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Debra Caffrey is the Education E-newsletter Editor for FredParent. She also writes, blogs, and assists with events. She is the proud mom of 8-year-old Aidan. She is passionate about cooking, meal planning, and smart grocery shopping, and is excited to share her ‘Practical Pantry’ with you.

 

Practical Pantry

I’ll be honest—despite my best efforts to have a nonchalant attitude about it, I still get a little bummed when others don’t understand my frugal lifestyle, especially with food and groceries. OK, I’ll be even more honest—sometimes it really bothers me!

For me, it happens when a stranger eyes my coupon binder oddly in the aisles of the grocery store, a family members looking at me like I have five heads when I say we won’t go over a certain price per K-cup when ordering in bulk, or friends teasing me when I track my receipts for each lunch out or a Starbucks run. Let’s face it, it can get a little annoying always feeling like you’re the odd one out and dealing with others’ attitudes about frugality.

Those of us who practice thriftiness should be proud and confident, but I’ll be the first to admit that this can get taxing when you’re constantly dealing with remarks or attitudes that try to make you feel inferior or unusual.

We all have our reasons for penny-pinching whether it’s because circumstances force us to be careful, or we simply chose to be budget-conscious. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both. But all frugal-minded individuals can agree that the benefits of being economically savvy far outweigh any teasing we might endure. Not only are we saving our money, but we’re doing less harm to the environment, simplifying our lives, making way for bigger priorities, improving our health and developing a greater sense of gratitude for what we have.

These goals are the cornerstones of why I keep a practical pantry lifestyle for my family, and I’m sure they are for many like me. It may not always be easy for others to understand, but frugal-mindedness and budgeting, especially about meals and groceries, can be life-changing.

So, what is a thrifty girl or guy to do when faced with curiosity or criticism? First, it’s important to remember we owe no one an explanation. We need not justify our lifestyle choices or spending habits at all. And we need not apologize for any of it. That said, if the opportunity presents itself to discuss your household’s way of economizing, don’t make the mistake I used to make of saying, “I can’t afford that.”

Not only is this phrase negative and usually inaccurate, it does nothing to cast frugal choices in a positive light. Looking back, I realize many times when I said this, I could afford whatever was in question. I got used to not spending on money on it and probably convinced myself that I couldn’t afford it.

I learned over time that there is a much better way of tweaking your words to not only be more accurate, but to validate frugality at the same time. It’s simple. When you say, “I choose to spend my money on different things,” it accurately depicts your reasoning and reminds you why you are working so hard. This sentence can become a mantra for when penny-pinching, couponing, or saving up for something can get a little trying. Additionally, it can be a better conversation starter about life goals, what motivates us, and can encourage others to think the same way about how they spend their own money.

How about you? What do you choose to spend your money on when you’re not buying that fast food meal out, or when you’re driving an old car, or meal planning for the week instead of relying on restaurant trips?

As for me, whenever I eat containers of leftovers, save a dollar using a coupon, or pack sandwiches for our trip to the amusement park, I always remind myself of the bigger picture for our family—continuing to live debt-free, increasing the value of our house with proper maintenance and home improvement projects, and selling it for a pretty penny one day so I can live out the rest of my days as an old lady right on the beach and travel elsewhere. That kind of lifestyle is worth every take-out meal I don’t buy and every extra second it takes me to figure out which detergent has the best unit price per gallon.

What are your long-term goals? Can you choose to spend your money on different things now to make those dreams a more realistic future one day? It all starts with the right mindset, and the rest will follow.

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Pouches' Community Corner

Be KIND at Home and Abroad

pouches cartoon

This month, Pouches highlights two community events and one international aid opportunity for families to support. 

On October 13, there will be a Kindness Day pancake breakfast at Spotsylvania Towne Centre. On the 20th, the Happy and Healthy Kids Fair is at the Children's Museum Fredericksburg.

Also in October, Pouches is preparing for a trip to Ecuador to bring used orthotics and prosthetics to people in need in that country. 

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