Sunday, April 5, 2009

How I learned to Conserve and Survive!

My mother gets the credit for teaching me the skills to survive the tough times that come into many of our lives from time to time. She lived though the depression and she was German...I think that is a double qualification!

I remember my mother giving me an article she cut from the newspaper when she was about 82 that explained how the wealthy got to be wealthy. It told about the little things that kept them in the green like not buying a new car every few years or spending top dollar on anything. It talked about the truly wealthy often didn't look the part. Those that look wealthy are most likely deep in credit card debt from trying to impress others. I don't recall the details too much, but I knew what the point was and like always I argued with her about it. My mother is no longer with us, and I wish I had humbled myself to say "Thank you" more often for the things she did teach me that have proven very useful. So take note of my error and tell those around you what you appreciate them for today...because you WILL regret it later if you don't.

Back to the thrifty ways to live through lean times. Some things have been inbred in me and I didn't realize it until I saw my children practicing some of them in their adult lives. My mother saved a lot of things like so many learned to do during the depression. She saved those twisty ties, margarine tubs and old clothes....everything that she thought she might use again one day. These people have provided us Antique, Vintage collectors/sellers with a wonderful assortment of things to look for today! My grand kids will probably not even save the birthday presents they get 2 days longer than they use them.

One thing I do that has helped my family through some hard times was to clip it is even easier since there are a lot online. I not only clipped coupons, but I traded coupons and rebate forms and the UPCs needed to cash them in. This was some years ago and I don't think this is as easy to do today, but I haven't tried check it out online and see what it there. I averaged about $200 a month in the 1970's...that made a difference for our family of 6. I was a stay at home Mom and this helped me be able to stay that way.

I recycled our aluminum cans and got the cash. I have to say that I wasn't very good at saving all those little twisty things, but I saved a lot of useful things that I could reuse. I made some of my kids clothes and saved the fabric for other projects, I made food last longer by making meals that I could freeze some of for another day, we had a vegetable garden, and watched what we spent on everything.

Clothing was a big expense with 4 kids. I shopped the sales and bought ahead for the little ones and when they got older we shopped together at the sales. When my oldest son started wanting the name brands that we couldn't afford I would allow him to buy the name brand, but he had to make up the difference in price. He always had some kind of income...newspaper boy, babysitting, jobs when a teen. By the way he is a very successful, although maybe a slight workaholic, family man today and lives quite well. He has thanked us for teaching him to be disciplined with work.

The bottom line really is that if you want to achieve something you need to put forth the effort to make it happen. It isn't always easy or pretty, but it can be done with dignity and persistence. Read, learn and plan to make it happen...and I believe you will.

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