Blissfully Informed Hippie Chick

Encouraging people to think critically about everything.

Why Disobedience is Beneficial

If you heard someone described as obedient, what thoughts does it bring to mind? Someone with no mind of their own, who will do what you tell them, who won’t stand up for themselves. Oh no, that’s not what I’m aiming for, and so I do not want ‘obedient’ children.

Imagine, a world full of people who are looking for someone to obey. Sadly, I already see this happening in America. Obey the law (even if it’s morally wrong). Obey your doctor (even if there’s a better way). Obey what the advertisers tell you to buy (even if there’s no good reason to do so). This country is full of people who do exactly as they’re told by a select few entities, and look at where it’s gotten us? Obedient citizens are wonderfully controllable. They are also easy to profit off of. They readily believe propaganda and willingly turn each other in to the authorities for daring to not believe the lies. And it all starts with you, as parents. Demanding blind obedience from your children. Then sending them off to a government-run propaganda complex (a.k.a. “school”) to be further stuffed into little boxes, taught to absorb and regurgitate information, never to question authority, and even wait until a designated time to use the bathroom.

The mother in the shopping centre with a screaming child can expect glares and ‘control your child’ comments from passersby. As if children aren’t their own person but more like possessions to be controlled. That your parenting should be judged on how well your children behave, how quiet they are, how obedient they appear. That somehow the tighter grip you have on them, the more you are able to influence them and they will turn into a respectable adult.

By “respectable adult”, these people actually mean “obedient adults”. You know, the kind that go to college, get a job, buy a car, buy a house, pay their taxes, mow their lawns, have some kids, and then turn those kids into more obedient adults.

It’s time to stop being obedient! It’s time to shun the system that churns out good little citizen robots. It’s time for civil disobedience, because that’s the only way to buck the system that’s keeping the masses controlled by a perpetual state of debt and/or poverty. I know it goes against everything you have been taught to believe. That’s the point! Question it, question everything. And allow your kids the right to disobey.

(Article source: http://happinessishereblog.com/2014/08/i-dont-want-obedient-children/)

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Panic

I’m about to wear my heart on my sleeve, and that’s a little terrifying. But I feel I need to show the world what happens to a grown woman who was abused as a child. The abuse I suffered was largely psychological. There are plenty of kids who have and will suffer much worse. If I have this much trouble living a normal, happy life, I can’t imagine what it’s like for them.

So here goes, *deep breath*…

I have anxiety. Bad. It stems from my childhood. Never good enough. Trying my hardest isn’t good enough. Always “overreacting”. My feelings aren’t real. Just shut your mouth. No one cares. The “black sheep”, bad kid, troublemaker. This is what I was led to believe. This is my inner dialogue. Minor things I can handle ok. Big things, I freeze. I don’t know what to do or don’t think I can or just get so anxious thinking about it that I just DON’T. Until the last-minute. When everything is do or die.

I’m faced with a situation now that I should have handled long ago. Or told my husband up front that I couldn’t so that he could. And I’m freaking the fuck out. I feel like my insides are going to explode. And they are, really. I’m freaking yelling at my kids for the slightest things. I know it’s my own panic coming out in the form of rage. But I don’t know how to stop it. It just makes me hate myself even more, just another reason to tell myself all those horrible things that I normally suppress.

All the little things that are generally mildly annoying are 100x as annoying right now. I feel like I should just go away because I don’t think it’s fair to subject everyone I love the most to all my fucking baggage. But I can’t just go away. And no, killing myself isn’t something I seriously consider anymore. Used to, years ago. Still pops up every now and then. But no, not gonna happen, don’t worry.

So now I have to admit to my husband that I need his help…something I don’t like to admit, ever; because admitting that means I’m weak. When you’re an abused kid, you can’t afford to be weak. And I have to face his disappointment in me. That I didn’t say I needed help sooner, or just take care of it. Or SOMETHING, other than pretending it wasn’t an issue when it really is. Disappointing him means I’ve failed. Means he might not love me anymore. Which is horse shit. I know this, intellectually. But I was taught that love from my mother is contingent upon doing things that make her happy and proud, so that’s how I feel that everyone gives love. And it’s one of my greatest fears to lose my husband’s love. The only one I feel has ever truly loved me unconditionally. Codependent? Yep. I admit that, too. I talk big shit, but deep down, I’m this scared little girl. Scared of everything. Scared of losing control; because losing control is weakness, and weakness is failure, and failure is disappointment, and disappointment is lack of love.

I just want to be ok…is that too much to ask??

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Cast Iron Breakfast Casserole

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This is the best breakfast I’ve made, maybe ever! Fairly easy to make, just a little time-consuming. Perfect for a Saturday morning!

What you’ll need:
– 4 large russet potatoes
– 1 pkg bacon
– 1/2 of a yellow onion
– 1 large slicing tomato
– about 4 oz cheddar cheese
– garlic powder
– salt and pepper

How to make it:
1) Cut the bacon into 1-2 inch pieces with some kitchen scissors and put it into a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Dice the onion and add it to the pan. Stir occasionally until the bacon is crispy.
2) While the bacon is cooking, preheat the oven to 375 and slice the potatoes. Also, slice the tomatoes and cheese.
3) When the bacon is crispy, remove from heat and layer half the potato slices on top of the bacon and onions in the skillet. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper on the potatoes, then top with the tomato slices.
4) Layer the remaining potatoes on top of the tomato slices, sprinkle with more garlic powder, salt and pepper, then top with the slices of cheese.
5) Bake for 25-30 min.

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Unconventional Me

As you might have guessed, my struggle with housework is an ongoing one. Ever since I was little, I’ve never been able to quite grasp the concept of “keeping up” with cleaning. I know the importance of occasionally giving the house a good scrubbing, and it does bother me when it gets too messy to walk through without tripping. But I’ve never liked a sterile environment. Probably for good reason, considering all the research recently that says exposure to dirt, germs, and allergens is good for you! Not to mention, housework seems rather…pointless. Especially with a bunch of kids in the house 24/7. It literally will be messy again in about 30 minutes (sometimes 30 seconds). So why? Why bother doing something I hate every single day, with nothing to show for it?

Luckily, I’m unafraid of being unconventional. In fact, I prefer it! I’ve tried so many conventional methods of house cleaning, it’s time I try something different! Because this just isn’t working. And if it’s not working, it needs to be changed.

New plan…designate 2 days to clean the whole house. Besides laundry, dishes, cleaning the table and sweeping the floor. Maybe the occasional off-day vacuuming. Those kinda have to be kept up. Everything else will be done on those 2 days. Bathrooms, organizing toys, mopping, most vacuuming, stove, windows, walls…all those tedious things that we all hate to do (most of us, anyway). For me, not having a purpose makes it unlikely that I’ll get it done. In light of that, the days I’ve picked are Friday and Monday. I always feel recharged after the weekend, so Mondays are actually my most energetic days. And I like to start the week with a clean slate. Fridays are usually spent in anticipation of the weekend, and I hate to have a dirty house on my husband’s one or two days off per week. It makes us less likely to actually have fun playing games or going somewhere. That’s the reasoning behind the days I’ve chosen. I still will expect my kids to choose tasks off a list on those days to contribute to the upkeep of our shared space. I have a feeling this is going to work out far better for us. We will get 5 days to do basically whatever we want…art projects, baking, playing, computer time, blogging, outings, etc. I will update you all on this newest undertaking tomorrow (maybe…or the next day…).

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You Are A Slave

Markham’s ordeal began in June when she took her son, Caleb, to a pediatrician for a checkup. The new mother was breast-feeding, but the baby, who was 12 days old, had lost 10 percent of his birth weight. The doctor told Markham to take the infant to the hospital. He also prescribed formula as a supplement. Markham ignored those instructions and instead chose to buy organic soy formula and head home. Once the doctor discovered that she hadn’t taken Caleb to the hospital, the police were sent to Markham’s house. She was arrested and charged, and Caleb was taken into protective custody. He was later placed with his grandparents, who live outside the county, which meant that the vegan mother was only able to see her son during supervised visits once or twice a week.

To prove that she wasn’t a danger to her child, Markham has had to have a mental health evaluation, take parenting classes, and undergo drug testing—which seems like a pretty drastic response to a mom wanting to ensure that her baby was fed a vegan formula.

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The power that Healthcare workers and the Department of Human Services have in this country is nothing less than terrifying. And people say “if you don’t like America, leave!” It’s not that easy! If I could simply pick a country on the map and go, I would! It doesn’t work like that! Most people don’t have the money to get passports for everyone in their family, buy plane or boat tickets, and secure housing in the new place. And even if they did, the countries that are actually better than this one (in my opinion) have a very short list of occupations that they will accept for immigration. If, by chance, you are qualified for an occupation on this short list, you then have to acquire a job in your desired country before being considered for being allowed to live there. And then you have to get your family approved!

So please, don’t tell me to “just leave”. Trust me, if it was that easy, I’d be gone.

So what can we do then? We have to fight for change! How will change come about? By sharing information and ideas… real ones, not the mass-media produced half-truths that we’re constantly fed. We have to be willing to think critically about what’s going on. We have to free ourselves from this society, constructed carefully by those in power who wish to remain there. (I’m equating power with wealth here, because that’s truly where power lies.)

Don’t be content to remain a cog in the wheel of capitalism. Don’t be content to be blindly obedient, blissfully ignorant, slaves to the wealthy few. Wake up to the fact that you are a slave, born into bondage like 99% of everyone is. Resistance is not futile! True freedom can be achieved. The revolution begins with you.

Morpheus: The matrix is everywhere, its all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window o when you turn your TV. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Morpheus: That you are a slave Neo, like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you can not smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.

– The Matrix

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Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

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Pizza is the one food I could eat every single day. Not the greasy fast food pizza, or the preservative-laden frozen pizza. I’m talking about the totally from-scratch, takes 2 hours start-to-finish to make pizza! I guarantee, you’ll never look at those other pizzas the same way again.

What you’ll need:

Dough:
– 2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1 cup warm water
– 1 Tbsp oil (I prefer olive oil)
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 1/2 cups flour (plus extra for kneading)

Sauce:
– 1 small can tomato paste
– 1 cup water (more or less, depending on how thick you like your sauce to be)
– seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, parsley…fresh tastes best, dried will work!)

Toppings:
Let your imagination go wild! Here’s what we put on ours…
– mozzarella cheese
– sausage
– tomatoes
– bell peppers
– mushrooms
– red onion
– pineapple
– capers

Directions:
1) In a large bowl, mix the yeast and sugar. Add the warm water and stir with a whisk or fork until there are no more lumps. Let this mixture sit until the top of it is covered with foamy bubbles.

2) Stir in oil and salt, then add the flour. After I’ve stirred as much as is easy to do, I use my hands to mix the rest!

3) Knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth and pulls apart like elastic. You’ll probably have to add more flour to it in this step; my dough is usually sticky at this point.

4) Cover the bowl and place in a warm spot to rise for about 15 minutes (like on top of the stove while the oven preheats to 375 degrees!).

5) While the dough is rising, make your sauce! Spoon the tomato paste into a small saucepan, add water while the heat is on low until the sauce is the consistency that you like for your pizza. Then add whatever seasonings you like. Continue to heat on low until the dough is ready.

6) When the dough has risen, punch it down and knead again about 10 times. *If your cast iron skillet is well-seasoned, no oil is necessary. If you’re not sure, add a bit of oil, because pizza dough loves to stick!* Spread the dough evenly on the bottom of the pan, and about halfway up the sides.

7) Remove the sauce from the heat and spread it on the dough…*careful, it’ll be hot!*

8) Add all your toppings, ending with the cheese on top.

9) Bake at 375 for about 20-30 minutes, this will depend on how many toppings you put on your pizza.

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Participatory Economics…and kids?

Participatory Economics is defined as:

Participatory economics, often abbreviated parecon, is an economic system based on participatory decision making as the primary economic mechanism for the allocation of the factors of production and guidance of production in a given society. Participatory decision-making involves the participation of all persons in decision-making on issues in proportion to the impact such decisions have on their lives. Participatory economics is a form of decentralized economic planning and socialism involving the common ownership of the means of production…

The underlying values that parecon seeks to implement are equity, solidarity, diversity, workers’ self-management and efficiency (defined as accomplishing goals without wasting valued assets). The institutions of parecon include workers’ and consumers’ councils utilizing self-managerial methods for making decisions, balanced job complexes, remuneration based on individual effort, and participatory planning.

So how can this be applied to children? Well, let me tell you about our family’s newest experiment!

Last night, we made some homemade pizzas. (I might just write another blog with the recipe!) I made the dough and shredded the cheese, my husband made the sauce and cooked the sausage, our older two girls helped cut vegetables and assemble the pizzas; it was a great joint effort! When one of the girls voiced their dislike of a job I had assigned, I was quick to switch tasks around in order to keep everyone happily involved. It ended up being a lot of fun, and led to a great discussion. The discussion began when Meghan, our 9 year old, said that she really enjoyed using the new rake that my husband had bought earlier in the day. We expressed to her how wonderful that was, and that she was certainly allowed to use the rake anytime she wanted. This opened the door to both her and Lizzy, our 11 year old, sharing which chores they liked to do and which ones they hated. Some of their admissions were surprising! For instance, Lizzy told us that washing dishes was as bad to her as scooping out the litter box or cleaning up dog poop! As we talked, my husband interjected and said, “Participatory Economics!” And yes, I admit, he has suggested this before. At any rate, I decided to give it a go.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my new plan for housework in my article Housework: The bane of my existence. Basically, I assigned a different area of the house to each day of the week (except for Sunday). Since this method has been working fairly well, I decided to simply expound upon it. This morning, I wrote a list of all the tasks I hoped to accomplish in today’s area of the house (the living room and hallway). I then had Meghan choose one task that she would like to do. Lizzy went next, then me. I had them each take one more turn, then I chose two tasks. The last on the list was “fold and put away laundry”. I don’t mind folding, but hate the putting away part, and both girls are the opposite! So we decided to work together on that task, each doing the parts we wanted.

In addition to the once a week tasks, we agreed there were a few things in the kitchen that (obviously) need to be completed daily. Since both girls expressed their extreme distaste for washing dishes, I volunteered for that. Meghan wanted to clean the table, and Lizzy willingly volunteered for sweeping the floor. I explained that there would be no more taking turns, which eliminates quarreling over who did it last. Also, I expressed that I would prefer not having to tell anyone to do their task; the goal being that each of us notice when our task needs to be done and simply getting it done with no complaint or procrastination.

The million-dollar question is: does it work? I realize that it’s only been half a day, but I have to say, it works better than anything else we’ve tried thus far! By noon, all but two of the tasks had been completed, including the daily kitchen tasks. There was ample time to play outside, drink coffee, check Facebook, walk to the market, take the dogs out, play with the little ones, eat breakfast, etc. We in no way have felt rushed, I haven’t spent any time cajoling or yelling, there has been no argument or whining. I did have to point out some spots missed during vacuuming/sweeping, but the correction wasn’t met with hostility or tears. I’m very pleased overall, especially with the very relaxed atmosphere and happy children!

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The Cycle of Abuse

“How can anyone think he or she is doing ‘what is best’ when hitting a child?”

This is an excellent question that was asked of me in the comments section of my article Repairing the Emotional Bond Between Parent and Child; a question that has a multi-faceted, somewhat complicated answer.

First, I would like to ask you a question. Do you only feel compassion for the children who are hit until they reach adulthood? Or does your compassion for them extend there also? If it does, then you do feel compassion for me, because I was also hit as a child. Not just with a hand, but with a brush, a wooden spoon, and I’m not really sure what else because I have blocked most of those memories subconsciously, no doubt to ease the pain thereof.

And therein actually lies one part of the answer to this question. Children who are victims of abuse are far more likely to become perpetrators of abuse.

A study published last year in Child Abuse and Neglect revealed an intergenerational cycle of violence in homes where physical punishment was used. Researchers interviewed parents and children age 3 to 7 from more than 100 families. Children who were physically punished were more likely to endorse hitting as a means of resolving their conflicts with peers and siblings. Parents who had experienced frequent physical punishment during their childhood were more likely to believe it was acceptable, and they frequently spanked their children. Their children, in turn, often believed spanking was an appropriate disciplinary method.

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The culture we live in largely believes that spanking is the only way to effectively discipline children. These children who are spanked are then not only more likely to abuse others due to growing up in a culture that condones (and encourages) abuse of children, but because they are carrying the psychological effects of that abuse. Those effects run deep. They often include a suppression of emotions; which, when not properly addressed, build up and build up until they come bubbling to the surface as rage. That rage is not truly directed at any individual in particular, but anyone who happens to be there will bear the brunt of the assault. Likely, that will be the people closest to you, who you are around most often. And in a culture which condones hitting children, that rage can easily be directed at one’s own children, with no fear of repurcussions, because it is perfectly “acceptable”.

Another psychological component at play is the “fight or flight” response. When attacked, the brain’s natural response is either to fight back or to run away. However, there is actually a third option, which is to freeze. In the case of a child being attacked by a parent, there is a huge conflict within the brain. The attacker in this case is the person that the child instinctively knows is supposed to care for and protect them. This is highly damaging to the child’s emotional wellbeing. It leads to an internal dilemma. On the one hand, the child wants to run away from the attack. But on the other hand, the child wants to run to his or her protector. The dilemma, then, is the fact that it’s the protector who is inflicting the harm! So there is nowhere to run. Fighting back isn’t really an option when the threat is obviously much bigger and stronger than you (and will likely get you further attacked anyway), so that brings us to “freeze”. The child’s brain goes into a protective mode. It partially shuts down, in order to protect itself as much as possible from the emotional aspect of the attack.

When that child grows up, they are no longer too small and weak to fight back. Sooner or later, they will begin fighting; either with words or actions, or both. (If they don’t, they will likely be continually emotionally paralyzed.) Since they have been conditioned to respond to a threat in a primal, rather than an intellectual way, they will then revert back to using their primal brain whenever a conflict arises. When that conflict is with a child (not “obeying” them), the instincts kick in and they will do the very thing that was done to them. Unfortunately, this is the one type of abuse that is still widely accepted and condoned by society. Which enables the formerly abused child to continue the cycle of abuse for yet another generation.

The problem is that, until enough people have the courage to say “spanking is abuse, it is wrong!”, the cycle will continue. For the cycle to break, one must be able and encouraged to admit that the spankings they received were in fact abuse; which means they have to accuse their parents of said abuse. They then have to have the support, resources, and willpower to heal their emotional wounds and change their way of thinking.

This cannot happen without the majority recognizing that this is not the result of an evil person inflicting harm for their personal enjoyment. Pointing fingers and calling names does not initiate healing and change. This cycle of violence has been perpetuated for so long that there is no one to blame, because we cannot possibly trace it back far enough. I abused my kids because I was abused as a child. I was abused because my parents were abused as children. My parents were abused because their parents were abused as children. And so on and so forth.

Not long ago, a husband “spanking” a wife was commonplace, and widely accepted.

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Now, we call this “domestic violence” or “spousal abuse”, not spanking. Will you be part of the generation that changes the notion of “spanking” children into abuse? Will you help heal the current generation of abused children by offering support and encouragement instead of blaming and shaming their parents? Will you stand with me in Breaking the Cycle of Abuse?

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The Battle: Sustainable Living versus Doomsday Preparedness

Very good article! I totally agree.

“If society as a whole would embrace sustainable living as a whole, the need for the second would not exist. However, it seems that stories in the media seem to blend the two together, which distorts the purpose for sustainable living.”

Living a Sustainable Dream

Mmm...good... Bucket fresh dehydrated food storage. Out of stock at Costco http://www.costco.com/all-emergency-food.html Mmm…good… Bucket fresh dehydrated food storage.
Out of stock at Costco http://www.costco.com/all-emergency-food.html

What is the difference between sustainable living and doomsday preparedness?  A person with the sustainable living philosophy chooses to limit their impact on the environment, live within their means, and tries to grow food for themselves to not only save money, but to eat healthy. On the other side of the fence is another group, doomsday preppers, people who feel as if society is on the verge of collapse, they sense that some major event is about to happen and are buying  emergency rations, and weapons, and stockpiling supplies; some may look to living sustainable living to prolong their existence after some disaster, but many are  motivated by an impending sense of doom or apocalypse.

No choice here... Organically grown heirloom produce from our own garden being canned without chemical preservatives. No choice here… Organically grown heirloom produce from our own garden being canned without chemical preservatives.

The first is motivated by love or…

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“I can’t afford to…”

Stop. Right there. I’m calling bullshit. I’ve heard this line far too many times and I’m here to tell you the cold hard truth: yes, you can! OK, maybe you can’t afford anything you want, but I can tell you 9 things right now that you think are necessary that really aren’t.

I’ve stayed home with my kids since the first one was born 11 years ago. It’s something i always planned on doing. We’ve had to sacrifice luxuries to make that happen, but it’s important enough to my husband and I that we did what it took to enable me to do so. Especially now that we decided to unschool our kids. Before you get ahead of yourself, no, my husband never had a spectacular job. In fact, lower-enlisted soldiers (as my husband used to be) actually get paid right around the poverty line. (Here is an article about that, if you’re interested.) We qualified for WIC (an American program that gives mothers formula and/or food for their children up until the age of 5) and could have received food stamps. The jobs he’s held since getting out of the Army have paid far less than what most Americans consider necessary for a family to live on a single income. So now that you know my qualifications for living on a tight budget, here’s my list of things you can eliminate from your budget that are actually unnecessary:

1. Vacations
This is fairly straightforward. No, you don’t need a vacation. Not even a little one. Yes, it’s nice, but completely unnecessary. More people are realizing this and opting for “staycations“, where they stay at home and do fun things locally. However, this can add up to quite a bit of money also. I think the issue is that people are too stressed out on a daily basis and feel they need that week or two to recharge, so to speak.

My alternative:
Work on de-stressing all year long, and you won’t feel so strongly that you need a vacation. Do fun things throughout the year that are free, or nearly free. Check your local newspaper, community bulletin boards or websites, area Facebook groups, etc. Pick up brochures from the lobby of a motel or the library. Better yet, ask your friends for places to go that might be largely unadvertised. Here and here are lists of fun, mostly free things to do (hint: pick the free stuff).

2. Television
Nope, not kidding. Believe it or not, you don’t need TV! Not at all. We haven’t had a TV in the house for 10 months now, and I don’t miss it one bit! Not only do I really not miss cable (which we’ve not had for years, besides one short stint last year), I don’t miss the mindless movies we used to watch. There are some good movies out there. Mostly older ones. The ones that actually inspire people to think. Sadly, most movies these days come nowhere close to fitting that bill. They are complete time-wasters. We do watch an occasional movie on the laptop, but it is very rare.

My alternative:
We would much rather play a board game, go for a walk, work in the garden, go to the park, or *gasp* just sit around and talk! Really, not having even the temptation to put on a DVD is amazing. It took some getting used to, and I admit I watched something on the laptop almost nightly for awhile in transition. But the habit is completely broken now, and it’s such a freeing feeling.

3. Eating out (including prepared food)
This one takes a lot more time and effort. It takes planning and preparation. And there will be times you falter, especially in the beginning. But add it up, even the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, or the take n bake pizza, or the donuts. Everything. While you’re at it, add in all packaged foods. You won’t be able to nix all of these overnight. It’s taken us a few years to get to where we are. But it’s so very much worth the effort! We are so much healthier and homemade food tastes so much better! Even my 11 and 9 year olds are able to cook a lot of foods themselves now.

My alternative:
Start by eliminating going out to eat, since that’s the easiest to control. Buy used cookbooks or utilize online recipe sources and start cooking! The only way to learn is through trying. Then get really bold and pick something to make from scratch. I started with pancakes. I’m not talking about using a baking mix; I’m talking about using flour, milk, and eggs (and a few other ingredients). Then biscuits, brownies, cake…you name it! It might seem overwhelming at first, but it’s a skill that has to be learned. Once upon a time, people learned as children from their mothers and grandmothers. So don’t be too hard on yourself when you fail. Dust yourself off and try again. If you need more motivation than saving money, start researching the ingredients on the food packages in your pantry.

4. New clothes
Ok, so you’ll probably need new underwear and socks every now and then, although I have actually found those at thrift stores as well, new with tags! Most of the time, you don’t actually “need” more clothes at all. When you do, buy used!

My alternative:
I can almost guarantee you can find what you need at a thrift store, secondhand store, consignment store, yard sale, flea market, Craigslist, or other similar place. Even nice clothes for work or school! Yes, it takes a bit more time, but you can save incredible amounts of money. I got my toddler all the clothes she needed this summer for under $25. I bought myself some name-brand sneakers in like-new condition at a consignment store for $10. It can be done!

5. A second vehicle
A lot of you will balk at this suggestion, even more than the others. Having your own car equals independence somehow. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way! It’s possible that it won’t work in your situation, but hear me out. My husband and I have shared a vehicle for almost our entire marriage. Yes, it was less than optimal at times, but we made it work. This isn’t so easy if both of you are employed, but if only one of you is working, I don’t see many instances when it can’t be done.

My alternative:
Utilize public transportation in your area. Buy bikes for everyone (used, of course!). Better yet, walk! When a car really is a must, consider giving your spouse a ride to work and consolidating your errands into one day. Get a ride from a friend. Borrow a car from a family member. Wait until your spouse has a day off. Host a play date or book club at your house so you don’t have to go elsewhere.

6. New furniture or other household items
Like clothing, most everything can be bought used. No, you might not be able to have a specific color scheme. But what’s more important to you? Having your house look perfect, or saving a ton of money for things that are far more important to you?

My alternative:
Again, utilize local stores, yard sales, and websites to find the things you need. I’ve had great success posting wanted ads on local buy/sell groups (ex. “Wanted: washer and dryer, delivered to my house, will pay extra for your time and gas”). Tip: Don’t post a price limit on wanted ads, allow sellers to contact you with the price they are willing to sell it for and negotiate down from there if necessary. My rule of thumb for buying anything is to check all the local sources first, then if I really need it now, I will buy it new. You’d be surprised what you can actually live without, though! Another tip: keep a running list on your phone of things you need so that when you make a trip to a thrift store or pass by a yard sale, you know exactly what you’re looking for and don’t wind up passing up on something you need or buying something you don’t!

7. Lessons/sports for your kids
This is a difficult one for some people to give up. While some lessons can be quite enjoyable and beneficial for kids, I think that they often would rather be engaging in free play, or a fun (free!) family activity (as listed in #1).

My alternative:
Do things together as a family regularly. Check for free (or inexpensive) classes, clubs, or activities offered in your community. Some places to check are Home Depot, Michaels, the parks and recreation department of your city, your local library, etc. If your kids express a strong desire to participate in a more costly activity, you can at least buy used clothing and gear when possible, or consider having your kids earn part or all of the money needed by doing extra chores around the house. Which brings me to my next point…

8. Allowances
Let’s face it, most of the time, parents either have stipulations about what kids are allowed to spend the money on (which means it’s not actually theirs anyway), or the kids spend it on crap. Besides, how does getting paid for no reason teach them any sort of lesson?

My alternative:
Housework that needs to be done because it’s effected by everyone shouldn’t be paid. (i.e. You use dishes; therefore, you help wash dishes.) Anything else should be optional. Come up with a list of housework that you think should be shared and figure out the best way to divvy it up. Then come up with a list of “extra” chores along with the dollar amount you’re willing to pay one of your kids to do it. They can use this money to buy all the things they want that you don’t feel the need to buy them. I like this idea:

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9. Expensive cleaners/soaps and paper towels
I kid you not, I use water, white vinegar, and baking soda to clean most surfaces in my home. Most cleaners not only contain harsh chemicals, but are really unnecessary. The ones that are necessary have very inexpensive alternatives.

My alternative:
First, ditch the paper towels. No need to make the fancy ones you’ve seen on Pinterest, either. Buy a big pack of cheap washcloths, or better yet, find old washcloths at a thrift store! Or some big towels that you can cut up into squares. They can easily be thrown in the wash with other towels or jeans; or if you’re like me, you can throw everything in together!

For most messes, I use a spray bottle with half white vinegar, half water. I use this to mop with also. Floors, counters, walls, toilet, tub, sinks, stove, everything! Even the windows (I use a coffee filter or newspaper in place of paper towels for that). If you’re like me, you’ll worry that vinegar doesn’t actually kill germs. Here is an article to read about that. And if you think a sterile environment is what kids need, think again. Now, I do use bleach for some surfaces. Like after my kids poop in the tub (fun times). But mostly it’s just vinegar. If I’m trying to cut through grease or tough stains, I sprinkle some baking soda first, then spray vinegar and let it soak for awhile first.

For laundry, try this DIY stain remover. And try making your own laundry detergent, or use soap nuts.

Try using coconut oil as a moisturizer, which is especially nice because it has an SPF of about 8, and coupled with wearing a hat, using a sun umbrella, and just not staying in the sun too long, coconut oil can help you avoid toxic sunscreen. You can even make a sugar scrub with coconut oil to use in place of expensive body wash.

I could go on and on about natural, homemade alternatives to harsh chemical cleaners and hygiene products. Suffice to say, you’ll save a ton of money and be healthier for it!

If you have any of your own money-saving tips, please share them in the comments!

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