Friday, January 2, 2009

Welcome 2009!

2008, a year of living frugally, not only by choice, but because we had to, has proven to be a good year for us. There were many times when I worried about where we were going to get the money to pay the bills for that month or how I was going to keep food on the table. We always had just enough to pay the mortgage, but everything else-- gas, food, electricity, car payments, etc, was a stretch. We came up with a lot of ways to make the dollar go farther, and we learned to do without. Some things that we thought we just had to have, we discovered we were quite happy not having after all.

We gave new life to a lot of items we had around the house-- turning an old telephone wire into a clothesline; old curtains into cloth napkins; food boxes into drawer organizers to name a few. We also reused things far beyond their "one-time use", like yogurt containers and peanut butter jars that make great holders for buttons, beads and other little stuff. I learned a trick from fellow blogger, Sparx (you can find her blog on my blogroll titled "Notes From Inside My Head") and washed baby wipes to re-use over and over again, and also recycled ice cream buckets to hold the wipes-- both clean and dirty.

I am lucky enough to have a friend that runs a consignment shop and I was able to sell my children's too-small clothing and toys and buy clothing they needed at a fraction of the price. Unless I told you, you'd never know the clothes and shoes they wore were second-hand. The husband and I both scour thrift shops and yard sales for items we can use or sell and we have been able to keep from paying full price for brand new items that would have otherwise broke the bank. We cancelled our satellite TV and my pager and saved nearly $100 a month on those two alone!

We had a garden and, while it wasn't our biggest, it was enough to give us plenty to eat. I canned many jars of jams, applesauce and tomatoes; froze corn, strawberries, pumpkin, and zucchini; dried apples and bananas. I'm grateful that I had the know-how to do so and a husband that knew to keep the kids out of the kitchen while mama was "cannin' up a storm!" and didn't mind eating pizza or sandwiches because I was too tired from canning to cook dinner. Growing our own foods helped save us even more money by not having to buy certain items at the store. 2008 also saw us making more things from scratch and relying less on "ready-made" mixes and discovering the food we are eating from scratch wasn't that hard to make and tasted so much better than the box. The bonus? it was healthier for us, too! We now buy less and less boxed foods and make just about everything from cakes to flavored rices, baby food to soups.

I made and baked all our Christmas presents to family and friends and gave some of those canned jams as gifts as well. We didn't have to buy (not that we could have anyway) any presents and all the gifts were enjoyed by everyone. If we had spent an average of $20 per person for gifts, we would have spent well over $300. By making bird ornaments, monsters and dolls from fabric I already had, jams from food we grew, fudges and cookies from pantry items, I spent less than $35 total on gifts for over 16 people! That's monetary value, the time invested in making those gifts is far more valuable and I cannot calculate the time invested.

Another way we saved money was by chopping and splitting our own wood for heat. We scrimped and saved and managed to buy a log splitter from a friend which has saved us many hours (and our backs!) of splitting wood by axe. We no longer have to buy oil to heat our house and now with a new (to us) chain saw, we can cut down our own trees next year for wood to burn. That log splitter has already paid for itself because the amount of wood we use to heat the house would have cost us over $1000 without it.

2009 will still find us living frugally. Our circumstances haven't changed: my husband is still working the same part-time job and we still have the same mortgage and car payments to make, but we are doing more things to try and improve our circumstances. We are garden-dreaming and planning to plant a larger garden this year with emphasis on more herbs, a variety of vegetables, and potatoes. If money permits, I'm hoping to add apple and cherry trees to our tiny 3-tree orchard and I would also like to get some grapevines set in, too. The same friend we bought our log splitter from has a small tiller for sale and we are now putting aside money to buy that from him.

The cat food and litter we buy changed their packaging. More plastic, but we see the silver lining-- it's very similar to the plastic they use in weed blocking fabric, so we have been saving the bags to use in the garden this Spring. That will save us money and time! Less weed pulling to do, or at least we hope so!

I must add that we have been blessed with generous friends and family, who have been kind enough to help us out here and there. Barefoot from Barefoot in the Garden (also in my blogroll) sent us her daughter's car seat for Baby (Thanks again!). An old co-worker has kept in touch with me through my mom, gives us clothes from his own kids who happen to be a year ahead of my own children, many of them never worn and still with the tags on them. Members of my MIL's church, whom we have never met, bought us several hundred dollars worth of groceries and cash and gifts for Baby. Our own family members have also been extra generous with us, giving us more than usual for birthdays and Christmas gifts and "just because" and for that, we are forever grateful and humbled by all the support we have received. I know we would not have made it this far without their help and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Here's hoping 2009 will be a good year for all of us, and may you be blessed with loving family and friends. Happy New Year, my friends!


Lisa said...

What an inspirational effort you have with your circumstances!! And thank you for spelling it all out for the rest of us to learn from.

You are blessed to have good friends and family close by. I know that 2009 will be a productive and rewarding year for the Mountain Mama clan!

DJ Kirkby said...

What a great post. There is a risk that Chopper might lose his job this eyar so I found reading this summary of your posts very reassuring. We will survive too. Thank you for your Christmas card, it si so beuatiful and I treasure it. I tried to email you to thank you but it got bounced back. If you have a new email can you send it to me please? is the one I am using now. xo

Lori said...

really inspirational!!!

jenny said...

Lisa-- It's been hard but looking back, it was all worth it! The blog has been a nice way to document everything we've done and I look forward to what else we can do in 2009! Happy New Year to you and yours! :o)

Dj-- Oh no!! I hope and pray that Chopper keeps his job. I don't know what we would do if Hubby was let go, but so far it seems like his boss has been happy with his work, so we hope he will continue to work for them. I'll send you an email shortly! HAppy New Year my friend, to you and yours! xo

Lori-- Thank you! Happy 2009!! :o)

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi honey
I look forward to your email and I have given you an award over on my Chez Aspie blog.

lady macleod said...

My friend your attitude and joy is better than loads of cash (even though I know it does not always feel that way)! I wish you and all your family all joy and happiness in 2009!!!!!

Barbara said...

My goodness you did a lot for your selves this past year. So busy and the baby too! Wishing you a fabulous 2009. Bx

jenny said...

Dj-- Thank you for the award!

Lady M--My husband and I were just talking last night that even though we didn't come into this lifestyle by choice (lack of money), it is now something we are choosing to do because we find our life to be more richer than we could have ever imagined! I hope you have a wwonderful 2009! And I look forward to your book! :o)

Barbara-- As busy as we were, I wouldn't trade it for anything! :o) Happy 2009 to you!

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