Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More recession ponderings

Click to enlarge picture

Here are a couple of pictures of my yellow "pantry" in the kitchen. I went through and took stock of what I needed (which was very little, thankfully), checked the expiration date on items like baking powder, filled the jars of salt and baking soda full to get ready for the baking season coming up, filled antique ball jars and jelly jars with the items I bought in bulk at the Amish grocery store on vacation... and generally tidied up everything.

I'll continue to purchase a little at a time as it is much easier on my budget. I make some candy at Christmas and I much prefer to use one of the nicer brands of chocolate chips (for candy) which are a lot more expensive than my usual Hershey's brand. So... I can buy one bag of the good stuff (usually at Target) once in awhile between now and December which will be a base for truffles and such. Same for chopped nuts, vanilla, and other often used ingredients ... one bottle or package here and there is quite do-able.

Another reason I like to store materials for baked goods in my pantry, as well as coffee and tea? When times are tough and pockets are empty (and I saw that happen in the late 70s and early 80s to a lot of people), hospitality is appreciated... especially when a baked good and a hot (or cold) drink is offered. We may not entertain angels but weary fellow sojourners through life will think we have a halo or two. :)

This is the time of year to check the sales inserts in the newspaper for the stores that sell their cans of vegetables on clearance to make room for the new season's harvest. I've been able to purchase green beans and corn (and sometimes other canned vegetables) for a quarter a can now for many years. I haven't seen any this year... yet... but I'm looking. We have two stores in the area that usually advertise their store brands for a quarter a can about now. For about $20.00, I buy for the entire year... mostly green beans but also a flat of corn for veggie soup.

What other items are on my "buy now before prices goes up... will be there when I need them"... list?

Well, I've been reading that cotton is going up in price a lot so it certainly wouldn't hurt to purchase a package of underwear and socks from time to time (the next size up for kids, of course).

There was one time when Christopher was nine or ten years old that I knew we were heading for some difficult times so I bought his favorite coat in the next larger size, as well as his favorite pair of sturdy shoes. I remember when I made the purchase that I thought it would be a long time before he would need them but... as usual... time went very fast and how happy I was that I didn't have to make that expenditure when the time came (he wore the same style and color of Lands End coat for about five or six years but he loved it, almost as a security blanket!).

As with so many of you, I shopped garage sales when the kids were little to put back sizes for the next year or two. It was easier to find the clothing for little girls, though. Boys seem to wear their clothes out before they get to the next size. :)

Basically, think of those items you know you will need... that you have money to purchase now... and space. Charlie's Soap is one of those items for me. I forgot to order it when I had the income from the bookstore so I had to purchase inexpensive store bought laundry soap and use up most of my big bottle of fabric softener that I usually keep back for just jeans and sweaters. (You don't need fabric softener with Charlie's Soap). That will be a purchase I'll make soon!

Books and Project Supplies...

Something else I've been known to "put back" before was material for a particular project. I found purchasing everything I needed for a quilt project or a needlework project to be much less expensive than buying the items separately when I saw something that caught my eye (and when it comes to fabric... that is not hard to do). I have a bad case of fabric love, which I gave into only when we visited the two different Amish communities this past summer (both times with a financial gift from someone who loves me).

If one purchases supplies when they have the funds, it is so good to have them available when circumstances are helped by busy hands... whether they be sewing, needlework, scrapbooking, building a piece of furniture, making cookies, drawing pictures for Grammie (hint, hint), puzzles, etc... either put back in a place easily located or "a little extra" in the supplies we use on a daily basis.

Experience has shown me having projects put back to work on is a lot like having unread and interesting books on a shelf already. How wonderful it is to be able to read or get involved in a creative project without having to spend money when it is tight. It frees one to really enjoy the work... or the book... without guilt.

Of course, as far as books are concerned there is always the library... and we did use it a lot... but personally I look at books on my shelf as friends to revisit or to take my time and get to know on my own clock (and it seems I always have to rush through library books). Since books are available at library sales, thrift stores, etc. at minimal cost... I do like to own mine when possible.

That same year I saw the financial storm coming and bought the extra coat and shoes, I also purchased the next year's homeschooling materials ahead of time. It was like having money in the bank... knowing we had the necessary size of clothing and the ability to "do school" another year without purchasing anything the following year (when we were unemployed).

But all of that would involve spending money, even it minimal cost. What can I do that doesn't cost me a thing?

Hmmm... how about learning a new skill... or gaining experience and mastering one you've already started? I've decided to try my hand at some new bread recipes this autumn. By keeping the ingredients on hand, they would make delightful surprises for family and friends.

When we had no income for two different years, it made such a huge difference in morale when I would make a loaf of homemade bread or a batch of cookies, served with coffee and milk. Such items were beyond our budget purchased at the store but they were of high quality and tasty when made at home for a fraction of the cost.

I also plan to learn to knit. I have various needles (purchased at a thrift store) so I'll just need some yarn and a teacher...

I need to spark my brain power a little... okay, a lot. I printed off a Bible lesson recently, written by a woman who has a slightly different take theologically on the timing of the Lord's return... it tweaked my interest when I heard her on TV. It was free and it wasn't so different from my own that I didn't think it could be Biblical. That should get some brain cells recharged... :)

Remember, it's not all about spending money.

Sometimes it is, when one purchases now (without going into debt) what will only go up in the future. Also, deepening the pantry is insurance we can eat in case of a natural disaster, job loss, inflation, shortages, etc.

There are also those things we can do that cost us nothing like get our house in order... literally. Make a new budget and stick to it. Look at our checkbook (or online banking) and see where our money is going (Christopher did this and realized he was spending way too much money eating out between classes so he and I decided how we can resolve that situation). Look around the house and locate any clothing that needs to be wash, mended, and put back in our closet.

Organize our kitchen, pantry, closets, tool chest, garage, etc. so we know what we have. Get down those boxes we haven't opened since we moved and see what is in them. If the contents are not important, if they do not have sentimental value (and even then, is there someone else who may cherish them more than you?), then give them to charity where a person who does need them will be blessed (or have a garage sale if weather permits in your area). Obviously they would not make your heart sing or you wouldn't keep them hidden... right? Make it a family project.

The most important storage we can do for the future?

Store the Word of God in our heart. Put together lists... verses that bring us peace in a time of turmoil. Help your children or grandchildren create a "Fear Not" book with simple verses they can go back to when frightened and perhaps pretty pictures from magazines of flowers, cute animals, nature, etc. Even if you have no TV in your home, the world has a way of intruding and my friends, they will pick up on the uncertainty going on in this time from others.

How much better to do something productive for yourself and for them by facing perilous times directly, letting the hurricane force winds of change and fear meet us head on and we may blink a little... but we won't be moved. The Anchor can only hold if you've taken hold of It. You can live in a concrete bunker with years worth of food and possessions (which I don't!) and die of a heart attack because of "men's hearts failing them for fear".

I have been there... facing the winds of circumstances so fearful that I've thought I'll never be standing when this is all over... but I was. Oh, I was battered and bruised and there was the fallout of the storm all around me... but I not only survived... I was stronger than before the storm began. He designed us this way for some reason... the Potter... the Silversmith... the One who decided before the beginning of it all that this is the season in time and space He wanted us to live.

We are made of dust and dirt that strengthens in the storm when we walk with Him. There is something that happens to us when we have the peace that passes all understanding in the midst of hurricane force winds of adversity. Like Job, we have known of Him but now we know Him... personally. That kind of knowing is only forged in the storm.

So.... do what you can with what you have available... and... as the angels say so often... "Fear Not". :)

Added Note: I was thinking after I posted this that I should tell you this little piece of advice (learned the hard way from my own experience). When you are deepening your pantry or doing some recession proofing purchases... always pray first. If you make purchases out of fear of days to come and not from a well thought out plan... many times money is spent for what will not be needed which could have been used elsewhere.

What we do in fear rarely shows profit, what we perform in faith does. :)


Daffodil Hill said...

Brenda, your thoughts so very often echo my own. I think that's because we have both walked through some deep waters, sustained only by the Lord.

I love what you said - "The Anchor can only hold if you've taken hold of It." That is so true! "The Anchor Holds" has been a theme song of my life for the last 5 1/2 years, as I have known incredible peace in the midst of the storms in my life. You are wise to point out, though, that such peace only comes when one has surrendered to the Anchor.

It still amazes me that I have known such joy and peace even while in the depths of sorrow and uncertainty. If God can carry me through the sudden deaths of my husband and my son, provide for me when there is no visible source of income, and keep me singing in the process, He can surely do that for anyone else who truly trusts in Him. Though times may be hard, there is nothing to fear when our lives are given to Him.

Rain said...

I've really been enjoying these posts. Thank you so much. I'd love to know what calendar that is on your wall. It looks like Susan Branch?

Amy said...

What a great post! A quick note on knitting - I finally taught myself to knit this summer. I found videos on YouTube VERY helpful. I don't personally know anyone who knits so there wasn't anyone to ask for help so the Internet came to the rescue.

~~Deby said...

One day at a time....I have been watching FOX news..regular and business and thinking..Lord....come...
and preparing the best I can..plan to buy so more extras of a few things this weekend..

Sandy said...

I've found too, that when times are tough, especially financially, it helps to keep mind and hands busy. Sitting around waiting for the money to show up is the path to worry. You're so right, cleaning, organizing and giving to others is a great way to put tough times in perspective. We always feel rich when we're able to bless others.

Ace said...


Great post and I love the added note, it really spoke to me. I have been having an urgency, my dh has been kind of having an urgency to stock up. I need to pray and not get scared. Thanks so much, keep posting.

Many Blessings :)

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

As always, Brenda, your post is full of excellent tips and suggestions. I've been deepening the pantry right along, but hadn't considered extra underclothing and socks because of an increase in cotton. I'm very intrigued by this Charlie's Soap that you've been talking about...must go check out your link.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, what would you think of having a giveaway sometime where you share your baking treats? Maybe you could even divide the goodies by fives so that there can be 5 winners? I don't know about other readers, but for myself, I'm dying to try some of your specialities!!
Would this be too expensive to do as a giveaway?
joanna, with her mouth watering at the mere

Anonymous said...

I read your posts and the next day my husband was layed off suddenly from a job he had had for over half of his life. There is a real posibility this company will go out of business due to this economy. Thank our Lord I had been storing up supplies along with the rest of you. It is scary but we have been through layoffs and such before and God has always seen us through them too. Thanbkyou for all your encouragement and help to all of us. Jody

Jenn said...

I found your blog thru eyes of wonder, and I must say a lot of us are thinking along the same lines with preparing our homes.

I enjoyed your post, and I would love to learn to knit, too! I will definitely check out the you tube videos, thanks for the tip Amy!