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Living a Frugal Lifestyle

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Frugality in your life may be a choice or a way of life made necessary by financial circumstances. This is a guide about living a frugal lifestyle.
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By 93 found this helpful
November 21, 2010

I have been a frugal woman all my life. And it seems I am always researching or joining a group in an attempt to find ways to be even more frugal. And in my quest for information I have found this; one size doesn't always fit all.
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So many times I will read a post on a subject and many others will comment after it that this is the wrong way and their way is right. For instance, I have seen people post how to save money on gasoline in their car by combining errands, tune up, etc. And others will post nasty comments below it telling them they should not OWN a car, they should use public transportation, ride a bike, or walk. Oh, really? I live approximately 70 miles from the nearest town that has public transportation. Due to arthritis, bike riding is out. Since the closest town is about a 5 mile round trip walk, that is out, too.

And if I posted that, I am sure many commenters would start typing I should move. I have a beautiful home in a small town with over half an acre of land. Before we moved to this home, I did some research. Twenty miles up the road in a town with more shopping areas than mine, a home similar to mine, with a postage stamp yard, is over twice what I paid for this one. Sprinkle in a higher crime rate, more traffic, the noise, and the higher taxes and, to me, it is a better deal to be here.

Some people, when they read a post on stockpiling a pantry, will post messages telling them it is wrong, they are hoarders, and telling them how THEY do it, and that their way is the right way. This one size for all doesn't fit me, either. I live in a rural area where shopping is limited. And since there is little competition here the prices are sky high. So I don't shop often. When I do, I spend a day shopping, separating, and storing my food/non-food items properly. I rotate my stock. I save a fortune by doing it this way, not only on my items but the gas I save from not having to run to the store to buy an item I am out of.

Last year a freak storm came through and power was out in our area for over a week. Those who did not plan ahead had to drive 20 miles up the road to eat several times a day. And then while they were gone they had visitors called looters. Since I had a fully stocked pantry (and a generator) I stayed put, and so did my belongings. I don't judge those that feel they don't need extra food on the shelf, but it is the right size for me!

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Another subject I see arguments posted on so many times is vegetarian vs meat eaters. I recall seeing a post on how to stretch hamburger. And below the post the comments started on how if the poster would eat they way THEY ate, they would not eat meat, be a vegetarian. And of course the comment rambled on and on. Now I am not dissing vegetarians, to each their own. But please, I am a meat eater, let me be! I like beef steak well done, with steak sauce. Tofu just isn't the same thing!

Everybody does different things as we walk through life. I recall one group having this thread that you only need 100 items in your home, nothing else. WHAT? And take away my cook book collection I love reading? My music boxes that I wind up and listen too when I am in the mood? No, sorry, this may be for you, but not for me. That one size doesn't fit me, either.

Now I am not a big TV watcher. But in the winter when getting out is hard to do, I love to watch classic movies. (Can we say "Arsenic and Old Lace"?) And since this is what I REALLY enjoy, we have TIVO. I can hear people gasping now and typing furiously "YOU DON'T NEED TIVO! GO TO THE LIBRARY AND GET FREE DOCUMENTARIES FOR FREE TO WATCH!" No, I don't think so.

I believe I will pop my microwave popcorn I purchased last month at Sams, kick back in my comfy chair I purchased at a Salvation Army for only $4.50, drink my tea made from mega sized tea bags and kept cold in the fridge sitting in a gallon glass jar that is a recycled pickle jar, and hit the play button on the remote and enjoy a classic movie. I am saving a fortune by not jumping in my car, driving 25 miles to a theater, paying to get in, and then paying $20 for popcorn and soda. I like my way, it fits me, and it makes me happy. (And yes, I drink lots of water, but I like a soda. Maybe some don't but I do.)

No, one size just doesn't fit all!

Have a wonderful Frugal life, but do it your way. Because, one size doesn't fit all. :-0

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November 22, 20103 found this helpful
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I loved your post. People who are insecure in their choices feel threatened by those who have made different choices. I think that attitude includes everything under the sun, not just frugal living. Frugal living is different for everyone. It means making the best life with the resources you have and for your particular circumstances. Also, it takes into consideration what you like to do. I will never sew my own clothes. I think it is an admirable thing to do- it just isn't for me. I also don't freeze too many meals because I don't want a freezer that is like my own personal purgatory I have to work my way out of. For me to make something and freeze portions it has to be a dish I totally love. But I might view freezers differently if I lived out in the country with a big family to feed. The freezer might then be my best friend. When I visit frugal sites, I sift through the advice and look for the suggestions that suit me now.

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November 22, 20102 found this helpful
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Very interesting post. So now there are frugal snobs! If we all did just as much as we can, considering our circumstances. It would make a big difference in our budgets & probably our greenish "footprint" too. I dabble in all sorts of frugality, from picking up designer handbags for cheap, to hemming my own pants, to doing small repairs and so on, plus some knitting & crafting.

It all adds up to helping my husband & me to have a quite nice lifestyle. We even have a bargain boat in a bargain slip! As my hubby says, we just have to manage to keep it up!

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November 24, 20100 found this helpful
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I read the responses, most (as expected) praise. People don't like to be told. Told anything. For any reason. It makes them mad. Madder if they feel guilty. Let's apply the Beverly principle to Frugal Living. When someone gives suggestions about anything, let's not suggest improvements. Their tender psyches might be offended. Let's not even piggyback on ideas, because someone might imagine we're trying to reshape their lives. How simple Frugal Living would be! How free from upset! How empty!

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There are many kinds of frugal snobbery, and they can derive from a sense of not being in control of work or home life. The tendency then is to strike out where one can, like the man who lost a key down the block but looks for it under the lamppost because the light's better. So yes, this is one of those snobby critiques- think through what's being said. One size doesn't fit all, but all those folks who, rightly or wrongly, suggest alternatives are freely donating their thoughts and experiences, and I value them even as I say to myself, no, that one doesn't work for me right now.

Sharing is wonderful, and in season.

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November 26, 20101 found this helpful
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This can apply to every part of life! You are so right. What is a good way for one person may not be right for the next. Kudos to you for an excellent post!

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September 23, 20141 found this helpful
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I really enjoyed this article. When I first became frugal, I was so proud and shared ideas with everyone. I soon learned that a lot of people don't want to hear the ideas of others. I was told several times that the person did it a different way and they thought theirs was so much better. I now know that if someone wants to know something, I just love to talk about frugality but if they are one that knows it all (even if they don't), I just smile and nod my head. Each person does have a right to have their own ideas. I listen to everyone though and keep an open mind and have learned so many new things.

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May 16, 20161 found this helpful
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See how many people agree with you....look at all the posts. I'm one of them. You couldn't have said it any better and I love it. There will always be someone who thinks their idea of frugal is better than anyone elses'. You go girl!

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By 75 found this helpful
August 6, 2010

My wife is one of the most fascinatingly frugal people I have ever had the honor to know. I regarded her desire to live a thrifty, uncomplicated life when I met her 27 years ago as thankfully low-maintenance, for we were young and broke and she could stretch a dollar a country mile with no complaints.

As we grew together, the perspective began to change as I watched her raise our four children to, among so many other things, learn to live within a set budget, make soap and detergent, firestarters for the wood stove, garden and can, to cherish nature and renew it and always never let anything go to waste. What they call green today was not so highly regarded then and many thought she was a hippie, a thought that made her laugh and one she never discouraged. It only served to encourage her more.

It has always been fun to see what she will get into next and as I matured, I stopped seeing her as low-maintenance and someone who could pinch pennies and save me a dollar and instead as a unique woman who embraced the concept of frugality as a complete lifestyle. It is who she is and I am so blessed to have spent the past quarter century in her world.

At mid-life, we still do not have much money, but are enriched much more than that. Our children/young adults are all determined and independent like their mother, embracing the basic things in life and enjoying time with mom to see what will spring into her mind.

Recently recovering from knee and shoulder surgery, she had an opportunity to read even more articles regarding self-sufficiency and has come to the conclusion that the price of honey is too high and we need to have our own hive. My guess is that by next summer, we will. For me, I am not particularly fond of bees but am fond of my wife. The next 27 years of frugal living looks to indeed be promising.

By Marc from Richmond, VA

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

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August 5, 2015

I was born and raised in the city. When grade school was out for the summer, all my friends stayed close to home, taking occasional trips to a beach or theme park. None of them would have agreed to spend their summers the way I spent mine. I chose to spend them in the country with my cousins and uncle, and my aunt, 'Bertie Jane'.

They lived on a four hundred, twenty-five acre farm. They raised beef cattle, hogs and chickens. They also had two or three milch cows. Most of the land was either pasture for the cattle, or planted in the large wheat crop they grew each year.

Spending the summers at 'Aunt Bert's' was my own decision. I knew in advance how hard I would be expected to work in the hot fields all day. I also knew there would be no distinction made between my cousins and me. Without thinking, I even called my aunt 'Mama' a few times. The mistake embarrassed me, but not her. She just said 'What'?

Do you think an eleven or twelve year old would agree to such, today? Almost three months without wired entertainment. No television. No Play Station 2. No computer games. No forever texting friends. No burgers and fries.

My aunt was frugal out of necessity and passed it along to her children. My cousins and I never went to a store. We never had money, except for an occasional 50 cents we made picking a gallon of blackberries for someone. My uncle had a friend who came by occasionally. He always brought each of the children a stick of gum. We were thrilled. Imagine that happening today.

Bertie Jane was the mother of thirteen children. You would think all her time was spent rearing those children. She did a fine job of rearing them all, but her work did not stop there. Every day except Sunday, she was up before sunrise, putting a pan of biscuits in the oven, cooking grits and making gravy, frying eggs and side meat and brewing coffee.

After breakfast, she washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen. Time for a break? She never took one. After finishing up in the kitchen, she donned a wide brimmed straw hat, a pair of 'over alls', and a pair of plowing boots. Then she went to the fields where she worked as hard as any man until it was time to come back to the house to cook the noontime meal.

Oh, and what a meal! Corn that had been picked just that morning from her own garden, stewed in a cast iron frying pan with fat back grease. Sliced tomatoes, onions and cucumbers, fresh from the field. Green beans from one of the four to five hundred, quart and half gallon jars of vegetables she 'put up' each year. A big pan of biscuits made from the very wheat she bagged while riding on a dusty combine for hours each day in the hot sun. And just like the coal miner's wife Loretta Lynn sings about, she never complained. There was no need.

Dresses made from feed sacks? My aunt wore 'a many' of them. The sacks were also sewn into pillow slips and other useful articles. No perms, no make up or lip stick, no perfume or cologne; just a slight hint of Ivory soap. Her countenance alone spoke the truth; a faithful wife, a good mother and one of the hardest working women you would ever see.

The house sat a mile from the nearest road. Sometimes, two weeks or more would go by without seeing anyone except ourselves. I don't know how my aunt did it, but she raised contented children. When school was out, they were pretty much isolated from everything except hard work. They didn't seem to mind. They all got along well with each other.

There was time for play, and play they did, just as hard as they worked. They were an ingenious lot, making most of their own toys. I loved the time I spent with them. We raced through the pastures, climbed trees, skinny dipped and played ball, always with an ear tuned for Aunt Bert's warm and familiar voice, 'Y'all young 'uns come wash up. Supper's on the table'. To my knowledge, my aunt never spanked any of her children, and yet, they all grew up without drugs, tobacco, alcohol or confrontations with the law.

How should such a good wife and mother leave this Earth? A peaceful and painless death? A heart attack in the middle of the night while sleeping? I say 'That would be my wish'. And she left, just that way.

It's been sixty years...and I still miss you, Aunt Bert.

Those were the days.

(Photo restored by Doug, using Gimp)

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August 27, 2010

For as long as I can remember, my mother would have to scrimp to make ends meet. She divorced my father when I was in first grade, so was now home with 3 children, aged 6 and under. We had lots of hand me down and thrift store clothes and toys, but rarely anything new.

A 70s family

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June 1, 2017

Most people I know have someone else to clean their homes and wash their cars. They bring in food a lot and go out to eat often. They tell me that since I work full-time, I am wasting my precious free time. They also think I'm cheap.

A bottle of ammonia and a cleaning rag in the bathroom.

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By 23 found this helpful
February 23, 2011

My entire life I have lived with not having an over-abundance of anything. My mother was a single mom of 3 during the 70's when the state did not bother going after deadbeat dads who did not pay child support.

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By 23 found this helpful
November 4, 2011

I used to be proud of being spontaneous, of living on a whim. Now that I can no longer afford to have anything I want at the moment that I want it, I have come to savor the far deeper pleasure of expectation, of waiting for something and looking forward to it.

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December 26, 2013

When I was a child, my family and I lived in the city. Being a nature lover, I would often take long walks in the country. At that time, the county did not have a garbage collection service. People would put their garbage in a vacant area on their property.

Being Thrifty or Frugal: The Big Picture

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By 18 found this helpful
October 8, 2010

As of August, I am debt free and I am very thankful for this. I just want to say a big thank-you to all of you, because I have really benefited from your frugal wisdom which you have freely shared in your posts.

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August 25, 2015

I've been on my own now for four years, a single parent turned "empty nester", and living on a disability pension. Here are my tips.

container garden

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By 15 found this helpful
July 27, 2010

Frugal? I have been "wealthy" yet savvy enough to ALWAYS save 10% of my salary. I had a big city condo downtown, never wanted for anything. And yes, I got hit by the stock market drop just like everyone else.

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August 24, 20065 found this helpful

This is my story about frugal and tightwad living! To start, I live alone right now. I have been frugal my whole 38 years. I am also a tightwad. My family laughs about to what lengths I will go to live the way I do.

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June 16, 2011

"Wake up and smell the roses, you really can't go home again". That's what I thought anyway. But with childhood memories dancing in my head and trepidation in my heart, I gave it a try.

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May 12, 2010

My wife and I were meandering down a well-worn packed dirt trail in the Lake Louise Area of our Canadian Rocky Mountains, when I noticed all was not forest green and wonderful in our leafy paradise.

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By 3 found this helpful
May 23, 2006

I started reading about frugal living about 9 years ago. My main reason was to save us money for my husband and I who were living on our own for the first time. Now we just bought our first house so I'm trying to learn even more about frugal living.

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By 13 found this helpful
May 25, 2010

One of the difficult things about being frugal is when you see others doing what you would like to do. At the mall where I shop, there are a lot of cafes and eateries. Delicious smells in the air. People sitting, talking and eating and I realize I am HUNGRY.

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By 12 found this helpful
November 14, 2013

At various times of my life, I have had to live frugally. I've had times of plenty and times of hardship. Over my many years, I have become a bit of an expert.

flowers made from yarn

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By 23 found this helpful
December 2, 2010

My husband is on SS disability and I earn a modest income with a local hospital. A motivator for us is to make a word or phrase into an acronym that parallels our goals and keeps us on track.

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By 15 found this helpful
February 2, 2011

When my husband recently had shoulder surgery and found out he would be off work most of the year, we were forced to cut back and live frugal.

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By 3 found this helpful
April 24, 2007

Cut those expenses in half, redirect your disposable income, decrease your stress, change your spending habits, live a thrifty fun life well below your means and budget now to be financially free later.

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November 1, 2010

I pass the buck on expensive laundry detergent, and use my favorite dish washing liquid that I do hand washing in anyway. I use the extra money from not buying the laundry detergent and pass the buck over to fabric softener.

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By 23 found this helpful
June 4, 2010

I grew up in a very frugal home. Although both of my parents worked, they were both very frugal and cost cutting. We kids didn't get what we wanted all the time, and we knew not to bug our parents at the store to buy a toy or candy. That is just the way it was.

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By 5 found this helpful
April 15, 2010

Living a frugal life is a true reality in these economical times. No one has money to spend. Here are some things my husband and I have done and continue to do to help out our budget.

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By 8 found this helpful
December 21, 2010

Once you learn how to bathe yourself sparkly clean AND wash and rinse your hair clean by using one small galvanized bucket of hot water, I think a lifetime of frugality is required.

pile of firewood rounds

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July 7, 2011

My new kick is couponing. I have been watching Extreme Couponing along with the rest of America. I admire some of the people who use these coupons to the fullest.

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October 26, 2011

Yes, I am an old school Star Trek fan. "These are the voyages of the . . ." Oh ok, I will come back down to Earth for a moment and talk about how I am feeding my family.

A space ship shooting potatoes with a laser beam.

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By 1 found this helpful
August 14, 2006

I went out into the world and started supporting myself at age 15. At age 22, after a disastrous teenage marriage, I became a single mom and learned frugality out of necessity.

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By 4 found this helpful
February 23, 2016

A friend of mine, for as long as I can remember, would say, "A loaf of bread costs what it costs, and you can eat only so much bread. Why would you buy more bread then you could ever use?". In my younger years I would chuckle to myself.

Loaves of bread

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By 4 found this helpful
January 23, 2013

Living frugal can be a very simple, yet rewarding change in your lifestyle. I used to think that meant eating rabbit food and living in bamboo huts. Me, in a loincloth? Never! But it's actually very easy to do and you don't have to give up the things you love.

Watering The Garden

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May 25, 20063 found this helpful

My first career was as a musician. Despite some good breaks and a substantial amount of business success, music was basically a hand-to-mouth existence. So I learned to manage on the little money that I had.

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September 16, 2011

I'm surviving the current economic times by using coupons on everything I can. One grocery store puts out a $10 coupon off a $50 gas card if you purchase $25 in groceries in their store. That is not difficult and you can use coupons on the $25 order.

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By 9 found this helpful
March 28, 2011

I have considered myself a thrifty or frugal person my whole life. As a child, I would collect cans for extra money and visit neighborhood garage sales for toys I wanted.

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By 4 found this helpful
April 20, 2015

I will stock up and buy three of anything to keep me from running out too fast. Tonight, they had soap on sale for 99 cents, so I bought 8 bottles. There can never be too much dish soap.

Bottles of dish soap on sale.

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