Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Saving what? The YFG noticed on the back on my copy of The Tightwad Gazette that it had the headline "Save money! Save time! Save the environment!" and we had a little chat about all that. We don't completely agree with the sentiments of the author, though, as saving money and the environment sometimes do take up time, so we didn't completely understand the time savings idea.

It is very true, however, that saving money does contribute to helping the environment; many of the things we do to save money are contributing to us using less energy and leaving a smaller carbon footprint. In the long run, we should as a family consider whether spending money is a good idea when the only reason for spending it is that we have it available to spend! Double dutch? I hope not. What I am saying is that even when saving money is not the prime objective, we should still consider our priorities more carefully.

As to saving time, well, I don't know. Making bread as opposed to picking it up with the shopping doesn't save me time, but it saves me money and gives me the huge satisfaction of being able to feed my family wholesome food without additives, which is a priority. Stockpiling food does save me some time as it greatly reduces the amount of time I have to spend in the shops - walking around the supermarket and picking up four cans of tuna once a month is a lot less time consuming than travelling there every week and picking up one can each time with the shopping. By cutting back on the journeys we make, we do save some time - but this is only really valuable if we use the time saved to our benefit; using the time saved to knit/sew/make jam/do something with the children is beneficial - spending it sitting like a vegetable in front of the TV is not (and yes, that is me being judgemental - TV is one of the biggest time wasters out there!)

I don't think that anyone has ever claimed that saving money was an easy thing to do - it involves making different choices, and maybe learning new skills, adjusting to different ideals, and focusing on particular goals. The trouble is that people who are new to economising hope that there is somewhere a switch which can be flicked to put them in moneysaving mode, expert in all the tips and tricks, and money will instantly start building up in the bank. It doesn't work like that, and so it is the people who live like this in good times as well as bad who understand that the true benefits take longer to accrue. Skills need time to be perfected, knowledge has to be learned, and networks of suppliers have to be found for cheaper goods, gardens have to be dug and seeds sown - all this takes time and preparation before the benefits are seen. Sometimes it takes months. Knowing that the tough times can be outridden is a security that I wouldn't want to give up, and living from one payday to the next is a position I would hope never to have to find myself. We have lived as a family in this way for about 16 years, and remember seeing my mother and grandmother do all sorts of things that saved in the long term, from home baking and jam making to darning and making clothes at home.

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