I love being thrifty as it gives me such a buzz and a sense of achievement, I can't help but love a bargain (who doesn't). Savings are there all around us for the taking, and we have to be savvy enough to decipher when to take them. This post is about a different approach that I am taking to being thrifty. I am putting aside price matching online, planning meals in advance and up-cycling old furniture. Don't get me wrong I am not discounting them, as they are a great way to save. Instead I am thinking closer to home getting back to our community, our street and our neighbours. This seems like the perfect place to start.
When we moved into our house 18 months ago the front garden was an overgrown mess. After pruning and trimming back, removing all of the nettles and thistles we were left with a huge empty garden bed with one bush and little else. This is where my thrifty story begins, we had no money for a garden centre trip, nor would I have known what to buy anyway, but I also knew we could only leave the empty garden void for so long. This is when I had this thrifty epiphany, why not ask our neighbour's for help. They all had established gardens with flowers that suited our soil and environment, so I figured what have we got to lose asking them for a few cuttings? A few days later two of our neighbours had found us a selection of seedlings and cuttings for us to use. Wow! I was in shock, how nice of them to help us out! In return we offered them cuttings from our thriving rosemary bush perfect for roasting with potatoes! It saved us a huge amount of money that we didn't have.
|The Rosemary bush! Pretty with its purple flowers.|
It baffles me that I hadn't come up with this before it is so simple and easy, trade resources with neighbours, family and local community. The process has evolved into something quite naturally - no I don't have eggs or crops like years ago but I do have homemade marmalade, green tomato chutney (made with green tomatoes left over from our garden and windfallen apples from a friend's garden) and blackcurrant jam. I have a happy little baking assistant who loves to make bread, cakes and cookies, and a garden full of herbs including a thriving rosemary bush. Why not pool resources sharing herbs for cooking that would cost you an arm and leg to buy fresh each time?
This year has been a trading year, marmalade for rosehip syrup, letting our friends dog out for some help lifting and moving. It seems small but each trade, help and conversation builds another stake in our community and street, the smaller things grow into bigger things and overtime I hope it will keep growing.
I think back to when I was a child and we would spend hours walking through country paths in search of elderflowers for my grandad to make wine with and blackberries to eat for our tea. I want my children to have as much fun learning about our natural resources as I did, and get back to this notion that thrifty isn't just about great savings online or buying the latest gadget at a really good price but it is also about using what you have.
If you don't know where to start why not use this easy recipe for a Hermann friendship cake, it comes from Germany and tastes really good. It is a sourdough so you feed it over 9 days milk, flour and sugar - and its a perfect recipe for little ones to help and take ownership of. Then on the final day you split it into four containers keeping one for yourself, which you then bake into a delicious cake. The other three you give to friends or neighbours with a copy of the recipe to do the same again. I love that this cake goes on and on, your one little cake reaches lots and lots of people. Use it as a gift or a trading resource, eat it, freeze it and save for a rainy day when you desperately need a sweet treat but don't have the money. It is the perfect conversation starter for getting thrifty with your neighbours, you might be surprised about what you have that they need and vice - versa!
Here is the recipe: Herman Friendship Cake
Start up: You only need this bit once
- Add 1/3 cup of warm water to a large plastic bowl
- Sprinkle 1 tbsp sugar over the water
- Sprinkle 2 tbsp of active dry yeast over
- Let it all stand in a warm place until it has doubled in size (approx 20 ish minutes)
Then add and mix:
- 2 cups of plain flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 cups of sugar
Cover Herman loosely with a tea towel (he needs to breathe) and leave on the side, tomorrow will be day 1 in the below instructions! Always stir with a wooden spoon, and never put him in the fridge!
This is the bit you have to remember to give away with Herman when you pass him on.
Day 1 - Stir well
Day 2 - Stir well
Day 3 - Stir well
Day 4 - Herman is hungry! Add 1 cup of plain flour, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of sugar and stir well
Day 5 - Stir well
Day 6 - Stir well
Day 7 - Stir well
Day 8 - Stir well
Day 9 - Herman is hungry! Add 1 cup of plain flour, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of sugar and stir well. Then divide into 4 equal portions. Keep 1 for yourself and give 3 away. Your friends start back at day 1 and you leave your for one final night before:
Day 10 - Herman is very hungry. Stir well and add
1 cup of sugar,
1/2 tsp salt,
2 cups of plain flour,
2/3 cup cooking oil,
2 tsp vanilla essence,
2 heaped tsp of baking powder,
2 heaped tsp of cinnamon,
2 cooking apples
1 cup of raisins.
(Feel free to omit the cinnamon if you don't like it, and we substituted the raisins for chocolate chips the recipe is flexible enough that you can be creative! In fact thats the beauty of it you can use whatever you have around)
Place in a large greased baking tin sprinkled with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of melted butter and bake for 45 minutes at 180c
|Herman cake with chocolate chips - this was my very first attempt!|
As part of my competition entry I also have to give one reason why an offshore pension with Whichoffshore is a good idea so here it is. We lived in Texas for 3 years as expats and knowing about Whichoffshore would have made managing our finances much less of a headache, because you can have an account that uses multiple currencies. Plus you never know when your situation is going to chance so having these already set up makes life easier for you.
So be inspired, be thrifty, and think closer to home!