You Can Make a Go of It with Less
“HOW can we make a go of it?” That is the concern of many as they see the purchasing power of their dollar, franc, mark or peso shrinking. It is also the concern of the many who are faced with employment problems due to the economic recessions taking place in various parts of the world. Some have had to content themselves with lower-paying jobs. Others are having temporary periods of unemployment. With others their workweek has been curtailed. Many others are wholly unemployed.
As a result ever so many people have had to make a go of it with less. The greatest help in this matter may well be to get the right mental attitude toward your changed circumstances. The Bible’s advice is most fitting: ‘It is a means of great gain, this godly devotion along with contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having food and covering, we shall be content with these things.’—1 Tim. 6:6-8.
Helpful also to making a go of it with less is for you not to be unduly concerned with what your neighbors think. True, neighbors may notice your adopting a more modest way of life, but the sooner you get free from this form of bondage (worry over what your neighbors think), the better it will be for you. Neighbors will have their opinions, but they will not help you to pay your bills. Getting rid of that fear will also help you to be more readily reconciled to getting along with less. As the Bible warns, the fear of what people think is actually a snare.—Prov. 29:25.
Another great aid is learning to be ever more practical. Vanity and sentimentality often influence people against their better judgment. But when you need to get along with less you cannot afford to let such luxuries as sentimentality or vanity make you imprudent. Nor can you let impulse or whims dictate your purchases. Take a hardheaded business approach when spending your money.
There Is the Matter of Food
Since with most people having modest incomes the single biggest cost item is food, it would be well worth while for them to learn to make a go of it with less in this respect. Bear in mind that we eat to live; we should not live to eat.
Nutritionists by and large agree that most people in Western lands eat too much. Moderation in eating would certainly affect a family’s economy. It is also good economy to eat all leftovers instead of throwing them away. Another aid is getting used to plain foods. These will help you not to overeat, will cost less and are better for you. For example, baked potatoes are among the best foods you can eat and they excel over French fried potatoes on all three points—you are less likely to overeat, they are more wholesome and they are also more economical.
There is also the wisdom of contenting oneself with foods when they are in season or when they are specially priced low. Thus bananas are at times priced at a fraction of their regular cost. Early in the season asparagus costs two to three times as much as it does later on. Why not wait until the price comes down?
Two costly items are butter and meat. According to some authorities, margarine made wholly of unsaturated fats, such as corn oil, is far better for you than butter, and it costs far less. What about meat? You can benefit both your health and your pocketbook by letting dairy dishes, eggs, legumes and fish replace, at least in part, meat on your table. Milk in the big cities continues to rise in cost. Why not learn to use powdered milk? This can effect a considerable saving.
As for the starches and sugars—here also you can benefit your financial and your physical condition. Make frequent use of unpolished rice, barley (in soups) and old-fashioned oatmeal. And do you really need to have desserts every day? Cutting down on them can be good for your pocketbook and oftentimes also for your health and figure!
Saving on Clothing
There is also the matter of saving on clothing. It is not economical to try to keep up closely with the styles. The purpose of the style makers is to keep people buying clothes all the time. A time-honored rule is: “Do not be the first to adopt the new nor the last to drop the old.”
Here again one’s mental attitude will have a great deal to do with how well one makes a go of it with less. Pertinent is the counsel of Jesus Christ that we be not unduly anxious about our clothing.—Matt. 6:28-30.
The cost of clothing can be reduced if the housewife knows how, or learns how, to make her own clothes as well as those of her children, and if she trains her daughters to acquire the same skills. Some wives even make their husbands’ suits!
Very practical from an economic standpoint is the advice given by the apostle Paul as to clothing. He counsels that women should dress modestly. And to the same effect the apostle Peter says that wives should be more concerned with “the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit” than with stylish clothes, striking jewelry and fancy hairdos or wigs. In fact, it might be said that the more attention you pay to the inward adornment, the less important the outer adornment will seem to be.—1 Tim. 2:9, 10; 1 Pet. 3:2-6.
Other Ways to Cut Down on Expenses
One of the greatest aids in making a go of it with less is to keep a record of your expenses. Often it is the careless spending of many small amounts that plays havoc with your efforts to live within your reduced income. It may prove to be a real challenge, but if you or your family really try to record all purchases for a month, it may well prove to be both revealing and very helpful in cutting down on unnecessary expenses.
How so? In that it will give you an idea of just where your money is going and just where savings could best be effected. You might like to compare your budget with that reported by the United States government agency regarding low-income people, namely, 35 percent for food, 25 percent for housing, 15 percent for clothing and the remaining 25 percent for transportation, health, recreation, charity and religion.
Furniture is still another field in which you can make a go of it with less. Use care to keep what you have in good repair and looking fine. For example, you can cover scratches in various ways, such as rubbing them with walnut meats. And when you need furniture, used furniture often will do just as well or even better than something new. Bargains can sometimes be found in the classified columns of the newspaper. New York city has two weeklies, Buy-Lines and The Selling Post, that consist of nothing but classified advertising of things individuals want to sell, such as furniture, autos, TVs or musical instruments.
Another way to economize is to watch your telephone bills. Especially do teenagers like to do a lot of visiting by phone. It all adds up fast! Long-distance calls are also a luxury that you might indulge in rather infrequently so as to economize. There seems to be no reason why a family with an average income should have monthly telephone bills nearing or exceeding the $100 mark; yet some do.
Doing without until you are able to pay cash for things is still another important way to save. This not only saves interest charges but may gain you a reduction in price because you pay cash instead of asking for credit.
Credit cards and charge accounts can be a real threat to your economy. It is a well-known fact that people spend more by means of these conveniences than when they pay cash. Where either husband or wife is prone to do impulsive or sentimental purchasing, it is well before leaving to shop to make out a carefully thought-out list, and not to take along more money than is actually needed. In some homes the husband and wife may even decide to go shopping together, since two heads are better than one when making purchases.
There is also the matter of using common sense when you begin to feel ill. Often merely getting more rest and cutting down on one’s food will tide one over. But the person who runs to the doctor with every minor ill keeps both his body and his pocketbook weak.
Are there still other ways to make a go of it with less? Yes, when it comes to entertainment and vacations. There are many kinds of entertainment, relaxation or recreation that cost comparatively little, if anything, such as a visit to the park, zoo or museum. In times past, families used to enjoy evenings together playing games, singing songs, playing musical instruments. How much better to be participants in wholesome recreation than merely spectators!
Approaching this problem of economy need not be viewed with sadness or grimness. Rather, meet it with a sense of humor. View it as a game, a challenge that is rewarding in more ways than one. Cutting down on the frivolous, the trite, the nonessential leaks in the money bag will leave you with more to spend on the essential things, on those that bring real benefits to your household.