Right off the bat when I quit working, we did lose money, but not as much as one would expect. No more filling up the gas tank three times a week (I lived quite a distance from where I worked). No more store bought snacks or lunches for those days when I didn't or couldn't bring a lunch or snack. Finally, although I find joy in giving and am glad that I can contribute, there were now fewer cash gift contributions to make towards whatever occasion a work place collection was being administered. Because I worked in a large and loving library community, there was a collection almost every week. But one of the biggest savings came in clothing.
I don't dress that differently from what I wore to work to what I wear anyplace else. The main difference is quality and newness, so my clothes with the least amount of wear were the ones that went to church and work, while some old dresses and skirts are really what I wear for day to day cleaning. I had spent so long making sure I had decent professional clothing on hand that it took a few months to remember that I no longer had to dress like that every day. I could now wear my denim skirts, slightly worn tops, and flip flops. Yay! Of course, I can't wear that for every occasion either, so the first time I crafted a nice church-worthy outfit for under $25 I felt like a champ. The only thing about store-bought clothing is that it rarely lasts as long as the items I have sewn, so I definitely want to keep sewing as time allows.
|The rainy day we've been saving for.|
Another thing I noticed after Duckling came along was that food prices soared last year. Remember, I had spent a year in bed being sick and not getting out much. Then, I suddenly went to the store and thought What happened here? I read a couple of sources that described low cost meal systems, and found that they fell into two areas. One is the extreme couponing model, where you denounce all brand loyalty and after running to ten different stores with a fistful of ads and coupons, wind up with five boxes of cereal and ten bottles of salad dressing for free. The other technique involves a combination of mass bulk buying and limiting yourself to certain recipes that work with the hundred pounds of chicken legs in your freezer. I have ended up doing what I always did, which was carving out a middle ground that uses a little of both strategies. By using coupons for products we like and use and keeping up with the sales at the 4-5 stores where I regularly shop (two grocery stores, two drug stores, and Target) along with produce stands and a bulk food store, I'm able to make the same delicious meals we always enjoyed, at a decent price.
I still love articles where ladies talk about how they make ends meet and how they feed their families on pennies a day. There is always something usable there, and if not, then I can use the inspiration. Every family has different priorities about what they consider to be essential, and once you know what those are, you can set about finding the best deals and leaving the rest.
Our formula would not work for everybody. Our lifestyle does not include a satellite or cable television package, car payments, smart phones, cosmetics, or even paying for water and trash removal, with those last two being based on where we live.We're also blessed with an extremely low heating bill every winter thanks to our wood stove and a large amount of wood split by my husband and his family.
The money we've saved by my staying home is off-set to a point by some new expenses. Items for the baby, additional health check ups, and the rare baby sitter. Also, we are still generous when it comes to giving to those who are in need. Because saving means you have more to give, when you live simply so that others can simply live.