Saving money became more and more important as I aged. Things beyond my control happened, and I found myself both depressed and determined to live within whatever my means. It has taken everything I've been taught, learned the hard way, and have come to accept in order to survive, regardless. It was during a time that I began as a Christian helping those I met who had nothing and were in dire need. I learned just how little it really takes to survive if you own very little, and have no expectations.
I love the challenge, the rewards when I find a boxful of nuts/bolts. I thank Him and sort them in some container I found in advance of the nuts/bolts. I can then always rely upon having the sorts of supplies I will need just ahead. His holy angels often help me in this way, to which I have become accustomed, humbled, and most grateful. If He leads me to a special treasure, it's always something small that I had longed to have but never told a soul.
Because money still is very limited, I got used to postponing all expensive major repairs. I had a hole in the drain in my kitchen for almost a year. I had taken indoor plumbing for granted all of my life until the hot water heater went out also and I had to take cold baths late night in a wading pool of rain water for almost a year. After having a severely leaking toilet and tub for much longer than a year, I recently found a very cheap repair person, a neighbor who'd agree to use the package of new plumbing parts He helped me to find curbside and which He knew would work. It cost only $10 for the labor for the kitchen drain to be replaced and to work, and will cost the same for the tub to be snaked out a long way to the street.
Because I'm blessed to own a home, I also have a VERY big responsibility in maintaining it, from the yard, garden, fence to the structure itself inside and out, which normally means a LOT of money. At a nearby large bicycle shop, I have permission to take whatever new boxes that I need from his stack by the dumpster. I use them in place of garbage and leaf bags. I also store large repairable pictures and frames in them, complete with original foam wrap that comes inside them. I can use them for luggage I have found and use for long term storage because I no longer travel, but I also share with the homeless who need them.
Old collapsible zig-zag clothes-drying racks are a particular good find, because one can use many of them to save on the cost of clothes dryers, and they are always easy to store or to repair, with found glues such as vinyl tile adhesive in buckets being tossed. Good glass squares, rectangles, circles and mirrors have saved many pieces of furniture for others, and are often found on the ground beneath boxed items curbside. I recently read about a woman who collects deep wooden drawers from broken tossed chests that are dove-tailed at the corners for strength. She drills several holes in the bottoms, lines them up on racks made of found concrete blocks and sturdy usable fence posts.
I have been led to an abundance of needed and most appreciated free curbside boxes full of household cleaning supplies, organic insecticide, and even boxes of NEW clothing in my size, shoes I needed, and canned food and spices not expired. This is challenging me to create new recipes such as the one today of Cream of Asparagus, green beans and wheat noodles. Donating good usable clothing to charities has blessed others in savings, which also blesses my soul to know it's being used, the right thing to do, rather than to greedily hold out trying to sell every single item in a garage sale.
This is the time now for me to begin using what I have had saving, stored for more than a year, in case of need. That need has gotten even greater now that we are getting the changes promised by the man in the Oval Office. I forgot to ask in advance just what those changes would be, throwing me further into poverty, challenging me further to almost living off the land as a pioneer-type. I have learned that Bermuda Grass, ordinary clover, wild wood violets, and Juniper berries are edible, but I wouldn't want to make a steady diet of them. : )
I am low income, have no credit card, no cell phone, have a land-line connected to the lowest cost phone provider in my state, who offers discounts. I stay alert to every discount for senior citizens, which add up, including the free city recycling bags for those things I cannot repair or use. Recently I recycled all small glass bottles and jars I did not need, using the free city bags also for surplus cans, and larger glass jars, bottles. The cardboard and junk mail gets shredded for pets as well as for the outdoor recycled, still rusty but very usable, pot-bellied barbecue pit with a door, which waits for it's time of refurbishing with the free, found, like-new Rustoleum Barbecue spray paint. The shredded paper is also placed beneath every twig greater than pencil thick that I collect all over the yard, and stacked to use as free barbecue fire starter.
I'm praying for free organic veggie seeds that will actually grow food rather than just a plant with leaves, as has been the case too often for the last few years. My tomato plant last year got to be over 12 feet tall and produced only a few scrawny tomatoes. The Lord knew that I longed for and He helped me to actually find an Improved Meyer Lemon tree that was damaged, which I got in a pot curbside and which He knew I would be able to help live, produce lemons, and give fragrance to the front porch as well, according to the Internet research for it ! Praise God. It is usually the most expensive dwarf fruit tree around, but I have been able with His help to save it and it has new leaves and buds, saving me at least $30 or more had I been able to purchase a small tree that size. My apple tree has a number of apples on it this year, if the various night visitors don't eat them before I can time their picking just right, Angels. This will give me two kinds of fruit. Just below them, the wild blackberry patch seems to be in blossom, [ but which have yet to produce much to eat, Lord. You'll have to teach me how to better grow them to save money, and in case we have some sort of famine.
I wear my clothing until unrepairable, sleeping in the loose fitting ones, adding them to the rag sack. It replaces anything over one roll a week of paper towels I need. In recycling newspaper, and junk mail, I find that the hard single thickness of cardboard advertisements papers serve well as plates for the pets, which is then wrapped in the plastic newspaper, produce, cereal or bread bags to keep animals outside from breaking through the cheap garbage bags. It also saves the money of not buying baggies or extra paper plates. When I go through the fast foods once or twice a month for a single dollar item, I always request extra napkins, salt, and ketchup packets, which they freely give with my purchase. I use what I need and take any left over to a small but accumulating stack for emergencies between the few store-bought paper towels, and ketchup. After using a paper towel on non-greasy messes, or my hands, I toss it onto a dirty spot on the floor and use my foot to finish using the paper to clean the spot, double recycling. I've learned to use newspaper to wipe out all foods, rather than letting the water run to rinse it off.
When I ration my cheaper liquid dish soap as I hand wash dishes, I pour the soapy water into a dishtub for washing even dirtier dishes, then recycling the remaining water even once more to the outside curb grass median strip around the yard, which is a hard shape to water even if I had the money to pay for watering the lawn. I also wash out the pet cages with the dish water outdoors, a fourth recycling of the dish water, then pour it all out over the rose bush next to the Apple tree, a fifth recycling of that same old dishwater that is in it's final usage! It truly saves water costs!
If I use bleach water, I recycle it to the sidewalk or patio that is notorious for mold at this time of the year. Weekly use keeps it clean and clear, saving at least $10/ mo in new supplies to fight the fungus and possible air born infections, medical savings again. When I wash clothes, I use only cold or slightly warm water, a LOT less detergent than I used to use after learning that it's not the soap but the continual water agitation through the clothing that really cleans it. If there are any odors, I use a cap of pine oil to a full washer load. I always hang my clothes on hangers if washing at night, OR on the drying racks or clothes line during the day, totally eliminating the cost of using the dryer, saving at least $80 a month I wear the same house or night clothes twice, unless very sweaty or dirty. I brush my teeth with hydrogen peroxide and now have learned that xylitol from sugar cane prevents tooth decay. Both are excellent in savings!
I stopped watching the TV and use electricity for the computer only, keeping the A/C at a proper temperature setting to keep it from running continually. Also I wash the outside A/C coils faithfully and change filters every few weeks, as well as draining the Hot Water heater every few months, to extend the life, and to save the cost of replacement equipment that would have cost thousands WAY before their normal lifespan, which I do not have. I have saved a used curbside find of a window unit A/C for emergencies should I lose the A/C compressor.
I watch closely every single rare but necessary repair made to my home or equipment, which my son has paid for in the past. He is not able to pay now. I ask questions if anything seems wrongly done, questioning extensively if any additional parts are "absolutely" required. By doing this over the years, I learned that often the prices are padded or that screws are purposely loosened or left out, to assure them of 'repeat business'. God has sharpened my mind and skills to know what's going on with them and to sniff out criminal practices, saving me hundreds of dollars, if I had hundreds of dollars! When I had my brakes fixed on my old vehicle, I was honest with the repairman who had strongly recommended an "extensive brake job". He then admitted that I could "get by for a long time with only pads!"This honesty saved me over $400 or more, which my son finally did for when he had extra money. The brake repairman suggested rotor-replacements I didn't really need! God touched his heart to then be honest with me in return.
My curb-found decent wooden heavy rocking chair needs light sanding and restaining on the arms, seat, with one of the curb-found smaller cans and colors of wood stain and sealer. The 30 year old wooden kitchen cabinet fronts were found on the curb, as was my curb-found glass front gun cabinet which I need to use as a shallow book cabinet, and the curb-found antique mahogany woman's wardrobe closet, etc. All just waiting for me to get to them with the God-supplied various stains being tossed otherwise, by wasteful folks.
I am VERY slow to toss anything that's useful or significant. Instead, I walk past it hundreds of times until I am given the idea for how it can better be used, even if not "customary" or in the way it was intended. Should it lose even THAT usefulness, I then carefully scrutinize it still again for further use or conversion. I have become more practical than ever before, forsaking vanity in favor of what saves money!
According to Scripture, "To those who delight themselves in the Lord, He will give the delights of their heart." Because I do not have grandiose ideas for myself, I am both pleased and grateful when He lovingly leads me to something even so special that it could not possibly be a coincidence. An example, I found the very same large sitting white Ceramic Cat that was my mother's before she was placed in a nursing home in 2004 and suffered a broken hip. Even though she remembers little about her past life, it is very special to have that part of her belongings to remember which used to sit in her home. It still had all of the little artwork imperfections, a chipped ear to prove it was Him blessing me with that very same object to comfort me in my grief over her aging symptoms. Yet, Scripture also says that regardless of our age when we pass from this life, Christians will be considered only infants in Eternal Life which lasts forever. I took that Ceramic Cat to her room, but she failed to recognize it, or didn't want to think about her accumulated belongings she lost previously. My mother was real saving person and accumulated a great deal over her lifetime, lost most in the stock market crash, but invested in one good thing that has a good return regardless.
Because we are only alive for a short time, and the things we have are only "on loan" and very temporary, it does take things to replace other things that break down, wear completely out, or are stolen, but all are still needed. This is mostly what He has provided for me to use as needed until I am with Him in Eternity just ahead. Scripture says He will "judge and reward" us for how we spent His money which He helped each of us to earn!
May God use these experience to help others, and to help them know and realize that although things are necessary most of the time, "The best things in life are not things", but rather are our purpose(s) for living and which pleases Him. "He makes all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes." Rom. 8:28
By Lynda from Richardson, TX
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