My grandmother was a very frugal woman who often told me “if you will mind your pennies your dollars will mind themselves.” I hope to share here some of her wisdom and the wisdom of others I have learned over the years

Thursday, September 5, 2013


On the Dave Ramsey group I am known as the official dispenser of “Pollyanna Pills.”

This is because like Pollyanna in the Disney film by the same name played by Hayley Mills I try to find the silver lining in everything I can.  When we suddenly became unemployed I stated it was probably the best thing that ever happened to us. Guess what, I was right, it was.

Because of that sudden change in our financial status that lasted for 18 long months we became closer and worked harder as a family unit.  Our lives have improved in all aspects as a result.

However, just like Hayley Mills’ character even I have down periods.  We are so close to being debt free I can taste it, but for a while now it has been so hard to stick to the plan.  I was tired after four long years of “doing without”.  Most folks don’t take near as long as we are taking getting debt free, but most weren’t as far in debt as we were, and most don’t lose their jobs just two months after starting the Total Money Makeover.  We’ve actually done well.  I truthfully and thankful for what all we have accomplished and how close we are to being debt free.

So why was I feeling so down? I pondered this for several days then one morning as I was getting dressed for daily chores I realized it was because I was MAKING myself feel poor.  Yes, MAKING myself.

I looked at the clothes I was dragging out of my seriously overstuffed closet to put on.  A stained and holey t-shirt to go with equally worn out shorts and socks from the bureau across the room.

WHY? Why was I even considering wearing these things?  It definitely wasn’t from a clothing shortage on my part.  Goodness I couldn’t even get my hand in the closet to get the t-shirt it was so tightly packed and we are talking a huge walk in closet with closet organizers!  There were enough clothes in there I could go  a few years without wearing the same outfit twice!  WHY?

It hadn’t been that long since I culled some clothes and “straightened up” but here I was grabbing the same stained t-shirt I had been wearing, washing, repeat once a week for months.  Why?

I didn’t use to EVER wear anything that was stained or had holes in it. Why was I doing so now?  This was a serious question. One so serious I sat down and mulled it over.

Finally I came up with the answer.  Because I had decided on some level I HAD to do without because we were so far in debt, we were “poor”.  How stupid was that?

One of my favorite Dave Ramsey quotes is “Poor is a state of mind. Broke is, 'I'm just passing through.'" So how had I let this sneak up on me?  We weren’t poor, we were broke.  Broke is temporary.  

I looked again at the clothes I had laid out for the day and thought “I can do better than this, I AM better than this!”  Struggling with the tightly packed closet I dug until I found a comfortable unstained, hole free t-shirt that I wouldn’t mind if I did ruin it and put it on instead.  Over at the bureau I dug through the over flowing drawers and pulled out decent clothing from the skin out and then I got dressed and put on decent shoes instead of my worn out Crocs. 

Suddenly I felt so much better.  I looked better and my gloom was lifting.  I realized again that I had been making myself feel down.  I declared out loud to the cats surrounding me wanting breakfast “NO MORE!  I’m through with feeling poor!”

As soon as morning chores were over I started first on the closet, then later my bureau drawers.  EVERYTHING that was stained, had holes, too big, too small, came out.  It was sorted into stacks

1.     Rag bag.  Those 100% cotton items that would make good cleaning rags.

2.     Recyclable fabric.  We have a local charity that will take those items, tear them up and recycle the fabric.

3.     Wearable, but not by me.  These items were for the local charity resale shop.

4.     Non-burn.  Too bad for the other stacks and yes I did find such items.

The volume I pulled out was astounding I could not believe I had kept all those depressing items in my closet. More than once I asked myself again "Why?"

As I sorted things out I also sorted in the closet.  I organized my clothing in the following order:

1.     To wear around the house.  These were unstained hole free items that were comfortable, but that I probably would not wear out in public.  Items like free advertisement t-shirts from all the different seminars and events we’ve gone to.  Perfectly good shirts, but really not the style I want to show out in public.  Shirts I wouldn’t mind if I ruined them while scrubbing out a coop or doing other dirty jobs around the Rock ‘n Tree Ranch.

2.     Go to town clothing.  Pretty self explanatory.

Once the main cull out was done I went back through the remaining two groups and broke the two groups down even further.

1.     Short sleeved

2.     Long sleeved

3.     Sweats

4.     Holiday

Those four groups were also basically color sorted.  It all sounds a little excessive I know, but what that organization did for my over all attitude was HUGE! Suddenly I felt completely back in control.  I was “donating” to charities, I was dressing nicely, instead of like a poor person and I could actually maneuver clothing in my closet easily instead of breaking my finger nails while trying to get something in or out of it.  I could still dress for over a year if we should suddenly find ourselves without electric and water to do laundry. As I stood back and looked at the organized long racks of clothing I felt pleased.  I felt in control again.

This got me to thinking about other ways I had been making myself “feel poor”.  Hmmm, there were the broken or not working properly household appliances I had been doing without.  Next step was to do the required repairs on those.  Repairs that very often turned out to be free to do.  A prime example of those was the clothes dryer that was taking several times through to dry a single load.  I convinced the guys to pull the dryer out and look for a clog in the vent line.  Viola! A quick drying load! Think of the electricity we will save.  Plus the time of going back and forth to the utility room to “re-do” a load. 

The house was starting to look a little ran down, so we started on fixing that.  Example: the front porch had suddenly started coming apart.  We had the lumber leftover from another project on hand to fix it.  It took the guys two days in the heat, but now I have a wonderful safe from porch again, for FREE.

As I continue to look around for other ways we’ve been making ourselves “feel poor.” I thought I should address this issue with others.  Surely we weren’t the only people that had slipped into this mindset.  Upon chatting with others I found many people had fallen into the same trap.  Thus this post and a challenge. 

“How are you making youself feel poor, and what can you do to correct it?”

Jan who will be screaming that she is debt free before too much longer in OK

No comments:

Post a Comment