If there is one thing I have come to realize these past few years, it is that one can live on a lot less than they ever thought they could. Just when I thought we were at the very least we could live on... another $200 was taken out every month to pay for Christopher's surgery.
I can't say it is easy but it is always... interesting. It never ceases to amaze me how provision is made unexpectedly. Last month I had "extra" money come in so I purchased a few items needed for the garden, meat for the freezer that was on sale at my grocery store, restocked some basic pantry items, and was even able to purchase a few clearance flowers (together costing less than one went for at the nursery).
Yesterday Christopher called to ask if I was "making anything for dinner" (I can always tell when it is getting close to the end of his bi-weekly pay period). Fortunately, I'd defrosted a few items in the refrigerator and could put together a nice chicken stir fry for the three of us. My husband has remarked a few times how happy he is that I had purchased items for the freezer and pantry.
It's a little dicey at times, having to look for change through the house to be able to purchase a small coffee at McDonald's while waiting on my son (he needed the car that evening... yes, we share one car between three people who live in two houses). It is amazing what one can do when needed.
So, what is your point, Brenda??? Well........ it is this, my friends. I can live on much less than I used to only because I have the experience to do so... and those skills are learned on a daily basis over time.
Such skills as:
Cooking "from scratch"
Knowing what leftovers will come together for soups, casseroles, etc.
Stretching meat and other proteins
Thrift store shopping
Driving by a garage sale at 35mph and knowing if it is worth stopping or not
Substituting ingredients or changing recipes when I'm out of something
Purchasing really nice presents for little money
Rich decorating... cheap
Purchasing expensive clothing, purses, shoes, etc. for a couple dollars or less each
Building a home library for pennies
Quilting and crafting... but not sewing clothing (believe me)
Well, you get the point... and many of these skills were developed when I had "enough" money because the lifestyle was enjoyable.
are you listening?...
drop the chocolate bar and look into the screen...
voluntary frugality and simplicity of life is a whole lot easier than if you come into a season of forced frugality without the skills.
I am now learning... gardening with the raised bed garden, freezing zucchini, pressure canning, and that I shouldn't plant tomatoes next to the fence in the back yard.
For all the knowledge and skills I've been accumulating for over the years, there is always so much to learn (my original files are from the 1970s when people were writing about frugality, getting back to the land, and simpler living... also during a time of severe recession!).
I love... love... love reading blogs such as those listed on my sidebar (they don't come any better than Rhonda's Down-to-Earth blog and her links to start with). I just have to remember when an Australian blogger talks about winter they mean June through August. :)
It took awhile for me to learn materialism is not the measure of success... simplicity and living a frugal lifestyle are good (and can be very enjoyable). These lessons taught to our children will serve them well.
One step at a time... one skill at a time... one day at a time.