Monday, December 20, 2010

Inexpensive Gift Ideas

More stuff for you to try to make yourself! 
1.  One note:  We did buy paintbrushes which do not fit our buying guide but seemed completely necessary for the Rainy Day Box project.  Paper and paint are depletable and we felt like the wooden sticks were an okay thing to purchase, as well. By covering many of the items with coordinating papers, it brings a sense of the items being custom.
1. On the "Nature Boxes" which contain birdseed, pinecones, peanut butter and twine, a shoebox would work just as well as the paper mache boxes we used.  I decorated with paper and paint and bought the peanut butter at Dollar Tree for one dollar.  The bag of birdseed I bought is enough to do six of these nature boxes easily. The pinecones were provided by nature. And I already had the twine on hand.  So this project could be done as cheaply as $4-$5, depending on the price of the birdseed and peanut butter, as well as the supplies you may already have on hand. 
2.  The red bag with the Christmas Tree is a No-Sew felt bag.  I used a hot glue gun to glue the seams together and used some gold twine I had to pull the top together.  This took two pieces of pre-cut felt pieces, no cutting and no sewing.  Can't get any easier than this!  Plus, I already had the supplies.  This is what years of crafting is good for :)
3. Lastly, the pom-poms are a very traditional, easy craft project that allows for some very cute ornaments.  They look especially nice in a decorated shoebox!

Shoeboxes were of major importance this year for the Snack Packs, Rainy Day Boxes and used as gift boxes. Maybe you can try your hand at some of these.  I actually looked up the pom-pom instructions on You Tube.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Gift Ideas

Promise me you won't tell anyone about these gift ideas!  These will be under the Christmas tree in a couple of weeks but I am letting you in on these in case you need an idea or two.  The Snack Packs are similar to the ones I have posted before.  The fish bowl is one we had in the attic, collecting dust.  My oldest boy loves to collect shells and rocks so I painted on some seashells and coral and now he has a place to keep his collection and be able to enjoy it.  The pictures of the alphabet pages with little items to match is a "matching game."  I got the idea from something I saw at our local library.  So, I made the alphabet cards on the computer and began either searching for items or making items that would coordinate with the pictures.  I am having the alphabet pages laminated and will cut them into individual cards.  I also painted a shoebox and this will be the container that holds the game. Remember, shhhhhh!  And, happy crafting!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What About Santa?

Several folks have asked us about the Santa Factor.  How do we explain to our children that Santa can only bring edibles and depletables this year for Christmas?  First, we have never let Santa bring a lot of anything.  Santa is limited to only one or two things.  Second, we told them that we used the magic Santa number to contact the North Pole and request that Santa and his Elves respect our wishes this year and what we are doing.  Santa became a questionable figure for our oldest boy when he was about 5 and asked why his toys were "made in China" if Santa brought them from the North Pole. The other night, however, our pastor accidentally 'outed' Santa in church.  He didn't mean to and now the topic is really a moot point with our 8-year-old.  Our 3-year-old still believes so there will be presents from Santa - they just have to fit the criteria we have set!  Easy, huh?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giant Ornament

I may have mentioned this from time to time, but I LOVE paper crafts, especially card-making and paper decor.  A friend of mine was making some things at my house yesterday and she came up with a cute paper photo frame.  I took her inspiration and made an ornament instead of a frame.  The idea is essentially the same, except I went ahead and decorated the center instead of leaving it open for a picture.  It is about 8 inches in diameter and consists of some chipboard circles I had on hand, as well as a stamped image of a poinsettia.  With the addition of some Christmas craft paper and a touch of glitter, I have a giant ornament for decorating with or to gift with.  Here's a pic.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snack Packs

Here are a couple of things we made for two of our young cousins for Christmas.  We did each of them a Snack Pack of their favorite snacks. The containers are decorated shoe boxes.  We also made a Bird Feeding Kit from a paper birdhouse that included peanut butter, pinecones, and birdseed. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Finish Line?

Almost December!  Can't believe we only have one month left in this journey.  Of course, it will be the most difficult since it is the biggest shopping time of the year.  Still, I am very proud of my family for holding strong for a year's worth without buying.  We've had a few failures - little things, though, like a pair of sunglasses, some craft paintbrushes for a project, etc.  Overall, though, I can't complain.  We have managed to use the money we would have spent on stuff to apply to a $10,000 debt, which will be paid for in January!!!! We have also been able to pay cash for everything!  No credit card usage whatsoever this year.  I consider that an amazing success for our family.  I can't see us ever going back to thoughtless spending again.  When we shop for clothing it will be on Ebay, thrift stores or bottom dollar price in stores - never paying retail again!  We will also be very cautious in purchasing anything else - Can we find a substitute for free?  Can we make a trade with others?  Can we simply make do with what we have?  These questions will need to be answered before dropping anything in a shopping cart.  I will post pictures soon of some of the handmade Christmas items we've been working on.  Santa's elves have a lot of work to do this year!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shopping Shock

Wow - had no idea a trip to Hobby Lobby would bring out such a strong desire to Buy! Buy! Buy!  Quade and I both had to restrain ourselves when we passed by adorable ornaments, Christmas decorations, lovely little trinkets we don't need but sure wanted and so many lovely fabrics!  We went in for basic depletable craft supplies like paint, paper and adhesive but sure wanted a great deal more.  We got some terrific ideas while we were in there but I felt like a fish being lured in by a juicy worm on a hook

Monday, November 8, 2010

Christmas Crunch

Can't believe Christmas is almost here already!!! Time flies when your a grown up doesn't it?  Quade and I have to get down to business in order to get Christmas gifts made this year.  We have some ideas up our sleeves and will be diligently working on them over the coming weeks.  I will post some as we get them finished. If you are interested in doing any of these things yourselves this year, here are a few ideas: 
1.  Fleece scarves with a simple blanket stitch on edges - anything can be appliqued on these for style. 
2.  Personalized pillows (also using fleece and using felt for designs to make it easy).
3. Snack Packs - using an interesting container fill with snacks and goodies that anyone would love - if you are handy with paper crafts you can design coordinating paper containers and packaging to hold the snacks.
4.  Hand-crafted cards - these can be done with paper and stamps or made from photos you have taken attached to a plain card base.
5.  Look up the site for other great ideas, as well.

More ideas will be posted along with the way - these are just a few to get you started!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Funny Side of Cheap

So a friend was at the house the other day and needed to use the facilities.  She came out of the bathroom and asked who Morgan Keegan was. I looked perplexed and thought for a moment.  Then I remembered that Morgan Keegan was a company that my sister-in-law used to work for.  I explained this to my friend who started laughing.  She saw the name on a shaving bag in our bathroom and thought we were so cheap that we were using someone's tossed-aside but personalized shaving bag!  I had to agree that it would be just like us to do something like that.  Too funny and had to share.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pics from Fall Party

Just a couple of pictures but you will see the paper candy cups, the banner and the homemade scarecrows!  We had a blast with everyone from our Sunday School class. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Fall Ya'll

Just love this season - warm colors, snuggly clothes, savory scents - and the decorations!  We are having a Fall Porch Party for our Sunday school class soon and I need to do some decorating.  We won't be buying decorations but we have started making some. I have made a centerpiece with twigs and glittered papered leaves that my oldest boy helped with.  We are planning on making dried apple garlands, as well as paper pumpkin decorations.  The food will be the main attraction of this party and that fits in nicely with what we spend money on.  On one of the decorating websites I was looking at I saw the cutest Pumpkin Bean Bag Toss that is easily made of scrap materials so that may be attempted, too, and will give the kids a game to play.  Quade suggested I make scarecrows out of old clothing and stuff them with hay that we purchase for the chickens. We have a lot of projects but hopefully we can get them done.  We are buying pumpkins, as technically they are edible.  So, when we get it all done I will post some pics.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Excess in Excess

I can't believe it is already the middle of September!  I want to talk about EXCESS.  Excess is anything more than what you really need.  Most of us have it.  In looking at the things I use every day I began to evaluate how much excess I now have nine months into our little no-buying experiment. My piles are dwindling.  If you are curious about how much excess you have answer the following questions.
1.  How many containers of lipstick/eyeshadow do you have?
2.  How many bottles of perfume do you have?
3.  Do you have a blender, a juicer, a food processor and a food chopper?
4.  How many cans of furniture polish/cleaners do you have on hand?
5.  Articles of clothing - Do you have more than 3 white shirts/blouses?  More than 6-8 handbags/purses?  More than 20 pair of shoes (any kind)?  What about belts?  And don't get me started on jewelry.

My point is - do you really need all that extra stuff?  Is it just taking up space until you finally realize it's still in the closet or under the cupboard?  And do those extra things that you probably never use or wear ever enter your mind when you are out shopping for more?  We have all bought stuff we don't need and don't use and don't wear - but we don't have to keep doing it.  Couldn't you think of a better use of your money and your space?  Food for thought - eat it up or spit it out.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Birthday Boys

Both of our boys have birthdays within 8 days of each other.  We usually celebrate them on the same day.  This year of course we have to be creative.  I have included pics of some of the things we made this year.  For both boys we made duct tape swords.  They both got plastic jar banks - three each;  giving, savings and spending.  Caleb received some homemade edible play dough and Kelby received a paper bag scrapbook that I made for him.  They both also got McDonald's gift cards (the edible gift) - these were put into a creative box that I made from scrapbook paper.  Of course the grandparents gave them gifts and they both got money, which they were allowed to purchase some things they wanted with. They seemed to love their birthday and had no complaints whatsoever about their gifts, for which I am very grateful.  Can't wait til Christmas - I think I better start planning now.  Making almost all the gifts required quite a bit more time than running to the store to pick something up. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What a Deal

I mentioned in a much earlier post that we wanted to cancel our Dish Satellite to save money.  Then I found out we were still under contract and couldn't cancel it. Recently, however, the contract was up so we planned on making a big change.  We signed up for Netflix at $8.99 a month, which we LOVE.  We do get shows streaming through our Wii system.  Although they may not be this season's latest programs, there are still so many shows and movies to choose from that it is worth the bargain price all the way!  Well, I called Dish to cancel and they tried offering me other deals, especially after I told them what we were switching to and how that price couldn't be beat.  They then made me a deal I couldn't refuse and now we are getting a handful of stations, including local news and a few popular cable programs, and we are keeping Netflix.  We were spending around $40 a month plus paying for Redbox rentals from time to time. Our expenditure for this form of entertainment has now been cut in half.  If we decide we no longer want to continue with Dish, though, we can still cancel it.  The main reason I have for even wanting to keep Dish (which I think is a good company) is for the local channels when there is bad weather. Otherwise, I can live without paying for regular television.  Unfortunately, where we live does not allow us to get any digital programming, even with a digital television and the converter box.  The offer by Dish was a really good one and it tells me that Dish is trying to keep its customers, which I appreciate. 

Friday, August 13, 2010


By now you all know that we don't buy things that are not edible or depletable.  But a word needs to be shared about tithing and offerings at church.  When we fell under conviction to tithe 10% of our gross income it was many years ago. We believe we have been blessed because of it. No matter our choice to live by this "shopping thin" method, we will not quit giving to our church, either by tithing or by offerings - something given above and beyond the tithe.  Initially, I wondered how we would be able to purchase things needed for the church without breaking our rules, but then the words "our rules" hit my like a brick.  This method of not spending is something we came up with - The Lord still expects us to fulfill any calling He puts on us and so the decision was easy. 

I encourage you to consider tithing if you are not already. If the Spirit is nudging you in this direction, allow yourself the opportunity to be blessed by giving.  One can always give their time and talents, but we must also give of that which the Lord has provided in the way of an income and provision.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Inventive Gifting

Can't believe it's been a month since I last posted - been a busy summer!  We did take a short vacation to Holiday World in Indiana - We didn't purchase a single souvenir to bring back and the kids never asked for anything, either!  And wow, what a deal that place is - very family friendly, with free drinks and sunscreen.  Loved it. 

So we got a birthday invitation last week for a one-year birthday party for a little boy.  Now, a first birthday is a special birthday.  We needed to have a gift for this little fella, so what were we gonna do?  A friend told me that he liked Puffs (a toddler's snack).  That got me thinking - how about a snack pack?  Fill up a container with little snacks that a growing guy might like.  I have included a pic so you can see what I came up with.  I had the goodies but no container to put them in, so I had to get real creative real quick.  I looked around my house and saw a pair of cut-off shorts that belonged to my oldest boy - he hated them so never wore them.  I did a quick stitch to the bottom with hemp and had an instant "SnackPack".  The pockets served to hold two yogurt drinks and the rest of it held the other little snacks.  I made a decorative box to put some of the banana cookies in and a card to match.  I tied two more strings of hemp through the belt loops for handles.  The whole family seemed to like it, and I think it turned out pretty cute.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shame, Shame, Shame

My husband came in with a couple of bags of groceries the other day - everything in the bags was on our list of allowable items.  However, there was something in his smile that said he was up to no good.  Of course, I needed only look directly North of that grin to see the object of his sheepishness - sunglasses!  He bought himself a very cheap pair of sunglasses!  But I didn't care if they were $1.  The point was that they are not an allowable item.  He, of course, was very aware I would react with disdain and began offering an 'explanation' for his indiscretion.  He claimed his eyes were going to be damaged if he didn't have them and pulled a little guilt trip on me. So, he has a pair of sunglasses.  Honestly, I am thrilled that we have stuck with this as closely as we have for 7 months - it has really been eye opening - I think there may be a pun in there somewhere.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Where is the Money Going?

We have established that we are saving approximately $250 to $300 a month using our no-shopping method.  So, do we have a pile of cash somewhere because of this?  In a word - NO.  Prior to our beginning this method, we had  put our student loans in 'forbearance'.  This is the action of putting repayment of the student loan on hold, while still making the interest payment on the loan.  Now that we have extra money from not shopping for a bunch of stuff, we are able to make the payment on the loan again. In addition to this, we have been able to continue making extra payments on our Visa credit card - a major blessing. So, we won't have a big pile of cash at the end of the year, as we initially thought we would.  But we began to see the wisdom in having debt wiped away, and we will have some major debts paid down and/or completely gone by the end of the year.  The Visa alone is major.  If we simply made the minimum payment on it, we would be paying on it for the next 20 years - that's not an exaggeration - it is a fact. Yet, it will be a distant memory by December 31 of this year and we can't wait to celebrate that one!  It is important to note that we canceled this credit card so we CANNOT use it for any reason.  That was a difficult decision for us, because we have always used our credit card as a safety net in the event something 'happened' or an emergency came up.  We found, though, it was just too easy to use it for other things - stuff we wanted when we wanted it.  And it got us up to $10,000 in credit card debt!  It's funny, because before we started this no-shopping method, I would have been ashamed to admit that.  I was hiding it, from everyone and myself - not wanting to admit it even existed, but it was a deep wound on our finances, insidious and dangerous, and if allowed to continue it would have poisoned our financial security.  There is a certain freedom in being able to say it out loud and know there is a plan in place to heal the wound.  We pray we are making the right decisions for our children, because that is the number one reason for doing any of this. I often fear that next year will bring some incredibly bad economic woes to our nation and our people.  I pray I am wrong, but it's not looking good.  I am a woman of faith and I pray we all weather the storm, and it will take faith to do it, but I do think the storm will come. We are to be good stewards of what we have been blessed with. We can't live willy nilly, tossing money around like it's confetti, so we must do what we should to prepare for what may be a difficult future.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cheap Shoes!

Our oldest boy, Kelby, is pretty hard on his shoes.  He had a pair of flip flops - they broke.  We had to buy a pair ($2) because he was absolutely down to one pair of tennis shoes and they are for wearing to church.  The 'new' pair broke while we were in Wal-Mart yesterday.  Luckily, he had some of his own money that he earned for doing chores and he bought himself another pair. We are big believers in earning one's keep.  Yes, they are our children and we are responsible for their welfare, but that doesn't mean they can't make a contribution.  At Kelby's age, he is also expected to tithe a portion of any money he earns and save a portion of any money he earns. 

Father's Day Gifting

Father's day came and went without much hoopla.  My husband wanted to go out for dinner and that worked in perfectly with our plan.  Our dads were another story.  I make cards, so cards were made.  The gift was a bag filled with their favorite candies/cookies.  After all, what do you get the men you borrow everything from to start with?  They have it all and they need nothing, but they still like to eat.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summertime Fun

Yes - it's hot out, the humidity is rising and summer is upon us. We want to have fun like anybody else in the summer, but we have to stick to our shopping rules.  What can we do to have a great summer and not spend money on 'stuff'?  I saw an idea on a Facebook post by a friend named Lisa.  She was asking for suggestions for fun things to do within a day's drive of our town of Camden that is free or nearly free.  She received several ideas, which I think I shall employ.  Instead of spending money on toys, water sprinklers, and other 'junk' to occupy the kiddies in the heat, I think we would be better served by visiting some places in the area.  Most of these places have areas that are air conditioned or provide their own fun water source.  Not to mention, they might actually learn about something unique in the process.  One idea is a visit to local 'museums.'  There are several of these in the area.  If planned properly, at least 3 of these could be visited in a day's time. I'm not talking about big museums, mind you, but the smaller ones that focus on local culture and history.  I know of ones in Brownsville, Jackson and Milan - all free and air conditioned!  Other ideas might be a nearby water park.  These aren't terribly expensive but provide hours of enjoyment.  Our City Pool is very cheap entertainment, as well.  Of course, as I have mentioned many times, our library here in Benton County offers wonderful programs in a very cool setting.  It's too tempting to sit around and watch TV and play video games when the sun is high in the sky.  So, when it's too hot to send the kids out to play, get out and do a little exploring together - cheap exploring!  Other ideas for staying home and having fun coming soon.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dirty Floors No More

Yippeeeeeee!  My mom got my vacuum cleaner fixed.  It's one of those bagless kinds and has a lifetime filter on it.  She took it completely apart - undid screws that normally wouldn't be undone and pulled out some trash that was stuck way up inside the filter.  Bless her heart - I am so grateful, especially since vacuum cleaners are not on the list of items we can buy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Much Ado About Mulch

Here's one you might can use.  Do you have an over-abundance of trash at your house?  Do you like to eat fresh vegetables?  Do you want to contribute to recycling? Would you like a garden without weeds?  All of these things can be accomplished through the simple act of lasagna gardening.  What is it, you ask?  It's a method of layering (also called sheet composting) organic materials on a sunny spot in your yard.  These things will break down and create rich soil and you never have to break the dirt up to get started.  You will reduce the amount of trash you are taking to the landfill because a good deal of your garbage will go to the garden spot.  You won't have weeds in this garden because you will be covering the ground in materials such as cardboard and newspaper first and wet these down.  This will begin the process of killing out the grass and weeds underneath.  On top of this you add grass clippings, leaves, junk mail, tea bags, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps, etc.  Over time these things will "cook" in the sun, layered together, until the soil is just right for planting.  The idea is to actually 'layer' the brown stuff with green stuff.  I really love this idea, too, because we cannot go out and buy mulch.  In using this method of gardening, we are simply recycling the things around us that would normally go to waste, thereby creating our own mulch.  Keep in mind that any cardboard/paper products can be used in the garden such as snack boxes, used paper towels, used coffee filters, etc.  For more info on the subject and how you can apply it to your household, simple type in the words 'lasagna gardening' in any search engine (my preference is Google).  You will find a wealth of information on the subject.  And, thanks mom for turning me on to this idea!

Coming Clean

Confession time - we have made a couple purchases we were not supposed to make - We bought badminton rackets for a Sunday School Party and we bought sandals for our boy Kelby.  He was down to one good pair of tennis shoes and his play boots and that was it for shoes.  The other item we bought was 2-3 sheets of plywood for the chicken coop.  So, yes we have found that there are moments when the rules may get broken, but we are back on track and sticking to our guns for the long haul.  The sandals I got for Christmas have torn and unless I can repair them myself, they won't be replaced.  Our socks are beginning to look a little worn, so I will need to break out the needle and thread for those.  And, my vacuum cleaner just quit working out of the blue - every, Every, EVERY attempt will be made to fix it. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gifting for Children

A word of advice for any of you contemplating the no-shopping experiment - Save your old containers!  I mean the big plastic juice containers  - these can be turned into banks or any kind of mysterious creature you can create out of them.  Keep food boxes that can be covered and made into very lightweight building blocks, buses, cars, robots, etc.  I am thinking instant oatmeal boxes, cereal boxes, snack food boxes, etc.   If you have little girls, you can make keepsake boxes out of these, little 'purses' if you really get creative and even dollhouses - depending on the size of your boxes and your creativity.  Some containers, if plastic, like coffee containers could be made into critter keepers for the little guys and gals that like to collect snails, crickets, frogs and such.  A little paint and decoration can transform anything!  Will post more ideas when we come up with them.  In the meantime, we are happy to take your suggestions.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Coop

Hey - we have finally finished the coop building!  We still need to put up the pen, but the little house is done!  We will have baby chicks in it tonight - so excited.  And, we only had to spend money on three pieces of siding - EVERYTHING else was either salvage or donated including the vinyl flooring my dear husband installed.  Beautiful old boards from a 50-year-old chicken coop made up the siding for the front of the coop, and the door is also from the vintage coop.  The 2 x 4s were donated from the folks housing their chickens in the coop, and the little boxes inside were also a donation.  We had friends donate windows and wire, as well.  We are truly blessed with people who are very giving.  So, thank you everyone that helped us out!  I have posted a pic for your viewing pleasure.  :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Well is Dry

My Avon money is all gone!  We attended a Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Nashville this past weekend and I spent all my Avon earnings on hotel accommodations and homeschool supplies/books, etc.  I have also given up my Avon business to pursue other interests so there won't be any extra money around for a while.  That's okay - it was fun while it lasted, and the little bit of money I made really helped out at the right time for the right thing - my son's education!  It also gave me the confidence to pursue our no-shopping experiment because it was like a security blanket.  If I really needed something - really, really needed it - I knew that I had a little extra something just in case of an emergency.  I never did 'need' it for any trinket I couldn't live without.  I never needed it for clothes or shoes.  I never needed it for a CD or DVD.  I am glad I had it for school books, though - not to mention the dissection-grade frog and crayfish we purchased.  Boy, I am sooooooo glad we were able to buy those last two items - what would we have done without that Avon money?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

 I hope everyone had a great mother's day.  I had to come up with something crafty this year. I have included a pic so you can see the flower on top of the bag, but the stuff inside included a bottle of bath salts (they will deplete completely because they dissolve), as well as a bag of specialty cookies.  Quade had the idea of including some type of teas in the bags so I made decorative boxes out of thin cardstock and we put flavored teas and relaxation teas inside the box and included this in the bag.  The flowers on the tops of the bags are simple tissue flowers - I already had the tissue paper.  You may be wondering why there are three bags - one for my mom, one for Quade's mom and one for Quade's step-mom.  We love them all and grateful we are blessed with three mommas!  

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cleaning on a Dime

What?  You are tired of paying all that money for expensive household cleaners?  Well don't.  There are plenty of cheap, cheap, cheap cleaning solutions.  You can start with vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.  In my suggested reading box to the side of the blog, you will see books listed, one of which is all about using vinegar in your home.  It's a great little book that will save you lots.  Another fantastic cleaning product is Basic H by Shaklee. You will read a lot about the uses of Basic H anytime you look through an Amish home remedy or farm remedy book.  They use it a great deal for all sorts of things.  I bought one 16 oz bottle of the concentrated Basic H.  With it, I have made up window cleaner, all-purpose cleaner and degreaser (each 16 oz) many times over - I purchased that one single 16 oz bottle over a YEAR ago and still have enough to make many more bottles of all the above listed cleaners.  It breaks down into pennies per bottle for all the cleaners I have gotten out of it.  If you want to know more about Shaklee (they carry tons of 'green' products) and Basic H (which is safe to use around your children and pets), then go to  I highly recommend their products to anyone.

The Big Rotten Truth

I take it all back - the previous post, that is.  It turns out my little decay was actually a great big decay - now supposedly I need a root canal.  Do you know how much a root canal and crown cost these days?  Over a thousand dollars.  The money we have been saving is going to be stuffed into my teeth, plus some.  The storms will come - that much we all know from our recent experience with flooding around here.  I suppose how we respond to them is what really matters.  I am not the type to just chalk it up to 'oh well'.  I like to rant and fuss and try to go into denial for a while first, but then realization will settle in.  I will deal with it.  I won't like it, but I will deal with it.  I'm still a work in progress - and progress is slow.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


One thing can be said about this experiment - we are going to the dentist more - which is a good thing since we are supposed to go for cleanings every six months and were not doing so before.  But now, we are getting our toothbrushes from the dentist so we have this little incentive!  Our insurance pays for these cleanings so that works out pretty good.  They did find a cavity or two in mine, but I guess that needed to be addressed before it got worse.  I suppose you could say our need for free toothbrushes saved us from further decay - so maybe it pays to be cheap. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Clothing Swap

The bidding began at 10:05 and the clothing swap was on.  I wrote in an earlier post that a lady at our church suggested we do a clothing swap, whereby a group of ladies brings in clothing items that do not fit or they just don't want and swap them with other ladies to get "new-to-them" clothing at zero cost!  We had about 12-13 ladies participating in the actual swap, but we had many more who brought clothes to donate to whomever might take them, and they were really nice clothes.  We had a good variety of sizes involved in the swap and everybody had a great time.  We made up bidding paddles just for the fun of it and showcased the items available, allowing anyone interested in that item to bid on it.  After the 'bidding' we had snacks and tried on clothes.  Anything that didn't fit went back to the pile for someone else to claim if they wanted it.  Otherwise, the new-found treasures were theirs to keep.  Many ladies brought in handbags and purses, as well.  The whole thing lasted a couple of hours. If you are interested in having a clothing swap, there are many suggestions online of how to operate one.  The key is for everyone to agree to have a positive attitude, be supportive with their comments of how something might fit and look on someone else, and have fun with it.  Another important point is to make sure everyone brings in at least five articles of clothing to swap out and make sure they are in excellent condition and freshly laundered.  This was great for me because I am attempting to lose some weight and I needed some in-between size clothing to get me by.  Of course you all know clothing is definitely on the 'no-buying' list so I was thrilled to do this.  Just another example of how we can help each other out if we put our minds to it.  If you decide to do one of these with a group of friends or relatives, please let me know how it turns out for you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pickups and Pride

From time to time I share little things my husband says about our shopping experiment.  He has been incredible about the entire process.  Although we decided to do this together, I really thought he would bail on me when he saw hunting supplies on clearance at Wal-Mart, but he has stuck to the whole program without a fuss.  As a matter of fact, he commented the other day that he hasn't missed out on anything.  He said, "We have enough stuff around here that we shouldn't have to buy anything next year either."  I am impressed with his commitment to this.  Not all husbands would be so supportive or readily inform people that he and his family aren't purchasing things.  Ego and pride might get in the way for a few of us - be it man or woman, but we have unabashedly told folks that we are simply not buying things.  He has made it known to his friends, family and even strangers.  I really think it takes some pressure off.  An example is when the guys get together and start talking vehicles.  Let me say that if any man deserves a new(er) vehicle, it would be my husband.  He has been driving the same truck for 20 years and has over 275,000 miles on that Chevy.  It has lots of cosmetic deficiencies but it gets him from place to place.  He would love a new truck and he is the one in our family earning the paycheck.  But, our deal is not to purchase anything that isn't depletable or edible. The extra money we are applying to our credit card would certainly cover a truck payment so needless to say I am grateful he has made the choice he has made - we have a goal and we are trying like mad to reach it.  This shopping experiment is certainly helping with that and gives him an excuse when the other guys start asking when he's going to make an upgrade - he has an 'out' in other words by saying that it isn't on our list of depletables this year. 

That doesn't mean he doesn't get a raised eyebrow from time to time, but we often get that same look when we let folks know we homeschool or that we don't give our children certain vaccines, so we have gotten used to 'the look' by now.  As with anything else, just because someone does something different doesn't make them wrong, it just makes them different.  Life would be so boring if everyone did everything the same way, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Benton County Gems

I know I have mentioned our wonderful library before, but I can't emphasize enough the benefits of utilizing your county library.  We are so blessed here in Benton County with an exceptional library and if you aren't taking advantage of it, you really are missing out.  For example, you all know we are unable to purchase flower seeds this year (not depletable), but this Wednesday from 3-5 our library is having a special earth happy hour, whereby free seeds will be available.  We don't necessarily know if they are flower seeds but sure are hoping for some - all free!!  Of course they offer countless art classes for children and adults, computer access, many, many books to choose from, videos, audibooks, etc.  Our library is up on all the latest technology.  They also now have a coffee bar and will be offering snacks in the future, as well. 

Another great area of free entertainment is our very own Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park.  You've got access to hiking trails, playground equipment, and even a small sandy beach area right on the water for sunbathing and playing.  We spent a morning doing school work at Eva Beach one day - beautiful and pleasant.

Our City Park has also expanded its area of play in the past couple of years to include new playground equipment and a wonderful covered picnic area.  The children love it and it is very convenient to the ball fields if you have anyone on a team.  The walking trails available at the park are wonderful for a slow stroll or vigorous exercise. 

Look around your county - you will find many other beautiful areas to explore that I haven't mentioned here.  If you have a favorite, please share with the rest of us.  Entertainment and relaxation doesn't have to cost a dime - but the value of it is enormous!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Receipt Review

Wow - already mid April.  I can't believe it has been 3-1/2 months since we have purchased a DVD or a pair of shoes or even a simple T-shirt.  Those things really haven't been much of a temptation - as I said before the beautiful summer annuals have been torture to avoid, however.  For those of you thinking you could never do this yourselves, think again.  We had serious doubts before we began - we wondered if we would make it through the first month, in fact.  How would we handle birthdays?  What would we do for Easter baskets for the children?  And yet, a solution has always been found that did not involve buying some "thing."  We are, no doubt, a materialistic society.  Our family is no exception to stuffitis.  This is simply our effort to slow down the knee-jerk reaction of 'throwing it in the cart' just because it's cute, it's new, it's cool, etc.  I've heard myself say a hundred times, "it's on sale" or "it's only $3.00."  These bargains add up after a while.  If you have more month at the end of your money, take a moment to review your most recent purchases - look at the receipts.  You will surely see little items that costs a dollar or two.  Add all those up over a period of one month and see how much that totals up to.  You might be unpleasantly surprised.  But you have the ultimate authority over this.  You can change it.  If you can't commit to such a drastic change as ours, commit to one month.  If you can't commit to one month without purchasing stuff, commit to two weeks.  Start where you are comfortable.  Little changes can provide big rewards!  Even if you don't 'need' to save any money, wouldn't it be nice to know that you can exercise restraint?  That you can look at something, admire it, and walk away from it?  Try it just once over the next week or so.  Take the money you would have spent on the item - whether it is $3.00 or $30.00 and put it in an envelope.  Do this once a week for a month.  At the end of the month, take your secret stash and treat yourself or your family in some way.  Imagine if you did this for several months - depending on what you walk away from you might have quite a sum to use on a family outing, a special item or extra money for a trip.  But also, once you total up your stash, ask yourself if you even remember what it was that you had considered buying with that money but didn't.  Ask yourself how important that new book, or pants or sheet set is when you are laughing with your children on your trip to the zoo or sitting around a campfire at a state park you've always wanted to visit, or just splurging on a big steak dinner together.  Finally, ask yourself what that dollar is really worth to you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The boys have a camping trip coming up.  We have the basics like sleeping bags and a little Coleman grill/cooker thingie.  There are a couple of things the boys needed, though, that we cannot go buy.  We found that family and friends had all these things and then some.  They were glad to loan them out to us.  One item the 'other guys' will have that my guys won't have is a specialized hammock that closes up and allows a person to sleep comfortably in it all night - completely weatherproof and warm.  My guys are bringing a tent.  We are not trying to keep up with the Jones' so that's ok.  Tribal peoples have lived in less for generations.  I think my guys will survive in a tent for a couple of nights.  My littlest guy will not be going - just isn't ready for this kind of thing yet, but my oldest boy and husband should have a great time - on a shoestring budget and all.  Isn't that the point of going camping - take the bare essentials with little cost, encounter tons of trouble (ticks, mosquitoes, snakes, miserable sleep, etc.) - but with a few good stories to share and great memories to keep!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tissue Paper Carnations: Mother's Day Crafts - Easy Decorations for Kids -


Temptations Abound

What to my wondering eyes should appear, but beautiful flowers and all full of cheer! With trays full of petals, all delicate and bright, I knew in a moment my resolve could take flight.

A quick stop in Wal-Mart last night proved difficult.  I am allowed to purchase food-producing plants such as tomato plants, blueberry bushes, pepper plants, etc.  But, all those adorable vincas and daisies, waves of phlox and marigolds beckoned me closer.  I could pick them up and look at them, right?  I just couldn't put them in my cart.  The pansy, delicate in appearance but belying its name in hardiness, gently dipped their little heads revealing painted petals of yellow, deep purple and lavender.  And when one of the Mandevilla tendrils reached out to climb into my cart I gently curled it back onto its potted trellis, promising next year, next year.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Fever

Oh boy, now it's getting difficult.  This time of year I am usually picking out my favorite annuals and potting plants with bright flowers.  But cute little flowers are not on my list of edibles or depletables!  Yikes.  However, God does provide, even wants and not just needs.  Example:  The other day a couple of very nice ladies (sisters, in fact) were looking to get rid of some of their houseplants.  They loaded me down with beautiful plants - already potted and ready to go.  I am grateful for those. And, another lady gave me a ton of pots to use and chicken coop wire for our chicken coop (Thanks Ms. Shirley).  Also, I have started thinking about growing herbs.  They are certainly edible, quite fragrant and prolific!  However, I saw the cutest watering can, garden gloves and tool set the other day - just had to make myself keep walking, though.  This isn't easy for the boys either, I'm afraid.  They are noticing all the summertime toys in the stores - little wheelbarrows, pool toys, sand buckets - you name it!  And, I just know my husband is going to start talking about a new water hose any day now.  Can't wait til they all start asking for new summer clothes - Check out the list to the side for the new additions to our no-buying guide for spring/summer!  It's gonna be a tough one.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

GIVING UP!!!!!!!!

That's it - I've HAD IT with this saving money thing - I can't take it anymore!  In fact, I am going to go spend every last dime we have in our savings account right now.  I want clothes.  I want shoes.  I want movies.  This whole thing has been a terrible idea right from the start!  I am going to buy jewelry and then I am going to take my kids to the store and let them buy whatever they want.  I don't care what Quade thinks.  I don't care what anybody thinks.  I want to SHOP, SHOP SHOP til I drop!  And if you are 'buying' this, then you have been fooled quite appropriately I think - check the date.

Updates and Easter Blessings To You!

I have failed!  I failed the dessert fast I had going for the month of March.  I gave it up March 20th at our church's day retreat for women.  But I am happy about going 20 days without dessert.  Unfortunately, I can't say it made an impact on my waistline because it did not.  A reader of the blog challenged me on this and she was supposed to do it with me - she gave up before I did!  Oh well, we have learned something about ourselves - we are weaklings. 

On another front - the chicken coop.  I am excited to report that a very kind lady has offered us her old chicken coop - completely free.  My husband has been taking it apart slowly and is going to reassemble it on our property.  I have been told the chicks will be arriving in April but won't be ready for a coop for a little while after that.  This is very exciting for us because we didn't know how we would go about building a coop without spending any money at all and God has provided a way!

Lastly, Happy Easter everyone.  Beyond the Easter Baskets and the Easter Bunny, if you are spending time with little ones this weekend be sure to tell them the real Easter Story - Of Jesus, Our Savior, who died on a cross that we might live; but don't stop there - with great excitement, share with them the Resurrection of our Lord and how He can live in each of us if we only ask Him to.  Happy Happy Easter!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Easter Surprises!

It's almost Easter and what will we do about Easter baskets?  For starters, it should be noted that we downplay the whole Easter Bunny thing around here.  We emphasize the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We do, however, provide Easter Baskets.  In these baskets are a few candy treats but in the past we have purchased little gift items, as well.  This year those purchased gift items have to be off the table completely.  So, you ask, what are we going to do?  The ideas we have come up with so far include 1.  Free printable coloring Easter pages off the internet, 2.  Homemade peanut butter (and edible) play dough, 3.  Pet rocks that we paint and decorate, 4.  Fruit, 5.  Homemade cookies shaped like crosses.  Since my oldest loves to play Tic Tac Toe, I thought I might make up some ready-to-go Tic-Tac-Toe cards for him.  I also saw on one internet site some really cute little critters and cars made from egg cartons.  They painted them a solid color and then added little things to make them either an animal of some sort or little cars or trucks.  I suppose we will have to use real grass or pine needles in the baskets we have stored away. 
Last year I made some really adorable bunnies out of socks but since I did that already, I am not going to do that again this year.  Still trying to come up with just the right thing.  I did see some yarn eggs at that looked pretty neat.  You guys got any ideas for me?  Please share.  My email address for the blog is  so send your ideas and I just may share them with everyone else right here.  Thanks for reading and Happy Easter!

The Little Things

Hey guys!  It's the little things that make people nuts, isn't it?  My mother, bless her heart, has had one particular gripe with our shopping thin system.  She makes it a point to let us know about it almost every time she is in my home.  That's okay - everybody is entitled to their opinion.  Her complaint is that we are not purchasing zip-top baggies to store things in!  She will inevitably tell me that she wishes we would make an exception to this rule or that she is going to buy some for us.  We haven't purchased any since December 31, 2009.  We store our things in little bowls with lids, etc.  We still have aluminum foil from last year so we occasionally use this to wrap something up in.  But those things are not suitable to her when she wants a little bag to store something in. I think I will wait her out - she will either make good on her threat and buy some herself OR she will adjust and make do.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Family, Fun and Frugality

Hi everybody!  So sorry it has been a while since posting - too many irons in the fire this past week.  To get right to it - I am glad we are on this shopping thin track now more than ever!  After seeing some of the changes headed to our country, I am convinced we need to be as careful as possible with our spending.  I need to address something we are spending money on.  The way we have set our system up, our spending limitations mainly involve tangible items - stuff!  We are allowed to spend money on family outings such as a trip to the movie theater or tickets to a show.  In fact, one of the reasons for embarking on this journey is to have the money to do more things together as a family.  So, in that vein of thought, we purchased tickets to a Roy Clark show.  You see, our 2-year-old is obsessed with the banjo and has been since he was about 18 months old.  However, I have been very careful with some money I received as a gift for Christmas and used it plus some birthday money to pay for half the cost of the tickets, which totaled right at $140.  We feel this is a worthwhile family outing that will allow us a great family memory.  The memory is worth a great deal more than the actual cost of it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Are any of you "shopping thin in 2010" with us?  One of the biggest hurdles to get past is the impulse to buy.  It just seems to sneak up on you when you least expect it.  One tip is to never go into a market or store without a list.  Follow your list as though it is a map to a place you are unfamiliar with.  Just as you will adhere to a map of a new town or end up lost, you must adhere to your list or you will get off course and buy more than you intended.  Another tip is to think ahead.  In the past, we would remember at the last minute that we needed a gift for a birthday or event.  Using a simple block calendar take a few minutes and jot down as many birthdays and events you know you will need a gift for.  Think about the individual and what you might like to make for them.  No ideas?  Take a stroll through the internet for hand-crafted gifts.  Look through all those magazines or craft books I know you have stacked somewhere.  By thinking ahead you won't be at a loss thirty minutes before you need a present.  If all else fails, it only takes 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees to bake pre-made cookie dough.  The key to making this type of gift extra special is in the packaging.  Once they cool completely, wrap them in white gift tissue and place them in a brown or white paper lunch bag that you can decorate with ribbon, buttons, a pretty picture from an old greeting card, etc.  You can get as creative as you want with this idea.  But a little planning goes a long way.  Strategize for success and you will find it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Okay, here we are in month THREE!  Surprisingly enough, we are doing very well with this.  We do have Easter coming up.  No new clothing will be purchased for Easter Sunday.  Easter baskets will be creatively assembled.  We can buy a little candy for the baskets but as far as "gifts" go, they will have to be handmade.  I have a few ideas up my sleeve that I will share at a later time.  In reference to a previous post where I declared a 'dessert fast' I would like to announce it is 13 days into the month with no dessert!  It's not that bad right now.  At first, I thought I would go crazy without it, but I suppose my body is adjusting to its absence.  However, on the subject of the Tic Tacs, I have faltered once or twice with these.  There are just those moments when the Tic Tacs are a necessity.  But hey - I've given up shopping and desserts so I hope you will give me a break on the Tic Tacs!  The boys are doing great with this - Kelby has asked more than once if we can do this 'no-shopping' thing again next year.  I am very happy to report that Quade has not given in one time to purchase a DVD or some hunting gadget that he found on sale.  It could be because he doesn't even bother going to that section of the store anymore!  So far, so good.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I met someone the other day who has seven children and an eighth on the way.  The thought of supporting a family that size sends my mind reeling.  Just think of the amount of milk, orange juice, paper towels, etc. you would have to buy on a regular shopping trip.  They are a very nice family and the mother of these children struck me as both pleasant and calm - neither characteristic would I be able to claim if I were in her shoes!  Speaking of shoes, let's get to the crux of the matter - I bet she could teach me a thing or two about buying non-depletables.  I don't know, because I controlled my desire to be obtrusive and ask her - but I would love to know how they handle the purchases of  "stuff."  Let's just say that I felt a bit humbled after thinking about this family for a while.  If they can manage with 10 family members, surely we can manage with four.  Granted, I have no idea what her husband does for a living - but still, there is really no excuse for us.  Little encounters like this one, along with everyone's support, serves as reminders to us that we need to stay the course, hold fast to our plan and keep pushing forward.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Growing Interest

I don't know how many of you have credit card debt.  We do.  It's one of our ardent goals to pay it off this year and we are working hard at it.  I suppose I've been living under a rock but for the first time I noticed something on my credit card statement that truly shocked me.  There was a warning called a "Minimum Payment Warning" with a box that showed how many years it would take to pay off our current balance by paying only the minimum payment.  I was stunned when it said 23 years.  Then, it showed how long it would take to pay off the same balance by adding an extra $80 to the payment - it was 3 years.   For several months we have been adding quite a bit extra to the minimum and when we get it paid off I am going to sit down and cry tears of joy.  We have not used the card in months and that is the other secret to getting it paid off.  As long as anything is tacked on to a burgeoning balance, no amount of extra payments will ever result in paying it off.   In 23 years my husband will be 65 and I will be 60 - to know this credit card burden could actually follow us into retirement, steal from our children and basically hold us back in all sorts of ways disgusts me.  I took the blinders off and faced reality when I read that statement.  If you dare take a look at yours - but sit down first.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sharing the Wealth

Don't let the title of this post confuse you - I'm absolutely, unequivocally not a socialist.  I'm a free market  capitalist all the way.  Nothing wrong with individuals helping each other out, though.  In fact, it's what we ought to do.  There are a lot of discussions about where our country is headed right now, but if we "do unto others as we would have them do unto us"  we would be a lot better off.  We can help each other out just fine in our own neighborhoods - we just have to have the "want to."  Recently I posted that someone sent some clothes my way.  Well, some of them worked for me and others didn't.  I thought about ladies at my church - would any of them be able to use them?  So, I took them with me yesterday for services.  Guess what?  I didn't bring any of them back home.  So it worked out great!  One of the ladies even suggested we do a clothing swap - we bring some of our things that don't fit or that we're tired of and have a trading day.  Talk about a grand idea!  We can find solutions to many of our problems if we start trying.  We don't always have to have something new.  Get rid of that way of thinking.  We don't always have to buy it from the store, either.  Think barter and trade.  I'll be willing to bet you've got something in the way of goods or services that someone else would like to have.  Let people know what you are looking for and what you've got for trade.  Imagine the possibilities.  You've got a friend that sews and you need shorts.  Your friend loves your homemade jams and jellies.  Work out a deal.   Another example - you want family photos made but it is going to be fairly costly.  You happen to have a business of your own of some kind - see if that photographer would be interested in what you have and make a deal.  No money ever has to leave your pocket!  The point is to share what you have when you are able, think outside the box for obtaining the goods and services you need and have fun with it. You might find yourself meeting new people and making new friends - and you can't put a price on that!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Strength in Numbers

I get so excited when I see I have a new follower to this blog.  You guys keep me on the straight and narrow.  You hold me accountable.  You all inspire me to look for new and creative ways to cut costs even more.  We were discussing accountability in our Sunday School class the other day and how important it is in our lives.  It's true.  If we didn't have support for this little experiment, it would be so much more difficult to stay true to it.  My Momma Fran (MIL) is on a getting-fit journey.  She was telling me that our shopping thin experiment has led to her being more committed to her exercise and healthy eating routine.  She joined a group called SparkPeople at where individuals can get connected to people in their own area and across the country who have similar goals with diet and fitness.  It is a very interactive site with tons of options for meal planning, goal tracking, weight tracking, community boards, blog posting and your own personal page.  I have even signed up myself.  The point is, we get more accomplished in life when we support one another and feed off of each other's successes.  Knowing our commitment to what we are doing has inspired others in their own journey is humbling and rewarding.  So, it matters when we know you all are out there, coming up alongside us, checking what we have in our carts at the store and weighing in on the blog posts.  I knew one day I was going to get committed in this life - just thought it would be to a rubber room.  This is much nicer.

Eating Thin?

I mentioned in a recent post that I may try a dessert fast for a month.  Someone who shall remain nameless challenged me on Facebook to go for it, and she would join me.  I have great difficulty in declining a public challenge; needless to say, I am going for it.  I really enjoy a cup of coffee with a sweet treat after lunch.  This will not be easy so I am going to try attaching my shopping thin philosophy to this. I need to think of this as 'eating thin.'  Don't know why but it seems harder to apply this type of mentality to food.  Perhaps its because I know I MUST eat and therefore justifying consumption of food is much easier than justifying consumption of stuff, for me. For some of you this is no big deal - you may not be a dessert eater, but I love chocolate and sugar and it will be one long month!

Monday, March 1, 2010

To Co-op A Coop

"Here chick, chick, chick."   Is that the proper call when you want to round up chickens?  We will find out some time this summer.  That's right - we're going to get chickens.  Actually, a young lady at church who lives in the city limits would like to have some chickens for a project.  We have wanted chickens for a long time and now that our 2-year-old is getting a bit more independent, we think we are at the right time to go for it.  So, we are going to 'co-op' a coop with this young lady.  We will supply the housing and facilities, she will supply the chickens and the care of them.  In our rosy little world, we envision an adorable chicken coop, a window on the side to provide sun for the hens and to hold a window box of fresh herbs growing in it, the chickens pecking at the ground on a sunny day and our boys learning about farm life.  Our dogs will lazily admire them from afar, ever-protective of the little brood should danger approach in the way of a raccoon or coyote.  And then, whenever the time comes, eggs will be plentiful and life will be grand.  For those of you who have lived on a farm, you may have noted that I am a little 'green' when it comes to raising poultry and you may be chuckling to yourself.  I'm wildly popular for my rose-colored glasses, though, and don't plan on taking them off any time soon.  Let me live in my little bubble of chicken perfection for now.  Later you can laugh if I end up with egg on my face.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blessings and Appreciation

The blessings have poured down on us today!  A friend is moving away from our little town and though she will be missed, along with her sweet little girl, Emily, we will have reminders of them all around us. She called us earlier and said she had some clothes she needed to find a  home for and asked if I would be interested.  Of course I am not going to pass up free clothes.  Anything I can't wear I can always use for the women's ministry at church, so it is a win-win.  However, when we got to her house she was in the garage going through all sorts of things that she was desperate to give away.  She simply did not want to deal with moving all of it.  Other 'shoppers' would be arriving soon to take away a variety of items, but there were things no one had claimed yet like wrapping paper, ribbon, gift boxes, car wash supplies, and countless other goodies she just didn't want.  We even got two awesome beach chairs and an umbrella!  My husband, fairly stoic most of the time, was perfectly giddy on the way home.  I asked him if he was okay with getting all that stuff and he said, "Are you kidding?  We can't buy anything for a year so this is like Christmas!" 

I was reading something the other day about The Great Depression.  The people in the article commented that they were not as poor as the farm folks at the time but they remembered being so thrilled at getting a piece of fruit once or twice or month, and maybe some kind of bite of dessert every month or two.  People today have no idea what that would be like - we are entirely too self-indulgent but it has me thinking about going on a dessert fast for a solid month just to get an idea.  Even though we are not purchasing non-depletables, we have not done without.  We have not missed out on anything except the hustle and bustle of running here and there and everywhere, trying to get something on sale or find some new gadget.  Just like today's windfall from our friend, Kim, we were all very excited to have something new (to us) and we appreciate the giver much more than the gifts themselves.  Maybe that's the lesson - appreciation.  You think that's what the people who survived The Great Depression got out of it?  Perhaps it wasn't about the loss of things, but what they gained - an appreciation for the people in their lives and the faith in their hearts.  Thanks Kim.  You will be missed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

All In Good Time

I'm not satisfied unless I have a thousand things on my plate.  I have tried to scale back but the harder I try, the more I end up doing.  I suppose I need to resign myself to the fact that I am the CEO of something undefinable but definitely all-consuming.  The bright side is that I am no longer overwhelmed by running here and there for this and that.  A commercial on television for a "one-day sale" doesn't even warrant my acknowledgment.  And, since I am spending no time - zip, zero- on online shopping, I do have more time to devote to things like this, which I enjoy enormously.  Writing is my first love - always has been, always will be.  This allows me some creative expression, as well as the opportunity to embark upon a crazy, offbeat experiment, which is fun in a challenging sort of way.  Normal does not fit who I am, and I happily embrace that fact!  This may cause severe embarrassment to my children one day, but I think at some point they will realize I do these crazy, all-in, go-for-it things to show them to have no fear of standing out from the crowd.  One day they may be asked to stand up for something - something truly important and maybe somewhere in the back of their minds they will remember where they came from - after all, a nut doesn't fall far from the tree!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Out Of the Mouths Of Babes...

My Kelby amazes me - He walked up to me last night and said he wanted to ask me something.  I always brace myself when he does this because the next words out of his mouth usually have to do babies and how they get here or why boys have to stand up to go number one but girls have to sit down for it.  And he doesn't settle for a simple response.  Bracing for the worst, I literally breathed a sigh of relief when he asked if we could keep doing this "shopping thing" again next year.  He said he really liked it and that he wasn't missing out on anything.  Of course, this is only month two and who knows how he might feel later in the year, but I have to say he has adjusted very easily to not buying 'stuff' so far.  We can only hope this sets off a positive trend and instills good shopping habits our boys will keep for life.  Why shouldn't children learn at least one thing from their parents' mistakes?

Monday, February 22, 2010

STUFFITIS (stuff' i`tis) excessive need for stuff; inflammation of stuff; disease process of having too much stuff

Yesterday, a friend was discussing this new shopping outlook with me.  I will call her Carol Ann.  She was telling me how she has stuffitis - a common condition for men and women living in this day and age.  I know because I have been suffering from it all my life and didn't even realize it until recently.  It's an insidious disease process that begins early in life and typically deteriorates as we age.  The symptoms may include increased heart rate when the victim eyes a particular item they believe they cannot live without,  a feeling of elation at seeing a package arrive in the mailbox or delivered by UPS, but sadly followed by a deep, sinking feeling when the credit card statement arrives.  The latter may result in sweaty palms, a furrowed brow and indigestion.  If not treated, the initial symptoms will lead to even worse health problems such as high blood pressure, the need for Botox after all that furrowing and of course the purchase of multiple bottles of antacid.  Financial, as well as physical, demise is imminent.  Sadly, about 90% of the population suffers from this malady - but there is good news!  We can stop stuffitis!  How?  Quit buying things that you already have!  If your shower ledge is lined up with shampoo, why on earth are you buying more?  If you already have sheets on your bed and they don't have holes in them, do you really need that new set?  Look carefully in your closet, at that collection of DVDs, the dreaded attic where all things 'needed later' are thrown and ask yourself if you can do without the next great piece of $39 art you spy at your favorite home decor store.  Yes, Carol Ann, there is a cure for stuffitis.  Now, finding a cure to a Tic Tac addiction is another matter entirely - I may need to go to rehab for this one.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Con? You Be the Judge...

I think I've been conned - by my husband and 7-year-old boy!  The other day my husband wanted to take Kelby squirrel hunting for the first time.  I saw a Wal-Mart bag with a $10.00 tag on it and realized it contained ammo for the hunting expedition.  I asked how ammunition qualified as a depletable.  Both began to 'explain' to me that once you fire that weapon you can't get the bullet back and that it can't be re-used and that it's gone for good.  They were both very serious and matter-of-fact, as though they were discussing the principles of nuclear physics with a colleague.  That should have been my first clue.  As I was distracted at the time, I let it go but later began to wonder about this.  The bullet is actually a shotgun shell, which by all accounts, does not disintegrate into thin air.  It just happens to be an empty shell afterward.  I think they've slipped one past me - was it worth it in the end?   The bonus in this situation, if I were looking for one, is that I didn't have to cook a rodent because the hunt was unsuccessful. They did have some nice father/son time, and Quade was able to teach Kelby a great deal about gun safety.  That's easily worth $10.00 in my book. How about yours?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tough Times for a 2-Year-Old

Found ourselves in Wal-Mart last night picking up a few grocery items when it occurred to our 2-year-old that he 'needed' new Play-Dough.  He was very insistent that he needed it, as a matter of fact.  How do you explain to a 2-year-old that Play Dough is not depletable?  You don't.  You simply tolerate the fussing, screaming and tantrum until it passes and try to tell him that you have a great idea - you will make him some homemade play dough and say it with as much excitement as you can muster.  He eyed his loving parents with expected skepticism but seemed pacified by the fact that he was still getting play dough one way or another.  I am including the recipe I have for it but would like to know if anyone has a variation on it or suggestions to make it even better - believe me, this child will know the difference between the trademarked stuff and the homemade stuff and he will point it out to me immediately!  Also, does anyone know if this is supposed to be all-purpose flour or self-rising flour?
Kid's Play Dough
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tbsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup water or more
Food coloring
1.  Mix dry ingredients in large sauce pan.
2.  Mix oil, water, food coloring.
3.  Mix all together.
4.  Cook over med. heat for 1-4 minutes until it's not sticky.  Let cool and play with it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Birthday on a Budget

My birthday was yesterday and my mother won the prize for gifting!  She actually made my entire gift without spending a penny on anything but a few grocery items like flour and frosting.  But wait to you hear what she made me.  She put together a little hand scrub made from brown sugar, white sugar and sea salt.  She re-used a jar she had and added a bow.  But then, she made a cookie bouquet (thus, the need for flour and frosting).  She needed sticks to put the cookie flowers on and used some wooden chopsticks she was saving for a future craft project.  She put this bouquet into a very pretty container, which she already had and simply re-used.  I cannot leave out my husband, though. He did come through for me.  I committed myself in my last post not to purchase more than one 4-pack of Tic Tacs and I have not.  But I only had a few left.  My husband knew what the perfect birthday gift would be and bought me Tic Tacs!  He also cooked a steak dinner - yum.  My little boys made me beautiful artwork that I can display and admire for years to come.  All in all, it was a great birthday.  I don't have to worry about finding a place I don't have for knick knacks I don't need, and we enjoyed the evening together, with our bellies full of steak and Tic Tacs at the ready.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Word of Thanks

Word must be getting out about this little experiment.  In the past week I have had two different people offer to give me clothes for myself and my youngest boy.  Two weeks ago someone gave me clothes for my oldest boy.  Believe me, I am grateful for their generosity.  Clothes are not on our list of purchasable items this year.  Support for this effort by those around us really keeps us going and keeps us motivated, and we are certainly thankful for their support.  I have seen such a difference in my husband's attitude about balancing the checkbook - that alone has made this all worth it!  He used to put it off as long as he could and then fussed, fussed, fussed all the way through it.  Now, he gets it done quickly and without complaint.  In fact, I think I heard a little "Yes!" slip out when he finished the other day.  As always, we give thanks to the Lord for sustaining us - He always meets our needs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Penny For My Thoughts

I need to start a list of all the things I think I "need" during a day but cannot purchase right now.  I have a feeling the list would be pretty long.  I might be cooking and think "I sure need a new rolling pin."  The other day after seeing how rough the heels of my feet have gotten this winter I thought "I need a new foot file and give myself a pedicure."  I looked for a purse in my closet to go with a certain outfit I have but found that I didn't have one that was just right - oh well, it will just have to wait.  By then, I hope the outfit doesn't fit anyway (trying to lose weight).  Truthfully, all of these things I don't currently have I am living just fine without.  I have had the same old rolling pin since Quade and I were married 12 years ago - it does the same thing a new one would do.  I don't devote a lot of time to my feet at any given time and I do have lotion I could apply nightly that would make a huge difference if I just used it.  And, the purse is absolutely nothing I need - just another accessory to worry with.  But I do think I will start jotting it down when stuffitis strikes- would make for an interesting list at the end of the year.  Maybe I'll pay myself a penny for every one of them December 31, 2010 - if I can afford it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Needs, Wants and Addictions

Got into a conversation with a friend yesterday.  We were talking about money and our little experiment.  She began to tell me how she is a bargain kind of lady.  She finds bargains and goes for it.  She was telling me, in fact, she needed a computer and found one on sale for almost half the regular price.  I said wow, so you don't already have a computer?  Her quick response was, "not a desktop."  And then she grinned slyly and I immediately caught on to the fact she obviously has a laptop.  But she insisted that she 'needed' it.  Now, although our experiment is not necessarily about needs and wants but instead depletables and edibles, things that fall into these categories often cross territories.  Our conversation does make me want to revise my list of things I can purchase to save even more money.  Many of you reading this already know I have a TERRIBLE addiction to the white Tic Tacs.  Those are certainly edible, but they are not a need.  I am going to make a public commitment right now to cut down my consumption of these to one 4-pack a week.  A 4-pack is
$ 2.88 and I can easily purchase two of these a week.  That brings me to $23 a month on Tic Tacs, and just seeing this in print is making me sick to my stomach.  I think I will also start looking at other edibles and depletables that are not needs but wants and see where more cutting can be done.  Be Warned, however, I am going to be a bear while I am cutting down on those little white mints - just proves you can can addicted to anything.  And Alma - if I can cut out some of my Tic Tacs I bet you can cut out some "bargain must-haves."  Good luck :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Soapy Solution

I don't waste time looking through too many mail order catalogs these days.  After all, there is not likely to be anything in them that I can purchase.  But the other day a Current Catalog came in the mail.  I have, in the past, enjoyed looking at their online sales and have found some really terrific bargains with them.  I flipped through the pages while drinking a cup of coffee and actually found something that I could order from them if I wanted to.  It was soap leaves shaped in the form of flowers.  Soap is depletable and is on my list of things I can purchase.  These were too cute.  I don't know that I will order them but it is an idea for something I can add to my "gifts" list.  I am a little afraid that if I were to order something - anything - that it would be like opening Pandora's box.  Perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to toss those catalogs, though, because I might get some ideas of things to make from them!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Love is in Season

It's coming - Valentine's Day, that is.  The stores are showcasing all their sweet delights, shiny red hearts and glitzy baubles to separate us from our money.  Can we show the ones we love how much we care without spending money?  We can do it without spending much.  Because we are limited to edibles and depletables, one thought for us to consider might be purchasing a favorite cake mix and frosting, along with some decorative sprinkles and make Valentine cupcakes together as a family.  We can also make our own cards for one another with the supplies I have on hand.  My husband and I are not ones to make a big deal over gift-giving to begin with.  For us, the time spent with one another and our children is what we long for most.  Of course, there should be a special gift between a husband and a wife on Valentine's Day - a little imagination goes a long way and a new red negligee is not required!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Wisdom of the Ages - Age 7 In This Case

My oldest, Kelby, is really getting into the act!  At 7 years old, he is fully aware of what a depletable is and quickly educates others should the subject come up.  Yesterday, we were doing a little cleaning and I gave him a Magic Eraser cleaning pad to 'erase' some errant crayon marks that a certain 2-year-old happened to leave behind.  Kelby marched right up to me and informed me that I could purchase more of these cleaning pads since they disintegrate as they are used; therefore, they are most certainly depletable.  Later, while playing in the snow with some neighborhood boys, however, he began to fuss about his little sled because it was not working well for him.  I overheard him telling the boys that he could not buy a new one, though, because sleds are not depletable. Not sure what their response was but I imagine it involved raising their eyebrows and uttering, "Huh?" 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snowstorm Economics

We sure don't have to worry about shopping right now - it's snowing, snowing, snowing and nobody will be getting out in this stuff!  The snow has got me thinking, though.  Do you ever run to the store for milk, bread and eggs when you hear snow is in the forecast?  A lot of folks do.  How come those folks don't run out for a new coverlet to match their sheets?  What about a new gadget for the kitchen?  Nobody runs out before a snowstorm for the latest style of stretch denim????  Are you kidding me?  Of course not, that would be silly.  Those items are not necessary to get us through life, are they?  That's sort of the approach we are taking right now.  If we don't need it during a snowstorm, we probably don't need it at all.  Of course this excludes my Tic Tac addiction :).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Measuring Progress

Someone asked me recently how we would know if this was really working if we were not keeping an actual budget.  Not to laugh (hard, that is) but it will be sooooo easy to know because if it is working there will actually be a little money at the end of the month.  Guess what?  My husband finally balanced the checkbook last night and SUCCESS!  We are not as broke as we usually are.  This might even motivate him to look at the finances a little more often - after all, who wants to go through a checkbook every few days when you know it is just going to depress you?  It is also surprising how many fewer receipts there are floating about the table, in my purse and shoved into my husband's wallet.  The trips to the store are SO much shorter.  And, we have survived without the usual extras, just fine in fact.  So, we are approaching the end of our first month shopping thin and glad to say that so far we are not suffering or barefoot or threadbare or ... you get the idea.  One down and eleven to go - wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just a Phone Call Away to Saving $300 A Year???

Heard about this phone service called Magic Jack - I have personally talked with someone who has it and really loves it.  Have you heard of it before? We are currently spending about $30 a month for our land line, or about $360 a year.  Supposedly with Magic Jack we can cut $320 dollars off that price the first year and $300 off every year after that.  They charge right at $40 the first year and $20 every year after that.  That sounds amazing to me!  We tried going to cell phones only for a while - we did not have reliable enough service to continue but I sure would be willing to try this thing out - it can't hurt and we might end up saving a bundle!  Feedback from you guys always welcome.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Okay -  sorry about not posting yesterday but was under the weather (yuck)  Check out the gift I made for the birthday boy - but shhh! Don't show and tell cause his birthday is this weekend.  I am very happy with how it came out.  I had the cork board, the fabric, ribbon, buttons, letters (everything) so no purchase of anything was involved with making this.  He can put pics in it, use tacs on it, whatever!  And, his room is camo already.  So, I hope he likes it and keep it under your hat!  What do you think?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Birthday Challenge

I guess you might say our first "big" challenge has come up.  We have a little friend with a birthday just around the corner and as you all know that have been following along we cannot purchase anything that isn't depletable or edible.  The friend is turning 9 so a basket of fruit really isn't going to do the trick.  What on earth can we make for a 9-year-old boy that he will actually like?  I am limited to the supplies I already have.  This calls for a trip up to the attic storage to check out what kind of supplies I have on hand.  I will definitely post a pic of what I come up with soon.  

Friday, January 22, 2010

What Are You Doing?

From time to time I will post things that you share with me about your own personal "frugal" journey, if you are taking one.  Today, I will introduce you to one the followers of the blog - Pam Taylor.  She is married and the mother of two children living outside the Memphis, TN area.  Pam is definitely absorbing frugality and trying new things all the time.  She has made homemade dryer sheets, homemade facial and hand moisturizer as well as homemade hand sanitizer.  She hangs her laundry to dry when she can and she is one smart shopper, looking for the best buys all the time.  I hope she will continue to share her smart shopping ideas with us.  She finds her recipes  for her homemade concoctions online - you can enter the words "frugal living" in your internet search engine and you will be amazed at the things you will find!  Happy frugality everyone! 

See bottom of blog for Pam's Hand and Body Lotion recipe.