My Frugal Life - Frugal Living on Five Acres

During a stressful time in our lives, my DH and I did not have the money to pay our rent, so we had to search for a more frugal life for the two of us, our daughter and three children who were at the time living with us, plus our son and his two children who also stayed part-time with us. Three bedrooms were not enough to accommodate all of our family. A year before, 1996, we had bought 5 acres of land on a land contract (when we paid for it, we got the deed). My mother died in 1997, who I cared for until her death. My sister and I split what she had in checking and savings, as she was debt-free.


My DH and myself sat down and came up with a plan to cut out our monthly rent and water bill. We traveled to IL to a mobile home sales that had older homes at the back of the lot. Some were not livable, but some were, so we bought 4, a little over $1,000.00 and paid to have them moved to our land. My daughter got a three bedroom, my son got a two bedroom and we got a two bedroom. The forth one we sold and almost paid for the fee to move them from IL. We had two septic tanks put in and got our water from a spring that runs year round. During this time DH had to have a kidney removed due to cancer, but we tightened our belts and prayed and God saw us through this time also.

Our daughter got back on her feet and bought herself a new mobile home in about 3 years. We took her three bedroom mobile home and lined up the back doors and encased the doors with facings. We now have a five bedroom mobile home. We took the end bedroom and the living room from DD's old home and made a large 12x20 bedroom and large closet. We have not paid any rent or mortgage since 1998. We now have our land paid off.

Another thing we did was to sell our cars. DH lives 1/2 mile from his work now. Due to a back injury, I am not comfortable in a car, but a van I can ride without so much pain. DH bought an older van. Yes, paint was peeling, rust and all, but it was dependable transportation. After about 4 years, I got my SSD started and we bought a van that was wrecked, 1999 model and DH got parts and fixed it, so we have no car payments! Yes, it hurt some in the beginning to move outside the city limits, do without garbage pickup, but the county dumpsters are just about a mile from us. Since I was home, I cooked from scratch most of the time when I was able. DD's 3 children get off the bus at our home and I keep my DS's two little one's when he is on duty at the fire department. DS and family are looking to move a mobile home on the end of our property, which we will deed him an acre, so he has no down payment.


I don't think many people would enjoy our way of life, but to us it is freedom. We have all the room we need and 2 baths, a nice van, but these were hard work to get and took time.

I also use a fabric softener sheet dipped in liquid fabric softener for many loads of clothes. DH is the community service director at our church and we get almost all our clothing free there, as well as give to others that need clothing. I have a large garbage bag full of stuffed toys ready to give to the police department and fire department to give to children that are involved in fires and accidents.

You can learn to live without some things and be happier and have more time to do the important things in life, like spend time with family and friends, study and read. Make use of the local library as it is a world of information. I haven't bought a decorating magazine in 3 years, so much less paper clutter. I don't feel we are missing anything we had before, except the monthly bills!

Martha from Savannah, TN

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October 11, 20060 found this helpful

I appreciate your story very much, especially the way you took what God gave you and made the best of it, choosing a more simple life out of love for your family which worked/ is still working for you.

I know of several who did the same or similar thing who's lives ended in death and tragedy:

One man built his own home, but knew too little and regretted all his many mistakes, grieving all his life over it... to his grave. His wife inherited the 10 acres and became ill with a disorder called, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, collecting every possible item she could find, hoping to sell them at her cheap booth at a flea market, barely making the rent payments. She began to buy trailers to store the things in, until she had about 16, the last I heard, and yet has terribly failing health, mostly rusted/molded goods now, sold too little to make it worth her while, became too greedy and bitter, began to overeat, now near death, waiting to die, while relatives look on with dispair over what they will have to "move/clean" after she passes on.

A couple put all of their life savings into their mobile home in the country, only to learn it developed such structural damage it could not be repaired at all, being told that mobile homes disappoint folks too often. Their wooden supports are giving way, the home is now sliding down a gentle slope to a swamp. They hadn't counted on both losing jobs, getting ill in early old age, losing their only storage building with many antiques to a fire while gone. Had many vandalism attempts, threats from criminals of various types, children and parents all became so socially maladjusted they could not function beyond their own tiny community. Trailer recluse living getting them down, and they have no recourse at this late date. They paid as much for all their "improvements" over the years that they say they could have had a decent brick home that might have lasted much longer had they searched for an owner who was willing to finance a lease/purchase and work with them on rates/payments.

Another two couples planned to live together until able to marry in a double wedding. Began to live wrong, bicker from tight quarters, routinely argued and occasional wine/champagne turned to heavy ale/hard liquor, and distorted living which then led to a mysterious double murder/suicide (?) and trailer burned to the ground. Haven't heard if any thing was ever solved.

Still another family I ran into lived in a cluster of trailers but had little opportunity for jobs/income, and never were able to keep up with repairs/bills/ ill health/lack of space/disappointed dreams. They didn't have your faith!

You're right about some folks not being as successful as you have been in managing this sort of life, but the fact that you are overcomers makes me take my hat off to you. God bless and keep you strong, safe and happy! : )

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October 11, 20060 found this helpful

I enjoyed reading your story. It just goes to show that if your priorities are right than anything can be done. I think most people get so caught up in trying to keep up with the "jones" and we end up in debt. Or we were never taught how to manage money to begin with. Your story gives me courage and hope. I would love to do the same. God Bless.

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October 11, 20060 found this helpful

Dear Martha

Thanks for sharing your story. I admire what you have done for you and your family. We tend to lose sight of the important things in life, wanting too many possessions and working long hours for things that are not really imporant. Well done.

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October 12, 20060 found this helpful

Martha, I salute you! Your determination, courage, strength and creativity.Other people would have given up, Also applaud your family for sticking with you and helping to make your wishes come true for you & DH Hope DH is fine now.

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October 12, 20060 found this helpful

Martha, your story sounds so much like ours! But I differ from you on one point. I LOVE our lifestyle! We have been able to keep our expenses very low. My husband is still healthy, and I help all I can. Our land is paid for, as are our trailers. We are very frugal, but it's a thrill to succeed in providing our needs for less or no money. Since we do not work at fulltime jobs, my husband can take me to all my doctor appointments, and he is very supportive of dietary changes, etc. What you did for your children is absolutely grand! No, we are not "trailer trash." We are walking lightly on the earth. God bless you!

And for the person who said those trailers were beyond repair, that's not true. My husband has replaced our walls, putting in 2x4's where 2x2's once crumbled. Every ONE was rotted and broken! He also replaced the ceiling joists with 2x4's (al salvaged of course) and now I am hoping for electrical wiring and new walls. They could get that trailer moved onto a foundation and do these repairs. They were not difficult, even if you have to hire help. Of course, there's always barter. Your homemade jam? Did you raise a beef? Can you knit? Think about it. Maybe you've got something you're not using that a carpenter could use. Good luck!

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October 12, 20060 found this helpful

Martha, I admire what you and your husband did for frugal living. I could have read lots more, it is very interesting!! I am always investigating stuff online when I can stand the pain of the ruptured disc..looking for ways to save money. I believe our telephone bill will be cut way down because of our low income. They are sending me the paperwork now to fill out on that. Should save a good $20 to $30 on it I believe. You said it took 4 years to get SSD started, oh my gosh , I have been fighting with them for almost a year now and up to level 3. Wondering if I will ever get anywhere with this. And not liking the sound of the 4 years. Would be curious to hear the story on that!! Our family has been so down and out some weeks (like last weekend) we had $10 I scrounged up for milk, eggs and whatnot, and that was it! Most of our clothes come from the thrift store. It was funny , my husband had on a nice thrift store shift his boss admired and wanted to know where it came from. If he only knew, lol. My husband was too proud to tell the truth, but I would have! I am proud of my bargains. God Bless You.

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October 16, 20060 found this helpful

i was reading your posting. i think your doing a great job. i wishi could do as much as u have done. a job well done. sue

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November 7, 20060 found this helpful

your family is the greatest. Your have proved anything is possible. I never knew you had no reant is you live in a trailer. I have to say your doing a great job. The best part for me is the family bond. I don't have this with my family. great work. I would love to know more about your watching tv,light bills. etc. Thanks

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September 1, 20070 found this helpful

I understand your situation that you had well. My friends went thru the same thing, but I helped them out by letting them stay in my trailer with me, and they only had two children still in school. I was wondering though when you went to IL did you go to a trailer park or a dealer? Because I would seriously wonder, if you were given a fair deal when or if you went to a trailer park. My trailer park owner was a slum lord. He was constantly changing titles to sell trailers, and not fixing the plumbing very well when he sold them. It was only up to standard. When you buy from a mobile home dealer they are required by law that everything be on the up and up so to speak. Whereas trailer parks are owned by a private citizen. I have a personal place in hell picked out for mobile home trailer park owners and those who deal with them who are looking for a steal, because that is what they are doing to the former owner of those trailers that the landlord repossessed from them. They a dishonest and desparing people who don't deserve the good in life because all they do is take good people for a ride, and cheat them of a rightful price for their home, but if you aren't that with the trailer parks and you dealt with the mobile home dealer on a lot then I wish you well. Lets hope your trailers don't break down soon.

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April 23, 20120 found this helpful

Lynda, those problems you listed all involved trailers, but they did not happen because of trailers. I've owned a house, and now because of a disability, a mobile home. Both needed repairs. Trailers are far easier and far cheaper to keep care of than a house!

The same stories you listed happen to people in houses. I don't know what "wood supports" you're talking about, cause supports are metal. If its a pre-HUD mobile home, the problems are on the same level as buying a pre-HUD house.

One beauty of mobile homes is that they can be moved as well (which is my favorite part). There are plenty of financially stable, well-off people in mobile homes, personally, there safe areas and bad areas, just like with houses. (Upscale city vs. ghetto vs. suburbs vs. rural - you have upscale mobile homes, ghetto parks with slumlords, mobile home parks in suburbs and rural mobile homes.) I will also add that utilities and repairs are far cheaper in a mobile home than they are in a house.

You have left a distorted view of mobile home for others, so I'm hoping my post deflects your false premise that the problems these people have are caused by their mobile home and that a mobile home is more expensive than a house.

To the poster, I read a lot of my life in your post. I raised six kids as a single parent. Currently, it's just me and the youngest in our mobile home, and I'm getting some money from my father's house since he passed away. Fully plan on getting at least an acre of land and investing to minimize future electric bills and fixed expenses. (Internet is absolutely necessary for me since my income comes from writing and research and I home school my youngest.) Of course splitting money with kids too :) But I've lived on thrift stores forever, driven old cars forever, can't believe what people pay for clothes and cars these days it's crazy!

My kids have all gone to college and are working, and they all relish saving money by using thrift stores, so that stuck with them and it's fun to them. (Not that we don't enjoy mall jaunts every now and then, but when we do, we are very good at finding clearance sales!). Thrift stores are good for the pocket book and good for the environment!

God bless you and yours...and congratulations on making it this far!

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