Saturday, June 02, 2018

Handling End of Paycheck With Grace

Before I begin this topic, I need to announce that the email subscription gadget on the left had to be reinstalled as it was not working. If you were formerly signed up to receive notices of new posts, you will need to sign up again. I certainly hope you will, because it is my pleasure to offer this service. Things are not as free as they once were, on the web, but this is still a place for free.

Also, comments are not being sent to me by blogger, so if you posted one and it wasn't published, it is because I have not yet found them all in my dashboard. Please keep commenting anyway because I am trying to get that straightened out.

The end of the month is not easy for many people. Most of the money (for many people on a low income, and for some stay at home ladies) has been used to pay the bigger bills at the beginning of the month, and there is always that tight feeling at the last of the month.

In this post I will not be telling anyone how to invest, save, or make money. I will instead offer some ways to live through that last week of the month with grace, so that those days can be happy memories instead of trying times.

This is an ideal time to have special tea using your formal tea cups. It doesn't much matter what you put in them, it just helps take the edge off those lean days when you don't have the extra cash to go to the market and buy what you want or need. Tea is generally very inexpensive, and every larder always has too much of it in the back of the shelf. Tea foods being tiny bite size things, the end of the month financial crunch is the perfect time to make those cute little tea accompaniments that require less ingredients.. it is times like these that you can invent rare new tea delicacies.

Many popular foods were borne during poor times. Think of some of our favorite comfort foods. When we were growing up we thought our family liked a certain food and did not know it was the end-of-the-month food.  This is a time for breakfast foods at the end of the day, or something normally reserved for picnics. It is also a time when the most inventive recipes are created out of what is left in the fridge and the pantry. The end of the month soup, the end of the month omelet, the end of the month home made breads, and the end of the month coupons are all part of the end of the month culture that is created by this "special" time. 

If you are health conscious, your pantry products left at the end of the month will not be cheap or devitamized commercial foods. 

It is also helpful to make these days special by dressing in a lovely way. Christ taught his disciples not to go around in sackcloth when they were fasting, but to wash their faces and wear good clothing, and not appear to be sad or deprived; not to let anyone know. I think that is very effective because it doesn't make us feel sorry for ourselves or depress other people.

If you are able, plan for the end of the month to be story time, whether you write one or tell it. I remember when story tellers traveled around, and for a donation, would tell a tall tale in the evenings around the fire. This alleviated some of the hardship in people's lives and I believe it can lessen the end of the month grind. It may end up becoming some of the most memorable times of your lives and maybe even a source of income.

Save favorite foods such as crackers and cheese (you can make your own crackers) to have with hot tea.
I thought these goldfish tea bags were so amusing. I'm not sure where to get them, but I understand there are other shapes, such as birds and flowers.

Learn self-control, and no matter the stress, be extra kind during hard times. This is really the mark of a refined and mature person. This is especially important at the end of the month when the money has run out and the worries begin.

And now that I've stated a few ways to alleviate the strain of finances at the end of a paycheck, I will go on to a few other things:

First of all, I want to say there are always people who will give you advice, which invariably includes setting aside money for food at the beginning of the month for the end of the month, but that is not always possible.  Do not be too suggestible, and weigh what people say against your own situation.

Money is a gift, and of course, should be treated with respect. We should never feel we owe it to the national economy to spend it, nor should we be so frugal we make life dim and dull and unhappy for our families. 

Each person's situation is slightly different from another's, so not all frugal advice is workable for everyone.

People (even I) will suggest making things, but this may not be possible in your situation and may end up costing your more in some ways.

There are some "interesting" ways to keep from spending money that I have heard, which I do not at all  endorse, either because of personal experience to the contrary, or because they are not truly frugal.

There is a general idea among some people that for a woman to be able to stay home and manage the house and look after her family, that she has to suffer by doing without any comforts or good pleasures, eat inferior food, have inferior home furnishings, old, used clothing, and borrow equipment such a a sewing machine, yard equipment, etc.

Doing the above does not necessarily prevent expense. It may actually cost more. In my house there is a combination of new and used, as some pieces came from our parents house, and some from stores.  

Used clothing that has been given by people you know, may have a little wear in it, but if you buy it at a thrift store or a Goodwill, sometimes it costs more than new clothing on sale, and has only half the amount of wear in it. Add to this the possible extra labor of repairing it, or laundering it back to original freshness, and you may not be getting much of a bargain. 

 I think it is important also to dress children with dignity and give them the message that they are important enough to you to dress well. While I do agree there are some very good quality used clothes, I know for a fact they are not always less expensive than new clothes of the same quality. Inferior quality can effect children in different ways. I've seen mother's dress their children in thrift store while they wear trendy new clothes. Always make the children's clothes a priority and make sure they have a Sunday-go-meeting set of clothes. Iron them the night before and give the children the sense that wearing dignified clothing is important. 

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes that it was good for a man to work hard and to eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of his labor. You are allowed to have comforts in this life, and enjoy purchasing things to make your home a bright and happy place.  While some people insist you must exist on used furniture if you have very little money at the end of the month (or any time), I have also found this not to be sound advice. Some of the used furniture I have had was deceptively beautiful but was rotten, or was already half gone in wear and tear. New furniture sometimes will not last the distance either. It costs money to transport furniture in and out of the house when you have bought something unsuitable. You have to be discerning about this. Your family will be glad you furnish your home in beautiful things that work well for you. You are also creating memories for them. I don't believe "used" is always advisable, financially or quality-wise. 

Generally, used things do not improve or get better and can cost more for repairs. I would not recommend a used sewing machine or a used vacuume cleaner. Others may have good success with used things, but it is not always the case, including vehicles.

When grandparents are in the picture, you will never have to buy used toys. Grandparents are always overly exuberant about buying toys for the children and will often ask you what they can get the children. Personally I do not like the used toys, if they need repair or have seen a lot of wear.

Someone emailed me to ask about shoe repair. Repair places are not easy to find, and getting shoes re-soled is very expensive in some places, higher than the cost of new shoes. The exception would be getting a good pair of boots or an expensive pair of shoes repaired, but I never found it very frugal to get ordinary shoes repaired. By the time children have worn out the shoes, they have also outgrown them. Regarding used footwear,  our  parents taught us not to wear handed down shoes because they didn't think it was bad for young feet still in formative stages if shoes had been used. Supposedly the use shoes would be slightly bent in areas.  I'm not sure what the other reasons were, but the grandparents offered to pay for  new shoes for the children.

One way to have less money going out and more in your purse, is to know what you have. Go through your things regularly so you know where everything is and are not tempted to buy more supplies just because it's easier than trying to find it at home. I know this is not always possible in emergencies but keep it in mind for the future.

Own your own sewing machine, hedge clippers, kitchen tools, and everything else. Borrowing can be very expensive if you have accidentally damaged your neighbor's shovel or your Dad's wheelbarrow. You have to replace it or you have bad feelings between you. Wear and tear on other people's equipment is another factor. Eventually everything wears out from use. Consider whether you want to pay your neighbor a little for that wear and tear, or of it is better to own it yourself and let your family experience being good caretakers of your own things. Be careful too about lending tools, books, etc. People appreciate things more when they have to buy them. It isn't always good for people to borrow.

Frugal advisors always recommend using the library. What they are not taking into account is:

Books are used by children during the illness season when people pass their colds around. They handle these books and I cannot be certain these items are properly sanitized before the next person borrows them. While families seem to be more tolerant of family bacteria, sometimes they can't withstand things they have caught outside the home. You may not agree with this, but it is what I have observed.

Some of us live outside the library district in country areas where we have to pay a larger fee to borrow. While the fee is "only" $25 a year, it has to be paid in one lump sum, and if you are low income or at the end of the month, that is a lot to pay out all at once. If they allowed a $2.00 per month fee for we who are outside the district, it would be a whole lot easier for those on limited cash income. It is cheaper to buy our own books, enjoy owning them, and build our own libraries.

I quit using the library when so many of them had very unsavory novels with graphic immodest covers , which were often displayed at the entrance at eye level of young children. Not all public libraries have good material in them or wholesome reading materials.  These days you can order what you want, sometimes for just a few cents, and often get brand new books in good taste that only you family handles. Since I haven't been to the library in a long time, I cannot say for certain if it has improved, and of course it will vary from town to town. 

In their favor, most small towns allow residents to request titles and movies of their own choice, which they will supply. One town in my state is so full of British residents that the library is brimming with gardening books and videos, English cookbooks, tea books and videos, and BBC movies.

I've heard frugal advisors say to shut off all lights and heat in rooms you are not using, but if you have active children there will never be any rooms you are not using. To make children unable to go into a room ( particularly the bathroom) because it is dark and cold just wouldn't work for me. I want to have a normal, warm, happy home where the family feel comfortable, so this is something I won't be doing when there are people around.  (On the other hand, we need to teach the next generation not to leave lights on if they aren't going to be in the room. It increases expense and it causes more problem for someone to replace the light bulbs.)

Consider making your own quick breads at home, or learning to make yeast breads. Commercial bread, even the supposed health bread, uses nutritious ingredients up to a point. Most of the health food breads still contain datem, Soybean oil, corn syrup and a myriad of other ingredients,  and costs an average of $4.00 a loaf. Consider making stovetop scones in the fry pan, or other quick breads with good flours. That will put more money in your hand for the things you cannot make.  All bread products can be handmade at home, from cookies to cakes, crackers, noodles, rolls and sliced loaves.  Keep the cash for fresh fruits and vegetables, baking ingredients, meats and fish and things you cannot make.

shudder to think how much I have spent on detergents over the years.  You don't have to do that. Those caustic ingredients can wear your clothing out much faster and make your skin itch, as well as plug up your drains and put an over all chemical haze in your house. Everything from itchy eyes to breathing problems and brain fog can possibly be abated by eliminating laundry detergents. Cleaning vinegar ( not always labelled as cleaning vinegar, but a white vinegar) is only $1.00 at Dollar Tree, and larger containers are $3.00 in other stores. It can be used as a wash and a rinse, has no scent when the clothes are dry, and keeps drains and septic clean. I noticed an overall improvement in clothing and the clearer air in the house. Consider other laundry alternatives such as soapwort. Do a web search for natural laundry and see what there is available. There is a company called Mountain Rose Herbs that sells non-toxic natural laundry solutions.

If you do insist on using detergents, remember the agitation of the washing machine does most of the work, so try using just a drop and make your supply last longer. Also, the sun sanitizes laundry hanging on the line and bleaches out stains and eliminates odors.

Just not spending on bread and laundry detergent can allow you to keep more cash in your hand.

Even when there is a sale, packaged food products indicate processed foods rather than natural foods, with a lot of additives less food value. The price of packaging is built into the total cost of the product. Bagged, bottled and boxed foods (barring exceptions) are generally not high quality or nutritious. You get to use that money for something you can't make yourself.

Most of the time when we have helped people on welfare, we have noticed they do not cook. I generally do not buy canned or bottled foods, but some people who have been given food supplies will not even open a jar or a can to heat up anything to eat.  Their freezer may be stuffed with frozen foods but they will not cook. Just learning to cook can keep you from having to spend money for prepared food. 

I remember when my children were home how frugal-advisors were always telling us to use left-overs. We never had left overs. There was never anything left over from a meal. Some people thought that was unusual but we ate the food. Another thing people would tell us was to have a cookie jar.  When I was growing up, there was no need for a cookie jar. Home made cookies didn't last long enough to store them in a jar. 

I planned to save this for the accompanying video, but decided to add it anyway. My husband never liked the home run in such a way as to deprive everyone of the comforts of life in order to "save money." He put away a small amount for "savings" and the rest was supposed to be lived off, and provided things for the home.  His belief was that since he had worked for the money he wanted to have top quality food, heat, lights, a working vacuum cleaner, a working washer and dryer, a good quality chair to relax in, and all that makes life at home worthwhile. He wanted his home to be the reward of his labor. I bought new suits for him and our sons and made girls  clothes from new fabric. That gave us money free for buying something we could not make, such as shoes and footwear. Grandparents were eager to supply things for the children so we always kept a list of things they needed, for when the grandparents called and asked. Since we were in a church, the members didn't want us going around looking poor and bedraggled, as they were supplying our income. We had to be careful to represent them, too. I think this can be translated to any couple, as the wife and children are a reflection of the living the father is providing for them. We don't want to make them look bad!

All of these things considered, you will never be truly destitute if you have no vices. I won't go into what vice is here, because that is another topic. You can find its meaning yourself and give a good lesson to your children.  So take heart in that.  When you really are running out of food at the end of the month, at least no one will be able to say you spend too much on vice. 

Remember the prophet David said he had not seen the righteous forsaken or their sons begging bread. Be polite to your parents and grandparents, who are always eager to help in time of need. Don't  cut off your supply. One day you will be in a position to help your own children but if they are rude, you will lose your willingness. Families can benefit one another, and not be a burden on other people if they continue in good fellowship.  That being said, it is good to avoid being a burden. However if anyone has extra and wants to share, accept it with grace, and when in life your turn comes, pass the favor on to someone else.


Christine said...

Dear Lydia,
As usual, you have provided us with sensible and most excellent advice. Thank you! My wonderful Great-Aunt was an accomplished seamstress. She used to have an old fashioned plaque hanging on the wall in her sewing room. It said “Penny wise, pound foolish.” I still think of that saying today, and it still makes sense.

I surely wish I had your teachings when I was a young wife, but am still grateful to have you as a married woman of some years since I know I am never too old to learn.

Thank you :-)

Lydia said...

There have been comments that didn't make it to my inbox for some reason. I'm trying to find them and publish them. If you didn't see a comment you posted, it is because there has been some kind of delay on my blogger . I hope to get this straightened out soon.

Lydia said...

Thank you so much for your comments. I'm still working on getting them to my email.

Mary said...

I discovered your blog just a few days ago and have watched your videos on youtube. I would like to subscribe but the "button" says I can't due to my attempts to remedy the situation have failed. Do you have a postal box address I could send my email address to you.

Mrs. Christopher Daniels said...

Hi Lydia, This is why I love you; you are so encouraging, your tips are helpful, inspiring, and practical! Thank you for this post.

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

Amazon has the tea bag from 3rd party sellers. Not cheap but they are so neat.

Things have settled down here at the rancho de loca. I was approved for Medicare and am now waiting for my Medicare advantage plan to come through. The house will close escrow this week. Another chapter closed. I miss her so much.''

Hope your spring has been good and a great summer ahead.

Lydia said...

Mary, please try and submit the subscribe thing again. I've redone it and tested it by subscribing myself and it seems to be working. The youtube subscribe is disabled because I can't handle two blogs. I just direct youtube visitors to this blog.

Christine, I have not heard that expression in many decades! Personally, there were a lot of expressions that took me years to understand.

Ann, I have not forgotten you.

Rozy Lass said...

I really have to disagree with you about buying used clothing. For boys (and girls for that matter) under 12 who play hard and are hard on clothes, buying used may be the only way to afford clothes on a limited budget. When a child ruins a $1.00 pair of jeans I can handle it, but ruining a $25.00 pair of new jeans would mean they are out of their entire stock of jeans, not to mention breaking my heart as well as the bank. I'm doing laundry weekly anyway, so what's the big deal about throwing another couple of articles of clothing in the mix? For the price of a new item of durable clothing I can get a whole wardrobe for a child. For myself, I look for top brands that I know fit me well, and that are modest, such as LLBean, Coldwater Creek, CJ Banks, and similar. Just recently I found a brand new, still had the tag on it, silk and cotton cardigan from Coldwater Creek for $8.00. The original price on the tag was $32.50, far above my budget. As it was I got six knit tops and four books at the thrift store for $44.00. That would have bought one new item at a regular store. And I never seem to hit the sales when what I'm looking for is available in my size and the right color. I felt God really blessed me to find these beautiful sweaters and knit tops, some of them brand new, for such an affordable price. I'm willing to do a little laundry when needed and minor repairs for a truly fabulous find, to keep within our clothing budget. I love shopping for clothing and fabric treasures at thrift stores!

Lydia said...

My point was that used clothing is not always less expensive, if the new item is on a drastic sale. Just as an example, I've seen cotton tshirts for a dollar, new, at the end of a season, while Goodwill is much higher. $44.00 can be a lot of cash for someone. But it also depends on a person's income and their own needs. I am glad you had the cash to do this and that you found the things you liked and needed.

Lydia said...

Rozy, I agree its always a thrill to avoid paying original high prices!