Tag Archives: Family

Time to Keep What’s Worth Saving?

“Bam. Bam. Bam!” That’s the sound of the police officer banging on my door. Our apartments didn’t have doorbells, so knocking, or in this case, banging, was the only way to announce oneself.

The sound of urgency in the banging startled me awake; especially since I didn’t know at the time it was a police officer at my door. It was the middle of the night and I’d only lived in that complex for a few months. As is my way, I spoke through the door, trying to verify who was there and why. Once I learned it was law enforcement, I opened the door to a female officer who was demanding that I exit the apartment right away. There was a car on fire right in front of my building, and they needed us to evacuate in case the fire got out of control and jumped to the building.

The officer wanted me to vacate immediately, but I refused to leave without going back into my bedroom to grab my purse and something to cover up with, and put on some shoes.

The car fire ended up being contained and we were allowed back into our apartments about an hour later.

As a child, I’d been through several real emergencies and only drills, especially when we  lived in Kansas. Whenever there was a tornado warning while we were home, we went down into our basement. I never had to worry about anything because my mom had taken care of everything. We had blankets, flashlights, candles and matches; snacks and water already in place. All we had to do was get downstairs, and then we’d listen to the transistor radio and wait for the all clear. Our basement was also the game room, so there were couches and chairs, and stuff to do as we waited it out.

As an adult, there have been plenty of potential emergencies — severe storms, flooding, ice storms. And watching things unfold on television, like the wildfires out west, and hurricanes in the south, made me start thinking, what if I only had moments to prepare to evacuate my home, what would I have the time to gather and what would be worth saving?

We don’t like to think about things like that; natural disasters or man-made catastrophes. But there’s a reason they call them “emergencies!” We don’t expect them or invite them, but you never know when something may happen. So when it does…how prepared are you for it?

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We have watched this play out in real time in the news. A forest fire gets out of control destroying everything in its path,. Mudslides, flash flooding, hurricanes heading straight for your community.

Or maybe it’s an unexpected doorbell ring from the police after a 911 phone call from a (possibly) mentally disturbed man, claiming to have sat on a bomb in his house.

That happened recently in a small community outside my town. The neighborhood was evacuated with no notice. Parents barely having the time to grab their children and leave. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, but what if it wasn’t. What if after you vacated, the block really did blow up, and everything in your home with it? 

So if you had only five minutes to load your car before having to escape out of town, aside from family members and pets, what would you put inside?

What if you only had 60 seconds? What would you grab?

Most people would panic, because most people don’t have a plan in place in case something happens. They are trying to make that decision at the time of the emergency, instead of being prepared for that decision in advance. Sadly, most of us want to live with the “what are the chances that will ever happen to me” syndrome. So when it happens to them, they exit the home with the clothes on their backs and little else.

I’m not suggesting in any way that anyone should risk their lives or those of their family going back into a home when flood waters at at the steps, a wildfire is in the backyard, or theirs the possibility of a bomb going off. What I am suggesting is this. Make a plan. Share that plan with your family. Be prepared to follow it.

Recently, part of New York City had a power outage that last over five hours. I watched as one family who was visiting the city was being interviewed. They were in good spirits, however, they had no way to reach two of their kids who were off touring apart from the rest of the family. Why? Because ever single family member left the hotel without taking a phone charger with them, and then from a full day’s use, had allowed their batteries to die! Certainly, as they left for the day, no one could have predicted the city would experience a blackout. But then, why would you plan a full day of touring, and not plan for how you would power your devices, even IF there wasn’t an emergency.

Firemen speaking at schools often encourage kids to go home and ask their parents to not only put together an escape plan for the family, in the event of a house fire, but to also practice it. I know one mother who discussed with her daughter about the plan, but never practiced it with her. I asked once why they had not physically gone through the steps of what to do when exiting the home. She really didn’t have an answer, though I chalked it up to being lazy, not wanting to be inconvenienced, and again, the old, “this is’t never going to happen to us,” mindset. But at least they had a plan, because many families do not.

So what can you stop and think about doing right now to prepare for that possible knock on the door or phone call? Make a list. Create a plan. Communicate with your family. If you live alone, decide which neighbor or friend you’re going to reach out to so they know what’s going on.

Here are a few other things.

  • Make a copy of important papers and documents and keep them somewhere safe, like a fireproof safe, or a safety deposit box away from your home. You can also scan the documents and email a copy to yourself that way if your computer gets destroyed, you can access them from any other computer.
  • I recommend also scanning your sentimental photos (family events like weddings, graduations, baby pictures). There are numerous cloud based services you can back your photos up to as well. The originals may get destroyed but at least you’ll have a saved copy. 
  • Always keep your car keys and purse or wallet somewhere you can find and grab quickly.
  • Keep cash at the ready. Remember, you can’t get to the ATM if the town loses electricity.
  • Know where your phone chargers are located.
  • Decide in advance what items you would pack if you have more time — like 5-10 minutes versus seconds to vacate. If you have a day or more notice, like an incoming hurricane, go ahead and pack the bags and leave by the door. Wouldn’t you’d rather spend time unpacking suitcases you didn’t need to flee with than fleeing your home without any extra clothes or shoes?
  • Keep an emergency bag of non-perishables, water, first-aid, and other emergency items somewhere you can grab on the way out the door. 
  • Watch the news and keep up with the weather report. Don’t wait until the last minute to pack your car if you’re leaving.
  • Keep gas in your car. Never park it in garage or driveway near empty.
  • Decide in advance how and where all family members will meet up or check in with each other in the event of an emergency.

No one wants to think that something tragic might happen to them. But every month, there’s some type of disaster or emergency somewhere, with news footage of someone talking about how they didn’t think this or that was going to happen. We can’t predict or in some cases can’t avoid many of the emergencies that might happen to us. But we can at least try to be prepared for them, if they do.

Connecting Life Together

I attended a Women’s Prayer Breakfast last weekend. It was nice, and much of what the speaker shared, I think, applies to many of us here; especially those going through an “adjustment to your new normal,” and maybe feeling a little daze or confused about life.

The theme was “Gospel Connections for Life Together,” and the focus was on the scripture verses, I Corinthians 12:14-26. But you could replace the word “Gospel” with several things: “Friends Connections for Life Together,” “Family,” “Community.”  The message would be the same. “We cannot make a connection by ourselves. We need other people.

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s not about you.
  • Recognize your rightful place
  • Move in love

The brief of it all is that if you want to make a connection (at your church; with family; friends, your community), you have to understand that everything’s not about you. You have to be willing to connect with other people and do life together, which means putting other people before yourself at times. You also have to recognize that you can’t play all the parts. You can’t do everything.

The Bible relates it to the different parts of the body: 

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable… But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other…”

I like to also think about it like the different parts of a beautiful orchestral work. We might all like the sound of the violin, but if we all played the same instrument, and the same parts, we’d miss the fullness of what the music was meant to be without the addition of the other string instruments, the beating of the drums and percussion, and the beauty of the woodwinds and horns. When all the instruments work together, playing their different parts, the orchestra is at its best; the music comes together the way the composer envisioned it.

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No matter how talented you are, you can’t do everything; nor should you. Because when you try, you are preventing someone else from using their own talents to contribute to the musical piece.

We ALL have a purpose. And we ALL need other people to live out that purpose; and to make a connection. How does that apply here?

Because many of you are struggling through some of life’s changes and challenges, but you have not reached out and connected with people who can help you. People at your church, your work, school, your civic organization, or just a friend. Perhaps pride or embarrassment keeps you from asking for help, so you just slip deeper into whatever area of problems you may be dealing with (financial challenges, family or work issues, relationships, etc.).

Others of you have the gifts and talents in various areas that can be useful to someone, but you’re holding them back, not willing to extend a helping hand to help pull someone through what may be a dark time for them.

Maybe you work in finances and can help someone get on a budget; or you’re good at investments and can help a friend learn how to grow their income. Maybe you’re incredible at couponing – have you thought about having your interested friends over for a little workshop to show them how they can start to save up to hundreds of dollars a month?

Are you good with cars? You could show women how to take care of theirs, and how to know if their mechanic is trying to rip them off. Or perhaps you’re a great homemaker who knows how to stretch a dollar and still make nutritionally great meals for your family for far less than eating out or ordering in! You got a garden that’s flourishing? How about sharing your vegetables and herbs with someone who can’t afford to buy farm fresh items. If it’s a flower garden; brighten someone’s day with an unexpected bouquet.

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I think you get the point.

Acknowledge your need for other people. Recognize your place (strengths/talents/gifts) in yourself and others. And then DO something! Help someone with your talents. And allow someone else to help you with theirs. But do it all in love.

 

House Hunting Your Way to Divorce

I was recently watching an episode of House Hunters. It’s not one of my must-watch programs, but sometimes, there really is nothing else on television that I feel like getting in to. And other times, I just want to be as far away from anything that comes close to making me mad (the news) or making me think (most movies) or getting involved in a series where I either don’t know, or don’t care enough about the characters to give an hour or more of my time. So HGTV is my fall back, and that evening’s time slot was House Hunters International, to be more exact.

I think you can tell a lot about many people on these type of shows by what they say when they have their one-on-one private camera time. It’s as if they forget that while they may be alone in the room with the producer and the camera person, what they say will be aired and viewed by the person they’re talking about, and hundreds of thousands or more other viewers. So as I was watching this particular night’s show, it took me less than five minutes to think, they’re house hunting their way to divorce.

Why would I say that, as a passive viewer on the other side of a TV set?

Because what a person says, or fails to say, actually speaks volumes in a relationship. According to a recent study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, other than infidelity, communication problems were the number one reason for divorce in America.

It’s not surprising that many of the couples who go house hunting — with or without a camera crew following them — often times have different ideas of what they’re wanting to buy. Is it a cottage with an English garden out back; or a three-story townhome with a postage-size yard? Do you want to live in the city, close to restaurants and clubs, or in the suburbs near shopping malls and the school system of choice? People ponder many things when making a decision to spend, or rather invest, thousands of dollars into their first home, last home, or even vacation homes.

Will it be a Colonial or a Victorian? Move-in Ready or a Fixer Upper? On the ocean or in the mountains? A single-family home or a condo?

But unless you’re single, purchasing your own home, at the end of the day, you have to compromise — for a spouse; for children; for in-laws who may be moving with you.

Then there are the finances!

Money is right up there with communication issues in factors leading to divorce. How to make money? Who makes the money? How you’re going to spend the money? Are you in agreement with how to save that money? Perhaps that’s one of there reasons most good pre-marital counseling sessions include discussions about finances and how each person views it. Some people even go through financial counseling before getting married.

It was obvious to me in this evening’s episode that the husband believed in having a budget, and the wife believed in getting what she wanted. It wasn’t just my observations, but it was what she actually said during her on-camera part. 

The husband didn’t want to go over $1,800/month; the wife said money wasn’t an issue. The husband said he wanted to be close to his job. The stay-at-a-home wife insisted they move to what amounted to being a 30 minute one-way drive for him. The couple only had two small kids, so the husband thought a three bedroom house was plenty. The wife insisted on a five bedroom house, citing needing room for all her clothes.

Did I mention that she was a shopaholic?

In spite of them being in the hunt for a house. In spite of them needing to watch their money, according to the husband. In spite of the fact that her closets were already filled with more clothes than most women could wear in a year; even if they changed outfits at least once per day. She bought more. And it was obvious that this spending habit bothered him. But he said nothing that wasn’t couched in a joke; at least not to the camera. But his face told a different story.

The biggest thing that stuck out to me was that the husband wanted to please his wife; admitting that “she usually gets her way.”  And the wife didn’t really care anything about the things that the husband wanted, saying “I don’t believe in compromise.”  She went on to say that she wants what she wants, but was in agreement with him on at least one thing — that she always gets her way!

I’m not sure why people think that’s a good thing; to brag about always getting your way. In families. In the workforce. In life, there are always compromises.

Money is no different.

At the end of the episode, they’d rented a 5-bedroom house, flipping one of them to her wardrobe closet. The house was a half-hour drive from his job, and it was hundreds of dollars over their planned monthly budget. And she was shopping again!

I shook my head as I watched the outcome. It wasn’t just that she got everything she wanted. But it was because to me, her actions displayed how much she didn’t care about what he wanted. She didn’t seem to show any regard for the true meaning of a healthy relationship, and certainly didn’t seem to care that she was stretching them financially with her shopping habits and insistence upon living in a place that was above their means. Whether those means were put in place because he wanted to save money, or because that truly was all they could comfortably afford, doesn’t really matter. If you set a budget that to most people seems to be a reasonable budget, then why would you knowingly go above that — adding to the stress of living abroad, and being married, with children, to begin with.

Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to give in to everything they want. A marriage without compromise is a marriage on the verge of divorce. And one of the things that can  drive people to an early divorce is financial challenges and money disagreements.

At the end of the show, he said, “as long as she is happy.”

I had to wonder if he was just saying that for the camera. Notably, she never shared the same sentiments for him.

 

 

The Most Important Woman in the World

It’s Women’s History Month; a time when we celebrate the progress, influence, and contributions women have made and continue to make in society. It’s kinda funny to me that we have to set a month aside each year in order to pause and recognize what women do and what they have done in history, rather than celebrating those accomplishments every day. I mean, just look around and it’s amazing all of the incredible things women are able to do, to share, to teach, and to create.

But I never realized just how much I learned from the most important woman in my life — my mom. And how much she did, how much she shared, how much she taught me growing up…until she was gone; and I couldn’t tell her.

People talk about hearing their mother’s voice in the words they find themselves repeating. Funny phrases. Directives to their kids. A discussion with their spouse. They laugh upon realizing that some of their vocal tone, actions, body language, and even reactions are things they saw or heard from their mother, and that they swore they would never say or do. There are so many things I find myself doing, and at times, stop and realize I’m doing them a certain way because it was the way my mama taught me. Or it was something I observed her doing.

Being one of six kids, I often shake my head in amazement that mom had the time, the energy, and the mental stability to raise all of us; and to do a pretty good job of it, I must say. Of course she had challenges, and I’m sure if she was still here she would talk about the things she might have said or done differently. But as I look back at the woman who married young, had two kids more than she and my dad had intended, and was twice forced to become a single parent for a year while my dad served two tours of duty in Vietnam, it is a wonder how she managed to keep it all together; to keep us all together.

One of the things that impressed me about my mom was how she was able to take care of her family on the low pay soldier’s salary my dad made. Even today, there’s much that can be said about the low salaries of our military, but back in the 1960s and 70s, it was even worst; especially for enlisted members. So retirement wasn’t much better. But in spite of that, we never went to bed hungry; never spent a night on the streets; and when it came down to it, we never went without the things we needed.

We shopped at Sears and other discount stores; always had shoes on her feet; wore clothes that were handed down; and while we may not have been the most fashionable bunch, mom often found a way to splurge on us for special events, like attending a concert or the middle and junior high school dance.

She had a way with making money work for her.

Growing up, I didn’t just watch my mom clip coupons. She made us cut them from all of the coupon fliers in the Sunday newspaper each week, and the numerous Army base magazines she picked up from the Commissary. I may have been too young to fully understand the value of a dollar back then, but I will never forget the value of the savings and her ability to stretch the dollars in order to regularly provide for our family. It’s a practice that I have replicated to keep me afloat during some financially challenging times.

Having been raised to live within my means; to not be embarrassed to shop at discount stores; and not worry about not making fashion statements; or to let pride keep me from making wise decisions about purchases and savings, it was an easier transition for me to re-adjust my lifestyle in my adult years, when after years of upward financial mobility, I was dealt an unexpected change in my job and financial stability. It was the lessons I learned from my mother that helped me to get through that time in my life.

My mom had such wisdom about her, even in her younger years. The youngest in her own family, with sisters who were much older, it is a wonder how she picked up on so much. I used to ask her about things, like where she learned about keeping a budget. She would say, “some things you’re just forced into learning how to do.” I guess that’s part of what made her generation so much different than ours. They worked hard for the things they needed; and put off many of the things they wanted, if it didn’t fit into the budget. We, on the other hand, work hard to surround ourselves with things we just want, seldom allowing patience and planning to direct our steps towards having them; even if it means going into debt.

So when I think about the purpose of celebrating women’s history month, and as I’m thinking about the woman who had the biggest influence on my life, I can say without hesitation that it was definitely my mom.

How to Save Money and Watch Free Movies!

I just finished watching the movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Yesterday I enjoyed the Denzel Washington movie Magnificent Seven; and before that, it was Meryl Strep in Florence Foster Jenkins; and then the day before that it was Storks. The best part about catching up on all these movies is that they were FREE!

I have a sister who went without cable television for over a decade! It’s hard to imagine, but even before Netflix became a household name, my sister chose to watch most her movies in the comfort of her home — either buying or renting DVDs. The only thing she enjoyed doing more than watching movies was reading books. And it was at her favorite book place — the public library — that she discovered a way to watch even more movies, without spending any money on them!

I remember 20+ years ago when I first moved to Nashville, I couldn’t afford much more than the gas in my car, and trying to make rent each month. Whenever I was feeling stressed; sometimes depressed, or even bored, I would find my way to the local library, plop down in the magazine section, and mindlessly flipped through the home and garden, fashion, and Southern lifestyle type of magazines, without having to purchase a subscription. I also occasionally looked through the stack of VHS tapes, hoping to come across an old movie I hadn’t seen, or one I wanted to watch again.

But that was the 1990s; just as DVDs were growing in popularity, and long before there was anything related to streaming movies, or binge watching entire seasons of your favorite television shows.

As I moved up the corporate ladder, and leisure time became limited, but money became less of a problem, I didn’t visit the library as often. This was also during the growth of the digital age, smartphones, laptop computers, and later, streaming services. I subscribed to magazines I barely had the time to flip through; ordered up extended cable services I mostly didn’t have time to enjoy the selections on. And jumped on some of the social media platforms as they unfolded.

But while visiting my hometown over the past couple of years, spending time at my sister’s house, I was reminded of the value of the local public library.

Before I arrived for Christmas, my sister put a number of movies on her list so that we’d have plenty of them to watch while I was home for the holidays. What’s really cool about doing that, beyond the free part, is that it guarantees at least two hours of family time to watch a movie together, sitting next to each other, without a group of strangers surrounding us in a dark, sticky floor, and uncomfortable general-public used chairs.

Unlike the VHS tapes I used to pick up, the current DVD service at the library is usually on par with services like the RedBox. So what if you might have to wait a few days longer, or get on a list that might take a couple of weeks. Being able to check out new to DVD movies within a couple of days or weeks of their release for FREE is totally worth it!

So if one of your new year’s resolutions — spoken, thought, or written down — is to watch your spending habits, and create and stay on a budget, just know that you don’t have to give up enjoying life. You can still watch a great movie, without paying over a hundred dollars for cable or satellite service. You can check out books, DVDs, and even CDs from the library, or take an hour to relax and flip through current magazines. I have some friends who have never had cable in their house. They rent movies or stream them online. With a trip to your local library, you can take that a step further and pick some up for free!

Up next? Bad Moms and Ben-Hur! Yeah…I know. An interesting mix of drama.

From Zero to Hope: Part Two

I can’t say that I’ve always wanted to be married. But I can say that I’ve never wanted to be divorced. I have actually been neither.

But I’ve been to more weddings than I can count; a bridesmaid in my first one at only 15 years old. That was my oldest sister. She divorced seven years later. My two brothers also married and divorced. My parents, on the other hand, had been married for almost 50 years before my mother passed away. Oh, theirs was not a perfect union; far from it.  Something made them stick it out — for better or worst. I’d like to think it was always love that kept them together when things got rough and they felt like giving up; especially once we were all out of the house and old enough to survive on our own.  But it also wasn’t lost on me (and likely, not my parents either) how difficult it would have been for either one of them to survive single life in the late 20th and early 21st century, had they divorced during some of those trying times. Or even earlier, if my mom tried to raise six kids on her own. It’s been done before, but not always with success. And I’m certainly glad it was never anything we had to grow up in or deal with.

Other kids aren’t as lucky. Other couples aren’t as fortunate. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things happen. I have a number of acquaintances, associates, co-workers, and even friends who have gone through a divorce. Not a one of them have ever said they saw it coming; or at least not when they walked down that aisle, said their “I Dos,” promised to love in good times and bad times; until death do us part

No, most of them admit to struggles and challenges, like most marriages, but ending up divorced was not a part of their life’s plan. When it happened; they had a couple of choices. They could either allow their divorce lead them to anger, depression, bitterness, guilt, shame, and so many other negative, unhealthy feelings — which I’ve seen. Or they could choose to hang on; cling to hope, and to not accept or allow what happened to their marriage to define what was going to happen to them and their future.

Most of them ended up going in and out of  both places. The reality of a changed life that they didn’t ask for. And the truth that they didn’t have to let that determine their future success — in love, in parenting, in work — in life. And those who landed in a place called HOPE have been able to move on; to adjust to their new normal.

That’s what Kathy did. Her story post-divorce began “messy,” as she described it. But she didn’t leave it there. She found a way to keep going.

From Zero to Hope: Part Two

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What this little graphic does not show you are many nights I cried for one reason or another.

Yet, I can say despite the struggles, I am blessed to look back and see the village that supported me and those who still do to this day. Transparency and vulnerability are necessary if you are going to benefit from the “village.” It is not just about the transparency and vulnerability of the ones in need, but it extends to those playing the supportive role. Once again, this is not easy, especially if your tragic circumstances include a form of loss of meaningful relationships. This too is messy…”who do I trust and what do I trust them with?” I have to ask myself this question constantly and consistently, which is exhausting.

So where is the hope in all this? Well, I can tell you that once I accepted the fact that my new normal was going to be “messy” for a while and that I needed to prayerfully invite members into “my village” for support, this is where the strength to take the first step begun. What the graphic does not show you are various victories won:

  • healing from the emotional struggles
  • freedom from doubt
  • regaining sight of my worth and value
  • new friends and strengthened family ties
  • two wonderful boys who remind me daily how much they love me
  • the experience of walking with the Savior who is fashioning something new out of my life
  • gaining beauty from my ashes

kathy-phillipsFor me the journey is still underway and I must keep moving forward. Yet, I do know with each step that I will need the love of God to sustain me, the love of friends to encourage me, the courage to inspire others, and the ability to accept that this is going to be “messy.” Win or lose, the battles will come. I can only take it one day at a time, pressing toward my final destination-hope. Mercy and grace continue to cover me and allow me to discover that hope exists and is available along the way!

 

Catching Raindrops in Water Barrels

I love hearing from people who have made changes in their lives because of something I’ve shared here, and on our Facebook page, or challenges I’ve made to encourage others on ways to take control over their own financial future. It’s not always possibly for someone to take on a second job; or even in some cases, working outside the home at all. But there are lots of ways we can all make changes to help save and stretch the use of the money that IS coming in to the home. So I was really excited to hear from a friend of mine who had not only done just that…but utilized one avenue quite literally, by catching raindrops in her water (buckets) barrels!

Meet Erica Manly, a stay at home mom, who previously worked full-time outside the home. Much has changed in Erica’s life over the past five years, including marriage, quitting her day job, having a baby, and moving three hours away from her family for her husband’s job. Erica’s life changed…so Erica had to learn how to adjust her lifestyle to her new normal. Let me let her tell you more about that.

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My name is Erica and I’m a wife and stay at home mom to the cutest and busiest little three year old you’ve ever seen. In order to make it possible to stay with her full-time and to save for our future (and hers), I am always looking for ways for our family to save wherever we can. We became even more serious about saving last year after reviewing exactly how much money was going out every month. I started serious couponing first, because most of our budget was going to the grocery store. I wouldn’t call what I do “extreme couponing”, but we are definitely saving about $400 per month in comparison to two years ago between the grocery and other big box store spending. And as a bonus, our cupboards and closets are full of food and toiletries!

I also took up gardening last year with one raised bed garden of vegetables. Whenever I decide to start a project like this, I’m sure my husband cringes as this means work for him. He built a nice raised bed for me and filled it with a truck load of dirt. Our friend had started extra tomato plants and had other extra seeds, so we actually spent absolutely nothing on our plants!

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As a new gardener, I noticed how much more everything grew when it rained in comparison to my usual watering from the hose. Our friend calls it “magic water”.

Partly inspired by our Catching Raindrops friend, Gloria, I told my husband that I needed a rain barrel. The way I remember it, he rolled his eyes and sighed. A couple days later, my man was researching rain barrels and told me he found some 55 gallon drums for sale nearby and had found a way to tie them into our downspout under the back porch. Within a week, the project was complete – three 55 gallon drums filled with water after one good rain.

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I can’t break down exactly how much money it is saving us, but I was watering our new landscaping on the front of the house and/or the veggie garden almost everyday. Since installing the rain collection system, I have only pulled the garden hose back out a few times. I am looking forward to expanding my garden this spring to two raised beds of vegetables and using my good and bad experiences from last year to improve. My husband will also add another rain barrel or two to be sure we never run out of rain water.

While my ways may be extreme to some, and my reasons to save money may be different from yours, there are almost always ways to spend less and save more for a rainy (or even not rainy) day!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go follow my child around while turning off lights and try to explain (again) that just because you can flip all the light switches now doesn’t mean you need to turn all the lights on!