mama and daddy

Mama and Daddy on their wedding day, June 20, 1964.

When I was growing up in Alabama in the 60’s and 70’s, we didn’t have a lot of extra money.

To keep us in clothes and food, Mama had to be creative.  She also had some friends and family with older kids.  This was good for the budget because these friends and family would pass their hand-me-downs to us.  In case you are not familiar with that term, “hand-me-downs” are what we call clothes from older siblings, friends and cousins.  Some folks are embarrassed to wear hand-me-downs and would never admit to it, but not us, we were proud of our new clothes and appreciated them very much.  While we were usually on the receiving end of the transaction and rarely passed them down to others, it wasn’t because we were greedy, instead it was because the clothes were usually worn slap out by the time we finished with them!

Mama searched for coupons in the Reader’s Digest and newspaper.

She taught us early on to save money every way we could.  So you can say I am a couponer from way back!  The coupons often had no expiration date.  Nowadays, coupons are only good for a month or so.  Recently, some manufacturer’s coupons are only redeemable for two weeks!  They are keeping us on our toes.

mama and daddy

The house where I was raised in Mobile, AL.

As kids we’d find glass Coke bottles and return them to the store for deposit.

This is Mama, Daddy, my older brother and my two younger sisters. I’m the blonde on the left. My younger brother was not born yet.

Back then, we could get a nickle or dime for bottles and would try to find at least ten bottles at a time to return.  People used to litter more back then, I guess. We’d find the bottles on the side of the road usually.  I guess you can equate it to the aluminum cans that are collected for redeeming at recyclers.  We just did it in a much smaller scale, in fact, we’d often spend our profit in the same store we collected the deposit.  We could get a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas for about the same price of fifty cents!  Depending on our most urgent need, we’d make our decision which.  With a gallon of gas, I could pull our lawn mower around several blocks and cut grass with my friend, Lamar.  We could make two or three dollars per yard and could cut two or three yards on a gallon.

“Necessity is the mother of invention”

When my daddy lost his job many years ago, Mama and Daddy put their heads together to come up with a way to make a living.  Daddy was older than most employers wanted to hire, so it was up to them to make their own business.  That they did!  They did a bunch of things until they found their niche.  Mama shopped yard sales and thrift stores to find stuffed animals.  She’d buy them for little to nothing and take them home for a good cleaning in the washing machine.  She’d turn around and sell them for four or five times what she paid. Daddy started fixing bikes and lawn mowers in their backyard.  Mama took her profits and bought a t-shirt transfer press.  The lawnmower business took off and it was more than they could handle out of the backyard so they set up at a local flea market.  Mama sold her t-shirts and expanded to men’s ties.  Daddy invested in a few lawn mower and small engine parts to sell.  Eventually, they expanded from one booth to about six booths and had customers coming from hundreds of miles away to buy from them!  They were able to work about three days a week at the flea market and handle bookkeeping stuff on their own.  I’m proud to say my parents were survivors.  They were hard workers and they taught me well.  They never wasted anything.

Mama taught me to sew, cook, clean and make things out of nothing! Daddy taught me to be fearless and to fix things on my own.

I am handy with tools because he insisted I know the basics of auto mechanics and woodworking.

I encourage you to look around and see where you might save or find money for your family.  I still shop at thrift stores, yard sales and clearance.  It’s not so much out of necessity these days, but more out of habit, history and a creative outlet.  When I go shopping now at thrift stores and yard sales, I am looking for things I can re-do and sell, like my mama did. Sometimes, I need to paint the items and other times I need to use pieces or parts to make something new, like my daddy did.  I like to mix and match items. Repurposing is in my blood, you might say.

In the entrepreneurial spirit of my parents, I’m offering some of my finds for sale.

creative ways make extra money

An example of a thrift store shopping trip. Some of the items will resale as is and some will be redone.

I share many of my projects in my blog and then sell them as I can bear to part with them.  Be sure to check the how-to category for posts that interest you and then check out the product pages.  The items are one-of-a-kind for the most part, unless noted otherwise.  So, first come first served!  If the particular item is gone when you shop, then at least you have instructions on how-to make your own.  Have fun and let me hear from you on your thoughts.