I went for years without buying bread. Instead I made my own homemade bread. One of the main reasons I decided to make all of our family’s bread was for the savings that came from not going to the store as frequently. When you live in the boonies it’s nice to be able to take care of your own needs and not have to run to the store for staples. While it was work (bread doesn’t bake itself), I got satisfaction in being self-sufficient. To top it all off, homemade bread just tastes better!
When I got pregnant with out most recent bundle of joy (born in April), something had to give. I was exhausted and felt awful for the first couple months. I was lucky if I could manage to stand up in the kitchen while I packed lunches for my husband and kids, let alone make the sandwich bread from scratch. It wasn’t too long into my pregnancy that I decided that buying bread was worth it to me now.
For a while I would feel guilty when I would notice people were pinning my post about how homemade bread is helping to pay off our law school debt. What would readers think if they knew that I was *gasp* buying bread.
On top of buying bread, I tossed Cereal Sundays out the window. Cold cereal went from being a special breakfast reserved just for Sunday mornings, to a daily staple of sanity.
I felt like a hypocrite.
In a post about debt fatigue, I talked about buying bread and said that sometimes it’s better to break your frugal rules a little and save your sanity. At that point I hadn’t even told my family that I was expecting, but when my sister saw that I was getting store-bought bread, she called me and said “Are you pregnant?” Another friend also told me that when she saw that I was too exhausted to make bread she figured I was expecting.
Now that my baby is almost four months old, I am mostly back in the habit of making bread. We also make hot breakfasts most days. We’re back in the old frugal saddle again.
That’s great, but it doesn’t mean that I was bad for buying bread and cold cereal when I was pregnant or had a newborn.
Embracing the changes in our seasons will free us from the guilt that we tend to feel when we try to do it all or compare ourselves to others.
Seasons Create Habits
My sister has miserable pregnancies and throws up multiple times a day. Mine aren’t anywhere near as bad. When she was pregnant with her fourth, she started sending her husband’s dress shirts to the dry cleaner along with his suits. The shirts don’t require dry cleaning and could be washed and ironed at home, but she was in such bad shape that she just couldn’t manage it.
She planned to go back to taking care of her husband’s shirts after the baby was born, but now that her baby is a year old, she’s still sending her husband’s dress shirts to the dry cleaner. It’s within their budget, so she made the conscious decision to continue having his dress shirts professionally cleaned. That is totally fine! She tries to save money by looking for coupons locally and finding deals on sites like Groupon and Living Social.
It may be important to break out of some seasonal spending habits after the reason for the spending is over. At other times, new seasons in our life can help us step outside our routine and re-evaluate long-standing habits to decide if they are still helpful in our current situation.
Seasons are Personal
It’s part of our nature to judge. It’s tempting to look at someone and wonder why they are spending where they could save (or saving where they could spend). Making decisions about how the seasons of life will affect our finances is personal for each of us. Not only do we not understand what someone else’s “season” involves, but it just plain isn’t our business.
In fact, it’s actually refreshing to realize that we only have to be concerned with what we have control over. We each have the freedom to decide for ourselves, based on our own situation, whether it’s a time to save or a time to spend.
We all go through frugal fluctuations. In some seasons of life we are willing to do more to save money than in others. Are you in a spending season or a saving season?
How about you?
- How have different seasons in your life affected whether you spend or save?
- How have your habits (good or bad) been established in different seasons in your life?
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Mrs. Jim says
Good Lord! I wish all you hard working, pregnant mommies would lighten the hell up on yourselves. I know – I did stupid stuff to when I was pregnant, but watching my daughter do the same things drives me nuts. Good for you for cutting yourself some slack – good for you, your family and everyone’s sanity.
[email protected] says
I completely agree with you–there has to be grace. It can sometimes be easier for us as women to give other people grace than to cut ourselves some slack. I always struggle when I’m breastfeeding. I find that I’m even more tired than when I am pregnant. During the year after each of my children’s births, I needed to allow myself more room in my budget for convenience foods.
Thank you for this post- it is very timely. I was just contemplating this morning the idea that only I can decide which budget decisions are right for me. There is seldom any objective right or wrong, yet I always feel as though I should be accountable to some unseen authority. I appreciate that someone like you, who I consider a model budgeter, would acknowledge this.
Don’t ever, ever feel guilty for taking a short-cut while you’re pregnant, any of you young people!
I’m a granny, I was pregnant 42 years ago— and I can still remember the awful sickness, the dizziness, yeuk— that sickness is truly awful.
BUT— you’re growing a new life, you’re caring for young lives –2,3,4 children. What’s a few shop bought loaves, a few professionally laundered shirts in comparison to that?
Me, I’d have killed for a dishwasher ( well, not really) but the smell of dishwashing soap made me run for the bathroom…..
Sarah @ little bus on the prairie says
Great post, Stephanie! Even though we are obviously trying to save money for our house, we have taken such an extreme step to do so that spending extra in other areas (like buying bread, eating out more and using more gas to escape the heat!) is pretty necessary for keeping me sane! Prior to living in the bus I was a coupon-clipping, make-from-scratch, eat-out-once-a-week (if that) kind of mom and now we’re eating cold cereal and I canceled my sunday subscription because I wasn’t using the coupons. We are in full on survival mode right now and I don’t feel even a tiny bit guilty about it (anymore)!
Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving says
Very well said! This is something we all need to be reminded of. We all have seasons like this and we do what we must do to survive. Great reminder about not judging others for their choices, too.
ty- another thing to feel ‘guilty’ about we don’t need- i believe we all try to do our best and it is better not to judge
When I was in the midst of having all our babies, you could gage how I was coping by whether or not I was cloth diapering. Nowadays, you can measure my mental health by whether or not we are eating homemade bread (although I am blessed to have an adult daughter living at home who has decided to take on this task for the last three weeks!).
I appreciate this so much! I am 33 weeks pregnant with twins and this pregnancy has been so different than my other pregnancies. My body started craving protein quite early on and beans and peanut butter did not cut it! I’ve had to eat a lot more meat than usual, so our grocery budget has definitely increased. The last few weeks I’ve had to stay down a lot, which has meant lots more cereal for breakfast and more comvenience foods for my family. I definitely haven’t been making homemade bread either (although I miss it).
It’s been good for me to remind myself that this is a season and to be grateful that we have enough to cover these increases in our budget. And an increase in budget for the health and safety for my babies is more than worth it!
I love how beautifully you stated all this. As an almost senior citizen, there have definitely been seasons of saving and seasons of spending. Everyone’s circumstances are different. What may be worth saving on for one person may be totally stress inducing for another and just not worth it at all. Sort of like picking your battles. We all have to do what works for us.