Saturday, September 27, 2008

Frugal Friday: Frugality In A 3rd World Country

I have been thinking a lot lately about my reasons for being frugal. I think I'm a lot different from those who consider grocery shopping a sort of competitive game they play every month to see how much they can save. For me, (as well as many others out there, I'm sure) being frugal is a means of survival, as some months, after paying the rent and bills I don't have nearly what I need to get our family through the month food/clothes wise. Thank God the rent and bills get paid, though. =)

Frugality is a skill I probably would have never acquired had I not moved to Mongolia and chosen this life of ministry. I'm not "frugal at heart", like some people seem to be. I don't really find it fun to pinch pennies on a daily basis. If I had more money I'd spend it. And I'd probably spend more on others than myself.

I'm one of those people who would spend money to save time or hassle. Having to be frugal all the time can wear me down so I have to keep close tabs on my attitude. God has never let us go hungry, even though there have been lean times, so I have a lot to be grateful for. But one source of constant irritation for me is the way the stores and prices are set up in this country.

There are no REAL sales, on food items, at least. ONCE I found a shelf boasting a sales sign but the items were all expired. If things do go one sale it is because the prices were so jacked up in the beginning anyway so they just bring them back down to the normal price and try to get rid of them.

It's the same with clothes. They bring low quality clothes and shoes in from China and try to sell them at 3 and 4 times what they paid. All the stores have sales but like I said before, it's just bad clothes selling for the original price so they can get rid of them.

The prices of many food items have doubled and even tripled in the last year due to the price of gas going up. Most of what the stores in Darkhan sell is brought in by trucks from UB so the gas prices directly affect their prices. Each month when I go to get my groceries from the market, I find that something has gone up yet again. I then have to make an amendment to my list right there in the middle of the market to make sure I can get what I need.

Then you just never know what you'll find at any given store. Like, if I see oatmeal and I have the money I usually snatch up 6 bags at a time and that'll usually last about 2 months. If I don't buy it at that time, chances are someone else will buy it and I won't be able to find it again for another 6 months. So, if I buy something like that in bulk, I have to make adjustments in the rest of my list. Can be quite a headache for me.

Probably the best frugal thing our family does is that we live without credit. We have never had credit cards and it's one of the best choices we've ever made. We use cash or debit card for all of our purchases and when we run out of money that's just that.

I'm not sure exactly what my purpose was in writing about all of this. I guess I wanted to give the American housewives who are reading this a little picture of what it's like to be frugal in a 3rd world country. I really wish we had grocery store sales like the ones I read about on some blogs. Like how someone got $450.00 worth of groceries but only spent .99 out of pocket. I'm being facetious but you know what I mean.

So, the next time you buy a bunch of canned goods for a really irresistible price, please say a prayer for us housewives in Mongolia who are trying to make ends meet in a 3rd World country. Pray that we'll catch a break. Pray that we'll catch a REAL sale!

For more frugal reading visit Biblical Womanhood and have a great weekend!


$5 Dinner Mom said...

Cantare de tu amor por siempre!
I'm so glad to have found your blog! I lived in the Dominican Republic for 6 years and totally get this post...and can understand much of what you are experiencing! Please know that there are American housewives praying for you! Praying for the Lord to place many frugal opportunities in your path!

Cheri said...

I haven't been where you "are". We've always had at least one American store to rely on.

Yes, I find it a game to get the best prices and deals. But it also allows me to freely give to others, being good stewards with our money without compromising my own family's needs. With enough leftover to pay overseas postage! :-)

Michele said...

Amen Sister! I don't really live in a true 3rd world country, I'm guessing Brazil is 2nd, not really sure, but I totally understand. I dream of the days when once again I can clip coupons and actually find real "sales". Here we do have one day a week where all fresh produce is reduced in price a bit at the local grocery stores, and that does save us some money, so I can't complain too much.

It's so hard for me to buy any clothes here at all. We've been blessed with being able to go to the US acouple of times and others coming here, so I only buy clothes in the US. (right now I'm pregnant and have NO preggo pants yet...I have one more month before we go to the US and I'm really trying to make my last pair of pants work until we get there!) Ha! I have bought a few shirts for my husband, but they fall apart almost instantly because they were on "sale" and very poor quality.

Bless you and all that you do to make wise decisions for your family. Glad I found your blog!

The Gluten-Free Homemaker said...

I'm one of those American housewives, and I've never lived in a 3rd world country. It's good to hear what life is like for other people. Thanks for sharing and I will pray for you.

Marnie said...

Your post has really got me thinking. I read it over the weekend, before I went to the grocery store. I thought about you as I was shopping. I have prayed for you since I have found your blog, and I will continue to pray that the Lord will meet ALL your needs "according to His riches in glory"!!

Rhonda in Chile said...

You took the words right out of my mouth! We can't play the CVS game where there are no CVS!
The women here in Chile are already more frugal than I will ever have to be. I really don't know how they do it, and I hope I never have to find out!
God bless!