Friday, October 17, 2008

Getting Back to My Frugal Roots

There's been a lot of scary talk about the economy lately. Frankly, it's starting to get kinda old; oh, I know lots of people were hit bad, and I'm not downplaying that, but I also tend to think the constant media barrage can become somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just feeding the fear and making it worse. We were not affected, in the sense that we have no investments to lose. Naturally, however, high gas and grocery prices and so on have taken a toll on our budget, and as a result I'm starting to revisit my frugal side. I've let it get away from me a little bit in the last few years...


My mother was the Frugal Queen, not because it was fashionable or environmentally conscious, but out of necessity. For many years my dad was a preacher in Canada to congregations usually well under 100 members; eventually we moved back to the States to larger congregations and thus a somewhat higher salary. But particularly in those years in Canada, which included five children, it was my mom's job to run the household and make that small salary stretch. Thrift to her was not buying tchotchkes at Goodwill, like I have been lately. Instead, it was doing everything she could to reduce, reuse, recycle (within the home), in a time before that little catch-phrase was even coined.

It's not that anything she did was revolutionary, for the most part; it's that society in general, and me specifically, has just gotten lazy in these matters. We virtually never had store-bought cookies or Hostess cakes in our lunches. We got homemade. And speaking of lunches, we had to fold up our brown paper lunch bag and bring it home to reuse until it fell apart--how embarrassing!

She didn't buy Ziploc bags, she washed and reused the bags our milk came in (yes, it's true, look here, or at this informational video). She didn't buy boneless skinless chicken breasts, she bought the whole chicken and expertly cut it up with a big knife. She reused aluminum foil, and even made a Christmas tree chain out of used pieces (wiped clean, of course). She added to it every year, and though it's not used any more, as far as I know it still exists in a box somewhere at my dad's. What, you don't get it? Let me show you.

I don't have any used pieces of foil, so I'm going to have to be un-frugal and use fresh. This is like making a paper chain, but shiny. I actually kind of had fun doing this little tutorial. This might be a good project with kids.

Step one: take a piece of foil (size doesn't really matter) and scrunch it into a tube, leaving one end flared open.
Step two: curve tube around and insert small end into the flared end. Scrunch the flare closed around the other end to form a ring like this:

Step three: continue making rings, looping them through each other before closing up the end (like when making a paper chain). Soon your chain will start to look like this:

You can, of course, make this as long as you want, or the loops as big or small as you want. You could alternate big loop, small loop. You could hang this on your Christmas tree like we did when I was a child, or loop it on a banister, or if you're like me and think this is fun for kids but don't really want it as part of your main Christmas decor, let them hang it in their rooms.

Okay, the foil chain tute was an unplanned tangent, and this whole post took longer than I thought. I didn't even get to the part I intended to, which was thinking about small steps I can take to start stretching my own budget. So I'll get to that next time. I should go make my bed, or something.

1 comment:

Growin' with it! said...

thinking back there are so many reminders of smart frugalness in my parents, grandparents. it is sure motivating to pass that heritage on. especially in this age where kids want, see and are bombarded with so much STUFF!

great reminder to get back to the basics and be wise w/ what God gives us.