Yes, it's been a while, and I'm not really back. I'm not sure I'll ever be back to where I was a year or two ago...but I'm back for now, and I'll tell you a few things that have changed:
1. I'm pregnant - 22 weeks along and due on Feb. 7
2. I'm homeschooling for the first time.
3. Over the summer I moved across town. Closer to church but not as convenient to some of my favorite stores...so I am making friends with new stores.
Now...let me make a few confessions:
1. I clipped and sorted coupons on Thursday night (during Grey's)...for the first time since MAY. That's four months of not keeping up with my coupons.
2. I am almost out of ECBs (from CVS). I have $7 of ECBs. I used to freak when I got below $30 in ECBs. I am almost ready to spend them all so I don't have to keep up with them. Twice over the past few months I have let two ECBs expire...but the cashiers were kind enough to take them anyway. My point: I'm not CVSing like I used to.
3. I have almost completely stopped doing Walgreen's.
4. My food stockpile is depleted. I actually am having to buy some staples when I need them rather than "shop" for them out of my pantry from getting them at rock bottom prices.
5. Overall...I'm just not the same money-saving guru I was this time last year.
Why do I share all of this? Well, I am learning that in different stages of life, there are different things I am (and am not) capable of juggling. This time last year, Hunter was in Pre-K four mornings/week, and Millie and I had two mornings with no commitments. There was lots of time to piddle and deal hunt. Not so much anymore. My mornings are full of school, and my afternoons are full of fatigue from the little one growing within.
While my life has changed quite a bit in the last four months, there are a few things that we have stuck with that have helped our finances not go south even though my couponing (to a degree) has:
1. Still paying with cash. My monthly grocery budget has not changed, but I do cut it a lot closer every month. I used to always end the month under budget. Confession: Over the summer, I went over on my grocery budget more than once. I have been determined to stay in budget, though, so I have been reducing the next month's budget by what I went over during the previous month. Make sense? Sorry if it doesn't. I am hoping to be back on track by the end of October (since I still went over by about $30 in September). When I pay with cash, however, I quickly see that I am close or am not going to make it, and I can plan to get back on track much easier.
2. Still menu planning. It's hard. My October menu is only halfway done, but it is on my coffee table beckoning for me to finish it. I am not cooking ahead as much as I have in the past. Our kitchen is smaller (which isn't a good excuse), but my energy is lower, so I am good to get a hot meal on the table. By sticking to my menu, I have been able to do that (for the most part).
I guess this time in my life has been teaching me the value of my time vs. the value of my money. Both have value, and I want to steward them wisely. I guess I also have to weigh the cost of my energy. There is only so much to go around these days, and I am willing to spend a little more money to get my shopping done at one store than go carting my kids (and my pregnant body) across Orlando searching for the best deals. I used to do that, and I might find that fun and worth it again someday...but for now I need that energy for my kids, their schooling, and the one growing within.
Just some things I have been pondering since I went silent for the summer. This maven is still on a mission. I still love a good deal. I am still frugal, and I still strive to steward well our finances. BUT...I am realizing that our money is not the only thing I am a steward over. I am a steward of my children, my marriage, my body, my home, my time, my energy, my ministry, and more. I want to care well for all that God has entrusted to me.
I'll be back with more deals...especially as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. It's a great time to get back on board with playing the money saving game. All in moderation, though. I can't do it all...and neither can you. So we'll do it (and not do it) together.
Until I'm back again...go save or spend something wisely...your money, energy, or your time...because they are ALL of great value.