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Have you heard the one about the homeschooling family that lives on less than $22K a year in an area that costs above 100% (116%) of the National CoL Index?

I haven't quite figured out why so many people still persist in perpetuating the myth that living on a single income and homeschooling on a dime aren't possible. I can only suppose these are people who can't imagine life without a daily trip to Starbucks and dinner out several times a week. The people who actually shop at malls (*shudder*) and think "Brand Name = Best". The people who really live by the "Keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.

That? Would not be us!

Welcome to our world. We cook from scratch. Buy from thrift stores. Find 95% of our homeschool materials for free. This is my blog and this is how we do it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Saving up for a new "Wants" purchase.

So, this weekend, I bought something I've wanted for a long while. It was definitely not a need, but it was something I know I'm going to use, and in fact already did, yesterday.

What I wanted was a 4 quart Crock Pot. Now, I do believe every frugal home should have at least one Crock Pot, and I already had a 6 quart one. I also, until very recently, had a small 2 1/2 quart one, but I accidentally knocked it off the top of the fridge (where I kept it) while trying to wipe down those totally useless cabinets above the fridge. It hit the floor and dented so badly the sides partially separated from the bottom, and I figured that made it potentially not safe, so I ditched it. It was over twelve years old and I didn't use it that often anyway. It had been great when my husband and I were still sans children because I could cook a few chicken thighs and some veggies in it, and I did occasionally use it to melt some cheese for dip, and make smaller batches of apple butter, but, really, the death of the 2 quart slow cooker wasn't too great of a tragedy.

The problem with my 6 quart cooker is that I *have* to cook a large batch of whatever I'm cooking, or I run the risk of scorching or overcooking something. It's great for soups and whole chickens and such, but not so great for other things, so I wanted a smaller one.

I've seen Crock Pots for sale at Goodwill for as little as $3. But this was one of those very, very few places where I felt going new would be better. In recent years slow cookers have been "upgraded" for safety concerns and there's no telling how old the used ones really are. On those times when I'm going to purposely purchase something new, I have a special way of saving up for it.

I found a 4 quart Crock Pot at Wal-Mart for a little over $15 with tax. Making note of it, I began saving for it. What I did was keep my change, as long as it was from a shopping day where we hadn't gone over budget. Every Saturday, after shopping, I put whatever coins I had left in a jar on my bathroom counter. This never amounted to more than $1 or so, but it slowly and steadily added up. I also tossed in a few pennies and dimes I'd found in parking lots. (Yes, I really do pick up coins off the ground!) Finally, this past weekend, I had enough to buy my Crock Pot. Woo!

There are two really great things about saving up for a purchase this way. First, If you've budgeted $45 for the shopping week, but you only spent $44.20, then that .80 cents won't really be missed in the grand scheme of things. But more important, by making yourself save up this way, which can take weeks or months, you will give yourself time to *really* consider if you want to even make that purchase after all. This takes all the danger of "impulse buy" right out of it.

There are some downsides, admittedly, such as possibly missing a sale on the item because you haven't saved enough yet, having the item sell out or go up in price, or simply wanting the item by a specific time. However, as I am specifically talking about "wants" here, not "needs," I have found this to be the most effective way for me to squeeze that want out of our budget without digging too much into money that should be spent elsewhere, and this far out-weighs the downsides.

And as everybody loved the BBQ beef and beans we had yesterday, I guess my family is happy enough with my latest acquisition. :)
Blogger Gena said...

That is a great way to do things. I currently have 3 crockpots - one I've had for almost 25 years (still works), one was a gift from my brother and one I bought about 10 years ago. I use them all. They are one of the best investments any mom can make. I also just bought a new one for my son, who is moving into his first apartment on Monday.

July 10, 2007 at 7:56 PM  
Anonymous mrs. dani said...

I too love mine. It was a wedding gift over 15 years ago. What is so neat is the it is a combo crockpot and deep fryer. While I do not deep fry often, I love that the inner part comes out and it makes for easy soaking in the sink.

My only problem is I do not use it much because I do not have many good recipes. I have been given many books but they all call for expensive or hard to find items or just too many ingredients. If you could post some or suggest a website with some I would really apprciate it.

July 10, 2007 at 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Birdie said...

Congratulations on staying under budget AND saving up for what you wanted! Way to go!

I'm afraid that I NEED at least a five quart slow cooker for my brood. They are BIG and they are HUNGRY! ;)

July 10, 2007 at 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You pick up coins in parking lots, too? Yea! I'm not the only one. Last week I hit the jackpot with a dime.


July 11, 2007 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

Mrs. Dani-I really like Recipezaar.com as a site for recipes, once you type in your recipe search, you can hit the "sift by" "categories" button and pick "equipment" "Crockpot".

This article on about.com also has tips on how to convert your regular recipes to be cooked in the crock pot


Good luck!

July 12, 2007 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Just Me, Jenni said...

LOL, Tammy! I pick up coins in the parking lots all the time! In fact, I'd go so far as to say I got my new crock pot "tax free" thanks to found money. :)

Jenn, thanks for posting the links!

July 12, 2007 at 3:04 PM  

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