Use Less, Spend Less

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By Martha Lee

New Year’s Resolution: Use Less, Spend Less!

So has anybody else out there made a New Year’s resolution this year?  How about one you kept?  Seems like everyone wants to jump on the “let’s change” bandwagon only to find themselves three weeks in gorging out on chocolate cake screaming, “I just can’t do it!” Well, I REFUSE to let resolutions get me down because, well, they are supposed to help us live better, right?  They just need to be realistic! Gone are the days of making promises to myself that I know I cannot keep.  What I DO promise to do, especially this time of year, is to declare that I am willing and able to make small changes that can create a fuller, sweeter life for my family and me.  Now doesn’t that sound a lot better than making empty promises?

This year, I’ve got a few goals in mind with one common theme: use less, spend less.  I’m a simple gal with simple needs, so this less is more mentality just makes sense. Here are a few ways we are keeping it up:

Homemade arts & crafts as reusable products.

I love anything and everything handmade, so for Naomi, I’m taking the opportunity to create break-resistant plates and cups for her to use on a daily basis. They can be used every night and still stand the test of time. I’ll cherish these items forever and remember the days when her hands were so small and created something so meaningful and sweet.  Makit Products (available online) allow children to create their own masterpieces on paper, ship completed artwork to the company, and they send you a break-proof plate (or cup) in return. For less than $15 shipped, I think this is a great idea!  I also found the mug shown at our local arts and crafts store for under $2, and it comes with multiple inserts for children to color and change.  Naomi and mom approved!
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Naomi also created a placemat on construction paper that I’ve had laminated for her daily use.  Her tiny hands were outlined and her name and date was added as she colored.  This can be something fun to do each year and during holidays too.

Buying less disposable products.

Instead of paper plates and Solo cups, we are using inexpensive dishes from home (even on the go).  I love to find cute picnic-style plates and baskets rummaging through local thrift stores.

Going out to eat less.

Not necessarily eliminating it because some nights I’m just too tired to cook, but we are making a conscious effort to PLAN AHEAD and eat out less. We’re leaving prepared meals in the freezer for quick access, and we use coupons when shopping at the grocery store to help out.

Saving money is my main goal this year as it’s important for our family to keep a nest egg growing (even while shelling out at the pump).  By using less, we are spending less and it feels good! Have you kept your New Year’s goals?  I’d love to hear what you all are doing for a successful 2012!

Martha Lee and her husband began working for Paula Deen Enterprises in 2006 until Martha left to pursue a degree in Special Education. She takes a cue from her 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, leaving tiny footprints on the planet. Her blog shares practical, earth-conscious ways to live and parent in the 21st century. Born and raised in beautiful, soulful Macon, GA, Martha and her family now lives in Savannah, where she can be found outside hula-hooping and performing handstands daily.
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Reader Comments:

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Thanks, Martha! I needed that kind of encouragement - I'm going to try to cut out paper plate usagae and look for other obvious situtations I can save money on. Have a great new year!

By Angela Lopez on November 20, 2012

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I love this idea!

By hannah on January 30, 2012

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Paula, I am so sorry you are getting negative press for eating a cheeseburger. Whether it happened or not I just want you to know that there are real humans out here that admire how you overcame your struggles and made a wonderful life for you and your two sons. I wish you the best, I never met my grandmothers but I would hope if they ever entered the public spotlight as you have they would not have to deal with people with ugly intentions trying to smear the image of a woman who seems as lovely as you. Thank-you for sharing your family, early struggles and success with us. I truly admire you. Jessica

By Jessica on January 26, 2012

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You are a kitchen goddess, the ideas/recipes you share are always a hit at the dinner table. Mostly, I love how you tie it all together with what's important in life...family!

By Shannon Barnett on January 26, 2012

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I am so upset by the news media attacking you for your diabetes. I believe everything is goodffor you in moderation. We a generation of young people out there eating at drive thrus and feeding children either that or something out of a freezer full of preservates. Paula we love you and thats all that counts.

By kim on January 25, 2012

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Awesome ideas-Sounds like our resolution is about the same this year! Can't wait to check out that website for the plates!!

By Jessica Howell on January 25, 2012

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You go Chicky! Love the plate idea!

By Billie Hester on January 25, 2012

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When having meals that use beef, like we are tonight. Instead of buying chip steaks at a cost of $5.50 per pound, I bought a piece of top round @ 2.99 a pound. Chipped half the meat myself and chunked up the rest and froze it to make stew with for another meal. You'd be surprised how much that could add up to in a year. It's a little effort but saves a bundle.

By Dave Orange on January 25, 2012

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Paula Deen
Paula Deen
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Martha Lee
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Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm