money bags: making more out of less

Since leaving my job as a nurse two years ago (on the cusp of giving birth to my daughter), I’ve become keenly aware of the fact that our family lives in a more earth friendly way on one income. Partly this is because I have time to do all the “green” things that one has time for as a hausfrau, and partly it’s because we plain don’t have money to spend on travel and new stuff and all the other things that are decidedly unhelpful to the planet. Either way, we are getting the hang of the whole live simply so others may simply live concept. And liking it.

The only trouble with was that we couldn’t afford it. Every month since Cora was born we’ve slowly but surely gone into the red, dipping into our small savings just to cover our most basic expenses. It was, you see, green and earth friendly, and yet ultimately unsustainable. I was looking down the road and seeing blue scrubs in my future.

For the record, I loved working as a nurse. But if I had to choose between the high stress of the hospital to a day of nursing my girl, soaking beans, walking to the store, and living fully, I’d take the latter. Hands down. If only the latter could make economic sense. Which I became determined to make happen. In essence, my job was to figure out how to make staying home pay. Clearly, just making yogurt and shampoo, while helpful, wasn’t enough. I had to get a firmer grip on our budget.

Funny enough, it took me awhile to see the answer sitting right in front of me. Here we were, discovering the richness of a life with less plastic, and I was still using my debit card for just about everything. So, I extended the no plastic rule to that magic little card. Thats right: less plastic, more cash. As with most of my brilliant discoveries, lot’s of folks have been touting this method for…ever. This post on the envelope system is quite helpful, and it’s basically what I’m doing now. For the first time since I said goodbye to a paycheck, we’re fully in the black. Just like that we were living within our means.

Shortly after I started divvying up cash for our different expenses, I found these tempting little cloth money envelopes. Don’t they just make you want to be frugal for the sake of cuteness? I wanted them so bad. But you guessed it: not on the budget. So then I thought, I could make those. And then I thought, no I can’t because I can’t buy (plastic) zippers.

Welcome to my world, folks.

I might have been able to find metal zippers, and might even have figured out how to install them. I’ve learned that there’s almost always an alternative to plastic. In this case, it happened to be a couple little wooden buttons from my sewing box. And a bit of improvisation. Perhaps I’ll get to embroidering little labels like “gas” or “comida” on these purses, but for now I just like to pretend all the money in them is for yarn.

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