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frugality ??? really ???  RSS feed

 
mary jayne richmond
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hi permies, i've been looking on the internet about frugal ways of life and it all seems to be the same....  turn down your thermostat.....i don't have one of those,   2}use coupons... they never have coupons for 50 lbs of spelt berries, 3} dump your cable.... cable?? really, 4} buy the store brand its always cheaper,... so far i haven't noticed any brands on my vegies in the garden or on my sheep or chickens.   so,  this is the kind of stuff i've been finding... what i really need is frugality for the off grid homestead...   here a few things we do  1} family cloth... 2}we cook and our hot water is with  wood, or solar... 3} our electric bill is about 30 dollars a month and we have a solar electric, we wouldn't need the grid except for my husband welds,.. 4}we grow all of our own meat and most of our veggies, grain is a problem. and of course things like salt , spices, and oils are bought....  so i would like to know what other permies do to help cut costs.
 
Deb Rebel
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Reduce the need for income by recycling.

I mend and rework clothes. Those cute appliques hide the stains that won't come out or the rips/tears/holes that need fixing. Mending your clothes, do you? is a thread on here that addresses that. https://permies.com/t/40/54406/ungarbage/mending-clothes#493951

Growing your own food and putting it up, is a major help.

If you are near a town that does 'second harvest' or food pantry, go volunteer. The volunteers usually get a shareout whether or not they otherwise qualify. Here there is often a surplus of old bread or just over the hill fruits and veggies so once the handout day is done, take what you want of what's left.

Dumpster dive. Do respect that it has to be in/on public accessible places, clean up after yourself, and don't block access or traffic. If the owner of the dumpster asks you to leave, do so. Curb surfing is perfectly legal, just leave the recycle bins left at the curb alone.

Thrift store, rummage sale, craigslist, freecycle.

Barter. Maybe you have eggs and a neighbor has milk.  Or something like that. You need grain, you have other things in surplus you could trade?

Bulk buy. Maybe you and a few neighbors can go in together and buy.  Some stuff is close enough to food grade or is food grade and can be gotten through your feed store for cheaper! 
 
Kaye Harris
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mary jayne richmond wrote:hi permies, i've been looking on the internet about frugal ways of life and it all seems to be the same....  turn down your thermostat.....i don't have one of those,   2}use coupons... they never have coupons for 50 lbs of spelt berries, 3} dump your cable.... cable?? really, 4} buy the store brand its always cheaper,... so far i haven't noticed any brands on my vegies in the garden or on my sheep or chickens.   so,  this is the kind of stuff i've been finding... what i really need is frugality for the off grid homestead...   here a few things we do  1} family cloth... 2}we cook and our hot water is with  wood, or solar... 3} our electric bill is about 30 dollars a month and we have a solar electric, we wouldn't need the grid except for my husband welds,.. 4}we grow all of our own meat and most of our veggies, grain is a problem. and of course things like salt , spices, and oils are bought....  so i would like to know what other permies do to help cut costs.


Sounds like you already do bulk buying. If you can find a prepper group in your area, sometimes they group together and all get a huge bulk purchase so they can each get more discount. A local group does hard red wheat, but I'm in the spelt camp myself.
Also, there was a time when I simply didn't eat grains. (Tummy troubles, not money troubles.) It can be done quite naturally after you find tasty dishes that are grain-free...you just kind of forget why you liked bread and pasta so much.

Salt-bulk celtic sea salts is what I do. Still more expensive than sodium chloride but so worth it.
Spices...if you have a veggie garden, I hope you have an expansive herb garden. I miss my fresh herbs SO MUCH. Who needs spices when you can grow your own chives, basil, dill, oregano, cilantro, spicy thai peppers, etc?
Oils....I hear duck fat is superb, and is a by-product of delicious roast duck (developed a taste for that in China-not sure what western recipes are like).

Where is your water coming from? I've learned to clean myself 2-3x weekly with about 1 gallon of water, and I have nearly butt-length hair. If you can reduce your water usage, maybe you can go off grid with that if you don't already.
Also, on the subject of cleansing yourself, I shave with a bar of natural soap as "shaving cream" and actually use biodegradeable dawn dishsoap for my hair, then rinse with a white vinegar/water solution. Very cheap, and no more skin irritations, weirdly enough. (I used to have to pay out the nose for natural shampoos and special creams.)

Laundry...I washed small loads in a 5 gal bucket with dishsoap diluted in the water. Just drizzled biodegradeable dishsoap, poured water in, dumped an armful of clothing in there and used some elbow grease. Single rinse. Hung it on paracord with clothespins outdoors. Total water usage for laundry was around 10 gal a week for my husband and I. Natural fibers will not need washing as often. If you have a bunch of baby diapers....probably not ideal.

I haven't been using a refrigerator/freezer for....about 9 months now. Zero issues, even with storebought foods. Better to preserve in other ways.

What are you cooking on? Wood might be free depending on your situation, next best is propane. Electric is a wallet killer with anything hot.

We share 1 cheap cell phone, get our internet for $2 at Panera once a week or less, and have never owned a TV.

Missed the clothing part in your post. I'm guessing you frequent thrift stores? I got an off grid treadle machine and am learning to sew. My hope is that it will give me more flexibility with cheap thrift fabrics and old clothes so I can save on clothing, blankets, towels, cleaning rags, etc.

I'm not sure if having no debt counts as frugality, but I do spend less in the long run by living debt-free, and I'm not paying a "bill" to the bank or anyone else for the priviledge of using their money. I have never paid interest to anyone.

Reducing vehicle runs as much as possible, and making efficient runs with a planned route can save on gas and wear on the car. We use our gas sipper for townie runs and only pull out the platypus (a baja) when we really need to.

That's all I can think of.
 
Anne Miller
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It sounds like you already live very frugal.  What areas do you feel need improvement?

Don't spend money, but if you have to ... always pay cash.  I use a credit card but always pay it in full each month ... never pay interest.  Paying actual cash helps because you can't spend something you don't have.  When I did use cash, I used the envelope system.  You put the money you plan to spend in an envelope, such as $25.00 for groceries; $50.00 for gasoline; etc. This is all you spend.  If you go over the $25.00 for groceries you have to spend the difference on gasoline. This helps budget your money.

I don't buy clothes as I have a closet full.  DH is hard on his clothes and most are thread bare and already mended but when I buy I buy used.

Normally we only drive our vehicle every two weeks to do our shopping.  I make a list of what we need at which stores and that is all we buy.
 
mary jayne richmond
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Wow you guys i do these things already.... this is great,.. maybe i'm there,  a real permie... i thought there must be other things i could do,but after reading your posts, i'm doing 90% of the things you've wrote.. some of the suggestions  are not available in my area.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!  for the comments it has helped me not feel like i failing at the frugal thing..  YOU GUYS ROCK !! 
 
mary jayne richmond
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Deb,  the mending thread is great, i'm on the 2 nd page... i'm the one with the long johns picture
 
Deb Rebel
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I could see those long johns are well loved.
 
Travis Johnson
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If you REALLY want to know, I will tell you, but it seems kind of cynical at first...

1) Visualize your money in a little pile in front of you, and then envision everyone trying to get your "little pile of cash". In life, that is what it is about. It does not matter if it is the local grocery store, or the scummiest scam artist, everyone is out to get your little pile of cash. When you have that mind set, every dollar you have is guarded, and it does not matter WHO comes to you, or when, with really good intentions or bad...they just want part of your little pile of cash. In certain instances, you can't retain it all, you do have to spend some money, BUT it doesn't have to be a lot. Miser it...that is the goal.

2) Think in terms of what you don't spend. For instance, I often tell people I win $104 at the lottery every year. When they ask me why it is that exact amount, I say, "because I don't play." In Maine, we have Megabucks and it costs $1 for a ticket and done on Wednesday's and Saturday's. Because I save my $2 per week, I figure I "make" $104 a year. Since I have never played the lottery, at age 43 I have "made" $2600.

When I worked at the shipyard, I used to eat a breakfast burger from the gut truck daily. That was $2.25 per day, 5 times a week, 50 weeks a year...$562.50 per year. It took me about a week to start bringing food from home!

3) If you have kids or a spouse, make a game of being frugal. "Let's see how little money we can spend this week?"

4). Want a quick way to save? Well for starters go 100% cash. You cannot get a $32 overdraft if you pay in cash because if you do not have $15, you can't spend $15, which really is $34.25 for that breakfast burger that I was just sure I had the money in my checking account for. But adding onto this, if you want to save tangible cash, take every $5 dollar bill you get and stuff it into a cookie jar. You will never miss those $5 bills, but boy they add up. We average about $45 a month doing this. We don't miss the money at all, yet this is me and my wife's date night money. With 4 daughters (4, 9,10,and 11) that is priceless after a few months!
 
mary jayne richmond
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Travis, man are you right about everybody wanting your money...every time i go to the mailbox there is always something in there that wants you to send them money.... it makes good fire starters.  thanks for your comment
 
Angelika Maier
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There are quite some people having nice blogs about frugality and they make (or attempt to make) a living with these blogs. They write something all the time and what they write in not quite so new....
Teh fancy thing is once you run (try to) a business frugality is gone. You need this that .....
 
Amit Enventres
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Well, you sound pretty permie to me! I'm big on barter recently. Also some herbs that can't grow in your climate might ba able to grow indoors or something. I'm guessing you've gone down your list of purchases/expenses and then figured out what you can do yourself, what you can do without, what you can barter for, and what must be bought. With creativity, that last one might be empty. You are much farther along than we are, but I like doing this and am working my way down our list. Like recently I looked into making more of my clothes with natural fibers and then I invested in growing some perennial fiber plants for the eventual savings.
 
Erwin Decoene
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Transport - use bicycle or Ebike when possible.
Re-use waste water used in the kitchen foro irrigation (we are in the middle of a develloping drought in Belgium).

If i lived in a rural setting i would probably keep bees and grow and process herbs for cash. The Value/Weight ratio is good for long distance transport.

Making liqueurs with fruits, herbs, honey, etc..... might be the next step.
 
mary jayne richmond
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Amit..  I  do some weaving and spinning but haven't tried clothes  yet

Erwin..  We have had bees in the past but we have been priced right out of them 125 dollars per box and being a northern climate we don't  always get them through the  winter. Bikes are not an option for  our location.. It's 30 miles to the closest town.  But I like your idea  of liquor I've made rumtoph and it was wonderful
 
Angelika Maier
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I am frugal by nature (genetically). But out governments make it so difficult to be frugal. Council rates. Water: if I am frugal I still need to pay connection fees ($2 per day) and wastewater fixed fees. The list goes on and on. Really the people who are frugal and live on their own means are punished. I need an insurance to attend markets! You need an (expensive) certificate for about everything. If you look at the cost for food or water consumption etc. this is only a fraction of what you spend even if you have no cable TV or gymn membership. There are so many fees you cannot avoid. Of course it makes sense to not spend money on unnecessary things, but what about all the government fees?
 
Amit Enventres
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Angelika, ever thought of getting involved in politics? If pro-fee lobbyist and those who don't have to pay the fees are in office, what do they care if they make you pay fees? In fact, it pleases the pro-fee lobbyist, right? Maybe you won't win every battle being at political odds, but just because your off the grid doesn't mean your out of this world. I've mentioned it before, and I'll say it again, if we are looking at managing our plot for sustainability, you cannot ignore the affects of politics and therefore, if you have the opportunity, join in them. This could be as simple as writing local politicians, maybe even proposing/lobbying for favorable rules, or even working to create a cooperative insurance for growers selling, so none have to pay extra fees. Just whatever you are capable of.

Everytime I mention this here locally, those that aren't involved say they can't stand politics and therefore don't want to be involved, but that puts that person under full control of whoever is in politics, like a peasant at the whims of a king. If that's not where you want to be, then I suggest involvement.

Sorry to be long winded, it's one of my rallying points.
 
Laurie Dyer
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Travis Johnson wrote:if you want to save tangible cash, take every $5 dollar bill you get and stuff it into a cookie jar. You will never miss those $5 bills, but boy they add up. We average about $45 a month doing this. We don't miss the money at all, yet this is me and my wife's date night money. With 4 daughters (4, 9,10,and 11) that is priceless after a few months!


This reminded me of the time an acquaintance recommended this to me, "it just makes it so easy to save. I did it, and at the end of three months had over  $1000." !!! Definitely lived a different lifestyle.
 
Kyle Neath
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A lot of the suggestions you listed initially are very specific, but in my opinion, frugality is extremely contextual. What's frugal to one person does not apply to everyone, because everyone's income, expenses, and cost of living varies so wildly.

A little example: When I used to do software consulting full time, I had cleaners come in every two weeks to clean my apartment. This saved me time, money, and got me a cleaner apartment than I otherwise would have had. Why? Because my hourly rate was high (software), I could work one extra hour a month to afford the cleaners. When I'd done the cleaning myself, I spent MUCH more than an hour throughout the month. But now that I no longer do consulting full time, hiring a cleaner would be an extravagant expense. I have plenty of idle time I can fill up with cleaning, and so the logic that applied to me five years ago no longer applies to me today.

One of the best books I've ever read on frugality was I Will Teach You To Be Rich. I know, cheesy barfy title. The reason it was such a great book for me is it changed how I looked at money. I used to look at money in terms of concrete items like buying the $2 cheese instead of the $3 cheese, but I realized this was all around the wrong way to look at it. If I had to summarize how it changed my perspective I would say I now look at money in terms of: eliminating debt, increasing income, and budgeting expenses. Eliminating debt is kind of obvious (a mortgaged house costs twice the amount as a cash sale, etc). Increasing income, also obvious (work more, charge more, etc).

Budgeting expenses is where it gets interesting. One of the examples in the book that's the most powerful is to write down every expense for a month. This is tedious and a pain in the ass. But what you get at the end of the month is an accurate view of where your money goes, exactly. Then create groups for them and organize them different ways. How much are you really spending on your spices? How much are you really spending on gas? What's the true expense of your car after gasoline, insurance, maintenance and repairs? Etc, etc. Where am I spending money that I don't get enjoyment from? A good example for city-folk is buying a coffee on the way to work. Add that up over the year, and it might add up to a vacation in Hawaii. If given the choice between coffee and Hawaii, most people would choose the latter. The goal here is to become extremely mindful of where you actually spend your money. Like happiness, human beings are terrible at guessing where they spend money. You've gotta write it down.

Now I've gone one step further. All money I make goes instantly into savings, and once a month I give myself a "paycheck". If I make extra money one month, it has no impact on my spending that month. Instead, all purchases come from pre-defined budgets. I have a master-plan spreadsheet that contains all of my expenses — rent, insurance, food, vacation, taxes, car maintenance, business investments, etc, etc. That master plan dictates how much money I get every month, and every few months I revisit the plan to see where I can reduce expenses or shift my spending. If I keep going over-budget in an area, I reconsider my investment. Ex: are those solar panels _really_ paying themselves off, or would I be better off using the grid and selling the setup? This shifts spending from "paying as much as needed" to "paying as much as I decide". The purpose here is to be able to better identify poor investments and abandon them, rather than hanging onto them for the many reasons we usually do (sunk cost fallacy, etc).

So I guess, in a nutshell, my strategy for living frugally is to be mindful and explicit about where my money goes. Once that's understood, the specific strategies make themselves clear.
 
Deb Rebel
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I do have one piece of plastic, it pays me 1-3% back for my purchases. I use it to pay bills and pay it off, generating extra income every month. The key is to make sure to pay it off every month. In case we really need, we do have it there.
 
Erwin Decoene
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mary jayne richmond wrote:Amit..  I  do some weaving and spinning but haven't tried clothes  yet

Erwin..  We have had bees in the past but we have been priced right out of them 125 dollars per box and being a northern climate we don't  always get them through the  winter. Bikes are not an option for  our location.. It's 30 miles to the closest town.  But I like your idea  of liquor I've made rumtoph and it was wonderful




There are lots of nice liquor recipes out there. I have recently been experimenting with elderflower liquor. That and some other experiments with elderflowers (vinegar and tea) went well so now i'm looking tot propagate a couple of bushes i my mom's garthen (extremely productive bushes) In years past, i experimented with basil liquor.

I don't sell the stuff but it could surely be done.

My main problem was that by the time i had enough dried elderberry flowers for tea we were at the end of the flowering season here (probably shortened by the drought). As i harvest the flowers from my garden and in the 'wild' public spaces around here i don't pick the busches clean to leave some for pollinators and birds.


BTW - there is more than one way of looking at this. If you live in a remote location, products with a high value/weight ratio are excellent to generate cash. Think essential oils, soaps, natural dies, .... It falls under observing your environment. Even rocks could be interesting - if you look at the prices collectors pay....


 
Ryan Hobbs
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I buy salt, soybeans, rice, and oils in bulk. Most of my other needs are met by my garden and homemade stuff. When I get my place all set up pretty soon here, I'll have that down to just salt and oil. My current utilities are about 160$ per month for phone, internet, water, sewers, and electricity. I'll be harvesting my own water, electric power, disposing of waste in a tree bog, and internet and phone will be my only worries. We have a loom in the works that can weave 42" wide cloth when completed. We plan to make fabric from bamboo fibers and hemp. I am considering adding silk as mulberry trees proliferate. As in Gifu prefecture in Japan, we would have to collect coccoons and boil them, then unwind them to get the fibers. We have about the same climate as there. Mulberry inner bark is also fibrous and soft if the moth coccoons fall through. And for shoes we can trade for leather as my household does not eat meat other than my grandma. Cottonwood fibers from the seeds are an option as well. My Grandma is the fiber arts person. I'm the farm, metals, ceramics, and constructions person. My brother is our chief of recycling and avocado eating and wants to learn the rest. In any case, we don't need to buy everything now, and in the future will tend to buy less.
 
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