Hi, it’s me, Rita Hawkins. I write Stephenson County Spotlight which I circulate on several local Facebook groups that I’m a member of. I met fellow frugal Freeport resident, Barbara Hyndman Vines, through a local Facebook group when she replied to my blog post in which I was seeking help around the house after spraining my ankle last year. She came over to my house, cleaned my gutters, trimmed the hedge, and removed spent clematis vines. We’ve kept in touch since then. We both garden and swapped vegetables this year. I highly suggest befriending a gardener if you are unable to grow your own produce. We often have extra food from prolific plants.
If you’re interested in financially recovering from holiday expenses or just need more ideas for saving money, read Barb’s tips which begin here:
Rita and I met each other through one of the Facebook groups she mentioned. We both post, to offer up things we don’t need, as well as to request things or help when we do.
I was recently asked by another member of the same group how I have the means to help others so frequently. I was a bit taken aback by the question, because I don’t consider it a big deal; we all do what we can. Then I started thinking about it. Here is what I’ve come up with.
I’m far from wealthy, but I am very good at living within my means. One of my in-laws once said, “Barb can squeeze a nickel until the buffalo s****.” So how does a person on very modest income always manage to come up with a box of food for a stranger on the other side of town whose refrigerator failed, and help others obtain other basic necessities?
My energy costs are low. I bought a brick house, because they stay warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer. I have not upgraded the furnace from hot water radiators, because it’s low maintenance and highly efficient. It’s small and modest, and suits my needs well. I felt no desire whatsoever to buy a huge, show-off house. I don’t amass clutter, so I have no need for a large house.
I frequent resale shops. The majority of my furniture, kitchenware, decorative items, and clothes. were purchased used. Twice As Nice, Bargains Galore (on Spring Street), Amity’s Attic, Habitat ReStore, and Goodwill are wonderful for shopping on a budget. Online Freecycle networks and Facebook resale and giveaway pages are tremendously helpful, too.
Often, when shopping for myself at resale/consignment shops, I’ll pick up some extra items, specifically for the purpose of giving them away later. Items which I know someone will ask for include silverware, children’s boots and jackets, adult winter gear, pots & pans, and chairs. One thing I don’t go out of my way to acquire is surplus furniture, because of storage limitations. However, when some I already own ceases to be necessary for me, I promptly advertise it; either very cheaply or free.
I eat cheaply. I don’t eat much meat. I get most of my protein from cheaper and nutritious sources, like cheese, milk, eggs, beans/legumes, and grains. Of the meat I do eat, most is purchased directly from local farmers. Last fall, after paying the farmer and butcher, the quarter of beef I bought worked out to about $3 pound – cheaper than even Walmart’s hamburger, and MUCH better taste! Why do I buy so much meat when I only occasionally eat it myself? To share with other family members, or persons in need.
I garden in the summer. My small 10×17 garden spot, plus some containers which I plant in my driveway, greatly increase the amount and quality of produce I eat during the summer and fall months. (I could can or freeze surplus, but honestly prefer sharing it with others). What I plant varies from year to year, but usually a variety of greens, beans, onions, beets, tomatoes, chilis and herbs. When it starts more producing more than I can use, there are always friends and neighbors happy to accept the surplus. Last summer, I literally went door to door giving away tomatoes.
I buy discounted packaged food from Bent & Dent stores, such as the one in Freeport. My favorite is the Amish-owned Detweiler’s Bent & Dent in Albany, Wisconsin. It’s a bit of a drive, so I only get up there a few times each year. With each trip, I’ll buy several banana boxes full of food: cereal, flour, cornmeal, meal bars, sugar, cake/brownie mixes, canned goods, personal care items, coffee, oil, pasta sauces, etc. With a large store of canned and packaged goods on hand, all I typically buy from the local groceries are perishables. It’s also easy for me to fill a box or bag for someone in need.
A lot of helpful information. Thanks, Barb. In case you missed it, here’s the blog post I wrote in August with tips on how to start growing or finding your own food: Grow Your Own Food
February is when gardening activities commence, particularly for gardeners who will be sowing seeds indoors. I’ve already spotted potting soil being sold in stores.
If you’re looking for inexpensive items such as gently used and unused clothes for men & women, household goods, books, art & craft supplies and such, check out Rita’s Resales, my resale business page on Facebook.
Leave a comment below if you’d like to share money-saving tips that work for you.
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