Would You Do This If You Didn’t Have to?

Apparently despite the current economic situation there is still a negative connotation to the word frugal.  It’s got me thinking, would you do this if you didn’t have to?  Do you think I do this because we have to?  Because we don’t.

The reason I started being a smart shopper was, and still is, that I don’t want our family to live from paycheck to paycheck.  And let me tell you, since becoming a one income family we are doing much better financially than we did when we both worked outside the home.  Being a smart shopper has allowed our family not to be impacted by the current situation.  In the last year despite the deteriorating environment we have been able to save more in cash and our college and retirement funds.

Spending wisely has allowed my family to buy in the last year a laptop, a desktop computer, a printer, new tires for our cars and take a vacation outside the US , all of this paid for in cash.  Being frugal, as some may call it, has given us the freedom to do things we otherwise couldn’t do.  It’s allowing us to live a better life in the present and hopefully our future as well.

But why I am telling you this?  Because maybe you came to this blog looking for ways to make ends meet right now.  But it is my hope that you will walk away having learned how to stop spending money on the things that don’t matter and create room in your budget for the things that do.

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  • Like you, I was doing the frugal stuff before the economy got bad. I think that is one reason the downturn has not effected my family.

    I have been at this going on 5 years now and would not change a thing if I had to do it all over again, except for maybe finding more storage space so I didn’t have to miss out on deals.

    By us living frugally we have been able to go on 4 very nice vacations this past year too.

  • My response to this, as it always is, is “Why not?” Why NOT save money? If you know there is a coupon for $3 off a product you normally use, why would you NOT use it? I believe that because our society has gotten so lazy is part of the reasoning that frugality/thriftiness comes in vogue when economic times get hard.

    We too, became a one income family in 2007. I had my son, and we just couldn’t justify almost $800 in day care fees for part time care. I’m a full time graduate student, and to go back to work 6 weeks after having a baby, plus shopping and caring for myself and my husband? That would have been madness! I would have had to take only one class a semester instead of two, triggering repayment on my loans. I’d have gas costs, repair/maintenance for my car, the student loans, day care, extra food costs – we’d have been in the red every month with me working. But, with me home, we’ve saved enough to buy a home, be in the black every month and even save every month.

    I agree with your line of thinking Mercedes….why WOULDN’T you do this??

  • Great post! I do not have to live a frugal lifestyle, but choose to do so. My husband earns a nice salary. I enjoy clipping coupons and saving money wherever I can. I feel it is my contribution to our household. We live below our means and aren’t feeling “the pinch” that many others are during this time of economic uncertainty.

  • Lisa Fischer

    We went to one income almost 5 years ago (March 2004) & agree with the above comment that the economy hasn’t hurt us…yet. What they are telling people to do now to help save costs, we’ve been doing for the past 5 years! And I think people WILL come to find they CAN live on one income (thinking of those that have a spouse that is now laid off) & are making it. Funny, before the layoff, there was NO WAY they could make it on one income.

    Even though I’ve been home for five years, I didn’t get into couponing until about two years ago. That was when the Walgreen’s in our town opened. I’d see the ads & think “gee I wish we’d get one of these stores, look at all the FAR items you can get” Then we got one & I started the Walgreen’s savings & very quickly learned that you can get good deals at other stores as well (hotcouponworld helped with that too!). I just wish it wouldn’t of taken a Walgreen’s opening to show me that I can save at other stores too!

  • The economy really hasn’t affected us at all, other than rising grocery prices and for awhile there fuel prices. We do not have to be frugal, but we would be living paycheck to paycheck with no extras if I wasn’t frugal. I agree with one of the above posters, if you know you could save $3 of a product you will be buying why would you not do it?

  • Mercedes, I know no other way of being frugal – except when I first started visiting I was enlightened into a realm of frugal/simple living that I did not know existed such as the blogs like yours, stacking coupons, stockpiling – of course I stockpiled and couponed but not near as well as I do now – who cares what others think and you know – they are probably envious and too scared to ask for help!

  • MJ

    I’m kind of in the opposite position from you. When I started shopping frugally, I didn’t really need to, it was just a challenge. But since then, my husband has left his job to start his own business and money has gotten tighter (business is going ok, but it takes a while!). So I didn’t HAVE to do this when I started, but I do now and I’m glad to have learned before I needed it! Thanks for all your fabulous posts — I’m sure you’ve helped me save a LOT of money!

  • Being frugal is probably the one thing I WOULDN’T change, even if the economy picked up. It’s a thrill for me to get the great deals, pass along those deals to others on my blog and at church, and see them slowly be on their way to being debt free. I know a lot of people that think it’s too much work to “do the coupon” thing. My pantry says otherwise! I save enough in groceries alone to make it like I’m working a part-time job.

    Great post!

  • Lucy

    Amen Sister! I’m a stay at home mom too. My question is why wouldn’t you do this? Your websight has made it so easy for all of us, it takes very little time, and the rewards is great. A penny saved is a penny earned. Thank you for all you do!

  • liz

    I was always mindful of my money, but the economy and the birth of my son has prompted me to go into guerilla frugal mode. I would still be frugal if I didn’t need to, but would give myself a little more leeway with doing things for convience, even if it costs more to do so, (if that makes sense).

  • I love finding deals and saving money. I plan on doing this forever! My husband works hard for our income so why not continue to make the most of his hard work? It’s the least I can do to show my appreciation for what he does for us. (Someday, we’ll treat him to a nice vacation!!) Eventually when our house gets paid off and the college/wedding funds are secure for the kids, I’ll still “run the deals” to help out the needy. I’m in it for the long haul!

    Thanks for the great site to help find even more frugal deals!

  • cindy

    yes, I would do this if I didn’t have to. Because technically, right now we don’t have to be frugal. My husband writes about the economy, and he’s been seeing this coming for a couple years. Since 2006, he’s been making enough money to afford me staying home (and going to college part-time). I can think of four reasons for us to practice being frugal now despite a healthy income:

    (1) By not wasting money, we are teaching our children good habits. And to appreciate what they own.

    (2) We have been able to pay down on our mortgage the last two years, and that’s a relief to anyone.

    (3) His income could change at some point… and it would be good to already know how to save money and to have a good stockpile of food and other stuff.

    (4) And even if his income doesn’t change, I will eventually re-join the workforce. And I know it would be much harder to learn new frugal techniques when you are busy working. By the time I get my master’s degree and pass the CPA test, being frugal, working coupons and sales, knowing how to research products will all be old habits!

  • I don’t want people to think that I am bragging. I thank God everyday for his provision and I am also worried as much as the next person about my husband losing his job. all I know is that I am using the tools to make the best of this situation.


  • AMEN to that Mercedes! My family is in a very similar situation and I have often tried to post something similar but couldn’t seem to find the words. You articulated it perfectly. It is sometimes frustrating to try and explain this to others. (I have a certain person in my life in mind when I say this.) Keep up the great work…I love your blog and continue to learn so much from you!

  • Sarah

    Great stuff Mercedes!!! My husband and I were just having a conversation about this very thing last week. We keep trying to keep ourselves in check that the things we are doing are life changes not just temporary fixes or solutions. There are some things I would just never give up even if we had Tons of money. For example this past summer I learned how to make homemade laundry detergent and there is not turning back for me. It takes less than five minutes to make, is super cheap, and works as well or better than the “real” stuff. So, why would I stop just because I could afford the $10 bottle every month? I won’t. 🙂 I’m not quite sure why anyone would choose to pay more for items when you can get them free or discounted by spending just a little bit of time, effort, and creativity each week. There are definitely seasons. Sometimes keeping up with coupons and deals might be hard to do, but there are plenty of other ways to be “frugal” and creative with what we are given. Thanks for asking the question and for your blog. It’s a blessing!

  • I would absolutely do this even if I didn’t have to. In fact, I was listening to Money Matters (from Crown Financial) the other day and they spoke of the exact same thing. Sometimes we are frugal to create a margin for ourselves (sometimes just to make ends meet). But when we already have a margin to play with, all the money we save can be given! To be able to save enough to allow you to be a blessing to others – now that is something to save for!

  • Thanks for sharing! Even if money weren’t a bit tight for us, as its been since I became a stay-at-home mom 18 months ago, we would still continue to live frugally. Yes, we may allow ourselves a few more “luxuries” here and there, but we would still shop sales, coupon, stockpile, etc. It just makes sense to us now. Just because we’d have the money to pay for things full price doesn’t mean we should or would want to anymore. And frugalness has been so beneficial to our family, as we learn to be content with what we have, rely on God’ provision, and not get caught up with things. We wouldn’t want to revert back into the collecting stuff American mentality.

  • Gabrielle

    I’d add to that that while we do not have to be frugal it is still an important environmental action to take. I believe that we have a responsibility to future generations to take care of our world. To me being frugal and being and environmental steward goes hand in hand. Not being wasteful, not buying a bunch of stuff that just takes up space, minding a budget, cooking at home, etc are all ways to save money AND help the environment. Yes it is a choice, but with peak oil, global warming and rising pollution it is a moral choice as well as an economical one.

    I agree with the WHY NOT question. I can’t imagine taking about $100 and throwing it in the trashcan, but that is the amount of money that I saved this week alone by using coupons and rebates–pieces of paper that a lot of people throw in the trash can. Many of the items bought this week are going to our church foodbank to help others in need. Some of the other items are for our home stockpile, and the rest are to feed our family and sweet dog (I picked up 8 free packs of dog food). Because of being frugal and websites like yours, we are much better off than we would be and are able to help out others. What a blessing people like you are to me!

    Thanks for all you do!
    Knoxville, tn

  • Jennifer

    You do not sound like you are bragging. I have always heard that the only way to have money is to save money. We have two very good incomes in my family, but we always look for deals. The way I see it is by not paying for basic household items like shampoo; toothpaste and toilet paper we can indulge in some luxuries that otherwise would seem wasteful. One thing I have learned is never to judge how people choose to spend their money. Even the most frugal have their vices. I am just hopeful the recent focus on frugality helps people to learn to live within their means, however, they choose to do it.

  • Kim

    We are a two income family with no kids and I still ♥ to save money. Living well within our means makes it easy to splurge on a few luxuries a year and spend money on our hobbies with out debt and guilt. Like prior posters said… Why not save money if you can. I do feel really guilty sometimes when I have a stack of coupons and get a great deal. Even if it is 100% legit. It has a lot to do with society and I feel the guilt less now that the economy is crummy.

  • I have always been frugal, clippped coupons and I just live for double coupon day at PnS! I do tend to fall off the wagon but since I have been flowwing you and others I am confident that I will not fall off the wagon again. Thank you so much for doing what you do!!!

  • Now that I have learned the skills of being frugal I cannot imagine going back to wasting money. I love having what we need and not running out at the last minute to buy an item at full price. I love teaching my young adult sons these skills and seeing them already put some of them in practice. If only I had started this practice at their ages. I salute all of you young moms that are being wise with your family finances in this way. Our country is paying for years of excess and we all need to take note of that fact.

  • Shannon

    Since my oldest was born 8 years ago, we have been a one income family. We have also been fortunate to have a steady and consistent (and good) income. However, due to poor planning and bad choices, we were living paycheck to paycheck. I was tired of getting to the end of the pay period and praying nothing came up in the last 4 or 5 days, because we’d only have $5.00 in the checking account, no cash in our pockets and the savings account even drier than the checking. On payday, I would pay all the bills, then go shopping and spend about $700 and then come home and tell my husband we’re broke and have $50 (if we were lucky) to last us 2 weeks. I also had it set up so that on pay day there would be money transferred over to a savings account. Within a week I was transferring it back to checking to make the ends meet, and still praying nothing was needed. To add to it, the credit card debt was slowly sneaking up. Thankfully our credit card debt is still WAY below the national household average, but it is still something that needs to be paid off. I’m not really sure what turned the light bulb on for me, but about 4 months ago I realized that I was tired of everyone else getting my money, and I still had nothing to show for it. So it started as a personal mission to see just how much money I could shave off the bills, then that also made me realize that I needed an actual budget and one that I could adhere to. (My “budget system” was to check the bank account and see if we had the money to pay the bill or go out to eat. I was of the mentality that if I still had checks in the check book then I still had money! Bad, I know, but I didn’t overdraw the checking account!) So I sat down and started scribbling out ideas for a budget. When I came up with something where the numbers worked, I presented it to my husband to see if he would be willing to live under my new (and much more frugal) budget proposal. He was on board, and we haven’t looked back since. I’ve figured out the coupon world, weekly grocery sales ads and the drugstore/rebate game, and I’m hooked! I have reduced our grocery budget by 2/3 and somehow have more food in my pantry now than before. I cook at home more, I make homemade snacks to avoid paying for convienence foods. I meal plan. I meal plan. I meal plan! I can’t get over how much that alone has affected our budget. So this will be something that I continue to do because I now agree with the “why NOT” mentality. I love the thrill of the bargain. I love getting things for free or nearly free.

    Since our paradigm shift, we have been able to save for a trip to Disneyland in 6 weeks as well as set us on coarse to have all debt (credit cards and motorcycle loan – we have no other car loans) paid off by December 31, 2009 as well as have a significant Emergency fund. That is HUGE for us! It made it easier to get my head in the game and keep it there with a goal on the horizon. Now I would say that I would do it all over again….I’ve learned my lesson and I like not feeling like I’m living paycheck to paycheck because I’ve learned to spend wisely. And I’m still learning, but I like what I’m learning!! =)

  • What a great topic. Some people have a two income spending habit even though they only have one income. I have some friends like this. I don’t like to worry about money, even though they don’t seem to mind it. To me, it’s just easier and less stressful to watch our spending and be able to save money for things (like a vacation) rather than putting it on a credit card and then worry about all that debt.

  • Debbie

    Personally I do not need to do this. My husband and I both have decent jobs (for now). I do this because I like to do it. I mean how exciting to come home with $100 worth of groceries for $40 bucks or so? By using CVS deals, I get make up, face cleaners, toothpaste, toothbrushes and so much more for pretty much free. It’s a high when there are really great deals out there. Sure, I buy things I don’t need, but I also get a lot things I would never spend the money on that I have found out that I really like. It’s awesome! And it while I never did this intentionally, I rarely dip into my savings anymore for extra money – I now have it without even thinking about it.

  • Mercedes, I agree with you on this..good post!

    I started doing this because I was seeking God’s direction in providing somehow financially as we prepared for our son’s surgery. I *now* do this because I know how to. I think about the time when I had a professional career and too feel like we live much better now than when I worked too. It’s truly a blessing!

  • LouAnn

    I don’t need to do this either – and I’m totally new to the coupon shopping thing for the last 2 weeks! But, I’ve always been a bargain shopper, and pay cash for everything, just never took the extra time to do coupons, compare with sale prices, etc. I’m amazed at how much I can save with this and am so excited to see this reduce our grocery bills – which is the one area we haven’t tried to save money before! (We were all about convenience, mostly shopping at Sam’s.) So I really appreciate all the help you have given me with couponing!

  • Susan

    I have enjoyed reading this thread.

    I would be doing this even if the economy was great! I started in March 2008, but have always shopped around for the lowest prices on everything except groceries and drugstore purchases. I wish I had discovered how much I could save on groceries and other items before I had my daughter. We might not have waited 8 years into our marriage to start a family, and I would have quit my job when she was born, instead of waiting until she went to preschool. It makes me sick to think of all the money we’ve wasted and how I could have been home with my daughter instead of dealing with office politics!

    I have always been the main income provider in my home, so our income dropped quite a bit when I quit my job in mid-2007. I blew through my modest savings while getting my business going, and turned to a few coupon sites to find a way to not have to return to working for someone else.

    I’ve learned so much from all the wonderful people who share their tips and advice and hope I am able to pass along what I’ve learned and help others too. Everyone is so willing to help each other. It’s a great community of people and I am so grateful that I finally got connected to it. Now that I’ve been bitten by the coupon bug, I can’t imagine stopping!

  • Amy

    I love reading your blog!

    My husband has been our only income source for almost four years now and every day I thank him for letting me be here for our daughters.

    Why not save money? It totally is a rush for me now when I look at my receipt and I see how much I have saved. When I share my deals with people, some look at me like I am crazy (as if they have never seen a coupon) and others ask me what they should do. Everyone is different, and I have learned that all that matters is that I am doing what is best for my family and that is all that matters!

    I appreciate your blog so much, thank you!

    😉 amy

  • Even though I just started getting more serious about being frugal recently, it really isn’t because I had to. We budget more than enough money for groceries every week and the economy hasn’t affected us that much. I do it because I want to…I love having lots of money leftover after grocery shopping, I love being able to use it to build our stockpile, and I love the challenge of saving as much as I can!

  • A.Marie

    Wow! Great Post! I love your blog, and I check it every day; sometimes more than once a day, just to see if you have posted any other great deals! I shop frugually, and try to live frugually, because we have to. My husband works full-time, but I am a stay-at-home wife and mom. He works too hard for our money, and I would feel really bad if I squandered it away on things we didn’t really need. Now that I have discovered this blog, I can get things for little or nothing, and not feel guilty! He loves it too! One thing that I would also like to add: With the extra money that some are able to spend, because of living frugually, try and pay down your mortgage. We refinanced in 2003 to a 15 year loan, and I am so glad we did. I continue to pay extra on it every month (I put it towards the principle), and it is exciting to see the balance going down. I just can’t wait until I have a house that is paid off, and I don’t have to worry that my family won’t have a place to live!

  • candy

    Im new to couponing,your site, stockpiling to start saving do you put away money from couipons used,rebates? How do i begin

  • BEE

    The reason that we have really tightened our straps and are living even more frugally then before is because we don’t want any debt. We are sick and tired of living as slaves to the banks and do not want any credit card debt, anymore! If we need or want something we HAVE to buy it with money we have, not on credit! We don’t even have that much cc debt but we have seen to many of our friends just spiral out of control, now owing $40,000+ on credit cards. We don’t want to go down that road but living how we use to, we very easily could of!

    I was just thinking the other night if when we are out of cc debt, which Lord willing will be by June 09, will we still live frugally. The answer is yes! I want to teach our children to respect their money and that just because you want something does not mean you get or get it RIGHT NOW!

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  • A.Marie

    This is for Candy; I don’t know what other people do, but I take the money that I get back for rebates and deposit it in my checking account. I highlight the amount in my register, and that way, I know that certain deposit is for my food budget. I save my Walgreen Register Rewards and use them to either purchase more items and get more RR (register rewards)or to buy things that commonly do not spit out register rewards (like nylons, certain cleaners that I really, really like, etc.) Also, you should shop at Walgreens and check out the Rebate book, usually located at the front of the store. Purchase the items listed, and at the end of the month, either submit the receipts online or by mail, and you will either get a check (which I deposit in the checkbook – – and highlight!) or it will come on a Walgreens gift card, plus an additional 10%. Then, the next month, start the whole process over again.

  • candy

    Thank you for the tips im enjoying trying to be a better shopper and with all of this great advice i hope to be a great shopper but alot of the stores i see mentioned i dont have them in my area except for walgreens, walmart, and target. But thank you and my husband really thanks you (he likes saving and more rounded meals)

  • I recently did a post on whether I thought it was worth it to coupon.

  • I completely agree. When we had to close our business and DH took a job making about 65% of what our budget said we needed, I thought we were sunk.
    Much to my job and surprise, we are living much better now, than we were then!

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