Saturday, February 28, 2009

Investing In What Matters Pt. 1 - Guest Post by Lyn


From Manuela: I have a special treat for everyone today! A guest post by Lyn, who is a reader of this blog. She always leaves such informative and inspiring comments that I asked her if she would be interested in guest posting as she no longer has a blog herself. Lucky for us she said yes!

I am clearly not speaking of the stock market (I’m sure many of you don’t want to talk about that anyway). These days are not the worst that they could be (it might feel that way to some), nor are they the best. Many of us are finding ourselves pinched more than ever. If you weren’t frugal before, perhaps you are becoming frugal now. If you were frugal already, then you know your game just went up a few notches higher.


Personally I have been frugal my entire life, mostly out of necessity. I have never really had a lot of money or fluff in my life, but I consider that to be a blessing in some ways. It makes me grateful for all that I do have. My husband and I are living on a very modest budget right now of about $25K net. I never mind to share about this (nor does he) because in reality it can help other people in similar circumstances. It can also help those who don’t feel that living on such a budget is a real possibility in life. We live in a modular home (aka nicer single-wide mobile home). We have an older vehicle that has seen many better days. We have enough of what we need though, and are blessed with a little extra too.


With the challenges so many of us face these days, it is easy to get discouraged. I also think during times of duress people tend to want to spend more or to shop more. Of course there is nothing wrong with this if one is truly able to afford these expenditures, but when you are on a tight budget, you really need to count the cost before doing so.


What are some ways that cost little money yet bring a lot of joy to us? Even if your money investments are not holding up so well right now, here are a few ideas for investing of another kind. Since this is a series of three posts, we are going to look at three different areas that we can invest in that don’t take much money. The area we will look at this week is:


Invest In Your Home


When life is stressful, it’s important that we all have a place of comfort to come home to at the end of the day. Even if you are at home full-time, you don’t need or want to be stressed out while you are there either.


1)Make you home feel cozy and welcoming. Even if you’re living on a tight budget it costs nothing to rearrange your furniture and belongings for a new look. You don’t have to have the nicest furniture or fancy adornments to make your home feel welcoming. A throw over the couch or chair will invite someone to take a rest for themselves. If things are worn, you can cover them up. A little paint doesn’t cost much to renew a piece of wood furniture or your walls. You can hang pictures with frames you already own – and use anything from calendar pages to beautiful cards that you already have on hand. You could also buy a few new towels. New towels always cheer me up, whether it’s a new set for the kitchen or new bath towels. Look for them on sale of course. I find that JC Penney has a nice quality bath towel for not a lot of money, and they hold up well.


I love how Manuela can decorate on a dime and that she repurposes items in her home. She shows great examples all the time of how a little paint can give belongings new life. Even if you can’t spend much money on decorating right now, you can change out what items you do have to give you a fresh perspective and uplift your mood. All you need is a little creativity, and if you are creatively-challenged, look at some magazines or magazine sites online for free ideas.


2) Keep it clean, organized and repaired Nothing says love like a home that is nurtured and cared for. It is easy to feel stressed when the home is not clean or is not in order. Focus on a few main rooms (especially those that everyone uses regularly) and keep them neat and clean. At the very least keep one main room in order that everyone spends time in so there is a good place to relax and wind down at the end of the day. You don’t have to be perfect here, just make progress as you can. Also, try to fix things as they come up - before they get worse. I am the least technical person ever, but I’ve managed to learn a few minor things just by researching online. Home repairs can be expensive, so focus on what is important. It’s not always easy to save up for such things when the budget is tight. You can only do the best that you can, otherwise let it go and don’t lose sleep over it.


When it comes to organizing, something we all know is that being organized will save you money. I love organizing magazines, but honestly I cannot afford more for the containers than what I paid for inside of the containers! You can find inexpensive bins, baskets, wire organizers and plastic containers at many dollar stores, discount stores, and even yard sales or thrift stores. I have gotten baskets for as little as .25 at thrift stores before. I also use other items to organize things like a hanging sweater shelf unit, part of a dresser (1/2 of my dresser has clothes, the other half has office supplies). Be creative and look for other uses of what you already have. There is no need to spend a lot of money to get organized.


I had the privilege of attending an Emilie Barnes home seminar when I lived in California quite a few years ago. I was very impressed with how organized her home was. In her clothes closet were beautifully-wrapped shoe boxes that held her shoes. She took something simple and made it quite lovely. Here’s a wonderful lady that could probably afford any type of organizers. She showed me that beauty does not necessarily equal money spent. Sometimes the prettiest things don’t cost anything much at all.


3) Buy or make cleaners that are green and friendly to your health. I have homemade spray cleaners made up of ½ vinegar and ½ water with some essential oils in them. A small bottle of essential oil will go a very long way. I use these often to wipe down things or even to clean my floors with. When I do have a little bit of extra money I buy Method products, which are earth-friendly and are healthy (reasonably priced at Target). Seventh Generation is another good brand (also at Target). When I clean my home, it gives me joy to use products I really like.


4) Plant a garden, even if it's a small one. It’s that time of year for many to start thinking about planning a garden. If you are south or west you are probably already doing this. I live in New England and our planting season does not start until May. However, I’m still planning for it now. With the challenges of the economy, more people will start to garden this year more than ever before. So plan now and shop early for what you will need. It’s an easy way to save money on the food bill.




Raised bed & container veggie garden

Personally I do container gardening as that is what has worked best for me after several attempts of ground gardening. It is very easy to grow herbs and greens. It is virtually effortless! It is not much more trouble to do other plants as well. All you need is a plan, time, a small amount of money, patience and a little reading up on the subject will benefit you too. This investment will come back to you many times over, and best of all you will know what is in your food.


5)Make your yard a pleasant place. Does your yard need a little help? It’s always more pleasant to be at home when our surroundings make us smile. If your yard is full of weeds, dead grass and leaves and doesn’t make you smile, you’ll probably be pretty tempted to get out of the house often just to get away. Even just a bit of tidying up will make you happy when you look out the window. If you have children, let them help you in this project. When it’s prettied up a bit you can even think about adding a few inexpensive flowers or plants or perhaps you can invest in some outdoor furniture or even a picnic table. It’s not necessary though to spend much money in order to make it neat and tidy. Make it a place that you will look forward to going to visit each day – your own personal nature retreat.


Next time we will look at some ways that you can “Invest In Your Family”. Have a lovely week!



Lyn is a homemaker who strives for a frugal and simple life. She’s a student of life who learns everyday and will continue to do so. She’s also thankful that she can write this while looking out her window, admiring the trees and listening to the rain.


38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice post. I will be back to read the others!

Melinda

Shay said...

Great Job! and thank you for your sincerity!

Glenda/MidSouth said...

A lot of good ideas. I agree completely with with the part about if your physical invironment (such as your home) is clean and in order, it makes it easier to deal with the stressful things going on in your life.
Hope you are having a great weekend.
Glenda

Heather said...

great post. wonderful tips! i will be checking back for future investing posts!

Emily@remodelingthislife said...

Nice post! Thanks for sharing - it's always nice to see others embracing a life of simplicity.

Lyn said...

Thank you for the nice comments, everyone and for taking the time to read my post. Thank you, Manuela :) for giving me the opportunity to share.

Debbie J. said...

Lyn, this is very well written and informative. You make me want to get my home in order and make it a haven right away! I love to read Emilie Barnes' books and would have loved to attend that seminar! Some of the organizing I have been doing are utilitarian, but I realize I can make these areas pretty and functional. I can just see shoe boxes covered with pink calico fabric or paper. When I work on my bedroom closet I will get out some of Emilie's books and see how I can make it pretty and feminine.

Thanks for the motivation Lyn!

Debbie J.

Sheryl said...

Lyn, I am so happy that Manuela invited you as a guest on her blog. I've been coming to the same realizations that you've mentioned and am realizing I CAN make my home a happy, secure, warm place despite our economic times and our tight budget. (We've always had a tight budget and also drive older cars and have older furniture.) Thank you so much for giving me more to think about.

Terri and Bob said...

Lyn, a girl after my own heart! I post a frugal post on Saturdays based on a book by Tracey McBride called Frugal Luxuries. I loved your adviced and "stumbled" this post so I could refer to it often!

southerninspiration said...

Good ideas, thanks so much!

Suzanne

Becky said...

I needed this kind of encouragement today. It was like a friend stopping by to say, "Your in the right place doing the right things now keep on putting one foot in front of the other". Thank you

Lorri said...

Lyn,
Thanks for so much information. I, too have lived on so much less than I have right now and thankful for every day that I get to work. I remember when I first married, we made $400.00 a month. Now that ws hard times. But we were young and somehow made it.
Lorri

adrienne said...

lovely. true. simple.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this encouragement as I have been feeling very depressed about our financial situation and the lack of hope for the future. I am looking forward to your future posts! Right now I am going to tidy up my livingroom and appreciate what I do have.

Janelle said...

Well, Lyn, you should certainly have a blog, you are a wonderful and wise writer! I am a big fan of thrift store baskets for holding odds and ends in an organized and pretty way. And I love framing cards or calendar pages, too. You have such great ideas and such a pleasant way of presenting them. Thanks to you and Manuela, too!

Lady Katherine said...

Your article was very informative and helpful. We all no matter what life we live, can learn a lot about your tips on living. For we all do some wasting, at some point and time. I am guilty of using too much water! Thanks to Manuela for inviting you to her site. I know there is a lot of people having troubles with jobs lay offs.

Betsy said...

Such great ideas! I'm completely on board with the idea of making your home a sanctuary for your family....a little vacation spot every time you are there...and a great place to relax..for free!

Lyn said...

Anonymous, I appreciate your sharing. I hope things get better for you soon. What I hope to convey through these articles is that it really doesn't take much money at all to take care of what matters most to us.

Some people continually search for that next new thing or they are looking for something to fill their lives outside of family and home because they are not content with what they already have. If we take the time to reflect, we can see that we have all that we truly need and even some of our wants (some even have a lot of wants).

I did not get to see it (as we don't presently have cable t.v.) but I'd encourage anyone to look at oprah.com about a show she did on tent people this week. These are people (many who were living a middle class life) and now have nothing. Reading stories like that always gives me real perspective. You're right, Anonymous, we are all very blessed - even just to have a place to call home, to be able to take a hot shower and have a hot meal to fill our stomachs. That's a lot to be appreciative for.

Chrissy said...

Thanks for the tips. I too am "frugal at heart", especially now. But even when I had extra cash, I can only buy what's on sale or what I feel is a good deal! I look forward to more posts! Thanks for sharing Manuela!

Felicia said...

Very inspirational :)

Vee said...

Lyn, I so enjoyed your article. Thank you for filling in for Manuela!

Lady Katherine said...

Good Morning Manuela. I have an award for you, if you can stop by.

bj said...

Oh, I can so relate to Lyn.
We live on even less than she does and altho it gets very hard indeed, especially when our meds begin to cost so much, we are so enjoying our winter season of our lives.
I, too, have always had to budget...it is just a way of life for us. It's a good thing I love thrifting and re-doing....else we would have no furniture or much of anything else.
Thanks for this very GOOD post!
xo bj

Half of the Style Sisters said...

Excellent tips and ideas! I am way impressed with her philosophy on life and how she makes the best of what she has and also her appreciation for the things she has. I too will be back for part 2.

Susan said...

Loved the tips. Thank you!

lisa @celebrate CREATIVITY said...

Great ideas and wonderful photos too.

june@craftyniche said...

Awesome post!

salmagundi said...

Thanks for sharing Lyn with us. We, too, live on $25,000 a year in retirement. We have quite adequate savings and our house is paid for, but it is still difficult to live on that amount sometimes. My hats off to anyone who does master the art of frugal living. Sally

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Thank you Manuela and thank you Lyn for an inspiring post. laurie

Storybook Woods said...

What an inspiring post Lyn. I love how you put it "invest in your home". Just think it is something that will always give back. I look forward to your next post. Clarice

mrsjones6 said...

I loved all of the ideas! I can relate to the state of your home reflecting your attitude. It's amazing how rearranging the furniture or applying a freas coat of paint instantly refreshes a space.
Thanks for the post!
Jennifer

Barb said...

Manuela and Lyn, how delightful! SO GOOD and so true.

Barb

Rambling Girl said...

Great post...Why doesn't she blog! I would love to see he blogging and giving a lot of advice to someone who could use it many times over.

Lyn said...

Hi Rambling Girl,
Thanks for your comment. I don't blog due to health issues (my health was mentioned in the post). With daily health struggles, I have to stick with the basics of life (home and family) and blogging isn't on the list. :) When you're ill you have to simplify life and cut a lot of things out - that's just the way it is.

Susie Q said...

Such a briliant post Lyn...

Rambling Girl said...

Sorry Lynn...I did not catch the part about health struggles. I guess I just did not see anything about your health.

Anyway I really enjoyed your post on the different things you can do with little money. I can't wit to read tomorrows post.

sallymandy said...

Lyn and Manuela: thank you for the inspiring post and blog. I feel overwhelmed with my house, and was encouraged by the item in this post about just cleaning up and caring for what I have, even if it's just one room at a time. Last week after reading it the first time I cleaned up some messes that have been bothering me for months. I started just with the kitchen. I bought some very inexpensive flowers. I'm going to do more, and thanks for the simple ideas.

Lyn said...

sallymandy, your comment makes me smile, thank you. I do understand about being overwhelmed at times and feel that often with my health. I often want to do so much more than I am able to do. I love your idea of the flowers. Flowers lift the spirits I find.

Rambling Girl, no problem, that's okay. I just wanted to share why I haven't been blogging. But you never know..that could change. ;)