Friday, August 20, 2010

More with less living

  I have been thinking lately of how many different ways we have learned to have more while spending less. I thought I would write about a few of those things today. So let's begin....

    This year I have enjoyed receiving good quality books in the mail to read and keep for free thanks to Book Sneeze. BookSneeze is a book review program for bloggers and they will give you books as long as you will review them on your blog. This is associated with Thomas Nelson publishers and so the books are "christian" books. I have enjoyed the books I have gotten and not only have I been able to enjoy them but I have also been able to pass them on to others to read and enjoy too.

   We look for and enjoy the beauty around us. I love having a pretty home, especially filled with fresh flowers. I could spend a lot of money to make that happen but I have discovered that there is beauty all around us even in plants we might look at as normal and mundane. This week my mint plants (which grow in abundance!) are blooming. It is a small bloom, nothing spectacular, but it is pretty. I filled a whole vase with peppermint and have it sitting in our entry way and it has helped to cheer me up every time I see it. With mint not only does it look nice but it also smells good.

   We have also enjoyed many wildflower bouquets picked by the children this summer. These bouquets don't cost anything but they certainly make us feel like we have "more"!

    Another way we have "more with less" is by really focusing on cooking with what we can get inexpensively and have in abundance. I have been able to spend less money than normal on groceries so far this year but we have been eating very well! Not only do we eat well but we are able to have company over frequently and feed them. We also have been able to share food with others. We have made full use of the berries, potatoes and other garden produce that God so abundantly supplies for us as well as other things we can get economically.

   Another way I have learned to use less in the last year is by making my own shampoo (along with the laundry soap I already made). The cost of making my own is way less than buying and it still does an okay job of taking care of my hair. With homemade shampoo I have also been able to quit using conditioner though I do rinse with apple cider vinegar occasionally.

   We enjoy doing a lot of crafting around here and we are able to do that because almost all our crafts are made out of recycled items. In the picture above some of the kids are holding sock puppets they made which would be one example of that.

   Another example is their shirts. My sister Keren invited them to do some tie dyeing with her and of course they wanted too. We could have gone to the store and purchased new shirts for all of them to dye but instead we looked through what we had. Megan and Jonathan had some stained shirts in their drawers which now look pretty nice thanks to the dye. Aaron's shirt and hat we found down in our stash of craft stuff, the shirt was a stained one that had been passed on to us but now it works just fine for him. Mara ended up dyeing a white cotton slip/skirt that I had made for her as well as a used onesie that we can now pass on to some baby. (The shirt she is wearing is one Keren did  for herself but it was then too small.)

   We also have been learning to have more with less in our recreation. Last year we paid to have the boys in baseball ($40 each) and we had to do tons of running and sitting around with that. This year we instead organized homeschool baseball where the parents help out with coaching, pitching and stuff. We have had such a wonderful time doing that this year and we have saved money and time too! This has definitely been a more with less experience for us.

   Remodeling clothes has been something else I have learned in order to have much more for much less. You can check out some of the ways I have done that in these posts: Some remodeled skirts of mine, Pants for Jonathan, Swimsuits and dresses.

   Another recent more for less experience was a play that our family went to. Our family really enjoys plays but the main theater in our town is pretty expensive so generally when we have gone it has just been Ken and I to go. Not only do the cost quite a bit but they often throw things into the plays (swearing, suggestive conversation) that I don't like so I have left many times when we have gone feeling disgusted that we spent a bunch of money to go. This summer I happened to read about a play that the community theater was putting on at the state park. It was supposed to be family friendly and it was free (except for the $5 park entrance fee). We went and had a great time. The play was well done ( though not quite professional) and it was  family friendly and free.

   I have also been learning ways to be able to give more gifts with less. We have been working on making a lot of homemade gifts which helps with that but there are some other ways we have been able to give more with less too. This year I have decided to think a bit differently about garage sale stuff and what a gift should be like. This year I have found a bunch of brand new looking books for 25 cents each. I bought them up to stock my gift cupboard. I also found some basically brand new looking baby socks (in a bag of 10 pairs for 10 cents!) and I used some of them to create a "flower" for the top of a gift that I gave. I also found a brand new (still wrapped) photo album for 75 cents that I was able to give away. This has enabled me to give more for a whole lot less!

  Another thing that has helped with my gift giving is by using swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards. This allowed me to buy some Christmas presents for nothing and I am planning on using some to buy birthday presents this fall. There are various ways to earn swagbucks but I mainly earn them simply by using their search engine. Also any time somebody signs up under you then you will earn more. So if you haven't signed up to use it yet, I would love to have you sign up under me by simply going here.

   As I thought about having more with less I don't think there is anything that makes me feel like I am abundantly blessed than the ability to give to others. Even when we don't have a lot (and actually we do have a lot, we just need to realize it!) we can usually find some way to give whether it be money, time, or things. Giving can become quite addicting too!

  I would love to hear the ways you have found to have "more with less"!

For more Frugal ideas and tips visit Life as Mom



Nola said...

These are great ideas! I like reading ideas like this. I've gotten a lot of good ideas in the past from Joni McCoy's books Miserly Meals, Mislery Moms, and Frugal Families. Miserly moms in particular is good. I do find that due to wanting good quality food (like no preservatives) and food allergies (me) that I can't spend as little as she does, but the ideas apply well for what I can do. Have you seen her books? I got mine through interlibrary loan and asked for one as a gift. Another great way to do more with less is using the library and interlibrary loan system! I'm amazed at people that don't use it/know its there.

I wish we could do a homeschooling group thing like your baseball. There are very very few homeschooling families where I live. I only know of one in driving distance that has kids similar aged...the other two are late teens.

AmandaL said...

Hi, Abbi, these are some great ideas! I was wondering, what items do you "splurge" on. I know how hard you work to create beautiful things (I'm loving the skirt remodel right now). I guess I'm just wondering if there is anything that you think isn't worth the effort to make,and buy it instead?

This probably came out sounding all wrong, but hopefully you know what I meant.

Abbi said...

Nola, I haven't read the books you have mentioned (though I do remember hearing of Miserly Moms). They do sound fun. I will have to see if I can get them at the library. I do really enjoy the library too! That is such a great resource for getting so much at no cost.

We went to our library today and we came home with a few bags full! We also enjoyed a concert (fun folk songs) that they had today.

That is to bad that you don't know of more homeschoolers. Hopefully it will become more popular where you are or the other families will come "out of the woodwork" so you can get to know them. It is very encouraging to spend time with other homeschoolers.

Abbi said...

Amanda, I do have splurge areas at times but for me they have more to do with experiences or tools for making things. I really love to create so as long as I can find the time I find creating much more satisfying than going out and buying something that costs a lot.

My favorite splurges are in travel (we have taken two airplane trips with our family of 6 in the last 10 months- so that is a big splurge!) and in giving to missions. I find it pretty easy to not spend on much when I think about what I would rather do with the money.

For me it probably helps a lot that I have never been much of a shopper. I have almost never done that as a form of recreation.

As far as some things not being worth the effort... I still buy shoes and so far bar soap and really a lot of things but I do admit I love the challange of trying to figure out if I can make something instead of buy it. That attitude of mine causes no end of amusement to my husband who is not very much like that at all. He is the type of person to specialize in his expertise and let everybody else specialize in theirs.

Everybody is different but that certianly makes the world more interesting! :-)

Stephanie Wilson said...

I know this is an old post but I'm somewhat new here so I hadn't read it before. It was a nice reminder. I like spending less whenever possible, and I like not having a lot of "stuff" and just keeping things simple... but I kind of cycle in and out of that. Sometimes I want to buy a lot of new things, or upgrade/replace old things... and sometimes I just don't. It's funny.

In the times that I do tend to want to add/replace a lot of items in my life, it helps to remind myself of my priorities. When I'm thinking about getting new curtains (because I'd really like curtains in a color that looks better with our room) or something like that, it helps to think about how much more satisfying it would be to buy my husband a gift instead, or get something to give to someone who's really in need. I'm kinda just rambling - it's late here. Sorry. :) One thing I know for sure - I would really like to be more intentional about creating things to fill our home and make it more... well, fun, I guess. Like what you do. I've had some cool ideas but I'm not good about getting them finished. I'm kind of a procrastinator by nature. Anyway, I'll leave it at this for now, but I love your blog. Keep on writing!


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