Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cheap vs. Thrifty

Have you ever watched the television program about people who coupon for most of their groceries?  They are ever so clever at getting coupons, internet ads, and other promotional types of offers.  Many times they wind up paying 80% less than the retail price...or they even get things for free.  I admire them for these abilities.

I have tried couponing.  I get so overwhelmed, it tends to inhale any and all other things in my life.  Our oldest daughter is very, very good at couponing but since she is currently working three jobs the time is simply not available.

To me there is a fine line between being cheap and being thrifty.  Cheap may involve things like NEVER going out to eat.  It might mean wearing the same clothes even when they are frayed and frazzled.  The quote that fits this idea is "Penny wise and pound foolish."  In other words you work so hard to save pennies but in the long run you may be spending more when you consider the worth of your time, and the long term investment of money.

My sister has EIGHT children.  They were a traditional family with husband working and her a stay at home Mom.  She did everything she could think of to stretch the familial budget.  One of her strategies was to make a list of all recipe plans for the week, and all ingredients that she needed to make the recipes.

There were two grocery stores in our teeny, tiny, town.  We would go to the first store and she would price every item on her list.  Then we would go to the second store.  If the price was cheaper at the second store she would buy the item.  If it was cheaper at the first store, we would return and purchase all the items that were cheaper than the second store.  This process took most of a day.
It did save them thousands of dollars a year.

There are ever so many ways to save money.  The ways to save are as individual as the person doing the saving.  Here are some of my personal favorites.

I NEVER pay full price for any clothing.  I look at fashion online and in magazines.  I choose classic pieces that are timeless and then add a dash of something a mite trendy.  I also can sew my clothes.  I adore re-purposing clothing.  I usually choose my classic pieces from Thrift Stores, or Bargain Stores.  If I feel like creating an original clothing piece I purchase my fabric from Thrift Stores.  I recently purchased seven yards of fabric for $2.00.  At fabric stores you will pay upwards of $4.00 for each yard!  I have hundreds of yards of fabric stored.  Garage sales and estate sales also help me with my fabric stockpile.

I have many friends who have a goodly supply of food in case of emergencies.  I tell them that I will sew for them if they will cook for me!  It's a win, win situation!

Laundry detergent, fabric softener sheets, stain remover, and Fels Naptha are the tools that I use in our laundry.  The laundry detergent that is made today is extremely concentrated.  I use about 1/8 of a cup less than recommended for a load of wash.  When the bottle is empty I fill it and use it again (I may use half a bottle of re-filled, or one quarter of a bottle depending on how soiled the laundry is).  I find that I can do this twice without lessening the effect of the detergent on the clothes.  I really enjoy using the "pods," that are now created for laundry.  It's so very easy to simply toss a pod in the washer.  Unfortunately, they are much more expensive than simply purchasing the liquid detergent.

I use fabric softening sheets at least three times each.  They work well to that point.  At the fourth use they do almost nothing.  One of my friends cuts her fabric softening sheet in half and only uses a half per drier load.  That is another effective strategy.

Fels Naptha has existed for over a hundred years.  It looks like a regular bar of soap.  It is ever so much more than that.  When we needed a blessing dress for our first child we wanted to use the dress I had been blessed in thirty years before.  It was horribly yellowed.  My sister-in law took the dress and got it wet.  She then rubbed Fels Naptha all over it, and put the dress in water with Fels Naptha dissolved in it.  She did this three times in three days.  I was SHOCKED when she showed me the dress that had been so aged and yellow.  Now it looked brand new.  I'm not exaggerating.  It seemed nothing short of miraculous.

Fels Naptha in the laundry keeps my whites whiter, and my colors brighter.  I am careful, however, of what colors I use Fels Naptha with.  If the dye is unstable the Fels Naptha might cause fading or uneven coloration.  Since it comes in a bar I use a knife and flake off several pieces into the water as it is filling the washing machine.  It dissolves very easily.  It's inexpensive and works like a charm.

I also use stain remover in some of my loads.  Stain remover works in a very different way than Fels Naptha.  When you use detergent, Fels, and stain remover your laundry will come out bright and shiny.  I do the same with stain remover that I do with detergent.  After using up the concentrated remover I fill it with water, twice.

I have never used Fabric Softener.  I can understand that in Utah it is often used.  Utah's water is so hard...honestly it tastes like you are drinking mineral water there are so many minerals in the tap water.  The minerals clog your shower head, your dishwasher, your faucets, your washing machine.  For me Fabric Softener never seemed like a necessary step.  I have saved lots of money over the years by skipping this step.  The fabric softener sheets do NOT work as effectively as fabric softener but they are effective enough for me.

I enjoy a "cuppa" herbal tea from time to time.  I use each tea bag three times.  The flavor is slightly weaker at cup number three but still tasty enough for me.  

A summary list of ways that I save money in our household.  I purchase clothes, fabric, or patterns from a Thrift Store or Bargain store.  Thrift stores will often have great clothing labels.  They may even have new clothing at a fraction of the regular price.  If you are a trend dresser this may not work for you.  Often the reason that the clothing is sold at a fraction of the price is that it is "last year's" clothing.  At 59 years of age I am happy to say that I wear what I want, when I want.  I no longer worry about other's perceptions of the way I dress or whether I'm wearing "last year's" clothing.

I use dish detergent, clothes detergent, and other household products sparingly, and then refill them with water once or twice and use them in a slightly diluted format.  Brillo pads - I use them until they fall apart at the touch.

I use each herbal tea bag three times.  

I do NOT wash out sandwich bags, or quart zip bags.  I do NOT wash and re-use plastic cutlery, or plastic cups.  We all draw the line somewhere, right?

I would love to hear some of the ways that you save money.  We are all in this wonderful experience called life together.  If we can lift and learn from each other along the way, AWESOME!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I've Looked at Clouds...

In the 1960's there was a very popular song that included the lyrics, "I've looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, it's clouds illusions I recall, I really don't know clouds, at all..."

I love this song.  I even learned to play it on the guitar at one point.  (Please don't request me to play it now.  That was a LONG time ago)!  This song teaches a wonderful lesson about a subject that has been critical in importance in my life.  PERSPECTIVE.

Let me give an example.  The first time that I flew in a plane we moved up, up, up, and up some more.  To me it felt as though we should be reaching lunar orbit at any moment.  AND THEN...we broke through the low level cloud cover.  MAGIC!  The day had been gray, the sky angry, and then we burst through the clouds and the sky was BLUE.  Actually it was azure ambrosia.  That song became ever so meaningful at that point. 

I saw a movie once that spoke to the concept of creating your own reality.  This experience of learning that above the angry gray storm clouds was a serene blue sky helped me to appreciate that creating your own reality is a possibility.

I'm not speaking about being in denial.  Not affirming or experiencing that there are elements, facets, in your life that may be downright UGLY is not what I'm referring to.  (Sometimes my words feel so clumsy as I try to describe the ideas in my mind). 

Let me tell another story.  (I learn best by story telling.  Maybe it helps you as well)?

January and February have been hibernation months all of my life.  For whatever reason those months often find me confined to my bed with bronchitis.  When you add the bronchitis infection on top of my regular laundry list of medical issues it is ever so easy for me to feel limited, and less than.  I usually spend most of my time at home.  I'm nervous to be around others who may cough or sneeze, and make me even sicker.

One day as I struggled to breathe I sat up in bed and moved forward.  The distance I moved was literally about four inches.  I had been looking out my westward window and was seeing only blue sky.  Moving those four tiny inches changed my point of view.  Suddenly I was seeing a golden blaze of sunlight moving through clouds tinted salmon, coral, orange.  The sky was simply a wonderment of color, texture, and pattern.

If I had NOT moved those teeny, tiny, 4 inches forward, I WOULD have seen the lovely blue, but I would have MISSED the glorious sunset below.

My challenge to you is this.  Today, move those four inches.  Working in a job that you don't like but pays the bills?  Open your mind to new possibilities.  There is ALWAYS a blue sky above gray clouds. 

One last story.  A loving Mother was frustrated with her quarrelsome ten year old daughter.  She wanted her daughter to understand the principle of PERSPECTIVE. Lovingly the Mom guided her daughter to the window.  She said, "Sweetie, look out the window and tell me what you see."

Her daughter replied, "Oooh Mom, do you ever wash these awful windows?  They are streaked and dirty.  Yuck, there are dead bugs on the window as well."

Holding on to her patience the aggrieved Mother said, "OK.  Now look THROUGH the window and tell me what you see."

"Oh, wait, the sky is so blue today.  There are such fluffy, white clouds.  Look that funny little one looks like an elephant.  Wow, when did those flowers come up?"

The Mother said, "Sweetie, in life there will always be streaks and dead bugs that will be easy to see.  You might feel like focusing on those things.  On the other hand if you can look past those negative things, there will ALWAYS be something positive.  (Please pay close attention to the next line.  Are you listening?  Ready, set, go).  WHERE DO YOU CHOOSE TO FOCUS?

Today...this very moment if the day seems dark, gloomy, overwhelming, or just plain tragic look past that dirty, streaky, bug filled part of your life.  You may be surprised by the sunset that is just four inches away from your current position.  You may find a magical surprise that you might have missed if you had not opened up your mind to possibility.

WHERE DO YOU CHOOSE TO PLACE YOUR FOCUS TODAY?  Again, I am NOT speaking about denial.  We need to be aware that problems exist.  On the other hand by choosing not to focus only on the problems, by making a conscious choice to see the other side of the clouds, the brilliance of a sunset, or the fluffy elephant cloud in the sky, we will be able to open our mind to creative solutions to our problems.  Or we may just remember to find the blessings in life that we often take for granted.  Either way, today, create your own reality.  Choose to move forward with a new perspective.