I've spent the past few weeks talking about living a Pantry Lifestyle on a tight budget. I thought today I'd write about what we learned was important during seasons of abundance.
Here are a few ideas from what I have learned over the years.
The Priority List
I've written before about our Priority List which is an actual written down list of items we need or things to do when we have the money. Of course, during our seasons of abundance that list was conquered rather quickly whereas now we've had some items stay on the list for years... and years. :)
Hubby keeps the Priority List and we go over it when we have extra funds, usually after he has worked his seasonal two week jobs at the bookstore but also if we receive unexpected income.
Our priorities can change overnight, as when our stove stopped working a couple years ago, but usually we are able to chop away at these items over time. Almost everything we need to purchase outside our regular budget goes on this list.
Some of the items which have come and gone from the list over the years have been: Deep freeze, materials for raised bed garden, replacing toilets in both bathrooms, new lawn mower, shoes and other clothing items, compost, new kitty litter pan, new skillets, a table for My Room, etc. Obviously the costs range from about $10.00 to hundreds of dollars.
Our most recent item we crossed off the list is a small Israeli composter we had seen at Menard's. It is inexpensive and just the right size to keep on our deck. We have found, as in the case of the composter, that our ultimate goal may be more expensive than we can do right now so we do what we can... with what we have.
Someday hubby hopes to purchase or build a larger composter but in the meantime, we will love having this small one on the deck. Sometimes good enough is... good enough.
The Pantry Wish List
The other master list we keep is my Pantry Wish List. It has everything I can think of that I wish we could stock up on in a perfect world. I have never had everything on the list at the same time... haven't even come close.
I put that list together originally by going through the house, garage, recipe cards, etc. and writing down everything I could think of that would be nice to have on hand at all times. It has also been added to and taken away from over years and years of family changes.
It is an extensive list from flour and sugar to lamp oil to matches to batteries to dish washing liquid to the most important item of all... toilet paper. You'd be surprised what you forget when first making out the list!
Having the Pantry Wish List gives me an opportunity to have one place where everything is listed I would like to keep on the pantry shelves (or in the medicine cabinet, or the garage, or the laundry area, etc.) as the budget allows.
When the budget allows for me to add to the pantry, I check this list to see if there is anything essential that needs to be a priority purchase.
House and Car Maintenance
We have found keeping up with the necessary maintenance on the house and the car is absolutely essential when there is money in the budget. Hubby has even spent money on an oil change when that was all the money we had in the checking account!
While at the time I may have wished it to go to groceries, whenever we've been able to take cars to 200,000 miles... it has paid off in a big way! :)
Hubby keeps notebooks or files of all the maintenance done on the home and the cars. He keeps mileages, receipts, and records all repairs.
He also keeps a list of seasonal maintenance required for both so we'll know how and when to budget maintenance. I am not that
Should you be considering a housing sale
I know it is more fun to go on a great vacation than to get the roof repaired but if your house needs anything fixed... do it when you have a job and money in the bank! It will make your life much easier should you need to make a move after a job loss (or just moving to another house quickly).
It would be well worth the cost to have a reliable home inspector go through your home to see if there are any problems you should fix right away, especially if it is a structural problem not up to code.
You will be VERY happy you did while you have the money. If you need any repairs, it will give you time to locate the best people available for the best price to do the work (or do it yourself).
One of our homes had only been purchased four years earlier and we were shocked to find out the codes regarding windows had been changed in the meantime, meaning the windows that passed code when we bought the house now needed $1,000 in repairs... and we found out a week before closing after my husband had already moved to Detroit ahead of us!
It also helps to have a professional Realtor go through your house to tell you what needs to be changed and updated while you have the money. Be honest with the Realtor if you are not planning on putting the house up for sale immediately. Most Realtors will be happy to do this if you plan on using their services when you do put your house on the market.
Remember... their job is to make your house market ready... not to compliment your decorating. So be prepared to be told you need to paint and plaster and eliminate clutter! :)
Otherwise known as... keeping up with your doctor's appointments!
It is essential in this economy to keep up with all of your medical visits while you have good insurance (ask me how I know!). We have had instances where my husband was told his job was safe in a period of layoffs, only to be told two weeks later his position was being cut.
I know it is easy to put off visits to the physician, eye doctor, and dentist (or any specialist anyone in the family sees regularly). Write it down on your To Do list for next week... make those appointments!
When my husband lost his job in Detroit after 9/11, I was so happy we had just caught up on all dental visits.
Don't forget the furry member of your family. Miss Victoria will be seeing Dr. Lisa in a few weeks to check her paws. Yes, that is on the Priority List!
The Importance of Lists
When we have been in a season of abundance, having the lists available has directed our spending so we didn't purchase items that were unnecessary.
It is so easy to flitter away dollars here and there until they add up to big bucks when we are in a season of abundance (I did and I'm a frugal person!). Lists keep us on the straight and narrow budget line.
That way we have extra dollars for important things... like Pumpkin Spice Latte's! It is almost time... ;)
The obvious thing to do in a season of abundance is kept for last. That is to carefully stock the pantry and purchase ahead what you consider important.
Whether it is the pantry, school supplies, garden supplies, the next size of clothing for children, etc... stocking up when done well will save money by purchasing in season and on sale!