My Frugal Life - Bartering

I'm almost ashamed to admit it but I have not been a frugal person most of my life. Up until 5 years ago, my husband and I both had great jobs and brought home more money than we really needed, however, we weren't really happy.


Our first step toward the life we have now was that we decided that my husband would quit his government job and start his own business, from desk job to manual labor overnight. We still have family members and friends that don't understand that decision. But Steve, my husband, has been so much happier without the stress, cubical, or back-stabbing environment that permeates so many office environments any more.My Frugal Life

The next few steps were not ones of our own, but ones we dealt with. We suddenly found ourselves with two teenage girls living with us full-time. Then I found out I was expecting. As I made most of the money for the family, and money was much tighter, it was a concern. A few weeks after finding out I was expecting, I was laid off with only 6 weeks severance and no insurance.


Now we were solely dependent upon Steve's salary. In 3 short years, we went from two people bringing home over 100K a year, to a family of 4-1/2 living off of about 1/3 of that. Talk about a quick lesson in humility.

Knowing I was unlikely to be hired while pregnant, I set about finding ways to help stretch the money coming in as far as possible and I was amazed at what I was capable of doing. Almost all of our clothes over the last few years have been free (from Freecylce or Craigslist) or I've bought at resale shops on their "sale" days. The only thing I've bought my son is diapers. His bed, clothing, toys, everything is second hand; and he couldn't be happier.

I've also became acquainted with bartering. When our microwave went out, I managed to barter for an extra one someone had. When our lawnmower broke, I managed to get us another one. I also found that a lot of the items my husband was removing from houses during his work were being sought by people on the lists I belonged to . . . so I started selling them instead of letting him throw them away. I found out about items I could recycle for cash or other items.


homemade shoesThe really odd thing is that we have managed to pay all our bills and acclimate ourselves to this new way of life. By the time my son was born Steve and I decided it was better to continue to live this "frugal life" and let me stay home with my son than for him to be raised by others. As someone who has sewn off and on most of my life, I started taking in a little sewing here and there for some extra income once Will was old enough to have a set schedule. Not much, as I didn't want to infringe upon my time with my son. Everyone that would stop by the house would remark upon my son's shoes, which I made. On a whim, I put out an ad on Craigslist offering the pattern for sell and showing several pairs of my son's shoes. They were a hit.

So now not only do I have a frugal life, I have a small and frugal company of my own. I trace my patterns on free leftover newspaper ends I get from our local newspaper or copy them on a free copier I got off Craigslist on free paper that I swapped old ink cartridges for at Office Depot. Then I mail them off in FREE misprinted envelopes I get free from a local publishing house.


If someone orders actual shoes, I make them from recycled leather I buy at resale shops on their sale days on a sewing machine that I bartered some clothing for with thread I received off of Freecycle. My business isn't big, because it isn't the most important thing in my life. It's more a byproduct of my frugal life.

mistymq from Buda, TX

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By (Guest Post)
August 16, 20060 found this helpful

Good for you! Who needs all that money anyway!! I once had a very wise friend who believed that if you had more money than you needed, it was a sin.

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August 16, 20060 found this helpful

I think Misty is one of the most talented people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

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By Lavendergal (Guest Post)
August 17, 20060 found this helpful

My wise grandmother always said "It's not what you make, but what you save" that is important. I believe that is true and try to practice it whenever possible. I get a lot of wonderful frugal ideas from postings on this site. Thanks to all!

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By Lynda (Guest Post)
August 18, 20060 found this helpful

Upon becoming a new Christian, that is, learning that I could actually KNOW the Creator of Heaven and Earth, I was prompted by our pastor to begin telling others how they too could KNOW Him. I went out the front door of the church that very day and began talking, helping, serving other's needs while my own son stubbornly struggled with addictions living away from home, and while my husband traveled internationally most of the time.


A foreign minister joined me to help with the group of 12 to 24 people in crises over four counties. I found carpet in dumpsters behind carpet outlets to install for them, even though I hadn't done it ever before. I saved milk cartons and regularly delivered water to those who had lost their utilities, jobs, motivations, and were near losing their homes and minds. In route home from wherever I zigzagged the neighborhoods on their "curbside pickup days"
and learned that MANY folks are so wasteful that they
place NEW and almost new items of every possible sort on the curb. I began to pick up and distribute
them to those who needed them. I collected good used doors for those whose anger caused them to slam doors, and installed them, although I'd never done such things before. I certainly found perfectly


GOOD clothes/shoes in every size, every season, and learned that garage sale signs/boxes meant
"left over unsalables" at that curb.

This allowed them to accompany me to church in several trips. This encouraged them that some of us are REAL, though not perfect. I found boxes/cans of unopened, unexpired food/drinks from estate sales.

What was unwanted and unneeded I stored in my home, sold in garage sales or used. WARNING: Do NOT STORE to a fault, as I quickly became overstuffed, having to call charaties to take the surplus. It causes one to almost become materialistic
especially should there be something lovely that homeless folks cannot practically use and do not value. The OTHER WARNING: Should you become
attached to too many lovely things, your home will
NOT match, become CONFUSED looking and cause
extreme frustration. SUGGESTION: Keep very little,
sell all surplus possible, and trust that when it is needed, it will be supplied!

After getting to know a few or the most pathetic cases ( about seven or so, male and female, individually) of those who had helped
me the most I began to allow them to stay at my home off and on, when my husband was traveling, so that I could a mailing address,
work training/history, job reference, phone useage,
and guidance in dress/skills/GED/Drover's license/transportation to-from medical/dental care.

I had spoken to him about whatall I was doing but he said he didn't care what I was doing and not to discuss any of it with him. So, I carried on.

After over 350 folks, one-on-one, I was shocked to
learn that my husband had been conversing with what I thought was my best friend behind my back
for the eleven years I did this. She mysteriously divorced her doctor husband. Then a few years later
my husband announced to me that he had filed
6 mo. earlier for a divorce and would be leaving me
without warning but giving me our old home and old
van, and a little alimony for three years.

It was such a double whammy I was affected in every way. Now, and for the last seven years since the last of the alimony and my last job, I must give
credit to the One who never left me. He truly provided for EVERY SINGLE NEED, with curb-side service, even to my exact size,color preferences, and
heart's desire, even MORE than I ever expected, showering me with His love, grace, and nurturing
presence of His holy angels as I continue to walk totally in faith and trust. I've learned not to keep looking once I have enough.

He led me to a charity that provided twenty volunteers to paint the outside of my home beautifully and for free. He gave me charity paid
faith-based counseling. He allowed my grandson
born to an addictive girlfriend of my son to live with me via CPS request. He provided me with NEW homeschool material through the sixth grade for
homeschooling him over these last past five years.

We now live on my early LOW low social security income, (WARNING: NEVER TAKE MARRIAGE FOR GRANTED. DON'T VOLUNTEER YEARS OF YOUR TIME
WITHOUT THOUGHT TO PAYING INTO SOCIAL SECURITY, otherwise you TOO will be LOW, low income unless you worked steadily all of your life and was NOT an unpaid mother and "housewife"

I am now so SPIRITUALLY RICH THAT MONEY COULD NEVER HAVE BOUGHT THIS RELATIONSHIP with Him. This is the "faith walk", "walking the talk"

My faith says that if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave the believing spouse, not to stop them, to let them go. He professed to be a Nihilist: That we come
from nothing more than chemicals, exist for no reason and return to nothing more than chemicals.
He had forbidden me to mention the name of the Creator of Heaven and Earth in our home. I pray for
him every day and night.

Now that all utilities have risen so very high, I have plans to enlarge my garden, continue to utilize free organic mulch from the city to conserve water, have a huge compost on-going, have friends collecting
egg-shells, organic grass, and kitchen scraps for it.
I grew a plum tree from seed, have a dozen apples
on my mature apple tree(not supposed to grow in the South! It does and without a single PEST, producing less but DELICIOUS apples! Any advice would be greatly appreciated as to how to increase
the crop!)

I Zeriscaped the whole area years ahead of now, which greatly paid off over the years and especially now: 4 layers of cardboard, cover with shadecloth,
4" of bark mulch. Does NOT smoother tree/plant roots, but does need to be refurbished every few
years! It's costly unless you get all supplies from
warehouses tossing them. Shadecloth is the only
purchase. You water VERY little. Zeriscaping holds in moisture, preventing evaporation of much needed water. Mulch breaks down into useable plant foods.
Fertilize on the perimeters/driplines, but only half
as much.

I have a wild herb garden as well, yielding all my favorite herbs to eat and pass to friends. It's not
so "Pretty" but very serviceable when productive.
I save all plastic/glass bottles for possible emergencies in large plastic bags, recycle junk mail
for starting wood barbeque, save all cut branches for
firewood, propping up leaning plants, thicker ones for
outlining paths here and there. I carry 24 gallons of
bath water to plants after each bath, twice a week,
and do most of my own work inside and out, referring
to Jerry Baker's Tonics for the Garden, which work.

I recycle every single sack of any material, double bag breads from last packaging, use all possible packaging to serve house bunny his grass and few
veggies on, wash foil/baggies/jars for drinking.
We limit our foods to sales only, our travels to within
two miles, except church 4 miles away twice a week.
I mend, mend, mend instead of focusing on t.v. at
night, glancing occasionally when something wholesome or educational is on. I refurbish everything I find that's slightly broken, rebuilding found dollhouses for selling, mixing found paint for
interior uses, passing on all that I can to those I learn are in need. "Freely you have received, so freely give!", says the One who provides for us. What He has done for us He will do for you if you will simply believe that He is who He says He is, has done what He says He has done, and will do what He says He will do. I could not have survived even being
frugal without His help, knowledge, wisdom, understanding and insight as to how to make it after
abandonment as an elder. It is He who makes it possible to survive. Pass it on. God Bless you.

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August 21, 20060 found this helpful

To Lynda guest post 8/18 I read your story and wanted to comment on what a strong person you are. To be giving to so many, and helping the less fortunate, and then to find out about your husband.I wish you the best of luck. I would like to be helping people the way you mentioned in your post, but I do not even know where or how to start. Your story is inspiring. acadia ( spinwool )

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By Sherri Caldwell - The Rebel Housewife (Guest Post)
September 18, 20060 found this helpful

I love this post -- thanks so much for sharing!

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October 5, 20080 found this helpful

Good for you. I too have changed from corporate to homemaker and crafting. I make money from my sewing and artwork. The stress is gone and I am truly happy. God Bless.

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

How fabulous. I really love what you are doing and how much you appreciate things better. Way to go on being frugal. I'd love to have your pattern. I love to sew and grew up very poor. Shoes were a luxury for us.
It is just so wonderful to hear stories like yours and with a happy ending.
Best Wishes,

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April 20, 20150 found this helpful

This is a wonderful read and I have a sewing machine collecting dust. I wish I could learn to make even a dress for the summer time. for some reason no matter how I try to learn. I can't follow a pattern. It sounds jumbled up when I read it over and over again. I found a very good price on jewelry and want to have jewelry parties. I am finding it hard to get a license to do that at home.

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