Sunday, January 15, 2012

Practical Wisdom From Yesterday's Women: Live Within Your Means

The last bit of wisdom that I shared with you from The American Frugal Housewife was about making a budget. Now normally, when we make a budget, it is so we know how much money we have to spend, but if we take a lesson from 1832, we will attempt to spend much less than that:

"If you have enough, and more than enough, to get everything suitable to your situation, do not think you must spend it all, merely because you happen to have it. Begin humbly. As riches increase, it is easy and pleasant to increase in hospitality and splendour; but it is always painful and inconvenient to decrease."
Child, Lydia Maria Francis (2009-10-04). The American Frugal Housewife (Kindle Locations 121-123). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition. 

Once you become accustomed to a way of life, it is very hard to give up that way of life in order to scale back and cut costs, but many of us are finding it necessary to do just that right now in this economy.  The author of this book, I believe, nails the reason that it is so hard for us to scale back, too--pride!

Now, of course the things they needed to scale back on were much simpler than all of the options we have these days.  She simply talked of decorating ones home, or husbands and fathers wanting to have their wives and daughters adorned in the finest clothing and accessories so as to keep up with appearances in their social class.

We may not have set "social classes" today, but our society does dictate many of the things that we "must have" to be accepted as "doing ok", and to be quite honest it truly would hurt most of our pride if we had to go without some of these things.

I'm not going to make a list of things we need to do without, because different things are of different levels of importance to different people.  If you are spending everything you make each month, however, I suggest taking a lesson from the past, and having a close look at the things you are spending on.  Set your pride aside while you think about what truly can be scaled back on.  Look for ways to save money on those things you want to hang onto.  It may be as easy as a call to your cable company, who will lower your bill like they did ours!

I'm certainly speaking to myself here, also.  It's been a long time since we've sat down and had a close look at our expenditures.  We've cut back on many things in the past that seem to keep creeping back in.  Fast food is a big thing for us.  It's going to take a little bit more extensive planning on my part, but I know that is one change we need to make.  I'm sure we will discover that there are many more!

If you must make these sacrifices, do not be of the mindset that these are things that your family has to do without.  Think instead about the debt that many people accumulate trying to make sure they have it all, and know that you are making things much better for your family by avoiding that path!

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