Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Little Boxes

I remember as a child, there was nothing more interesting (or more unattainable) in a grocery store than that eight-pack of miniature cereal boxes. "Too overpriced," my dad would say, clutching his coupon for the Malt-O-Meal brand. I hated that my dad used a coupon for everything. I really thought he was cheap.

Fast forward many years. Now I'm the grown-up grocery shopper, and boy, little miniature boxes of cereal really ARE overpriced. What a rip off! Those incredibly expensive grains, however, have really played a part in how I approach the topic of frugality with my children. You see, my dad approached frugality more from a poverty standpoint, though he wasn't impoverished. It seems to me as I look back my dad's attitude and approach, frugality was more about doing without than it was about being financially responsible. (That may not have been his mindset, but that often was his presentation.)

With my own children, I find that I am more prone to spoiling and I struggle to really help them understand that money does not grow on trees. I want them respect money: neither to take it for granted, nor to live with a deep fear about there not being enough. I find with my kids, maintaining a happy balance with regards to frugality can be a challenge. What I've been doing lately is making sure that I explain to Gracie and Bub that we do what we do to save money (use coupons, do with less, do without, or whatever) because we want to be wise and responsible, and will perhaps follow up with an example. I intentionally try to not snap back with comments like "too overpriced" or to imply that there's not enough (even if there's not enough). Additionally, we focus on our many blessings and discuss them frequently. I'm hoping that by implementing these small measures, my children will embrace an attitude of gratitude, living with that as their focus instead of just seeing me as cheap.

Though there have been regrettable times of overspending in our family, for the most part, implementing the practices of frugality has been instrumental to our way of life. As a general practice, we would save money in one category so that we may do more in others. In the past, we may have eliminated an entertainment budget so that we could apply the savings towards making a large purchase. Right now, I'm working hard to cut various household budgets more dramatically so that I can increase our giving budget and provide clean water to some thirsty folks. You get the idea.

Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge recently posted her discovery of the dollar store, and I couldn't help but chime in that dollar stores have been part of my savings repertoire for some time.

When we lived in Oklahoma, I would shop at Dollar Tree from time to time, but the local franchise really didn't have a great selection. There was a privately-owned dollar store in our hometown that offered name brand products for the same $1.00, and I found myself shopping there more than at Dollar Tree.

When we moved to Texas a few years ago, I promptly discovered the 99 Cents Only Store, which is a frugal mama's mecca. The first time I went into a 99 Cents Only store, I thought I was just going into another chain dollar store full of obscure products and hand towels. I was surprised to discover that the 99 Cents Only store is different from Dollar Tree and other dollar stores in so many ways.

In addition to the various items found in your average dollar store, the 99 Cents Only store has a refrigerated and frozen section, a produce section, a diet foods section, and a gourmet foods section. They have live plants, lovely stationary, and some home goods worth having in your home. The 99 Cents Only store has seen our family through a interstate move, a new job, an unexpected layoff, another new job, a looooooooong time before commissions kicked in, and unexpected medical expenses. The savings we've experienced by shopping there has truly saved us time and again. The 99 Cents Only Store is also where I inexpensively spoil my inner child as I occasionally pick up that eight pack of little cereal boxes for, you guessed it, 99 cents.


  • taralynn819

    I love dollar stores...just not the ones who claim "dollar status" but charge $3 or $4 or $8 for some products, and can rip you off if you don't look at the price per ounce or quantity because they have you thinking everything in the dollar store is the best deal. I've been ripped many a time! Best to keep my mental price book handy.


    Hey thanks for your advice! It's funny you mentioned cleaning services because both my mom and my mom-in-law clean houses for a living - how about that! I have thought about the 2x/month situation like you said, but I guess I feel like since cleaning is in my genes, I have no excuse...expecially since we live in a little 2 bedroom condo! I'm such a wuss!

    The idea to get together with a friend sounds like a great idea. I just may implement that when once we live in a house big enough for a chest freezer. Oh, those luxury items!!! Sometimes I do make meals in large quanties and freeze a couple servings of leftovers, or make a few rounds of pizza dough to freeze, but we do have limited freezer space. Where would I put all my Fla-vo-ice pops??? ;)

    I did learn a couple things about freezing. Potatoes and pasta do NOT freeze well! I'll keep experimenting, though.

    Fly Lady is a hoot! :)

  • Emily (Laundry and Lullabies)

    I've never shopped at the 99 cent store (although there is one reasonably close to me) because I always assumed that it was just like Dollar General (yuck!) Your description makes it sound much nicer, though, so I think I'm going to check it out. My favorite way to "spoil" myself is with pretty stationary and cards, so maybe this would be a good place to do it frugally!

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