Money Saving Tips from a Dunce

“Mommy, what’s this?” five-year-old Molly asked, pointing to a tangled lump of thread on her knee.

“I mended the hole in your pants,” I replied.

“It looks funny,” she said.

“Yeah, I don’t know how to sew.” Thus ended another chapter in my latest money-saving endeavor. Being a stay-at-home mom means finding clever ways to save pennies wherever possible, and in my six years of domesticity, I’ve realized I’m terrible at it. Almost all my efforts result in wasted time, frustration, and precious dollars going down the drain. Take Molly’s pants, for example. She had torn a hole in the knee, so I decided to fix it. How hard could it be? The answer: very. After stabbing my finger with the sewing needle, then blinding myself trying to thread it, I was cranky and in pain. Despite trying my hardest, my patch job looked like I had sewn it in the dark and upside down. I was unimpressed, and so was Molly; she refused to wear the pants. So despite my efforts, I ended up buying her brand new jeans. In this modern day and age, how can I not know how to sew? Did I take that sewing class for nothing? To be fair, it was twenty years ago in high school, and the cute boy in my class was more interesting than learning to drop-stitch.

Here’s another money-saving tip: scrape leftover food into plastic containers. The next day, reheat the leftovers and serve them for dinner. Listen as your two-year-old declares them “gwoss”, and your daughter announces they taste like feet. Sigh loudly and heat up a frozen pizza in the oven. Leave the leftovers in the fridge until the mold growing on them becomes sentient, then toss the entire container in the garbage. Isn’t it great being economical?

My mother was a wonder at mending, cooking, and thriftiness. She would sew beautiful heart shaped patches onto my jeans, making them last another season. I remember when I was around five and had yet another hole in the knee of my tights. Mom got a needle and thread, and despite my protests that she would “stitch my knee shut!” she patched the hole in no time flat, while I was wearing the tights! (Maybe it was easier that way?) Mom could turn leftover chicken into a delicious stroganoff sauce, or into a casserole that I still remember fondly. She would turn the heat down at night, so every winter morning was bitingly cold. This routine may have saved money, but I wasn’t a big fan!

I’ll keep trying. It’s important for kids to learn the value of a dollar. In today’s throw-away society, it’s so easy to just mindlessly replace what’s broken. If I knew as a child what I know now, I’d understand why my mother sighed with dismay at my torn pants and tattered socks. Now she simply chuckles when I complain about burst seams and dangling threads. She pats my hand reassuringly, a knowing smirk on her face. If only I could go back in time and pay attention, maybe I’d be better at sewing, saving money, and life in general!