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Ten years ago I wrote a book called “Get More For Your Money”. It was self-published and I remember coming home with cases of books thinking “it will be so embarassing if I die with these books still in my basement!” Fortunately, I sold them all. Unfortunately, I sold them all. Now there’s a financial crisis and masses of people are at last willing to learn how to be frugal. A reprint is in the works.

My family has been living on one income for 26 years. This year it is a low income. My husband works in home construction and had his income cut by a third. But underemployed is better than unemployed!  I like to say we’re “thriving near the poverty line”. The only way we can live well without much money is by spending it only where it counts and getting creative for all our “wants”.

I want to encourage anyone who is finding it hard to make ends meet.  Your clothing budget can be nearly zero. Your food budget can be about $2 per person per day, and I’m not talking white bread and kool-aid! If you cut spending drastically, your dollars are available for housing, utilities, insurance and other essentials. It is hard to be poor. It means you can’t just throw money at a problem and do it the easy way. Every event or need means a little extra thought, planning and work. But being debt free is better than doing things the easy way. For our family being frugal even when we had extra money meant that when our income was cut, we were OK. We just needed to keep doing what we knew….don’t spend money on anything that isn’t a bill.

How do we dress a large family nearly for free? Our church hosts a clothing exchange twice a year. Everyone brings clothing they no longer want. Volunteers sort it by size & gender during the five days of set-up and shop for free. On Saturday we are open to the public who come and take whatever they want, as much as they want. What doesn’t get taken is donated to charity.

If there’s no exchange in your area already, maybe you could host one. A church, garage, or community center would be a good location. You’ll want helpers. It could be a neighborhood, work or church project. You just need space, racks & hangars, tables and signs. You’ll find that people have nice things to donate. We’ve all got clothing that we’ve never worn and it’s great to share it at the exchange.

Next post….food, my favorite place to save money!

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