A Frugal Woman Ink Slingers Mary S. Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Series

Ode to Feminine Genius: A Frugal Woman

This is the third installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman.

Today’s topic will cover a Frugal Woman.

Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman - Frugal
Blessed Mother Teresa is the patron saint for the Frugal Woman

old bread muffin

A Frugal woman. Sounds kinda boring, doesn’t it? Like that woman wearing an ill-fitting jeans jumper that looks like it’s from 30 years ago, buying only day-old bread, never getting anything nice or new, and spouting off about how everyone should grow and grind their own flour, like her. Um yeah, I really don’t want to be that lady. The good news is that being frugal doesn’t have to look like that at all. Frugality just means making wise use of the gifts God has given us, whether it’s our talents and skills, our monetary income, our time and effort, or the material items we own. It means not wasting or throwing away those gifts. So, how does that look in everyday life?? Well, I’ll tell you about one major way my husband and I try to be frugal, then I’ll go through several different points to think about in considering how best to become more frugal in your own life.

Money can be a difficult topic in any marriage. I’ve heard that financial difficulties or disagreements are responsible for a large percentage of divorces and any married couple can tell you it’s the source of many arguments. As much as we should perhaps want to “rise above” such mundane and materialistic concerns, it can be difficult to avoid hearing your spouse criticize your spending habits and not take it personally. My husband and I have had our share of disagreements, usually rising from a difference in how our parents handled money and how we were raised to think of money, or even just our personalities – a matter of us doing things differently from each other, rather than one of us doing anything wrong. We’ve managed to work out a system that has been working fairly well for us with ideas originating from a variety of sources.

budget envelopes For a few years now we have roughly followed the advice of Dave Ramsey. The biggest change for us was going to a cash budget and planning where all of our money is going to go each month before we spend any of it. I’m better at making plans and organizing the details, so I work out the budget in a spreadsheet I created and figure out what bills we’ll need to pay and how much money goes in which envelope for the month. My husband is better at making sure those planned details actually happen, so he’s the one who sits down and writes the checks for the bills and makes sure each one gets paid. It amazed me at first, just how easy it was to stay on budget, simply because I had to actually pull out cash for whatever I wanted to buy! From one month to the next, we went from spending more than my husband’s paycheck, to being able to save money each month! I was afraid we’d feel so deprived, or that it would actually start more arguments, since we were really making an effort to save up some money in a “rainy day fund”, but that wasn’t the case at all. We try to touch base about the budget monthly or when there is a major expense that comes up and I think that heads off any arguments because we deal with differences or problems before they get big and emotional. Of course, we have had to make many adjustments as our family changed, our needs and wants changed, and my husband’s job changed. And it’s taken time to figure out the best separation of roles and what we each are best at. Nowadays, the changes are more minor since we’ve gotten the bigger aspects of our system worked out. In fact, the biggest change I have planned is to sew a cash envelope wallet (like in the tutorial here), to replace our ratty and wrinkled paper envelopes that tend to get misplaced or ripped.

Frugality is a difficult thing. Budgeting and money management is part of it, but clearly not the whole. The monthly duties of planning the budget and paying bills can be easy compared to the myriad daily choices we make that comprise a frugal way of life. It means a daily commitment to using the gifts we’ve been given wisely, deciding as a couple (for married folks) how best to use what we have, and to trusting that God will provide what we need as long as we do our part and follow His will. That looks different for each family, and certainly is a balancing act trying to figure out what works best. And as with most things, we can always do better. That can be discouraging at times, but I prefer to think of it as the “glass half full,” because when I’m disappointed because I made a poor or wasteful choice, I know there’s room for improvement next time. So here’s what I look at in attempting to be more frugal:

1. Budget

  • plan your budget: do what works for you. A spreadsheet plan and cash in envelopes has worked great for us, but another system might work better for your family.
  • stick to it, but
  • change it when needed: especially at first, towards the end of the month I would take money from envelopes that still had any to fill needs in other categories. When I frequently find myself short in one envelope and with extra in another, I change the budget for the next month.

2. Plan

  • Meal planning helps avoid wasted food, planning several errands for the same trip save time and gas, planning ahead for clothing needs enables you to take advantage of the best sales.
  • Even in small things, planning can help: knowing you have enough milk or eggs for tomorrow’s breakfast means avoiding a last minute shopping trip or a stressful change of menu in the morning.

3. Discuss with your spouse

  • this isn’t a one-off thing, you really need to keep checking in to make sure you’re both on the same page
  • look at each of your strengths and weaknesses to decide how best to divide the responsibilities, whether it’s budgeting and bill-paying, shopping and cooking, childcare, or anything.
  • if things change, discuss with your spouse again.
  • If things don’t change, discuss with your spouse again (I know, broken record, right?!?! Seriously, planning and talking about your plan together really is the best advice I could give any married couple!!)

4. Consider the smaller “daily” stuff

  • Consider whether clipping coupons is for you. Have you checked out discount or second-hand stores in your area? Even if there are some things you really want to buy brand new, I’m frequently amazed at the quality of some items I find at my favorite thrift stores!
  • something is broken?? Rather than tossing it, take a moment to see if it can be fixed, re purposed, or recycled
  • Even having “grungy” clothes set aside for when you paint or do other messy stuff (or having separate play and school/church clothes for your kids) is also a way to be frugal, because it saves your nicer (and usually more expensive!) clothes from getting stained, torn, or otherwise ruined.
  • Learn to do some things yourself: cooking from scratch, buying large cuts of meat and cutting/packaging them yourself, sewing, gardening, all these skills are great for making better use of the resources you have
  • share skills with others: my MOMS club enjoys doing some play dates where we learn new skills and share what we know with each other, and we’ve also worked out trades and barters for some skills – mending a friend’s pants once got me a couple jars of her delicious strawberry jam!! You might be surprised what some of your friends could teach you to do, or could barter with you for something you can do.

5. Pray

  • Okay, this really should be the very first step! Because the first step is discerning how and where you need to make better use of your gifts, and that means prayerfully considering your lifestyle.

Clearly, this is just a start. There are so many different personalities, needs and family situations that there’s no way I could address every need. There are so many websites and resources on how to save money, and make better use of what you have, that this post is really more an encouragement and a few ideas for you to consider your own situation. So put away the thought of a cranky, styleless, penny-pinching lady, and consider how you can joyfully be frugal with what you’ve been given. I’ll be there with you, singing while I mend my kiddos’ torn clothes!

So, what are some tips that YOU can add to this list? In what ways do you live frugally and how does it help your family?

::DISCLAIMER: Recognizing that each family, marriage, woman is different, this series is intended to give advice and information based on the writer’s personal experience. These are not intended to say that our way is best and that we know what’s best for your family, but rather the point is to share some things that have worked for us. We welcome your ideas in the comments and/or look forward to seeing your posts that highlight things that work in your home. We’re all in this together!::

A Faithful Woman Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Motherhood Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Series Vocations

Ode to Feminine Genius: What is This Homemaker Stuff, Anyway?

This is the second installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman.

Today’s topic will cover a Faithful Woman.

St. Monica is the patron saint for A Faithful Woman

When we first started hammering out details for this series, I got really excited – then, I saw the word homemaker – used repeatedly. Not really knowing much about the word, I looked up the definition and found




1. a person who manages the household of his or her own family, especially as a principal occupation.
2. a person employed to manage a household and do household chores for others, as for the sick orelderly.
Origin:  1885–90; home + maker
Can be confused: homemaker, housewife (see usage note at housewife).
Usage note 1.  See housewife.


[hous-wahyf or, usually, huhz-if for 2]

noun, plural house·wives [hous-wahyvz]

1. Sometimes Offensive . a married woman who manages her own household, especially as her principal occupation.
2. British . a sewing box; a small case or box for needles, thread, etc.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), house·wifed, house·wif·ing.

3. Archaic. to manage with efficiency and economy, as a household.
Origin:  1175–1225; Middle English hus ( e ) wif.  See housewife
Back the truck up.
1. Sometimes Offensive . a married woman who manages her own household, especially as her principal occupation.

My inner feminist nearly flipped her lid. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I never much liked the imagery of being married to my house and I certainly did NOT sign up to be the principal keeper of the house.


Recently, and more appropriately, FINALLY, at the young age of {insert garbled words}, I have managed to come to grips with my role in the house and its place within my primary vocation as wife and mother. For many years, though, there was a gap of epic proportions to describe the disconnect between myself and the house. It was always something I dreaded, resented…even hated.

Laundry, meals, grocery shopping, meal planning, repairs, cleaning, more laundry, more groceries, home decorating, maintenance, gardening {seriously???}, and overall pride of home.

Yuck. I’d rather just piddle around on the interwebz.

That’s way more fun…plus, I know how to do that.

And do it well.

Most of us were never taught how to manage a home, or taught that it’s ok if you hate it or aren’t good at it. Many of us have been worn down with society’s idea that our self worth is attached to only the work we do outside of the home. And sometimes those images and thoughts come with an undercurrent of you’re not worth anything if you stay at home {or worse, care for the children}. 





For a number of years, I lived for my kids to be at school. I loved my ME time! They received a good education and I got what I thought was well-earned quiet time. I lived for naps because I still had littles at home who needed naps. I dreaded 2:45 p.m. because with it came the afternoon madness of homework, snacks, craziness, extracurriculars, living out of the vehicle, husband coming home to utter madness and no dinner made. SHEW.

My life was full of self-inflicted chaos.

And worse, I didn’t know it could be any different.

Conversations over the years with other women led me to believe I wasn’t alone in my distaste for taking care of the home. Over time, I found there was a common thread, but couldn’t quite place its origin until one gal and fellow Ink Slinger Misty hit the nail on the head. She said {paraphrased} that our culture doesn’t nurture or foster home management for girls. As women we are often left in the dark on home management or are supposed to automatically know how to run a home and take care of it, right down to the minutiae. We’re not only supposed to know how to do these things, there is also this impossible standard of both liking it AND doing it well and without complaint. PFT!

Imagine if we trained up our children in ways that helped them to understand how the home works, from researching and shopping better insurance rates, to knowing and learning tips to buying the best tires for your cars, how to delve into a life of frugality by being empowered – truly empowered – to make your own chicken broth, canning tomatoes, making your own laundry detergent, etc., to creating a schedule for cleaning in the home, meal planning, tips for staying productive throughout the day instead of sliding into a rut of the stereotypical watching your “stories” and mindlessly popping bon bons, knowing you will have good days and bad days and the WORST kind of days and that that is ok, we all have them!

But what if, instead of telling our children that the world is right, and that their worth is attached to college degrees, good-paying jobs, climbing the corporate ladder, getting that nice home in the designer jeans neighborhood and buying the latest cars and tech toys, we instead teach and consistently reinforce in them that their worth came attached to their soul the moment they were conceived and that God has indelibly marked us as His and that nothing in this world will ever fill the secular void like His love does?

Now, I’m not saying that having a college degree or any of the other things are bad – but, rather, what I’m saying is that we rework our perception of what fulfills us, so that even if we have achieved some/all of the above, we are still aligned correctly and rooted firmly in God’s love so that we can use the good from a good-paying job to build up the Kingdom.

All we have, all we work for, all we do is to build up the Kingdom. This is the root of why we should take care in doing everything so as to please the Lord.

Even the home.

The thing I dreaded taking care of because I detested it so much.

::sigh. Ok, Lord, you win. Show me how to do this with less complaining and more glorifying You::

A handful of tips that work for this gal

1. Pray. Before I get out of bed, I like to spend time in prayer, anything from reading the daily readings, to contemplative prayer, praise and thanksgiving. It helps set the day right when I’ve given God His due. 2. Make your bed. This is one of my top three things that must get done each day for me to feel some level of accomplishment. Yours may be different. Identify what you have to accomplish each day and stick to it.

Starting laundry first thing in the morning helps me get the day going in the right direction. Seen here is a small peak at Mt. Washmore.

3. Cleaning schedule. This helps my house run smoothly. About 10 years ago, I decided to give FlyLady a try and after a year or so, I modified her schedule to fit our family. The result is that we have a set laundry schedule {girls on Mondays, me on Tuesdays, boys on Wednesdays, husbie on Thursdays, towels/sheets on Fridays}, set days for certain cleaning tasks that are divided among family members, from bathrooms to bedrooms, vacuuming, mopping and sweeping. 4. Many hands make for light work. Kiddos as young as two can start helping with chores. In my house, I have learned that while yes, I did not marry the house, I am by default simply based on the time I am in the house, that logistically I am in charge of the majority of the home. Thems the breaks. So, it makes sense from a practical and logical standpoint that because I am home, the majority of what goes on in it is left in my charge. That doesn’t mean that I do all the chores, but that I do my part while managing who does what and overseeing, helping, and correcting the chores or projects. 5. Lowered expectations. Your home won’t look like something out of Real Simple unless you don’t do any real living in your home. If you accept that your home will look like people – gasp – live in it most of the time, it will greatly reduce your stress. In our first home I always felt like things needed to be pristine and perfect – something I failed at daily and exacerbated my frustration with the house, the family, myself. I leave you with a quote by a veteran momma that really hit the nail on the head for me.


::DISCLAIMER: Recognizing that each family, marriage, woman is different, this series is intended to give advice and information based on the writer’s personal experience. These are not intended to say that our way is best and that we know what’s best for your family, but rather the point is to share some things that have worked for us. We welcome your ideas in the comments and/or look forward to seeing your posts that highlight things that work in your home. We’re all in this together!::

Alessandra Domestic Church Fatherhood Ink Slingers Marriage Motherhood Parenting Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Resources Series Vocations

Ode to Feminine Genius: The Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Introduction

This is the first installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman.

Today will cover the series introduction.


Achieving perfection that is pleasing to God by imitating the Blessed Virgin Mary is the goal of this new series entitled Ode to Feminine Genius: The Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman.  In our quest for doing God’s will, intentional homemaking, and becoming a woman of inner beauty by focusing our study in this series of Proverbs 31: 10-31, which tells us:

“Who shall find a valiant woman? far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils.  She will render him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.  She hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands.  She is like the merchant’s ship, she bringeth her bread from afar.  And she hath risen in the night, and given a prey to her household, and victuals to her maidens. She hath considered a field, and bought it: with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard.  She hath girded her loins with strength, and hath strengthened her arm. She hath tasted and seen that her traffic is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night.  She hath put out her hand to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle.  She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor. She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow: for all her domestics are clothed with double garments. She hath made for herself clothing of tapestry: fine linen, and purple is her covering. Her husband is honourable in the gates, when he sitteth among the senators of the land.  She made fine linen, and sold it, and delivered a girdle to the Canaanite.  Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day. The Canaanite: The merchant, for Canaanite, in Hebrew, signifies a merchant. She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue. She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle. Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Since this chapter of the Bible is jammed with so much goodness, we have pulled nine (9) categories to write about.  These will be presented in any order and by various contributors coming from different walks of life.  It is our hope to make this a perpetual series within the website and that it will bring you closer to God and help you discipline the self so that we can help one another in living the Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman life.  Here are the topics:

1. A Frugal Woman: A Valiant Woman spends money wisely, in consultation with her husband, regarding the needs of their family, making wise purchases that demonstrate prudence and ultimate trust that God will always provide. Proverbs 31: 13-14, “She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I spend our family money wisely?  Do I consult with my husband for large purchases? Am I being prudent with our money?  Do I trust that God will always provide?

2. A Strong Woman: A Valiant Woman cares for herself in body and soul. She is concerned about keeping a strong prayer life, eating right, and getting enough rest, to set a healthy example of strong balance for her family.  Proverbs 31: 16-17, “She hath considered a field, and bought it: with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard. She hath girded her loins with strength, and hath strengthened her arm.”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I care for my body by exercising and staying in shape?  Do I worry about the state of my soul? Do I keep a strong prayers life?  Do I eat well?  Do I get enough rest every day?  Am I setting an example of strong balance for my family?

3. A Diligent Woman: A Valiant Woman uses her time wisely. She works diligently to complete her daily tasks. She does not spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord. She looks for ways to be organized and finds solutions to homekeeping. Proverbs 31: 19, “She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I spend my time wisely?  Do I work diligently to complete my daily tasks?  Do I spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord?  Do I look for ways to be more organized?  Do I find solutions to homekeeping?

4. A Merciful Woman: A Valiant Woman serves her husband, her family, her friends, and her neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit. She practices the works of mercy and influences her will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune. Proverbs 31: 20, “She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor.”

We should ask ourselves questions like:  Do I serve my husband and family?  Do I serve my friends and neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit? Do I practice the works of mercy and influence my will to have compassion for and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune?

5. A Hospitable Woman: A Valiant Woman creates an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for her family and guests by being a good homemaker She uses hospitality to show Christ to those around her. She is friendly and courteous to those who visit and makes them feel welcomed. Proverbs 31: 21, “She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet.”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I create an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for my family and guests?  Am I a good homemaker?  Do I use hospitality to show Christ to those around me? Am I friendly and courteous to those who visit? Do I make them feel welcomed?

6. An Industrious Woman: A Valiant Woman works willingly with her hands. She keeps her home as her first and foremost focus. She looks well to the ways of her household and embraces the life God has blessed her with. She is diligent and self-disciplined in all she does. Proverbs 31: 27, “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” 

We should ask ourselves questions like:  Do I work willingly with my hands? Do I keep my home as my first and foremost focus? Do I organize my housework and keep up with it?  Do I embrace the life God has blessed me with?  Am I diligent in my housework? Am I self-disciplined in all I do?

7. A Family Woman: A Valiant Woman respects her husband and does good by him always. She loves and respects him as the head of the home. She teaches her children the ways of God and nurtures them with love, and disciplines them with care and wisdom. She trains them in the Roman Catholic Faith.  Proverbs 31: 28, “Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her.”

We should ask ourselves questions like:  Do I respect my husband?  Do I do good by him always? Do I love and respect my husband as the head of our home?  Do I teach my children the ways of God?  Do I nurture my children with love?  Do I discipline my children with care and wisdom? Do I train my children in the Catholic Faith?

8. A Faithful Woman: A Valiant Woman serves God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. She turns to God and His Blessed Mother seeking God’s Holy Will for her life. She fears the Lord and follows His ways. She turns to the things of God always and turns away that of the world that takes her away from Him. Proverbs 31: 29-30, “Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”

We should ask ourselves questions like:  Do I serve God with all of my heart, mind, and soul?  Do I turn to God and His Blessed Mother seek God’s Holy Will for my life? Do I fear the Lord and follow in His ways? Do I turn to the things of God always?  Do I turn away the things of the world that take me away from God?

9. A Beautiful Woman: A Valiant Woman is a woman of worth and beauty. She has the inner beauty that only comes from Christ. She uses her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in her life and the lives of her loved ones.  Proverbs 31: 30, “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman who feareth the Lord, she shall be praised!”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I keep my focus on being beautiful from within?  Do I focus on the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Am I creative? Do I try to use my sense of style to create beauty in my life?  Do I create beauty in the lives of my loved ones? Do I make my home beautiful within our means?

Is there a topic that stands out to you?  Are there some you are already working on? Do you like the questions created above?  We liked them so much that we created an Ode to Feminine Genius Examination of Conscience.  Enjoy!