Thursday, February 11, 2010

How much is too much?

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. 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.


Anonymous said...

Yeah that's just sad. It's ridiculous that she's broadcasting the "living" conditions she's inflicting on her kids. And ten? She wants seven more kids? Oy vey. CPS anyone?

Frugality has a lot to do with knowing when enough is enough. Being frugal at the risk of your family is abuse. Her kids are going to end up in therapy.

Kathy said...

I think CPS has been called but I don't honestly know if her living conditions warrant it. There is a criteria but it varies from state to state. Still, I feel for those kids.

You hit it head on about frugality. I recently figured out that the return on some frugal things I was doing interfered with my ability to do better frugal things. It's a very liberating thing, to know your boundaries and to know when to admit defeat.

It almost makes me feel like a grown up. LOL

Susie B said...

3 kids in a one-bedroom? And she's proud of it? There's frugal and frugal. I had 2 kids in a one-bedroom 45' mobile home but there was room for their toys, they had good food, clean clothes and lots of light. They ended up sleeping on the sofa but then they were only 4 and 2. Can't imagine having 3 in that small of space.

Kathy said...

Susie B: She is so proud of her poverty that it has become a huge problem for her and her family. They make more than $12,000 a year but she refuses to live on more than $1000 a month. Although if you add it all up, they are living on the whole amount of their income, they're just not putting it into the monthly expenses. Star Trek dvds do cost money and her husband's church basement college costs money as well. :-P

She seems to think that they are doing a marvelous thing living the way they do.

Her pride in living below $1000 means she won't listen to people who are more experienced. She won't believe she isn't the expert on frugality.

It's so sad for her kids.

knittingdragonflies said...

Wow, I wouldn't want to try and live like that unless I had to. Wonder what she is paying for internet access?

Kathy said...

I don't remember what she pays but it's supposedly dial up and dirt cheap. You'd be amazed at her latest. She wants her readers to re-design her sons' but she's only willing to spend $50 and won't even accept free mattresses for the boys. Claims they're full of chemicals. She thinking of making hay mattresses instead.

I swear this woman is certifiable.