Thanksgiving has got to be my favorite holiday. For one thing, it’s a wonderful opportunity to create family memories without all the pressure of gift giving. (ugh.) And then there’s the food… Crispy, golden turkeys, mounds of mashed potatoes, my aunt’s stuffing that she only makes once a year… Heaven.
But of course, Thanksgiving isn’t just about turkey. And in an effort to create a catchy blog series recognize all that is good in my life, I thought I would take a few posts and give thanks. Holla! (That went too far, didn’t it?)
Seriously, though… The last two years have been a challenge for our family, starting with both my husband and myself getting laid off from our jobs in 2008. And while losing our jobs was a hard blow to our financial situation, I truely believe that everything happens for a reason. The life lessons our layoffs have provided have been invaluable. We have learned to live on less. And habits that were created out of financial necessity, have made us better people.
Some of the things we’ve learned:
- You don’t need to spend money to have fun. I pride myself on finding free (or nearly free) family activities. Many times there are great events hosted at local parks, stores, recreational complexes, or even the library. You just have to know how to find them. In the St. Louis area, http://www.stlcalendar.com/ is a great resource for things happening around town.
- Cable is a waste. Back in January, we finally made the decision to ditch the cable and we haven’t looked back since. Sure, it’s saved us $60/month, but more than that, it’s encouraged us to do more valuable things with our time rather than watching Law & Order reruns for three hours every night.
- Don’t buy what you can make. For example, I began making our own laundry soap. And with the amount of laundry that I do (including using cloth diapers), I believe it saves a lot of cash. I can make a batch (which lasts about 6-8 weeks) for probably less than $1. And for a minimal time investment, it’s totally worth it.
- What you can’t make, buy on sale. For a long time I tried to play the coupon game. And the thrill of getting stuff for next to nothing is quite exciting. But recently I’ve learned that many times you end up spending money you wouldn’t normally spend in order to save a couple bucks. (Ahem, I’m talking to you, Walgreens and your Register Rewards.) That’s not to say that if there is a product you use regularly, you shouldn’t watch for the sales and stock up at the best price. I do still clip coupons, but only for items I know I will use.
- Reduce waste. I hate to waste. It started out as financially motivated, but I’ve also come to appreciate the environmental aspects as well. Look at objects and ask yourself if it can serve an additional purpose. Check out your fridge and see how you can make the most of your food supply. And so you know, I’ll be that person at Chick-Fil-A stuffing that last leftover chicken nugget into her purse, just in case…