Saturday, September 8, 2012

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without

Dear friends,

Many years ago, I wrote a section in my book The Real Life Home School Mom about saving money.  Here is a tiny excerpt:

Whatever your expenses are, you can put your stewardship, diligence, wisdom, and creativity to work! Grandma always said, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!”
  • Avoid eating out or using expensive convenience foods very often.
  • When running errands, bring food and drinks with you in an insulated bag.
  • Cancel subscriptions which encourage a materialistic lifestyle.
  • Make your own gifts, greeting cards, decorations, and entertainment.
  • Cut your children's hair and learn how to repair clothing and household items.
  • To save on labor costs, ask friends to help with big projects or barter your skills.
  • Use garage sales and consignment stores to buy and sell.
  • Organize your home to avoid replacing lost items.
  • Borrow seldom used items.
  • Shop around! If you take your time, you can usually find the best deal.
  • Alert friends to your upcoming purchases so they can keep an eye out.
  • Choose items which are versatile enough for many purposes and seasons.

I'm thinking of a few ways I've been able to do this recently around the house.

Lamp, straightened
Lamp, crooked
Today I bought a vintage lamp at a neighbor's yard sale for only $5.  The only problem is that it seemed to sit crooked on my desk (see right) due to a defect in the glass part of the base.  Fortunately, I was able to level it by propping up two of the feet with packets made from a matching color of scrapbooking paper. Can you tell the difference? I had been looking for a pretty desk lamp at Goodwill, and I'm glad I found this one even closer to home.

Brown paper squares
Folded up to make levelers

I use a rolling ice chest as my book cart to tote my English class materials to our home school co-op on Mondays. Unfortunately, the padded nylon cover ripped and was falling off.  I also had a shirt that was stained near the neckline, so I cut the shirt just below the arms and slipped the tube of fabric over the book cart as a new cover.  I tucked the top edge over a piece of elastic cord tied around the cart. The bottom of the shirt was already hemmed.  Then I made a front sign by printing my name on yellow card stock, attaching a post card, slipping it into a plastic page protector, and attaching it to the fabric with safety pins.  It's still not all that pretty, but better than it was!  It's a way to use something for a different purpose than its original design, as well as repair something that can still be used.

Tucking fabric into elastic

What Do You Stand For?
Some of the character qualities:
 empathy, honesty, purpose,
wisdom, courage, cooperation...
I bought this card at the
U.S. Holocaust Museum.
It communicates what
I want to teach.

So I don't have to bring my whole purse with me on Mondays, I bought a small velvet satchel at Goodwill for $2.99 -- just big enough for the essentials. I can drop it right into my book cart or take it out when I need to leave the room for lunch.  I've been using it a lot lately on errands, too.

Against the Tide by Miroslav Volf
and Embracing the Love of God
by James Bryan Smith
I love to read, but I don't have the space or money to be buying new books all the time.  I brought in a whole bunch of books we weren't using anymore and traded them for store credit at Brightlight, my favorite used bookstore.  Then I bought two books and a movie -- with no cash needed -- and I still have credit left over.  Double win!  We also bought a lot of used curriculum on-line this year, such as at eBay, Amazon, and  This was definitely a case of shopping around for the best deals.

Add to the Beauty
by Sara Groves

My beloved iPod Touch fell on the floor at the pet store a couple of weeks ago and the screen shattered.  It would have cost almost $100 to replace.  Fortunately, I remembered that the person who gave it to me had bought an extended warranty with accident coverage.  I took it in to Best Buy and they gave me a brand new (and improved) iPod.  I also had a problem with my laptop recently, but it's under warranty too, so I was able to get the help I needed to completely reset it with another trip to the Geek Squad folks at Best Buy.  Now, as I'm typing this blog post, I'm also reloading all of my music onto my laptop and iPod from my CD collection, much of it bought at Brightlight.  Two of my daughters also gave me iTunes gift cards for my birthday -- an excellent choice since digital music and apps don't take space on my shelves and I can choose what I want!  I save more by only buying individual songs if I don't want a whole album.  Among other things, my husband gave me a CD called All That I Am by Annie Herring, who was one of my favorite artists in the 1980's. (Do you remember the Second Chapter of Acts band?  That was Annie and her brother and sister!)  I'm listening to it right now!  

Another of my daughters, after reading my blog post in which I mentioned a quote I had seen about books, hired my friend Taraleigh Davis of Inspired. Simply. Etsy (see also on FB at Inspired. Simply) to design this print with it.   My photo doesn't do it justice at all.  I'm sure you could order the same one from her if you like it, or tell her what you want on yours.  She does custom orders!

This daughter also gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers in a mason jar.  She used these jars as lemonade and tea glasses at her country style wedding reception last year.  Very stylish!

Boneless beef ribs
My husband grilled a delicious (belated) birthday dinner for me tonight. He found boneless beef ribs half price at Aldi today, and I bought a tray of baklava half price there the other day.  Yummy food!  Both of our married daughters, a son-in-law, and two grandsons came over so we had a very nice time. 

As a little bonus to this blog post, a song from the CD I just got:

Virginia Knowles

This post will be linked on: 

Raising Homemakers 


Domestically Divine Tuesday


1 comment:

  1. Grace, your husband is so awesome! My husband would have no idea what to do with those ribs!

    Your frugal ideas are excellent and inspiring. I love how you have made-do with imperfect things, propping or covering them up until they work well for your purposes. I had a little bag similar to yours that I grab with essentials, then someone gave me a hand-me-down one that is actually designed better, but it smells musty. I think I might be allergic to that mustiness (maybe mildew?), and so I have to go back to the other one that is worn and old. I think I will prowl Goodwill for an alternative, though, because I like the basic idea of a bag within a bag with just the bare bones.

    Great ideas! And a belated Happy Birthday to you!!