October 09, 2008

The New Reality

The economy. Oh my! Aren't you just tired of it? Talking about it, thinking about it, living with it? Some things around The Cottage Nest are changing, just as I'm sure some things around your nest are changing too. We're getting back to basics, focusing on the simple pleasures and giving thanks for what we have.

You may think your dollar can't go far these days but I'm here to tell you that you're wrong. Witness this giant chalkboard I picked up last week at a garage sale for $1. This small investment will provide hours of fun for Emma and her friends & will encourage their imaginations too.

Here are some of my ideas for living in the new reality.
For Kids:
Cut back on extracurricular activities and instead encourage kids to be kids. Kids need to know that the entire family needs to sacrifice for the greater good. Schedule more playdates, let kids use their imagination, go to the library, read with them, play games and cards with your kids, let them be bored sometimes. It's good for them. Teach them to conserve and recycle. Make an art project with recycled items, puppets out of socks, musical instruments out of empty containers. Teach them to sew with your scraps. Teach them to turn off lights and electronics when they leave a room. Have a jar that everyone in the family has to put a quarter in if they don't turn off a light when they leave a room. Kids love to catch their siblings & parents doing something they shouldn't.

For Adults:
Check out movies from the library for free or borrow from neighbors who have DVD's you haven't seen. For an inexpensive date, go have coffee at a bookstore and browse the magazines and talk. Go for a walk. Spread a blanket out in the backyard and snuggle and look at the stars. Sit on the patio after the kids go to bed and talk about your dreams. Have friends over for a potluck meal. If you don't have the money and it's not an emergency, for the love of Pete, don't buy it. Make a realistic budget.

Coupons. Store brands. Shop the sales. Stock up when it's on sale so that you don't have to pay full price. Plan your menu's according to the sales and what you have in your pantry. Bake & cook from scratch. Brown bag it. Make extra and have it for lunch the next day or make another meal out of the leftovers, like chicken quesidillas with the leftover roasted chicken. Pay with cash, it hurts more and you will give your purchases more thought. Group errands by location to save time and gas.

I grew up poor so these habits are easier for me, but I know it can be hard for people who are used to not worrying about what they spend. I'd love to hear how you're saving money.


  1. I have been thinking about all of these things lately as well. Out of everything bad comes something good and I think this will be a great lesson for many! My kids didn't take it too well the first few times I said no but now they seem to have made a game out of finding a way to save and entertain themselves on less $. I had always been an avid coupon user but got lazy during the "good" years...I am back to using them and really watching the sales.

  2. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I'm so glad to see your post, especially the section about kids - all good advice whether we are in a bad economony OR NOT. (just my not-so-humble opinion lol)

    Laura xxx

  3. Oops I just noticed I typed 'economy' wrong in my post above...maybe a freudian slip, as the way I spelled it the ending sounds like "money" haha!

  4. Amen!!! :) I loved all your ideas for living a more frugal life. some I already do but some were new ideas too, thanks for the reminder and inspiration.

  5. These are great tips! Yay for frugality! (Is that a word?)

  6. These are all great ideas. Two of the ways my husband and I save money are SO easy to do, but are surprisingly underutilized!

    1) We don't have cable TV.
    2) We pack our lunches for work!

  7. Yes, there are ways to economize! Love yard sales. A very small way that I economize: if you buy boxed cold ceareal (like Cheerios), I use the inside plastic wrapper for freezer wrap when I am wrapping ground beef, for instance. Just fold them over and use a rubber band, or use a twist-tie to close them. They are nice, heavy-duty plastic. Save up the cardboard outer box for scooping cat poop from the litter box. I have enough cereal boxes that I can have a fresh one each day and take it outside to the trash. Little things add up.

  8. Love this post! This is definitely on all of our minds lately. I posted about ways to save money and loved learning from all of the responses, so I am going to subscribe the comments you receive to this post :)

    I have switched over to Dollar Tree fabric softener and dishwashing detergent with no noticable difference at all.

    Great post!


  9. Frugality breeds creativity, right? Thank you for the good reminders!

    My hubs takes his lunch every day and that is a huge money saver. We also have our mortgage payment deducted bi-weekly which means we make an extra house payment a year (knocking years off our mortgage).

    I look forward to reading the other comments.

  10. You are speaking my language! I love your ideas :)

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  12. Great post! We have been doing quesadillas on Mondays 'forever' using our Sunday leftovers. Last week I even got "Do we have to have quesadillas again?" I am trying to use coupons more since I kind of slacked off. Thanks for some good ideas.

  13. We have struggled even through the good times. We went from 2 incomes to 1 so that we could be home with the kids.
    It is amazing how creative you can become when you have to.
    Plan play dates, have a potluck so no one has to spend all the money on food.
    Spend more time playing board games, coloring and the simple things. Really material things do not matter as much as TIME!

  14. What a deal ...a buck can go a long way! I'm just trying to squeeze every penny out of every dollar. ...having extra folks in the house has been a difficult challenge these days! Thanks for your wonderful ideas and thoughts! I'm totally trying to be more fugal and thinking why haven't I've been doing this all along.

  15. Great ideas for the kids. We have been having the money conversations every nite. We have switched to paying all cash for everything.
    I am cooking and baking more than ever. All Christmas gifts will be handmade this year - strip quilts, homemade granola in pretty glass jars, chocolate biscotti etc., We pack our lunches, I make banana oatmeal bread for our morning snacks at work instead of buying muffins, and - bring the kids clothes to upscale consignment store - then I get to shop for them for free in return!

  16. Hey Girly!
    That chalkboard is a doll. I was the lucky recipient of a giant vintage (slate) school chalkboard, It HAS made hours of fun for the kidlets, your other ideas are perfect, too.
    Skeery time, not just because of halloween, We are all in this together!
    from the beach!
    coastal nest

  17. we are living that way all our lives, not that we really have to, but rather because we can and will - it just earned me the comment that I am a cheapa**-but only because alot of those folks have not woken up yet...

  18. i have always live a conservetive life-money wise- from choice. good for the body and the earth. also good for the creative mind. you can't buy a life style, you must create it from the heart. and i get great insperation from blogs like yours!

  19. I TOTALLY agree with you Jen!! 100%!! It's so true about kids and overscheduling. I'm a TRUE believer that kids NEED down time. I limit their extracirricular activities and they go outside and PLAY! Kids NEED that! And they are healthier, sleep better and slew of other good things!
    I love being frugal and I think everyone should be whether they need to be or not! I love the blackboard you picked up! Those are the things I LOVE finding! You did good! :)

  20. Great post, Jen! And I really appreciate your positive attitude, too. I love reading post with solutions instead of name calling. Thank you for being such a great person!
    ~Angela :-)

  21. Ok...I'll be perfectly honest. I just stopped at the blackboard.


    Ok, ok...good tips too. But I LOVE the blackboard!

  22. Great ideas. I grew up without much, too, but I got a little spendy during the past few years. It's good to get back to a little frugality and appreciation for money. Nice lesson for the kiddos, too. :-)


  23. We cut back on our tv subscription...use the library...which we do anyways..rent movies and music there too. We stay home more...if you stay home you can't buy anything...it works..you are not as tempted. cherry

  24. The movie swap idea is great Jen. We made a list of our movies and swap with hubby's fellow employees. My husband works at a very large facility and several have made similar lists. Once a week hubby brings home a couple lists and we pick what we want to see. It's really great!

  25. Jenn, I LOVED this post! I don't want to get rolling on politics, but I will just say that while the big rollers are certainly at fault in this scenario, the everyday person is going to have to own up for a big part of the mess, too. Greed, keeping up with the Joneses, confusing wants with needs...it's all part of it.

    I'm no saint, but like you, Jenn, I grew up basically living the way you outline. I would dare say the majority of folks our age did. We learned how to entertain ourselves, we learned the value of a dollar, and we learned that happiness isn't found at the shopping mall. Well, okay, it might be found at Pottery Barn! ;-) But you know what I mean.

    In the end, no one wants to live like a monk, but we also need to focus on priorities. As the Dalai Lama would say, it's all about the Middle Way. Balance. Moderation. Focusing on what truly brings happiness.

    If you do that, it doesn't mean you'll be immune to the turmoil of the world, but I do think you will find ways to be happy despite them...ways that are much more enduring and rewarding than the Dow! :-)

  26. I am so glad you visited my blog because I was able to find yours. Love this post. I agree totally and was raised the same. I will be back to visit. I am slowly changing my home into the "cottage" look and will find tons of inspiration from your beautiful blog. Karol :0)

  27. These things are on the brain of all Americans right now. It is nice to get everyone's tips and opinions. I love your blog and I hope you will visit mine! I just went private, so if you would like an invite please email me at lcgpreppy@gmail.com

  28. Wonderful post -- lots of great ideas!!

  29. Great tips. It somehow makes this credit crunch seem more manageable knowing that we are all feeling it no matter where we are in the World and that everyone is facing the same day to day challenges. I must admit that we don't normally worry about what we spend but I just lost my job on Friday so we're definitely going to have to start being creative with the money saving.

  30. Thank you for your awareness and creative ideas. Crazy times we live in for sure - I'm definitely rethinking a lot of things!


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