Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Reliving 1930

My parents were both products of the depression. The original depression, the one that started with the stock market crash in Oct, 1929. When I was growing up, the legacy of the depression was in many ways passed onto me by my parents and grandparents.

I come from generations of wealthy Americans. Not stinking rich, but very comfortably off Americans. People who could afford to include a lot of culture, decor, and designer clothing into their daily lives. People with nice cars and nice homes and a lot of foreign travel. They appeared to be upper middle class Americans in every sense of the word.

Going inside the workings of those homes, however, showed a different story. Leftovers were never thrown out. My mother bought dented cans. She never bought anything name brand. Supermarket brand was good enough. Or so she thought. In those days, supermarket brands were often horrible, but it did no good to complain.

My parents didn't believe in spending a lot of money on toys. We didn't have anywhere near what our friends had, but what we did have was always educational and bought from science school supply catalogs. We had microscopes and chemistry sets, and we liked them! But dolls and trucks? Not so much.

In the kitchen my mom washed plastic bags to reuse them, and she even reused tin foil. Nothing went to waste in my mom's kitchen. She would make a 'clean the refrigerator' soup every couple of weeks that had all the leftovers she could cram into the soup pot. It was good every time, but rarely the same.

My mom didn't believe in buying stuff marketed towards kids. We never had junky cereals or things that were basically shilling for Disney. Of course there was no where near the amount of crap then as there is now, but even so, we were brought up to avoid it.

As a parent, I pretty much took that kind of upbringing and incorporated my own housekeeping that way. I've always been rather tight with a buck when it comes to my own household, even when I was making a 6 figure salary. My kids have always been fed soups and stews, homemade bread, and lots of other items that people are now reintroducing into their own lives to save money. I've always cooked and baked, so stepping that up hasn't been much of a deal for us. I've never been much of a prepared food buyer, more because of the salt content and the fillers. Oy, the fillers. If I can't pronounce it, why would I want to eat it? I've never bought Hamburger Helper in my life and I'm not going to start anytime soon.

As anyone who has read my blog for any time knows, I don't buy clothing at regular prices. Ever. I'm a huge Marshall's shopper and 100% of my wardrobe comes from there. Which isn't saying much because my clothing is disasterous at best. I've taught my kids that department stores are a waste of money. They are both excellent shoppers who revel at a good bargain.

But I feel like we're not doing enough. We do every energy saving trick in the book. We drive a car that gets great gas milage and I only put about 5K miles per year on it. We shop at Savers all the time for things like sweats, hoodies, and jeans. The Girl and I hit the higher end thrift shops in the next town for particular items she might need for a dance or a party. We grow our own herbs and belong to a CSA so we can shop locally. We don't shop mindlessly. We don't purchase extravagantly, and when we do buy things like electronics, we're VERY careful not to lose or damage them.

So what else can we do to cut back? We don't have cable. We don't use Netflix. There is NO WAY I'm giving up my internet access. We reuse and recycle. We even dump-dive. We use craigslist and freecycle.

But there must be more we can do. I want to cut our budget by 10% so we can put some money away in savings. I haven't been able to save for years, but for once there is money in my savings account. I just can't figure out what else we can cut. But I know you guys can. Give me your best suggestions. I'll take anything you can figure out.

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Blogger Daisy said...

I wish I had one for you. You do so much right already.

8/2/09 5:55 PM  
Blogger Rhea said...

Find a few things you can barter for. You have skills I am sure someone else can use. Try to barter haircuts or dental work or whatever you spend money on regularly.

8/2/09 8:11 PM  

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