December 26, 2009

Ramping up the Savings

Christmas 2009 is behind us and the weeks of planning and spending for gifts is finally over.  We kept to our budget for gift giving.  I cut back on holiday baking this year as I have found that in years past the variety of food tends to lead to more and more being thrown out.  You can only eat so many cookies and candy and eventually they go stale and get thrown out.  I kept my Christmas meal simple this year not only for the sake of frugality but also for the sake of sanity.  Our menu was a Spiral baked ham (bought at a rock bottom sales price the week before Thanksgiving), cheesy potatoes in the crockpot, cooked broccoli, apple salad (apples, raisins, mandarin oranges in a Miracle Whip dressing thinned with milk and with some added sugar), dinner rolls with butter and homemade blueberry jam and peach jam.  For dessert - Christmas cookies of course.  It was an easy meal to prepare and there were leftovers that will easily be used up.  Everyone loved the meal. 

Now it is time to think about the future.  The day after Christmas I always start to think about the New Year and what I want to accomplish.  For me it is time to ramp up the savings and really get serious about being frugal.  I have made changes over the past few months in order to save money, but I want to be able to save more money and build our savings.  So over the next few days I am going to look for even the smallest ways to save a dime that I can incorporate into my life.  Some money saving tips I cannot do such as changing the oil in my car but I can start to make all of my cleaning supplies, turn the thermostat down more, switch out old light bulbs to energy saving ones and so on.  I will menu plan and use up what I have in my pantry. 

In thinking of ways to save money I have been thinking back to my grandma.  She died in 1985 at the age of 85.  When she was in good health she lived in a house in the hills of Western Pennsylvania.  She kept warm in the winter with an old coal stove.  In the winter when the sun was out, she made sure to open all the drapes in her house to get that free solar heat into her old farm house.  Then as the daylight fell she closed those drapes in order to keep the drafts out.  She prepared enough food for a meal with minimal leftovers and when she did have leftovers they were used up and never thrown out.  One of my favorite meals was when she would fry potatoes and would add pieces of bread to fry with the potatoes.  Later on I would find out that she added bread because she didn't have enough potatoes.  When clothes were too ragged to repair, the clothes became rags for rag rugs and the buttons and zippers were salvaged for later use.  I will do the same but I will also purchase fewer clothes and when I purchase them I will go to Goodwill first. 

Grandma mended clothes, she hung clothes up to dry even in the winter and she made good use of her time.  When grandma would sit down in the evening to visit with the family she always had a basket of mending to work on.  She was never idle and as I recall she was happy.  She was very poor as a child homeless on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the early 1900's.  She married and raised a family during the Great Depression.  Grandma like many women of her day knew that money was to be valued and saved.  She made good use of resources.  Also Grandma never really "needed" anything.  Spending money was just something that wasn't done unless it was an absolute need.  When did this lifestyle go out of style?

Perhaps we all need to go back to the way our grandma's lived in order to ramp up our savings.  I plan to make 2010 a year of incorporating some of my grandma's lifestyle into my daily life.  Ramping up our savings is very important right now as we need to put more money away for emergencies such as car repairs, a new roof, new furnace and dare I say, just to feel secure in knowing that we have money in the bank.  In Grandma's day this would be called "saving for a rainy day."


tammyyarbrough said...

I hope that you had a Merry Christmas. I agree with how our perception of happiness has gotten tangled up in today's world. Over the holiday season, my dear cousin sent some photos of us when we were quite young(probably 6 or 7). You see, their father had been killed in a car wreck and my aunt and 4 cousins came to live with us for probably a year or so,beacause they had no money for that "rainy day". I want to say that although my family was far from rich, my father worked VERY hard to provide not only for us, but for his sister and her children as well. These are some of the best memories that I will ever have! There were pictures of us on Christmas morning with only a few presents under the tree, but we had EACH OTHER. While I was wrapping presents for our 9 year old this year, I kept feeling like "this isn't enough". When he was opening them, he would just put them to the side to get to the next bigger and better gift. This has taught me a valuable lesson. I, too "need to get down to the heart of the matter". I need to teach him that money doesn't "grow on trees". I want him growing up remembering where he came from and that love is worth more than material things.

Martha said...

Nostalgia connects us to our past and it can take only one picture to take me back to that time and day. I can almost smell the wonderful aroma in my Grandma's kitchen. As time goes on and as changes are made into the amount of gifts purchased, people adjust to the changes. My oldest DS thinks that the best part of Christmas gift giving is what is in his Christmas stocking. I will be adding a post hopefully tomorrow re making changes in Christmas 2010 beginning today.

Moderate Means said...

I agree that we (as a people) have lost touch with simple holidays. It's all about the next greatest toy and the newest technology. And the number of gifts received is absolutely overwhelming.

IMO, so much marketing is geared at children now. There are channels for every age group and kids are inundated by images of fantastic-looking toys and gear, plus the clothes that the characters are wearing. When we canceled all but the basic cable (network television, primarily), the attitude of my children improved drastically and the 'gimmes' dropped considerably.

Also, I know so many parents and grandparents that seem to have lost the ability to say "no" to kids...which leads to these high expectations and also sets up the next generation for overspending and debt.

I'm not going back to my grandmother's lifestyle, but we are definitely trying to live with less. We've also been able to save/salvage more and are slowly learning how to repair things, which was something my grandparents were amazing at.

Great post!