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The benefits of thrift.

As a stay-at-home mother of seven, I have at least that many reasons to maintain a thrifty lifestyle! I spoke to a group of young women recently about household thrift, and to get thrift out of the box labled "deprivation," I shared the following positive reasons for living a lifestyle of good stewardship.

One obvious benefit is that thrift requires creativity of you--even if you aren't creative. For instance, making the menu for the week with limited funds inspires me to see what I can create with what I have on hand, in combination with what's on sale at the grocery store, etc. It helped me see dishtowels in the '70s rug kits I got at a thrift store for $2 total. Nine kits! I got them for the yarn to use in my crocheting adventure. (I'm making my first granny square afghan.) The rug backings are thick, 100% cotton, and the smallest is 2' x 3'. I almost sent them back to the thrift store (I really only wanted the yarn) when I realized that if I bleached them, the inky designs that were stamped on them would likely fade or come out. They did! My new dish towels are soft and thirsty, and worth their weight in ... well ... new dishtowels. My husband got our old worn and stained towels for shop cloths.

Thrift creates beautiful quilts, rag rugs, place mats and napkins from old clothing or material scraps.

Thrift inspires the stay-at-home mother to embroider plain muslin for curtains for her new baby's room, or blanket stitch the edges of soft flannel for receiving blankets. Thrift shares the stage with "Necessity" as a mother of invention!

Another benefit is freeing funds to give to those in need. One mother was honest about the money her family of four wastes on eating out and shopping unwisely (about $800 a month), after I mentioned that we spend $250 a month for the eight to 10 of us (depending on who's home). She realized they could cut their food spending and do much better things with the rest of the money, like supporting a local rescue mission, crisis pregnancy center, victims of disasters, animal shelter, etc. Thrift enables greater social responsibility.

Thrift frees money to pay off a house or car earlier, save for retirement, or education, or invest, etc. Thrift is a debt eraser.

Thrift frees up time for the wage earner! The less money we spend, the less time my husband has to work at side jobs. In this case, thrift also is a stress reliever.

Think about the increase in skill a make-it-from-scratch, do-it-yourself, thrifty life-style imparts. I'm far more self-reliant now than when I worked outside the home full time. Of course, I gained skills in my job, too, but those skills were valuable mostly to my employer, and since I was selling most of my time to my employer I was not able to give my best to my children and husband--and the money I made went to provide processed foods and ready-made everything because I didn't have the time or know-how to provide these things myself.

I can now make do with far less because I'm not dependent on processed foods. I can take $1.23 or less and turn out a delicious, homemade apple pie with homemade pie crust and home canned filling made when apples are cheaper in the fall. Before, I would have gone to the store if we wanted a quality pie and spent $5 to $8 on the same thing. So what if it took me a while to can the apples and make the crust? When I worked outside of the home, it took me about the same amount of time to make enough money to buy the ready-made pie as it took me to make it myself. And I gained the skills of shopping when foods are in season, and canning pie filling, and making a great apple pie. Thrift is a teacher!

Thrift saves natural resources. I won't buy ready-made, processed, prepackaged foods because that's wasteful. I buy real food. I never buy the dreaded drink boxes or snack-type lunches for my kids, because I can prepare a healthful meal for them for about 10% of the cost and a savings of lots of plastic, foil and cardboard.

Thrift is often more healthful. When you buy foods in their original form they will usually be cheaper and more healthful. Hmmmm. Fresh carrots or canned? No brainer! And, of course, home grown vegetables and fruits can be much better for you and cheaper, and gardening skills are gained.

Finally, thrift makes it possible to enjoy life on a low income--and made it possible for me to leave my full-time job to be a stay-at-home mama--my main motivation and most important benefit.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Countryside Publications Ltd.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2001
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