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Friday, January 3, 2014

Tighten Your Spending, Not Your Living

People who know me and later find out that we live on a very low income are amazed to discover this information. Some think that given our low income, we get some kind of government assistance such as unemployment or food stamps to make it. However, that is not the case for our family. Our philosophy is that we will trust God to provide what we need, and we will do the very best with can with the resources available to us.

Some of the resources we have are ourselves and our abilities. I love to learn new skills and I love to shop for bargains everywhere I go. Recently, our living room furniture's well loved look started to get to me. I decided to go to the thrift store to see if I could find something to use to freshen up the look of the couch and two side chairs. I don't have any funds for replacing the furniture at this time.

I had a coupon in my possession for the thrift store that would allow me to save $5.00 off a purchase of $15.00 or more. I went looking for a large bedspread to use as a couch cover, a nice piece of fabric to use to recover the living room chairs, and a fitted sheet to use to cover the seat cushions on the couch.

My living room is decorated in the colors mauve, forest green, cranberry, and white. I found a large mauve bedspread, a forest green queen-size fitted sheet, and a drapery panel in forest green that has a nice pattern in it. I also found a new Christmas tablecloth at the same time that has mauve colored poinsettias on a cranberry colored background. I spent around $17.00 for these items. Let me show you the before and after on the chairs.

I can't believe I let the chairs
look like this as long as I did!
 We had originally bought these chairs as part of a lot of twenty chairs for $40.00 at an auction. So, the chairs cost $2.00 each and we have had them for around seven years. This is the third time I have recovered these chairs. Each time, I look for inexpensive fabric at a thrift store. The drapery panel I bought cost $2.99, so I recovered each chair for $1.50 plus the cost of the staples in the staple gun, and my time to recover the chairs. I spent around 1 1/2 hours removing the old fabric and putting on the new fabric. I kept the contrasting fabric from the previous recovering job because I liked that look but I still have enough fabric to change it if I decide to do so later.
All freshened up for the new year!

We have to keep a tight grip on our spending so that we have as much of our income available as possible to pay the non-negotiable bills such as the house payment or electric bill. However, tightening up our spending doesn't mean we don't enjoy our lives. We do everything everyone else does; we just do it differently.

Case in point- I have been wanting a pair of warm, snuggly boots for quite a while, but I was unwilling to spend the money that would be required to buy such boots at a retail store. Every time I went into my favorite thrift store I made sure to look at the boots they had in stock. A week ago, I finally found exactly what I wanted in my size. The boots were only $4.00! The only issue with them that I had to resolve was to buy new laces. I bought an inexpensive pair for $1.97 because if I had bought the suede laces, I would have spent as much for them as I did on my boots. I may upgrade to the suede laces but for now I am quite happy with my boots and laces.
I told my husband that these boots have changed my life. I get
very cold in the winter and once my feet are cold, I can't get warm
for a long time. These boots keep my feet nice and toasty. I can
stay outside longer and more comfortably. I am one happy gal! 
Would it have been easier to go to the store and buy a pair of boots when I needed them? Maybe for some people it would have. For me and my family, when we have a need we know we have to be a bit patient to get that need filled. Would it have been easier to get new chairs rather than to find the fabric and make the time to recover the chairs? Again, for some people that answer would be yes. 

In our family, due to our restrictions, we have developed many useful abilities and attitudes. We are generally content with what we have, we have learned to do many things so that we can live within our means (cooking, baking, making simple repairs, doing simple maintenance around the house), we are grateful and appreciative of whatever we receive, and we help each other as much as we can. 

My younger daughter and her boyfriend recently brought us a microwave and coffee maker that they did not need. A roommate had left the microwave and they had gotten a Keurig so they didn't need a full size coffee maker any longer. 

I cleaned the microwave and improvised a foot to replace the two back feet that were missing. We had been without a microwave for nearly a year but I didn't want to spend money on a cheap model microwave and then have to spend again when I finally had the funds to get the over the stove model I really want, so I just did without. My daughter knew we didn't have one and rather than selling her extra one, she blessed us with it. My coffee maker had also died and again, I want a certain model of coffee maker so rather than buy a cheap one I decided to learn to make coffee without a coffee maker until I could get what I want. Here are a couple sites that I found helpful:

If it had bothered me to be without these items, I would likely have gone to the thrift store to get them while saving for the nicer ones I ultimately want. I find that the thrift store allows me to have just about anything I need or want and still stay within my budget. 

Letting others know of items you need is also a useful way to tighten your spending but still get what you need. Lots of people have no longer needed items cluttering up their homes and would be happy to pass them on to someone who can make good use of these household goods or clothes. I belong to my local Freecycle ( and have gotten lots of needed items for free as well as decluttering my home by passing on no longer needed things to others who need them.

Anyway, I hope you are getting the idea that there are a lot of ways to manage when money is tight and still enjoy your life. There will be more posted on this topic throughout the year and I hope to hear from you so I can learn more!


  1. I loved this post, Holly! That chair looks beautiful.

    1. Thanks Teresa! I get a lot of satisfaction out of "beating the system" so to speak. Instead of feeling lack, I feel pretty clever.

  2. I love the boots. And only $5.97! I look forward to reading more of your thrifty advice.

  3. Thank you! I look forward to learning from you as well. I am very interested in staying healthy naturally.