The Use of Time

by EB in Mo.

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My husband helped me to refine penny-pincher strategies. I was thrifty before we met and married and still am, but he's so tight he squeaks.

First of all, I think we, as Americans, have too much time on our hands, and therefore think we need entertainment. If we cooked from scratch, instead of buying fast food, if we did laundry, instead of sending it out, or wearing lots of dry clean clothes, we won't have so much time on our hands. I know, I know there are people who work from the time they get up until the wee hours when they go to bed, but there are those who watch lots of cable TV, instead of playing catch with the kids in the back yard or taking a walk with a spouse or friend.

Time is a non-renewable resource. God gives us just so much and no more. Use it to nurture, and do this by spending time. You say you can't spend time and cook and clean and launder at the same time? Get others involved, especially little kids. Teaching a child about love by loving him by spending time with him and teaching a child how to work by working with him are two of the most valuable things he or she will learn in his/her lifetime, and the earlier they learn these invaluable lessons the more successful they will be. Not necessarily in monetary terms, but certainly rich in the things that truly matter. If you start young enough with a child, they really don't care what you do with them, as long as you're doing it with them and interacting with them.

Get a library card. There is a world of wealth in information at your local public library. You pay for it with your taxes so why not utilize it? It's cheaper than a movie rented from Blockbuster, and many libraries have movies you can borrow without spending anything. Just make sure to return it on time and rewind.

Check out a book on frugal living and balancing a budget and spending less money. The Tightwad Gazette, Living More with Less are two great ones. This whole mode of living begins with a mindset, and the Guide to Simple Living is great, though very New Age. (That part didn't appeal to me, but the advice on saving money in many areas put me in the mood to begin to look at my surroundings with a new point of view).

My parents went through the Great Depression. When my sister and I were children, Mother's and Dad's favorite saying was, "Use it up, make it do, do without". It's still good advice today.

Scale down your expectations. Since the 1950's, in the postwar economic boom, we have become a nation of people who expect to live as well as or better than the preceding generation, even though it took them 40 years to arrive at their enviable life-style. Easy credit made it seem as though we could, but when you dance to the tune, you have to pay the piper, to the tune of 18% to 25% credit card interest. If you're in such trouble financially, there are free counseling services that can help you. Check them out. Get on a budget, and determine to reduce your debt.

If we actually make a formal declaration of war, there is a possibility that rationing could happen again. I was born in 1942. I still have a ration book from World War II that my mother saved for me. Everything was rationed. Gasoline, tires, meat, cigarette, shoes.. Things we take for granted today, but when we're limited in how much we can have, they become very precious. Just barely, I can remember going with my mother once per month when she got her allotment check from my dad in the Navy, on the bus, (very few owned a car then, and even if you did, gas and tires were severely rationed) to cash the check, put some money in savings account at the bank, and then buying what few groceries our ration stamps would permit. Then my mother would buy me a small bottle of Grapette soda. That was a real treat and I only got it if she had an extra nickel that month. And we made sure the bottle made it back to the grocery store across the street from us so we could get the penny refund on the bottle.

My grandkids can't believe these stories. They think I'm making them up.

The only inexhaustible resources we have are the unlimited goodness of God and prayer. James 1:5 states, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." We need God's wisdom in the upcoming days. Let's humble ourselves and ask for it.

God bless us, one and all.

"United We Stand" is a feature containing recollections and suggestions for surviving in turbulent times. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to with "United" as the subject.

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