Slowly Sipping Coffee

A balancing act

A lot of my motivation for being less consumeristic is not entirely about reducing our budget, but also being more environment conscious. I’m not a fan of chemicals.  I like to make my own lotion out of shea and cocoa butter, and I am a proponent of real food. Now, some of this saves us money, some of it not so much. So, it’s a balancing act. But, I think we all have values and beliefs that don’t always work together. I struggle with a lot of choices– especially as a working mom. Sometimes buying pre-made food for my family is easier, but not cheaper… and often I still do it. I am not perfect. And that is OK.

As I have gotten older, I am beginning to see that life isn’t some mountain to climb – only reaching the peak with some intricate and difficult climbing techniques and a laser focus; but instead it’s a hike along the ridge, balancing in the middle slowly heading up to that peak. Often, I veer off the path – looking for some special flower, or trying to get a better view. And going off trail is ok. I think the key is not to head too far off trail – and end up deep in the valley below – peering back up at the ridge and realizing it will be an insurmountable effort to climb my way back up again. So, yeah – I may occasionally stop at Starbucks, or I may buy my kids some of those sugar-laden fruit snacks. I just try not to feel bad about it. I don’t buy Starbucks daily or even weekly, and I check the nutrition on those nasty fruit snacks to pick out the healthiest version. For me, the key is balance – to not be so hard on myself for compromising on my ideals. I find that forgiving myself for those little missteps, keeps me on track with my goals more than chastising myself.

Sometimes, my attempts at being chemical-free and frugal don’t always work out well. Like my attempt at going shampoo free for a year. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar. It made me feel good about myself, and my hair looked as good as it did when using real shampoo. It saved some money, and reduced my exposure to chemicals. But – it disgusted Mr. SSC. I learned he hates the smell of vinegar. oops. Fortunately, my hair smelled fine when it was dry – but I also don’t typically use a hair dryer, and then I smelled like vinegar for hours. So, I bought essential oils – for my ‘shampoo’ and for vinegar cleaning solution (rosemary was great!). Still, it didn’t entirely mask the smell – but Mr. SSC’s complaining lessened.   And now we have found a happy medium… I alternate shampoo and the vinegar, and for cleaning, we’ve found some products that don’t make me feel like I am introducing toxins to our home just to get rid of a little dirt. But, our happy median isn’t the frugal choice – it’s a balance of our ideals.

I would love to hear if you have some opposing values! Do you have a hobby or ideals that laughs at your attempts to save money?

10 thoughts on “A balancing act

  1. Cindy

    Yes! I’m struggling right now to find a balance with how we eat. I feel best when I go 100% paleo. But, it isn’t always the most convenient, or budget friendly, choice. And Bryan has a really hard time understanding. Food has never been an issue for him. He tries to be understanding, but finds it all to be really frustrating. He would prefer that I just eat whatever, whenever (and be skinny, and healthy, and happy). If I did most of the cooking, it would be a non-issue. But, he likes to cook. It’s a struggle that we’re still trying to sort out.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I’ve always been interested in paleo, but I’m not a big fan of meat, and have trouble figuring out how to get my protein without dairy. But Mr SSC seems to have the same attitude as Bryan…. Just eat and buy what makes you healthy and happy… It’s still hard to do, even with the support!

  2. Mrs. Maroon

    So much of this journey is a balancing act. I too give in to the easy stuff. I’d say one of my biggest downfalls is chips… We love chips and hot sauce. And nachos are just so darn tasty! I don’t even have to tell y’all about Cheetos either. They speak for themselves. But of course, those have NO place in my desired attempt to eat real, whole foods. As much as I’d like it, Cheetos just don’t fall in that category.

    Getting back to saving money though, the key is to spend your money as it fits in with your values. Seeking FIRE is not about doing everything on the uber-cheap just so you can sock that money away. The goal is to be deliberate about how you spend your money. Even if wildly expensive widgets bring you a huge source of joy, then it’s okay to buy them. The problem comes in mindlessly spending money on junk that doesn’t add any value. So keep on forgiving yourself. Just think – it will save you money on therapy bills down the line!!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      We are tortilla chip addict… So I understand your pain! I like your justification of spending money to avoid therapy… Lol…Mr SSC is totally going to be using that logic on me next time he wants something crazy!

  3. Mrs. PoP

    Completely agree… we save where can so we can splurge where we want to (with less guilt). Mr PoP is easy to pick on sometimes since he has some pretty expensive everyday habits (fancy coffee, likes eating out more than I do…) but I spend hundreds every year on fancy yoga and road races, both sports which I could totally do on my own (or with youtube) without spending all that money. So it’s always going to require a balance of combining his fancy desires with mine and making it all work with our finances still going the direction we want it to. =)

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I totally agree. I love the gym, and even if I could buy all the equipment for home, I’d still want to go to the gym. And yoga is 100 times better in a class then on YouTube. And when I do yoga at home I feel like I can’t forget the laundry that is in the other room waiting to be done!

  4. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    Yes, I do things that aren’t in line with my ideals. All the time. I’m not perfect and I never will be. I do try to get closer and closer to my ideals though.

    For your “shampoo”, did you try any vinegar-free recipes? Baking soda wash, then maybe drops of oil for dry ends? Water only?

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I tried baking soda, but it just made my hair feel dry, and icky…. Just didn’t feel like it rinsed clean. I do do water only now days, since my hair has gotten used to not being washed as often!

  5. Mrs. Frugalwoods

    I definitely agree that it’s a balancing act and I just try to figure out where the “cheapest” line crosses with the “best” line on my little made-up personal graph ;). We buy mostly organic produce, which absolutely costs more, but, I feel better about eating it. And, I agree with you on wanting to reduce the number of chemicals we’re exposed to at home. No sense in making yourself miserable while on this frugal journey!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Mr. SSC and I often argue about where that line is between ‘cheap’ and ‘frugal’. Then throwing quality (does it do the job well) and health aspects (chemicals) into the mix – it really can get complicated!

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