A few weeks ago I blogged about how I was waiting for a few different things to happen, and God was working at his usual pace. His pace is majestic and holy and all, but also very, very slow. (After the week we’ve had together I can say these things with no fear of lightning bolts coming for me. What a week!)

The sale of our rental house was settled today, and hallelujah for that. As of this afternoon my husband and I are the proud owners of exactly one house, which is still probably one more house than we are interested in owning at this point in our lives, but it’s far better than two houses.

Out of the blue on Sunday morning an offer came to our realtor, offering us a closing as fast as it could legally be arranged. Because they were paying cash and we were highly motivated (this is real estate language for ready to burn the house down) we were able to set a closing date in five days. So, KABOOM, this afternoon we went and signed all the millions of papers and gave them a check to clear ourselves of all obligations.

We are now free. It feels glorious.

It also feels a little, um, poor. Not that I’m complaining, because I know millions of people around the world consider the amount in our severely lightened checking account to be a pile of inconceivable riches. We have less money, but we’re still so fortunate. I know this, but we’re still living here in the US of A and we need to cut back our spending ASAP.

We’ve warned the children that the next two months are cutback months. No unnecessary spending. No new clothes unless current clothes are literally splitting at the seams. No expensive dinners out, no fancy new gizmos, no new shrubbery for the front yard (that was actually the sermon I gave to myself this morning).

But we can’t live a life of do-nots, we have to do something. We can’t sit on the couch and stare at the ceiling for two months. So last night I polled my Facebook Crew to see what their families do when they have to cut back spending. I specifically asked 1) what they eat for dinner and 2) what they do for fun. Here are some of their great answers!

cheap things to eat and do

What to eat when the budget is tight:

  • Breakfast for dinner: pancakes, egg casseroles, French toast, waffles
  • Soups and chilis
  • Sandwiches: grilled cheese, anything in a tortilla (which makes it more fun than a plain sandwich), quesadillas
  • Food Bowl: this made me laugh out loud. My friend Susie says she mixes all the leftovers together, puts some cheese on top, and puts it in a bowl. Hence, Food Bowl. Hilarious! Other friends noted a wide variety of leftover management, including my friend Kim who’s such a good cook she feeds leftovers to company. My first-run meals are barely edible– no company will be eating my leftovers.
  • Vegetarian/almost vegetarian meals: mac and cheese, Ramen noodles, meat-light stir fry, lentil sloppy joes, beans and rice, baked potato bar, and spaghetti

Activities for tight budgets:

  • Bonfires– if you play this one right you can actually roast your dinner over the fire and kill two birds with one large flame. Dinner and activity!
  • Game night
  • Reading together
  • Library programs or borrowing movies from the library
  • Walks, hikes, bike rides, trips to the park
  • Free museum programs
  • Digging holes and filling them back in (I think maybe Jeff was kidding, but he’s a little sleep deprived since their newborn arrived. Heaven only knows what he’s actually doing for fun these days.)
  • Have friends over, with or without games
  • Movie night, with special themed food to match the movie
  • Popcorn made on the stove
  • Playing instruments together
  • Disc golf
  • Nerf gun fights
  • Wii tournaments
  • Picnics

Here’s the thing– none of these ideas are surprising, are they? We all know mac and cheese is cheap and going to the park is free. What sets these answers apart is the great attitude my friends had about their suggestions. Moaning about being out of cash doesn’t make the situation any better.

And so many people had stories to tell about money being tight. This isn’t an isolated challenge one family bears alone. I think we often feel like we’re the only ones, when really a lot of people right around us have the same concerns about making the money spread far enough.

What about you? Do you have suggestions we missed? I’d love to hear them!

4 Comments on And Now We Shall Do All the Free Things and Eat All the Cheap Things

  1. David
    April 3, 2015 at 3:17 pm (3 years ago)

    Not sure I can add anything to the list Jessie. Our leftover management isn’t too bad. We played a couple of rounds of Monopoly Deal this afternoon, and I love to walk or cycle. Just can’t get the others moving. Movie night is difficult as John always wants to watch something else and Nerf guns …. well you should hear the blood curdling screams whenever he shoots his sister.

  2. Jessie Clemence
    April 4, 2015 at 10:47 am (3 years ago)

    I can imagine you’d probably like to keep the blood curdling screams down to a minimum. I know I would!

  3. David
    April 4, 2015 at 3:13 pm (3 years ago)

    Yes. We have neighbours. Beth has been home this week (it was her birthday). They haven’t done too badly. The Nerf guns have stayed in John’s bedroom.

  4. David
    April 4, 2015 at 5:51 pm (3 years ago)

    Spoke too soon. Nerf gun incident on the landing just now!