As you all know from my most recent post, I’ve been doing a lot of housecleaning and cathartic purging, discarding, shredding etc. etc. in the last few months. Yesterday, while digging through the umpteenth file folder in a huge collection of “important papers” (hear the sarcasm in my voice), I came across a napkin.
Yes, you read that right. A napkin. From a Cracker Barrel restaurant somewhere on the East Coast between South Carolina and up North where I live. It was a list I had written with my mom on the way back from a trip to Hilton Head when Alex was three months old. I can still remember him sleeping contentedly in his baby bucket thing on the seat of the restaurant booth, tucked in next to me as I brainstormed and scribbled excitedly.
Why on earth would I have saved this napkin information, you ask? Because it was a very important list– it contained 41 ways that I could save money, which put together I figured would give me enough of a cushion that I would be able to quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom. A decision which would radically, completely change my life. And one which I was hell bent on making despite my new-mama anxieties.
I look back now and realize how little I knew then and how many trials and tribulations were yet to come. But I saved that silly napkin in a file labeled “Home” because when I read over it, I can still feel the optimism I felt taking action, being proactive, finding creative solutions to obstacles (real or imagined) so that I could follow my heart and my passion. I still haven’t decided if it’s staying in the “important papers” pile or going to the circular file. After you read this, please comment and let me know where you think it belongs.
Things to do to save money:
- make sandwiches for hubby’s work
- make baby food
- use coupons & research store specials
- sell quilts
- make baby clothes
- make baby toys (patterns from Mom)
- plant vegetables (tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers, lettuce? green beans, zucchini)
- less driving
- make my clothes
- make cookies
- cook everything from scratch
- bake bread
- plan leftovers & plan meals for the week
- buy meat in bulk & pre-cook or pre-package & freeze (e.g. meatballs)
- freeze onions & peppers for stirfry & precook chicken & freeze
- shop more at the warehouse place
- make hankerchiefs
- switch electric companies
- turn heat down & monitor A/C
- turn hot water down a few degrees
- free dinners with Mom Mom on Sundays
- make baskets for gifts
- shop for gifts, socks, etc. at my favorite outdoor market
- feed & seed the lawn 2x / year
- buy large cans of cat food & separate
- wash my own car
- all phone calls after 7:00 pm
- internet after 7:00 pm
- make popsicles & snacks
- make trail mix & granola
- buy only washable clothes, not dry clean
- dry clean in dryer
- keep breastfeeding & pump extra milk to freeze
- shop in Delaware with Mom Mom
- lose weight (fit into existing clothes!)
- can veggies
- develop pics at warehouse place
- use the pizza stone– make & freeze dough & topping ahead of time (or make frozen pizzas)
- freeze beef & chicken strips
- letter to adoption agencies & advertising services for freelance opportunities to make money
- switch to cloth diapers
Are you laughing yet? You can tell we were a family who spent a lot of money on food– good lord how many things did I think I could cook? I must have been having nightmares about starving or something. In reality, I was still the size of a small Volkswagon Bug (see item titled “lose weight!”) so I couldn’t have been too bad off. Hmm… maybe I wrote this before our food arrived at Cracker Barrel and I was brainstorming while hungry… kinda like grocery shopping while hungry… is that a no-no?
Come to think of it, how the heck did I figure that losing weight was going to go along with all that frozen pizza dinner preparation anyhow? But I digress….
Making baby clothes? Making baby toys? Okay, those suggestions clearly came from my mother. She did all that stuff. I remember she was almost as excited as I was to write this list because she wanted me to have the opportunity to stay home with my kids the way she stayed home with me and my brother. (See item titled “free dinners with Mom Mom” for proof of her commitment to this idea.)
Feed & seed the lawn? Wash my own car? Make gift baskets? Cloth diapers??
*snort & guffaw*
At least I was openminded. My goal was to save $2000 a month. You can tell by the items titled “phone calls & internet after 7:00 pm” how long ago this list was written and what our budget must have looked like. Good thing I was shopping at the warehouse place. And I know I keep coming back to this, but when exactly would this plan have allowed me time to actually leave the kitchen to do freelance work or pay attention to anything other than preserving vegetables and making meatballs?
I’m still undecided– do I keep it or toss it? Will I ever need it again? Will I regret it if I end up adding to my family someday and I start to feel nostalgic about those new mommy brainstorms driven by wild hormonal changes and suddenly I realize I discarded a napkin list which was such an integral part of Alex’s infancy?
Is it completely disgusting to keep a Cracker Barrel napkin for 11 years?
… Wait. Don’t answer that last one. Just comment and tell me what you would do.