10 Money Saving Lessons from Ouma

When I was growing up, my Ouma used to tell me stories about life on the farm during the depression years, and how they had to be self-sufficient when it came to things like cold remedies, soap, candles and jams. They lived in the Richtersveld where there wasn’t even a general dealer. Nowadays, we buy all these things in Pick & Pay, and Spar and Checkers, and pay a lot for them in the "torture tunnels" at the tills.

As the recession bites and jobs get scarcer, more and more South Africans are having to think like my Grandmother did, and become more self-sufficient. I decided to put together an article of what I hope are handy hints we all can use.

  1. Start a Vegetable Garden – Growing your own veggies is a rewarding experience in many ways. You not only save money in the process. You also finally find out what vegetables taste like the way God meant them to. Here is a handy link to get you going with practical ideas. Please remember to thin the seedlings out and pull out the weeds, or you will wonder why you bothered. Once you are seriously into home vegetable gardening, you will have a rewarding hobby for life.

  2. As soon as you start growing your own vegetables, you need Pesticides because insects arrive in crowds. Before you reach for a can of Doom and declare open war on nature, why not make your own non-toxic pesticides that will not harm a kid if they stop by for a snack (or a bird for that matter). Like many of the other tips in this article, there is a busy opportunity in the idea. South Africans are waking up to eco-consciousness. You will have no lack of customers!

  3. Make Your Own Baby Food – The tiny jars on supermarket shelves are ridiculously expensive. I personally think they trade on Mum’s emotions. In my Ouma’s days, the people made their own, and if anything the children were more healthy. Baby food is human food in puree form to make it easily digestible. Visit this website for recipes that use tried and trusted foods like pumpkins, peas and avocados. The results will be so tasty and nutritious you will want to taste them yourself.

  4. When you have a moment, sit down and work out how much you spend on Laundry Soap a year. When you recover from your shock, visit The Simple Dollar and find out how to make it for a fraction of the price. All you need is a cake of soap, a box of washing soda and a box of borax. The resulting slime may not be as elegant as Omo, but you will save a small fortune in the process. You clothes will smell "clean and fresh and good" all over. What a pleasure!

  5. Make Some Homemade Sweets - Spend some of the money that you save on laundry to spoil yourself a little. A lady called Alicia has gone to the trouble of publishing free recipes and you really should pay her a visit. A word of warning; just because your sweets are homemade does not make them good for children’s teeth. Ration them strictly. Save on the dentist too. This is a fantastic idea for the next Church Bazaar.

  6. Another lady called Farm Gal has a super website where you can learn to bottle your own vegetables and fruit when your garden is up and running. This is a great way of not wasting anything while saving money at the same time. She has also published a home guide for freezing vegetables if this suits you better. The really neat thing about this money saving is that you know exactly what goes into the far or freezer bag.

  7. Make Scented Candles for Gifts - This is something I do myself. I always have a few aromatic candles handy and believe me everybody loves receiving a homemade gift they can actually use. I follow a simple recipe, and am currently experimenting with different moulds. Compare the price of plain Price’s Candles per kilo with the fancy ones in Woolies. The profit margins border on the scandalous. This is another great way to save money at home, as you learn to open a business!

  8. Summer has arrived. The neighbourhood dogs are suffering from an outbreak of fleas and you need to kill them fast. The powders they sell in the supermarkets do not seem to work. My vet has something that is hideously expensive and only lasts a week. I recently discovered diatomaceous earth, the stuff my Dad used to put in the swimming pool filter. When I brush it firmly into my dog’s coat all over the fleas vanish in twenty-four hours. What a saving. The stuff is completely safe for dogs and humans and lasts for ages.

  9. Make Your Own Dog Food - Now here is a really exciting way to add a little something to dry pellet food and give it zip. I was using tinned dog food until I rebelled against the price, surfed the web and discovered The Frugal Find. This one is a complete no-brainer. If you can cook dinner, you can prepare food for your dog. What is more, the stuff you make will have none of those weird-sounding ingredients they put in commercial dog food.

  10. A few of these handy tips have involved going out into the sun. I just discovered a website that teaches you how to make your own sun protection cream (and nappy rash ointment if you are at that phase in your life). Did you know you can also make safe homemade cosmetics at home that are not tested on animals? Visit a website called Resist to learn more.

I do hope you find these handy hints interesting enough to try some out. If you have your own ideas to share, please tell us all about them in the comments below.