Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ideas to cut expenses, Part 2

One of the biggest budget busters around here were eating out and the kids wanting to rent movies. We've had to learn to make our own stuff, though lately, we've slipped back into some bad habits - courtesy of an income tax return that made us temporarily "wealthier" than we've been in a while. We're having to break that eating out habit again. It only took a couple of times, and we were wanting to eat out all the time. That's WAY too expensive for most of our budgets. So we've had to relearn to tell ourselves no. The movie rental we've solved with the Netflix I mentioned last post.

Which brings me to organization and keeping all the things we juggle up in the air instead of falling down around our heads.

Sometimes we don't "feel like" doing a certain thing. As Pam Young of "Side-tracked Home Executives" calls it, we have a Brat in us. And it's that Brat that causes a lot of problems. The child that gets fed up being "grown up" and wants to play or run away from problems. I've really enjoyed her website

I've also enjoyed her other website: House fairy. I wish she had had it when my kids were younger. She's good at motivating them to clean up their rooms. That has been the biggest problem for me was getting and keeping kids' rooms cleaned. I tried everything from doing it myself, to getting them to help, to trying to make them do it themselves. I've put stuff in boxes in the closet (supposedly out of reach - they'd climb and get it down) to bagging stuff up and putting it in the attic to actually giving stuff away. None of it seemed to do any good. Of course, a carrot is ALWAYS better than a "stick". None of us likes to be forced to do anything. Her ideas are really fun for the kids and gets them eager to go clean. It appeals to their sense of fun.

One of the thing that has helped me get a lot more organized is another website called

Over the years, I've used Pam and Peggy's Book "From Pigpen to Paradise". It was a 3x5 card file system. Sometimes I will still get it out and sort the cards. But I've also found Flylady to be a big help too. Just the get up, get dressed to your shoes and make sure that before you go to bed, you've shined you kitchen sink. You can sign up for daily email reminders of what to do.

All these sites are interrelated. It all started with Pam and Peggy's book, went to Flylady - who they quote and then to learning about and parenting our own inner "brat" to House Fairy (sister to Santa Claus. lol)

Beware of thrift stores and yard sales. It's not a deal if you really don't have the money to spend. I see so many people overspend for junk at thrift stores and yard sales. It seems that "only $2" isn't much, but it adds up quickly. Especially if you go "shopping" often. It may be a "great deal", but is it really in your budget? Do you really "NEED" it, or is it something you're justifying by saying you need it? It seems that kids' clothing and small household appliances are the biggest purchases at these places. Before you bring it in, ask: DO I need it? Do I have a place to STORE it? Will I REALLY use it or will it sit and collect dust, be tossed out later as clutter or end up in my own "yard sale" later? Truth be told, most people don't make money buying stuff to sell at a yard sale "later".

My kids usually have 5-6 pairs of pants and 5-6 shirts, a pair of PJs, 1 or 2 Sunday outfits, a pair of Sunday shoes, a pair of play shoes, flip-flops, and a package of underwear, and one of socks. When they were very young, they'd go through 4 sizes of shoes and clothing a year. When they got to be school-age, it was 2 times a year. Now that they are nearly grown, it's been about 1 size a year. However, this is still pretty much the extent of their wardrobe. They do each have a "grungy" set of clothing and shoes to paint, get greasy or go camping in. And right now, my son only has 4 pairs of decent pants. He's grown too fast and I haven't have the money to buy more. Plus, we're having a hard time finding his size now. We FINALLY found a pair of dress pants that matches his black suit. They were $20 at Walmart, but will last him a year or so of wearing them every Sunday. They had a matching suit jacket, but I'm going to have to wait until the child support comes in to get it for him. (Ex was supposed to have paid in $500 in April and again in May, June, and July; but as yet, none of its been paid. So we'll have to wait and see what happens in the next month or two. I guess Child Support Recovery will catch up with him sooner or later and this time, they'll probably throw him in jail until it's all paid back. Who know?)

Personally, I don't think kids need a closet full of clothing. They don't appreciate it, don't wear most of it, it causes laundry pile ups (many people tend to run out of clothing before anyone does the laundry) or it's left laying on the floor, it's an expensive habit, and leads to clutter. (and I'm the queen of clutter all on my own. I don't NEED any help making more! lol) So don't go crazy at the thrift store/yard sales "saving money". If you've spent $10, you haven't necessarily saved money. Yes, it may have cost someone $100 at the regular store, but YOU have still spent $10. It's only a good buy if it's needed now or in the near future. (or unless you have a LOT of storage space that is well organized so that the clothing you bought "for next year" can be FOUND next year. No matter what a great "deal" it is, if you can't/don't use it or can't find it, it's just wasted money no matter HOW much you "saved". That's NOT "thrifty".

Also, my kids wore hand-me-downs. When he was younger, my son has worn some of his sister's clothing and his sisters have worn some of his. Not anything that was too out of their gender, I didn't want them being made fun of; but some t-shirts, jeans, etc work for either gender when they're little. And my babies all wore the same things, except for Sunday, when I put a dress on the girls and a little suit on the boy. He hasn't been permanently scarred from wearing the occasional pink onsie or sleeper, nor the girls from wearing a blue one. Babies don't much care about color, only that they're comfortable and loved. Besides, it didn't seem to matter WHAT my girls were dressed in, people always commented "what a cute boy". And they would be in PINK RUFFLED shirt with pierced earrings! And once I even had someone say "what a pretty girl" about son, who happened to be dressed in a BLUE shirt and jeans! Now the girls were rather bald until they were about 2 1/2. But the boy had a haircut at 9 months old, just to get the wispy ends off his neck. I've never let him wear his hair long. So go figure. lol

Also, I let people know we would love their outgrown things and we've passed ours on to others.
I have two girls that as they got older, had two completely different body types. Older is 5'2, and 105 lbs, wears a size 2/4. Younger is 5'7 (and still growing), 150 and wears a size 14. It wasn't too many years before youngest was larger than oldest - and you can't pass clothes down that way. So when you're buying stuff for kids, make sure you take into consideration their body-type as well as clothing size. And of course, most of you know that some things look better on one body type than they will on another, so take that into consideration when buying them clothing too.

to be continued.


silverstarsanctuary said...

More good tips! When I had money I would buy random things at the thrift store, some of which I thought I would resell on ebay or something but I never did. It costs more to list the item than it does if you sell it practically! And I agree about clothing in particular for very young kids. They could care less and especially if you don't leave the house some days and stay at home no one is going to "see" you anyways!

Anonymous said...


Thank you for this post. It helped me to see that I do have an "inner brat" and that I was shopping too much, even though it was at the thrift store (I have a nasty clothes habit). I was all prepared to go buy some more today, but your words came to me and made me realize they were "wants" not "needs". Thank you, thank you for helping me to see clearly.


Darlene said...

I'm glad the post was of some help to you!