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Feed your family -- frugally

Forget low-carb, no-carb, South Beach and Atkins. Where do normal people turn when they just want to feed their family nutritious, inexpensive and easy meals?

Tawra Kellam says she has the answers in her book, "Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites."

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A few years ago, when Kellam was in serious debt and looking for ideas on how to save money, she came across tips in magazines and books. The instructions read like this: "Make your own baby food and Christmas gifts. It will save you a bundle!" But they didn't say how to make the baby food or give any indication of what these homemade Christmas gifts would be.

Kellam, a thrifty homemaker from a long line of thrifty homemakers, decided she would write a book -- with easy instructions -- about how a family can be frugal . A few years later, she was out of debt and the book was in print.

Bankrate spoke with Kellam to find out how she went about the transition from frugal to plenty.

Bankrate: You said you paid off $20,000 of debt in five years with an annual salary of $22,000. What was the debt from and how did you pay it off?

Kellam: Our debt came mostly from medical bills and two wrecked cars. And, my husband was $3,000 in debt before we married. He was a big spender before. Now he's almost a bigger tightwad than me. Mainly, we simply nickeled-and-dimed everything -- such as shopping for lower-interest-rate credit cards to do balance transfers, not going out to dinner and using cloth diapers. I have the whole story of how we paid it off on my Web site, www.notjustbeans.com.

Bankrate: Does your family help you save?

Kellam: Oh, yes. We've been married 10 years and my husband wasn't that way at first. I tell people, you have to set the example. You can't get mad when he spends $200 on car toys if you go out and buy $200 worth of clothes. For my husband, it happened when he realized he was working two hours to pay for the pizza we ate in 15 minutes. People don't realize how long they have to work to pay for some of the things they purchase. We figured out one day that if we wanted to buy a new car that cost $30,000, we would be working for one year and three months just to pay for it. Is it worth it when a used car might only be three to six months' worth of work?

Bankrate: Does your family have house rules about spending money?

Kellam: Unspoken ones. We work together pretty well on it. Anything over $100 -- except clothing -- we talk about.

The kids have chores to do to earn their allowance. They have to keep their rooms clean, empty the trash, set the table and pick up their things at pick-up time. Right now, I'm very fortunate in that they are willing. I give them extra for helping to sweep the sidewalks. They used to help out with the dishes, but in our new home, they can't reach the cabinets. When we know they are trying to save for something, we give them extra opportunities to help.

I don't buy roll-ups, juice boxes or other made-for-kid junk foods. We let them use their own money to buy it. They are already learning that this candy bar is 60 cents and the other one is $1; they get the 60-cent one. It's better for them to learn on a $1 candy bar than a $100,000 house. A lot of parents hide their money problems. They shouldn't. My mother didn't. We comparison shopped. Parents don't give their kids enough credit to learn these things when they are younger. They should.

 

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-- Posted: Nov. 5, 2004
     

 

 
 

 

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