Over the years I’ve won a few battles on the frugal front, but I have lost nearly as many as I’ve won. One idea that I can’t sell my wife (or myself) on is making our own homemade laundry detergent. According to various recipes out there for homemade laundry detergent I can probably get the costs down below what we spend for the family size containers of Tide at Sam’s Club. But is it really worth the few dollars saved?
Like anything else, frugality has opposite extremes. There are those that rinse Ziploc bags, reuse aluminum foil, make their own homemade laundry detergent, and only buy things for which they have a coupon. I’ve done a few of these things at some point, but none of them with any real consistency. I applaud those who do, but it just isn’t for us.
In the past I’ve written about people who will live on Ramen noodles for weeks and then buy something completely unnecessary like a new GPS unit or an iPhone. There’s nothing wrong with these particular items if you enjoy that sort of thing, but if those who covet them simply ate regular meals and passed on a few goodies they could live a much more balanced life. That balance is really at the heart of this entire discussion about money.
A Balancing Act
While we do collect a few coupons, we are not obsessive. We prefer to wash our clothes in store-bought detergent. We will never buy cheap paper products–paper towels, toilet paper, etc. (Yes, I know the 1-ply stuff is cheaper, but seriously, you have to use twice as much and…okay, this is getting a little too personal!). As I was saying, there are a few things we simply are not willing to give up, or scale back on, and we are blessed to be able to make those choices.
Over the last few days I’ve spent a good deal of time reflecting on past purchase decisions that I have regretted, or lamented about the trapped feeling brought on by debt, but I don’t want to give the impression that I am miserable. To the contrary, I am quite happy. The last thing I want to do is create a complete anti-consumer attitude here at Frugal Dad. I don’t advocate becoming a hermit and only coming out of your cave when there’s a sale on your favorite brand of toothpaste. After all, life is to be enjoyed.
I wonder how many people out there use frugality as a front for a perpetual poor attitude. It is true that some people are simply afraid of success, so they consciously make bad decisions to purposefully repel success. At least some of those people probably call themselves frugal as justification for never having any money to spend. I don’t want that to be you. Don’t be afraid of success. Be frugal, but enjoy this life we’ve been blessed with. Be frugal to build wealth so you can use it to brighten the lives of others.
If you are like me and refuse to make your own homemade laundry detergent, perhaps you can hang a clothesline to dry your clothes as another way to save money doing laundry. Maybe your hang up is health food–you simply refuse to purchase cheap, processed junk from the supermarket. That’s perfectly fine, and not a bad idea, but give up soft drinks or alcohol or some other culinary indulgence to balance out the costs of food. Life is about making choices, and finding the right balance for you and yours.
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