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?