Laine’s Letters 2

Let’s continue with “Laine’s Letters,” which are not only some good ideas to get by on a less-than-average income, but also an example of the very best of wives. After all this scrimping and saving, she concludes: “I am so thankful!”

17 ~ I’ve learned to be very thankful and content. They’re both infectious, you know. “Be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5). I lived for three months when I was seventeen in a Muslim household in Tunisia, North Africa without a place to bathe in the house, without a washer and dryer, without a car, without a refrigerator, without a phone, without screens on the windows {flies everywhere}, without a flushing toilet or toilet paper, without a dishwasher or even a nice sink. The cooking was done on a little hot plate. The weather was hot, hot, hot. The milk came in a horse drawn cart with flies all around it. If we needed some tomato paste, we bought it in tablespoon increments. Nothing was wasted, because money was scarce.

In America, we would considered this family so very poor. But in their country they were middle class. I think about my living conditions there a lot. Especially when I am taking a nice, hot bath. I have so much to be thankful for. So much to be content about. It was the hardest summer of my life. But it was one summer that I learned the most, which has served me well in marriage. My husband says I’m one of the most contented women he knows. I only have to think of my stay in Tunisia, and I am totally content. “Let your manner of life be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you.’ So that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.”

18 ~ I often tell my kids, “it’s not the amount of money that comes in, rather how it goes out that counts.” So many people think that if they have more money, they would be better off. When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? (Ecclesiastes 5:11) Rather: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6).

I have lived in this house with holes in my flooring, carpeting that’s ripping up or has holes in it, sinks that are in rough shape, a tub with slight cracks in it, windows that are foggy because the panes are permanently damaged, the same couches for 16 years {and they were used when we bought them}, and numerous other things. Our house is hot, hot in the summer and cold, cold in the winter due to poor insulation. But I’ve learned to live with all of it, and to be so thankful. I keep two rooms warm in the winter with a kerosene heater and a fireplace. A curtain keeps the heat in our kitchen in the winter. It’s my “winter look.” The fireplace keeps the living room warm. It’s so cozy in there. I can keep the house cool in the summer by running our whole house fan early in the morning with all the windows open, then shutting everything up and draping cooling shades over the main windows. The fans do the rest. It’s amazing how you learn to work with an old house over the years

I really enjoy fixing this home up. I love my flooring, holes and all. I have throw rugs all over my ripped up carpet. And I paint, patch, and design the rest with quilts, tea cups and tea pots, family photos that I took antiques bought at the thrift shop, doilies, lots of lace, beautiful smelling candles, a fire going in the fireplace, and keeping my home clean and fresh smelling. It doesn’t cost a lot to do that. I try to take the load off my husband by making his home as welcoming and comforting as I can on a dime. We sleep 7 1/2 to 8 hours a night so I try to have all our beds nice and cozy. Likewise, we eat three times a day. So this is another area that I try to spend our money wisely. It is for health, comfort, and economy. Not easy, but the Lord shows me the way. I love learning from Him! It’s really the simple things that bring so much pleasure.

(Commentary from Lori Alexander)

Many years ago, when I first began reading Laine’s Letters, I remember her testimony. In her early years of marriage, she was not a good homemaker. She watched a lot of Soap Operas and was not submissive to her husband. After the birth of one of her children who was gravely ill, she made a promise to God that she would get up early every morning and spend time with Him, if He would heal her child.

The child lived, so she kept her promise and woke up every morning at 4:00 a.m. and spent time knowing Jesus. It completely changed her life, marriage, and family. She learned about submission, being a keeper at home, loving her husband and children, etc. She stopped watching Soap Operas and spent her time caring for her family, home, and others.

19 ~ My husband and I have an allowance each week. Whenever I work on some one’s budget, I always give the husband and wife a personal weekly allowance. I think it is the oil that keeps the marriage wheels running smoothly. ~Smile~

20 ~ We saved a lot of money and time by allowing our kids to be involved in mostly music and church. My older son teaches piano, so this has paid many of his bills. His piano lessons were a wonderful investment. We were careful about letting them get too over involved in anything. It saved our family life and our finances. We still eat together most evenings! Since our income is so tight, we have to pray and carefully consider what we can allow them to do. We don’t pay them allowances, rather they work for their money.

21 ~ One of my best saving money secrets is to just stay home. The more you are in the stores, the more tempted you are to spend. So you save on gas, time, and money when you just stay home. I try to shop with a list in hand. That way I stick to the list and buy what I really need. But I sure save a lot when i just stay home more than when I go into the stores.

22 ~ As I mentioned before, I use my allowance for gift buying. I keep a gift box. It is really a small cupboard under my bookcase filled with all kinds of gifts that I find at great prices. Then when I need a gift, I go shopping there first. I try to keep a $3 and under gift allowance on each gift.

23 ~ My husband and I have never been able to afford going out on dates, or going away alone for the weekend. Our time together has always been our morning coffee chat every day. And since we could not afford going away for the weekend, I made our bedroom as romantic as possible. My husband never had his own room growing up. He slept in the living room on two cushions pulled out from the couch. So it has been my pleasure to make this room a mini-retreat for him each day.

24 ~ I nursed all of our children for a year each. This was a big savings since we have four children, yet it was not easy for me. But I had to do it, for we simply could not afford formula. I only had one side that worked, so the doctor told me to nurse on that one side. I was up every two to three hours with all of my children, because I only had one side to give them. I prayed, I cracked, I prayed, I cried, I prayed, I was exhausted, I prayed, and I had numerous breast infections with each one of them. I prayed and prayed for God’s help and strength. He did indeed help me, because I wanted to give up over and over again. I look back now and see His incredible Hand in every situation and know His strength got me through. Nursing was never easy for me, yet I would do it all over again. Back then, I didn’t even know how good it was for the baby and for me. So God used tight finances to teach me so much. That is why I can look on illness and health problems differently…He is teaching me so much during this time about herbs, nutrition, exercise, etc. “Discipline is never pleasant at the time, but so profitable to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

(Commentary from Lori Alexander)

Since typing all of these posts out that Laine wrote, I truly see what an amazing woman of God she was and how much she depended upon His strength for wisdom and joy. I love learning from wise woman and she certainly qualifies.

As I recall, the last letter I got from her, both of her sons were married and both of their wives were pregnant. Her sons were away in the military so they both lived in trailers on her property. (I may have some of the details wrong but this is what I recall.) One daughter-in-law was so sick that she had to go back home with her family. Laine and her husband did adopt a baby girl from China.

25 ~ We try to keep things running with good maintenance. My husband changes the oil in the cars regularly. I keep the vacuum filters clean with regular maintenance. Likewise, the dryer lint vent, and other machines we use. It pays to keep them up, so that you won’t have to buy another one due to poor maintenance. My husband always tries to fix things himself, especially our cars. He’ll get a book and figure it out, get on the phone and talk to other men, then tackle the task himself. I am usually in the house praying for him.

26 ~ Many times we must wait on the Lord for something and pray. We have waited on the Lord many times during a crisis. He is always faithful. He always shows us the way. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

27 ~ I am learning that organization saves time and money. Which is why I am organizing this house and have been for many years. I didn’t get into this unorganized problem overnight, so it’s taking me awhile to get things in order. The better the kitchen runs, the more time and money I can save.

28 ~ “Use it up” or “wear it out” or “make do.” This is definitely how we live which is how we save. And if you keep it clean, it’s really not that expensive, because you don’t have to buy another. My grandmother used to say it doesn’t cost much to keep things clean. She was right.

29 ~ I’ve cut our hair for twenty years. Incredible savings here. I would estimate about a $2400 savings or more here, so that really helped us pay off our house. Plus I saved on gas getting to the hairdressers and time spent there. I learned from a book from the library and from asking hairdressers questions.

30 ~ We’ve never paid for a babysitter. I know that’s hard to believe, but we never have. We’ve either swapped babysitting, had my folks babysit for special occasions, or we didn’t go. We just couldn’t afford babysitters and a night out on our tight budget. Our nights out were very modestly priced when we did go, which was rare, as I’ve mentioned before.

31 ~ We buy our clothes at thrift shops or garage sales or on sale at the stores. We’ve never spent a lot on clothes.

32 ~ I’ve been the family photographer for years. I took photography in college so our living room is adorned with shots of our kids as they grew up. In 24 years of marriage, we’ve only had our family picture taken professionally three times.

33~ We have used a credit card most of our married life, but we have never paid an interest charge on anything we’ve charged. We pay it off as soon as it comes in. So we charge only what we can afford. Then a sale is really a sale, no interest charges. We’ve never charged furniture. Rather we buy it used or use items given to us.

34~ My wedding ring has been broken for three years now (diamond fell out). But I’d rather see the house paid off, so I’ve been waiting patiently. On Valentine’s Day, Art bought me an old fashioned silver ring to put in place of my wedding ring until we can afford to fix it. There have been so many things like that. Our CD player has been broken for over a year. Our television was broken, so we used this little one in its place. The kids’ friends used to laugh when they saw it. But we had a goal to pay off our house, so we kept working with what we had.

35~ Last year the dentist told me that Abbie had a problematic tooth which wouldn’t come out without going to an oral surgeon. As I mentioned before, we don’t have dental insurance. So Art told Abbie he would give her $10 if she got that tooth out. I prayed and prayed, while she pried and poked at that tooth all summer. Finally, at the end of the summer, she got the tooth out! I’ll never forget how excited we were. Now she has to have orthodontist work, but we have been praying and saving.

36~ We wash our own cars. Or we hire our kids to wash our cars giving them some spending money for a good job done.

37~ I love to learn, so I am always learning whenever the opportunity. I have attended many classes on different subjects over the years to help me be better at my job. Some were free or near free, but so helpful. Like my photography class. I took it at night when I had two children and was pregnant with my third.

The Food Network shows that my uncle tapes for me are like mini cooking classes. I just feel so blessed to learn from these incredible chefs and cooking teachers. After we get done watching a program, we all head out to the kitchen to whip something up! It just puts you in the mood. ~Smile~

38~ I learned to plant or transplant flowers or plants. This helps in saving money in the garden. I love ivy, geranium, lavender, and rosemary for my area. They are great growers without a lot of water. I am constantly reading up on gardening, for it’s an area I would like to improve on.

39~ We have built up a family library. I love good books. I have so many wonderful books. Many of them I bought at the thrift shop. I’ve always got my nose in a good book. So do my children. I’ve taught them for years that they can learn anything if they’ve got a good book to learn from. And that you’re never too old to learn, rather you’ll be learning all your life. I never think I’ve got something down, rather I keep trying to learn and improve on what I do already know.

40~ I’ve learned to spend according to what comes in, not what is projected. That would be like counting your chickens before they were hatched. Not good financing.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
Proverbs 13:11

41 ~ Don’t compare yourself. I’ve found this can be costly. So I just stay in my budget with my man. It’s cheaper and so much more peaceful.

42~ Find one used if possible. I remember when we needed a washer, for ours had finally bit the dust. I asked the LORD if anyone had a washer they didn’t need just hanging around. One of my friends called that evening and told me about this washer she had on her porch that she was getting rid of. I’m still using that washer. ~Smile~ (In the picture are our used washer and dryer with my homemade laundry powder!)

43~ Wait patiently when there is a need to see how God will provide. We needed firewood for the winter. I pray about it in the summer. I asked the LORD to bring it in. He did! Art picked some of it up, and some of it was delivered right to our home, totally free of charge. We used that wood all this past winter. When I would use it, I’d think of the faithfulness of God.

44~ We couldn’t afford private, Christian school for our kids, so I homeschooled all of them. I’ve been doing it for the past 14 years, having graduated two of our children. This was a big savings here, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. No, not for the savings either. But it sure did help us to pay off our house. I always had the kids helping us pay off the house. Quincy kept bees and a big garden. Brady kept the chickens and goats. Now the roles are switched, and Abbie keeps the goats, while Gabe takes care of the chickens and fruit trees. Gabe wants to make a garden with his dad this summer. I love to keep my kids motivated in helping their dad financially by all their work around here. It makes us such a good team.

45~ Every little bit does count. Say for example, you learn as I did that you can use half as much clothing detergent and just set your washer cycle to agitate a little longer. Not more water, just more agitation to get the clothes cleaner. Or you can soak your clothes overnight in the washer, then start the load the next morning with half as much detergent than you usually use. Now say you usually spend $12 a month on clothing detergent. This is about $144 a year, or $2448 for 17 years. So, if you save half of that by cutting down your detergent to half your normal use, while still getting your clothes clean, you’ve saved $72 a year or $1224 in 17 years. These are the kinds of savings I would practice to pay off our home in 17 years. I was always multiplying things by 12 for the entire year’s use. All those little savings do add up.

46~ Pray, pray, pray. I pray beforehand, during, and after. I pray before I go shopping, while I’m in the store, at the cash register, and on my way home. I pray when every check comes in that the LORD will give me wisdom to use it for His will. I just need the LORD’s help so much in giving, saving, and spending. It’s a training going on in my home that affects us, my children, and grandchildren. The LORD is able to do above all that we ask or think. Paying off our last debt, our home, in our 40’s is one of those incredible answers to prayer.

47~ We don’t change cars very often. We keep our cars for a long time. We just keep up the maintenance on them. Presently I drive a 1986 Honda. I just love it.

48~ We do not withdraw money without the other’s knowledge. So I don’t have to worry about an ATM withdrawal that my husband made without my knowing, thereby putting our account into jeopardy if I was to write a check thinking that money was in there. We work together as a team. We also do not make any singular purchases over $50 without the other’s prior knowledge and consent. This has served us well. So I’ve never had a check bounce.

49~ Our children get one big birthday party during their growing up. Otherwise, it is a family birthday party. This saves so much money and stress. Plus that one party is a lot of fun, since we only do it once in their childhood. Quincy had his at 18, Brady had his at 16, and I think Abbie is shooting for hers at 16 as well. Gabe is still up in the air about his. We really enjoy our family parties and make a big deal about the cake. They will spend days choosing their cake, especially when they were young. Although Abbie is studying my cookbooks presently for her upcoming birthday. Our children love to buy presents for each other. I take them to the thrift shops and other inexpensive stores to shop for their siblings. My boys have their own incomes, so they really enjoy shopping for their siblings. I think we’ve always enjoyed our family parties. As I said before, I think the good things in life can be so simple and pleasurable.

50~ I just thank the LORD for all I have. I am so blessed. I have a husband who works hard to take care of us. I have four children who work with me to bless their dad. We have running water, even hot running water. So many servants: a washer, a dryer, a vacuum, a toaster, a blender, a microwave, a telephone, a computer, a stove, an oven, a refrigerator with a freezer in it, a car, and an indoor toilet. I am so thankful!

Published by proprietor

Happily married, with children.

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