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Frugal and Tightwad Living

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. For instance, when gas hit four dollars this last summer, I asked for a ride with my parents to a family function we were attending on the same day. I only drove once a week unless it was to work. I cleaned out my car completely, trunk and all. I cleaned it myself with a hand held vacuum cleaner and used my outside plug-in. This helped my 2 door gas guzzler car. I filled up before the hike in gas prices and it has lasted two weeks.


I use the dollar store for presents, food, pet for both the kitties, health items and school supplies for my foster children. I also buy some clothes at the dollar store, socks and undies. They also have powdered milk, so I buy that instead of the liquid kind of milk. At the end of the month I go to the food pantry in the next town (3 miles away) and get food for free. The only requirement is that I have to live in the county. Making things is my specialty. I sew potholders from scraps of rags. I iron them so they come out nice.

I wash my clothes in a bathtub so as to save money for other things that I may need during the year. I wash my foster children's clothes this way too. Plunge, scrub and soak and that is all there is to it. This year, I am going to a social club that allows us to do our laundry for .75 a load. I think I will do their clothes there since I will have six foster children to take care of as of September 1st of this year, but it is just as easy to do them in a tub or sink.


For entertainment, we have a VCR and a lot of movies that are well taken care of. We will use the library for videos as well, It's free. I go to church every Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday. We have potluck on Saturday afternoons and Sundays sometimes, if the men's dinner is Saturday. I am a Protestant Baptist. I believe that frugality is the only way of life that the Lord meant for us to live. I also believe in helping out the less fortunate. Those who are dirt poor with no welfare help. The children whom I foster are from drugged out and abusive families that they were taken away from by welfare. This is my way of practicing my religion.

My husband is in the Armed Forces of America. He sends money home to help with our expenses here in the states. It's not much because he has living costs overseas. The loneliness in my life is what caused me to take in foster kids as well as my upbringing. I sell Avon on the side too.


We live in a suburb away the main city and I use public transportation only to go shopping. I walk to the bus stop 1 mile away from our home. I shop with coupons for everything, I do mean everything too, including shoes and presents that aren't from the dollar store. I shop in bulk even at the thrift stores, with the 3 dollar bag sales at the end of the seasons. I also use a back to work thrift shop for clothes for work and winter too. My children that are in foster care get hand-me-downs from cousins of mine as well as some new clothes. I get welfare assistance for my foster children, It's not much, but it helps me out with them. This year I will have four boys and two girls which it is a good thing since almost 70 percent of my cousins are male.

Free lunches at school for my school age kids go a long way. I also pack fruit for them as this is extra in our school lunch program. I use the bags of apples from my brother's land who has apple trees and plenty to pick from.


I get help from local women's groups to send my husband calling cards so he can call me when he gets lonely. Asking around helps you find out what is available in your neighborhood. I believe in giving back to my area as well. Everyone in America should give back because you never know when a good deed comes in handy. What goes around comes around, and back three fold, is what I always say! So put out the good, so you get back good.

Well... this is how my family lives frugally.

Tonya from Northern Minnesota

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 24, 20060 found this helpful

I thought it was neat to read that Tonya was from Northern MN! I too, grew up in a small town in Northern MN--just 6 miles from the Canadian border. I too consider myself frugal! Is it something in the water:)

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August 24, 20060 found this helpful

Do you have a freecycle there? It's a website of everyone in the community offering free things, so if you need them, you can pick them up.

We've had everything from broken dishes (for mosaics) to autos. Of course, lots of clothes.

I got Sesame Street party supplies. I donated my old sofa (with a new slipcover). Lots of gardening tools, old computers/monitors, plants, kitchen utensils.

Just ask, and you'd be surprised what someone in your community wants to give away.

We have just one rule: you may not offer your kids. hahahahaha

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 25, 20060 found this helpful

I would like to know how I can locate a freecycle around my area. Is there a web site for this? I live in northwestern WI. my email is richlin AT


Thanks so much!

Editor's Note:

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 26, 20060 found this helpful

Tonya, great job! I really admire all of your strategies. We are foster parents also, have adopted five of our foster children. Such a rewarding lifestyle. Gina

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June 8, 20090 found this helpful

Our family is also a military family. My hubby is currently serving his third tour in Iraq. Money is very tight. One of the things I have done, is I now make my own laundry soap. Borax, Washing Soda, and a bar of Ivory. Less than 2.50 to make a bit more than 5 gallons of laundry soap!! I also make my own fabric softener. I grew up in a Mormon household, so I have the firm value of food storage and buying in bulk if possible. There are some really good recipes on the net for these items, and I do recommend them.
Bright Blessings,

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June 8, 20090 found this helpful

We try to save on food by growing and canning as much of our own food (veggies) as possible. And I now have a dehydrater so I can also dehydrate the veggies. I just learned how to dehydrate slice potatoes like you find in the boxed scalloped potatoes. Just rehydrate add some cheese and such and you have scalloped potatoes fast and easy. Of course you do need to "cook them" in the oven. Just read on a box of the boxed ones.

We also buy whatever is on sale. We buy up as much as we can afford and have room for. We just have to be sure that we rotate it when we put it in the freezer. I also like to fix just veggie meals. Especially in the warmer months. In cold months, we like to eat stews and soups. I could live on soup year round, but hubby likes meat, meat, and more meat.

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August 11, 20090 found this helpful

Tonya, what a good person you are to help these kids! I am certain you are making a difference! God Bless You!

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September 13, 20100 found this helpful

You truly are an inspiration for all women.
God bless you.

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September 9, 20111 found this helpful

Most states pay & have established rate schedules for Foster Care aid. The most recent I can find for Minnesota is 2008 with a rate of $585 - $699 per month, per child with extra expenses for extra events, so I beg the question, Why would you have to go to such extremes as to wash your clothes in the bathtub?

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August 5, 20170 found this helpful

Thank you, littlegamma, for asking this question, and there are others making my head spin. If you think this is living well or whatever you wish to call it, I am sorry for you. But, my heart goes out to the foster children you care for.

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September 17, 20170 found this helpful

I realize this is an old post, (VHS players?) but it reminds me of a TV show from a few years back called "Extreme Cheapskates." Even if she was only getting $500 per child, that was $3000 a month, plus what her husband sent, etc. And she mentioned going to work, which would have added to that.

I can't help but wonder--what is she spending her money on? Foster kids get free medical care, at least in my state. And she is getting free food from a food pantry once a month.

Somewhere along the way, she should have been able to get a cheap washer and dryer. I'm sorry, but certain items of clothing need more than a swish in the bathtub. I hope it wasn't obvious that the kids were fosters when they went to school.

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May 19, 20120 found this helpful

Tonya, you are an inspiration! Not only by sharing inspiring ways to be frugal but for taking in those children and making their lives SO much better than they would have been. My thoughts, prayers and wishing you many blessings in your life.

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