Finding Money around the House

How many times have you wished for a little extra cash so that you can retire your debts and build your savings? You can find “excess funds” by looking around your house for ways to cut expenses. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Turn the Screws

Learn to make your own repairs and improvements. How-to books and pamphlets and community education classes can help you obtain the necessary skills.

Fix leaky faucets.

Paint exterior wood surfaces to prevent deterioration. Preventive maintenance costs less than replacements or repairs.

Check want ads and garage sales for good buys on furniture and appliances. Be certain appliances are in good working condition, and have that fact stated in writing on the bill of sale.

Try to buy wholesale. Sometimes distributors will sell directly to you for their price plus tax.

Preventing Cold Feet

Ask local utility companies for pamphlets or counsel on ways to cut waste.

Clean furnace filters every two months, and replace them when they start to plug up.

Close vents in unused rooms or buy a programmable thermostat to turn down heat and air-conditioning when you are asleep or away.

Make sure your home is insulated properly.

During the summer, use a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer.

Turn your water-heater temperature down.

Teach your family—and yourself—to turn off lights, the television, curling irons, and other appliances they are not using.

If you don’t own a water-saver toilet, put a brick or bottle of water in your toilet tank.

Chewing the Fat

If you can, buy a phone instead of renting one.

Avoid phoning long-distance impulsively. Plan your calls when rates are lowest.

Write letters instead of making long-distance phone calls, and send a postcard rather than a letter whenever it will suffice.

When you ship packages, compare prices to find the least expensive method.

Keeping the Clothes on Your Back

Buy good-quality clothes that will wear well, that will not go out of style soon, and that can be mixed and matched with other items in your wardrobe.

Choose clothes that can be worn year-round to save the expense of having to maintain two wardrobes.

Shop around for quality “look-alikes” rather than buying name-brand apparel.

Shop at factory outlets or discount stores—but be wary. Some places that advertise themselves as discount stores are not. Know what various articles of clothing cost before you shop.

Ask for clothes and shoes with minor flaws in them. The quality is usually the same, and store managers will often give you a discount on them. Also, ask for seconds at outlet stores.

Call a six-month moratorium on buying clothes.

Trade clothes you don’t wear with family members and friends.

Learn to alter clothes so that you can wear them longer.

Learn to make your own clothing.

Bringing Home the Bacon

Remember that no one grocery store has all of the cheapest prices in town. As your time permits, shop around for the best buys.

Watch the ads, and plan menus to correspond with sale items. To help you determine good buys, keep a list of items you commonly buy and their prices in several different stores.

Use coupons only if they are for items you use or if the product is the lowest-priced brand.

Make a shopping list, and stick to it. Eat before you shop, and leave your children at home so you’re not tempted or coerced into buying extra items. If possible, shop only twice a month.

Use as few convenience foods as possible. Buy a cookbook that has recipes for homemade mixes so you can still make quick meals.

Avoid waste. Freeze leftovers in serving-size portions so you can eat them at a more convenient time.

Use less-expensive cuts of meat, and stretch meat by making more casseroles, skillet dishes, soups, and stews.

If you have a freezer, buy meat in bulk at good prices. Be sure to price the beef already cut and wrapped rather than “on the hoof.” Make certain that meat packers don’t substitute hamburger for steak.

Get day-old bakery goods from discount stores.

Buy 1-percent milk, or mix dried milk with whole milk.

Curb your consumption of junk foods. They are usually the most expensive and the worst for you.

Analyze whether it is more costly to buy hot lunches at school or work or to make sack lunches. If you decide to pack lunches, include foods that you know your family will eat.

Buy food in bulk or in “car-load” sales.

After you have acquired a year’s supply of food, maintain it. Then you need buy items only when they are on sale.

Within just a few months of implementing some of these ideas, you’ll find that looking for ways to save money comes almost automatically.Lyle E. Shamo, West Jordan, Utah

Our “Big Event” Home Evening

On the day I realized that the kindest remark I had made to our children in a long time was “Up to your room!” I decided to find a way to change my attitude and restore team spirit in our family. After prayerful thought, I decided to hold “The Big Event.”

First, I put a large sign on the refrigerator that read, “Coming Soon—The Big Event!” I also placed smaller advertisements under everyone’s pillows, in lunch boxes, and in jacket pockets. Soon curiosity replaced contention in our house as everyone speculated about “The Big Event.”

Throughout the next week, I noted each person’s talents and positive attributes and jotted down praiseworthy incidents and humorous statements. I snapped slides of our older children reading, setting the table, and working on crafts projects and our younger children building block towers together, getting the mail, and playing with the baby. I took pictures of my husband reading bedtime stories and giving piggyback rides. Then I asked the family to sing “I Am a Child of God” into a tape recorder.

After I got the slides developed, I crossed off Soon on our refrigerator poster and wrote Monday in big red letters. Anticipation grew!

At home evening on Monday, I spent a few minutes talking about each family member, quoting his or her kind and humorous comments, listing good qualities, and thanking him or her for being on our “team.” As I praised each person, I put a paper crown on his or her head and gave him or her a small wrapped gift. To add humor, I played an audiocassette with drum roll and fanfare sound effects as I talked. For the finale, I showed a slide presentation of the family pictures that I had taken, with our recording of “I Am a Child of God” playing in the background.

“The Big Event” caused our feelings of family pride to grow in bounds.Gwen Haglund, Moon Township, Pennsylvania

There’s Wheat in This Meat!

Beef was expensive the year my parents were in charge of feeding our ward’s elders quorum and their families at a quorum dinner. So Mom and Dad bought ten pounds of hamburger and, following a Mexican tradition, added cracked wheat to the meat to make it go further. They were able to feed seventy-five people as many tacos as they could eat.

You can use the same method they did in almost any dish that contains hamburger. Not only is the mixture economical, it also contains less cholesterol than plain hamburger, helps you rotate the wheat in your food storage, and tastes good.

To extend hamburger, crack whole grains of wheat in a wheat grinder or blender just as you would for cracked-wheat cereal. (You can also use bulgur—boiled cracked wheat that has been dried.) Cook the hamburger and drain the fat. For each pound of hamburger, add two cups of water and one-half cup of uncooked cracked wheat. Stir and simmer at least thirty minutes. Add seasonings.

The wheat will absorb water, the meat’s flavor, and any seasonings; the wheat-meat mixture has a texture similar to that of regular meat filling, and it can be refrigerated for later use. Because the wheat kernels will continue to swell, you may need to add additional water before reheating.Camille G. West, Salt Lake City, Utah

Birthday Report Card

What made my seven-year-old grandson pause to read a birthday card—without being prompted—before he tore into the wrappings on a birthday present? I became even more curious when he continued to read beyond the few seconds usually devoted to cards and began to smile broadly as he exchanged glances with his mother. Neither said a word, but his happiness was almost tangible as he put the card down gently.

Later I learned what my daughter Valerie had written in the card:

“Dear Brent,

“You had a great year: Sister Heckroth and Brother Sheets for Primary teachers, Mrs. Luwe for a great first-grade teacher. You learned to swim with strong arms. You became an even better reader—one of your best talents. You sang a duet with Brett in “Primarily Kids” and performed in the Primary magic show—the old carrot trick. You went off a jump on your bicycle and did a lot of push-ups at Cubs. [He participated in one of his older brother’s den activities.] You learned to take Steven out of his crib and made your home happy with your smiles.


“Mother and Dad.”

I discovered that Valerie had adapted the idea from counsel she had heard a temple sealer give to a couple he was about to marry: “Remember anniversaries. Even if you can’t afford a present, write a message recording some of the good events and happy memories of the year.”

By following this advice, in a few specific words Valerie had reinforced Brent’s respect for his teachers at school and Primary; encouraged his reading, swimming, and bicycling skills; and emphasized his importance as a big brother and a happy member of the family.Beth C. Paullin, Rancho Palos Verdes, California

[photos] Photography by Steve Bunderson