Tuesday, June 8, 2010

frugality & the not at all frugal lifestyle that we've chosen

Coupons. I love them. I've loved them since I was a wee lass working in a cavernous, flourescently-lighted grocery store in high school. I love that by wielding a small slip of paper, I magically don't have to pay full price for something, kind of like a free pass to cut in line at any roller coaster at a theme park. I just love them. I love them even more when my grocery bill has essentially skyrocketed and has maintained an average well above yesteryear. I've blogged about this before and won't rehash too much here, I hope, but maintaining a clean, clothed, fed baby and trying to live a greener, more organic lifestyle doesn't allow for a smaller budget. No, no...the credit card has not been forgotten in my daily life. Bertha serves me well.

Don't judge me too much, there's a reason that Bertha holds the honorary spot in my wallet. When we got married, Ben and I made a conscious decision to put everything that we could on one credit card for a couple of reasons, none of which go along with how we were raised. None of our parents utilize credit cards to any great extent, and I was strongly encouraged, lectured, and cajoled by my mother a LOT to stick to cash. I hate carrying cash! I really do!! I have such a hard time keeping track of how much money I spend when I use just cash (which seems counter-intuitive, I know) and I despise going back to the ATM so much since I'm not willing to carry more than $20-$30 unless I absolutely have to. Give me plastic of some type any day. When I opened my first checking account, I was firmly devoted to my bank card and used that for everything, never touching a credit card. And, despite my mother's lamentations, I never had an overage on that account (save for the one time that I deposited my paycheck in someone else's bank account...a problem that was assuredly my fault but quickly enough rectified and forgiven, a benefit of living in a small town where the banker kinda sorta knows you). And once we got married and found a credit card that gives us free stuff and points and miles just for using it, Ben and I gladly accepted their proposal. A win-win for us: we have *never* not paid a monthly bill on time, always check our monthly statements, and have traveled free to San Francisco. We have twice as many miles saved up now; where will we go next?!??!?

But back to coupons. I love them, and quite enjoy scrounging through my Sunday paper every week and organizing my little coupon wallet. Two things that make that easy for me to do is 1.) I read the newspaper every day and it's already delivered to me and 2.) I revel in organization. (Look at my desk at school...five years and nothing has changed about it.)

The problem is two-fold. I'm not so savvy with the on-line coupon sites though I've tried and tried to use them to my advantage. That's not as fun to me as riffling through tangible newspaper circulars. And, these sites are not geared toward my lifestyle. I rarely find coupons that are for my kind of products. There just aren't any coupons for organic broccoli, milk, and cereal. There just aren't. And, especially in the last 5 months, around 20-25% of my total purchase is produce. I just can't get these items for free. As much as I love free and greatly reduced products, at what cost? We just don't eat Tostinos though I see great coupons and deals for them all of the time. I can only buy so many disposable razors. Paying $.017 for a container of Easy Mac may be a steal, but is the sodium and fat and chemically-ness worth it?

I've said it before, but watching the movie "Food, Inc." really helped solidify a lot of reasoning in my mind for why I can't with a good conscious buy Easy Mac. It's not that I'm trying to dissuade everyone from giving up their brightly oranged hued macaroni, I'm just lamenting the lack of frugality that my lifestyle incurs. If eating and living more healthily means that I have to spend an extra $20/week and work in the kitchen for a little longer every week, I'll do it. Is Abby's long term health worth it? Ab(by)solutely.

I remember telling people, who promptly laughed at me, that whenever I had children, I was going to give up (as much as I could) desserts and such because I don't want my children to eat like I used to do, and it's not fair to ask them to do what I'm not willing to do. For the sake of my child/ren, I am consciously trying to promote a generally healthier lifestyle, which coupons just can't seem to support.

Coupons, I love you, and will continue clipping you. It's not you, it's me. We just aren't seeing as much of each other these days. Can we just be friends?


The Erudite Lit-ite said...

don't mock my subject/verb agreement issue...

The Erudite Lit-ite said...

I forgot one of my main points...how much is the cost of printing coupons off-set by the coupons? I also admit that it's enough of a hassle to hook my laptop up to the printer to print off a $.50 off coupon that it's rarely worth it to me.

Crystal said...

Speaking of hooking your laptop up to the printer, work is getting a most beautiful docking station for me to match the laptop I'll start using in a week, and I am so excited about it. If I'm in a position to buy a new home computer again, I would seriously consider a laptop plus docking station. By the way, as you might have noticed it isn't until today, July 31, that I've gotten around to reading any posting since March. But it doesn't mean that I love you any less. :-)