Thursday, November 14, 2013

What I learned from LAINE'S LETTERS

A day rarely goes by that I don't practice a frugal duty that I learned from Laine over at Laine's Letters. I've been reading her letters for over 8 years. I have learned more about saving money from her example than any other resource! I thank God for Laine!

We still have raspberries!
Here are just a few things I learned from Laine:
  • Put God first. Laine gets up an hour early before the household to spend time in God's Word and prayer. She knows how much she needs God's wisdom!
  • Only spend what you can afford on a gift!  I was shocked the first time I read that Laine only had $3 to spend on a gift! I didn't even know that was possible. Wouldn't the other person think you were cheap or that you didn't like them? Laine helped me to see the importance of living within your budget.. even if it meant spending less on a gift. She also taught me that God will provide the right gift.. even if you only have $3 to spend. 
  • Pray that God will give you 'eyes to see' as you enter a store.  Laine prays for help as she shops.  I also pray that God will help me stick within my budget and to not want things I can't afford or that I don't need. 
  • Make do!  This meant that if money was tight and there were holes in her linoleum then she'd put a throw rug over the hole. The money was used for more important needs. 
  • Stay within your budget no matter what! She unplugged her regular size refrigerator and used a small apartment fridge when the utility rates increased so she could stay within her budget. 
  • Keep different versions of the same recipe.  I wrote about this last week when I needed to make a Lemon Cake but I didn't have any jello. I found another recipe that used lemon pudding instead and it turned out just as good. I use 2 sites when searching for a recipe. Allrecipes and Food. I use recipes that have the highest ratings and I read the reviews for suggestions. This principle saves unnecessary trips to the store. 
  • Cook from scratch to save big money. Laine's Letters has lots of recipes to make from scratch. I used her Uncle Raymond's bread recipe for years and still bake it for my mom. Laine encouraged me to look at my shopping list and evaluate what I could make from scratch. Look at each item you buy in a can or a box and ask yourself if you can make it from scratch. 
  •  Make an item last until it dies! She didn't run out and buy a new computer when her keyboard keys stuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! This practice takes PATIENCE and we Americans are not a patient nation. If something doesn't work perfectly then we replace it. Actually, we replace our items when they still work just to buy an updated product. 
  • Buy backup products when you find them cheap! If you find a vacuum at a garage sale for pennies then buy it for a backup. I've taken her advice and now have 3 breadmakers. Two of them were given to me and I bought one for $10 at a garage sale. It was a very expensive brand. I also have an extra washing machine as a back up sitting in my garage. 
  • You don't need all the bells and whistles! Can you think of one person you know who doesn't own a cell phone? Or pay for cable tv or satellite? I learned from Laine that you can live without these items and be content. We do pay for both of these items but I could let go of them very easily because of Laine's example. It's fine to own  electronics if we can afford them but they are not a necessity. 
  • You can save money on a low income! I thought it was impossible to save money on less than $22,000 a year but I learned you can! Thanks Laine!
Laine taught me that a family CAN life on one salary. My heart has always wanted to be home. Laine's example has shown me that it's possible to live on only one income.  Laine's family of 6 lived on less than $30,000 a year and paid their home off 15 years early.

There it is! 

These are just a few of the wonderful things I learned from Laine. If I had to just pick one lesson I would say it's her dependency on God to teach her how to stretch her husband's income. That has been invaluable.

Thank you Laine! You've been a wonderful teacher and friend!

Now, here are a few things I did this week to stretch our pennies:

1.  I had a partial pack of hot dogs in the freezer. I did a search for a hot dog soup at All Recipes and made this one with the ingredients I had on hand. It was very good. Of course, my husband threw in a habanero to kick it up a notch ! :-)

2. A dear friend gave a truck load of 8 x 16 concrete blocks to make a raised garden bed. I keep looking for new spots in my yard to add another vegetable plot. These bricks will be used to make a cold frame for winter vegetables.

3. I'm learning how to use swiss chard. It's a new vegetable for me! It tastes pretty close to lettuce so it will be good in salads. This morning I cut a leaf to saute in our scrambled eggs along with onions and garlic. Last night I tried a new recipe called, Sweet and Sour Swiss Chard. It's was okay.. nothing earth shattering but okay. I'll keep trying new recipes until I find a few keepers!

4. I raked a LOT of leaves this week and put them in a large garbage can to use for compost. I put my 'wet' ingredients for compost into my buckets and then add three times as many leaves. I need to find some time to put down some old paperwork from the office and straw on top. I did that last winter and it composted easily into the ground. It's also a great way to safely get rid of your outdated paperwork. :-)

Swiss chard

5.  I made 2 batches of pie crusts to put in the freezer for the holidays. That means a total of 8 single pie crusts. The recipe I have will last 1 week in the fridge or a month in the freezer. It's the best recipe I've tried. I often keep this pie crust in the freezer to have on hand in case someone needs a meal. Having pie crusts in the freezer will take the stress off of baking for the holiday meals.

6.  I like to save the extra packets of condiments from fast food places. I put them in a small baggie in the fridge.  This week I used small packets of Parmesan cheese and taco sauce.

7.  I used my large toaster oven (in the garage) a LOT this summer. It helped to avoid heating the house up from the kitchen oven. But, I tend to use the kitchen oven more in the winter so it WILL heat up the house. *smile*   I still use the toaster oven on warmer days to save money.

8.  Store bought soup is expensive compared to homemade. My goal has been to keep a batch of soup in the fridge at all times. I put leftovers in the freezer to defrost on busy days. It really makes a frugal lunch. The challenge has been to find time to make it regularly. This week I tried making soup while working on dinner.  That worked great. Sometimes it takes a few tries to establish a new habit.

Family dinners in a small home

9.  I have one week left until payday. I'm still within my grocery budget. I have less than $20 left. I've only  bought what I need these past 3 weeks.  I'm so happy to know I CAN stick to my $300 a month grocery budget.  I could cut back to $275 if I had to. I made some extra cash this week from odd jobs so I could have spent more on groceries. But, it's important that I practice sticking to my budget. Prices continue to climb and I need to strengthen my budget keeping muscles. *smile*

10. My utility bill was low this month. Often I will take the money I have saved and put it in an envelope to use for the summer utility bills that tend to be higher due to watering the yard and garden.

What a full week! What did you do this week? Did you have a good week?

Blessed to be a homemaker!