My Story: After 35 Years

contributed by K.M.

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After 35 years of marriage while living on a budget, I have learned a lot about stretching pennies. Sometimes you have to invest in your family to eventually save. Several appliances that have almost paid for themselves are our bread machine and our pasta maker. Each, once the initial purchase was made, provided many very inexpensive meals that were delicious and fun to make especially for company.

We buy meat in large, economy-size packages, divide the packages into individual portions, and freeze them. This practice has saved us more than anything that we've done because meat is the most expensive part of the meal.

The daily newspaper may seem like something you could do without. However, we have found that the weekly ads, coupons, and entertainment section have been well worth the expense. The newspaper lists all of the family-friendly free things offered in our community.

The best things and most important things are still free. Don't let the lack of material things keep you from enjoying each other and laughing together. Most special family times don't have anything to do with money but love and laughter and fun. It's good to remember that your children will grow up just fine with less. We have way too many material things in our society and not enough that is really valuable. It's much more important to have mom when you need her than enough money to throw away on the latest fad or video game. Your children need you more than they need anything else.

I have a wash line. Isn't that funny? But, it does save dryer time and I get some exercise too. I have the kind that goes up like an umbrella, and I can take it down when I'm not using it. For our shirts, I use my dryer for a few minutes, and then I hang them on my bathtub rod or on an over-the-door hanger. I purchase powdered soap in a 40-pound pail from a warehouse store. It lasts me about four or five months.

I cook at least four nights a week. I always cook enough for my husband's lunch the next day. He stays away from the snack and drink machines and brings snacks from home instead. This saves more than you can imagine.

I never buy shampoo in small bottles. Instead, I go to a beauty supply store and buy it by the gallon. I then pour it in a small bottle.

I buy fresh vegetables at the farmer's market in the summer time and we grow a small garden as well. Children that work around the house grow up much less selfish. They also appreciate the little things when everything is not handed to them.

Teaching your children about volunteering in the community is another inexpensive way to have a great time. Working in a soup kitchen or visiting the elderly costs only the gas to get there. By doing this, you are teaching your children to find joy in giving to others.

My husband and I always go out on Friday night for a date. We go to the $1.50 movie and usually split an entree at one of our favorite mom and pop restaurants in town. Parents need fun time together too.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

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