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Hot Mom on a Lukewarm Budget

Joan from Ohio emailed:Dear Karen, would you please consider writing about how to be frugal? You claimed in your book you’re ‘the most frugal person this side of the Mississippi’.  Judging from your pictures on your website and Facebook, it doesn’t look like you’re sacrificing much at all! I need your advice on how to be more frugal but not sacrifice good quality and style. I want to be a hot mom on my lukewarm budget!”

“Dear Joan, Saving money is always popular but it can take some effort, meaning a little extra energy on your part. Okay, sometimes a lot of extra energy — but I prefer to think of that energy spent as ‘exercise’ (hauling free wood from a neighbor’s house) or as ‘salary’ (spending 30 minutes clipping coupons to save $40 at the store — I figure I just got paid $80!) Hey, whatever works. At the very least think of it as something in your life you can actually control.

“We can’t control the weather, our kid’s moods, their classmates’ parents, the neighbor’s cats, our mother’s lack of scissors to cut the apron strings, the stock market, hormones, muffin tops, our husband’s snoring or our dog’s bladder…so we need to celebrate the power we do have. I mean really — claim what you can when you can!

“Saving money also acts a bargaining tool, er, a system of balance, shall we say. So your husband goes on line and looks at the day’s credit card expenses. Vet blah blah, groceries blah blah, gas blah blah, doctor’s office blah blah, salon blah blah BOOM! ‘$132 at the salon??? Did she kiss you too?’ This is when you pull out the receipts from Walgreens and BJ’s and show how you saved $62 by double couponing (using a store coupon plus a manufacturer coupon for one item…which these two stores allow hence, I shop there)…’So technically Honey, my cut and color really only cost $70! Ta da! Now, how ’bout I make you a nice vodka tonic? The grocery store now carries your favorite diet tonic in a 2 liter bottle which saves us $1.31 per bottle! Sure the store stocks them on the top shelf which means I have to risk my neck and falling, exploding bottles to step on the bottom shelf to reach them… then ask some tall person to reach the next row back… and sure they’re kinda heavy for me to lug inside but hey! You are SO worth and it’s SOOO much cheaper!’

“Now you walk away and all that’s left ringing in your husband’s ears is, ‘vodka tonic’ and ‘cheaper.’ All’s well that ends well, right?  Plus your hair looks fabulous, darling!
P.S. Thanks for friending me on Facebook!
Loyally, Karen J Rinehart”


Karen Rinehart's columns appear Sundays in the Independent Tribune. Her website is KarenJRinehart.com.


  • kaylancor

    I loved that line about not being able to control the weather..etc… and ” claim what you can when you can!” Indeed, a very positive insight into the difficulty of frugal-ness. Sadly, as a mom of a large family, I NEED to be frugal however, having less time can end up spending more money (like on quick-foods) just to feed the kids or if I want to get some “me” time (which is a rare event), I have to opt to shop at the local (more expensive store) rather than drive an hour out (and back) to a cheaper store. Hmm, bad example, as the gas cost alone would prove the cheaper store useless.

    • kaylancor

      Oh, and the end of this article was hilarious! LOL!