Seven Principles From Ma Ingalls on Saving Money

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As a young girl I remember sitting in my room for hours reading through the box set of the Little House on the Prairie books given to me by my grandmother. As an adult I have read these books to my own young children and it truly hits home to me how much wisdom this generation of pioneering women held.

It occurs to me as I read these books that Caroline Ingalls was the ultimate penny-pinching, hard-working, do-it-yourselfing woman. If we could learn from anyone about saving money, and doing it naturally since her time was before most of the man-made chemicals we now know, it would be Ma Ingalls.

So here are seven principles that I think we could all learn from her:

  1. Wherever you work, work hard. There is plenty to do right at home to help put food on the table and save the money you do have. Working hard at the simple things in life is just as productive as doing it under a big title in a fancy office.
  2. Take advantage of every resource. Food can come from weeds in the yard that you learn to identify or wild game hunted and dressed at home. Clothing can come from a neighbor who no longer needs it or can be made from inexpensive sheets bought on clearance.
  3. Know how to do useful things. Ma tended a garden, rendered lard, made clothing, and tended animals. Learning how to do basic skills like grow food and make things yourself can go a long way in helping you save money and provide for your family.
  4. Get used to not having it easy. One huge difference that I see between my generation and the Ma Ingalls generation is the level of comfort that we think we deserve. Ma lived without running water or electricity or very many restaurant meals and she didn’t seem to consider herself a third world citizen. Sometimes I think we would be better off if we deliberately shed some of the conveniences of modern life.
  5. Sometimes you just have to tough it out. There will always be times of famine and feast. There will always be meat that needs to be stretched or butter that will only go so far. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal with it and realize that there are seasons for everything.
  6. Do what you can with what you have. This is my ultimate philosophy when it comes to the life we live and the money we spend or save. No two people’s circumstances are alike. Doing the best that you can with the resources you have is, quite literally, all that you can do.
  7. Be thankful for what you do have. We will always want more so realizing that what you have is enough can radically change your attitude. Contentment is a beautiful thing.

What principles have you learned from Ma Ingalls?

Comments

  1. love this! we are just wrapping up the last book in the series. their lives totally inspire us!

  2. Teresa says:

    I agree with these principples-4 and 5 I have lived!!

  3. Sandra Perkins says:

    Yes. So true. Have read the books many times. Would love to practice this way of thinking. Be thankful & content with what God has provided . Contentment with godliness is great gain. ( the Bible )

  4. Andrea says:

    I love this! Thank you. I think about this family nearly every day of my life while trying to do what I do. It inspires me and helps me stay focused and away from the “I deserve” mindset and back on the “I can do it”. I love this list! I wish I had learned the things she did as a young girl!

  5. Kari C. says:

    Great principles. Perhaps another would be “involve your children.” Our kids often have more free time than is good for them! I think they long to participate and be useful. The Ingalls girls worked right alongside their parents. More work done. More money saved. More skills learned by the children. More time together as a family.

    I don’t know how many DOZENS of times I read and still read the Little House books. When I got older it was all things Janette Oke. Hmm, maybe I’ll do a little reading today….

  6. Jessica says:

    I love these! I was just thinking the other day haw people had a much better mindset and the mentality to deal with difficulties and to be ingenious in using what they had.

  7. Sheila says:

    I think Ma is my role model. She was so feminine, polite, and educated, but there was no chore she considered beneath her. And despite those who seem to think a woman is more charming when she’s helpless, she was able to fend for herself when Pa was away — even facing down a bear!

    Another lesson is that whether you are a lady or gentleman isn’t about how much money you have, but how you conduct yourself — she even treated the Indians, who terrified her, as guests! That is one heck of a lady!

  8. Kelly says:

    Loved this! I have learned so many great lessons from Caroline Ingalls. I wrote an article about it a couple years ago:

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/975524/carolines_list_homemaking_made_easy.html?cat=7

    • Jenny says:

      I love LHOTP. My favorite is probably “The Long Winter” (because of the intense hardship remindin me to “suck it up” :) ) …and then a close second is the “Big Woods” and bits of “Farmer Boy”

      Don’t you just love the story she sat in Pa’s rocking chair and said something to the effect of “This is so comfortable I declare, it is sinful!” They had NO upholstered furniture.

      A few other inspring sources I like are the free books you can download from Amazon (“Kindle” books, on my computer though) such as “A Plain Cookery for the Working Class”… Mutton Head, anyone? Ok, maybe not that, but it is fun to read because there is NO waste. I also like the Depression Era Cooking with Clara on YouTube. (Dandelion salad?)…and of course, I like your writing too!

      And thanks to Kelly and her link to her published article (congrats!) – I’m in a new phase of homemaking, myself and was just pondering about assigning chores to days. It was great to see you had done this!

  9. Jessica says:

    What I’ve loved the most about the Little House series is the family’s incredible gratitude for simple pleasures and gifts. I’m hoping to instill that in my children and re-route the consuming, discontented patterns we’ve learned over time.

  10. Jenny says:

    I love LHOTP. My favorite is probably “The Long Winter” (because of the intense hardship remindin me to “suck it up” :) ) …and then a close second is the “Big Woods” and bits of “Farmer Boy”

    Don’t you just love the story she sat in Pa’s rocking chair and said something to the effect of “This is so comfortable I declare, it is sinful!” They had NO upholstered furniture.

    A few other inspring sources I like are the free books you can download from Amazon (“Kindle” books, on my computer though) such as “A Plain Cookery for the Working Class”… Mutton Head, anyone? Ok, maybe not that, but it is fun to read because there is NO waste. I also like the Depression Era Cooking with Clara on YouTube. (Dandelion salad?)…and of course, I like your writing too!

  11. Angie says:

    Great list! I agree, after the “Proverbs 31 woman” of the Older Covenant and the “Titus 2 woman” of the New Covenant Ma Ingalls was our next best Godly role model!

    We did a year of homeschool using the “Prairie Primer” by Cadron Creek. It encompasses all subjects except math and grammar and is adjustable for any grade. It utilizes the Little House series and everything you do is centered around the story (English, Science, History, Scripture lessons and memorization, etc.). You can’t beat an entire year’s curriculum for all the children in the family totalling less than $50! It was the perfect “primer” to our big move out to the country and back to the basics this past July. We moved to 6 acres in the country and are living in a converted-work-in-progress barn so we call our life “Big Barn in the Little Woods”!

    Although we made all of the do-it-yourself “inside the house” and food and school changes over the past decade it is still a major time adjustment to add the outside things – the clothesline, the chickens, then the baby dairy goats, then the dairy calf, now the garden planting. We’re not even off-grid and I’ve not been able to post to my site since the move! Now that there is more “content expereience” happening than I could have ever imagined, there seems to be no time to get it out! I’m so glad you are able to keep posting post-move and am thankful for the encouragement on the journey!

    Thanks to “Jenny” above for the great old book titles to check out!

    God bless you fellow pilgrim(s)!

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