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!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ministry Update

Please read about our latest ministry related news here!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What's Been Making Me Smile...

  1. posting 3 times in one day
  2. the way Kenny says "Shoes on" when he really means "Take my shoes off" and the way everyone in our family understands him anyway
  3. a heart to heart with my mom and dad
  4. beautiful, new dish towels (going to use them to make aprons for my 3 little kitchen helpers!)
  5. stomping on crunchy, yellow-brown leaves with my boys
  6. a glorious nap, cuddled up with the sweetest person in the universe, Abigail Nendin
  7. dinner and a movie with my hubby in UB
  8. being such an important person in my home
  9. a brand new nephew!
  10. A normal reading on my thyroid test

School Days Update: Melanie

Yes, I'm posting about my school days because I am, once again, teaching English! I teach 4 hours on Tuesdays at Nate's school grades 2-6. I wanted to only be tied down to the school one day a week so it's great to be able to do that.

So, last Tuesday I got to ride the bus with Nate and spend snack time together. It was a bit of a challenge for Nate to stay put in his classroom and not keep coming to me and interrupting both his and my class. But finally, he understood that he needed to stay put. A little chocolate candy helped, too. =)

My kids are lively, especially the younger ones. My job is to help them develop their vocabulary and conversation/listening skills. They gotta have skillz, ya know. My tactic is to teach them through songs and poems and read lots of stories etc., to help them get used to my native accent. They love singing! One song I want to teach them is "My favorite things" from The Sound Of Music.

I have 2 Korean siblings in my 2nd grade class. They speak very little Mongolian or English but when I started singing "I love you, you love me..." their eyes lit up and they started singing along. I asked them if they knew Barney and the jumped up and said "YES!" So I asked them to come to the front of the class and help me teach the rest of the kids. It really made their day!

I am praying for 3 teachers at Nate's school to become believers. It will be easier to be a witness now that we work together.

Please keep us in your prayers. Me working even one day a week is a big adjustment for all of us. But, thankfully, this way we will be able to take a big cut out of Nate's tuition. My practical homeschooled brain tells me that it would be much easier just to homeschool Nate. That would save us both time and money but, Hubby feels better with Nate in school. And in a way, I do too. I see him growing in ways he would not have grown at home. It's hard to put my finger on it exactly but it just feels good.

More "School Days Updates" to come!

A Glimpse Into Mongolian Culture

Real Mongolian Barbecue...

Thanks Amanda!