It is no longer polite to say, “ poor”. The politically correct term is “financially challenged”. Our family of eight spent five years in Bible college, and then six years in the hollars of Kentucky. We were “Dirt Poor Challenged!” I learned a few tips on how to squeeze a dollar, stretch a nickel, and twist a paycheck until it screamed for mercy. Here are my top fifty tips for you to try…
1. Drink only water.
2. Only serve pan cooked oatmeal for breakfast.
3. Make PB & apple butter sandwiches for lunch. Sprinkle wheat germ on the peanut butter. Throw a piece a fruit in the bag and you are done.
4. Make homemade bread, corn bread, or biscuits to accompany dinner.
5. Use dark loose leaf lettuce with shredded carrots for a salad each dinner.
6. Desserts are only to be served on church days.
7. NO NO NO snacks at all except crackers. (see below)
8. Keep a gallon of water and a box of crackers in the car in case you or your kids get hungry, because there is NO EATING OUT! Learn to make pizza, hamburgers, and French fries at home!
9. Pray and claim verses about God’s provision. Pray for specific items of need.
10. Remember that potatoes and eggs are great food values.
11. Grow a garden. Why not use the entire yard? Who needs grass?
12. You can make just as many memories in a small home as a large home.
Live where it is EASILY affordable.
13. Cut your family’s hair.
14. Keep clothing minimal, neat, clean, and pressed. Only buy items that are
15. Wash all clothing in cold water.
16. Make homemade cleaners. There are web sites and books devoted to this subject.
17. Run errands once a week to save on fuel.
18. Carpool when possible.
19. Use the libraries resources for your entertainment. Read more, and listen to old radio programs on CD’s.
20. Cancel your cable service.
21. Keep your receipts organized so they are handy for returns, adjustments, and tax time. Also, pay your bills on time to avoid late fees.
22. Each year, shop around for lower insurance rates. Call your agent first and let him know you are ‘looking’.
23. Hang out your laundry to dry.
24. Walk anywhere that is within 2 miles.
25. Make homemade items for gifts. Soup mixes or cookie jar mixes are real pleasers. So are family photos. Knit or crochet matching scarves for the entire family.
26. Reassess your Christmas gift giving, set a small budget and stick to it. Our family just started the tradition of going to a very nice restaurant “Dutch Treat”. We had our own private room, enjoyed a great meal, laughed, and had a super time. We did this in lieu of exchanging gifts.
27. Tithes and offerings are a MUST!
28. Use lower wattage light bulbs.
29. Reuse the paper sack from your child’s lunch. We once had a sack last almost the entire school year. My children even collect sacks from their friends who were going to toss them.
30. Don’t waste any food. Freeze random bread items to make stuffing or bread pudding. Freeze leftover veggies for soup. Foods made from scratch cost less.
31. Buy ‘pump’ soaps and shampoos so extra is not wasted.
32. Seal and caulk your windows and doors for winter. Home Improvement stores sell sheets of plastic that go over your windows. We about shrink wrapped our little farm house.
33. Limit the number of ‘dry clean only’ garments.
34. Brush and floss- it will save $$ in the long run.
35. Dry your clothing over the heat registers during the winter (drape them over chairs)
36. Keep the family in the same room and only use the lights in that room. Not only will you be saving on electricity, you will be bonding with your loved ones. Keep the bedrooms for sleeping.
37. Turn on only ONE television or music device at a time for the entire family to enjoy.
38. Wear warm sweaters during the winter and keep the thermostat set low.
39. Turn down the thermostat on your water heater.
40. Buy enough school supplies for the year during the fall when they are less expensive.
41. Make your meal menus after looking at the sale papers, then check for any coupons online. Finally- stick to the list!
42. Sell your gently used items on eBay, a resale shop, or yard sale.
43. Take day trips instead of overnight vacations. Visit state parks, historic sites, or interesting retail stores. Most museums and zoos have ‘free days’. Pack a picnic, bring your camera, and have fun.
44. Read frugal themed books. Your local library will have a few, and there are many blogs and web site devoted to this topic.
45. Teach your children to only put dirty clothing in the hamper. Wash FULL loads with the proper amount of soap. (you actually can get by with much less unless the clothing is very, very dirty)
46. Do your own pedicures and manicures- not as fun, but it gets the job done.
47. Keep a change jar in plain sight so everyone in the family can contribute.
48. Start a “Hand-Me-Down” exchange at your church. Everyone brings in their families out- grown garments, and you all swap and get new clothing. Do this twice a year. Set up tables for specific sizes and genders. You can do this with toys, CD’s and DVD’s, too.
49. Dilute milk and juice with at least a cup or two of water to extend it.
50. Get rid of all the bells and whistles on your cell phone.
Bonus Tip: Smile, sing, and thank God for meeting your families needs.