Frugal Living Interview with Bethany Hayes

I have a lot of cousins – and a lot of those cousins are Lutheran. The other month I introduced you to my cousin, Lisa (on the Barz side), so now it’s time to introduce you to my cousin, Bethany (on the Lehenbauer side).

Bethany and I have become close in the years since I took my first call, when I lived only 3 hours away from her family. Growing up, we lived across the country from another (Minnesota to Texas) so 3 hours was a novelty!

Bethany married Tom, the same summer I married Andy. Her sister, Rebecca married Ted that same summer. We had 3 Lehenbauer weddings in 4 weekends! What a memorable summer 2009 was for our family!

Even though Bethany is years younger than me, I often forget that fact because she is mature beyond her years. She is very crafty as you can see at her Etsy shop – Beautifully Crafted. We love sharing frugal ideas and our time together at Women’s Retreats. I’m so thankful that Bethany is part of my family!

Tell us about yourself and your family.

I’m Bethany (Lehenbauer) Hayes and have been married to my wonderful husband, Tom for 3 years now. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first child the beginning of January. (It’s a girl!) My husband is a police officer in Louisville and therefore, always has an interesting story to tell when he gets home from work. I recently quit my job in management at Edible Arrangements to get things ready and enjoy some free time before our baby girl arrives. I’m looking forward to being able to stay home with her and hopefully being able to do a little more scrapbooking and anything else crafty!

Where do you live? What’s your home church?

We live in Louisville, Kentucky and attend Concordia Lutheran Church in downtown Louisville.

Who’s more frugal – you or your spouse? How so?

I would say that I am more frugal, but mainly because I do most of the shopping. I enjoy couponing and looking for the best deal although we both love a good bargain. We are both pretty good about realizing what is a need versus a want and neither of us buys “wants” very often.

Were you raised to be frugal? If so, how? If not, what made you become this way?

Coming from a family of seven kids off of the salary of a pastor, I would say I was raised to live pretty frugally. Eating out was a rare occurrence, with my mom cooking all of our meals at home. We had our own garden and my mom did a lot of canning too. We never bought something full price and got it right away. Christmas and birthdays were the only time we got “things” and my mom would shop clearance racks all year long to put away for these time.

Who (or what) has had the most influence on your frugality?

I would definitely say my mom has made the biggest impact on me. She knew how to stretch a budget to take care of 9 people, while still having some for family vacations and savings. We were taught to clean our plates, appreciate hand me downs, and work hard for what we got. Ever since my first job at 14 we were taught the 80-10-10 rule. 80% went in savings, 10% was tithed, and the other 10% was to spend. This “rule” easily became a habit in my life and because of it I was able to pay for all of my college. Although saving 80% is unrealistic now that we have bills to pay, it has helped teach me to tithe to church easily and save for those things that are important down the road.

How does your faith influence your frugality?

I think my faith has shown me how blessed I am. I am thankful for what I do have but realize that I would be just fine with even less. I am blessed with a wonderful family, a roof over my head and food on the table. Sure, we may be able to afford new clothes or a nicer car but those are not the important things in life and we have to be sure that all that “stuff” doesn’t distract us from what is.

What’s so appealing about being frugal?

I think the best thing about being frugal is that it allows you to enjoy life rather than worry about when that next bill is due. My husband works with several people that work 20+ hours of (optional) overtime every week. They are always asking him why he doesn’t want to work with them and the truth is, because he doesn’t need to. Sure they make really good money but these guys are working to pay for that brand new car, their boat, or that large house payment but if they didn’t want in excess they wouldn’t have to work in excess to pay for it. Plus if they are working an extra 20 hours a week to pay for that boat, are they really getting to enjoy it? At some point you have to decide is the family time more important or those extra things?

What is your biggest frugality challenge?

I would say entertainment is our biggest challenge. We love our date nights and things like dining out, movies, concert, plays, etc. are not cheap. We try to look for good deals on sites like Groupon in order to help cut expenses without cutting the experiences.

What’s your best frugality tips?

I would say that stockpiling on things that are on sale helps save you money in the long run. Sure you may not need 4 bottles of ketchup right now but if you can buy 4 bottles on sale for the same price that you would normally pay for 1 bottle, why not? You will use them eventually and you didn’t have to pay full price for any of it!

Since finding out that we were expecting I have been keeping an eye out for sales on diapers and wipes. I plan on doing some cloth diapering when I’m at home but will still use regular diapers too. So even though I am not due until January, I have already bought around 20 packages of diapers. I have been buying a package here and there as I see a good clearance or sale and have a good coupon. All of these packages I have bought for $3.50 or less and they are normally about $10 each. Even though I don’t need them at the moment, by buying them now and storing them in a closet it has already saved me a couple hundred dollars! Plus by starting now it will not be as big of an impact on our budget once we have an extra person to care for.

Make and eat as many meals as you can at home! Just for the two of us we can easily spend $20 on a meal out. That can add up fast! I usually spend about $30-40 a week on groceries and that feeds us for an entire week! I think you can do the math here…

Any final frugal thoughts to share?  

  • Buy wrapping paper and holiday decorations afterwards when they are 75-90% off and store them for next year.
  • Cut the cable bill and get Netflix instead.
  • Order water when you eat out. You can buy a 2 liter at the store for the same price that they charge you for one glass.
  • Pack your lunch rather than eat out. The financial and nutritional savings are worth it.

And some of my favorite quotes:

  •  The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything.
  • If you want to feel rich, just count all the gifts that money can’t buy.
  • Gratitude turns what we have into enough.
  • The best things in life aren’t things.

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