It has always been a quest for me, to save money. I was raised by a single mom. Dad left all four of us with Mom when I was pretty young, and we scraped and scrounged for everything we had. Still, we were clean, lived in a nice home and were never hungry. We wore hand-me-downs that came from our cousins. Even though they weren't new, they were new to us, and were cared for by the previous owners. We ate a lot of ham, drank a lot of milk and the oatmeal.............eww.
But, we always had enough. I don't really remember being sad about not having something in particular. I do remember being sad because we were "broken", so to speak. But, my sweet Mother kept us on our toes, kept us in church every Sunday, made us do our lessons, allowed us to play one sport and we loved each other completely.
When I married and began having children, it was hard. We both worked like dogs, opposite shifts in food service and factories. We were babies having babies. We were happy, and we had enough. We had enough and were happy because I was used to having second-hand things, still do. My three children were clothed with hand-me-downs, yard sale clothes and Walmart shoes. My mom always bought my kids their winter coats. As our jobs got better and our incomes began to improve, our spending habits didn't increase. I'm really glad. We never went without, we just went without the best.
Now, we're older. We have much better incomes. Two of our three children are out of college (with very little debt, I might add) with good and satisfying careers. Our youngest will soon begin her senior year in high school.
I thought I would share a few of my money-saving habits:
- Visit those resale shops for those household items. Just last week, I bought a used Foreman grill in perfect shape for $4.99. Visiting those resale shops are the best way to recycle! You can pick up nice, clean bread pans, tupperware items and even sets of dishes.
- When you buy dryer sheets, buy the largest box you can. When you get home, open it, grab a handful and cut them in half...cut them all in half and put them back in the box. The half sheet does as good of a job as a whole sheet!
- Stock up a good pantry. Keep plenty of food on hand. When you go to the grocery store to buy a can of corn, pick up an extra can...or more. I buy "flats" of some items when I shop and store them in my downstairs pantry. I do can my own food from the garden, but I buy bulk items like those "cream of"soups, pinto beans, macaroni and cheese, tuna, pork n beans, etc. These items will come in handy when you have a week or two when the paycheck doesn't make it to the end of the month. Before you know it, you'll have a well-supplied pantry!
- Hang out your laundry! A clothesline will save you an incredible amount of money for 3/4 of the year! I have used my dryer once or twice all summer, and nothing beats the smell of those line-dried sheets! Yes, your bath towels will be a little stiff, but that's a small price to pay if you are saving money!
- Make your own! Buying things at the store that you can make yourself is foolish and very expensive. I make my own dog treats, my own chocolate syrup (better than Hersheys!), my own soap, bread, hot chocolate mix, vanilla extract and other things. It's satisfying to know you can do this and it's more delicious!
Some of the other obvious money-saving strategies are eating at home rather than eating out. Do not buy on credit. If you can't pay for it after saving for it, you don't need it. Credit cards and other unnecessary credit will not only suck the life out of you, but it will land your credit rating in the gutter. Aggresively pay off your debts and don't take on any more. Find fun things to do for entertainment that cost nothing, such as picnics at the park, swimming in the creek and growing a garden.
Life is short, folks. God didn't intend for us to be so worried about money that we forgot to enjoy the bounty that He gave us. Plus, the more you can save...the more you can give to others who aren't quite as lucky as you are.