The Tin Lady


Every Christmas I make soft caramels for friends and family. My wonderful sister-in-law shared her recipe with me years ago and convinced me that I could make them. Last year, a few friends asked if I would make them caramels to share with their family. I agreed on the condition that they came over to help wrap them. While I enjoy making caramels, they are time consuming. This year, I shared a thought on facebook: would anyone be interested in buying tins of caramels this year? The response was overwhelming.

So overwhelming that Mr. Riehl and I rushed to a craft store to see if we could stock up on tins. I needed 3 sizes and I found the medium and large tins, but only one of the smallest size. I asked an employee of the store if they had more tins in stock. He pointed to a very tall shelf and said, “We have more up there. Do you want one?”

One? Try fifteen.

I told him I would look around some more first. After another ten minutes of looking, we realized that I needed to get the tins on the high shelf. I shyly asked the employee to get them, and he set off to get a tall ladder. And here’s where it turned fun: The tins were stored like those little Russian dolls, about 6 tins, smallest to largest, all nestled together. I needed the second smallest size. So I stood at the bottom of the ladder with a cart, frantically opening the tins, sorting through to the smallest size, unwrapping it, placing the remaining tins back together, closing the lid and handing them back to the employee, while he went up and down delivering and retrieving. He could only carry one at a time (I’m thinking that was a policy?). So he climbed up the ladder, brought a tin down to me and took the one I’d picked through back up. I was sweating, frantic to hurry before he returned. Somehow in this Mr. Riehl disappeared. I think the plan had been for him to take the girls elsewhere, but in the end only one went with him, so I was also busy huffing at the kids to stay still.

In the end, the nice man only rolled his eyes ever so slightly when I thanked him. We wandered around the store for another ten minutes (for some reason I thought this would erase my embarrassment) before we checked out. My embarrassment had faded some until the cashier looked at my cart and said, “Oh. You’re the tin lady.”

How flattering, thank you.

Turns out my humiliation was well worth it. We’ve been working hard to be out of debt, reworking the budget and making sacrifices. I was blessed with an amazing job watching a little boy three days a week. We love him and the schedule allows me to stay home with my girls and continue homeschooling. Still, we chose to not buy each other gifts this year. We set aside a modest budget for the girls and were able to have a really nice, stress-free Christmas.

I somehow was able to fib a little about our budget this month and hid most of my caramel money. For Christmas I made Mr. Riehl a box of his favorite black licorice caramels along with a card that said, “I fibbed a little, worked really hard, and saved $$$ to put toward a debt. Merry Christmas!”

I’ll be the tin lady all day long for the look on his face.

So now that we’re at the beginning of a new year and very serious about this debt business, I’d love to hear your best money saving tips. We’re pretty frugal as it is, but I’m finding more and more ways to save money.

For example, we cancelled our gym membership and I’ve begun to check out work-out DVDs from the library. I ditched Amazon Prime and, again, am camping out at the library instead of lading up my kindle. This week I’m reading, “The Good Life for Less” by Amy Allen Clark (creator of – a great site and the inspiration for Make-ahead Thanksgiving) and Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d’Arabian. Something about not purchasing these books makes them that much better.

Says the author that made more money from caramels in one month than she did in book sales. Ha!

And while we’re on the subject: don’t be afraid to ask for books you want to read at your library. I would be honored if you requested mine to be in yours. Another free and great way to bless authors you love is to review our books on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be a fancy review, just a rating and what you did or didn’t like about the book. Reviews go a long way with book sales and help us immensely. If you have read The Earth is Full or The Heavens Are Telling, would you consider reviewing them on Amazon and requesting them at your library? This budget-conscious author would be eternally grateful!

And a big thank you to those of you that have already done so. I appreciate your time and kind words so much more than I can express.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!


B.D. Riehl is the author of The Earth is Full and The Heavens Are Telling, both available on Amazon, and at Family Christian Bookstores Boise, Idaho.

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4 thoughts on “The Tin Lady

  1. This year I’ve saved by making my own veggie stock, and cooking from scratch as much as possible! I also switched my car insurance to payments every six months instead of monthly, since there was a $5 a month fee for monthly payments.

  2. I loved hearing about your whole caramel story, especially the surprise you were able to give your husband for Christmas! I’m known at our local grocery store as the yogurt lady… We save money by using an antenna instead of subscribing to cable and by preparing the majority of our meals at home. I’ve also found that paying cash for groceries definitely helps me stick to the budgeted amount. It’s kind of a pain though and I haven’t done it in a while, but really need to start again. Thanks for the reminder to leave reviews for your books and to put in requests in our library. I’ll put it on my to-do this week list:) Have a great New Year’s Eve!

    1. Thank you, Hanessa!
      Those are good ones, too. I ask a big fan of the envelope system, but once I lost an envelope with money we had set aside for a dresser for our girls’ room. Yikes! I was scared away from cash for a while, but now I’m back on track. You’re right-you save so much that way!

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