I used to be a coupon addict. No…really. I would take my coupon binder camping – in the woods – with all of nature – and no electricity. There I was, in the woods…just me and my coupons with the Sasquatches. A year ago, if I could see myself where I am now, I would have told my husband that I had lost my mind and he needed to commit me to an institution. And yet, here I am – a complete 180 from what I used to be. Why?
Why did I make this HUGE change? It was for my baby girl, Annie…but now it’s turned out to be the best thing for my whole family.
In March 2011, I led my readers on a family journey called Stacy Goes Storeless where I did not shop retail the entire month. I wanted to prove to my readers that stockpiling worked. During that month, we only ate what I had stockpiled and it caused us to take a serious look at what we were putting in our bodies – high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and food colorings, to name a few. Yuck.
I started reading all I could get my hands on, and we changed our diet. At first, I thought it would only change how we ate….but then everything changed. I started making my own cleaners and buying homemade soaps. My husband jokingly says that I need to wear a tie-dyed skirt (I’m actually wanting one of those!) and drive a VW van (no plans for that purchase, but if you have one you’d like to give me I’ll take it).
I’ve embraced this new, natural lifestyle….but it was a gradual change. I encourage everyone who wants to make this switch to TAKE IT SLOW – or else you’ll end up going crazy and could possibly be relocated to the poorhouse where you’ll live until your mama sends you a cake with a file inside so that you can bust out.
Making the Switch
As we ran out of something in our home, I replaced it with something better: coconut oil for canola oil, butter for margarine, frozen veggies for canned veggies. For the love of Pete! I couldn’t just throw all that food out – I’m frugal all the way down to my undies. So, I would use it and comfort myself with the fact that I would replace it with something better.
I will tell you that I did throw out a good bit of the soy that I found lurking in my shelves. Soy scares me now….and there is good reason to avoid it. I was scared to death that our budget would go to pot and we wouldn’t be able to afford high quality food – but let me tell you something, people….that’s a LIE OF THE DEVIL.
The mindset that we cannot “afford” good food for our family on a modest budget is not true. We just have to prioritize and set goals. I quickly found out that my budget could stay the same by buying in bulk and buying items in season to freeze (I was already doing this since I was raised on a farm – so I have a preserving instinct).
Don’t buy into the lie that you can’t buy good food and you can only afford Twinkies and HoHos…just start slow and begin to replace your food with something better when it runs out.
Image by Sara Alfred
Out With the Soap
At first, the food seemed to make sense – but I still embraced my body wash and Colgate toothpaste. Don’t touch my Bath and Body Works stuff, dude – I might have bitten your hand off. But then I started to notice a change in Annie’s skin – it was rough and dried out. Depending on what type of soap I used on her, she got red splotches. Weird. Soap is supposed to make you feel clean and beautiful – not red and splotchy like you have the pox.
I immediately switched to natural soap for Annie and saw a HUGE change in her skin….and I slapped myself when I realized that it couldn’t be that great for Barry and I either. Duh.
Your skin is your largest organ – why slather it all over with chemicals? I can’t even pronounce that stuff and here I am smearing it inside my mouth. Doesn’t that seem crazy to anyone else?
So, now I’m buying homemade soap from a wonderful local lady – for our body, hair, and shaving. One product…more room in the shower – no bottles to knock over. Natural lotions and no fluoride in our toothpaste. Has this totally creamed my budget? Nope. I find that by cutting out all the unneeded mess, I had plenty of room to buy nice soap – one thing to do the job of many. Now I have this handy dandy little book from MadeOn called My Buttered Life with EASY recipes for making your own lotions…I can’t wait to dive in!
Do I still use some of that yucky stuff? Yep, I’m phasing it out and we’re almost done – “au natural” here we come! My next step in the bathroom will be to make our own deodorant. Being natural doesn’t mean you have to smell like Pepe Le Pew.
I was already making my own laundry detergent because it was cheap….and I’m cheap (I try to embrace it). So, when I began the switch to natural cleaners, it was pretty easy.
Here’s a news flash: homemade cleaners are CHEAP, BABY! You can clean your entire house with white vinegar and baking soda. Natural cleaners are just a part of my cheap lifestyle – it’s a beautiful thing. I bought a great book called Simply Clean which has totally revolutionized how I clean now….it’s a miracle book full of cleaning recipes for every room in the house. It’s my favorite eBook of all time.
If you’re cheap, or you want to be cheap like me, then natural cleaners are a great place to start! If the food switch overwhelms you, start with cleaners first. I think it will make your switch a lot easier. Next on my list to make this a huge batch of liquid dish detergent, using the recipe from The Farmer’s Nest.
Where Am I Now
I’m still very new to this lifestyle….but I am excited about it and I’m blessed to have a husband that is on board. I’m now delving into the world of natural medicines and it’s a little slower going – a lot of information to wrap my mind around – but I’m gradually changing out our medicine cabinet.
So, that’s my testimony – I wanted to share it with you because I know a lot of women out there are scared…scared of the switch – afraid they can’t do it. I’m living proof that it can be done – you can put down the coupons and save more money. And let me tell you something, honey – using coupons does not make you frugal. Switching to this lifestyle – making things at home and getting rid of the chemicals – still left us enough money in our budget to pay off our home mortgage balance of $20,000 in eight months on only one income.
You can do it – you can make the change. I’m with you all the way… I’ll be your cheerleader.