Saturday, March 7, 2009

Investing In What Matters, Part 2 - Guest Post by Lyn

From Manuela: Go here if you missed Lyn's first guest post.

This time we are going to look at something even more important than investing in our homes. Yes, it’s important that our homes are a place of sanctuary as much as they possibly can be. However, it’s the people living there that truly make up the home. Without our loved ones, a home is just a dwelling. Families come in all sizes and types. A family is what you make of it. It can be you, your spouse and your children, but it can also be just you and your spouse. Of course there are other wonderful types of families too – single parents with children, widows and widowers, singles – alone or with friends. We cannot forget the furry family members either. It’s up to you to make the most of what type of family you do have. You can make your life special wherever you are at in life.

Here are a few more ideas on how we can invest in what matters in our lives, especially during challenging times.

Invest In Your Family

1) Food soothes the soul. What types of dishes does your family really enjoy to eat? You can put a little something away from your grocery budget specifically for these foods to make a special meal now and then. For example, my husband loves seafood but it’s not a regular item in my budget. Now and then when I see a good price I’ll pick some up for him because I know he really will enjoy it.

Many frugal foods are actually comfort foods – think soups, stews, roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, homemade pizza, homemade cookies and cake, etc. I recently made a lovely rice pudding simply by using leftover cooked brown and white rice. It was inexpensive and delicious. Take some time to go through cookbooks you already own for some fresh ideas or get some classics at the library (Better Homes and Garden, Betty Crocker, The Joy of Cooking). Taste of Home by Reiman Publications always has great ideas of down-home cooking. You can visit them here, and you can also search for recipes there.

2) Stick with basic ingredients and add just a few specialty items. I have a basic grocery list, but once in a while I like to get a few items that make meals taste even more special to me: sun-dried tomatoes, black and green olives, capers, a little bit of goat cheese, olive oil, spices. Buying these at discounted prices allows me to enjoy them a little more freely.

3) Cook with ethnic ingredients. Lately I’ve been on a quest to learn how to make more Spanish and Mexican meals. I went shopping at a Spanish market that had great items for less than I would find them in the regular grocery stores. I had my first try at making homemade corn tortillas – it was a lot of fun and my dh enjoyed my frugal efforts. Good food does not have to be expensive. Ethnic food is not only delicious, but can be very cost-effective. Think Italian, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, Mexican, African, Greek, – the sky is the limit here and all you need is a little imagination and some recipes to try!

4) Buy or make little treats that everyone enjoys. What are some snack foods that make your loved ones smile? Manuela mentioned that her husband enjoys certain nuts. My husband does also. Do your children love homemade baked cookies? Keep a cookie jar filled with little treats that will brighten their day. It will be something they look forward to coming home to have. Things like iced tea, homemade lemonade and hot chocolate are all things that are frugal but delicious too. These may seem like little things, but everyone loves to be thought of and cared for. Again, I do think the little things make a difference in life, don’t you?

5) Pampering and loving our family. Cozy sheets and warm blankets or quilts always make you feel good. Who doesn’t love a few cushy pillows to lay their head down on? Do you have some family games you can bring out, movies at home to watch together, books to read? Make some popcorn or a special appetizer for everyone to share. Slowing down to take the time to do these things really helps everyone’s spirit during difficult times.

My husband is not fussy or expecting in any way. Once in a while I’ll make him a nice bath and warm up his towel in the dryer for him. These small things cost nothing but my time and say “I love you”. Sometimes we don’t take the time to do these little things. I figure if I love the little things, then wouldn’t my husband love them too?

6) Have set dinners and family nights together. Make sure you are spending good quality time with each other. Dinners together should be a priority whenever possible. How about a special theme for the dinner or evening once in a while? It doesn’t take money, but it does take time. Time is the best thing you can give to your loved ones and you won’t regret that type of investment. Forget about the stuff (kids only need so much anyway) and let the children put down those video games once in a while. It’s important to connect.

7) Have a “staycation” or low-key vacation this year. With the nicer months approaching, instead of an expensive vacation away this year, how about having a staycation? You know, that new word that was created with the new economy? My dh and I have had staycations for years now. With a little planning you can have a wonderful time together exploring places where you live that perhaps you’ve never seen. You can plan some days at the park or the beach, or how about some trips to the local discount movie theater? Have a picnic in your living room, or even in your backyard. What matters is that you are together and enjoy the company. We don’t have to run around frenetically on vacation. It can be simple and easy-going, with minimal stress.

8) Pleasing our family can really be simple. Sometimes we think it takes a lot to please our family. Take a moment to ask them what they like and you might be surprised. These are small things that we can do for our family that will make being at home an enjoyable place to be. Once you know what is important to your family, you don’t have to drive yourself crazy doing everything – just focus on what is important.

For our next and final post, we’ll talk about how to “Invest In Ourselves”. You didn’t think I would leave you out, did you now? Enjoy your blessings of home, family, and friends. Till next time...

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.


Susan said...

I like what she has to say. I try and do some of those things several times a week. Thank you for the guest post I am enjoying them!

Lisa said...

This was a great post. Thank you for allowing Lynn to guest post. There are several things she suggested that I already do, but with things as they are right now it is nice to hear other people's ideas. Thanks!

salmagundi said...

Another good post! Even though I enjoy traveling, home is where I want to be 90% of the time. Every inch of it is ours, created by us just for us!!! Sally

Storybook Woods said...

Wonderful post. Food is such a simple way to show love. Clarice

Debbie J. said...

Thank you Lyn for new ideas and reminders of things we can do that don't cost much but time. Especially liked the bath and warm towel idea.

Your dh must be very grateful for his very thoughtful wife.

Debbie J.

Rhonda in OK said...

Hi Lyn,

you are so right about little things pleasing people.
When my inlaws visited a few months back, I made sandwiches for lunch and my FIL was so pleased that I toasted his bread.

Thank you for the nice comments you left on my blog last week too. I am so thankful to be at home full time and I love hearing that other wives are happy and successfully living on one income like me.

Bless you!

Barb said...

Lyn and Manuela..this is truly food for the soul and for the spirit. So comforting!

Great suggestions and I am a huge fan of loving and spending time with your family. Yes!

Thank you!

Barb/Bella Vista

adrienne said...

Again, lovely!

Rue said...

Hi Manuela :)

Thank you for having Lyn guest host and thank Lyn too.

I wish more people would have family dinners together. I think those are more important then just about anything. In our house we have them 4-6 nights a week. That's how I was raised :)

Oh and you cracked me up when you said people were staring at you taking pictures in goodwill but didn't say anything... I would have too LOL


Anonymous said...

Again I do so appreciate all the wonderful comments. Thank you all!

Terri and Bob said...

This is perfect. LOVE the ideas.

Manuela, I am having to make my blog private. If you are interested in being part of my readership, please send me an email at

Sorry for the problem!

Lady Katherine said...

I love this post, Lynn and Manuela! Family, wow that was so great! I who know they are the most important thing on earth, still loved being reminded to do something special for them. Food tips are great! The vacation, I loved, for when we were in our 20's we would do this very thing. If you look, you will find out what you are missing in your own state, or a few cities away. Great Post!