“Back in my day” might be the words from grandparents or parents, but often what comes next is where the real wisdom lies. Our older relatives and friends have all been through some fairly difficult economic times and are truly well versed in how to make ends meet. In this blog we will be talking about money saving practices that our old folks used to do in the old days. We are not talking about “we walked though rain, hail and mud for 10 miles to get to school”. We are referring to the skills and behaviours that we seem to have forgotten. They are mending, cooking from scratch, keeping chickens, recycling, food gardening and simply going without.
Here are 7 Money Saving Practices That You Need to Remember
Step into any budget chain store and you can score a pair of pants and a top for well under $20. Yet, a couple of washes later and they’re heading for landfill. Imagine if you swapped those cheap, throwaway items, instead invested in better quality items, and then added in the art of mending. We are calling it an art because it’s a bit of a forgotten skill. Sewing and handmade garments are now rare and often more expensive than buying directly from the store racks. But in the long term, it could really save you some money. Some mending skills are easy. This consists of sewing on buttons, adjusting, or mending seems, and closing up small holes and tears. They are all easily done and will extend the lifetime of your clothing, saving you money and unnecessary landfill too.
2. Repairing or Recycling
Related to number 1 above, this can be done for food, scraps of cloth, old furniture, and electronics. Before throwing them away, think of how you could reuse those items. For example, if you have excess grilled chicken, you can eat it again by making a chicken sandwich. If you have an old crib, you can re-purpose it into a cosy, study table. Even old furniture can look posh and new by just changing the paint ...the possibilities are endless! Social media has a lot of inspiration for recycling items (like Buzzfeed and Pinterest) where you can get plenty of ideas. When you have time, scour your house list all the items you can reuse, and get your imagination going!
3. Cooking from Scratch
We have written in previous posts about the danger zone that is the supermarket. According to Budget Direct, the average Australian household spends about $254 on groceries per week! This accounts for a big chunk of the family budget. The big spending can partly be attributed to a lack of time and an increase in the amount of purchased packaged meals. Cooking from scratch can be a great way to save money and have fun. The thing to be careful of is your definition of cooking. In the money saving case, we are not referring to simply ‘mixing’ or the application of heat. What we do mean, is cutting back to the bare basics and removing processed goods from your meals. It sounds hard, but once you get the hang of it you will start to notice a real difference at the supermarket checkout.
4. Keeping Chickens
This one might be a bit out there for some but it’s worth thinking about if you have the time, space and like animals. In many cases when keeping chickens, the cost of setting up and then purchasing feed will even out to what you save in eggs (or meat if you don’t make them pets!). However you can work towards keeping costs down. You can feed your chooks kitchen scraps and collecting scraps from friends too (make sure they are whole foods like veggies and grains). Keeping chooks as egg laying pets can be a great experience for children too as they make a very low-cost pet with some egg-cellent rewards!
5. Food Gardening
For some people, it is the norm to have a veggie patch and grow your own seasonal veggies. If you are not skilled there are community centres and gardens in most local areas that can give you the knowledge required to provide your family (and perhaps the entire neighbourhood) with fresh food. The best part is you can join a food swap and trade some of your surplus supplies for something you need. The initial investment in building a veggie patch will be far outweighed by the taste of fresh food. It is also an accomplishment you (and your kids) will feel when you make that first harvest!
6. Going Un-disposable
Back in the old days, there were no paper towels, wipes, diapers, plastic bags, or the like. They used reusable items like cloth diapers and good old rags. If you want to save money, you can ditch the disposables and find replacements that can be reused. Nowadays there are good cloth diapers that look so cute and fashionable. Try to research and think how your parents and grandparents used to do things, and you will be doing a great service for the environment too!
7. Going Without
Our consumer-focused culture has gotten even worse with the rise of email and social media. Everywhere we look we are being marketed to. It can be really hard to resist that next purchase and even worse, that next upgrade. Imagine if you challenged yourself to just go without? That the next time the third TV in your home, or the second car, or the dishwasher, or some other luxury item stops working that you didn’t go on to replace it straight away. Do you really need it? Be honest with yourself and your family - are you looking to spend money on something that is really not necessary? It may take some time to really discern the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’, but doing so is definitely worth it. If you really need it, save up! And especially for those with children, this can be a really good exercise. It helps kids understand that instant gratification does not pave the path to happiness.
It is true what they say - that back in the day, life really was simpler. Happiness came from making the most of what you had and wasn’t something that was found on a shop shelf or via a card online. Paying for things using money you don’t have (i.e. on credit) was largely unheard of, and people made things last. How can you make some changes to incorporate some of these practices back into your life? On that note, if you’re scrimping and saving to get out of debt and nothing seems to be working, give Credit Counsellors Australia a call on 1300 003 328. Our debt advisors offer a free debt assessment where we will go through your budget with you, and help you assess your options for getting out of debt once and for all!