A Size for Everyone, Not Just Some
I've spent the afternoon and evening yesterday reading through the blogs on my bookmarked list. I have a mix of blogs. Some cooking, some decorating, some simple living, some faith based, but almost all have one common theme: every one of them has a frugal slant.
I'd just finished reading a blog in which the author stated what she felt was excess, taking a slap at anyone who didn't subscribe to the same viewpoint, when I felt the need to stop and think. Truth is while this author accomplishes a lot in a small space, her 'style' of frugality is not mine...and I resent being told that it should be. I've been frugal for 33 years or more...I don't believe I've been doing it wrong all these years simply because I don't subscribe to all her methods and ways. And I think this is one area where we who blog must be very careful. We can encourage or we can discourage. It's all in our approach.
This brings to mind a discussion Friday night with another guest at a friend's home. She and her family live a frugal and simple life. We each blog about it, but each of us approach it in a far different way. Neither of us do things in the same way. We have in common two things: we are full time homemakers and we are frugal. Our incomes are different, our approaches are different, our life circumstances are different. But we are dedicated to the purpose of keeping our home in as economical manner as possible.
I see the merits of and admire greatly the work they do in their home. We were both amused and frustrated by the viewpoints and comments of others we encounter on our blogs, of those who felt they must also do exactly as she does or as I do or they could not be called frugal.
I must say that I feel much the same when someone leaves a comment about how I keep house. My circumstances are vastly different from that of a woman who works outside the home or of a homeschooling mother. I have more time to devote to keeping my house in order, less work since my husband is something of a neatnik as well, and more opportunity to attend to deeper cleaning, writing and piddling in general than some might have. Were I trying to homeschool or had toddlers underfoot, my home routine (and my frugal standard) would be different. In honesty, homemaking and frugality are truly best determined by three factors: physical strength, skill level and time. Wonderfully, all three can and will be improved with the application of effort. The more work we do in our homes, the more skilled we become, the more time we'll find we have to accomplish tasks.
I say quite sincerely that while I've always been frugal, I've been continually improving my frugal skills. There are old skills to bring out and polish up on (baking, sewing, canning/preserving) and new ones to learn (foraging, holistic herbs, landscaping, home renovation). That is the wonderful thing about being frugal. It expands to encompass our lives whether we're adding members to our family or becoming empty nesters, working or retiring, just beginning to learn or continually expanding our knowledge. Frugality works if we are moving to a larger home with more amenities or if we are downscaling.
For those of you who read blogs (including this one) and who often feel disheartened or fear that you will not ever be as accomplished as another in being frugal or keeping home, please understand this: I never once thought any one of you should do all I do nor thought you as less frugal/less capable if you didn't. My only goal is to encourage the pursuit of a happier, more financially secure, more orderly, life. I hope to inspire, to teach skills that some might find useful, and to encourage, but never to judge. That's why you'll sometimes find posts about failures, procrastination, waste, moments of personal discouragement or overwhelm.
I am not a perfect home keeper, nor perfectly frugal. Every method I try is not a superb win. There are things I've done that simply weren't worthwhile in my opinion but for another it might be a joy and pleasure. There are things that some find their family tolerate quite well and some things that just don't work for the overall happiness of your home. Remember my elation over making that Cream of Asparagus soup? Big fail as far as my husband was concerned...I didn't know until then that he doesn't even like 'cream of' soups, be they homemade or store bought!
There are certain grocery items we buy that others might well wonder at in a frugal household. I purchase soda and chips in a limited quantity. It is due to my own personal preference that we buy only Coke products. I may not drink a soda every single day but the one or two times a week when I do have one, I want a Coke. My husband likes a certain brand of chips. I do my best to buy both those items on sale. That is our compromise. Compromise is primary if you are to succeed!
My husband is a city boy who happens to live in the country on a few acres of land. I grew up with the whole raise your own food thing from meat to vegetable. Gardening to raise the majority of food for a year is alien to him. I haven't even attempted to bring up the subject of keeping animals to raise for meat, lol! We have hit upon the idea that container/raised bed gardening is the way to go. We've not yet reached the point where we have grown even enough produce for a meal let alone a genuine harvest, but I think eventually we'll be able to have a modest harvest annually as we hone our skill and learn what works best for us. In the meantime, I attempt to find a harvest with the things bought at grocery or farm stands. I put up a bit of corn, make a few jars of jelly, continually work to use all of the food we buy instead of a portion of it. I hope to incorporate growing fruit trees and blueberry bushes into our landscape. This is our compromise.
And there you have the gist of all I meant to say to you this morning. Don't be discouraged. Do what works for you at your current skill level. Expand as you're able. Don't force frugality upon the family but incorporate things gradually. Compromise. Manage your time well. Learn what works for you and your household and then repeat, repeat, repeat to maximize your savings in that area. Find a homemaking routine that works for you. Believe me I'm not going to show up on your doorstep via blog post nor in person to tell you what a failure you are if you don't clean just as I do or save money just as I do. Share your successes with me if you wish, come to me for encouragement if you feel in the need of a boost. Let us be supportive of one another in all that we do as we strive to live well the life we have.