Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10 Frugal, Green, Practical Lessons from my 85 Year Old Grandmother

I love my grandmother. Her name is Flornia and she is my hero! She's 85 years old, a widow and can still run circles around the rest of us young whipper-snappers. She's fiesty and flirty and so fun!

Mamaw Flornia enjoying dinner at church. Notice it's mostly vegetables. She prides herself on the fact that she doesn't eat a lot of meat...she's a cutie!

This is her, front and center and cuttin' up (not surprising), with the crew who put on the great Homecoming dinner at church. Real servants for the Lord!

I'd soooo love to be more like her. But for the most part, I'm just not.

She's a busy little bee and I'm a slow slug.

She's type A and I'm totally type B.

She's a piddler and I'm a chillaxer.

She's feisty and always crackin' jokes and I'm more serious.

But I can learn from her, right? And I've been learning from her my whole life, but now, as an adult, I see the gold in the way she lives.

She's the kind of woman who saves every last penny, but can buy anything she wants. She doesn't settle for low quality when it comes to the things that matter, but is content with the simple things in life.

This is my grandmother (we call her "Mamaw") on the right, beside her, her husband Dewey (my grandfather). I love this picture taken in the late 1950's, early 60's at Christmas. My mom, Sharon is in the front (she hated those "too short" hair cuts my Mamaw would give her) and her two brothers, Bobby and D.D. are behind her.

Mamaw was "green" before being "green" was cool.

She's of that Depression Era generation that just gets it....

Be content with what you have, don't waste, do good to others, give and be generous with what you have and save for the future.

Here are a few of the lessons I've learned from my Mamaw Flornia over the years... 

1. Get up early and get your work done before it gets hot outside. 
Forget about these new ideas always springing up in books for moms who just can't get it together. Trust me, I've read them. Why? Because I have a hard time getting up early. But I'm sure those of a different generation never gave even a thought to "getting up with purpose," they just got up early out of necessity because it was better (for many reasons) and practical. Sometimes I think we home makers from this generation forget the practicality and common sense of why we need to do the things we need to do and WAY over think our days. I hope I can develop the oh-so important habit of getting up early. This is especially important when you're 85 years old and you still primarily do all of your own yard work (we stay on to her all the time for working outside and getting too hot!). This is also good advice for procrastinators (like me) who just need to go ahead and get the big stuff out of the way first thing in the morning.

2. Have a routine. 
My grandmother is always in bed by 10:00 P.M. and up by 5 or 6:00 A.M. She makes a pot of coffee, reads her Bible, turns on the radio to Coal Country, 96.5, WXCC and listens all morning while she does her work. In the mornings my grandmother sweeps her porch, does yard work, cleans the bathroom, washes and folds laundry, sweeps and mops the floors, cleans her oven and range, wipes down appliances, dusts, vacuums, cleans windows, hangs curtains, cleans out the refrigerator or closets...WHATEVER! I promise, she can always find something to get into to keep her busy and she wouldn't have it any other way. She likes to be busy. I call it "piddling." She can always find something to piddle with. But by 11:00 A.M., you can find her in her chair with a snack and a cup of coffee, watching The Price is Right, then after that, her "stories." It's sad, but a lot of the old soap operas she used to watch have been cancelled, but she still manages to keep up with General Hospital! But the point is, she has all her work finished by 11 A.M. and has the rest of the day to do whatever she wants, guilt free. Why can't I do that?

3. A swat on the behind from your house shoe will line out any unruly child. Old school style!
But only after you've warned them umpteen times. Patience is a virtue hard learned by grandmas, but runs thin after a while!

Here is Mamaw with a few of her great-grand-children. I don't think any of them have ever felt a swat from her house shoe on their behind, but I know I sure have!

4. Save all your spare change, especially dimes. Dimes are easiest to count out and roll. Teach your grandchildren to roll coins. It saves you the trouble of having to do it yourself and is educational for them.

I wonder how many kids today even know what "rolling coins" means? My grandmother wouldn't DREAM of dumping her coins in one of those machines at the grocery store that counts your coins for you and charges to do it! That's a waste of money when you can just do it yourself!

My grandmother had two of these large ceramic cats that were painted orange and about a foot tall. She named them Henry and Henrietta and they were always FULL of dimes. I remember spending many a summer day rolling dimes and pennies and other coins for her. She still has them to this day!

5. Store up food for the winter. 
Even though she doesn't have a giant garden anymore like she used to, my grandmother still keeps an eye out for good deals on some of her favorite produce in the summer, like green beans and tomatoes and cabbage (for kraut) and cans it all. This saves money and reduces waste since you just reuse the jars year after year.

6. Save something from your paycheck...even if it's just a few dollars. It all adds up over time.
And it has. My grandmother isn't wealthy, but she is never without anything she really wants. She pays cash for everything from furniture to new hardwood floors for her house, all because she is frugal, not wasteful and she saves.

7. Have a "Christmas Club" account at your bank.
My grandmother buys Christmas presents for practically everyone she knows! She's always had a Christmas Club account at the bank. Each time a deposit is made, an allocated amount goes directly into a savings account just for Christmas. I'm not sure if banks do this much anymore, but they do in my home town. She's never charged on a credit card a single dime for Christmas presents and still manages to buy something for everyone on her list!

8. Don't throw away things you can reuse. 
Now, my grandmother is no pack rat, but she saves just about everything of any use or value. Speaking of Christmas, we know we're not allowed to throw away the bows, gift boxes or bags when we unwrap our gifts because she saves them all for the next year. We also know that a few of us are going to open gifts packaged in Moonpie or Little Debbie Snack Cake boxes. These make perfect containers for socks and underwear (which is what the men always get). She also saves butter tubs and their lids for leftovers, etc., tin pie plates and sometimes even tin foil. She doesn't even like to throw away a sink full of water! My grandmother fills up the sink with soapy water first thing in the morning to wash her coffee cup and leaves the soapy water there the rest of the day, washing small dishes and silverware as she uses them instead of putting barely used dishes in a dishwasher which is a HUGE water and energy waster. She has never even owned a dishwasher. 
But my favorite "reuse" of hers are bread bags. She uses the plastic bags from loaves of bread for many things, but the best is for leftover hand- popped popcorn. It stays really fresh!

These make great packages for Christmas presents!

9. Leftover bread is for the birds.
Literally. My grandmother always tears up leftover bread, cornbread, stale crackers, popcorn etc. and throws them out to the birds. She enjoys watching the birds flock around her yard and saves money on expensive bird seed (plus, who wants all the little unwanted weeds and grasses that grow up from the spilled seed).

10. Get it while it's on sale.
Whether it's beef, or pajamas, or cans of soda (which she buys and donates to the Volunteer Fire Department's soda machine), or milk, or cans of vegetables, or shoes, or Christmas decorations or potting soil, you get it when it's ON SALE! I've known my grandmother, very recently even, to jet out to the store as soon as she gets the paper and sees a really good sale on a particular item. She then buys up a bunch of whatever it is that's on sale and keeps it back for later. A few weeks ago I joined her on a shopping trip for pajamas. She practically bought everyone in the family a pair of pajamas for Christmas because they were on sale. She does this all year; catches great deals, stocks up, then wraps them up for Christmas.

I know these aren't new ideas but they are things that I fail to do a lot of times, either because I''m lazy (saving money), selfish (sleeping late) or just want convenience (not washing dishes as I go).

If your grandparents are still around, take a moment today and call them up or go see them. That generation, born in the 1920's and 30's are nearly gone. It's important that we cherish each moment we have with them and learn the lessons they have to teach us. We may think we're so smart with our "green, " and frugal living, like we invented it. But my grandmother's generation was reducing, reusing and recycling long before that was "the thing to do." Back then it was "the thing you HAD to do!"

Take a moment today and remember them and try to take away a piece of their golden wisdom!

And say a prayer for my Mamaw if you can. This weekend, someone stole, right from her flowerbeds, her pair of little kissing children. She calls them her "Dutch boy and girl."

Can you believe that?!

Those things were OLD! She's had them forever. And they were made of concrete, so I'm wondering who could have carted off something like that, or why they'd want to? It's bad enough to steal from a little old lady, but her garden gnomes? Come on. That's new level of LOW and senseless!

They looked a lit like these...

My Mamaw Flornia is a wonderful woman of God...a REAL Proverbs 31 woman! Her children indeed rise up and call her blessed (and so do her grandchildren). We all love her very much!!!

1 comment:

  1. What a sweet grandma you have! My mom is actually older than her, isn't that amazing? Of course I'm older than you, lol!

    Your grandma is in great health, what a blessing. My mom is pretty frail but she's 89!


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