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Category: Living Simply

Freezer Cooking Day: Making Do in a Small Kitchen

While I worked on grating the cheese, the others got busy chopping peppers, boiling noodles, browning ground beef, and Gretchen started putting together the Beef, Bean, and Tomato Burritos. (I’d love to share that recipe with you, but she made it up on the stop–as the girls in my family are prone to do!–so I haven’t a clue what was in them aside from cheese, tomatoes, taco seasoning, beef, beans, and tomatoes rolled up in tortillas).

Our kitchen is on the small side. It works for our little family of five, but it gets cramped really quickly if you add in more people. However, compared to the crackerbox kitchen we had in our little basement apartment, it seems rather spacious!

I wasn’t sure how four of us were going to cook in the kitchen without bumping into each other all over the place–especially since we’re short on counter space. My sister had a brilliant idea: set up a cardtable! So we added a large amount of work space just with this simple addition to the kitchen.

Someday, I’d love to have a a large kitchen with massive amounts of cupboard and countertop space. But in the mean time, a card table works great when you’re in a pinch for extra countertop space!

“I don’t really care what other people think.”

As many of you know, my husband and I lived on beans and rice while he was in law school in order to stay out of debt. It wasn’t easy–especially when many others around us were living extravagantly when they had no money to do so.

But one of the biggest lessons we learned was to be content with what we have and stop worrying about what others think. From the old cars to the thrift store clothes to the coupon-clipping to the eating at home, we just got used to being weird and it didn’t bother us if we were the only ones pinching pennies.

One of the things we did to save money was to only have one car for a few years. While it’s nice to have two vehicles, we certainly learned that it is a luxury, not a necessity. And we got along just fine as a one-car family.

When Jesse got a job with a long commute, we saved up and bought a second vehicle–an old blue minivan. This vehicle has been Jesse’s mode of transportation for the last few years and he’s driven Old Blue Van all over the state to his various court appearances and attorney functions. He’s gotten quite a few funny looks and interesting remarks from other attornies since it’s definitely not the typical car a lawyer would drive.

After a number of years of scrimping, saving, investing, and working hard, we’re now in a position where we could afford to pay cash for a newer, nicer car. So I’ve been thinking recently about how badly I felt that Jesse was still driving such a clunker and guessing he probably got tired of the comments about his less-than-ideal vehicle, even though he never has once complained about it.

So I told Jesse the other day that I’d like for us to save up to pay cash for a better car for him. He looked at me and said sincerely, “I don’t need a new car and I don’t care what other people think.”

I love that guy! And I completely agree with him: There’s such a freedom in not having to spend time stressing about impressing other people.

We’ll probably buy a newer vehicle at some point in the not-too-distant future (likely when Old Blue Van breathes its last breath!), but in the mean time, we’re content and thankful. After all, we have two vehicles–a luxury that many people can’t even fathom!

Reader Testimonial: “I want to live with less and simplify”

Emails like this are such an encouragement to me:

My name is Amanda and I just recently found your website through a recommendation from a friend. I just want to thank you. I am the mother of a very active 4-year-old and hope to have another child in the next few years. My husband is a teacher and I am a social worker, both jobs that are often more than full-time and don’t pay terribly well.

We recently had a scare when the school district we both work for decided to reduce both of our positions. It would have been a cut of $26,000 in our annual income. It was a horribly scary time—we both love our jobs and didn’t want to seek other full-time employment but weren’t sure how we would keep up with our financial obligations (mortgage, student loans, daycare, food, etc.).

It was right after this happened that my friend told me about your website. I visited and was hooked. I definitely appreciate the coupons, but what I appreciated more is the atmosphere of the site. Exploring your site, I felt so much support and positive energy from the topics you cover and the posts left by other women. With your help I started to believe that I really could make it work for my family—that we could live more simply on less and be fine.I got more and more excited about my plans for growing our own vegetables, shopping at Goodwill, finding cheap/free entertainment, etc.

After about 3 weeks, our district decided not to cut my husband’s position and to restore mine to 3/4 time. Now we are not nearly as worried about our finances and probably wouldn’t have to change much.

However, now I WANT to. I WANT to live with less and simplify. Much of that desire comes from the things I’ve found on your website. Since I will have one day a week off, I still fully intend to plant that garden, search for those deals, shop at Goodwill, and hopefully even put some extra money in savings in the process!

Most of all, I’m really excited to have a little more time to focus on being Mom and taking care of my family. I just wanted you to know how you and the other women who contribute to your site brought me hope during a really difficult time, and hopefully changed my family’s lives for the better as we implement some of the money-saving, “simplifying” tips found on your site. -Amanda

A big thank you to each and everyone of you who visit here and those of you who take time to leave comments, share money-saving tips, and contribute guest posts. You might never know just what a big impact you are having on others who are struggling!

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