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Surviving Shaky Ground

    What does the average working mother have to look forward to each day, and especially during holiday periods? In many cases the work place has increased her workload and more demands are made on her time and energy. What meals can be prepared and by whom? What about the lonely children left "safely" home alone in front of the TV, a bottomless pit for consumer goods.

    How can the often-tired working mothers supply the material and emotional needs for her family? These are some of the practical questions that women have to ask themselves and one another in the real world in which they are trying to live.

    Let us have an exchange of practical solutions for, and from, harassed working mothers coping with the holiday season, (as well as the rest of the year). Let us find ways to enjoy life during the holidays instead of impatiently "waiting until they are over". Mabel

    "Kids Cafe," an after-school soup kitchen for children, ages 6-17, all of them certified "needy," find their way to the Kids Cafe, a program of Second Harvest Network, every day after school. Before they eat, the volunteers tutor them. Afterwards, they play games with them in the gym. They provide a "store" where "money" earned for doing Kids Cafe jobs by the children themselves -- wiping off the tables, picking up their dishes, taking out the garbage -- can be spent on supplies. Most of the soup kitchen children bought their Christmas gifts in the Kids Cafe store last year. The most popular items were not toys and candy. The most popular items were cereal for their brothers and sisters and shampoo for their mothers. � Joan Chittister,OSB

    Financial Tips to Manage Your Budget 1. When buying brand name products, use coupons and send for rebates when you shop. However, generic brands are cheaper in most instances. Go to stores which double and triple the value of your coupons.

    2. Purchase items in bulk/large quantities when possible, if storage space and your budget allows.

    3. Read the information posted below products in stores to determine the cost per pound, etc. to get the best bargain for your money.

    4. Use meat substitutes frequently to reduce the high cost of meats, i.e. beans, etc.

    5. Always shop with a list to avoid impulse spending.

    6. Consolidate errands in one trip, rather than making several trips to save gasoline.

    7. Purchase clothing, used furniture and appliances at thrift stores, rummage sales and garage sales rather than buying new items. Ask people to give you their hand-me-downs.

    8. Divide meats into meal-size portions and freeze them for later use.

    9. Plan weekly meals in advance and only purchase items which will be used in these meals.

    10. Mend clothing to make them last longer, and put iron-on patches inside the knees of children's pants to make them more durable.

    11. When possible, purchase quality products which are made better and last longer, even if they are second-hand.

    12. For large families, membership to Sam's Club or other warehouse-style stores provide savings when buying in bulk.

    13. Always ask for generic prescription medicines when available.

    14. Use your imagination to think up ways to make money, i.e. selling arts and crafts such as handmade potholders, having yard sales, selling at flea markets, etc.

    15. Teach yourself to cut hair and cut your children's hair; library books and internet websites provide this information. Until they're old enough to want a professional style, this can save you bundles of cash.

    16. Walk whenever possible to save gasoline.

    17. Make home-made gifts and cards, rather than store-bought.

    18. Attend free events and pack along lunches. Use local parks and have picnics, bring a Frisbee, ball, etc.

    19. If you have such talents, provide musical or other tutoring from your home to earn extra cash.

    20. Consider babysitting other children if you have room and energy.

    21. Set financial goals and stick to them. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches more often could enable you to save up to buy those new tires you need, etc. Share the reason for saving with the children and make them a part of reaching the goal.

    22. Avoid purchasing meals at fast food and other restaurants. Consider eating out as a costly luxury.

    23. Do without television, and eliminate your cable TV bill.

    24. Shop around for long distance carriers, and avoid making long distance calls.

    25. Use simple, cheap products like vinegar, bleach and baking soda to clean, rather than costlier items.

    26. If living in country, consider having chickens for fresh eggs and growing a garden to provide fresh produce.

    27. Recycle everything useful.

    28. Join a food co-op if available in your area and if you have a large family to feed.

    29. Make your own baby food using a blender or food grinder. Mashed egg yolks, ground meats, etc. provide chemical-free foods for your baby.

    30. Breast feed! A mother's breast milk is free and a baby may be fed solely breast milk up to 6 months of age, after which time solid foods are slowly presented i.e. rice cereal, etc., and breast milk may continue to be supplemented to her diet, up to ages 2-4 or more! Breast milk is easier on a baby's digestive system and provides immunities found no where else. Babies who breast feed have a lesser chance of developing allergies and of becoming obese later in life. They also have less need for a pacifier and their teeth develop better as a mother's nipple is more natural than a bottle nipple.

    31. Exchange babysitting with other single parents so there is no cost to you.

    32. Enlist even very young children to help with household chores, which will encourage team effort and reduce the workload on the mother, along with giving children a sense of responsibility, involvement and pride in their achievements.

    33. Insulate your home well to eliminate drafts where heat and air conditioning can escape. However, ensure there are flues with fans to remove cooking odors and bathroom moisture. Re-caulk windows, put strips at bases of doorways, and use shrink-fit clear window insulation.

    34. Keep the thermostat low in winter, especially at night and wear more clothing and use additional bedding when sleeping. Cooler air in winter keeps it more moist and prevents respiratory infections, which would also lower one's medical expenses. 35. Keep the thermostat higher in summer, and use ceiling and other types of fan to circulate the air, which provides cooling without the heavy load of electricity that air conditioning requires.

    36. Sew your families' clothing, if you are adept at sewing and can find fabric on sale. Buy pretty sheets at yard sales and use them as your fabric.

    37. Put window tint plastic adhesive or aluminum foil over windows which receive great quantities of direct sunlight in summer to reduce air conditioning costs, and remove in winter so the house can be warmed by the sun.

    38. Barter your services in exchange for things like auto mechanic repairs (for homemade bread), etc. All you can do is ask and suggest. Also consider starting a bartering service newsletter in your community.

    39. Consider a mail order business, i.e. selling seeds from wildflowers, etc.

    40. Use less bleach to make clothes last longer.

    41. Have everyone in your family wash their hands often, and cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze. Ensure all are up-to-date on their immunizations to prevent disease. Get everyone flu shots yearly if they are old enough. Limit television viewing and encourage the whole family to regularly exercise to boost immune systems and reduce chances of illness.

    42. Always shop around and get 2-3 price quote before purchasing major items or obtaining mechanical repairs to your car, etc. Go to the library and study a book like Kyle Busch's Drive the Best Used Vehicles, before purchasing.

    43. Many prices are negotiable. Don't feel foolish if you offer a lower price; the seller may need the sale and be willing to haggle with you.

    44. Create your own shoe insoles by cutting them out of soft foam.

    45. Many agencies exist to assist financially needy families with utilities, purchase of eyeglasses, etc. Become familiar with all of the social service agencies in your area and inquire if you qualify for assistance.

    46. Ride a bicycle when possible to save on gasoline.

    47. Write letters rather than making long distance calls to save on your phone bill.

    48. Wear less makeup and use simple powder, blush and cheaper generic products.

    49. Learn to change your own oil, air filter, etc. on your car.

    50. Compare costs when shopping for insurances. Ask if they offer a single parent plan.

    51. If your employer offers a Cafeteria plan for medical savings, consider using it to avoid paying taxes on medical expenses.

    52. Make your own jewelry using seeds, etc.

    53. If apartment living, always rent a middle unit so the heating and cooling bills are lower. Connie

    As you look over our list, please send us your own suggestions and they will be added to this page. Send them to sisters@spiritualsisters.com