A Facebook friend posted a link last week to a website giving tips in frugality. The title of the post - "Extreme Measures We Took to Stay Out of Debt." You can bet I clicked on over to look for ideas on additional ways, beyond the obvious, to squeeze a little more out of a penny.
Five years ago, our family moved to rural Obion County to be closer to family. Living in the country is cheaper than in the city, right? Well, the land we live on was given to us, free. Thank you, Granddaddy! However, we are paying exactly twice as much for the house we live in. We have a huge garden in the summer, and we can and freeze produce for the winter. The boys put a substantial amount of meat in the freezer every year, also - deer, rabbit, ducks, etc. But even with these "cheap" food sources, our grocery bill runs one-and-a-half times what it did in the city. That's with buying in bulk, using coupons, etc.
Higher living expenses are compounded by the fact that Steve now makes approximately half what he earned in Memphis, despite working two jobs. Obion County had a depressed economy before the current recession, and things have only gotten worse. These are hard times for everyone, not just big families with one wage earner.
So, I clicked on over to "Extreme Measures..." looking for a little hope and inspiration. Instead, I found nothing but the same old "we gave up cable TV and disposable diapers" fluff. Folks, the Kendalls are apparently living beyond Extreme - we're all the way over to Mega-Extreme.
No, we didn't cut out cable TV - we never had it in the first place. Nor did we eliminate our second car payment - we own all our limping clunkers outright. We don't shop at thrift stores - we rely on the generosity of folks who are cleaning out their attics. (It's not Goodwill shopping - it's Black Bag shopping.) We have not eliminated vacations - the kids go swimming in the pond several times a week, and we borrow DVD's for Movie Night. "Eating out" means we take dinner to the porch. No allowances - the kids all have ways of making their own spending money (selling eggs, teaching piano, hauling hay, etc.)
To be truthful, things aren't as austere as they could be. We haven't cut out tea and coffee. On birthdays, the guest of honor gets to choose whatever he wants for the dinner menu, even if it's country ham or steak. Graduations are rather big blow-outs, and we treat Sunday like a feast day.
Still, I am confident there are ways we could make a dollar go further. And I KNOW there are some very thrifty women reading this blog. So, Dear Readers, what are your tips for saving money? Forget the coupon books for discount tickets to the movie theatre - I want to hear the good stuff, the Mega-Extreme money-saving tips!
2 months ago