I met and married an Air Force man when I was 19. I’m not sure if it is still the case, but when you are military, if you have children and only one of the parents works, you live below poverty level. Granted, health care was taken care of, and housing as well. But the base pay, especially for someone fairly new in the armed forces, was extremely low. And we had a child within a year of our marriage. I was a stay at home mom for 6 years. There were weeks that we had tuna casserole every night. I used cloth diapers and laundered them at home to save money. We rarely went out, and we didn’t often splurge.
When I was pregnant with my 2nd child, I went to a mom to mom group at the base we were stationed in. I wrote a newsletter for the group on how to save money. I put recipes, cost comparisons of eating out vs making it homemade, tips, and everything I could find. I was avidly reading books at the time called “The Tightwad Gazette”. I read everything about frugality that I could find. I attempted to grow my own veggies, but when you move often, live on base, can’t till up the soil and sometimes live in places like Alaska, it is challenging. Not to mention my black thumb. I did, however, bake all of our bread for years. I made homemade sports drinks, and learned about herbs so I could make some medicine cabinet basics.
A few years ago, I discovered a site called The Grocery Game that was another game changer. I became a coupon clipper and with the site’s help and handy weekly printouts, I was saving 70% off each receipt, at minimum.
Life happened at some point in there and I stopped being frugal. I still make most meals from scratch, and we make choices. We chose a kia for good gas mileage (a decision I’ve never once regretted), we choose not to have cable tv, I make jam with the free blackberries I pick each year, we often make cakes in a jar or other homemade gifts. I’ve strayed from making my own soap and laundry detergent, but I do watch the “cost per use” and buy the best stuff for the least money.
So. That’s my story. There is a lot already pared down, but here we are. Wanting to dive into saving money again. Needing to save money. You see, I don’t do well with “feeling poor”. I’m sure most of us don’t. Before, when we really were poor, I would get WIC and I would keep at least 5 gallons of milk in the freezer. That was my comfort and my buffer. I always had 5 gallons of milk between my babies and starvation. Crazy thinking? Perhaps. But it made me realize. At any given time, I need that buffer. That comfort zone.
Once we get a home, I am pretty sure that x amount of canned goods will be in that buffer (home canned), along with stuff in a freezer. But pay attention to what you need for a buffer. If you need 2 loaves of bread in the freezer, then make that happen. If you need a case of Pepsi, so be it. Whatever that comfort zone is, make it happen so that you can breathe again and not feel like you are in crisis mode.
Once you are out of crisis mode, make a plan. Check out some of the links above. And tomorrow I think I will dive in with some recipes and other tips. Please share in the comments…. what is your comfort zone?