Money-Saving Meg Frames Frugal Friday Message

My awesome friend Meg: guest blogger

My friend Meg is guest posting today. Meg and I are very similar. We are both homemakers, we are both mothers of 3, we both value and desire a closer relationship with God…but as alike as we are, our differences are quite apparent.

I have absolutely no sense of fashion and I never have. I cannot shop for myself anywhere but in catalogs. Not because I don’t enjoy shopping — quite the opposite. It’s because I can’t tell what something will look like on me when it’s on a hanger. In a catalog, the models show me what clothes will look like when worn and I just kind of trust the fact that what they’re wearing is stylish and looks good. (Unfortunately for me, my size 4 model figure days are long behind me, so even if the clothes look one way on the models, chances are they’re going to look a different way on me!)

The older I get, the less I care. Give me a skirt, preferably one that hits my ankles, and match me a shirt, shoes/boots, purse, and a necklace to go with it, and I’m a happy woman.

Meg is more like my Kaylee and, when we met up recently one day, she and Kaylee were dressed very similarly, which warmed my heart. They have the eye. They know what works, they know what works with what, and they know how to find it.

So, today I hand my blog reins over to Meg, who will tell you how she does what she does with the budget she does it with, and I will allow you to be as impressed with her as I am:

    Gap knee-length denim skirt. Retail price $54.50. I purchased this skirt for $3.95
Gap knee-length denim skirt. Retail price $54.50. I purchased this skirt for $3.95
Faconnable classic oxford shirt. Retail price $155.00 I purchased this shirt for $2.98 ($5.95 less 50% sticker)
Coldwater Creek knit sweater. Retail price $89.95. I purchased this sweater for $4.95
Coldwater Creek knit sweater. Retail price $89.95. I purchased this sweater for $4.95
Fashion boots for Riley (almost new). I purchased these boots for $2.50
Fashion boots for Riley (almost new). I purchased these boots for $2.50
Brighton belt (never worn) Retail price (approx. since this belt is retired) $88.00. I purchased this belt for $7.48 ($14.95 less 50% sticker)
Umi boots for Riley (gently worn) retail price $64.00. I purchased these boots for $4.95

Carter's dress for Riley. I purchased this dress for $1.00 at a garage sale
The pendulum has swung as more and more people look for bargains in this down turned economy.  I have always considered myself a well-trained, experienced, patient, and excellent bargain shopper.  My mother raised me never to pay retail for anything; price is always negotiable when you experience the “thrill of the hunt.”  I was taught to look for brand names at bargain prices: TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Neiman Marcus Last Call, and Marshall’s beckoned my name once or twice a month.  I found everything I could possibly “want” or “need” for much less than the average person was accustomed to paying.  I don’t remember the last time I shopped a department store or visited a mall – perhaps it was Black Friday? Another day for rock-bottom pricing?!When I frequent these off-market retailers, even then, I refuse to pay their retail prices. I will make a bee line for the clearance section(s) in the hope of finding that particular deal of the day.I have learned, through years of experience and practice, there are some risks involved in this kind of shopping. You can never go and “expect” to find exactly what you are looking for. For example, I cannot go and assume I will find Ella a pink, size 4T, short sleeved, party dress. I may, if I am lucky, find it in green. I may not find it at all.

I think this is why some consumers are leery of bargain shopping. It can be exhausting, frustrating, and labor intensive. However, it is worth the savings to you and your family! It is money that can be used in more important, practical, and utilitarian aspects of financial planning! This is a very painful journey for me, personally, as I am accustomed to filling a, sometimes, void with unnecessary spending (even if it is bargain shopping).

This part of me is, embarrassingly, a constant work-in-progress.I am blessed to have a husband provide for our family in many ways. He is an excellent father–he is very involved in our kid’s lives. He’s not the type of dad that tells people, “I babysat my children this weekend”. We work together, as a team, to raise our children to be spiritually led, considerate, compassionate, well-behaved, bright, and thankful children.I am also blessed in the taboo, “should-we-really-discuss-it?”, area of personal finances; my husband makes a hearty salary. This hasn’t come easily; this has been ten years of very hard work, a lot of travel (for awhile I was more accustomed to not seeing my husband), a couple residential moves, and most recently, several company buyouts. I am mentioning this, not to be haughty nor to be arrogant, but rather to articulate and discredit the idea that those who may have more always spend more.

More importantly, just because you have it, whatever that extra figure may be, doesn’t mean you have to spend it. This is another lesson I am still trying to learn. Can I hear an amen? Amen. There is a blessing in this down turned economy: “keeping up with the Joneses” is no longer a trend and living within your means is en vogue. I love it!

I think we all have our financial crosses to bear. While we have, thus far, escaped a loss of a job and we haven’t suffered any other financial mishap, we have the burden of knowing we purchased our first home at the very peak of the real estate market. We bought in October 2006 and the market crashed about four (4) months later. Again, this was our first home so there was no equity or profit from another house, and there was no money put down. We have a monthly mortgage on an overpriced, 100% financed, and inflated piece of property. Yikes! I think this speaks to the overall demographic of those who have begun bargain shopping. No matter what your walk of life, race, ethnicity, or your debt-income ratio, we are all scaling back for one reason or another.

We made the decision to remove Riley from her public school environment next year and, instead, place her in a wonderful, private, and Christian-based environment for First grade. This decision was not made lightly and my husband and I had to discuss how we were going to make this happen. When I mentioned my husband made a hearty salary, please note I said “hearty,” and not “hefty”. We still had to go to the drawing board and thoroughly investigate our finances to determine what could be cut out completely and what could be lessened. For us, there is no price tag on an amazing spiritual and educational journey. Therefore, we eliminated our eating-out budget, we made our second car a paid-off 1992 Volvo wagon, and alas, I lost a large portion of my shopping budget. So, what gives?

I decided to garage sale, consignment sale, and consignment store shop for Riley, Ella, and myself. My goodness! I had no idea what an assortment of incredible, beautiful, and “excellent condition” clothing was out there. I have been able to finagle Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer wardrobes for all three girls in this house (myself included,) for approximately $100 apiece. Suddenly, this kind of shopping made TJ Maxx and the like look ridiculously expensive! I think it’s true what they say–it’s all relative. I always thought I was getting the best bang for my buck, however, it wasn’t until we really pulled in the monetary reigns I realized you can still find creative and fun ways to stretch the dollar. The interesting and best thing is, not only does it feel wonderful to accomplish this frugal feat, but the real gifts are infinite.

I know my children are as well-dressed, cute, and “put-together” as any child out there (this is the human side of me!) but, more importantly, I know my spiritual heart is in the right place because I put even greater things first. My eldest daughter will have the best God-based education I can possibly give her because we are consuming less and spending less. I have also, with God’s guidance, taught my children that less is more when it comes to personal possessions. I hope I have, in essence, begun a spiritual path that will envelop my children for years to come.

Hopefully, I will be able to talk Meg into making many more guest appearances!


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