I suppose I jumped the gun a little bit, and started posting willy nilly last month without explaining why I started this blog! So bear with me as I bore you with my monologue. Hopefully you won't think I'm completely insane when you are done reading it!
About a year and a half ago when the economy started going south, the weather went crazy and crops were destroyed , gas and food prices skyrocketed, and "the world seemed to be going to **** in a hand basket" ( as my grandma used to say) I freaked out a little bit (okay, a lot). How was I going to make ends meet, especially since our income seemed to be shrinking and our financial responsibilities increasing? I had been spoiled for far to long, I decided! Now, don't get me wrong we are not rich (monetarily) by any means, but we have always lived a comfortable life. Mainly because my husband and I have worked hard and tried to live within our means. I got to thinking about how history always repeats itself, and the current circumstances in the world around us were reminding me more and more of The Great Depression. I wanted to figure out how my Great Grandmother's generation had survived and raised families in dire circumstances.
First of all, I headed to the library and checked out books on The Great Depression and World War II. They were fascinating reading, and I learned several things.
1. Everyone became resourceful. Waste not, want not took on a whole new meaning. They weren't just being frugal; they were trying to keep their families alive.
2. Nothing went to waste....nothing.
3. Everybody who was able grew a garden and raised chickens. They either sold the surplus, or shared with those less fortunate.
4. Most did not rely on the government to bail them out. They took a sense of pride in taking care of their own.
5. They were not selfish or stingy either! If some one in their community was truly struggling (and most were) people would share whatever they had to lighten their neighbors burdens.
6. Most of that generation reminisced later in their lives not about hardship and suffering, but about the simple pleasures, and the fine sense of community everyone shared!
My reading got me to thinking about my Grandmother's and Great Grandmother. They were a hard working group of ladies, to be sure. I can remember my little Great Grandma carefully pulling apart the empty wax paper liner from a box of cereal, smoothing it out, and rolling it into the ever growing roll to be used in place of waxed paper. She also washed the plastic silverware and cups after every family picnic, too (I swear some of that silverware was as old as I was). I also remember hours spent every summer of my childhood helping Grandma or Grandpa weeding, and harvesting garden. Monday was always bread baking day at Grandma Johnson's. Out came her big enamelware dishpan, in went the ingredients (she never followed a recipe), and out came nine beautiful loaves of bread (and maybe sconces with homemade jam, and garden veggies for lunch if we were lucky)! WE were also constantly amazed how Grandma could take the leftovers from Sunday dinner (barely enough to feed one person), and after adding a little of this, and a little of that, TA DA, she could feed eight hungry people. I also thought of how my mother worked hard to feed and clothe six kids, using the skills she learned from her mother, without us ever feeling that we were poor. Bless them for teaching me basic homemaking skills (sewing, cooking, cleaning, crocheting, canning, gardening, etc.). If I was the product of these fine women, I certainly shouldn't be whining. It was time to step it up and make them proud.
How was I going to take the lessons I had learned and make them feasible for a modern generation (me)! I wasn't quite ready to raise chickens and churn butter, but there had to be plenty of other ways I could make my budget stretch! Back to the library I went. This time to check out books on frugality. My turning point was when I checked The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn and read it (she is a frugal genius in my eyes and I will probably refer to her often). She made me realize that there are hundreds of ways to save money and think outside of the garbage. Then my wonderful sister in law ( and you know who you are, Shannon) clued me in to Pinching Your Pennies. I was already a sale shopper and coupon clipper, but this website made it so much easier to find and exploit good sales!!
One of my blessings is that I live in a tight knit neighborhood. Most of the families share, swap, and watch out for each other. We laugh that there has been a perpetual bag of hand me downs circulating for years now. Take what you need , add what you don't, and pass it along. Needless to say, we have a great since of community. As my neighbors and I have struggled together, I have had them ask me advice on all sorts of subjects ( I was enrichment counselor in our ward for three years; so most know the skills listed on my Domestic Resume). Last year several families started gardens. All of sudden gardening and canning questions started popping up. I ended up teaching a class on Squarefoot Gardening for Relief Society. Next came questions about sewing and mending, and then where can I find a good deal on.......? As everyone started cooking more from scratch I would get phone calls asking me for substitutions and equivalents in cooking. When I started saving oodles of money on my groceries because of PYP and matching coupons with sales ( not to mention greatly increasing my food storage with all of my great deals) everyone wanted to know how I did it. (I'm really not patting myself on the back, I promise!)
I have loved helping make my friends, family, and neighbors lives easier with little snippets of info, but I knew there might be others who could be interested in simple ideas and information on making their budget stretch a little further. Finally, a couple months ago my sister in law (yes, you Shannon) convinced me that if I started a blog #1) it is great free therapy, #2) I can share the clever tips and ideas that I come across, #3) maybe I can help someone else make it through "The Great Recession". If there was one thing I have learned along my frugal journey is that we are all in this together!! United we stand, but divided we fall!