24/7 MOMS Frugal Living Editor
I was meeting with a friend of mine yesterday, helping her find some ways to save money. I brought my favorite books, coupon club handouts, and some printed resources I love to share. I was ready to get her motivated.
As I began to show her the materials, my enthusiasm grew as did the rate in which I was speaking. After a minute or two, as I stopped to take a drink of tea – she saw the pause in my presentation – and took it. “Amy”, she asked me. “What saves you money—what really works for you?”
This was not a question I was prepared for – at least I had no visuals or research to back up what I was about to say. So, I took another drink of tea, panned my brain for all information related to her question and began to speak.
I was raised with “Frugalista’s”, though they didn’t call them that chic title then. I was shown, every day, how to get the most for my money, how to stretch my resources and how to take care of what I had – all so that I could put money away for the future.” My friend looked at me and then seemed to frown. I realized perhaps the reason she was meeting with me was because she wasn’t as fortunate as I to be raised with those skills.
How could I explain a life-long mentality of “instant savings calculation mental math” and a sort of “scavenger” perspective? My ways had been mine for so long that I don’t pack them with me– they’re just my routine. I realized too, that in order to mentor effectively, I also had to be “real”. We “Frugalistas” are a work in progress, like everyone else.
So, I set aside the papers, and began to walk my friend through the habits I find save me the most money.
I’m On Time- Being on time saves gas, accumulates fewer traffic tickets, decreases insurance rates, avoids injury, makes a good impression, and reduces automobile wear. Punctuality gives me the opportunity to network, write lists (I write a lot of lists – they save time and money) and I have the time to grab “early-bird” blessings as they meet me where I am. (This is the “real” moment—I’m still working on decreasing my “worth the wait” reputation).
Meatless Meals-Once Weekly- Stretch your the culinary imagination, costs less than fresh meat, contributes to better health (which has its own many benefits), and helps me to use up little bits of leftovers I’ve accumulated in the freezer. Skills in meal planning and last-minute creativity are honed here.
Kidney Beans in Everything: Ok, this may be an “inside” joke between my husband and his mother-in-law, but it’s true – if you serve less meat, stretching it with beans and vegetables—everyone and their budget is better off. While we’re on the subject of beans, go for the dried beans. My favorite is black beans, cooked in the slow cooker, overnight. The next day, you have lunch, dinner, and dessert (think “Black Bean Brownies” – delish!).
I Talk A-Lot: Growing up in a smaller community, which isn’t so small anymore — the same rule still applies. The more ears hearing what you’re working on, have, are looking for, and the more people you know – the more likely you will spend less over a lifetime.
I Pack a Good Lunch: My husband, a bachelor sailor before we married, was a “take-out” kind of guy. Once I began making him lunches – he’s rarely eaten out since. His co-workers were often converted to brown-baggers too. Their wives were hearing about “What Chief had in his lunch today”. As a child, I was tasked with helping to make my Dad’s lunch. I learned the difference between a can of soda and a can a beer before I could read (Sorry, Dad!) The ladies in my family make colossal sandwiches, leave love notes, and usually have a secret supply of our husband’s favorite treats. A packed lunch is one to look forward to. Nutrition, frugal shopping tactics, money-saving skills and love are handed down as our kids help pack Dad’s lunch.
I couldn’t come up with any more ideas. So, we reviewed the papers I brought. My friend pointed out that many of the sheets echoed my advice. Sometimes seemingly “old fashioned” methods are dismissed as being “too simple” to really make a difference. To the contrary, learning these skills so well that they become “convenience” – will save you a whole lot of money.
When we teach, we learn – and re-learn. Experiencing inspired moments with a friend reminded me where I’m falling short. It’s one thing to “know”, it’s another to make the time to fit better choices into our busy lives. So, I’d like to say “Thank You”, my friend. I was learning right alongside of you.