Frugal Friday: March 7, 2014

I’ve had lots of opportunities to save money lately. Some by sheer luck, some because of diligence on my part. I’ve learned that normally though, the best way to ‘save money’ is to not spend it to begin with, and that’s always my first line of thinking. I’ve also found it to be true that if I will wait a day or two before buying something, I often realize I didn’t need it after all. Or, if I wait LONG ENOUGH, often the very thing I need comes my way anyway. From a swatch of turquoise fabric to repair a pillow sham to  an electric heater that I needed in my cellar to keep pipes from freezing, planning ahead and being patient always pays off. Of course, sometimes opportunity knocks in the most unexpected ways and places and I have to ‘listen’ to hear that knock when it occurs.

Monday: Got my teeth cleaned at the local dental hygienist school. My dental insurance only pays for two cleanings a year. Because I have a tendency towards gum problems, I’ve found that if I have mine cleaned 3-4x a year, that really keeps the problems minimized. The dental clinic at the school will clean them twice a year, and for seniors, it’s free. They’ll also take x rays for free, then make copies for me to take to my regular dentist for $20. To top off that sweet deal, they always send me home with a ‘goodie bag’ that has a new toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste and a box of floss in it. Sometimes there are samples of mouthwash, specialty brushes or coupons for toothpaste too in the bag as well. Because I’ve been getting my teeth cleaned so regularly for years now, (even though I begrudge having to go) I haven’t had to have any other work done at all. Prevention is the best medicine, that’s for sure. If you live near a university, check out the services they offer. I’m able to ride my bike to the college, and my dentist is so close I don’t bother, I just walk there. Savings: Good Dental Health?=Priceless!

Tuesday: Speaking of the local university: Michael and I volunteer for the School of the Arts in order to earn free tickets to the event of our choice each spring and fall. We like to deliver the posters for those events because many of them are close enough by that they can be delivered while on our daily walks to the nearby businesses. Sometimes we’ll usher too, allowing us to see a show that way. Many of these events are followed by a free buffet of fruits, veggies and hors d’ oeuvres (did I spell that right?) that we’re invited to enjoy. Savings: Most tickets to these events are $15-$20 each. Date Night of Music/Film/Presentations and food=Priceless!

Wednesday:  I’m cooking multiple things together more and more often, to save time and energy. This week I again filled my clay cooker with recently-harvested carrots, parsnips and brussels sprouts, along with some leftover cubed chicken, and tossed it all with about a quarter cup of needs-to-be-used Italian dressing and some fresh sprigs of rosemary. Cooking the dish at the same time Michael’s home-made bread baked saved an hour of electrical usage, and provided us with two delicious meals! 

clay cooker    bread


Thursday: My favorite nearby farm and garden store held a ‘moving sale’ recently, and just like with ‘moving’ yard sales, things were marked down to rock-bottom prices. We snagged bags of organic soil amendments for 75% off!. Savings: Home-grown organic food-You guessed it-Priceless!

Friday: My nearby IGA grocery store closed last Friday, but I’ll use this example for today. I went in on the last day they were open, searching for a bargain, on foot. I ended up calling Michael to come pick me up and to bring some of my cloth tote bags because I got many many bags of food at 75% off! I spent $35 so that same stuff would’ve cost about $140. Savings: $105! I’m not happy about this though-I’d lots rather have this small hometown grocery open and within a 6 minute walk of my back door. The closing of this store leaves me and everyone living within a 4 mile radius living in a food desert now, forcing US to drive to the nearest store, or to catch a bus. I could go on and on about the issues this raises, but this post is not about that so I won’t go there-for now.

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.”

Elise Boulding  from the blog http://otrazhenie.wordpress.com/

Frugal Friday-November 22nd

You know those thick plastic zippered bags that comforters, mattress pads and the like come in? Do  you save them without any idea in this world what use you’ll find for them, simply saving them because they’re ‘too nice to just throw away’? uh huh, me too.

Monday- Gave my youngest daughter my full stash of those bags for her to use for organizing her clothing and personal items. She lives in a studio apartment and has a VERY tiny closet and no other storage. She put her socks in one bag, underwear and bras in another, scarves and mittens in one, and her summer clothes in the others, hanging only her winter clothes in the tiny closet. Flip flops and sandals went in yet another bag. It even solved her important papers and receipts problems that were scattered everywhere BB (before bags)  Cost-$0      Savings-Sanity is priceless

Tuesday-  This idea occurred to me last month when  I was fighting a HERD of fruit flies so I repeated it this week: I run white vinegar through my coffee pot about once a month to remove lime and scale deposits that build up over time. I poured the hot vinegar after it had done its first job of cleaning the pot, down the drains in the kitchen and bathrooms, which is where a lot of the little fruit flies originate, effectively killing two flies birds with one stone.

Wednesday– Darned my socks! Savings: About $2-$4 for a new pair but I really had fun using a lightbulb as a ‘darning egg’ and it made the finished job much neater. I still have two more pairs to darn so I’m saving a fair amount of money and resources by learning this technique.



Thursday– Repaired my electric stove burner by applying JB Weld (wayyy better than duct tape ;D) to the broken metal bracket that supports the eye from underneath the burner, clamped it with a stiff little clip I’d found out in the alley behind my house a month or so ago and voila! After setting up overnight, it’s good as new.  Savings: $14.47 plus shipping from Amazon



Friday– I like to buy in bulk whenever it’s prudent to do so. It saves me money, trips to the store and excess packaging. We’re blessed in our region to have several places that we can buy in bulk; the Mennonite-owned store in Chuckey sells spices and all manner of staples- I’ve bought oats, rice and dried beans in 25-50 lb sacks, at no extra charge to me, that they simply add to their weekly order. I also buy bulk rice at ‘The Stock Pot”, an Asian market close by, and loose tea by the pound at the Indian foods store. Then of course, Sam’s Clubs and Costcos are located all over the country. I mention this now for this reason: we’re entering the season of ‘large popcorn tins’. I’ve gotten several of them from Freecycle, line them with a plastic bag and fill them with dry goods. They provide rodent proof storage and stack well too.


I still hope to convey to you that the point of these posts on frugality isn’t JUST about saving money. They’re often about saving our earth’s resources as well, and developing a mindset of making do or repairing, rather than always finding our solutions to life’s little daily issues by ‘buying’ a solution. Developing skills and exercising creativity embolden me to try things I might not’ve even considered in the past. I try to remember: New isn’t necessarily better, nor is more.

“Collapsing Economy” be Damned! It’s Frugal Friday!

well_informed_and_staying_saneA friend whose opinion I highly value tells me that a simpler, more sustainable, and resilient lifestyle does NOT necessarily need to have an emphasis on frugality and money savings. Her example of how by cutting one another’s hair, she and her husband are free to use the time that it might’ve taken to make  appointments, drive to and from the appointments and possibly have to change clothes and drop some other activity at home in order to go to those appointments frees them up to pursue those things. Saving money on the haircuts is secondary to them, in other words.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and feel that she’s (mostly) right. The only difference for me is that being frugal keeps me off the payroll and out of the workplace. Not having to work outside the home for money enables me to have the time I want to garden, play music, volunteer, write and do the hundred other things that make my life feel I’m living the good life.

I think both of us are reaching the same objective, just from a different perspective. I get more emails and questions about how to get out of debt, save money and live on less than any other topic that I cover in this blog. I would prefer to spend more time writing about and advocating for ways that we can form more resilient communities, live and shop more locally,  or address climate change and Peak Oil issues, but frugality tops the list of questions- hands down. With yesterday’s U.S. economic headlines of  “Walmart earnings disaster exposes a collapsing economy” and “Cisco announces plans to lay off 4,000 employees”, as well as “Dow dropped 225 points today, August 15th” , I suspect frugality will continue to remain popular for both you and me. And so, Frugal Fridays will continue until I can no longer find inspirational things to offer you. (That’ll be the day!) And don’t forget, share your own inspirations in the comments below. You never know who or how much it might help someone.

Which brings me back to this week’s posting of ways I found to live well on less. None of them are life changing, none of them are sexy, but all of them saved me a bit of cash so that I don’t have to find a job in this so-called collapsing economy. And that makes Sam one happy camper. Not having to go to a paying job will allow me to go camping next month too, by the way.

  • I made enough pesto to see us through the winter and it’s now  taking up valuable real estate in my freezer. I use walnuts in mine rather than pine nuts because they are a: healthier and b: cheaper and c: I can’t tell much difference in my walnut pesto and pine nut pesto. Just sayin’…
  • I purchased a used, but like new copy of an Herb book I’d had on my wish list for a long time for $3.99, down from an all time high of $15.00.
  • I bid $10 on a pair of Teva- brand sandals on Ebay and won the auction. With shipping, my $65 sandals cost less than $15. They fit, I love them, and they’ll now replace my old Teva’s that were nine  years old and had a sole that was coming loose.
  • When it came time to get rid of the old sandals, I realized I could reglue it using contact cement I already had on hand. So I glued:


And clamped:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe tip to use contact cement rather than Shoe Goo, which I thought I needed but didn’t have on hand, came from a friend. Thanks Rich! Now I can use the old ones when I work in the garden or wash the car…

  • Which is exactly what I did yesterday. I washed and vacuumed the family ride, saving myself at least $6 in quarters, (or $20+ if I’d taken it to a full service carwash) and because it was such a glorious, fall-like day I loved being outside, while listening to some great music-and wearing my reglued  sandals.

Using resources wisely-whether it’s money, time or energy- is a talent we all benefit from cultivating. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to become financially stronger, happier, and more resilient, keep in mind it’s never too late to begin that transition that will see you through a collapsing economy and beyond.


Start A Trend
September 25, 2012, 3:13 PM
Filed under: Buy Local, Time Savers, Urban Living

I know I sometimes sound like a broken record, but if we hear a message enough, it tends to sink in eventually. I wanted to share a recent experience with you that I thought may influence your next buying decision. I get a monthly prescription, and have been getting it at Walmart, for $6.86. Refilling it monthly involves driving there to pick it up, waiting in a usually long line, and also usually involves some kind of ‘impulse’ purchase too- “Oh, I NEED to get …” (fill in the blank here)

As you know by now, I’m all about supporting our local farmers and businesses, but at the same time, I expect a certain degree of personal convenience and a price at least somewhat comparable to what I’ve previously paid at other places. During the exploration of my new neighborhood, I’d begun to notice a little drugstore tucked away in a nondescript shopping strip, a mere 5 minute walk from my kitchen door (I timed it). So, I took my pill bottle and insurance card into them and told them I’d LIKE to transfer my RX, but that I’d been getting it at Walmart, and though I didn’t expect them to match the Walmart price, I was curious what it might cost. They very graciously (and immediately I might add!) called my insurance company, then quoted  me their price of $6.17! That’s right, 69 cents less than the big box! So, I made the switch-just.like.that. I didn’t have to drive there, and I didn’t have to wait when I came back later to pick it up. At 33 mpg, and the nearest Walmart 8 miles and many redlights  away, I figure I also saved about $1.75 in gasoline in addition to the 69 cents savings, and about an hour’s time too. One more thing… while in the drugstore (http://www.mooneyspharmacy.com/) I did a quick price comparison of some vitamins and local honey-uh huh, GREAT prices and service with a smile! Check out YOUR nearest small business-maybe you’ll have a pleasant surprise too, all the while helping to keep those mom and pop operations going strong. Just sayin’…

Saving Time and Energy on the Fourth of July
July 3, 2012, 9:43 PM
Filed under: Energy Savings, Time Savers, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

One week after we began our move to new urban digs, I’ve finally found a few moments to write again. I’ve missed writing this week, but I’m  inspired by my new writing ‘space’ which is much lighter and airier than my old writing space. In the interest of saving a bit of time here (unfortunately, airy writing spaces don’t necessarily allow me any more time to write) but letting all my regular readers of this blog know I survived a tough move in a horrendous heat wave, I wanted to share this short little video with you.

I tried this trick today; it worked just like the video AND it didn’t require me having to heat a big pot of boiling water, thereby adding even more heat and humidity to the kitchen. AND I saved a few hundred kilowatts of energy too-mine and the TVA’s!  Fresh corn season is here, so check this easy tip out:

And here’s a trick I’ve been using for years to butter my hot corn on the cob:

Happy Independence Day Ya’ll!

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