From Impulsiveness to Frugality
I don’t profess to always being so frugal. Any saving I did before was out of necessity, not desire.
A little over three four years ago, I was a single mom and career woman. I lived paycheck to paycheck and it was only by the grace of God and because my mom had taught me how to rob Peter to pay Paul, that I even got by. I shopped clearance sales, thrift stores and garage sales for clothes and other items and I only bought generic and sale items at the grocery store but there was no strategy or discipline to how I handled my money. I also tended to be a little (read “very”) impulsive when it came to the things I wanted or thought I “needed”.
Then I met my husband. My strong, disciplined, self-controlled, frugal, responsible husband who also happened to be self-employed and make quite a good living for himself. I loved him for his fear of God, because he was an awesome father, a hard worker and he had a smile that knocked my socks off. We also had the same sense of humor.
After 18 months of dating and moving from New Mexico to Oklahoma, we were married. I don’t know that I ever really sat down and mapped out my expectations for marriage to John but I do know that somewhere in my subconscious I imagined this….more financial freedom! I imagined not having to worry about how much groceries cost. I imagined not having to watch every nickel and dime I spent on clothing. And part of that expectation came true. Thanks be to God, we have never had to worry about the things we need. And in most cases we have much more than we need.
The part that didn’t come true was that I would NOT have to watch everything I spent. In that first year of marriage, my husband kept such a tight rein on the finances, I thought I was going to scream…I think I did a few times (well, more than a few!). I received my personal weekly allowance and my household budget money and anything on top of that was cleared through John. And then one day John questioned me about the grocery budget. This was the final straw for me. After so much time on my own, and doing things my way (even if my way was unwise) I had a very hard time coming under John’s authority where finances were concerned.
Now lest you think my husband to be a boar or a miser or unjust in any way, let me tell you what I have learned about him. There are very few decisions my husband makes or actions he commits without very careful thought and consideration in a couple of areas: what would God want me to do in this instance and what will be in the best interests of my family. I have not met many men who take their accountability before God as the head of the home quite as seriously as my man. But before I realized this….
I cried out to God. I complained to God. I pleaded with God. I begged God. Sometimes I just sat in mortified silence before God. But mostly I cried, complained and begged for God to change my husband and make him see my side of things. I bet you’re wondering……..did God answer my prayer? Yep, he sure did! Did He change my husband? In some ways, looking back over the last three years, I guess He did. BUT…He changed me first!!
Little by little God started to show me that I needed to trust HIM for my security. For my well-being. He showed me that He had brought John into my life to counteract my impulsiveness with his caution. To shed strength upon my weaknesses. And God showed me that it was my place not to fight John, but to come alongside him and support him in his God-given role as the head of our home.
Instead of praying for God to change John, I found myself asking God to show me what I could do (besides refraining from nagging and complaining) to come alongside my husband financially and let him know that I was in this fight with him.
Then one day I was reading the Edmond Outlook and there was an article about an Edmond woman who had mastered the art of couponing and called herself the “coupon queen”. Her name was Melissa Garcia and she had started a website: CouponQueen.com (now ConsumerQueen.com) which taught others how to stretch their dollars as far as they could go using coupons and customer rewards programs. I registered as a member on her site and began to pour over all the forums, taking in everything I could about using coupons. I began to buy two Sunday papers every week just for the coupons and printed out tons of coupons from on-line sources. I learned not only to use coupons but how to use them strategically and I learned to use Register Rewards and Extra Care Bucks to benefit my family.
Before long, my cupboards were overflowing with groceries, personal care and other household items and I had cut back our grocery budget by $40 a week. Every time I came home from the store, I bragged to my husband about how much I had saved or how much I had gotten for free. He began to tease me a little and roll his eyes but I could tell he was pleased.
Now as I look back over the last three four years, I can see how the hand of God has moved in our marriage in so many ways, all starting with placing a desire in my heart to honor my husband. And today, my husband trusts me when I say “we need to buy this” or “I need extra money for this”. Mainly because he knows I now cringe at paying for things like toothpaste or body wash when I can get them for free with the right sale and that the highlight of my week is to see how big of a PROFIT I can make when I shop at CVS.
But the best part of all is that at the end of the day, when the house is quiet and it’s just me and my Lord, I can honestly say, “I did the best I could with what YOU have given me”.