Friday, April 19, 2013

How I saved money this week (and the freedom of living with LESS)

If you have been following our story then you know that we have downsized from 2700 sq. ft. to 748 sq. ft. I've given away and sold enough items to fill another house.

The older I get the less I can tolerate clutter in my own home. Your clutter would not bother me. :-)  It feels good when each item has it's own assigned place. That is my goal but I'm not there yet.

I  have 2 small closets and one antique closet/dresser. All three closets are too full. My office closet has been bothering me the most because my clothes were squished from 1 large Tupperware tub filled with scraps of fabric along with 2 Avon boxes. I've wrestled with whether to keep the fabric for the past 5 moves. I kept talking myself out of getting rid of it because I kept hoping that someday I would make some quilts.

So last Saturday I set aside the afternoon to work on cutting out some quilt pieces.  I spent hours cutting fabric and ended up nearly finishing just one square. I thought I would be so happy to get started on the quilt but by the time I finished I was not a happy camper. One finished large Depression Block (plus a lot more cut squares) = 3-4 hours of time I'll never get back = one disappointed Mama.


I'm middle aged and the writing is on the wall.. I'm getting older. I must be wise how I spend my hours because they add up to days which quickly become years. I have less time left on this earth than I've already lived. How will I spend my last days so they will count for eternity? Sewing quilts are not a sin. I just don't want to spend that much time on a hobby these days.  As much as I've loved making quilts in previous years I'm not willing to invest that many hours again.

So after struggling back and forth for several days I made up my mind that the small scraps of fabric were going. I saved some larger pieces of fabric to make some aprons and curtains for the garage. those are quick projects. I ended up with one final tub of fabric which will be stored in the garage.

My clothes are no longer crowded in the closet. I can't tell you how good it feels to open my closet doors and not have everything crammed and squished together. It feels GOOD! Really GOOD!

I've learned a big lesson through these fabric tubs. I have wrestled with them for nearly 5 years. I have invested precious time into thinking about them and debating over them. I've invested time and energy into lifting them from one house to another house for 5 moves over the past 8 years. They have stolen precious time from my life. Now that I finally got rid of them I feel as if a heavy burden has been lifted! It feels GOOD! Really GOOD!

I'm so jazzed! This next week I hope to tackle the other 2 closets. If it doesn't fit easily in the space the Lord has given me then it's out of here!

Here are a few things I did in my home this week to save money:

1. I went on several morning and evening snail hunts. My veggies had the obvious sign that snails were enjoying them for lunch. I started going out in the early mornings and turning over leaves and boards and found a ton of snails. The more snails I kill the better my veggies are looking.

2.  A friend brought by 3 cartons of home grown eggs.

3. My mother had some extra 'dragon tale' flowers. I gladly took them along with some nasturtiums to keep bugs down in my vegetable garden. I've rarely bought flowers over the years. There is always someone willing to share slips of small starts of flowers. It turns your yard into a memory garden.

4. I made a fertilizer out of 20 egg shells that I boiled for 10 minutes. I then let it set for 8 hours. The fertilizer was poured on my tomatoes.

5. I purchased a comfrey root off of Ebay for $15. I read that the leaves make a wonderful fertilizer. My goal is to make my own fertilizer from products I have at home. I think it will pay for itself in no time. I'm also hoping that it will multiply so I can sell my own roots.

6. I have 2 cats and 1 dog. They started scratching so I figured they were getting fleas. I didn't want to pay $45 for flea medicine plus it's not healthy. I purchased a flea comb and immediately caught 5 fleas off of one cat and 1 flea off the other.  I kept a small bowl of water nearby while I was combing. Once I saw a flea I would dip the comb into the water.  They are no longer scratching. The comb is not working as well on my dogs long hair so I'm not sure what to do with her. I haven't found any fleas but she does scratch occasionally. Maybe I'll give her a bath. I wash their bedding once a week which also helps keep the flea problem under control.

7. I hemmed a pair of pants I bought for $1 from Goodwill.

8. I made kale and sausage soup. The kale was from my garden.

9. I sauteed sugar snap peas in butter and garlic until they were soft. The sugar snap peas are from my garden,too. The vines are full and I've already used them in 2 meals.

10. I signed up with a local CSA. I paid $25 for the first box of organic vegetables. I cancelled after the first box arrived because it was mostly items to make salads. I love salads but I'm the only one who eats them. It's probably a great deal for organic veggies but that is why I don't purchase organic unless it's the same price as the regular veggies. I just can't afford it.

It's a busy time of year with the watering and pulling weeds in our garden. I love working in my yard.

So what did you do this week to save money in your home?


  1. I like your thoughts about how you spend your time, redeem the days as you get older, and the decision you made about the fabric ... as I work at cleaning out my closets!

  2. I've finally gotten around to cleaning out a couple of closets. When we moved to our house last year, I stuffed them full of things I didn't know what to do with! The only problem was that it was really frustrating to pull out the vacuum and other necessary items. I got rid of some things and found more appropriate homes for others. Our hall closet now holds a couple of jackets, the dog food and vacuum cleaner plus some things on the shelves which aren't in the way! So much nicer!

    I like what you said about time spent on projects. I love recycling and repurposing old clothes and other fabrics but if they are taking over the space and you can't use them all, then it's better to send them somewhere else! I've put bags of cut up jeans on Freecycle and had them snapped up by other crafters very quickly.

    I have this unfinished quilt from my husband's grandmother that I agreed to take and finish after she passed away.'s been about 5 years and that thing is still taking up space. It will take a lot more time to finish than I want to give. We've gone back and forth with it but I'm leaning towards offering it to other family members to finish. No one else wanted it before but maybe they would now.:-) We have other handmade items from this grandmother that are much more sentimental.

    1. Sentimental items are tough. Our emotions can be tied to the item. I remember a friend struggling with this issue after her mother passed away and she inherited a lot of items but lived in a very small home. She didn't want to throw anything away but finally realized she didn't want to build an altar of the things in remembrance of her mom. Her memories were in her heart. I like that thought.

  3. Have a lot of health issues with my husband now, so I am not where you are.

    However, I SO MUCH identify with material scraps in boxes. OH MY! When you promise someone a quilt, you have to come through IMHO. But you know, people used to make their blankets out of clothes they no longer wore. The current quilt project uses up a lot of fabric and even a shirt of my husband.

  4. I am on the same quest this year. I am 53 and it is time to use it or lose it! I too am trying to order my priorities. I cannot do quite as much as I used to so I need to be very clear about how I want to use my time. Good post! Angela

  5. About dogs and fleas. Your dog has to have a calm temperament and trust you, to do this. We had a dog (a bearded collie with long hair) with an allergy to fleas - ONE FLEA and her skin would go made, we had to keep her flea-free. The chemical flea killers were not quick enough or effective enough, as well as being highly toxic and highly expensive.
    What we discovered worked perfectly, was to fill up the bath with the dog lying in it so that the water entirely covered her. We held the dog's muzzle, so that just her nose was above the water so she could breathe, while at the same time with the other hand massaging her all over so the water soaked right through her fur leaving no air bubbles. We did this for a few minutes. The fleas drowned. No toxins, no skin flare-ups - worked perfectly.

    1. A bath soaking is definitely in my dog's near future. :-) I've read the same thing you described as far as fleas drowning in water.

    2. I hopped over to your blog and noticed that you wrote a book on living with less. :-) it sounds very interesting!

  6. Thank you! I am inspired to get rid of things overstuffing my dwelling. I want freedom, peace, and no more tripping! If your animals come indoors, I have a great tip for getting rid of fleas inside, so let me know!
    Also I saved some money (about $20) by making my own gnat trap with items I had on hand. Yea for Pinterest tips!!

    1. Yes, my animals (babies) are indoor pets so I would love to hear your tip. And your gnat traps, too. :-)

  7. We used to use lemon joy in the dogs bath to get rid of fleas. Now I do get frontline for the dogs, but we can currently afford that.

    I saved recently on my garden hobby-- I moved to a new home, which God willing I'll be able to stay here til heaven--but you never know..

    Anyhow I raided the garden at my old house for plants and also got some from friends free. I cannot do a veggie garden, my chronic health issues combined with the heat of South Carolina make that impossible, too much work in it. But I am still using plants to slowly work my way around the house and some spots where the dogs won't be likely to trample, making it prettier with perenials which I love. I am also starting some from seeds in pots outside, it will take a long time that way, but I can give away some and keep some.

    As for other hobbies--I make a bit of money with my hobbies, since I am not really well enough to work outside the home, as my body is too unpredictable, I keep myself busy and use my art talents to make a little money. I am also trying to use them to build bridges to others--especially young people, and especially folks who maybe dont have a Christian view of the world.

    I am trying to paint a picture of a Christian as not someone who is hateful and intolerant etc--as so many believe these days. Unfortunately it is very hard to do this with words as they are not received, but sometimes a picture paints a thousand words. ;)

    I'm hoping I will have better and better things to share in my art than I do now, as time goes by.

    1. Hi Mary... I miss hearing from you! I hope it didn't sound like I thought that all crafting was a waste of time because I don't believe it. I still have my small little projects I'm working on and only the Lord knows if I will ever pick up quilting again. I just know that for now it's not what I want to do. I hope you are doing well Mary!

  8. Georgene (that is such a pretty name!)
    Thank you for this post! It really speaks to my heart. We have lived in 3 houses in 3 different states in less than 5 years and we are now looking at moving once more (this, Lord willing, will be our LAST).Each time, I thought that I had gotten rid of a lot of stuff but it is like peeling an onion. I think your post is just not for "middle-aged" women. I am in a different season (our children are still young- 14,11 and 4) but want the experiences and memories with our children NOT the stuff and unfinished projects. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me. I am going to let go of some fabric and craft projects. I am keeping only the few that I can do with my kids. Keep up the great work! I love your blog. I use to read it under the old title and am so glad that I found you again!
    Jennifer in IA

    1. You are a smart woman! Sometimes I wish I could go back and do things over with what I am learning now. But.. I'd rather push on toward heaven instead. :-)

  9. I love your decluttering story ; I have been experiencing the same feeling and find that I'm not putting up with so much stuff/waste of time/bad mood from people/useless activities. Yes, it has to do with age but more than that, with the wisdom that comes with age ; that compensates a bit for the things we miss !

  10. The only plus I could see to the quilting is that you could probably sell quilted pot holders on Etsy too. I used to have one that I really loved.

  11. When you are out on your 2 x daily snail hunts, you may want to put them in a bucket, instead of killing them. If you feed them cornmeal for 48 hours to "purge" their systems, then do not feed them at all for 24 hrs, the snails can become free protein. I learned how to make escargot (snails) when I was in France. The snails themselves need to be chopped up after cooking, as they are QUITE chewy, but they are delicious in a garlic & butter sauce, over toasted bread.


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