10 retro ideas from my childhood that make good modern day SS sense

Posted January 13th, 2014 by Mimi

I've been trying a few strategies to trim the budget that are grounded in my childhood memories.

We never had the type of money worries that seem to bug families these days, and I've been trying to figure out why.

So here's what we're doing, planning to do, or have already done. Some are little things, and some are bigger, but they all help.

1. We've turned off the second little fridge in the garage...it was only used over Christmas and even then, not much. We'll probably sell it and put the money towards something more useful. We used to use it a lot when DS lived at home and the food bill and baking were much greater. but it's not really necessary any more, and we mostly forget it's there and sucking on electricity, so off it goes. As kids, we only had one fridge and it was tiny.

2. We've stopped eating yoghurt for breakfast. We go through patches, especially in Summer where we go through a litre of yoghurt a day. I make Easiyo using the SS method when I can, but I'm the only one who will eat it, so it's a bit lost as a money saving strategy. Instead DH and DD are having toast or cereal. They can have free range eggs on toast every day (theoretically) and it still costs less than the yoghurt and is more filling. I have my Bircher muesli made with the SS Easiyo. Nobody ate yoghurt when we were kids, and it certainly wasn't on the shopping list as a necessary the way it is now.

3. Now this is going to be controversial I know, but it works for us. I've stopped doing a huge weekly shop. Again, this worked when there were four of us living here and one was a teenage son with a huge appetite. But these days, we all eat lighter, and quite differently, so I've taken to shopping twice weekly WITH A LIST AND A MENU PLAN. I only buy what's on the list, and only enough for the next 3 days. Also, see my first listed item, where this means that we no longer require the second refrigerator. Due to insufficient (if you want to call it that) storage and inadequate refrigeration, that's how it used to be done. It worked just fine, and meant that kitchen cupboards were tidy and everything was used in a timely fashion.

4. I no longer cook huge batches of meals and treats unless we're on holidays and home a lot. In the normal course of a week, DD is at dance or school commitments most nights, and DH has evening music commitments as well, so our eating habits are quite different than they were when I first joined Simple Savings. We have a lighter meal later in the evening, after a light snack or entrée, and an iced tea at around 6pm. Sometimes dinner will be more like what we used to call Supper, and might only consist of a toasted sandwich or open grill and a side salad, rather than a big meal.

5. I found a little cut glass butter dish with lid at the thrift shop a couple of months ago, so I now buy unsalted butter (a personal choice and preference) and put a slab in the butter dish to last the next day or so. It sits on top of the microwave out of the way, and stays perfectly soft for spreading. No more butter blend or margarine here.

6. I'm growing some basic herbs. Just shallots (the green things), basil, mint, thyme, rosemary, perennial coriander and chives. These dress up any ordinary thing and elevate it to something special, from scrambled eggs, to roasted veg. If all we had in the fridge was a couple of slices of bread, some sad veg and some eggs (often) I could still make a decent meal with a bit of imagination and some fresh herbs. Everyone used to at least have mint and chives in the garden, and the more free thinking would also eat nasturtium leaves and flowers (as have we) in salads, and cook chokoes off the vine we all had growing wild on the back fence.

7. We're continuing to declutter and streamline things around the house. We were madly planning a big renovation with updated bathroom and kitchen, more storage space and all kinds of things and the more we talked about it, the more we realised we were just catering to the modern day folly of hoarding stuff. We've instead done the opposite, decluttering and freeing up space for the things we love doing, and ridding ourselves of the things we just dabble in. With this has come some hard decisions. My beloved collection of magazines has gone, as I have had to accept that much as I imagine myself to be a quilter, a cottage gardener, a furniture restoration expert, and crafter, the reality is that my real passions lay in a few more select areas and those are the ones I should concentrate on. If at some time in the future, I want to return to previous imagined passions, then Youtube and Google are my friend. When we were kids, you bought something to 'do', you finished it. End of story. You didn't build a shrine to it.

8. We don't watch TV much. We tend to read, or sew or cook, or embroider, or do a dozen other things instead. DD14 is too busy with school and activities outside of school to even be bothered. I can't even begin to tell you how this frees your time and money. We don't feel tempted to buy things we don't need, attend things we don't know exist, or subscribe to things we didn't really want. We always have (well nearly always) a beautiful gift on hand, a happy teen, and a peaceful home. We mostly use the TV to watch movies.

9. We walk for exercise. We all now rise at 5:15 and go for a brisk walk to keep us healthy. No gym memberships, no special equipment, no personal trainer. Just us and the peace and quiet. DD wants to do well in the school cross country this year so this is added incentive. Soon it will be jogging, not walking. DH and I have both lost weight and gained a new status in DD's eyes. Only body builders used to go to 'gyms'. Everyone else just played a sport or did their housework and walked to school and work.

10. Our goal for this year is to have more pot luck style dinners to socialise. Nobody used to go out to restaurants unless it was a very special occasion. We have a happy home, and want to welcome our friends here more often. It'll be a you bring the salad and you bring the dessert and I'll cook the roast sort of affair. This used to be our main form of socialising and it worked well. Those friends remain our friends to this day, so there's got to be something in it.

Well that's my list for now. I'll add more as I think of them.

Do you have any retro ideas for saving money?

Want to comment? Become a Simple Savings member »