I thought I would lay the background for our cheapness just for any who might be looking for some ideas. Here are some things about our lifestyle that help us with our cheapness and give me hope for accomplishing the goals for the summer. If you are hoping to become cheaper, try to pick at least one thing that you might be able to do.
1. We have no car payment. We drive a 95 Ford Explorer and a 2000 Ford Taurus Wagon. Jeremy is good with cars, so he can do most repairs that we’ve needed.
2. We live in a house with 1090 square feet and a low mortgage. It is small. Our 3 year old son and 5 year old daughter share a bedroom and are tightly packed, but I love our house. It is cozy, and I love our yard. We have an awesome screened porch, which does add some square feet for 3 seasons of the year. I’m sure some would say we “need” more space, but everyone I know uses all the space they have, so I’m sure there would never be enough space. We bought a house that we could afford on one teacher’s salary, so that we wouldn’t both be obligated to work to keep our house. This has been one of the best decisions we’ve made.
3. I am a couponer. This does not mean that I simply use coupons. I am part of a cult-like group of cheap people who feed off of the excess that is our market culture. If you want to learn couponing, contact me, or go to southernsavers.com or mycouponteacher.com Those are just two of the blogs I follow. As this really isn’t going to be a coupon blog, go there if you want to talk coupon. (But just to wet your whistle, on Sunday I bought the newspaper, a bag of swimmy diapers, two Old Spice body washes, and three cans of black olives for $1.89–plus they gave me $8 in CVS money back. If you are wondering how that is even possible, it is!)
4. We have basic cable. It costs $14.50 a month. We might not get all the channels we wish we had, but on the flip side, we hopefully, watch less TV than we otherwise would. (Meanwhile, my children have been watching PBS kids an insane amount as I’ve been typing . . . clearly, I need to figure out how to blog at night. Surely neglecting me husband is better than neglecting my children.)
5. We don’t really have a cell phone. We have an insanely old (like 8 years) cell phone that we buy prepaid minutes for. We share it and we don’t text. We use it only for emergencies. I would say that we put $25 on it every other month or so. It is very freeing to be out of touch with the world now and then. You know, it is actually okay not to be thumping away on your texter all the time.
6. We don’t have long distance. On our home phone, we don’t have long distance. If I need to call someone, I use the cell phone (and then make you call me back), a calling card, e-mail, or just ask you to call me since you have long distance. Maybe that sounds moochey, but . . .
7. We mooch–though we call it accepting the leftovers. Lasagna is not the only thing that is better the second time around. “Mooching” is a leftover quality from being a missionary where you have to ask for money, live off of what people give you, and generally think it is awesome to get hand-me-downs. If you have a strong sense of pride, this will be hard for you. Also if you have a strong sense of fashion . . . But we basically don’t buy stuff that we can get free or used. When my kids need clothes, I have been known to put a shout out on facebook for hand-me-down. This may seem tacky because it is, but you have to sacrifice coolness when you become cheap. We buy our kids’ birthday presents on craigslist. If that seems sad to you, ask yourself, “Does my three year old know or care that I saved $40 on his Leapster?”
8. We have no debt. With the exception of our mortgage, we have no debt. Even when we do use our credit card, we pay it off every month and don’t carry a balance. When we were first married and both working, we had debt–about 10K give or take. We put my entire salary toward paying it off. After a year and a half, we paid it off. (I hate DEBT!) Little did I know, Jeremy had promised God that when we paid off our debt, we would become missionaries. Clearly, Jeremy thought it would take a lot longer than a year and a half because he was a bit aghast when God called him on that promise. Had I known about this crazy promise I might have gotten more pedicures back in those dual income pre-kid days. Alas. We became missionary teachers in Papua New Guinea for two years. One of the best and most bizarre things we ever did . . but this blog isn’t about that
9. We give it away. Since we believe that all that we have isn’t really ours in the first place, we give a lot of money away to missionaries and churches and relief organizations, etc. Incidentally, we don’t have a lot leftover, sometimes. But so far we haven’t gone hungry. In fact, not even close. We don’t believe God helps those who help themselves; they just help themselves. In my experience, God helps us to help others. I have to say, having helped myself and helped others, the latter is A LOT more rewarding. (Was that confusing? Read it again three or four times.)
10. Miscellaneous cheapnesses . . I use cloth diapers about 50% of the time and hang them out to dry. I have a vegetable garden (though I am pretty sure the slugs are devouring it as I type this, so I may end up losing on that end.) I dye my own hair; so what if it temporarily looked like Sharon Osborne’s?! It faded and my gray doesn’t show. I nurse my babies and make baby food. I wear my clothes forever or until Jeremy tells me that they are hideous. (He is definitely the cool one in the marriage.) Then I splurge and go buy a bunch of new outfits at Goodwill, whoo-hoo! I eat the crusts of my kids PBJs because I hate wasting. I wash our clothes in cold water most of the time. I open windows and doors and turn off the AC. I walk places or stay home instead of driving. We use the library a lot! We don’t eat out very often. If we do, it is at cheap food. Jeremy and I sometimes splurge for dates, but we often try to find a coupon. Once you become cheap, all these things will become second nature to you. I am not bragging (Bragging about being cheap would be so incredibly lame that only a person blogging about her self-absorption with cheapness could pull it off); I’m just saying . . . . what can you do to be cheaper? Surely you can think of a few things. DO THEM! This week I am trying to use only cloth diapers on Anika unless we are going out. Must go get them out of washer and hang them on porch line. . . .