Home » The Difference Between “The Good” and “The Best”

The Difference Between “The Good” and “The Best”


This post was originally published in 2012 – one of the very first posts I published on The Frugal Farmer – but I find it very enlightening so I thought I’d give you a blast from the past and share it again today. Enjoy! 

So, we’ve made it through our first day of DE living.  We went grocery shopping.  That was an experience, but we did well on our grocery budget so far.  But I have to say the biggest hurdle we faced yesterday was in changing our habits.  That realization led me to remember a favorite saying I read years ago:

     It’s the smallest amount of extra effort that will separate “the good” from “the best”

For instance, I always try and bring a kid with me when I grocery shop, so we can have some alone time.  And that “alone time” always includes a meal.  For years, it was a meal at a sit down restaurant.  Then in the last year or so, it was a fast food meal, keeping the amount down to $10 or so.

But today, as I shopped, I realized that we’ve really got to change our mindset.

Recommended Reading: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t

Most people who lived through the Great Depression didn’t go out to eat.  Period.  They didn’t eat meat.  Period.  They didn’t spend unless it was absolutely necessary.  Period.  They simply couldn’t afford it, and that stark realization hit me today; the realization that that’s the mindset that we need to have this year.  And it has to be a set in stone rule if we’re going to succeed here.

For instance, the daughter I brought along today wanted a treat, so I told her she should bring her spending money, since entertainment isn’t in our 2013 budget.  That spending money amounted to exactly $2.03.

When she wanted a shake from a national fast food chain, I saw that the shake cost would total $2.45 after tax.  My first thought was “I’ll just give the kid 42 cents”.  But then I realized that if I broke the rule on this one, it would just get that snowball rolling until it was an avalanche, and that’s the exact kind of flippant thinking about money that got us into this mess in the first place!

It was hard to stick to my guns on this one, but I did it, and my sweetie very forgivingly and joyfully settled for a $1.38 ice cream cone instead, which she paid for herself.  I say “forgivingly” because it’s certainly not her fault we’re in the mess we’re in, and I feel badly that we’re now in a position where we really can’t even afford to give her 42 cents.

But the important part now for us, or for anyone out there with goals, is to focus on the end result.  Imagine your life and your impact on others once your goal is accomplished.

The Queen of Free explains this wonderfully in her post, “How to Pay Off Debt 19 Cents at a Time.” 

No matter what your goal is, remember that it’s the smallest amount of extra effort that makes the difference.  So when you’re ready to give up, quit, or throw in the towel, just take one more small step and remember that you can do this. It’s the smallest amount of extra effort that will get you there.




    • Laurie says:

      The great thing is is that I’m sure she doesn’t even remember the whole incident. Kids are so easy to forgive and forget.

  1. kay ~ the barefoot minimalist says:

    I love this post Laurie! What a great lesson for your daughter. She was able to see that she could get something just as satisfying for half the price. I love your observations on the Depression. I think about the way my parents grew up and it really does put things in perspective. There’s nothing wrong, and plenty that’s right, about mindful spending.

  2. Iforonwy says:

    In the words of St David the patron saint of Wales – “Do the small things”.

    It works in mosts areas of life not just in debt reduction. I work with high school students as they sit their examinations. My mantra is use every minute of allocated time that you have. Check over your answers on your exam paper. One or two extra marks here and there could mean the difference between a pass or a fail a good grade or a not so good grade.

    Also if I only sell an item on e-bay for 99p one such item a day would amount to 99p x 365 = £361.35 = $505!

    Yes you should sweat the small stuff!

    • Laurie says:

      “Yes, you should sweat the small stuff!” Love that comment, my friend! It was that exact small stuff that got us into debt, ironically. No big purchases. No vacations or new furniture – just nickel and dime stuff. And it is saving those nickels and dimes that will get us out of debt as well.

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