My husband was telling me about a conversation that went on between some of his fellow employees. This conversation had to do with our family. Now mind you, he was not in on the conversation to be able to take up for himself and us. No, the conversation was not bad or slanderous; it was more of an "I don't understand how they do it" conversation.
If you've been following me for any amount of time, you know we live in a high cost of living area. There are two reasons for this: 1. We are anywhere from 125-225 miles from major competition shopping. I don't include Miles City in this, because there aren’t any competitor stores there. 2. We live too close to the Bakken formation. We have local oil and natural gas producers; with oil and natural gas comes money and we all know how money talks and affects everything.
My husband works for the state. He makes a small percentage of what many of those who work for the oil/water/well companies do. While many of those men leave their family for days and even weeks at a time, my husband is at home with me every night unless there's a snow storm blowing. Sacrificing our family is not worth it to him to go and work for one of the other companies for more money. I know there are many who are having to sacrifice their family just to make a living and I don't judge them for their decisions.
Yes, we live with a tight financial belt, but we've done it for years since we are a one income family. We don't make splurge purchases unless it is something we have saved for. We don't have a closet full of clothes and shoes. I don't need 8 pairs of jeans or 5 pairs of black shoes. We take extra care with the things we do have so they will last. Would you believe I'm still wearing a pair of Clark's sandals I bought in 2008? Before we moved here, I wore them year round. Now, I stop wearing them when my toes turn blue. :)
How We Save Money
First and foremost, the Lord is who works all of this out for us. Without Him, we would be underwater!
We believe in buying QUALITY not QUANTITY. Over the years, I quickly learned it is better to not buy clothes at Walmart. They do not last - they either shrink after the first wash or the seams do not stay together. I'd rather have a few really nice pieces of clothing instead of a closet full of junk that is an embarrassment to wear. We don't buy into "fad" name brand clothes. We buy trusted brands like Wrangler for our jeans, St. John's Bay, and Style and Company for other clothing.
Talking about clothes, I do shop thrift stores for clothes when we go to Billings. I have found many name brand clothes for a fraction of the cost, because I bought them used. Sometimes, you hit the jackpot with brand new clothes with the tags still on them. I have found several $100 Ralph Lauren shirts for my son with the tags and only paid $5 for them.One of the biggest ways we save money is in the kitchen. We DO NOT buy PROCESSED foods, I learned this several years ago. If I can make it from scratch, I don’t buy it. Self rising flour, mayonnaise, brown sugar, soy sauce substitute, and vanilla flavoring are just a few of the items I make from scratch. I don’t walk the isles browsing for things, I make a list and I stick with it. I shop the outside perimeter of the store – produce, meats, dairy, and frozen foods. When I need canned vegetables for a recipe, I buy frozen. Frozen vegetables have a blah taste to me, so I cook them in homemade chicken broth to give them a better flavor before using them. Cream of something soups, I make myself. Now, there are times when a recipe calls for cream of broccoli or cream of celery soup, I don't normally buy those. Instead, I make and use cream of chicken or mushroom soup; depending on the recipe.
Meat is a big deal and today's prices reflect that. I have become creative in the kitchen to keep from spending a gold mine on meat. Meatless meals several times a week, buying ground turkey instead of ground beef, buying bulk chicken even helps save money. We have a grinder and use it to grind chicken to use in place of beef. My husband is a hunter, so deer and antelope are also used in place of beef. When hunting, my husband considers the fact we need as much meat to get us through the year. Hunting for us is not a trophy moment, it is an opportunity to put food on the table.
We buy in bulk to save money. While it may seem like we're spending a lot more money at the time of a purchase, it is keeping us from spending more money on items later on. Stocking up on items is another way we save money. I buy online from places like Dollar General to get our tea, coffee, hair spray and tooth paste.
I wholeheartedly believe in comparison shopping and using a price book. Even with just shopping at Walmart, I still write down the prices for every trip. I like to know when prices change, so I can keep an eye on it.
We save money by turning things off when they are not being used. The computer is set to go to sleep after a certain length of time. We don’t crank up the heat in the winter. The thermostat sits between 62 and 65. We wear long sleeves, socks, slippers and even use a small blanket while reading or watching tv. We have space heaters we move around to help in keeping the chill off of a room. During the spring and summer months, we keep all the windows open. We don’t have central air, so the windows and several fans keep our house cool.
There are many ways we save money and these are just a few of them. How do you save money?