It was a very interesting post by Amy today that got me thinking (again) about frugal living. My son and I were having a discussion just yesterday about living frugally (seeds planted in a teenage mind) and the value in learning to live on less income.
Her post reminded me of advice I heard recently by a financial counselor on a television show. He said if people stopped thinking of their gross income as what they earn and instead looked only at their net income (which is truthfully what you have to work with), perhaps people would not have the financial troubles they do today. Something to think about and it goes along with what Amy is saying.
Christopher and I were talking about spending money on fast food when we could wait awhile and eat at home. I reminded him the price of one fast food value meal was about the same (perhaps a little more) than one of the designer golf/tennis shirts he purchased at Goodwill recently. I'm trying to train him and remind myself at the same time! I've very good at remaining frugal in the big items but it's the small dollars and cents purchases that can add up through the month.
Now don't get me wrong, we do eat out once in awhile and we budget for it. We made a decision as a family before our son was even born that we preferred spending some disposable income in eating out rather than taking big vacations each year. We used to call going out to a restaurant "mini vacations" and they truly are, especially when we go to a favorite place where we can relax...and leave the dishes and clean up to them. :)
What I was talking about with him (and reminding myself) were those multiple small and unplanned purchases, those where the tummy is growling and we think of pizza (I'm famous for craving pizza or cheeseburgers), or we pass the Starbucks sign (when we've used our latte budget already), when we see that the new book by our favorite author is finally out (and we've used our book budget already this month), when we decide to stop at Goodwill or the thrift store and just "look around" (when the money in our pocket is for milk and eggs)...I think you get the idea.
This is the frugality I struggle with as I watch those little purchases add up and realize they have made a big dent on a tight budget. Well...perfection is the goal and not the destination...but I'll continue to work on it.