by Jennifer Sikora
My search for frugality began when my husband decided to shut down his business in September of 2008 due to lack of business. At the time, I wasn’t working, so I started searching for something I could do from home to bring in some income to help with the bills. I landed a part-time job on the marketing team of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and began my venture as a stay-at-home, working mom. However, my small income was not nearly enough to pay the bills.
We’ve always lived as if we had only one income even when we both were working. I cannot remember where I got that piece of advice, but we always made sure that we followed it. It helped us to be able to save money when we both had jobs, and helped keep us out of a bind when there was only one income. Living like that was still not enough though, as we soon found out. We figured that as soon as Stephen, my husband, closed our business and began looking for a steady job, that everything would be fine. Little did we know that it would take almost a year before that dream became reality. He started looking for a job at the beginning of October 2008.
During that month, I think he applied for one hundred different jobs, with not one single response. The bills were now due, and we had no money to pay anything. My husband called his local contracting friend and made arrangements for him to come and buy all of his work tools. I hated watching him sell his tools that he had worked so hard to buy, but we had to do something. It was just enough to pay the bills for October. November ran about the same as October. Stephen applied for many jobs with no responses, and we soon realized that Christmas would soon be here. Too many things quickly became due and we realized that again, something would have to be sold to make ends meet. This time–it was his truck to go. We made just enough from that sale to pay November’s bills with no money left over. It was then we knew we would not be buying presents that year. December came and went with no Christmas presents for our children. I was totally heartbroken, but the Lord saw fit to give me peace during this time. The Lord always knows when our hearts need just that little bit of uplifting and that is what happened that Christmas. Even though Stephen and I were not able to buy our kids anything, my dad had been saving change all year long and that is what he gave our kids for Christmas (a gift worth $200 per child). The cool thing was that he had no clue about our situation! God showed up and showed out at that moment!
Every month until August of 2009 pretty much looked like the ones described above. My husband finally got a job and things are now looking up for us. I look back on that time in my life and I am thankful that I went through that. I learned how to cook from scratch, trim out all the unhealthy junk foods from our grocery budget. (By the way, if you do this, you’ll find out just how much money you’ve been spending on all that junk!) We learned to feed our family of four on $30 a week. I am talking very frugal—but we made it. We also found ways to have fun without any expenses, and the best thing is that we grew closer as a family because of this experience.
If you are going through hard times right now and can see yourself in my story—know that “this too shall pass.” God gave me some great counsel during that time. He showed me that I could choose to either focus on my circumstances and be grumpy and grouchy, or I could embrace that time period and make the best out of a grim situation. Having to live on almost nothing taught me more about love and grace, peace, faithfulness, and gratitude than anything else I have been through in my entire life. People have asked me, “If you had it to do all over again, would you choose to?” My response is very simple: I wouldn’t want to do it all over again, but if I had to, I know that I could make it and I would be fine in the end. Being content with what I have for that moment in time is the best thing about living a frugal life that I can share with you. We don’t have to keep up with the Joneses, or have to have the latest fashion trend or home décor, but we, as women, can embrace our frugal lives and teach other women how to thrive without spending much money! Live frugally and be content!