Today my children were building a "castle" out of some interlocking foam blocks that we have. Perhaps you have seen the type--multi-colored, with the shapes of the different alphabet letters in the middle. (The alphabet letters that fit in the middle are probably around here somewhere, but because they have been used by multiple children, it's a hard call... :) Over the past couple of days, the older children have taken turns constructing part of the castle, and then prior to completion, the youngest would come in and the construction would be completed by building up the walls around the child inside. All great and fine and happy times until said child wanted to exit the castle premises. There was no roof involved, so the quickest and easiest way to get out was to get over the wall, which was torn down in the process, demolishing the structure. This resulted in multiple unhappy children. Until today, when one of the children built the castle, but left room for a door. The architect was rightfully happy about the solution. The youngest was understandably happy about the increased independence that such an addition made possible, (what's not to like about being able to come and go as you please?) and I was glad that they were all so happy. Of course, the castle is in ruins right now-- (although it will probably be reconstructed another day) it was only made of foam blocks. Still and all, when my child presented the solution to the construction problem, one of the things that occurred to me was that it's always nice to have at least one way out of a hard situation--and food storage can sometimes provide such a "way out".
Sometimes the expenses that come with providing for ourselves and/or our families result in financial responsibilities that can get higher, just like the castle walls rose around the sibling inside. Sometimes they are expected, and sometimes not. Take, for example, the fact that we had to replace our car recently. (Some may argue that this is expense was not "unexpected" per se, since the car was 18 years old, but our expectations were very optimistic... :) All of the sudden, the car started to get into the danger hot zone after only a few minutes of driving. Not a good sign. My husband took it to be repaired, and originally they said it was only a thermostat, and the repair cost was minimal, as far as car repair costs go. Then came a second call, wherein my husband was informed that if the car did start to heat up again, it was likely a gasket problem. A gasket problem is considerably more expensive when it comes to car repair costs. My husband retrieved the vehicle, and we hoped for the best. It did not take long to figure out that there was definitely still a problem as the car repeated the heating up quickly routine, and after my husband got multiple estimates, we figured that the best option would be able to replace the vehicle. We started looking, narrowed down our options, and finally got a new (to us) car.
The new vehicle got great customer reviews, is made by a reliable company, and is less than half the age of our other car. We made a down payment, but it also comes with an outstanding balance. Not the best time of year to gain a new expense,(but let's be real, is an increased expense ever really welcome? :) but we are pretty happy that we were able to get a good deal on a vehicle with under 50,000 miles. (We did check as much as we could, because we doubted that a car of it's maturity could really have an odometer reading such as this, but it is true.) Here's the thing: we were spelling out what we needed and we were talking about what we could afford recently. I suggested something, and my husband looked at me, and said, "Do you think that we can get by on groceries for less than X amount of money?" I don't think I really said anything, but I made out a menu plan today for the time allotted, and I will be using a lot of food storage items and recipes before the time is out. The result? A very small list for the grocery store. I think that it will be considerably less than X amount of money if we stick to the list and the prices don't go up in an outrageous way before we do our purchasing.
Do I like using my food storage? Not particularly, because I like to have as much as possible squirreled away. However, in this case, it provides us a "way out" in terms of freeing up some money that we would normally spend on food, and enables us to take care of other necessities. The walls are a little higher, but we won't have to create chaos on our financial resources trying to tear down the debt. It is by no means a perfect analogy, but it makes sense to me that if we allow ourselves a little leeway, while we will still have the responsibilities, we won't have to feel as closed in and trapped by them.
So, I will be using more of my food storage, and I'm glad that we had that "door" in place before we had to buy the car. I hope that everyone will take the opportunity to store some food, because it's a big relief to be able to juggle finances-- which you can, if you have some supplies in storage. I'm also glad that a lot of my storage is food that we already eat at least occasionally. I haven't made rice and beans for awhile, but at least I already know that my children will eat them.... :)