When Scott and I were first married times were lean. And no, I don't mean we were skinnier. Even though we were. I mean lean as in money was tight. We owned a construction company. We had employees and we paid their health insurance. So each week we paid the bills. Lumber companies, subcontractors, our workers. Monthly we paid the mortgage, insurance and basic utilities. Many times there wasn't much if anything left over. Suddenly paper towels and Kleenex were not so important. You can always blow your nose in toilet tissue and tear up some old tshirts for rags. I became the master at food creations with cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups. Don't even get me started on what I can do with Ramen Noodles.
We tried to not turn the heat on until the end of October. And when it was turned on we tried to keep the temperature as low as possible. An extra sweater, an afghan, cuddle time---it was all good. We never turned down our parent's invitations to come over for dinner. And somehow our moms always sent us home with wonderful leftovers. We made homemade candles in jam jars and tied a little bit of twine around them for gifts at Christmastime. We held a few back for ourselves and were able to keep the lights on in the house to a minimum. We still managed to entertain. My godfather had sent us two cases of wine for our wedding. One red and one white. We kept a change jar in the kitchen and would cash it in when it was full. I took the money and bought blocks of cheese, paper plates, napkins and cups. We had a bunch of sausage in the freezer. Ta da! We had a wine and cheese party for thirty people. And we still had wine to spare.
Eating out wasn't an option. At least not often. We bought 75 cent shampoo and reused coffee grounds. We would make a full pot of coffee in the morning. Later we would add a couple of scoops to the used ones and get a pot of coffee that would taste just as good. Cable t.v.? No way. Movie rentals on the two for a dollar night. I rigged up a clothes line in the basement and Scott hooked one up for me outside for nice weather days. We took our cans in for cash. Rummage sales. You bet. Had them and shopped them.
Times were lean. They were also good. We had a clear set of priorities. We didn't waste. We rarely wanted. We had shelter, food and other basic necessities. More importantly we had each other. We had our family. We had our health. Time has passed. We have more money. And yes, we have more things. Not too many, though. But we still have our priorities. We still have our family. Sometimes it's good to remind ourselves of the lean times. It's a great way to remember that life was good then and that it is still good. And remembering some of the cost cutting tips, that's helpful, too.
©2010 Ann M. De Broux