If you want something badly enough, you can usually find a way

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post on surviving on a $30 per week grocery budget. Many of you found the post helpful and inspiring. But a handful of people really disliked the post.

In the blogging world, that’s totally to be expected. You can’t please and inspire everyone all the time and I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person and a writer from the constructive criticism I’ve received as a blogger.

However, what I found interesting was that most of the people who didn’t like the post got hung up on the fact that I was suggesting you eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day for a week.

The grocery list and menu I shared was meant to serve as an example that you can eat on $30 per week and still set aside a little extra toward your stockpile so that, within a few weeks, you can have more wiggle room and variety in your diet. I wanted to show that it can be done — if you’re willing to get creative and you’re willing to make short-term sacrifices.

Truthfully, Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches Are Not All That Bad

While eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for a week might sound outrageous to some, it’s actually not all that bad. In fact, one of the many little things we did to stay out of debt while my husband was in law school was to eat lots and lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

We didn’t eat peanut butter and jelly every single day of the year, but choosing to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a very regular basis over Subway or Sonic — or even turkey and cheese sandwiches — was a simple thing we could do to help inch us in the direction we were aiming for.

How Motivated Are You to Get Where You Want to Be?

Where do you want to be financially in a year from now? What about five years from now? What simple short-term sacrifices can you make to help you get there?

If eating peanut butter and jelly every other day isn’t your thing, consider what short-term sacrifices might work for your family. When Jessica and her family were working really hard to get out of debt, they set their thermostat up a number of degrees in the summer in order to save money. Jessica was pregnant at the time and I’m not quite sure how she managed, but their family was highly motivated so they made a lot of sacrifices — including sweating out a hot Kansas summer — so that they could get out of debt much more quickly.

When There’s a Will, There’s Usually a Way

If you want to get out of debt, stay out debt, save more, or give more, it’s likely going to mean making some sacrifices — especially in the short-term. You can’t change your financial situation unless you also change the way you’re doing something.

But you have to be willing to change, willing to cut back, willing to give things up, willing to eat less than gourmet meals, or willing to not have the latest and greatest gadget or gizmo. How willing you are to make changes is directly dependent upon how motivated you are to get where you want to go.

If you want something badly enough, you can usually find a way. It won’t always be easy, fun, or glamorous to make short-term sacrifices, but it will be every bit worth it.

What simple, short-term sacrifices is your family making to get where you want to be financially? I’d love to hear!

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  1. Sara says

    Meatless meals are saving us so much money! And I am learning about how to incorporate proteins that are healthier for us anyway.

    • Brooke says

      I agree! We started doing a ton of meatless meals while my husband was laid off and we ended up keeping up with it after he got back to work. We feel so much better health wise and the savings are amazing! Also, it is a lot of fun to try veggies cooked ways you’ve never had them before! While we were in college my husband and I probably lived on a lot less than $30/ per person…but back then we had no cooking skills so it was mostly gross college food like Ramen and those dollar pizzas!

  2. J says

    Right now it is a bit warm outside, 84 but nothing like how hot it will get this summer. Last year our electric bill was mind boggling from running the air so we are aiming for less usage until we get to the 90’s and 100’s. So far we haven’t turned it on but can hear our neighbors. Hurry and post the freezer cooking…lol…I don’t have much time!

  3. Allison says

    What’s wrong with eating peanut butter and jelly for a week? I’ve eaten PB&J almost every day for probably 25 years! Seriously, probably since kindergarten. But I am a person who really likes routines.

  4. Jen says

    Question?? I think “most” people aren’t willing to sacrafice to achieve their goals. How do you deal with people constantly knocking you down? My husband and I have lived with 1 car for 5 years now, and with 2 kids I am stuck at home A LOT!! Instead of friends supporting us, they are always putting us down or saying backhanded compliments.

    • Diane says

      I would really question how good of friends are constantly putting you down but I would stand up for yourself and say it’s your choice and it’s not up for discussion. There is always something in anyone’s life someone else can criticize but I find that being firm and confident in my decisions and if someone insists on being rude or giving unwanted advice saying “______ is not up for discussion” works nicely (and that goes for weight, family planning, finances, anything).

    • Nicole says

      some friends!! good for you, for the sacrifices you make that make it possible for you to be home with your kids!

    • Patty says

      I disagree that “most people aren’t willing to sacrifice to achieve their goals.” I think “most people” are very willing to sacrifice for their family’s benefit, but are just searching for ideas and methods that work in their particular situation.

      Just because my sacrifice doesn’t match someone else’s definition of a sacrifice doesn’t make mine less valid. That I haven’t had any new clothes (even from Goodwill!) in several years may be the equivalent of someone else’s Every Day PBJ.

      There are lots of different pathways up the mountain!

      • Jen says

        This is just my experience with people, I know they are many people willing to make sacrafices even greater than I. I just think people need to encourage others more and not get so caught up in having everything :)

    • Heather says

      That’s tough. We too have just one car. It helps that my husband can take the bus to work when he needs to, but to do that it means we live on the opposite side of town from most of our friends, so I still don’t get out to everything they do together.

      It could be that these people are secretly feeling guilty that they’re not doing a better job, or envious of something about your life.

      Maybe it would help you to think to yourself (or say, if it’s appropriate) that you’re not trying to tell them they should give up a car – they’re allowed to spend their money the way they see best, and for you, being a one-car family is best. And then 1. try your best not to care what others think about you and 2. seek out an additional friend who is more like-minded in this area.

      I’ve had my own struggles in this area – we attend a church that is quite affluent, and a lot of things I see my friends spend money on is over the top to me, but it’s just normal to them. So I feel left out and jealous and sometimes, looked down upon. But I’ve found some friends who are like-minded, and the others I start to understand when I get to know them better. Everyone has their struggles.

    • Brooke says

      Yep, we dealt with it too! We have been together for 6 years and just this year we finally have 2 cars….one unreliable, so about half the time we’re still one car 😉 Family was the worst for us….they just didn’t understand! They thought we were crazy for driving an old car, renting a small house, and buying everything used. I tried to change their perspectives, and for some it was hopeless, but for others it actually worked! My father used to tease the daylights out of me for couponing….just today he called me to ask if I seen the fantastic coupons this Sunday! Couponing has kind of become fun this since he, ironically, lost his income. So, be patient with them. Some will see the light, and unfortunately, some will not.

    • Erin says

      You need to find some new friends–ones who have the same ultimate goals and understand your life choices, not judge them.

    • Wendy says

      Jen, I wish I could find a friend like you. I hear the same things from people. They just don’t get it (and I have no idea why).

    • Kaye says

      Jen, I’m in almost the exact same situation (except I’ve only done it for four years). People even insinuate that my Husband is trying to keep me imprisoned or something. I’ve actually grown very contented, and I have a great routine down with my kids, and I believe it is part of why they are so well behaved. Anytime the subject comes up now, I just talk about the goals that we are accomplishing (car is paid off, School loans are melting away, etc) Eventually people saw that I wasn’t going crazy, and I’ve had fewer people trying to pull me away from the crowd to make sure I’m not abused. If they weren’t so serious, it would almost be funny! Stick with it. You are not alone! :)

    • says

      I can relate to living with one car. We have been a one car family for about a year now. We are waiting to save enough to buy a “new to us” car for my husband. Today was one of those days I was stuck at home. A lot of people think we are crazy. Visiting blogs like this one and surrounding ourselves with like minded friends has helped us. I agree that most aren’t willing to sacrifice….I think it is a part of the instant gratification mindset.

    • Courtney says

      We’ve had one car for 11 years. Yep, eleven.

      And anytime someone comments on the fact that I don’t have a car, I tend to add, nor to I have the gas or insurance that goes along with that (nicely, and in a joking, but truthful manner). I’ve yet to have 1 person make a comment about us having 1 car twice.

      I usually find that when I comment on things I’m doing, or projects I’m working on, I get a lot of how do you have the time? I gently say that I consolidate all my errands, and I find that allows lots of time in my week. I’ve been so positive about 1 car, that I have had a friend or two say they wish they could do 1 car.

    • boyzmom says

      Brittney I am with you. I am the cheapest person I know and my husband spends it as fast as he makes it.. IT DRIVES ME INSANE. We both like nice things but I am willing to go without and he is not. He actually makes fun of me and my couponing to his friends and workers. When I meet people they will say “oh your the one that coupons so much that he tells us all about,” it is actually sad sometimes. I know he doesn’t do it to be mean but it is. He grew up with anything he ever wanted. Our kids have TONS of things other kids would die for but we are cheap about how they get them. Just really frustrating when one person in the family is trying to save money and the other is not on board. :(

      • says

        My husband is the same way, but his thing is having nice cars. It kills me to write the checks each month for our car payments and I am way too embarrassed to even say what the total is. Don’t get me wrong, having a nice car is nice but I would much rather have a not so nice car and not have a huge payment.

        I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that my husband just will never be content with a normal car but I still hold onto the hope that someday in the future when we finally get a car paid off (if he stops buying new ones- negative equity is a terrible thing) he will see how much extra money we’ll have.

        Why oh why can’t my husband’s “hobby” be something like video games instead of cars : )

        • September says

          HA…I’m married to a “car guy” too! Thankfully for the past 12-13 years he got cars through his work as part of his compensation package…a brand new car every 3K miles that he got to pick out himself. Half the time he even ordered them from the manufacturer exactly the way he wanted them. But last year he changed jobs and, um, there’s no way we’re subsidizing his car habit! Our “compromise” was that the last car he ordered (at this point he pretty much knew he was going to be leaving) was reasonably equipped with the stuff he cared about but not the crazy expensive features we didn’t really care about. When he left he was able t negotiate buying it out and since it was a dealer demo and there were some other extenuating circumstances we were able to get about 40% off sticker. My 2008 minivan is paid off completely in six months so this was really something we could afford, though I’ve made it abundantly clear that (a) he had better really like that car because he’s going to be in it for a loooong time and (b) he’s not crazy about the minivan (what car guy is??) but since it’ll be paid off with less than 40K miles it’s going to be in our driveway until the engine seizes!

  5. Lisa says

    Well said! We are a family of 5 trying to get out of debt and we eat A LOT of peanut butter and jelly (= Well there’s a will there’s a way!

  6. Jessica says

    We simply do without things most people think are necessary. We’ve taken 1 “major’ vacation in 10 years of marriage, and that was actually our honeymoon that we took when we’d been married for 3 years!

    We do without new clothes for the most part. Except for those $2 or $3 tees I get at Target once in a while on clearance with a coupon!

    I don’t get my hair or nails done or get massaged by a therapist. I don’t have a designer-anything or an i-anything. I have a “dumb” phone. It makes calls. And that’s it. But who cares? It makes calls!

    We own our home outright- paid off that mortgage in 6.5 years. We have 2 paid for cars. We paid cash for our replacement HVAC system 1 1/2 years ago. We even have luxuries such as 2 pets we adopted from a shelter, swimming lessons for our children and we save for retirement and their future education. This is on a very modest salary. I quit my job last year to be a SAHM, and the only reason we could do it is because we were debt free and already know how to live very much below our means.

    Our future and that of our children is more important to me than eating out or eating gourmet food for lunch or having the handbag du jour.

    • Casey says

      Congrats! On the mortage being paid of in 6 1/2 years, that’s great! Sounds like you are making great choices for your family. Keep it up :)

    • Megan says

      I love that you mentioned your adopted pets as a luxury – adopting a pup is one thing I’m looking forward to once my husband and I are settled and know we can afford it. Good for you!

    • Allison V. says

      You just described my dream someday (I’m a working single mom at the moment but someday I’ll be home again, hopefully before all my kids are in school!).

  7. says

    Very well said. DH and I farm for a living, so we’re not really hurting for variety in food. In the past however, when I was still living at home, my family was struggling financially and we ate a lot of PB&J. When we got sick of that, we switched to bean and salsa burritos. :)

  8. says

    I love this Crystal (but also happen to love pb&j sandwiches!) I have so many friends who want to save money, but ultimately aren’t willing to make a sacrifice to take the time to clip coupons or do extra work to make things from scratch (much less give up meals out!) Saving money undoubtedly requires some kind of sacrifice, and not everyone’s up for that.

    (That being said, I used to think purchasing disinfectant wipes was just ridiculous when rags and vinegar were so much cheaper. Last week though I stocked up with a sale and a coupon, and decided that $.02 per wipe were worth it for my sanity! I think so much of it depends where you are at financially and what stage of life you’re in ~ right now paying for little splurges to save me a few minutes while I clean is just worth it, but there were days when my budget didn’t allow it!)

  9. Stacy says

    A few years ago I was a single Mom and I fed myself and my son on a grocery budget of $30-$40 a week. I didn’t have any choice and we ate pretty well. Yep, there were a lot of PB&J sandwiches for lunch at work and on the weekends too :)

  10. Diane says

    We live with one car, we stay home often. I have pretty firm “buy prices” for about every food we will buy and definitely plan my menus around our stock pile and grocery shop based on very good sales. It isn’t always excited or even high variety but it is nutritious and we are all at a healthy weight. I hang clothes on the clothesline, I re-wash freezer bags until they’re unusable. We do as much home maintenance on our own as we can. We rarely feel deprived but our focus is on paying our mortgage off very quickly and that is enough motivation to say no to little things along the way.

  11. Meredith says

    PBJ can be really darned good if you make homemade bread, homemade jelly, and homemade peanut butter. All cheaper than store bought and I’m drooling as we speak. Heck, I’d live off that!

    We used to be vegetarians but converted back six months ago. We eat one meat a week and stretch it. A whole chicken can be used for chicken breasts/tenderloins one night, wings for our daughter, and the dark meat through the grinder for chicken burgers another. The rest of the week is still all vegetarian. We alternate cuts of meat and do various things with them.

  12. Katie says

    Heck, saving money aside… I’m a creature of habit. It doesn’t matter what it is, but during any given week I will eat the same exact thing for lunch everday. I like it because I don’t have to think about what I’m going to make. PB&J for a week; pita and hummus; pretzels, cheese, and carrot sticks–it doesn’t matter what it is, I’ll eat it everyday for the week. The past two weeks I’ve been hung up on tomato sandwiches because I’ve gotten good tomato deals at Aldi. Nothing wrong with eating the same thing everyday. :)

    • Sandy H says

      I do the same thing! I commute by train and hate lugging evrything since I walk the two miles from the train station to my office. On Mondays I stop at the grocery store and figure out what’s the best deal for my week and that is what I have. And yes that does include PB&
      J. That is what I had last week! Sometimes it is pasta and sauce. DH & I are working to be completely out of debt inside of 18 months but I think with the extra scrimping, we can do it sooner!

  13. Beth says

    I like the tone of this post. You can learn and grow from comments by readers, but by turning it around this time (in a non-judgmental, non critical way) you’ve challenged readers even further. Thanks!

  14. says

    My youth pastor gave up an engineering job to go to seminary and he took lots of hours and went to school with two peanut butter sandwiches each day…one for lunch and one for dinner…for like two years. it’s what he had to do, and he likes to tell that story.

    My “sacrifice” lately has been making items from scratch instead of buying convenient time saving boxed items. we’ve liked most of them better, and I like that I know what goes into them…and honestly they don’t take that much time! We made a sacrifice and found it to be a better way of life!

    • says

      That’s been one of my sacrifices lately too. I have the time to bake/cook but not always the inclination so I would often buy prepackaged stuff. No more! I remember once I get in the kitchen how much fun it is for me to make something.

    • boyzmom says

      I have also been making more things from “scratch”. My kids love mini muffins so I have been buying the packages of muffin mixes and then just making them that way. I had been a SAHM for 7 1/2 years and just today decided to go back to work. It felt wierd being away from my 2 yr old but the daycare person is family so it wasn’t so bad. My other two go to school so they don’t notice anything. I have recently been trying to make more at home so I can control what is in our food.

    • Casey says

      Ooooh, yes! Peanut butter and banana yum! I made my own cashew butter for the first time, using cashews “bits & pieces” on sale for $3.99/lb at my local health food store. Cashew Butter is AMAZING on a banana sandwich.

    • Allison says

      I agree! Peanut butter and banana is one of my favorite sandwiches. And one banana can make 2-3 sandwiches.

  15. Paige L says

    I might have to try this. I used to LOVE PB&J and ate it quite a bit each week. Then when I was pregnant, it was one of those foods that I ate and it started making me gag!! It’s never been the same for me since. I like cheese sandwiches, too.

  16. says

    I loved the original post and this post as well, very encouraging! Many people just want an easy fix or aren’t willing to sacrifice now for some benefits later. I truly feel like that is where most of the world is these days, if it wasn’t, people wouldn’t be buying their wants on credit at the speed of light and then having to declare bankruptcy. Through undergrad, medical school, and now residency we have scrimped and saved to have no consumer debt while many around us were buying cars, huge homes, and living off of government programs for healthcare, food, and housing. It’s been quite a journey, but we’ve relied on God to provide, done hard things, and gone without, but we are stronger as a family, blessed by God, and so thankful for never having gone hungry, without clothes, or other needs. Sacrificing builds character and self control, both qualities that many of could use more of. Thank you for your witness Crystal!

  17. Marcy says

    Well said Crystal!
    In our world of instant gratification, it’s hard sometimes to temporarily give things up for the long term goal. Living counter-culture is not easy :) but from personal experience, it’s worth it!! (And people like you who share their experiences are inspirational, so keep up the good work :)

  18. christina says

    Not too mention that there are plenty of children who are starving out there… they would probably be thrilled with a peanut butter sandwich every day!! People who are ‘upset’ about that idea need to count their blessings…

  19. says

    I did a very similar thing in college. There’s nothing wrong with it and it’s much healthier than mac n’ cheese or Ramen noodles. Ironically, my kids go through phases where PB&J’s are all they will pack for school lunches for weeks at a time. One little boy at their school has packed them every school day for 3 years… that’s a lot of peanut butter 😀

  20. says

    I’m actually eating grilled cheese sandwiches (Hubs and kids are eating PBJ!) to put some money aside, lol! I’m not doing it *every* day, but enough that it will make a difference. It’s good to hear others are doing the same.

  21. Mrs. R says

    My Hubby is self employed ( lawn service ) and I’m a stay at home mom of 2 ( soon to be 3 ) boys. Through our thriftiness and God’s blessings ( we’re a tithing family ) the only debt we have is our current house payment. We’re only in our 20’s and own another house outright ( hoping to sell soon or rent ) and have made an offer on another house we hope to purchase with cash. No, we don’t have the latest gadgets, cars, etc., but we have what we need and are trying to save for our future growing family!!

  22. Laura says

    My husband is in school and we have moved in with my parents in order to make this happen. We are sacrifing the life we knew (the comfort of having your own home) for a more stable financial future in the long run. It has been very hard w/ a year-to-date income of around $100, ( yes, one hundred), but God has been good and provided for us. I will be the happiest person at his graduation!

      • Laura says

        Thank you Anna for the encouragement. We also have two children whom I am homeschooling at this time. Blessings to you.

  23. Sarah says

    I’d gladly eat PB & J- my sacrifice was hours- 2 to 3 per day! For the last 2 years my husband have been commuting to the city together for work. This means getting up at 5:00 and not getting home until 5:30-6:30 every night. It meant long hours in traffic and lots of time waiting for him to finish up at the office (my hours are 8 to 3:30, while his are 6:30-5:00). Even though it was stressful and forced us to plan ahead just to keep our sanity and get things accomplished during the week it saved us so much money. Between parking, gas, maintenance vehicles, etc. we save about $400 a month! When I remember this it makes those long days that much easier. It also allowed us to spend a ton of time together commuting! He has been blessed with a new job only 10 minutes away from home so everything changes. But I feel blessed that we were able to save SO much money commuting together over the past year- it was well worth the sacrifice!

  24. Angel says

    Its a pbj week for us. After a long spring, we have gotten off budget and are making a consertive effort to recomit to our cash budget. Not being used to the buget anymore, we were down to $35 to buy groceries. We decided to give it a go. We looked through our food in the house and made a list with mainly fruits and veggies. im making snacks and meals from scrath. We spent $25 at the store and our hoping it will last us to Friday. Short sacrafice to pay to try to get on a budget that will reach our goal for debt elimination and adoption!

  25. Krista says

    We’ve been making homemade cleaning products and laundry detergent. While I sometimes miss the ease of just picking up these products at the store, it has saved us a lot of money over time (not A TON), but I know that every little bit counts.

  26. says

    Great post Crystal! My motto for our financial position (and even just for life) is “Make priorities, not excuses!”
    If you’re really willing to do whatever it takes, you will find one wa y in a thousand to make it work. If you’re just looking to complain, there will always be an opportunity to look on the negative side.

  27. Shauna says

    I think these articles are great. Some people can do 30 a week where they live in the region of the country. I don’t have awesome prices like that. I wish!!! And I have a picky eater on my hands so it doesn’t work. I so wish he would eat peanut butter and jelly for lunch. I do! I agree these sacrafices can be done but sometimes there are limitations for certain people.

  28. Emily says

    I love peanut butter and jelly! Although I don’t eat it as much anymore, when I was studying abroad in Europe I ate peanut butter and jelly almost everyday for lunch. Lunch was the only meal not provided by the dining hall and I was able to spend more money on travel and sight-seeing. Not to mention it was easy and portable. :)

  29. Cindy says

    for me it’s hanging clothes on the line to dry — don’t turn on that dryer unless I have to……. we live in the country so I make sure to do the grocery shopping before I leave town… so on my days off — I don’t run to town …….. wanted a Kitchen-aid mixer really bad …. waited -looked around- waited even longer and my hubby found a “used” one (she used it once !) for $170. little things really do add up

  30. Jeannine says

    I was just so happy to see my husband enjoying a pb&j sandwich earlier today because I got the two items for a very good price. And I am so thankful that we have food to eat today.

  31. Olivia says

    Our biggest sacrifice? My husband lives with his parents (who live in another county) during the week to save money on his commute to work. It’s not an ideal situation for us, but it’s just us (no children) and the sacrifice is paying off: we have more in savings than we’ve ever had and we have been able to put more towards our debts.

  32. Amanda says

    Okay, So we never quite did the PB and J thing (namely because I don’t like them, ramen noodles are more my flair) But similarly, We’ve gone without a furnace (but we had a pellet stove) or air conditioning for more than three years(( we live in the Southwest) . It was our goal to pay off the house completely before even considering that added cost in getting and running it. Now that we have our house paid off and are completely debt free ..I still find it hard to commit to getting air conditioning because well, we’ve done alright without it. The wait has actually made us look into alternatives. Our friends and family thought we were crazy but they aren’t saying that now..well just not to our faces! It the seemingly big and small sacrifices totally add up and I am so grateful we stuck to our guns and we are free..It feels so great ..incredible.. no stress seriously, and all those sacrifices forced us to look at the things that really matter to us it brought us clarity in our lives in which we continue to practice the principles we learned through that experience.

  33. Denise says

    We buy Folgers coffee on sale/with coupons and make coffee at home. I buy creamer/sweetner at Aldi. I can’t tell you the last time I paid money for coffee that I didn’t make myself at home! That saves us TONS of money even if you are just looking at buying gas station coffee!

    Also we limit our eating out/take out to once a week (except this past week when I wasn’t feeling well we splurged and did take out more than I like to).

  34. Jessica says

    Sounds like we all just made many “quality” lIke-minded friends right here. French toast is our cheap meal. Healthy whole grain bread keeps great in the freezer and eggs are the luxury extendable protein.

  35. Alysia says

    While I agree fully with this post, know that it works both ways, too. Sometimes people who aren’t as frugal, get looked down upon by those who are. Just like someone who wants to eat PBJ every day (or drive an old car, or shop rummage sales) shouldn’t be ridiculed or criticized, someone who drives a newer car and (gasp!) has a car payment, shouldn’t be ridiculed or criticized by those who are more thrifty. While trying to surround myself with less materialistic peers in the hopes that this would help me feel less pressure to keep up, I came across some of this. It’s not an all or nothing game. If I want to make home-made laundry soap, and at the same time not want to get in to coupons, thats ok. I’m not dumb, lazy, or a bad homemaker. What each of us chooses to do (or not do) is our own business.

    • says

      I agree. We are a one-car family w/3 kids, and that car is 20 years old, but I think we would go crazy on a PBJ-every day diet. I think it just depends on what someone can tolerate in terms of sacrifices.

      I also think it depends on a particular situation. It’s one thing to make a sacrifice when it’s just one or two people, but when you have kids, you have to take their situation and preferences into account as well. My boys eat a lot, and they aren’t overweight – just hungry, growing, little boys. We eat fairly simply, but I do spend more because we give them lots of fresh fruits and veggies and high-protein meals.

    • Sarah says

      Yes! I agree Alysia. Sometimes comments on these blogs can be downright discouraging to those who choose different sacrifices. My husband and I consider ourselves pretty frugal, but we’re willing to splurge for iPhones. Our choice! But, as I read through, I’m starting to feel guilty for it. Many of these commenters would certainly look down on me for “going the way of the culture.” I have to work at it to keep it all in perspective…

      • says

        Thanks for your comments, gals!

        I think it’s important to figure out what works for your family when it comes to short-term sacrifices — and be doing them with an end goal in mind.

        I’m all about strategic splurging — and feel like that’s one reason you make short-term sacrifices. Short-term sacrifices give you the ability to enjoy long-term benefits of being able to splurge on what is important to your family without having to worry about how you are going to be able to afford it.

        Frugality and financial stewardship doesn’t have to equate a miserable existence. In fact, I think it can be the exact opposite: it allows you to be in charge of your money and make it work for your family in a way that is in line with your family’s goals and priorities.

        {And for the record, Sarah, I have an iPhone. So you’re in good company! 😉 We had dial-up for a long time while in law school until we could afford a $15/month DSL package. Then we moved up to also having cell phones… and finally worked to the place where we could afford the business expenses of both having iPhones. And truthfully, while it took my husband a long time to convince me to get one, it’s been one of the best business investments I’ve ever made for so many, many different reasons!}

        • says

          Don’t feel bad about the IPhone! We splurged this last fall – got the 3gs right when the 4 was coming out. We got our IPhones for FREE, and I am so glad we got them – we travel at least once a year (my mother in law lives in California, so we have to go visit her occasionally – traveling is financially difficult for her right now, and anyway…I like her a lot! Actually, love, but whatever.), so being connected is necessary.

          Now that I work at home, it is extra helpful – my desk and workphone are in our basement. But I have the ability to route my calls through my Iphone thanks to forwarding. I can sit out on my deck and work, work in the front yard while watching my son…heck, I can even work when I’m making my Aldi trip (which, I’ve closed a few deals that way as well!). As Crystal says, it’s about strategic spending. We choose to spend more on certain things – a yearly pass for the Wisconsin Historical gives us something to do, very inexpensively, throughout the year, and all over the state. But we’re happy with PB and J, or PB and Honey (I grew up eating that!) for lunch. My son especially – he’s so skinny, and plays hard, so the extra protein is really helpful. Not to mention, I really just dislike deli meat…it’s so full of nitrates and nitrites. Yucks.

          To each, their own. I choose to spend more on certain things because I have the wiggle room in my budget because we are tight elsewhere – I like expensive perfume. While an $80 price tag may make someone cringe, it lasts a whole year because I use less due to the perfume being more potent than something you can find at Walmart. That, and I’m a bit of a fragrance snob.

          But everyone has their own preferences…and it’s just a matter of how hungry you are for what you want in life. :)

        • Sarah says

          I suppose I shouldn’t care anyway what someone else (especially someone I don’t even know!) thinks of my choices 😉 Maybe I should work on that 😛 And, also for the record Crystal, I don’t ever get those feelings reading your posts, really just occasional commenters… But, we’re all entitled to our opinions and choices :)
          “Frugality and financial stewardship doesn’t have to equate a miserable existence” I like that! Sometimes (following a few frugal blogs) I feel like if I have anything at all that I like, I’m not being frugal enough! But, it’s not necessarily true!
          Thanks for the encouragement :)

      • says


        Don’t feel bad about the iPhone. It’s your choice and if you want one and can afford it, don’t feel bad.

        My DH & I both have smartphones (he an Android and I an iPhone.) Every time I feel bad I remember how useful it has been to have it over the years. Maybe I don’t “need” it, but it’s my choice. As Ramit Sethi says, cut back drastically on things you don’t care about and spend on what you actually love!

      • K* says

        I love Crystal’s website (my name is Krystal, so I go by K* on here, lol), but I am definitely quite different than many of the commenters. I’m in law school at the moment, so very often, I end up choosing things that will save me time or are more practical in an apartment rather than the most frugal option in every case.

        Some of the commenters seem very dedicated to frugality above all else, and the dedication might seem judgmental of those of us who have cable and eat takeout, for example. Crystal is so not like that, and it’s refreshing! I love her posts because she’s so positive about her family’s frugal lifestyle and it interests me. I use the suggestions that I can (FREEZER COOKING!), and ignore the ones that I can’t.

    • says

      I got an IPhone this weekend – I went in to down grade to a basic phone since I am home every day but it was cheaper to get the IPhone and keep my current plan. Also, it helps my brother in law with commission. 😀 I saved over $100 and will save more money in the long run.

      I also got a new purse (late Valentine’s gift) plus a few other items for birthday presents for family members. We splurged a bit but it is helpful to us so we stay on track with cutting down our debts.

      We are able to keep our grocery budget around $160 per month for 3 people plus I am 37 weeks pregnant. I do coupon but shop at Aldi most of the time. 😀

      Thanks Crystal for all you do. You are a huge encouragement to me and my family! I talk about you like you are a friend…my husband laughs at me sometime. 😀

  36. Heather says

    My husband can eat peanut butter and jelly every day. By the third day in a row, I usually feel like throwing up when I see PB&J. But I see your point, and it WOULD save money.

  37. Allison says

    Crystal, I loved that post! People read your blog for the ideas you give. Anyone who could have been offended by that post is just ridiculous. I am so glad I found your blog. No one will use or agree with every suggestion from any blog post. When you have no extra money, any ideas you get are good, if only just for a short time. Keep doing what you do. Believe me, it is much appreciated!

    • Jessica H says

      I agree. I love getting frugal ideas. I don’t use all of them, but I don’t ridicule them either. Even the ones that I don’t use, I like having them in the back of my mind in case we ever need to cut our budget even more.

  38. Beth says

    I LOVE pb&j and eat it all the time! Since your post last week, I am challenging/stretching our grocery budget by making very simple meals for the next month or two to see how it works. Hot dogs, spaghetti, chicken, soup, PB&J for lunches, and I started going to the $ store for groceries and it really saved a lot. We are feeding a family of six – so it is challenging! Thank you for inspiring me!!

  39. Amie says

    I think $30 a week for one person is totally doable. My family of 4 spends about $250 a month for everything – dog food, cat food, turtle food, pull ups, diapers, HAB – everything. I use coupons as much as possible, shop drug stores, shop on Saturday mornings to get the Manager’s Specials, and I use rewards programs to get gift cards. I DIY repairs, bake, and make my own laundry detergent. The sacrifice I make is the time it takes to strategically shop. There are some sacrifices my family is unwilling to make. I wouldn’t want my husband to work all the time, my husband wouldn’t go meatless, and I won’t hang laundry out (kids’ allergies). I think the trick is to sacrifice in ways that don’t leave you feeling bad, but make you feel good about how you’re helping yourself and your family.

  40. Courtney says

    I’m getting so hungry for PB&J right now– it’s not even funny!! Thanks for posting this. We are experimenting with ways to save on our electric bill right now. We have even explained to our kids that we try to keep the bills and other expenses down so we can save for other things. I think it’s good for them to see that some sacrifices they make have positive effects on the whole family!

  41. says

    I LOVE PB&J! We also eat lots of baked potatoes, beans and rice, and eggs… very little meat. We are currently in transition and it works best for us, and saves us money!

  42. Melissa Mae says

    Crystal, I’m so glad that you understand that you can’t please everyone. I’m also glad that you didn’t back down from the pb&j idea. Because that is all it is – one idea as a way to lower costs. My husband and I are very frugal and after I decided to be an at-home mommy, we became even more frugal. He takes his lunch to work almost every morning. For a two year span he took pb&j. He ate it sitting at his desk everyday while watching others go out or eat things much more glamorous. I admire him already, but even more for his dedication to us and our financial freedom.

  43. Sheila says

    We have been married 24 years and I have been a stay at home mom to our three children for 20 years. The secret we have found to financial freedom is tithe faithfully ,no matter what. Participate in the company 401 k plan to provide for retirement and then live on the rest. Spend it on whatever makes you happy, just don’t ever use a credit card when the money runs out! We are sacrificing to pay for college for our children because we want to do this for them as they are hard working , delightful kids and it is our gift to them. Having said that, the entire family is sacrificing- no new clothes, no vacations and very little eating out. I have been clipping coupons for the first time in my life and it is fun! I just make a game of it and make the kids look at my receipt after I return from the store and they are obligated to brag on how well I did!

  44. Carrie says

    I remember when I paid off my old mini van. We ended up keeping it for several more years. There was rust on it and it occasionally needed repairs, it still worked. One of my co-workers joked about how I need to take it out back and put it out of its misery. Other people made comments about our small 2 bedroom house with three kids. It was very small and I was selling Avon in addition to a full-time job to get ahead. I remember having to wait until the kids were in bed to get my orders ready and then hurry up and pack it up because I didn’t have any space.

    It was so tough, but by doing this, I am now in a beautiful house in the country where my five kids (now) can play outside and ride bikes in our neighborhood without worrying. It was definitely worth the struggle.

    • Amie says

      I admire your dedication! My husband’s car has been paid off for years and mine is almost paid off. I’ve only had 3 cars in my life because I’ve driven them until they no longer ran and the cost of repairs was more than the cars were worth. A lot of people wonder why we still drive compacts with two car seats and why we swap cars rather than buy an extra set of car seats. I just scoot my seat up while the kids are in the car so they have leg room. Most days my kids aren’t in the car for more than 15 minutes at a time so really, it’s no big deal. It takes me a few extra minutes to exchange cars, but I figure that is really a small sacrifice. I do plan on buying a larger car when my husband’s car finally needs replacing, but I’m in no hurry. I just think it is about priorities. In the area that I live in, I see plenty of pricey vehicles parked in front of mobile homes. I have nothing against mobile homes and several of my family members live in them, but I prefer to have a smaller car and a bigger home.

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