A Penny Saved???

With our current economy tanking, I got to thinking about a more frugal life-style. It got me reminiscing about my growing-up years.

I grew up in a family with five other siblings and had parents who continually took in the down-and-out. Sometimes it was relatives, but more often than not it was young adults trying to find their way out of drug addiction in the 60's. Even with a very large house, we all shared bedrooms, and sometimes converted other rooms into living quarters. My parents had big hearts and couldn't bear to see people lost and without the help they needed. As a result, our house was always very full and vibrant, though not always in a good way. I remember the awful sound of retching and moaning as different kids went through withdrawals. I also remember my mom finding drugs and booting some of them out of the house because they refused to stay clean.

One of the consequences of this lifestyle was the need for constant penny-pinching. They had to feed this houseful of people, clothe us six kids and themselves, and send us all off Christian school, thereby keeping us out of the awful public school system. Mom had it down; she could pinch a penny until it squirted out two!

Here's some of my favorites:

Lentils - they can be used in place of meat with the same protein! We had lentil tacos, lentil stew, lentil chili, and even lentils mixed with beef to make the meatloaf stretch farther. I learned to like lentils.

Duck bread - our nearby grocery store sold gigantic 3 or 4 foot tall bags of stale bread. Mom found that there may be pieces still salvageable for sandwiches! Turns out that if you microwave them with just the right settings, and with a glass of water, they can actually get soft again. Be careful though. You have to eat it fast or it will harden right back up. Sandwich croutons.

Quilt Coats - mom found a local garment manufacturer that sold snippets of parka-type fabric (the kind with warm backing attached) and lugged home a couple of boxes full of the stuff in a variety of colors: purple, pink, white, navy blue, baby blue, black, and red. Being the good seamstress that she was, she proceeded to build me a coat made up of pink, purple and white squares with a trendy belt too! I was in 7th grade. Unfortunately I didn't grow much from 7th to 8th grade and the coat lasted two seasons. needless to say, I wore sweaters a lot in Junior High.

Frankenstein Garments - most kids with siblings have suffered through hand-me-downs. Ours had a special twist. Instead of just handing down garments that fit the younger child, my mom actually added extra fabric pieces here and there to lengthen, widen, or augment in some fashion so they were sure to fit one of us. So what had maybe been an OK garment ended up only having a semblance of its original style or shape.

Root Beer - this is one money-saving activity that we all loved. We made home-made root beer every summer using a stash of saved pop bottles and a weird bottle capping contraption. We loved adding in the extract, stirring it up, adding the yeast, and then waiting a couple of weeks for it to set. The results were usually fantastic and provided us with pop for weeks.

I'll think of more as time goes on. Do you have any stories?

1 comment:

Rosemary Ochs said...

One of my favorite ways to save money is by eating more pasta. Hehe.

Ricky and I have been pinching pennies by turning off our thermostat in the early afternoon, then the house stays warm "enough" for the rest of the evening. Another great way to save is to invite yourself over to your parents' house so that they can "see the baby" and just stay for dinner.