolutely right, frugal is about using money wisely and spending to save (daughters dress) and on friends and family (gifts/get togethers) is the right thing to do. If you've paid all your bills and everyone in your family is doing well, that is success. Just try and keep it off credit cards and you will be fine!

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    1. Absolutely make sure the bills are paid in full before we indulge, even on the small things. Right now we are needing to stretch a rather small amount through until July 5th pa expenses but pay in full and get the points),but know we can do it. I'm figuring out what I can plan the lake menu for 4th of July with minimal grocery shopping and using much of what we already have in the pantry since we also will need money for filling the gas tanks on the boat and of course a few fireworks.

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  3. Give yourself a pat on the back. It sounds like you are practicing thrift on a regular basis. I have seen a few blogs (not many but defiantly a few) where the bloggers preach frugality but practice miserly behavior both with their money and their time. I think frugality is simply spending wisely yet still enjoying life.

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    1. I agree that there is frugal and thrifty when you need to to pay the bills and live and the money just won't stretch far enough, and for saving towards bigger goals and dreams. Then there is shutting oneself off from things that make life enjoyable all to save a dollar. If that genuinely keeps them happy, more power to them.

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  4. Love the teapots!
    You've got thrifty down to a tee. Good work.
    IMHO, it's the only way to be!

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    1. Thanks, Cindi. The white one has a crack and I'm not sure how long I can make it last, but I do love to make a small pot when I know I'll be having a few cups. As for thrift, I'm keeping my eyes out for a replacement white tea pot, but hope to find at a bargain price since it certainly is not a necessity, just a little quirk of mine.

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  5. Do you save jars or do you buy fresh jars? I save mayo/pickle jars or anything that looks like it can be reused for my own jam/pickles etc and I get family/ friends to give me any they don't want. I'm sure you do this already Sam lol

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    1. I reuse all those that come back to me. Since everyone seems to be drinking out of mason jars now instead of glasses, I don't seem to get them returned. I haven't had good luck finding used any cheaper than just buying a set of 12 in the store, which I can get for about $9.00.

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  6. Perhaps if you are giving the jam away to others you could ask for the empty jars back.

    Nothing wrong with what you spent you money on. Giving is important.

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    1. Each year my supply dwindles a bit-I was down to just 13 jelly size jars this year. Jars break, get recycled by accident, or repurposed since the mason jar look is so trendy now.I don't feel bad either-things we spent on align with our family values.

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