Frugal Friday- July 10th, 2015

I’ll admit, I don’t completely understand what the citizens of Greece are facing when they are asked to choose between “more severe austerity measures” in order to keep their country afloat, or bailing on the money they already owe, but either way it doesn’t sound pleasant. Michael and I elected a long time ago to never again owe any money and it was the best decision we’ve ever made. We may someday see our own self imposed austerity measures, but frugality shouldn’t be confused with austerity. It’s but a way of life that we embrace willingly and whole heartedly and that allows us to live well on less. Maybe folks with a lot more money than we do have no need to even consider frugality, but we chose to retire at the tender ages of 49 and 55, knowing it was a choice that would affect us for the rest of our lives. 13 years later, the only thing we’ve had to give up was that 9 to 5 job! Our new job is to live within our means and although we sometimes have to work a bit of overtime to accomplish that, the payoff is always worth the extra effort. This week has been no different:

Monday: Our veterinarian’s office is less than a block away and once a year he offers a rabies clinic for cats and dogs for only $10. In-Shot-Out in two minutes or less and it’s a pleasant walk there, saving the poor cat from a car ride. Is that austerity?


Tuesday: I reused a stamp that arrived in my mailbox uncanceled. It’s amazing how often this happens, and it’s amazing that I’ve never had a single piece of mail returned to me when I reuse these little goldmines. I do tend to use them on mail that is not of utter importance, just in case, but I believe that’s overkill on my part. Austerity? Nah, but I did save 49 cents!


Wednesday:  We went camping recently and I was finally able to try out my homemade fire starters, made with repurposed toilet paper rolls stuffed with saved dryer lint. Now that we no longer heat our home with wood, and since the surrounding woods are always picked completely clean when we camp, kindling and such is hard to come by. These firestarters worked very well and of course I love making ‘something from nothing’. The resulting fire and s’mores could hardly be considered austerity measures.


Thursday: On my daily walk I ran across a full bale of straw with a neglected potted ficus tree sitting on top of it, waiting for the garbage truck to haul them away. I went home and got my own garbage truck and saved both from the landfill. I’ll use the straw bale as a fall decoration later this year, then as mulch for my strawberry bed. The tree can be nursed back to health and I’ll give it to my daughter for her birthday in November since she’s always wanted such a tree. Austerity? nope, just smart savings!


Friday: I gathered some fresh cedar and sage from my herb bed and made smudge sticks, a Native American tradition of clearing your space, your life or even your body of negative energy. They make great house-warming gifts, or simply as an offering to a sick friend to metaphorically cleanse their body from whatever ails them. Maybe the government of Greece should consider giving smudge sticks to all their citizens to help them cleanse the bad air that’s brewing there…


I joke about austerity measures, but I assure you they are no laughing matter to the citizens of Greece and there is no intention to belittle the hardships they face. I sincerely believe however that looking at all our available resources with an eye towards conserving them, whether it’s a 49 cent stamp or a wad of dryer lint can help us remain solvent in our own personal ways. I am concerned over the global state of affairs and have found the best remedy for my anxiety is to simply live as best as I can on as little as I can. Growing food, reducing my energy needs and tending a supportive and understanding community are the central tenants of this blog and my life. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to avoid austerity, and think transition.

6 Comments so far
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A seminar I went to when I was working discussed ways to understand generational poverty, in hopes we could help some of our clients find their way out of it. One interesting thing that struck me and stayed with me was when they asked us if we “washed out the bottles”. Dish detergent, shampoo, I put water in them at the end to get every drop of the good stuff. That’s not austerity, it’s frugality and just common sense to me. It had never occurred to me that not everybody does that, and I always have. Every little thing helps to live a more frugal life. You had another good week!

Comment by sarasinart

I wash out the bottles and cut open the ’empty’ tubes…always get about another week’s worth of toothpaste 🙂

Comment by simpleintn

Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions regarding frugality! To add to what was said, the following two comments seem appropriate.
1. In saying that “Maybe folks with a lot more money than we do have no need to even consider frugality…” there is something missing. People who have a lot of money have even MORE reason to practice frugality because their greater financial resources mean they have greater ability to consume at a high level and do greater damage to the environment if they do not choose to restrain themselves. It takes energy and resources to make the products we buy, and in many cases, more energy (and pollution generated) to operate them. The more consumer items we purchase, the more we harm our planet home. Living simply is living lightly on the Earth and needs to be done for the sake of the Earth.
2. I like the idea of “homemade fire starters, made with repurposed toilet paper rolls stuffed with saved dryer lint.” But dryer lint??? It needs to be pointed out that clothes dryers are HUGE users of energy. In addition, if that energy comes from a coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear fired electrical power plant, dryers are also big contributors to pollution and climate change, as well as depletion of nonrenewable resources. It seems to me that we need to work toward more environmentally friendly ways of drying our clothes. I live in western Oregon where it is very often cloudy and rainy in the winter and have done just fine without a clothes dryer for 21 years. Simply hang your clothes outside in the summer and hang them inside the house on a simple wooden clothes rack in the winter. And the toilet paper tubes work fine as fire starters without the dryer lint stuffed inside (or stuff them with dry leaves or scrap paper).

Comment by Dale Lugenbehl

Hi Dale, As always, very thoughtful comments and observations. As I wrote that sentence about folks with more money, it nagged at me that’s that not really what I wanted to say, then forgot to edit before posting. But you said perfectly what I wanted to say, and I appreciate it. The second faux pas didn’t mean I save my own dryer lint! I get it (too much of it!) from many people to make the fire starters. I try hard not to sound Nazi like or preachy in these posts and felt that if my readers heard one.more.sermon. from me about the advantages of line drying vs electric drying they’d unsubscribe. For the most part, I’m preaching to the choir anyway, so I was reluctant to give that sermon again. It’s a fine line for sure.

It’s so good to hear from you! Keep reading and commenting, I appreciate the feedback.

Comment by simpleintn

One final thought on dryer lint… I’ve been thinking about this more and realized that in almost all cases dryer lint is going to contain shreds of cotton AND shreds of rayon, polyester, nylon, etc. The latter are essentially plastics (made from petroleum) and, when burned, they produce very toxic waste products. This seems like a good reason not to burn dryer lint unless one is certain it contains only cotton, hemp, or other natural fibers.

Comment by Dale Lugenbehl

Well I suspect you may be right about that too Dale…I hadn’t really thought about it at all, I was simply happy to find a way to use an otherwise wasteful substance. But I think I should now retract that recommendation to my readers, so thanks again for doing the headwork on this!

Comment by simpleintn

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