From “Conveniencing Ourselves to Death” to I’m Dying for Convenience!
Last year I wrote about how as a society we seem to be “Conveniencing Ourselves to Death” with everything from Keurigs to brand-new cars. My call was not to forsake all convenience, but to choose to consciously draw a line on what we are willing to pay (financially and otherwise) for convenience.
My line has moved.
I recently discovered several amazing modern conveniences: yogurt cups, frozen pizzas, the electric clothes dryer, and Walmart grocery pick up.
There was a day when I marveled at how exorbitantly expensive and eco-unfriendly things like yogurt cups and using the dryer were. I’d make my own yogurt for the cost of milk, or at least buy the big container and scoop it into portions. Now I can’t stand the thought of more cooking or dishes, and we are living the high life shelling out for yogurt cups.
There was also a time when I couldn’t handle the thought paying anything higher than ALDI prices. Now I break out in a sweat of both exertion and embarrassment as I spend what feels like an eternity clumsily trying to speed-bag a cart brimming with food, with 2+ kids in tow. Walmart, I will give you all my money if you put those yogurt cups and frozen pizzas straight into my mini-van, thank you very much! (Although I still go to ALDI to stock up on certain favorites.)
And forget pretending to be warm. We upped the thermostat to 67 degrees this winter and I didn’t have to layer myself in wool and long-underwear and still feel frigid all winter.
Not to mention we went from spending nothing on childcare for the first four years of parenting, to paying a babysitter weekly during our home church, and sometimes for dates as well.
Speaking of dates? I produce 3 meals a day, nearly every single day, for 5 people. That’s over 400 meals a month. Someone please take me out to a nice dinner once a month; I need a break! A break that’s better than frozen pizza!
Recently, when my sister needed a ride from the airport at 5 am on my other sister’s wedding day, I paypaled her for an Uber. Because I am at the point in my life where I will pay for sleep.
All this to say, the value of convenience has gone way up for me in the wake of having three kids, plus a lot else going on. While I tried finding my way back to frugal post-baby, what I really found was the value of my time and energy. I’m too busy and tired to be bagging countless pounds of groceries and hanging 5 loads of laundry per week.
I doubt the minutiae of my laundry and cooking life is of much interest to you, but here’s the takeaway: what frugal looks like depends on the season of life you’re in. And of course, how frugal you need to be.
This also means that it doesn’t make sense to compare yourself to the “extreme frugality” accounts you might read about. Frugality is not a competition. Don’t feel badly if you can’t keep up with the Frugals. That said, it’s still great to get ideas, motivation, and inspiration from one another. And if there’s no or little cost upfront, it usually doesn’t hurt to try out a thrifty strategy to see if it’s worth your while.
Lest you think we’ve completely abandoned “pretending,” tune in next week for my thoughts on the most bang-for-your-buck ways to stay frugal when life is busy!
How have your expenses changed over time? What is your favorite convenience item or service?
Oh, such a good reminder! Sometimes I beat myself up that we aren’t the most frugal. we do a lot of frugal things, but even though we only have a 1 year old, this year has been so hard with post partum depression and a husband who travels for work a lot that I’ve had to be okay with letting some frugal things go so that instead I can keep functioning and keep our family mostly content. Especially since our little family has less time together thanks to all the work travel, I don’t want to spend all the time when hubbys home doing frugal things, I want to spend time together
Yes, your mental health and family time are definitely higher values than family time. I think we are learning that frugality may look different in different seasons of life.
THIS. I love saving money; I love helping the environment. But I can’t do or care about everything all the time. String cheese are pricey compared to cheese blocks I cut myself but they stay fresh forever and both I and my son can eat one when we are feeling hangry and calm down. I used to buy more of my clothes from Goodwill and other thrift stores but I moved and my new area’s thrift stores do not organize by size. I’m plus size and normally thrift stores had 6 items or less that even fit me. It is not worth my hours to comb through an entire store to MAYBE find a shirt I want.
My favorite conveniences are 1) Chef Boyardee for my son. when I can’t make another meal, my son will gobble an entire can up with no complaints and tons of compliments. and 2) grocery delivery for those completely overwhelming weeks where I just do not have the time to even leave the house. I will gladly pay someone $11 to not only fetch my groceries but to bring them into my house and place them on my counters so I can put them away. Are these pricey and/or not very nutritious yes? yes. Have they prevented me having a sobbing breakdown in my bathroom? yes.
I’m excited to read next week’s article!
It was revolutionary when I started buying string cheese! LOL So handy! I’ve gone through phases where thrifting is not possible/not worth my time with little ones, and some things are not worth sorting through there ever.
It’s hard to put a price on your own sanity! Of course, there are limits to what we each find reasonable to pay for, but giving yourself some little breaks is so valuable, especially with a little kid in the mix.
Great ARTICLE! The day I accepted that my time was worth more than the extra measures needed to save a few bucks – was the best life hack, parenting moment, whatever you want to call it – I ever realized.
I still look for a deal, I love the thrill of saving money – BUT – I also love having some energy for my now teenagers and even a little me time as well. Will the line move backwards again…quite likely….but it should be flexible. Great ARTICLE!
It is a great thing to realize–with each kid that line has moved but I feel like it jumped with baby #3! And yes, having time for your kids and yourself are worth more than the few bucks you’d save in some of the smaller savings measures.
I also remember the days of trying to do anything with small ones in tow. It gets “easier” as they get older.
Conveniences do change based on life situations – while on vacation is our most recent example of this. I never use paper plates at home but vacation, that’s another thing. I don’t want to spend vacation time washing dishes!