Small Economies in a Big Economy World

                                                              image source: karensperspective

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. 


Anonymous said...

I have always practiced every small economy also. I had a great mentor in my older sister who was a stay at home mom with 6 kids. I learned do much from her. All these economies enabled us to buy a home and pay it off in a very short time. God then blessed us with a fantastic trade to another house and then again to another great deal on our retirement home. We have always made do with one car. I sewed, canned, cooked and pinched every penny. So thankful i did. My husband lost his job because the company was sold. He had no retirement plan and neither did i as i had only worked a few hours a week when the kids were grown. We figured our home as a large part of our retirement, yet we are still living in it and even on reduced SS benefits still manage a nice life and put away xomec8n savings each month. We still do some traveling,eating out and help friends and family when we can. We are living proof that watching the pennies pays off. I to have a husband who is proud of my money skills, and says he doesnt know how we manage so welk6. It does take two. I would not be able to manage if he was a spender. Retirement is possible, and nope you don't have to live on bread and water! Gramma D

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Terri, I too wash zip lock baggies.. It is easy to do.. and even though, it is a low amount of money, I figure when I add that little savings to the next savings, it will keep adding.. smile.
My 15 yr old granddaughter spent the night with me .. I was putting up some bags I had washed, she asked" what are you doing? ' I told her, her response was, " oh no... why would you do that/" So, I gave her a little lesson on frugal Not sure, she ever quiet came around to the idea of washing baggies.ha Have a great week.

Anonymous said...

Excuse the typos. I type one thing and the tablet changes it.

Anonymous said...

It is sort of like the thing that one penny is one penny but 10 is ten cents and ten of those is a dollar. Every little bit adds up. Using just enough shampoo to wash your hair and not extra saves on shampoo let alone the amount of water to get it back out of your hair. So and and so on. We do so many 'little' savings things that they surely add up. One leads to another thought and then another. I had a neighbor ask if I had some wax paper. She was out. I said no but I did have some wax like paper from the bags from cereal boxes. She used that. When I later asked her if it worked she said yes. And that she now saves the cereal insert paper too to use too. It gets to be sort of like game to see how you can save here and there.
Yes people do not realize how much working actually cost them in lunches and nice clothes and wear on their cars and gas and donations for office gifts etc. Staying home you save that to start with let alone all the man many things you can now watch and work at saving more. Keeping within our individual budgets is our job. Making our husbands wages stretch as far as possible is what we do. Also using the money for future needs and also for those little extras our very hard working husbands love. Saving money does not mean scrimping on fun. I love your thought the you minded the pennies and he minded the dollars. It takes two on the same team. One cannot keep spending more than they make and the other worried snd scrimping and hoping to be able to pay the bills.
I had a friend who when she stayed home did go to CVS and do lots of things in home and out to save money. Then she went to work and had not time for any of that and so spends far more then she used to. Plus of course the basic work expenses. I asked her if what she made now was worth it. She said no but now her husband was used to what he thought was so much more money coming in that he did not want her to stop. She felt trapped. He could not understand that she really was not making that much more than when she stayed at home. Some women make less working.
I try to think of a couple skills I want to add each year. This year one is making many more soups and getting back to sewing and needle work. Out side I have redone a lot of things so it is easier to keep up now that I am getting older. Sarah

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