Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Shifting into Frugal Automatically

A number of years ago, we owned a car which developed a somewhat alarming problem: while the driver was merrily tootling down the road (hopefully a country road), the transmission would suddenly, without warning, shift into neutral. Usually, one could shift back into drive and all would be well until the next occurrence. My hubby, who can be as pessimistic as the next person when he chooses, elected to put a positive spin on this problem and explained that the vehicle was simply "shifting into neutral automatically". Ever since then, this phrase has been in common use in our family whenever we need to put a positive spin on a situation.

Often, when the need for flexibility comes up in my daily schedule, I find that I think of it as shifting my gears. And it is amazing how this shifting does take place almost automatically when each day is yielded to God.

Over the past few years, I think many of us have come to the conclusion that becoming a bit more frugal would certainly be a wise move. I've been thrilled to see that I haven't forgotten how to be frugal ... that, indeed, it came back to me almost automatically.

There was a time, many years ago, when I was very frugal indeed, buying chocolate chips, for example, only for very special occasions. I well remember baking cookies for Vacation Bible School and decorating only the tops of M&M cookies with the M&Ms, using perhaps 4 to 5 on each cookie top, and none in the cookie dough, to make the candy go farther. Early in our marriage, we got by spending only $15-$20 per week for groceries. Later on, when our children were away at school, we chose to eat meat only on weekends when they were home. While they were in college, we ate many a meatless meal -- and enjoyed it!

Over time, the kids married and left home, and we were spending less on food and other necessities but, because it was just the two of us now, we could pretty much buy what we liked. I don't mean that we routinely bought shrimp or expensive steaks -- not at all -- but if, for example, I wanted to bake cookies I would be sure that I had parchment paper on hand -- and I would throw the paper away after each use.

And that is why, when I began to realize I needed to reinstate frugality, I was so delighted to find myself, one cookie-baking day, reaching automatically for my much-used, reusable, teflon cookie sheet liners. Shifting into frugal automatically!


  1. A habit I need to cultivate more faithfully! Great thoughts & I love the pic!

  2. At one time we could spend $15-$20/week on groceries, but I think it would be harder these days. Just dairy products alone could cost that much.
    It has become more important for us since there were quite a few unexpected expenses this winter.. car repair, furnace repair, using electric heat for a month while the furnace was being repaired, but the Lord is gracious. When it gets really tight we just rely totally on what we have in storage in the freezers or preserved in jars.

    I like the story of the car... sounds like a few clunkers we've used over the years. One car we had would not restart unless it was completely cooled down. On long trips you had to plan your stops strategically and if it was a short trip you left the car running.

    Have a wonderful day!

  3. Thanks, ladies, for stopping by and leaving such great comments!

    Mary Ann -- I love the pic too. I have been going through some old magazines and making graphics out of advertising I find there. So much fun -- I could easily, very easily spend too much time on it.

    Mrs.D, so glad you are feeling better! You are right -- it would not be possible to get by on $15-$20 a week any more (well, I guess I had better not say impossible, as I am sure there are some really frugal people out there who raise nearly everything they eat, but it would be difficult). I guess I should say it would not be possible for most people. Definitely not for me. We too have lots of food in the freezer and could get by for some time almost totally on that if we had to.


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