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Extreme Frugality to Live within Your Means?

Don’t you wish you could just get control of your finances? Meet the Carters – this family of six took on extremely frugality to do just that.

The great recession has caused many of us to face the cold hard facts about our finances. Last year, Mr. Carter really took a close look at this Social Security statement and realized what he’s made.

“We were spending for years way more than we made. We were averaging $41,000 a year [chuckles] for 10 years but we were spending like we were making $120,000.

It was at that time Mr. and Mrs. Carter decided it was time for the family – two parents, four children – to live within their means and they did it cold turkey. When all the bills were paid, they learned they only had about $550 to live. It was then the family was quick to learn some frugal habits.

Frugality to the max

Here are some of the frugal practices the family now puts in place:

  • No more buying convenient individual size snack packs, this family makes their own applesauce or buys a big jar to lower the price.
  • No more supermarket bread by the loaf, they buy a big sack of bread flour to make their own loaf each week.
  • Need eggs? They raise their own chickens where the kids help to care for them and collect the eggs.
  • Now mom hangs up the laundry instead of using the dryer.
  • In the near future, Mr. Carter wants to start farming winter vegetables on their 40 acre lot.

Become financially responsible

Many of us were forced to become responsible for our finances when our economy failed and were forced to learn some of the frugal habits our elders practiced during the depression. Even though it hit us hard, I believe this wake up call was necessary. It is my hope – especially as a personal finance blogger who is going through my own financial perils – that people will seek guidance and practice good habits of saving money, making financial goals, and living within their means.

I know it is all too easy to succumb to upsizing a fast food meal to adding that extra sale the cashier persuaded you to buy, but ask yourself before you accept, “is this item really necessary? Do I really need it?” Ninety-nine percent of the time you won’t need it.

And if you have kids who whine and add the extra dose of persuasion for you to put that item on the checkout counter that will keep them happy for the next twenty minutes – catch your whit and tell them, “no” – or explain that if they have the money then they can purchase it if they really want it.

Again, ninety-nine percent of the time they will not want it. Their money is too precious to spend on such an item. And the next 20 minutes might lead them to become cranky that you didn’t buy it, but they will survive and so will you.

Take a step up

Perhaps we all need to take a look at our finances and put some frugal practices into play; to stop wasting what we work so hard for. Learn from our grandparents and their grandparents for key ideas to living frugal (it wasn’t a choice for most of them to live this way, it was second nature). Take the Carters learned habits above and a few more like:

  • Packing a lunch for work
  • Reusing items in the house another purpose.
  • Learning to make meals from scratch, grow some of your produce, and never waste food.

Then put that extra money saved into our savings and retirement accounts. I think many people would be surprised how fast the money will grow when making a conscious effort.

We might whine and complain like our children not getting their way, but we will learn after repetitive motion to adapt to our practices that are going to secure our future and teach our children to be financially responsible. So, don’t wait another day. Stop cold turkey and take control of your finances like the Carters did.

(photo credit: Chiot’s Run)