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."