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My Frugal Life: Recession? What Recession?

It is almost funny to us, to hear these people on the news talking about the recession and how they are losing their homes and can't buy the things they want anymore.

My Frugal Life I just don't have the sympathy for them I guess. I grew up with money, my parents always keeping up with the Joneses. But we were so unhappy as a family. I decided to do it completely different.

We have 6 children, I have not worked outside the home since the first one was born. We bought a house that we could afford. Paid it off, we fix it up a little each month. I have stockpiled food for years, So we eat well. We have a garden in town, a large one this year. I'm excited about that. We just don't feel the recession.

Yet those who are complaining, I still see squandering their money, buying big TV's, just buying whatever at the grocery store, paying no attention at all. It is hard for me to feel sorry for them. They just still don't seem to be learning from any of their mistakes. They still sigh at me in the grocery store for taking too much time in line with my coupons. I do feel good that I'm sending 6 kids out into the world without the keep up with the Joneses attitude, My 4 year old twins always ask if I have a coupon for this or that and, if I don't, they put it back, YEAH! My 18 year old's friends now come to me for coupons for their makeup or groceries, or call me about sales, or whether or not something is a good price or worth it.

My point of this is we don't feel the recession. If it gets worse we still won't feel it. Of course, we are not envied for the largest newest house, or how my kids wear the latest styles, or how we eat out all time. But people are amazed at how we only paid $5000 for our 2500 sq. ft 110 year old house, and how we fixed it up with little money, how our garden is, and how large our food stockpile is. They never complain about the homemade bread I send home with their kids.


Wake up America! Take your kids to the park, or plant a garden with them. They want that way more then another game system that they can sit and stare at for hours on end. Play a game of Monopoly. Spend hours getting excited about the coupons you have all cut out together instead of talking about how much stuff your kids have and your credit cards are maxed out and how you are losing your house.

Michelle from Independence, Kansas

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I totally agree with you. Somehow I just don't feel sorry for all the people who over spent themselves. They are not nearly as innocent as they would like to think they are! Just wanted to say that I enjoy your posts and when I saw you were from Independence, KS that is extra cool! My husband and I live in western KS but he grew up in Longton, so we are down in your area from time to time. I am sure you know where that is.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I agree. I would have loved to have bought all kinds of new things, and eaten out all the time, but we did not and we can still afford our house, and still can eat.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I also agree with you. Start saving every dime you can the day you are old enough to go to work. Don't try to keep up with anybody. People will call you an odd family as they did us but in a few years they wanted to know where we got money to build all around our tiny home & etc. Some even ask,"do you all have a moonshine maker on your place?"Ha"no such thing even crossed our minds. We worked hard & saved, good luck.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

Go Michelle!! I think the hardest thing over the years for me to bear is the contempt with which my care with money has been viewed. I am great at stretching money, not so great at making it, but I've always loved the creativity of frugality, which is enriching to the spirit and the mind.

What is wrong with being less than rich? What is even wrong with being poor? I mean there are health issues etc, of course, but it's almost viewed as having a disease. Ah, that's it, it could be catching....

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I agree that people are whining about it and yet still not paying attention to what they are spending. I have always watched how I spend and how to save and to keep costs down. I have never lived "High on the Hog" (my Mom's expression).

Yet this recession is hitting us very hard. I have been let go from my job. My husbands hours have been cut. We struggled with our household expenses before all this. We do not have one single credit card or any debt other than daily living. Now it is just a nightmare. So no I don't feel bad for the "keeping up with the Jones" But I feel for people just like myself who are struggling and we will be facing losing our small home due to this mess we are in. This will be displacing not just my husband and myself but my 80 year old mother who I care for.

Keep up those great frugal ways! Here is to a great garden this year!

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

Whille I have to say I agree with you, I also have sympathy for those people. I too am guilty of living off too much credit, and have been spending the last 2 years changing the way we live and appreciating the things we do have. It's going to be alot of work to fix the credit mess we have acquired, but we have learned alot! Hopefully our children won't make the same mistakes we were "lectured" about making (and still did, haha). But honestly, I feel blessed to have learned all I have through all of this. I only wish the people who have no choice but to make lifestyle changes would realize this. We know many people who let it change who they are and the way they view themselves, which is a shame! Life is too short, enjoy what you do have & find happiness in the simple things, it will change you :)

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

People don't always lose their homes because they overspent. It really isn't that black and white. Good for you for not feeling the recession, but always blaming the victim is a pretty broad brush with which to paint. I have to wonder if your husband lost his job tomorrow whether or not you "still won't feel" the recession. Although it doesn't take tons of money to provide for basic necessities, having no money doesn't exactly work either.

Sometimes things happen that are out of our control no matter how much we've prepared and stockpiled - loss of a job, huge medical bills, or the death of a spouse.


A single mom who has been making it on her own for the past 10 years, owns her own home, has a car that is paid for, and doesn't carry credit card debt.

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with lah34a, it is not always black and white. I don't feel sorry for them either if they have overspent but as lah34a said, if your husband would lose his job tomorrow, you might not feel so smug.

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful

Amen! I have watched people buy all the new trinkets that come out, waiting on long lines to spend a lot of money just because everyone else is. I could never understand it. If you want the items, wait a few months when the price drops significantly. There is a commonality among millionaires, they all live below their means. I love having money left over to put in the bank. I would much rather have money in the bank than a flat screen TV - I sleep much more soundly.

I'm currently unemployed and collecting unemployment benefits and I live on less than my unemployment check! The problem these days is that the middle class is living like they are rich. I remember being middle class when we were younger and there was never a new car purchased and we lived within our means. Let's just hope everyone learns their lesson after the recession is over - unfortunately, I doubt they will.

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful

I have to laugh because my sister was just complaining about money because her husband is laid off, but she has a full time job and great benefits from the police dept. She was talking about her and her family going out to eat last night and how this week she is taking her daughters to a spa day for $40 pedicures, but she needs to borrow my $35 blood pressure monitor again because she cant afford to buy her own! Unbelievable!

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful


I can see a Flame Wars in the making. My husband and I are fortunate that we have not really been hard hit by the recession, we have lost $ from our investments. I'd like to say this all is in spite of me, not because of me. I've become increasingly aware that to get want is simple is as simple as waning what I have. Suze Orman is my new role model.

There are many ways to pare down on expenses and so called necessities. I must admit, that I too have no sympathy for those that cry "broke" and squander money on needless things. I know people who spend money daily on Starbucks and cigarettes, manicures, massages, etc. who can not make ends meet.

But there definitely is a recession that is hurting lots of people. I try to help those innocents. BTW, I work full time, as well as my husband. I think its great that there are some people who are so frugal they can live without worries. That does not come without effort and hard work.

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful

I debated on giving you a thumbs up or thumbs down and I chose thumbs down because of your smugness. My husband owned his own business and I owned mine. Don't forget, if it weren't for entrepreneurs fewer people would be employed. It's not just big corporate business who employ people. We did not have any credit card debt, we didn't take vacations because we were busy running our businesses, we didn't go out to eat hardly ever. We had to pay for our own health care to the tune of $1,040.00 per month.

Then the economy hit, then my husband developed cancer. Then he lost his business, I lost my business and we lost our house. We had a choice; pay for the mortgage or pay for our health insurance. Guess what we chose to pay for? Then my husband lost his life. God is getting me through this along with my always being frugal.

I'm slowly getting back on my feet with a $10/hour job. I still don't have any health insurance. So, it can happen to anybody. Please don't put us all in the same bunch. The ones I don't feel sorry for are the ones who are not citizens and still get food stamps. I asked for a little help when my husband was dying. I got a whopping $500.00. We were qualified for disability for him, but had a 6 month waiting period.

Before we could collect one dime for disability, he died. That's after all his hard work. Yet the illegals who don't even speak English get help all the time. I know this because they come into where I work and use their food stamps for bottled water. No, I don't feel sorry either for those who lived high off the hog, but losing it all can happen to everyone, even you my dear.

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful

I'm sure Michelle is not talking about people who have had so much misfortune! She is talking about the ones who own snowmobiles and speedboats (and owe money on them) and are losing their homes and declaring bankruptcy. It's a matter of needs vs. wants. Some people just have to have it all. Other people seem to get blasted out of their shoes no matter what they do. To the dear lady who lost husband, business and insurance (I think that sounds like everything), my heart goes out to you. It can happen to anyone. We are all vulnerable. Please don't call Michelle smug. She wasn't talking about you at all. All my love.

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July 3, 20090 found this helpful

I lost a good job in 1990 and never recovered that amount of income. I am retired on a very small income now. During the years afterward, I really had to look at life, money, and how I thought. So it was to say the least, interesting.A couple of things I think most people never notice:

When we buy a house on a standard, 30 year contract, we pay close to 3 times the original cost of the house. And that's the good mortgage. Take a piece of paper and break it all down and ask yourself some hard questions there.Who gets what of that total, and for what? The facts are a view changer.

When we use credit cards, we are in effect saying, we don't make enough at our employment to live on, OR, we don't make enough to live the way we want to, or think we should.Any or all of these things can be true, at any given time.

So when we use our credit cards, we are giving ourselves a raise which WE have to pay back. That moment of realization is a good point to ponder choices. When it hit me, I realized "oh, my gosh, we have (as a country), a lot less money than we think". When I couldn't replace my salary, and I had to spend money on a custody suit to help a grandchild, I ended up declaring indebtedness was henceforth out of the question for me.

So I realized I was going to be "poor" for possibly a long time, since I was passing 50, didn't have a talent for making money as some in my family did, and now had no credit. What I had, was what I had. Period. I tried to figure out ways out of my dilemma that seemed doable for me, but finally realized I couldn't and realized I was going to have to "face the music" of my life.

Suddenly I flashed to my one grandfather (all my gp's lived simple lives) during a weekend I had stayed with him when I was a condescending teenager. He was tall and gaunt like Abe Lincoln and had lost his wheat farm in the early 1920's when he was 40 (all gp's born in 1880's) and moved his family to Portland, Oregon, where he worked a hard, low paying jobs and urban farmed a couple of acres at the edge of town for food. Our breakfast the morning I was remembering was rye crisp (hard tack), soft boiled eggs, prunes, and coffee.

In my struggle to face my difficulties I was anguished, and suddenly realized I would give anything just to have a life as simple and grateful as his; because I wasn't just struggling with financial facts, I was quarreling with life views. Who was I, what did I have to have to be self-accepting. I was being humbled, and then and there, I accepted that, and declared I would face life as it was, whatever it was going to be, and be grateful.

One thing I did immediately was begin to research how things were done from the 1880's onward. I used those I could see were doable, and experimented with those I had questions about. I met many needs inexpensively, often the only cost being effort and labor. The further back down the

technology chain, the less the cost. The things in your own back yard, don't cost anything.. The seeds in the tomato you grew will grow tomatoes next year for free if you preserve them. The tree branches you trim can make a trellis for the peas or beans you grow if you take the time to strip and trim them. What's in your basement that can be repurposed?

And so began a series of 10 cent miracles.

For reasons which belong in another story, I associated my grandparents with seed packets, which in my childhood, cost a dime. I began to find what I needed at garage, but particularly, estate sales for 10 cents. Literally. A years supply of envelopes for my mail. A nice 10 inch cast iron frying pan. A pair of blue stone earrings. Garden seeds.

Knitting needles. Cooking utensils (lovely). All 10 cents.

Up to this summer. I felt the grandparents were looking out for me and showing me I was on the right path.

What do I offer in return? I know how to do so many things from scratch. I can turn out a great egg noodle batch in 20 minutes while the chicken is simmering off the bone,with two eggs and some flour. I can wash a fleece, spin the wool, and make a coat or pair of socks.I can whip up a comforter for baby or adult in little over a day. I make a dozen great cinnamon rolls with milk bread dough, which rivals Cinnabon and costs the same as one. I teach all my grandchildren and anyone who will listen how to do any number of ways to use what they have to meet a need without spending. It's not always welcome, but increasingly so.I have put in gardens for myself and others, which attracted and encouraged others to do the same. I could make shoes for children if need be (do any of you remember the toes being cut out of winter shoes to make summer shoes, so as not to have to buy shoes in summer?)

Debt at it's worst, is indenturedness, cloaked in illusion. At it's best, it makes possible the purchase of necessities.But perhaps, only one necessity at a time, might be a good guide.

Because so many enticing goods have been sold in ordinary stores, we have taken them to be ordinary. But in fact these goods provide us with a life, previously only available to the very wealthiest in the world. We haven't realized we already were rich, we confused the "ability" to

constantly shop with being rich.

Being rich and being poor is largely a feeling, backed up or not, by facts. Or an attempt to feel a feeling.It's a good thing to assess the reality of our situation. We may end up being poor. It's not a judgement about who we are, but it can be a judgment about how we thought.

But in life, it's always, one foot in front of the other, every day. Breathe in, breathe out. Life is good, even though ours might not be so hot at the moment. But if we acknowledge the goodness of life, along with it's tests, we'll keep on keeping on.

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July 3, 20090 found this helpful

I remember all too well what it was like to make $425 per month during the recession of the 70's. It was hard for me to afford thrift store prices. or to buy enough ingredients to cook the most simple of meals from scratch. I remember there was an older woman at work who laughed at us young girls because we were visibly relieved when the paychecks were distributed. She said she didn't need the job because her husband worked. If she was frugal she had her needs met. Well, there are different kinds of poor. If you can't go to the doctor when you are sick or buy eggs and bread, that is the bad kind. Right now, there are many people who are the bad kind of poor. Some of them have made unwise choices, but others work very hard and still live fear of getting through.

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July 3, 20090 found this helpful

Here is some advice that has helped me. You have heard of McDonalds and the McMuffin etc. Well, you have to have McNore in your menu. When someone infers that you are losing in the game of life because of your small house, your older car, your lack of gadgetry, etc. - hit your McNore button. Tell yourself, I am who I am, not what I own.

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July 3, 20090 found this helpful


Michelle, take a page from others on these boards (PIKKA) and help others with tips and hints.

Here in the States, people define themselves by their career. In this economy these jobs might not be there tomorrow. Comfort those near you who have become redundant (unemployeed) with information that they might not be aware of (i.e., the grocery store or butcher that has the best cuts of meat with the best prices, etc.) Society here teaches us to 'consume, consume, consume and then you will be happy.' Some people might not realize that there is another way to live that could be more fulfilling (emotionally and spiritually). Make a conscience effort to be part of the solution, please don't add to the problem.

Another wonderful gift to give your children, in addition to your time, the knowledge of how to run a household and how to handle money, is class.

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July 3, 20090 found this helpful

Your kids will remember longer, the time you had to spend with them, then they will about the 'things' they had or didn't have. My parents had 'plenty' and I was used to that---not that they were rich, but that it was okay to have things, and spend your money. So that is what I did most of my life, and have nothing to show for it. Now I am trying my hardest to go back to the way my grandparents lived. Fortunately, I live in a rural area, and that helps alot.

Am not able to 'coupon' in the ways that some do, like saying they bought $X for groceries for only a few dollars---that is just not possible in a rural area without spending major gas dollars.

Thanks so much for everyone's postings Every little bit and idea helps!

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July 12, 20090 found this helpful

I'm as frugal as anybody, but frugality alone doesn't guarantee that you won't "feel the recession". I think the original article's author is being very unsympathetic toward people who are suffering.

Not everybody has gotten into financial trouble from trying to keep up with the Joneses. Medical bills are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy, and there is just no frugal way to get out of paying your doctor or hospital bills.

This is the first (and, I hope, only) time I've ever been offended by something that I've read here. I hope, too, that nothing this unsympathetic will ever be posted here again.

Thank you.

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July 28, 20090 found this helpful

Wow so sorry all, Been busy busy busy here, Thanks for all who posted. Woohoo frugalinks I am not too far from Longton, Sometimes I feel so lonely here in Kansas nice to see someone else lol. I want to say to those who think I was smug, I am sorry that you viewed me as smug, I wasn't trying to be smug, But I stand by my post. I was not referring to those that had health issues, I have two boys who have health issues and my littlest one has a tumor in his thyroid that needs surgery. We have huge debts in medical bills. We live paycheck to paycheck now paying down those medical bills so we can rack up more lol

It has been a bit since this posted, and the recession has gotten worse, My hubby was laid off for a month, I know only a month, But the bottom line still stands, We did not live any different, I have since stockpiled even more, We could go now one and half years on the food and house stuff I have stockpiled, I started a garden this summer and am getting ready to can, which will add tremendously to our stockpile and we started a winter indoor garden at a window, which will keep us with fresh veggies this winter, if all goes well lol.

I have also even though living paycheck to paycheck starting stockpiling money, Little tiny bits at a time, sometimes I ll have something in the basket that is say $5.00 and think I don't really need this, and take that $5 and put it away. Also if my husband lost his job indefinitely, he would dig ditches if he had to, to bring in income, And we could survive on little, I would also dig ditches when he wasn't lol.

I can't honestly answer if he were to get cancer or something, That I am not "smug" at all about. I truly don't know what we would do. That would hurt. But of course I was never speaking of that. The people I am speaking about are the ones I still see everyday that I am out, Complaining like in one of the responses here about her sister, The spas, the eating out and geez I just can't afford this or that. I don't and won't feel sorry for them.

We have neighbors across the street, Who I make bread for, No biggie for me to make an extra loaf, But they have nothing, ask to borrow everything from us, and money, He is out of work for a year and just won't settle for something beneath him, she works but not for much. And they go out with help from parents and buy a brand new car, Very next day come over and ask If I can babysit their daughter while they go eat with friends. I have offered because they asked in an interested way how I do things, To help them get coupons or to show them some ways of doing things differently, But they always say the same things, Oh I don't have time for that, or I can't cook, or I'm too tired. These people I think I was referring to.

Anyway thanks again for all the posts, I better stop here I could write all darn day lol P.s hard to view myself as smug, when I live in house that rolls down hill, But I love this old house lol We put all our savings and all but the household bills this check into a dr. bill that was gonna attach our wages, (my twins had to have emergency surgery when they were 3, they had the same thing my youngest has, and the tumor was blocking their throats).

So it is now the 28th of the month, we have $20 dollars and remember there are 8 of us, and we don't get paid again until the 10th, No credit cards, nothing. But we will be fine. We can't go out to eat, we can't buy big fancy things, but we have each other, and we have food and necessities cause we prepared.

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