Bluebirds on the Ground. Patsy, North Carolina, USA.
Hello everyone, I’m Patsi from A Working Pantry. It’s an honor to be asked to be a part of Annabel’s Bluebirds on the Ground series. I am what some would consider a senior citizen, in the 65 plus age group. I grew up in a frugal household, some even said we were poor. I didn’t know others considered us poor while growing up until one day at school a girl in my class commented on the fact that I was wearing a dress that used to be hers. Her mom had given my mom a bag of children’s clothing for our use. I still remember that day and how it made me feel as the girl was condescending in what she said. No worries, though, as it turned out to be the first of many lessons’ life would teach me on being frugal.
My mom was born during the great depression and was a product of the frugalness required to survive that period of time. She taught us well! Consequently, I still accept hand-me-downs from others and consider them a blessing. Sometimes, I repurpose them into things we can use in our home, sometimes I take garments and remake them into something I or someone else can wear and sometimes I wear them as they are if they fit and are my style.
I’ve had 43 years of frugal living experience as an adult so these difficult times we’re in now, we’ll I guess you could say when you add in the ‘training’ I received growing up, that I’ve had a lifetime of preparation for such a time as this.
In my area, SE USA, we are seeing price increases on absolutely everything, frequent and sometimes huge price increases along with shrinking size in packaging. Grocery shopping has to be done with strategic effort.
Availability is and is not an issue. If you’re looking for something specific, it very well could be an issue if you are set on a specific brand, etc. Availability issues seem to change from week to week though. Last week we were bargain shopping and I noticed a sign over the fresh carrots that said, ‘due to growing conditions in areas where carrots are grown, product may not be available.’ (Hmmmm … growing conditions … is it only carrots???)
If you’re not set on a specific brand, etc, you can usually find something similar … if you can afford it!
But then, the next week when you’re in the same store, there might be lots of bare space on multiple shelves. It seems to be feast or famine, hit or miss. This makes grocery shopping more difficult and requires one to have a backup plan in place.
Eating out has almost become prohibitive as restaurant prices keep increasing. I really fear for some of our local mom and pop restaurants as their ability to keep prices affordable while absorbing the increased price in foods is a real struggle. They are literally being priced out of business!
Prescription medication has really become an issue both in availability and price. One medication my husband needs is $1200 per month without insurance … $800 with insurance and $500 with insurance and a company coupon.
Of course, this is not affordable, so we have done a lot of praying and researching. With the help of our doctor and pharmacist, we have been able to get it for much less each month. It is a month-to-month thing, and we rely on God and others while doing everything we can to find the medicine at the best price. It is so important that we help those we can in whatever way we can when it is appropriate. I believe that in so doing we are being the hands and feet of God.
Any way you look at it, hard times are here, so, what are we going to do about it? Here’s what our game plan looks like …
We are not focusing on what we can’t do but on what we can do instead.
I’ve always had a can-do attitude and it is serving me well in this season. Where there is a will, there is a way! It might require us to totally rethink the issue at hand and come at it from a different angle, but if we’re willing to put forth the effort a way can usually be found.
I do something every day towards preparedness no matter how small it is. Sometimes, if money is an issue, I work on skills. This week I taught myself how to crochet roses. One might ask what does knowing how to crochet roses have to do with preparedness. For me, aside from gift giving purposes (think embellishments), it brings beauty into my life. During hard times, beauty is so good for our mental state and our mental state has everything to do with our willingness to fight the good fight while we keep on keeping on.
her times I might learn how to use leftovers in a new and different way or maybe research how to grow something better. Of course, if we have extra money to spend toward preparedness, we do that. Truthfully though, most of my daily activities toward preparedness don’t involve money.
We bargain shop! I mean we really bargain shop! Seventy-five percent of the food we purchase at the grocery store is marked down or on clearance. If it’s not, we don’t buy it. The lifestyle we live of keeping a well-stocked pantry allows us to be able to do this.
We utilize the space we have both inside and outside our house. Our home is small, as in 925 sq ft small, which means space is at a premium. We utilize every inch of it, and I continue to learn ways to utilize it better. Clutter and unnecessary items are not allowed, baskets, jars, bowls and shelves are utilized to their fullest. Outside, we use our space in the same way. We have less than an acre of land and we have it planned in such a way to get the most from it while keeping it functional and pretty. Pretty is important to me!
We garden … our soil is super sandy which makes gardening difficult. However, again, where there is a will, there is a way. Through trial and error, we’ve found ways to have a profitable garden in a climate that is hot, humid, subject to hurricanes and made up of sandy soil.
We eat from and preserve what we grow. Maintaining a well-stocked pantry is a way of life for us and a good part of our pantry is grown in our garden.
We don’t turn down anything we’re offered if we can use it!
We glean and barter and get creative!
We take advantage of ‘free’ information available online. There is lots of info to be gleaned by simply doing a search. My method of researching online is to read or watch a video from several of what I consider reliable sites on topics of interest, glean the info they all agree on and then compare it to books I have on hand on said topics. Then if I know someone who has personal knowledge about said topics, I will reach out to them. There’s a lot of ‘false truth’ out there in the online world amongst the ‘true truth’ and we need to be wise in our learning.
Speaking of books, we have a well-stocked library that we’ve gleaned from thrift stores, sales, clearances and from being gifted. Sometimes, if it is a book that will be helpful to us in an endeavor, we will buy it. Both online info and books are invaluable when you want to learn something new.
We treat minor medical ailments at home. I have been studying herbs, essential oils and home remedies for several years and feel confident in managing minor things at home.
We network with others. This year we needed to replace our flock of chickens with new ones, but the price of baby chicks was and is prohibitive. We have a friend who has a chick incubator who offered to hatch eggs for us in return for enough eggs to hatch some for her. It was a deal, and we now have enough baby chicks to replace our aging flock.
We stay busy! Idleness leaves too much time to dwell on things we can’t do anything about.
We do all kinds of little frugal things, like wash and reuse zip lock bags, that help us grow in a lifestyle of frugality. The goal of frugality is reached and maintained one, sometimes, mundane baby step at a time. It all adds up!
We have a deep faith in God. When we’ve done all we can, we know that He is there to do what we can’t. The key is that sometimes God’s answer to prayer comes dressed up in hard work and or effort. God does not reward laziness! My constant prayer for a long time has been and is, is that God would go before us and prepare the way for whatever is ahead of us … He has not failed us yet, nor do I expect Him to.
I have been young and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. Psalm 37:25 ESV
We do not allow fear to paralyze us.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 ESV
We accept that we might have to learn to live without some things or make substitutions. Hard times or not, this is life … it’s called adulting!
We accept that right now, this is the way things are. A poem/quote by Amy Carmichael is a great reminder … In Acceptance Lieth Peace!
We make this journey as fun and enjoyable as we can … yes, even in the hard times! We have a good life and do things we enjoy within the confines of our budget, again … even in the hard times.
Little did that young girl know all those years ago when she commented on what I was wearing that her actions would set the stage for an education in frugality that would serve me well. I am so thankful, what she meant for harm turned out to be for my good and hopefully for the good of others as I share and teach.
I hope there has been something here that will help you in such a time as this.
patsi @ a working pantry