Pinching Lincoln Till He Screams!
I really love to shop! That love often conflicts with reality. Having 9 people to care for
on a limited budget often means pulling every creative penny pinching stunt I can think of.
The thrift stores are on my checklist of stops when ever I venture out of the house for
any reason. In this land of over abundance and blended families where children sometimes
wind up with six sets of grandparents, mommies are forced to go through and toss items
the little ones are no longer interested in. A few days before and many weeks after every
holiday season, the thrift store shelves are loaded with Americas bounty, often times with
items that have never been opened. Last Christmas I purchased a toy weaving loom for
ninety-nine cents. It had been opened, but all the parts were there. I can just see some
harried working mother, looking over the complicated directions and discretely tucking
the afore mentioned item away on the top shelf of a childs’ closet and waiting for the
moment when it can be secretly transported to the nearest donation area. Her childs’
loss is my childs’ gain.
When green peace, whom I disagree with in methodology, sends me stickers with a
request for a donation, I burn their propaganda in the wood-stove, warming my home
with the tree they cut down to ask me for a donation, and happily give the stickers to my
children to play with. When businesses give me refrigerator magnets emblazoned with their
advertising I carefully cut out photos of family and friends and glue them on, adorning
my refrigerator with cost free magnets. The glue was free because I made it from a
recipe in a book obtained from a magazine at the library. The flour that was called for in the
recipe was free because my friend who gets free surplus food didn’t care for it and gave said
flour to me. Ok, ok, I did pay for the propane to cook the glue with but I had to buy that already.
Most of our clothing is given to me. When ever anyone hears of the number of people in our
family, they automatically assume I will accept large donations of any type of clothing. And I
learned long ago not to turn anything down when barter has become the underground economy
that it is today. So I get a bag of clothing with sizes most of which fit everyone but us. I have
my children help sort, wash and repackage. These items then become barter goods for other
items I can use. Thus, the size 10 white leather shoes is traded in for 3 pair of childrens shoes.
My family food budget averages around $400 dollars per month. I could make do on less,
but I’m too lazy. Surplus food agencies abound. Cooking from scratch is not hard especially if
you expend the effort in the beginning and teach your children to cook. Some one once said,
“Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. I spent $300 for a Champion juicer. What
at first looks like an extravagance becomes a necessity with a family this size. I make my own
fruit based ice cream, nut butters, jams, and various other expensive items, not to mention
delicious juices. Less expensive juicers were available but would never have survived the use.
You want some homemade quick jam? Obtain any dried fruit, boil with a little water and
blenderize! You have instant jam, quick, cheap, and easy!
Save those plastic garbage bags. They have hundreds of uses. If I didn’t like plastic, because
I thought maybe today it was better to cut down a tree rather than pollute a landfill, why paper
bags it would be. After using them, I would have the kids collect pine cones, fill the bags and
fire up the old wood-stove again.
I’ve been squeezing that historical coin for more than twenty years now. At first it was from
necessity. Now it has become a matter of pride. I can make do with less than you and have as
much or more than you! Don’t get me wrong. I certainly do my share of consuming out there. But with my method, I will be spending those hard earned pennies on what I want. Not what
some advertising firm tells me I want.