Make the best of what you’ve got

Ivy says:

In case you have been living under a rock, prices are going up and wages are staying the same or going down. I’ve read so many newspaper articles announcing this, that I could use those articles to wallpaper my entire house, and I would still have enough to use for (very, very scratchy) toilet paper.

I read something today about how Gen Xers have a worse standard of living than our parents did when they were our age. Okay, I get that. But we have something our parents did not- the internet. So, if you ask me, the internet addict, whether our lives are better or worse than our parents’ lives, I’d say it’s better.

It’s easy to fall into the “the sky is falling” trap when our media is constantly telling us that the sky is, indeed, falling. I personally have felt that quite a bit, but something has occurred to me. There’s nothing I can do to change it. All I can do is be proactive and arrange my family’s finances to make sure that when and if the sky does fall, we’ll hopefully be okay.

So we’re making the best of what we’ve got. We’re buckling down and taking care of ourselves while at the same time, doing what we can to help other people. My uncle, who lives on disability and has a ridiculously tight budget, said the other day that his bathroom scales broke. I thought about how I have an extra set of  bathroom scales from when I replaced my old analog scale and bought a set of digital scales. Did I really need two? I gave him my old one.

What can you do to help yourself, and others? I ask that of myself every day. Even the poorest of us have something worth giving. So do the richest of us. Stop worrying about the economy. Stop worrying about things you cannot change. Make the change in yourself, and reap the rewards.


  1. Sara on May 31, 2008 at 11:51 am

    You’ve got a great point; I’d happily give up some of the stuff my parents had for the access and equalizing power of the Internet. And the remote control. Thanks for not contributing to the “Holy crap! The world is ending! We’ll all be eating recycled peas by next year!” atmosphere.

  2. Weekend Roundup: Happy Anniversary Being Frugal! | on May 31, 2008 at 7:01 am

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  3. katie on May 28, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    I was born and raised in New England and one of the things I always heard my grandparents say was “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” I think I’ll add to that or give it to someone less fortunate. Great post.

  4. Leah Ingram on May 27, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I agree with the others about the benefits of Freecycle. Freecycle, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

    One, Freecycle let’s you bless others with items you no longer need.

    Two, Freecycle allows you to receive items you would like to have or need to have but can’t afford (OK, so my friend who got some free hosta to plant in her yard, thanks to a Freecycler, probably didn’t “need” hosta).

    And three, with Freecycle, you’re not cluttering landfills with trash because by participating in Freecycle you are reusing and recycling. So, it’s a green option as well!

    Here’s a post I wrote about ways to give old books new life, including by giving them away on Freecycle:


  5. Milehimama on May 27, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I don’t think we are worse off than our parents and grandparents, I think our idea of “well off” has changed.

    Our grandparents happily lived in 100o sq. ft. houses with no dishwashers. Now we consider a 2000 sq. ft. home a “starter”.

    Our grandparents saved $, because they were not using 25% of their income to pay credit card minimums!

    We are lazy, wanting all convenience all the time and griping when we have to pay a price for it. Just because PopTarts are more expensive doesn’t mean BREAKFAST is more expensive (eggs and milk are another story, though…)

    I live “under the poverty line” even though my husband makes $40k a year (we have 9 people). My son qualifies for free lunch at school.

    Yet, we all have more than one pair of shoes. I have the luxury of choosing which meat to prepare for dinner, from a variety of cuisines. Our home is air conditioned, we have Dish Network (ok, I need that for work), and two computers on the Internet. When I turn the tap, drinkable, cool water always flows. 100% of the time. I have appliances to wash my clothes and dishes. This is poor?

  6. Jolly Green Dad on May 27, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I whole heartedly agree. Do what you can and dont worry about the rest. We ALL need to do our part and help others that are less fortunate. Awesome post!

  7. Nancy on May 27, 2008 at 9:36 am

    “Make the change in yourself and reap the rewards” — I love it. Thank you.

  8. Lisa-DomesticAccident on May 27, 2008 at 9:23 am

    We’re still one of the richest nations in the world and wealthier than most people could imagine. There’s all sorts of things to learn from inflation and tighter budgets.

  9. DanaB on May 27, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Well said, great write up!


  10. Angie @ Many Little Blessings on May 27, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Excellent write up!

    We’re always complaining about money, yet we managed to buy a new washer and dryer this weekend while people in Haiti eat dirt cookies. We have no business complaining about money. (Of course, we normally wouldn’t go out and buy a washer and dryer, but we decided to do that with our economic stimulus money.)

    On the up side, we opted to FreeCycle our old washer and dryer which are still in working order. (But just older and not so energy efficient.) We got both a thank you email and phone call from the family that took them — it was really sweet.

  11. Badbadivy on May 26, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Yup, Marie, bingo. A friend of mine told me a story about refugees from Africa who would defecate in the hallways of the health department. These people were fresh off the (plane? boat? I doubt boat in Nashville, which is where I think this happened) and they were defecating in the hallways because they didn’t know about the bathroom.

    There are people in the world that don’t have basic sanitation. I think we need to remember that as we go about our daily lives. Yes, there are things that suck about America, but by and large, we’ve got it a million times better than many, many other people.

  12. Marie on May 26, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Absolutely true. Everyone is always poor-mouthin’. We don’t know what poor is.

    If you have a place to live, a meal a day, clothes on your back, emergency medical care – you are not poor, not compared to most of the world.

    Our “poor” usually have cell phones, more to eat than they need, car(s) – and I say this as someone who has qualified for lots of welfare programs over the years. I’ve never owned a home, etc.

    We are not poor. We are rich. The truly poor would be shocked to experience the life of the “poor” in the U.S.

    What have I done to help myself recently? I stopped buying pre-made desserts (cookies, cakes). If we want dessert around here, we have to make it (pudding, cake, cookies).

    What have I done to help others? I let the kids have an extra ride on the carousel today. I gave my son $5 to spend while going to stay the weekend with a friend. This is the sort of thing I am not usually able to do.

  13. Bramble on May 26, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I gave away a couch, a microwave and a pair of shoes to a needy family today. Felt good.

  14. chocolatechic on May 26, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I agree. People(in general)…except for the older ones…really don’t know how to budget, limit spending, or not use a credit card. Most people feel they are entitled to xyz, and it shows.

  15. Danetta on May 26, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Very nicely said

  16. Angela on May 26, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    You know I used to be a “sell” it person. We were broke and whenever we didn’t need something we’d sell it to help pay for life. But then we started doing a little bit better and giving things away more, especially since we always loved when people gave things to us. Then we got relocated and knew we’d get KILLED with taxes so we started donating some of our stuff so we could get that receipt to get a deduction. But at least half the time it ends up going on freecycle. I truly love that organization. Where else can you clean and declutter and have extra stuff picked up within hours? And where else can get you a free picnic table, slide, upright freezer, and much much more? So go and join your local chapter today because its a great way to share and receive.