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In August of 1998, I decided to find an apartment after living in a long term homeless shelter for over 2 years. I was frugal because it was necessary before this and I found how to get a lot of things for free. While in the shelter, I attended school to upgrade and improve my job skills. I took loans and worked in a language lab for expenses. I only had to pay about $75 a month for rent and pay for my food and transportation expenses.
During those 2+ years, I found and bought a lot of household and personal things that I needed. I walked out with only 1 suitcase of personal things from the past. I was 58 years old and starting over in obtaining things I needed for independent living. I found clothing from donations from the shelter, went to thrift stores, yard sales, church rummage sales (my favorite), and checking out and taking discarded items on junk day. I acquired clothing and some small household items but I had no furniture.
In October 1998, I moved into a low income senior housing apartment. I slept on the floor for 2 weeks until I got a sleeper sofa. Very slowly, I've acquired a kitchen set, a full size bed (a donation) dressers, shelf units, trunks, my first Christmas tree with lights, shelves, bedding, clothing, food (unwanted commodities), waste baskets, decorative items, glassware, plants, potting soil, shopping carts, baskets, stools, office chair, my latest free item, an office desk and other items too numerous to mention.
In 1999, I found a job with the City of Milwaukee as a clerk in the police department. I just retired about 2 weeks ago and now have to take my frugality skills to a higher level. My skills at finding things free have enabled me to live comfortably. At this time, I don't look at the junk anymore because I have too much as it is. If I had to, I would get involved in Freecycle which they didn't have 8 years ago.
I've learned over the past 8 years that if you willing to look at possibilities without preconceived ideas you can have a comfortable life without spending a lot of cash. I am still a student of frugality because it is a challenge for me. In the past 8 years, I've lived frugally but not all the time. It is a lot easier now and there seems to a clarification in my mentality about what is important and what is not.
There is almost always a cheaper alternative to what you are doing and creativity is important in solving financial problems whether they are large or small.
mmgarren from Milwaukee, WI
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You are an inspiration to others!! Congratulations for coming so far and trying to reach out to others. You know what just irks me to no end? These younger ones that think just because things are used, it's below them to even consider using these things for themselves. When I was a younger woman, as soon as Mom would find out I was expecting,it was like another great treasure hunt for her! She would start looking for baby clothes and stuff the next day and all the way thru my pregnancy. She had a blast!And I've become like her in the challenge of such things and run into these younger girls that are just downright rude about me trying to help out with "used stuff" for their babies.
Thanks for sharing your story. I live in Australia and did not know that Free Cycle existed. I have now joined my local branch. We only have one council collection for large items once a year, so I hope someone can use some of our cast-offs.
Wow... you have much to be proud of.
I admire your spirit. The way you took control and learned and kept applying your learning.
I want you to know I admire you and that you should be very proud of yourself.