A little of what? you may ask, and quite rightly so. Well, a little of everything is the answer, because the bottom line is, we can quite easily do with less, and so make anything go further, thus saving money. This is not a new concept, quite the contrary. I can share real, personal experiences from a 1950s childhood that supports this idea. It might also give readers food for thought that will bring their own saving inventive strategies into play. I hope so.
Bearing in mind that the first stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that physiological comfort is necessary before we can progress up the ladder to self-realization, it might be a good idea to start with food. There is no doubt that we eat too much, as obesity figures prove, and also waste too much. So let us look at ways to make a little go a long way.
FOOD: People now have less money to spend on food, but have to eat and maybe feed a family. Meat costs considerably more than pasta, potatoes, rice and vegetables. So stretch it by making interesting vegetable sauces, great piles of pasta and some protein like ham, bacon, chicken or tuna. I remember how a joint of beef would be cooked for Sunday roast dinner, then served cold with salad or french fries and vegetables on Monday. On Tuesday, the remainder of the meat would be minced, mixed with chopped carrot, onion and a stock cube, topped with mashed potato, cooked in the oven and served with more vegetables and gravy (Good Old English Shepherd’s Pie). So a joint of beef could go a long way in feeding a family. Or huge great thick pancakes would be made on the griddle, then each person got a couple of slices of bacon, some tomatoes and mushrooms and maybe baked beans; a good tasty meal that did not cost a lot.
CLOTHING is such a personal thing, we all like to buy what defines our style. With a discerning eye and some common sense, there is a lot of pleasure to be had from swapping and sharing, once again, making things go further. This worked really well for me an my circle of friends when we were young mothers, and no reason why it should not work again. With children’s clothes, it is even easier. Think how fast babies and children grow. Instead of putting all the clothes in the charity bag, a good thing in itself, share them around first. Babies and toddlers neither know nor care, so long as they are comfortable.
OTHER LITTLE THINGS THAT GO A LONG WAY: Back during WW2, and right after, in the UK, women became the greatest inventors of stretching a little to go a long way. I remember cool linen sheets on my bed – they were made from very neatly stitched together flour bags that my grandmother got from her job at the mill. Torn sheets can be cut, turned around, hemmed and joined again. Towels can be hemmed or made into smaller towels or face cloths. Old tee shirts make fine dusters and floor-cloths. If only we stopped throwing things away and saw their potential to take on another role, and to extend their usefulness. Be a champion saver and share your ideas. Don’t forget the thrift shops – I have had some wonderful items from them, including toys, books and even a designer jacket for a very small amount of money.
SAVING ENERGY: You can make best use of your oven by baking cakes, pies, flans or cookies while roasting meat. You can save time and energy by cooking some things in the microwave first then finishing them off in the oven. You can even put three vegetables to cook in one saucepan, using just enough water to cover them, saving energy again. Only ever boil enough water in the kettle to meet your drinking needs. If you are making two cups of tea, why fill it right up? You can always make sure to turn out unnecessary lights, to turn down the heating by just a few degrees. As a child, we had an electricity meter that took coins. When we had no money, we lit candles to read by, put a little extra coal on the fire and were fine. Candles are nice, they add such a warm glow to everything and they are cheaper than electricity. Little things to do, all reducing fuel bills and stretching a little a long way.
Think of our pioneering ancestors, those who had so little but made it stretch to meet their needs. They were brave and inventive, and they survived, otherwise we would not be here to tell the tale. If you take a look at what you buy, then at what you really need, and consider how to make things work harder for you, stretching them to the limits of your imagination, yes indeed, you can save money and know that a little goes a long way.