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5 Blessings That Have Come From a Tight Budget


Guest post from Rachel of The Purposeful Wife

Forced frugality often feels like a bad thing. Making cutbacks, adhering to a tight grocery budget, and preparing all of your meals at home isn’t always fun.

Yet many blessings accompany frugal living. I’ve learned so much as my husband and I have tried to get out of debt and grow our savings. Here are just a few of the lessons gleaned:

1. Often the frugal choice is healthier.

Most of the “green” changes I’ve made in our home were in an effort to save money. Making my own yogurt, cleaning supplies, and pantry staples are easier on my wallet and healthier for my family.

Last year I started washing my face with the Oil Cleansing Method. While it is all-natural and feels super luxurious, it also costs mere pennies to make. Frugality for the win!

2. Frugality births creativity.

I knit scrubbies for washing our dishes instead of buying sponges. I can prepare rice and beans in an infinite number of ways. I’ve scored fabulous finds at the thrift store. I make most of our Christmas gifts.

All of these endeavors have expanded my homemaking and crafting abilities.

3. Frugality curbs wastefulness.

My fridge is usually pretty bare, by choice. Each week I purchase only the fresh ingredients needed for my meal plan, and very little of our food gets thrown out. We also wear our clothing until it is worn out, and then cut it up for cleaning rags or crafts.

4. Frugality shapes character.

Thinking so much about how I spend our money, always being on the hunt for a new DIY project, and frequently trying to trim our budget has made me mindful.

I’m more disciplined and self-controlled than I used to be — though I still have room to grow!

5. Frugality can be the training ground of contentment.

It is easy to think wistfully over what we don’t have. But as Crystal recently pointed out, we’re a lot wealthier than we realize. Not having everything we want, exactly when we want it can teach us to rely on God for our needs, and to be thankful for what we have. We choose how to respond to our circumstances: will we grow bitter and resentful, or learn to be content?

My husband and I often discuss how if we’d started marriage with a large income, we probably would have spent recklessly and taken it for granted. Not having it all right away has been one of our biggest blessings.

If the Lord hasn’t given it to us, clearly we do not need it. With greater income comes greater responsibility. Today’s limited finances are the training grounds of our financial future.

Even if our income tripled tomorrow, I would still shop at Aldi, meal plan religiously, and collect Swagbucks. These are some of the things I’ve grown to appreciate on our frugal journey, and I wouldn’t trade them!

Rachel has been married to her husband Niall for 6 and a half years. They live with their two children in frigid Northeast Pennsylvania, where she likes to drink tea, read lots of good books, and dabble in blogging. She writes about faith, homemaking, motherhood, and marriage at The Purposeful Wife.

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  • I appreciate you sharing this list with us. I want to save money as much as the next girl but *contentment* is one of my top goals.

  • Aubrey says:

    I love your last comment:
    Even if our income tripled tomorrow, I would still shop at Aldi, meal plan religiously, and collect Swagbucks.

    My husband got a new job several years ago which required us to move across the country and it would mean we went from two incomes to one income (I was pregnant at the time so knew I wouldn’t bother to look for work once we moved) One night as we were looking through the offer from his new employer I saw the “bottom line” salary and nearly had a heart attack! We would be going from two incomes to one income, but in doing so nearly doubled our take-home pay! And my first comment to my husband was, “But, I’m still going to clip coupons!”

  • Patricia says:

    Your blog couldn’t have come at a better time today. It gives me insight and focus for our next journey in life. I will be laid off from my 12 year nursing job March 24th. I may end up having to retire early at 59 1/2. Body just cannot lift heavy post- op patients and manage the fast pace stress in this field as I could when I was younger. I’ve been blessed to have been in nursing for over 20 years. I knew this was going to happen so I started a small veggie garden last year and stored in my pantry for several months. As I look at what little I have to spend for the next 27 months ( until I reach social security age) my anxiety level starts to rise. But, I have been so blessed to be able to find wonderful blogs from women who have learned the art of frugality. I learn so much from you…and I am so very grateful..I have faith. 🙂
    Thank you for posting..Patty

    • Rhonda says:

      Patty, our school district always and I mean always needs substitute school nurses. Please check with your local schools. I don’t think age will make any difference and you shouldn’t have to lift anyone 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      Please keep in mind that if you ever contributed to a 403b or retirement plan at the hospital, you are able to withdraw from those penalty free at 59 1/2.

    • jamie says:

      Also look at private duty pediatric home care. Most dont need lifting and if they do and are older you can be scheduled with another child instead. Here these companies are always needing nurses.

  • susie says:

    We didn’t have much money growing up and it never bothered me as a kid. As a parent I enjoy not having to worry about where we are going to get money from because my husband has a well paying job…. but I want to have my kids realize that things are not free- once I told my daughter when she was begging for something- “I wish we were poor!” It was a funny feeling! My 11 year old son now tells me not to buy frivolous things because if we saved money we would be able to get a ranch. To bad those are not cheap! i agree- contentment is the best approach to money and to remember its not our money, all gifts come from God.

  • Kim says:

    Each of your points are on target. Thank you for sharing!

  • Great, timely post! I had just this discussion on my blog recently. A reader declared that my coupon shopping and planned meals, and every other month this year No-Spend Challenges, were excessive as saving money, and clipping coupons was too hard!

    My reply. I started saving money out of necessity, and through my frugality I have been able to start three online businesses, blog, and help pay off my student loan debt for graduate school. I cited an example, where recently my husband and I donated $4,234.23 worth of couponed goods to charity this past President’s Day, and another $500.00 trip this past week; all of the goods were tax-only purchases. So, my final thought was… frugality helps me better my family, my disposition, and my community!

  • Jen Smith says:

    I know Rachel in real life and she is an absolute blessing to me and my family! This small snippet of wisdom is the tip of the iceberg and we could not be more appreciative of seeing the Lord use her and her family to encourage others, just as they do for us willingly and lovingly.

  • Yes to less wastefulness. It’s imperative that I save money, but it’s also impressive that I am conscious of where money, time and energy is wasted. Great post!

  • “If the Lord hasn’t given it to us, clearly we do not need it.”

    Thank you for this. It’s an important reminder to me today.

    • Jennifer brown says:

      Thank you for your comment. That was absolutely something I needed to hear (read) today.

      Many blessings to you-

  • Jen says:

    I think being frugal saves me time. I don’t have meaningless knicknacks to dust or a huge house to clean. It doesn’t take me 40 minutes to figure out what to wear because I don’t have a giant closet full of clothes that are rarely worn. I don’t spend time driving to a gym because I exercise outside, at my community’s free fitness center, or at home. I don’t waste hours waiting in line to sit down at restaurants because I don’t eat out.

    The other thing I would add is that frugal, simple living makes me appreciate what I do have. I don’t take nice things for granted. I maintain my vehicle and don’t use it as a dumping ground. My home is clean and uncluttered. I am happy to eat healthy, delicious meals prepared by my own hands.

  • Mary says:

    This is a timely post as my husband and I are looking at semi-retirement in a few years. Thanks to you Crystal and other great money-saving bloggers I have saved a ton of money becoming more resourceful, great training for living on a limited income.
    I try to buy food on sale and look up recipes to use it. If anyone complains, I say “Give us this day, our daily bread”……
    Can’t argue with that one.

  • Connie says:

    I’ve only recently embarked on a more frugal lifestyle–but I agree with your list. Just because we can spend it, doesn’t mean we have to, or should spend. We are in the process of learning how to properly budget, paying down credit cards and getting our savings plans into place (emergency fund, retirement). Grateful for blogs such as yours.

  • Amy M. says:

    Add to the list content children who selfless and thoughtful. I am in awe of my friends kids who are grateful and happy with what they have. When they get gifts they truly enjoy and savor them.

  • I completely agree with this! My husband and I faced our large consumer debt and started working toward paying it down in the last few months, and I’ve learned so much from this process! As counter-intuitive as it may sound, topping the list of things I’ve learned is how lucky we are. We’re healthy, have each other and our daughter (and our cats!), a home, and enough money to pay for what we need.

  • Kelly Cox says:

    I love these frugal tips! I believe God wants us to be wise with our money, live below or within our means and always aspire to debt-free living. A budget helps to keep us focused and we can be more intentional as we give too. Thanks for these tips, I do these too! 🙂 Other than make gifts, I wish I was more crafty!!

  • Amie says:

    I really appreciate this post. I was raised in poverty and was completely ignorant to money management skills. As young adult, I ran up a lot of debt. It wasn’t until my husband and I started to have a family that I realized I really needed to change my ways or we wouldn’t be able to afford a second child. I began researching ways to cut spending and be more frugal. We totally changed our ways. I became an extreme couponer, learned how to bake and cook things from scratch, made my own cleaning supplies, made my own cloth diapers, and even ordered food from a church co-op. We completely stopped excess spending. Things were very tight. My first son had expensive medical needs and we had a second baby and all the added daycare expenses. Honestly, things didn’t feel that much “tighter” because we were managing our money better. I didn’t feel powerless like I did when I was a child in poverty, either, because I was doing something about my situation. Now, I have a third child and we have a less debt and more income. My kids’ idea of normal is: coupons – for food, clothes, etc., shopping sales, Swagbucks apps running on a device, and homemade food. We’re not totally frugal – they get treats, toys, and activities, but I am trying to teach them to how to manage money wisely and how to stretch a dollar.

  • Cate R says:

    I really appreciate these thoughts and this topic. I honestly hate forced frugality sometimes, but I do have moments of clarity and I agree with much of your sentiment. I wonder how different of a person I would be if we had a big or even regular income that wasn’t so near the poverty line. I think my kids would probably be brats honestly. I think God has graciously allowed me this financial context to learn some important things, even though it is painful to say that. Hopefully I will have a much better mindset if we ever make more money.

  • Mindy says:

    Hi Rachel!

    Trying not to sound too much like a creep here (haha), but I just wanted to say I was so excited when I realized I know exactly where the photo in the top of your post is from. I love taking my son for walks there. Looking forward to feeding the ducks again soon! Glad to see there are other MSM readers and contributors from the CS area. Thank you for the post, I am excited to read a local blog now 🙂

  • Melanie says:

    I agree with these, great reminders! Also, I find for us, that it helps us keep the focus on what the real priorities are for our life and family. When we have a month that’s more “off” and we aren’t sticking to our budget, usually that’s a month where we lost sight of our goals.

  • Isn’t it great that making our own stuff for frugality is also better for us?! I love knowing exactly what goes into our products too.

    I love all of these pointers and am working on being content!

  • Reenie says:

    I am a saver and my husband is a spender. We just had our 25th Wedding Anniversary. This has been a nagging issue I have had with him for years. I call him gadget boy. He has to have the latest technology and wants to do it all right now. I constantly tell him that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” He’s a very good person and very smart, but I feel that he lives for the moment and not for the future. I pay all of the bills so me being the frugal one, I worry more. We make very good combined income but I grew up have the necessities and nothing more. I stayed summers with my grandparents when I was younger and they grew up in the Depression so they didn’t waste and were savers.

    How do you change someone who’s not thrifty and “wastes” money? That’s really the only difference we have.

    • Olivia says:

      What helped us was to have a personal “mad money ” put into our written budget. Each of us gets a cash allowance each paycheck no strings attached. When it is gone it’s gone. I save mine for possible big things in the future and he spends his. It’s not a lot by some standards, for the longest time it was $5 a paycheck, now that the kids have left home it’s gone up to $10, but it keeps us within budget and helps him not feel so deprived.

      I don’t think you actually change anyone, but you can learn from one another. Discuss common goals. We have a yearly physical paper budget we’ve hashed out together. Long term savings is there as well. That way the budget is the “referee”. If he wants to get something I say, “Where can we take it from?” Sometimes there’s flexibility to do it and sometimes not. Having to actually write out what we spend in each category makes us mindful. So if he gets gas for the car he writes that in. If I write a check to pay car insurance, I put it in the books. If either of us see a problem we bring it up for discussion.

      Hope these ideas help.

  • This is great! My husband and I are wanting to save up to move across country to attend a church college in ohio. It’s our dream! …but we are terrible about spending money. We are working on getting better, and this post is inspirational. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Olivia says:

    Our son once commented, “I’m glad we’re poor, it’s made us more creative.” I marvel at the things attempted because there were few options. Not that they were done with any great expertise at the beginning, but you jump in and learn. Square foot gardening, canning, quilting, winemaking, tree fort building, costume making, budgeting, couponing, scratch cooking, thrift store shopping, decorating with found objects, refinishing furniture.

  • Flo says:

    We are a retired couple with enough to live and give. Since being faced with an unexpected health issue, we have discovered that we want to travel around the states more in the next few years. Frugality is the way we have been able to accomplish that: thrifty but healthy eating, exercise through working, no cable tv or fancy gimmicks, cell phones are for talk or text only (except map app for finding restaurants, etc. while traveling), stop accumulating things that our kids will have to get rid of, and appreciating our circle of friends and family as we share our extras among the circles. We visit family members in two areas each year and make it a point to visit at least one new place in each region on each trip. They are good enough to have some projects for us to help with when we visit, which gives us the joy of working together again.
    We have traveled by train across the country and greatly enjoy using the Amtrak rail pass and traveling coach one or two nights at a time while we spend 2 or 3 nights at locations along the way. (You can take your own food and drink, pillow and blanket and do well on the train as well as meet lots of great people. Our favorites so far are the western routes; it really saves a lot of driving! We did car rentals for these stops when we weren’t visiting family.) Since we want to see some areas that aren’t on a train route, our next step is tent camping–starting to use those things we got back when we thought we might be camping as a family!
    We didn’t replace our horse after he died at age 34. (Turns out the medications take up most of what we spent on his feed anyway. :/ ) The chickens produce eggs and enjoyment and make sure we don’t sleep in. The gardens are exercise and food and beauty. We help out at a CSA down the road during the growing season and often bring home seconds. I also can on shares with them. My splurge is a library card, which really helps curb my book habit! Creativity and taking advantage of opportunities offered really helps.

  • cindy says:

    Love this!

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