Thursday, March 01, 2007

Spend to save?

As I start off on a new path of frugality (see the last post), I'm struggling with something I've faced every single time I start a new effort to save money.

When I think of the ways I want to start saving money, they cause me to want to spend money. Normally, I don't struggle with this too much (because I just go ahead and buy), but this time, I'm trying to really question myself. Is this really a smart purchase? Or is this just spending cloaked as saving? Ugh... I can really turn this into a mental game.
Case in point:

In order to stop using disposable coffee cups at our weekly church small-group gathering, I'd like to buy a set of fifty cent mugs from Ikea. $6-12 up front, depending on how many I buy. I don't think I can do better than this at a thrift store, and if it's about the same price, I'd prefer a matching set. If I buy the neat mug storage box from Container Store, it's an additional $16.

In order to cook dinner at home more consistently, it would be enormously helpful if I could cook more dinners ahead of time and freeze them. It would be very difficult to do this in our current freezer - it just doesn't hold much. I already buy meat ahead of time when it's on sale, so that takes up most of the space. So, I'd like to get a small (7cu?) chest freezer for the garage. At Sears, I can get one for about $200. Oh, how I would love one of these! I have no idea if it's better to get a chest freezer or upright. Any opinions?

Of course, to pre-freeze meals, I keep getting stuck when I try to figure out what you freeze them in. I'm really wanting to freeze casseroles, lasagnas, etc. - things I can fully pop in the oven when I get home. I only have a couple casserole dishes, so I can't keep these in the freezer. It seems to me that I'd need to stock up on some disposable pans, and then keep re-using them.
What do other people do for this?

These are just a few examples. This is how my mind works. I really don't know how to save money without spending money. Perhaps this is just how it is - that to start doing things frugally, it takes an upfront investment. Perhaps, I'm just a spendy and like to fool myself. The insane part is that I truly don't know which one is right. I'm a bit paralyzed in my spending self-doubt.
- kel.


udandi said...

Garage sale season is upon us and you might be able to find matching mugs and casseroles. maybe even a freezer or try craigslist for that.

I have a martha stewart/kmart casserole set with lids that is perfect for freezing. My mom has the pyrex version. both work well for making ahead meals and freezing.

kel said...

Thanks Udandi! I have been looking at craigslist for freezers. I was hoping to find one that is auto-defrost, but I don't think they really exist. Maybe I can get a deal afterall.

I the pyrex glass casserole pans with lids. I could look for them on sale or at garage sales. I just don't know which would be more economical - the glass ones on sale, or the foil ones - used as many times as I can. I know the glass ones would be nicer to use, but also harder to store. I'm seriously perplexed about this!