Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Provident Living: Avoiding Impulse Shopping

Have you ever purchased something you didn't intend to buy that you didn't really need? Impulse buying can wreak havoc on a family's budget and often clutters homes with unnecessary items. According to a 2001 study conducted by Interface Engineering, almost 40 percent of shoppers' money is spent on spontaneous purchases. It surprised me to discover that the three things that most motivated impulse shopping were:

  • Lowered prices

  • Product on sale

  • Free shipping

I claim that I was surprised by these three items. But should I be? In fact, I find myself enticed to make purchases by these type of promotions. A few days ago, I received a catalog in the mail. On the front cover was a credit card sized coupon for "50% off one item." I was so excited! "Wow, I must be a valued customer," I thought. I immediately whipped through the catalog and found a dress that I liked. Just as I was picking up the phone to make the order, I removed the coupon and noticed the small print: "see reverse for details." Sure enough, the opposite side stated, "Take 50% off one item with the purchase of three or more items." Grrr! Still. . . they almost had me. By now I was convinced that I needed the dress so I looked through the catalog again to see if I could find anything else I wanted. Sure enough, I found a couple of other things. Thankfully, after adding the cost of all three items together, I determined it would be less expensive for me to go to the store and purchase one and only one dress and passed. But, boy was I tempted! So maybe I shouldn't be surprised that people buy things not because they need or want them but because they simply can't pass up an attractive offer!

So if you or someone in your family has this problem, here are some solutions:

1. Keep an ongoing list of items you need to purchase at your next trip to the store. Go over the list prior to leaving and don't forget to bring the list with you.

2. Avoid looking at catalogs, opening e-mail store promotions, watching TV shopping networks, reading newspaper advertisements, window shopping, online store browsing and make as few trips to the store as possible.

3. Give yourself a time limit for how long you can spend at the store. Plan your trip in advance so you will STICK TO YOUR LIST.

4. Determine a monthly budget for miscellaneous purchases. Keep the money in an envelope in your purse or wallet. When the money is spent, do not buy anything else.

5. If you find something you really want, try waiting 48 hours to make a purchase. During that time, research and make sure you have the lowest price. After 48 hours, ask yourself, "Do I still need it?" "Do I still want it?" "Can I borrow it from someone?" "Can I make do with something else?" "Can I really afford it?" If you still want to buy it, do it then.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gardening: You can do it!

Container Garden

Vertical Garden

Our very own square foot garden

It's gardening time again! Three years ago, we planted asparagus and this spring, we're harvesting it every day from our garden. My kids eat it like candy. I think everyone should have a garden. As a mother, I love it! What's better than seeing my little 4-year-old picking broccoli out of the garden for a snack on a daily basis (see the blonde head in the lower right hand corner of the picture?)

Gardening promotes healthy eating, provides vegetables and fruit at peak freshness, allows us to can and freeze vegetables for the winter and saves lots of money at the grocery store. We also share our bounty with neighbors and friends.

We currently have lettuce, spinach, broccoli, peas and onions growing in our backyard. I have seed potatoes in my garage which I need to get in the ground. After our frost-free date, which is May 15th, we will plant green beans, cantaloupe, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini, pumpkins, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, herbs of many varieties and corn. The great thing about gardening is that you can plant what you like to eat.

We have a square foot garden which is made of raised beds. However, there are lots of ways to create garden, even when you don't have ground space. If you haven't tried gardening, this is the year to do it!

Here are the instructions to make the vertical vegetable garden shown in the picture above.

Here are some directions to help you get started in square foot gardening:

Here is some help with designing a container vegetable garden:

There are myriads of gardening sources available on the Internet. Your state extension offices are a terrific source with information about how to grow plants in your area, soil testing and master gardeners on staff. Do some research and you can find a gardening solution for you and your family. Trust me, it will be worth it! My kids love to eat veggies and I know it's because they eat them right out of the garden all summer long.

Preparedness Quotes

"When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, 'We can’t afford it, even though we want it!' or 'We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!'" - Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2009 General Conference

"Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost, and investments have been jeopardized. We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibility do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered. When the priesthood of this Church works together as one in meeting these vexing conditions, near miracles take place.

"We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt."
- President Thomas S. Monson, October 2008 Priesthood Session, General Conference

"Avoid the philosophy that yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. They aren't necessities until we make them so. Many enter into long-term debt only to find that changes occur; people become ill or incapacitated, companies fail or downsize, jobs are lost, natural disasters befall us. For many reasons, payments on large amounts of debt can no longer be made. Our debt becomes as a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and threatening to destroy us."
- President Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference

“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the real storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing’ (D&C 109:8.)”
President Gordon B. Hinckley

"We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult--the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.

"We are living in the prophesied time 'when peace shall be taken from the earth' (D&C 1:35,) when 'all things shall be in commotion' and 'men's hearts shall fail them' (D&C 88:91.) There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current 'commotion' is spiritual." Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“Every father and mother are the family’s store keepers. They should store whatever their family would like to have in case of an emergency…(and) God will sustain us through our trials.” President James E. Faust

“We live in a most exciting and challenging period in human history. As technology sweeps through every facet of our lives, changes are occurring so rapidly that it can be difficult for us to keep our lives in balance. To maintain some semblance of stability in our lives, it is essential that we plan for our future. I believe it is time, and perhaps with some urgency, to review the counsel we have received in dealing with our personal and family preparedness. We want to be found with oil in our lamps sufficient to endure to the end.”- Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, Nov. 1995

"Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year's supply of food. . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year's supply of debt and are food free." President Thomas S. Monson

"Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. … We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.

“First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. …

“Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. …

“Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. …

“Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life [if local laws permit such storage]. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.” - Elder L. Tom Perry, October 1995 General Conference

“Maintain a year's supply. The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year's supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days. How many of us have complied with this? We strive with the Lord, finding many excuses: We do not have room for storage. The food spoils. We do not have the funds to do it. We do not like these common foods. It is not needed -- there will always be someone to help in trouble. The government will come to the rescue. And some intend to obey but procrastinate.” - The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.375

“All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Be prepared in all things against the day when tribulations and desolations are sent forth upon the wicked." D&C 29:8

"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not aquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them." President Ezra Taft Benson

"Fear not little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." D&C 6:34, 36

"I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ. . . They (five foolish) had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion.

"The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . . This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. . . . In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living." - President Spencer W. Kimball

“We encourage families to have on hand this year’s supply; we say it over and over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” How empty it is as they put their spirituality, so-called, into action and call him by his important names, but fail to do the things which he says." - President Spencer W. Kimball"/>


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