Wednesday, September 20, 2023

A Bit About A Frugal Journey

 We have all made the journey at some point in life.  That is mainly why we are here - or why many came at first.  
We have all had different journeys for different reasons.  There is no right or wrong way to be frugal.  Some have been extreme and some just keep a close eye on things.
It depends on the reason you are being frugal.  Some decide to stay home with children, some it is necessity due to loss of job or medical issue.  It may be from divorce or loss of partner.  Some just can't get by any other way.  Some are saving for something.  Whatever the reason - go forward and make the BEST of it.  Have fun with it.  YES, it can be fun as well as productive.  Soon, it becomes a way of life.

In MY eyes, frugality is not really about doing without!  It is about making more precise decisions.  Decisions that serve you well and enable you to have a good and full life.

                  We are all a part of this village!!!!!  In some way - big or small - we do our part.  

In my eyes it is all about just keeping it simple.  Simple food, simple wardrobe, simple decorating, simple gifts, simple home, etc.  Nothing has to be fancy and expensive.  You have all heard the phrase champagne  taste on a beer budget!  Well, it can be done - really!!!!!!
You don't have to give up the nicer things in life.  You just get them in a different way!!!!!

You can make things.  Want the pretty throw pillows or the new kitchen curtains, or a new table cover - make them.  Use things you already have or have purchased for pennies and re-invent them for your new use.
Want to redo a kitchen look?  Go to a resale shop and buy different handles (or at hardware store).  Sand and paint cabinets.  Paint walls.  Add a pretty throw rug - many ways to update a room.  
Get or use an older outdated piece of furniture and paint it a fun color to match your decor.
Watch for yard sales and check out thrift stores.  NO SHAME whatsoever!  I recently bought 3 lovely 'designer' tops at my neighbor's yard sale for $2 each.  I would never go out and buy designer clothes (never have) - but these are excellent quality and will last me for years.  I don't have that desire for designer stuff - I just happened to like these.

Reuse items for new things.  At the simplest level - keep any plastic containers that you would normally trash - like yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream containers - they are now food storage containers!
Keep glass jars that grocery items come in - great storage for wet or dry items, and many can be used for canning or for storage.
A sturdy and heavy shipping box can store excess items in your house, it can become a temporary storage in the pantry.  A big box can be covered and make a bedside table.
Expand from there.  Old socks can become dusters or mops.  (I use one on a Swifter to clean floors) - they are washable.  Old t-shirts or clothes for rags.
Start simple and small and pretty soon you will be thinking of all kinds of things that you can reuse in a new way.
It is somewhat ADDICTIVE!!!!!  And FUN!

Check Freecycle if you have it or neighborhood marketplaces for items.  Put out the word to people you know, family friends, and neighbors "I am looking for............"  Odds are - someone will have 'it' and you can get it.
          Yep, being frugal is nothing new - people have been being mindful for generations!!!!!

If you want to learn new things - online opportunities abound.  You can go on You Tube and learn about anything.  From a foreign language, how to bake bread, how to make a certain salad, grow a container garden, fix simple plumbing, sharpen a chain saw - you name it!!!!!!!  It is all FREE!!!!!!!

Be willing to try store brands instead of name brands.  Many store items are the exact same thing - made by the same manufacturer and just relabeled.  Give it a try.

Visit your library.  There are so many fun things to read.  You have a chance to learn, laugh, and journey to a new place - if only for a while.  There are self-help books and reference items.  They usually have movies to check-out.    They have activities (free) for the kiddos and sometimes for adults.  Some libraries even have lending items such as shovels, power tools, etc.

Remember first and foremost - your journey is yours!!!!!  It is not like anyone else's.  What you do or create to help your family depends on the situation you are in and what you want to accomplish.
It is give and take!!!!!!!
Maybe raising chickens isn't for you - just watch for best prices on eggs.  Maybe gardening isn't your thing - check farm stands or markets, check with neighbors (barter or trade), etc.
If need be - go to the food pantry for help with groceries.  That is why they are there.  Use the resources you have available in your area.
Learn to cook and make delish meals with SIMPLE ingredients.   It doesn't have to be a five-star delicacy.  It needs to be tasty and filling and nourishing.
There are many things we can do without that isn't going to kill us!!!!!  Stop buying the junk food - make cookies or snacks at home.  Don't go out for latte - make a fun coffee at home.  You may find that it is more flavorful and tastier anyway - and you save $$$ as well.
The list goes on and on.

Frugality is about having a goal or a purpose in mind - and living a good and fun life in a simple way - so as to reach that goal.
If you can save $5 a week - do it.  If you can save $50 a month - do it.  Just do something.  
It doesn't have to feel like being deprived, it really doesn't.  
You just need to get a little creative with what resources you have and think outside the box.

So do what is right for you.  Pick and choose what fits and what you can begin with and then branch out.  You will learn new things, have new opportunities and fill fulfilled!
Seriously - make it FUN! 

So, for anyone just starting this journey or having to restart the journey - please know we are behind you 100% and YES you can do it!!!!!!!!!

IF you have questions - JUST ASK!!!!!!!


  1. A wealth of wisdom in this post today. Do what works for you and make it fun!
    --Frances in the Trailer Park

    1. Yes, a little FUN would be super-welcome right about now. ;-)

    2. Thanks Frances. Might as well have fun with - otherwise we just get depressed and easily bored.

  2. The first day of fall arrived 3 days early in our area--our pellet stove kicked on early this morning and we're enjoying its glow as I type. So glad we prepared early!

    This is a wonderful post, Cheryl. Some have always been frugal. For others, there have been frugal stretches throughout their lives, but it has waxed and waned. Then there are those who really find themselves with a sudden need to tighten purse strings. I read an article yesterday that said 92% of Americans have scaled back on spending on everything from food and fuel, to clothing and household items, tech and beyond. A full 68% will continue the scale back to include the holidays.

    Health care costs have thrown us a BIG curve ball. If you're not on Medicare/Medicaid it can be expensive. Hubs' retirement package included a health care plan for a whopping $1300 mo. At the end of last month I finally broke down and had (necessary) foot surgery I'd been putting off. Last week we were hit both with bills not covered by insurance (close to $3k out of pocket so far), and a notice that the plan's premium will go up to $1500+ mo. in January... with higher deductibles. We're shopping for a better, cheaper plan; one found would save more than $500 per month. Tackle the biggest expenses first.

    Also, if no one minds me adding, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. We've been helping BIL in whatever ways we can (mostly with food, but also firewood). Loved ones don't always appreciate what you do for them. Worse, they come to expect help. Between that, and his disapproval of our 30 yr. old son's choice to take RCIA classes as a step to join the Catholic Church, we had a major blow up with BIL over the weekend. My point? Set boundaries. Generosity is a virtue only when it will produce a GOOD outcome. It's okay to say NO.

    I may add more later. Those are my initial thoughts with coffee on a chilly Wednesday morning. Thank you again, Cheryl. Blessings to all. --Elise

    1. Elise your pellet stove sounds wonderful! It was 49 when we got up this morning! The temps will change from time to time in the coming weeks though.

    2. LaurieS, days are still warm here, but the truly hot temps have passed. Night and mornings get cold weeks before chilly days arrive. I refer to autumn and spring as "bi-polar" weather here.
      :-) Elise

    3. Elise - indeed - take care of your own home first and foremost. Good advice. YOUR home is where you need to concentrate and scrimp and save first (for newbies). We can't help everyone - as much as we may like.
      I had to pay for my insurance for a long while - I retired at 51 - and wasn't covered on Glens. He covered his for over a year - then he got Disability and Medicare. I paid until age 65. Medicare is a much nicer amount on the pocket book. Mine was never as expensive as yours - but you are covering 2. It also really sucked - limited hospitals and doctors and high deductibles. Medical can be a huge drain on any budget for sure. Check out Affordable Care Act Insurance. that is where I got mine (Obama Care).
      I hope you are feeling better each day.

      Wow - on heat. We got to upper 40's last week and low 50's this week at night - still no need for heat yet. We are warming a little.

    4. It may vary from state to state, but we make too much to qualify for ACA discounted insurance in AZ. Yep. As retirees. The lowest cost we've found so far is about $1,000 mo. w/o deductibles, but has a 70/30 split of emergency room, hospital and surgery. Hubs is 63, so only 2 more years for him, 3 for me, before Medicare.

      I'm doing better, getting around on the knee scooter easier, but am just so doggone tired all the time. Not helped by family conflict. We're still not sure why he moved here, but have a sneaking suspicion it was (in part) to be "looked after." Just can't do that, I'm afraid. Trying to keep my head above water and my thoughts positive. --Elise

    5. Elise, I was in a similar situation after hubs passed. He had retiree health insurance through his pension. But a judge ruled on behalf of the municipality that they only had to offer it to survivors, not supplement it, like they did for retirees. So health insurance jumped from $375/month for the 2 of us to $1475 for just me, after he passed. So, although he had a "premium" provider, I immediately switched to my employer's plan for $110/month, and it was just fine. When I retired, I took the COBRA insurance, and then switched to an ACA plan until I turned 65. Just be sure to enter income into the form annually, as that determines your discount. Stay strong!

  3. I haven't always been frugal, sometimes I mentally kick myself for some of the wasteful things I've done in the past. But retirement has certainly brought forward the need to watch my pennies. Thankfully, I have a decent pension and had also saved money while I was working (not as much as I likely ought to have), and financially I can manage my retirement years without major issues. (I must admit I'm grateful to be Canadian as our medical expenses are covered through our taxes We do pay for dental/optometry, and a portion of the drug costs, but medical and hospital care are covered.)
    I've really come to enjoy finding new to me clothing. Yesterday I purchased a winter jacket for $26.99. It wil replace the one that I've worn for more than 5 years (I'm thinking closer to 8). That one is looking worn, but will go to the thrift store as it still will provide warmth to someone else.
    I do note, that being frugal does take time. It requires effort on our parts in searching out low cost options, or gardening, or creating or re-making items. But in the end, it is generally worth it.

    1. I have had my moments too - I hate to admit. But when it really mattered we got busy and got on board the frugal train. It sure is nice knowing that I am OK for these retirement years and that I be able to survive pretty well.
      How nice on 'new' jacket. It always pays to be on the lookout.
      Yes, it is work figuring things out and budgeting - but so worth it in the end. Once the waters settle and things are good - it is a breeze.

  4. Being frugal involves being mindful of what you do, what you purchase and if you are a good steward of what you have. I hate to waste things but it happens from time to time. Move on and try to do the best you can.

    I keep glass and plastic containers that will be useful. There are times when I have a large amount of liquid or grease that definitely can't go down the drain. The smaller jars are good for decanting smaller amounts from a Costco-size container. I have a large rag crate and if the rag is too messy to be washed with a regular load, out it goes. The backs of paper can be used for lists and and sorts of projects. I seldom wad up paper to throw away.

    YouTube is our go-to for learning. Even at our age, we learn something almost everyday. There are several cooking for two channels.

    Enjoy this beautiful day! We are headed out to do some shopping. That sounds funny on this post about being frugal! ha!

    1. Well Donna I did some shopping too! But it was needed and I got a deal and YES, I told someone this morning that they taught me something new today! I like learning new things.
      Being a good steward is very important. Take care of what you have - money, people, things.
      You list some very good ideas. I hate waste too - but there are some things that we just can't keep. Hopefully they can help others or the compost or something.
      It is just gorgeous today!

  5. Attention AZ shoppers! Although grocery prices (in general) are up since low, advertised sales in June, there are some good deals to be found this week.

    Safeway has digital coupons for Seedless grapes ($1.27 lb., first 5 lbs.), Lucerne shredded, sliced or chunk cheese ($1.27 ea., first 4), and their 99 cent sale is back--when you buy 5, limit of 20 items--for Signature Select cereals or Apple Juice, Kraft mac-n-cheese, Rice-a-roni and Pasta roni, Signature Select canned vegetables, beans and tomatoes, McCormick seasoning, Taco seasoning and Kraft BBQ sauce, Martha White muffin mix, Rosarita refried beans, Sun Vista beans, Chicken of the Sea chunk light tuna, Fage Greek yogurt, Suave and VO5 shampoo and conditioner, power drinks and Michellina's frozen dinners, Hunt's pudding cups and more. On Friday you can get Lucerne sour cream, cottage cheese or cream cheese at 3/$5, limit 3. Also on Friday, the larger 32 oz. Lucerne shredded or chunk cheese is $5 ea., limit 2. If you're a Rewards member, get $5 off your total with 3 rewards, $7 off with 5 rewards, and $10 off with 7 rewards. Good way to stack savings.

    Basha's has seedless watermelon at 4 lbs./$1, leaf or iceberg lettuce and all bell peppers 98 cents each, 2/$5 on 5 lb. bags of russet potatoes, a digital coupon for boneless New York steak ($4.97 lb. value packs, limit 2), and over the weekend, a 3 day sale on lobster tails and raw shrimp (frozen, in bag), $3.99 each.

    Both stores have b/s chicken breast at $1.97 lb. We're still set for awhile, but Hubs might go and stock up on the 99 cent items at Safeway; we have enough points to bring that down by half ($10) and canned goods last a long, long time. --Elise

  6. Very good post; tons of wonderful reminders and food for thought too!

    It's so true, everyone is different. We always get a kick out of eating at a wonderful family owned order-at-the-front Greek restaurant in the city...We eat like kings and sit and enjoy the beautiful part of the city either looking out the window or eating on their patio. So fun and very reasonable too. They actually make their own fries like my mom used to make! So good! We have other secret places too, sensible, neat atmosphere, one is a Chinese, very homie, super good fresh food buffet where the owner cooks it and we are happy! The atmosphere reminds me of the 50s and they actually play classical music! So fun. I too am just as happy with Walmart off brand as any fancy name-brand. Absolutely! I to love saving containers, great for grated cheese my husband makes for his pasta etc. I'll even wash zip locks if they don't have an odor. Why not? : ) I love making my own clothes and have tried and true patterns that are easy and do-able. Brothers sewing machines are wonderful and the last time I checked made in the USA. They are found at Walmart and other places reasonably, even the bottom of the line is great, that's what I have. If it every breaks, it's still cheaper buying another than a service charge at a sewing machine fix it place. I have found that wet n' wild makeup is actually pretty decent on a lot of things and it's not all made in a country I will not name. ; ) We just have to do our homework right?

    We love Aldi too...Great deals on many things. We just have to shop and know our prices.

    Yep, we've been through difficult times. I tell our daughters on expensive frivolous things I don't want or need..."I'm too close to Pearl Harbor for that!" I got that phrase a long time ago when an old WWII vet only wanted a car from the US, no foreign cars for him. I feel like that is how I feel on spending extravagantly on something that doesn't matter in quality. So that phrase has come to a new meaning in our household! lol But true in every aspect too!

    I grew up in a little town on the bay around all walks of life, so no snobbery on this end but I attended school with some snobs who looked down on our little town and they were the new ones. : O We lived in an old house that was paid for, it was meticulously taken care of and had everything we needed, not poor at all, just sensible and my parents drove their cars and trucks til they fell apart. We were practical and happy on finances.

    Great post, your posts are always nice Cheryl.

    Have a great day, I'll have to come back and read others' comments and ideas too.

    Blessings! ~Amelia

    1. It is neat that you have some small family owned places to enjoy good food. Helping the community. That is what is lovely about leading a frugal life - you get to a point that those are the things that matter and it seems like a wonderful treat.
      I have people ask when I am getting a new vehicle (mine is 2002). Well, maybe when the wheels fall off!!!! LOL. It looks good and I maintain it - so why not keep it?
      You grew up in the same sort of home front as me. Older home, well maintained - weren't rich by monetary standards - but life was grand.

  7. P.S. I'm sorry, I forgot to mention I love resale shops and garage sales too! : ) I don't have any close by but once in a blue moon, I get to smalltown and get to the resale shop. Our daughters love them too, they are always finding goodies there, and great buys for the children's clothes too. Our daughter, Zuzu finds very nice clothes for children there for hardly anything at the SPCA resale shop. She's got her daddy's midas touch on saving money! lol

    1. Resale stores and garage sales can offer so much - from clothes to household and sometimes even food. They are definitely worth checking out. I will gladly let someone else pay the high prices and I will buy for pennies!!!!!

  8. Oh my learning to be frugal was painful for me but now I find it fun!

    1. I find it fun too. It challenges us to get creative and think outside the box!

  9. Does anyone else have a dislike of the word “frugal” ? Or is it just me?
    I am presently drinking a store bought coffee ( NOT FRUGAL, but delicious) sitting in the warm sun ( FREE, so frugal)
    waiting for the second hand lumber ( should be FRUGAL, but won’t be as its $$$) to be rung up. I will call this morning a break even. Louise

    1. Break even is fine. It's GOOD. The word "frugal" often has a kind of negative context. Oxford Dictionary defines it as: "sparing or economical with regard to money or food." Similar words like thrifty or prudent can work, too. How about money saver? I like what Cheryl wrote here, though... just keeping it simple and doing what works for you. Sounds like your morning, Louise! --Elise

    2. Louise - I know several who aren't crazy about the word. Yep, just whatever works for you and your home. We each look at things differently and do things differently - so it can be whatever you want it to be!!!!!
      I went shopping this morning for a few things I needed for the house - didn't have to - but I wanted them and one reason I have 'saved' over the years is to do just that.
      Do what makes you happy girlfriend!!!!!! You and your home is all that matters at this moment. Hope you enjoyed your break even day!!!!!!

    3. Elise, you are absolutely correct, I think it’s the part that says “ economical with food”, maybe that’s the bit that makes me feel not favourable towards the word.
      I also dislike moist and chaperone, no reason just dislike them as words.
      Cheryl, I agree with you, frugal is different to everyone. It’s also different to me on different days, last night we had super pricey steaks and then tonight we had cheap and cheerful hotdogs. Both were yummy

  10. I have always thought of frugality as being saving in one area so you can spend in an area you enjoy. Being frugal in certain areas enables us to travel and have adventures, that perhaps we couldn't enjoy if we were not.

    God bless.

    1. Yes, it can be a means to an end - whether an adventure, or a thing or a new way of existence.
      We each have a different 'end' - but watching our money helps us get there.

  11. I enjoy the creativity aspect of frugality. I am old enough to remember when store bought ready meals and clothes were an expensive novelty. As a kid I thought they were the bees knees. Now I can see through all the advertising hype (I am not a consumer, I am a shopper thank you very much!) and recognise that although these things are cheap and convenient, the quality is often poor. I enjoy using up what I have in nutritious meals and buy my clothes from charity shops. As Jackie says, I like spending my money on other things that bring me joy. For me it is all one big win.

    1. I love that that phrase " I am not a consumer, I am a shopper"!!!! Indeed. When you 'shop' you are really paying attention. Yes, there is a lot of hype out there, so one needs to be careful.
      As Louise stated above - certain words bother her - with me it is certain commercials! There are items I would NEVER purchase or try, simply because of the commercials! HYPE!!!
      I just love getting the most for a dollar - sounds like you are the same. It is a challenge and it can be fun.

  12. Love this post. To those who know me, they don't know that I'm frugal. There are only a few who know me well enough to catch my frugality. I guess part of it is that I home can and home cook and bake not only because it's cheaper, but I can then know what is in the final product. I enjoy experimenting with more gourmet recipes, but I adjust the recipe for a single serving or two. I'm not cooking a huge batch of something, if there's a chance I won't like it. It's about using my finances in a way to support my lifestyle. Yes, inflation has taken its toll, but because of my being economically responsible, I have yet to touch my retirement account.