Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Small Economies in a Big Economy World
This morning as I stood at the kitchen sink washing zippered baggies in hot soapy water, I mused to myself about my savings. A 75count box of name brand quart sized zippered bags is advertised at Walmart for $6.88. For the sake of this post I'll use that as my example. That works out to about 9cents per bag. I know some who think that washing baggies is a waste of time. In a month's time they might well toss the contents of the box after a single use. That's fine. No harm no foul for me. But if I wash those baggies and find another source to store meat products (bread bags or cereal bags come to mind) and get only one more use from them, I've saved the cost of a box of bags. If I can reuse the bags say 8 times, I've saved $48.16 ($55.04 - $6.88 my initial cost). It is a small economy but it is an economy.
I asked myself this morning, just why I think this is a savings. At best, I'm saving less than $10 every month. At the end of a year my average savings would be just $6.03 a month...a bit less than the cost of that box of baggies. So why do I do it?
Because years ago as a new homemaker when we faced tough financial times, I had to cut out every single unnecessary cost I could. I had on hand a box of sandwich bags. I washed and re-used them over and over and over again because I couldn't afford to buy any more for many months. It was one small step in a desperate time that was successful. I was encouraged to look for other savings I might make. In reading my recipe books I found many recipes that called for a small amount of meat but left us feeling full and satisfied. This too was a success so I now had two areas I had successfully reduced. That spurred me on to look for yet another area where a savings might be made. I determined that hanging out the laundry to dry was a good idea. For less than the cost of a box of dryer sheets, I purchased a bag of clothespins and my husband hung rope from the clothesline poles already standing in the yard. Sun and wind dried laundry was an easy step that created an additional savings...And that spurred me to use the cloth diapers I'd been given but scorned because of the ease of disposables. But since I could guarantee that the cloth diapers would be clean and fresh smelling when they were dried, I stopped using disposables unless we were on a road trip. That led to a still greater savings.
Every step I took and managed to successfully complete built on the previous savings. The more I did, the more I saved. Yes, there were failures. There were things I attempted that were abysmal failures like my first loaves of bread. I set that aside after a few heavy brick loaves and didn't return to try that skill again until someone introduced me to a sourdough starter some 30 years later. THEN I made my first beautiful loaves and I gained enough confidence to try Rhonda's Grandpa's Bread which turned out beautifully. Glowing with success I returned to some of the recipes I'd tried in the early days and found they too turned out beautifully and ultimately I began to make Challah for our Shabat.
There were attempts at savings that simply took far too much time for a busy mom with a house full of school aged children and a full time job. But the small economies I'd learned continued to stand me in good stead even though I was working full time. Once I returned home I began to incorporate still more methods of savings into my repertoire of economies. John and I used to joke that I minded the pennies and he minded the dollars. Over the years the savings I generated in the household became dollars.
Now John tells others that he can't afford for me to leave home to go to work because
we'd lose too much money. Many people look askance at him when he says that but he goes on to explain, "You've no idea how much money she saves us! She doubles our money with all that she does." Now that might be a small exaggeration but then again it might not, lol. At the beginning of this year I took part in a blogger's challenge to determine our savings. I only participated in this for three months but in that time I saved over $12,000. That is not an accurate accounting of ALL that I do but of several things I did do just in those three months!
And it began with the washing of zippered plastic bags almost 39 years ago...A small economy that grew and grew and grew. So be encouraged. Yes, the little things do count.