Defining My Consumer Style

Last year I set an ambitious goal; to save more money than I would have made working full time. I left my job as a photo studio producer to become a Full Time Mom because I absolutely wanted to devote myself to my daughter for her first year. As soon as I “aced” my second pregnancy test, I knew I needed to stay in this job for as long as possible. Now that we have two girls, I’m going to save as much money as I can for my family. It’s my way of ensuring my happiness and respecting my husband’s hard work at bringing home the bacon.

At first I wanted to start couponing, but there is so much waste to that nonsense that it can’t become my life plan. Granted, I’m going to use coupons, but I’m not going to devote more than 2 hours at the store at a given time and I’m certainly not going to bring home items that we won’t ever use. I’m also peeved by the notion that you’ll save more by buying smaller items. Smaller items = more packaging and more waste. You’re talking to someone who’s cloth diapering here, so I’m not about to fill up the landfill space that I’m saving! Basically, couponing wasn’t going to become my overall life mantra so I checked out the other side of the spectrum.

Initially I avoided going green because I thought everything cost more. When I think about what I’ve learned in the last year, I realize how naive I was. Yes, some of the products cost more but many of them are reusable or concentrated so the value is greater. I’ve gone from being skeptical of anything green to a borderline hippie. My husband is keeping tabs on me to make sure I don’t take things too far and he’s a great sounding board for some of the hairbrained ideas I find online.

If I’m not an extreme couponer or a barefoot treehugger, but I dabble in a few of both practices, where does that leave me? I call it a Conscientious Consumer. I’ve set my priorities to help guide me through the decisions I’m making about everything from the food we eat to the cleaning products I use:

  1. Health of my family
  2. Cost
  3. Environmental impact
  4. Time/Effort involved

With all this in mind, how are the finances stacking up? Pretty well so far! Since we would have spent 3/4 of my income on daycare, fuel, tolls, and taxes I was left with a small amount to cut from our regular monthly expenses.  I did this by menu planning based on grocery sales and using lots of quirky household tricks to cut costs. This ended up being the most costly year of our life because we paid for a home birth out of pocket, bought a home and completed some huge home renovations, but we’re using debt in a manageable way and doing our best to make responsible choices that match our income.

Ever since quitting my job I started getting fortunes from the Chinese restaurant about my great wealth and growing fortune. They seem to be true because I look at my family and know that I am rich in love.

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