This month, I’d like to introduce you to my marvelous Aunt Tina. My Mom has six brothers – and Tina is married to the eldest brother, Marty. Aunt Tina is one of my baptismal sponsors and an all-around wonderful Aunt. Since Aunt Tina is my baptismal sponsor, she’s obviously been in my life – all my life. I’ve learned a lot from her, and I think you will too.
Tell us about yourself and your family.
My name is Christine (Tina) Michele Lehenbauer. I am Kristen’s Aunt and most importantly, her Godmother/Sponsor – a privilege I have always enjoyed and taken to heart. I have been married to Martin (Marty) Paul Lehenbauer for 30 years. We were blessed with four beautiful amazing children: Sarah, Jessica, Luke and Joshua. The blessings of our family have continued to grow. Three years ago Sarah married Nate Krugman and then on September 12th, 2011, Harper Elizabeth Krugman was born. Our family grew immensely in love – as we all fell immediately in love with her! Our family will again expand when we welcome Brooke Romaniv into our family as she and Luke will be married on September 29th, 2012! Marty and I are enjoying being new grandparents and are currently sporting the names “Grammy” and “Poppy” proudly!
Who’s more frugal – you or your spouse? How so?
We are both frugal in different ways with different things. For example, Marty is more frugal when it comes to fixing things. He saves little pieces of wire, miscellaneous boards, etc. and when a repair is needed around the house – he rummages through his little “collections” and can usually come up with a way to fix anything. It may not look like “House Beautiful” – but – hey – it works!
I have always been frugal when it comes to planning meals. Since the kids were little I have planned meals by buying meat and other grocery items in larger quantities and splitting them into portions for the freezer – so as to be able to prepare more meals for less money. I have also tried to plan ‘like’ meals each week where I can use similar ingredients in different recipes; for example, I will buy a head of cauliflower and several heads of broccoli and then make a cauliflower tort one night, broccoli cheddar soup the next and then make a veggie pizza the next.
Were you raised to be frugal? If so, how? If not, what made you become this way?
We were raised to be frugal in a sense that there was not alot to go around for a family of six kids. We were taught the value of hand-me-downs and cleaning your plate! My parents were not savers though, however. I did not grow up being a saver – so little piles of little bits and pieces of things that “I might use someday” do not appeal to me. If I haven’t used it in three years – I’m probably not going to – so I pass it on, donate it, recycle it or pitch it!
Who (or what) has had the most influence on your frugality?
I think life experience as well as having four kids has greatly influence my frugality. With many years of unstable income being self-employed, we lived frugally for 12 years in a small three-bedroom townhouse. I sewed many of the girls dresses, canned most of our fruits and vegetables (thanks to my mother-in-law teaching me how to can), and babysitting other children at times as extra income. My kids never seemed to mind having other kids around to play with and it actually was fun getting to know other parents when I was housebound in those early years of raising a family.
How does your faith influence your frugality?
My faith definitely affects my frugality as we are called to be good stewards of what we have been given. I think to be deliberately wasteful would be like telling God I don’t appreciate all of His rich blessings.
What’s so appealing about being frugal?
I feel part of being frugal also means sharing our blessings with others. Many times in giving away things – we have received more than we could ever imagine. God kind of works that way!
What is your biggest frugality challenge?
For me it is decorating. I try to blend colors and style throughout the house so when I want to change things up and move things around – many decorative items can interchange between rooms. I was challenged recently when we put our house on the market. The whole process was frustrating, but in the end it taught me what I could live without as we had to ’empty’ our rooms of personal things for showings. I purged alot and have gotten used to the rooms being a little more empty….I did live to tell about it!
What’s your best frugality tip?
I have actually recently tried this. With the gas/electric bill going up and up these days – I have tried to keep the temperature alittle more moderate in the house. I am a ‘freeze cat’ so this isn’t always easy for me. But when I find myself casing the thermostat and itching to turn up the temperature – I go do something else – get active or just add more clothing layers. Sounds like an old tip – but I never really got used to doing this. With kids in the house – I always gauged it on how I thought the kids were with the temperature in the house – I would feel their little hands and feet and make sure they weren’t cold, etc. A couple of our kids had seasonal allergies, so we didn’t open the windows on mild days much because by nightfall the kids would be miserable. As they grew older and then as they grew up and left home, I never really changed that habit. So it has been good to revisit that old tip and regain control of the thermostat. My other favorite is the ‘like’ recipes tip I shared on an earlier question.
Any final frugal thoughts to share?
I can’t think of any right now – but that’s the key – if you ‘think’ hard enough and ‘try’ hard enough – you can find many ways to be frugal. Sometimes it takes doing that to make you slow down and step out of the fast track of ‘convenience’ to enjoy a moment you may have ordinarily missed!
Each month, we feature an interview as part of our “Meet a Frugal Lutheran…” series. The interviewees share how their faith has shaped their frugality. If you’d like to participate, simply send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll send you a questionnaire!