I read a blog that is, to me, a train wreck, yet many, many people out there think this woman is the second coming of all that is frugal. I think she's obsessive and is harming her children. I won't link to it because she makes money off every click. If that money were going toward feeding her family or in any way making those children's lives better, I would broadcast it, but she stuffs that money into an account that pays for her husband's "college" which is in some church's basement and will produce a degree that is absolutely worthless. That and their Star Trek dvd collection.
They live in a one bedroom apartment. The two oldest boys (she has three, aged 3 and under) live in the walk in closet which is stuffed to the brim with books, toys, tents, etc. The middle one lives in a crib of which the setting is for newborns. The older boy, who just got out of the hospital a couple of weeks ago after being in an undiagnosed coma sleeps on a bare, plastic mattress on the floor. The mattress resides under the crib...a "trundle crib" as she calls it. The newborn co-sleeps with mom and dad. No judgment there...Zach co-slept with us and he's fine. And in his own bed (he's over 21 after all.) But a cold, plastic mattress in a home where the room temperature is set at 50-55F? Because she doesn't like to wash sheets in her camping, plastic, portable washer. She hangs the clothes in the boys' room on a clothesline.
She feeds them on $140 a month: her husband looks gaunt and her children don't look like they're thriving, but I'll admit that cameras aren't great at showing pink cheeks. Still, I don't think babies and children should be on high protein diets. But I'm not a nutritionist.
So...how much frugality is too much? This isn't an easy question to answer because different people have different lines drawn in the sand. But I think we can safely say that when your family suffers physically and emotionally, it's time to re-think your principles.
Don't starve your family. Fruits and vegetables are necessary to a healthy diet along with small portions of meat or use plant proteins, which are not only cheaper but healthier than a high protein diet using cheap meats.
Don't let your family wallow in filth. Children deserve warmth and clean clothes. These are essential. Filth breeds disease. Keep your home and your kids clean. You don't need spotless (which is a good thing because my home isn't) but spend more time cleaning your surfaces, floors and your kids and spend less time on stuff that is only saving pennies.
Learn. Don't assume you know it all. I am learning good frugal techniques from people half my age. And I'm not ashamed to do it. Humility is a good thing, especially in frugality.
It's one thing to make do. It's another to choose to live on a starvation level, refuse the sources that are available in order to proudly live below a living wage. I told you, any extra money she gets doesn't go toward their living conditions, but for her husband's "school" or their dvd collection. Or midwives. They plan on having 10 kids. She went into great detail how she was going to fit all ten kids in their one bedroom apartment.
I've cooled off now. Everything came into the library at once so I've got a lot of dvds to watch, but it's okay because I have a lot of knitting to catch up on.
Fast food tonight...well, my version of it. Grilled cheese sandwiches, a green veg and chips. Not healthy but once in a while it's okay.
Frugality doesn't mean living substandard. It means using your common sense to make the most of what you've got.