Wednesday, October 24, 2007

frugality at our house

So Susan blogged on frugality. I can relate to her post in some ways. I am married to a 'depression era' 43 year old man. How can he be depression era? I say this pretty often actually. I am raising depression era children. This is why. My dh grew up sort of poor. There were times when the water heater would go out and a year would go by before they could afford to buy a new one. They had an old fashion tub, the feet kind, and they would boil water on the stove and mix it with the cold in the tub. It was never more than an inch of water and that stuck with him on into adult life. Our dear little first born loved taking a bath and he would come and inspect how much water I put in the tub. It cost money to heat the water and there was a water bill. If you spent months carrying hot water in order to bathe (no shower in that house then) then you might be concerned about water use.

There were also times when the well would go dry and they had to carry water from the spring (fortunately there was a spring) to cook or bathe. I am surprised he does not get the kids up before he goes to work and monitor their water use. If you had to work for the use of something, then you think about the use. If you did not have the money to pay for such things as replacing water heaters just because they broke, then you think about how you spend your money. There is no one that I admire more in getting by with next to nothing than my in-laws. They raised my dh so it also was surprising to me that they could not figure out why he was and is sort of careful about how he spends money. I can joke about my depression era husband but is it really that mysterious???? He is slowly growing out of some of these habits but waste still drives him nuts. Shouldn't that drive us nuts???? When you see people struggling to pay the bills, it makes you stop and consider how you are spending money.

Should we criticize people who are frugal? I don't think so. I think we just become dulled to what it means to live within our means. What IS living within your means anyway? I don't mean for this to sound like law either. It is just a perplexing subject and I think we all revisit it when we evaluate our spending habits. Wants/needs vs food/utilities: If the second one is the priority and glaring issue, than I guess a person would decide to be frugal.

As a result of growing up with a depression era dad, (my dh) my dear children do stop and think about how to spend money or not to spend it. People can criticize Charley or they can see that his kiddos are learning a little bit about balance in spending. I could go on and on about this but it has been on my mind lately. There is so much stuff in most people's homes that just don't matter but that does not make it wrong to have it either. It seems like balance is the answer. Should I feel guilty for replacing a pot that is worn out when I could survive another year with the one I have? Hmmmm............

Susan just made me think some more..........keep the balance and I guess cheerfully ignore the people who think we are nutty for not having cable, 60 dollar a month high speed, for having children who look confused at restaurants since they are clueless (we don't eat out), and the list goes on. As long as we are not to proud of our frugality. I think I am failing at frugality lately though, just for the record. I'll be quiet now.....


Polly said...

I think we all have things we can be frugal with and things that are our luxuries. We've been without tv for 13 years, but I want my high speed internet. After buying "the cheapest thing" for so long ( appliances), we are slowly replacing the junk with more solidly built things. Our bathrooms are literally falling apart and they are next on my list. One pair of $150 shoes is better than ten pair of $15 shoes, at least to me.

There are also people who are frugal to the point of frantic and that's not good either. I'm not going to keep trash bags full of handmedowns stuffed under the beds. I'd rather have the clear space and find a new pair of church slacks for somebody when the need arises.

We all have our poisons, don't we? That's why it's good to be Lutheran!

Susan said...

It's good to read you Karin and Polly wrote. You guys are saying what I'm puzzling over and struggling with.

Anita said...

I totally agree with you there Polly.
I would much rather have fewer finer things then lots of cheap.