This morning, David fired up Excel and Quicken and took a look at how we've done with cutting costs since we started in earnest a month ago. The figures for the month of November were very encouraging! Even with having to pay our car registration for the year, we still came out much better than in October!
I was afraid when he started up the program that we'd find out that we hadn't saved anything. You know how it is. You try so hard to make some change, losing weight, giving up your massive Dr. Pepper consumption, etc., and it seems like progress is incredibly slow or doesn't come at all. It would've been hard on me if this had been like that. It's nice to see improvement.
I was also encouraged by my response to the monthly report. Instead of thinking, "We're doing well. We can loosen up some," I thought, "Oooh, where I can I make more cuts?" Success led to renewed vigor for the task in this case. It isn't always like that with me, I'm afraid. I'm attributing God's grace in my life for all the contentment I feel in this area at the moment. I may fade in the stretch at any time, but right now, I'm enjoying any victories that come my way.
This week, a lot of thoughts have been rolling around in my head about the nature of contentment and enjoyment of little things and general thankfulness. It's easy to worry about our stability and security in this economy, even though we're probably more secure with David's job now than we have ever been. It's easy to be afraid that the massive upheaval in the housing market will hurt us somehow, despite everything that we do to try and be responsible.
I've also been thinking about how I come across in the area of finances and frugality. I really enjoy the hunt for a good deal, and I like talking about the ways I've saved money on particular items. It's on my mind, and I generally talk about whatever's on my mind at the moment, in case you hadn't noticed. =) But I don't want others to think that I'm obsessed with saving money. Coming across as a tightwad pennypincher is not what I'm going for.
This phrase has stuck in my head for years, and I don't remember where I heard it. "When you're being frugal with yourself, that's admirable. When you're being frugal with others, that's being cheap." My goal is to be frugal with myself so that I can be generous with others. If I save money by denying myself stuff that I don't really care about all that much in the long run, then I have more to give to others.
I also don't want money to ever come in the way of creating and nurturing relationships. David and I are far more likely to go out to dinner or lunch with other people than we are to go out on our own. For many people, hosting dinner or lunch in their homes isn't something they're comfortable doing. So we go to out dinner as a means of getting to know others better, and we don't think about it too much. It's a part of the our culture, and it's ok to do this some.
There's a fine line between enjoying a good bargain and complaining constantly about how much things cost. I don't want to be a person who seems to be always complaining about money. I have to check my tongue if I'm in a complaining mood, and I know I don't check it often enough. I worry more than I should that we won't be able to afford to buy a home in the part of town where we now live, but I need to bite my tongue and rest in God's provision for us. He'll provide something perfect in His time, and I know that. But anyway, I have friends and family members who often complain about their expenses, even to the point of complaining that they had to eat out with a friend at a place where they wouldn't have normally chosen to dine since it cost a bit more than they wanted to spend. I don't want to go there. Life is too short. It's too easy to complain, but it's not prudent. I don't want to be known as someone who speaks or thinks too much about pinching pennies. If you're noticing this about me, please tell me to stop. It's a bad habit of mine, I think.
I know this has been a ramble. David and Seth are napping, and we're in the midst of raking the fall leaves, and Wendy and Jon are coming to dinner. I'm still dizzy, but it's getting some better. I'm going to wait another week before I attempt to do anything else about it. Have a great Saturday!