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If you want or need to be frugal, it's not just about the "stuff" you don't buy. You also have to use everything to its maximum potential.
For example, I never throw away a chicken or turkey carcass after the majority of the meat has been consumed. I cook it in water, with some wilty celery, carrots, onions and a clove or two of garlic. I usually do this in the crock pot to save on energy. Then I strain it and give the veg to my chickens. It sure beats throwing it out. You could compost it if you have no critters to eat it up. Freeze the broth in two cup portions. To make it healthier, add two tablespoons cider vinegar to the cooking water. It's supposed to pull some of the calcium out of the bones.
I also routinely "recycle" leftovers. From meatloaf, I'll make chili, soup, or stir-fry (just chunk it up). With soup, I sometimes drain the liquid, add cubed potatoes and some cheese and make a casserole.
I have several pressure canners and now I have a pressure cooker, a very good investment for the frugally minded. This thing can take the worst, cheapest cuts of meat and make them fork-tender in 45 minutes. They're not scary anymore, think about getting one.
For a non-food related example, my husband built a greenhouse out of an old trampoline frame and some steel T-posts. He covered the thing with chicken wire and then clear plastic. Then last year, we actually built a greenhouse, so what to do with the old recycled greenhouse? He took it apart and used it to build a run onto the brooder coop where we raise chicks. Didn't have to buy anything for this project, and it looks pretty good, I must say.
It takes nothing but elbow grease to keep your house and yard tidy. No matter how bad your circumstances are financially, you will feel better if you do the best with what you have.
I have been thrifty minded for a long time. I grew up with a single mom supporting three kids. I saw how hard it was to make ends meet. While I was married, I was a stay at home mom. So six people on one income required thrift. I prepaid our mortgage, paid cars off early and stretched our grocery budget. We spent $150 every two weeks for groceries which was mainly staples, meat on sale and shopping at Aldi's.
Since I have been divorced, it seems I have forgotten things like "waste not want not." I can be at work with a soda, throw half a bottle away when I leave and then kick myself when I need a drink because I am not going home for several hours. Instead of buying a travel cup, I just kept buying a drink at the gas station before work because I wanted ice with it.
I am learning that being thrifty is something I can't take for granted that I am. I must continually keep it in mind and look seriously at the things that I do every day without thinking. It is important to me to be thrifty for my finances and the earth. I do not wanted to be labeled merely a consumer, which in one book I read considers consuming to be something we burn up or waste. There is far too much consuming going on and our earth cannot withstand the abuse.
By Lyn from Taylorville, IL
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The best way to save money is not to waste ANYTHING! Don't use more water than you need (saving you the cost of the water and the heating of it). Don't waste food. For everything you throw out you are throwing dollars out the door.
My mother believed in "waste not, want not" and taught me to take good care of my belongings. If it were clothes I wore, they could be passed onto another and if it were toys, a younger child would get them.
If you are like me, you like to find a use for everything, rather than throw it away. At a minimum, you will settle for putting it with the recycling, or donating it, as long as, it does not go to waste.