This has been a year that will be remembered for a long time as the year of the “Great Recession.” Many people have had to reevaluate their spending habits in light of the new realities of the world around us. Since 1996, my wife and I have been missionaries with CLC International and have had to learn the lessons of frugality firsthand. Having grown up as an MK (missionary kid) and not having had a lot of material things as a boy, it was easy for me to slip into a form of materialism in my early twenties before joining CLC. Learning the lessons of frugality were very difficult at first, but it has become a source of joy and adventure as I have gotten older. Here are some tips for those of you who may be struggling with this issue or are just interested in living more simply.
1. You don’t have to buy books in order to read them. No, I am not advocating stealing them either. However, our local public library has become a treasure trove for Deb and I. Learning to use their online resources and reserving books in advance have allowed us to read new books as soon as they have come on the market for sale. Your local library really does stock Christian books as well as great secular tomes. By the way, if you do decide to buy a Christian book, be sure to check out your local CLC store or our CLC website.
2. You don’t have to join an expensive health club to stay in shape. Our family recently joined our local YMCA and got a scholarship that greatly reduced our monthly costs based on our family income (or the lack thereof). This has allowed us to work on staying fit while not breaking our meager budget.
3. You don’t have to pay full price at the movies. We have our car insurance through GEICO (this is not a plug for GEICO as I believe that other insurance companies offer similar things), and they have a rewards program that allows us to buy movie tickets for only $6.50 each when full price tickets in our area are now over $10.00.
4. You really can save money on groceries every day without using coupons. We have literally saved hundreds of dollars over the years shopping at ALDI. This grocery store chain is nationwide and offers discounts on its generic products every day. Though the selection is not as extensive as a regular grocery store, they have most of the basics and the savings are well worth it.
5. Board games really are fun and provide lasting memories. Not all fun and entertainment has to cost money. Our family has enjoyed hours of playing board games, particularly “Settlers of Catan,” and we always look forward to our extended family vacation in the summer when my sister and her husband introduce us to new games each year.
If these ideas have piqued your interest or you have great ideas of your own, please comment.