What is Frugality Really?

First I will describe what frugality is not. Many people associate frugality with lack, but this is a misconception. It is not scrimping, being cheap, and playing small. Some may believe that frugality is all about saving string and clipping coupons, both of which may be tactics used in living a frugal life. But in and of themselves these tactics do not define frugality.

Nature is the Model of Frugality

Frugality is what happens when your true values meet your cash-flow. The natural world is a perfect model for abundant frugality. Nature is amazingly abundant and giving, but she wastes absolutely nothing. Everything is used up or recycled. So frugality is not at odds with the law of attraction or with prosperity consciousness.
The wealthy started out frugal, and those who keep their hard-earned assets remain that way. To become financially independent it is imperative that you become aware of exactly where you stand right now and where you are trying to get to. Frugality is relentlessly reality based, and requires honest self-knowledge. But it is necessary for lasting financial success.
Keep coming back if you want to learn how to apply the principles of frugality to your own life. Do the work and watch what happens.

Why Be Frugal?

DSC_0687This might seem an odd question from the Frugal Goddess, but it is worth asking. Being frugal means more effort and often deferred gratification. There has to be a pay-off or nobody would do it willingly.

There are really three groups of frugalistas. The forcibly frugal are too poor don’t have a choice. This group  grew much larger in the USA during the crash of 2008 and is still growing. Sadly, the rest of the world has always had a large population in this group. For the forcibly frugal, there is no need to ask why. How is the question. How to feed a family, how to obtain shelter, how to survive.

The middle class frugalista understands the concept of deferred gratification. There are many, even in this over-heated consumer environment, that are willing to do the work to achieve a dream. This group understands the relationship between prudence and success. To be middle class is an exercise in compromise. A person with a moderate income can make choices, and satisfy some desires, but not all. For this group, a consistent frugal lifestyle means home-ownership, college for the kids, and the opportunity to do a few really amazing things like travel to the world. If this type were to go on impulse, all the surplus would be frittered away on trips to the mall, and they would have the debt-load of the average American family. For these frugalistas, frugality really does make their dreams come true.

But it does something more as well. It creates a deep sense of peace. It is well known that money problems are one of the biggest sources of stress in our culture. And that money fights are one of the biggest causes of divorce. Frugal people avoid all of that. And if the parents are frugal it sets a very good example for the whole family.

Though it may seem that we are through, there is actually one more type. The members of the voluntary simplicity movement tend to be very well off. Maybe even rich enough that waste is a mere inconvenience, not a life-threatening disaster. But this group is interested in a green life-style, and in a sustainable solution to the “human” problem. This involves avoiding waste and conscious values-based spending. That is the very definition of frugality. This group has a very different problem from the first two groups. The first group has no problem staying frugal, it is staying alive that concerns them. The second group may have temptations, but a commitment to a greater reward will keep them on track. But, for the voluntary frugalista, it is commitment to an idea of what is right that drives the frugal lifestyle. For them, the answer to the question “why be frugal” is an intellectual one. But, even so, there are rewards other than virtue. The voluntary frugalista gets the benefit of self-knowledge and clarity. This translates to more time doing the things that are truly rewarding, and less time spinning in circles.

Whatever your current financial situation, a frugal lifestyle is worth it.

First Time Gardener-A Follow Up

DSC_0637You might have noticed that my series on being a first time gardener just trailed off. That is because the garden just trailed off…

As you can see from the photo, all I got was a few tiny squash, 3 mini zucchinis, and a handful of not ready for prime time tomatoes.The squash are sitting near a grapefruit for comparison.

But–I am not easy to discourage. This year I have not finished planting, but already have a DSC_0641row of very healthy string beans, three thriving tomato plants, and a large strawberry patch. I will be adding basil, cucumbers, and chilis. Also several types of squash, and I expect the squash to act like squash this year, so I can scare my neighbors and friends.

We figured out that the soil was not rich enough, and the area was too crowded. Both problems have been fixed. So stay tuned for First Time Gardener–the Sequel!

Save Energy and Money—Hang Your Laundry Out to Dry

MP900255612In this age of high speed everything it is hard to imagine how people did the most mundane tasks as little as 100 years ago. When it comes to doing laundry, we in the developed countries can’t really fathom life without access to a dryer. But folks managed. It was labor intensive, but it worked.

Why would anyone want to go back to those days? For one thing, Americans use the entire output of several power plants just on drying laundry in a machine. We could close several large nuclear plants and cut our carbon emissions substantially just by hanging our laundry. For another, on a more personal note, using a dryer is running up your utility bill. Hanging your clothes is one way to reap the benefits of solar energy without any upfront costs. Just a clothesline and some clothes pins.

There are places that frown on hanging your clothes. In some neighborhoods it is considered unsightly. If you live in a place like that, but are intrigued by the idea, maybe you can work to get enough people interested and change the rule. As the energy profile of the country changes, so will the attitudes about line drying.

So—how do you do it? I am going to assume you are washing in a machine with a spin cycle. (The washing machine is another story…)

  1. Wait for a sunny day with a breeze. The sun is more important than the wind though.
  2. Hang your line. Make sure it is far enough from the ground that nothing will drag, but low enough that you can easily reach with the pins. Make sure it is well secured between two posts, or a fence and a post, or two trees. The line should be taut.
  3. Set a bucket of clothes pins nearby.
  4. Put your wet laundry in a basket and set down near the line.
  5. Take one item at a time and secure it with two pins to the line. Make sure the item isn’t doubled over or you will have wet spots.
  6. Come back in a couple of hours and check. If you are working around the house anyhow you can take your time.
  7. Fold as usual.
  8. Enjoy the fresh scent of air dried laundry.

You may notice that your items are stiffer and less soft than when you use a dryer. They will soften up with use. And besides, this is more than made up for in freshness and savings.

Here are some links for supplies:

Clothespins: http://www.amazon.com/Honey-Can-Do-DRY-01376-Clothespins-Spring-100-Pack/dp/B002CGV57M/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367431614&sr=1-1&keywords=clothespins

Clothesline: http://www.amazon.com/Household-Essentials-Cotton-Clothesline-Natural/dp/B0002E35X8/ref=sr_1_10?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367431709&sr=1-10&keywords=clothesline

And—if you have no place to anchor the line try this:  http://www.amazon.com/Household-Essentials-Portable-Umbrella-Style-Clothes/dp/B001H1GUXW/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367432035&sr=1-5&keywords=umbrella+clothes+lines

Enjoy a Romantic Valentine’s Day Without Breaking the Bank

Valentine’s Day is the day to celebrate romantic love, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Men in the United States spend an average of $275 on Valentine’s Day, and women spend an average of $150. The question I must ask is this: whom are we trying to impress? The underlying sentiment of the day is wonderful, but we don’t need to celebrate it as a Hallmark Holiday.

The first question a frugal person would ask is who. Who we intend Valentine’s Day with should set the tone for how much we spend. If you are single and don’t have a date it is a good night to stay home. Or, if you are a member of a singles group try their event for people in the same situation. One of the MeetUp.com groups near the Frugal Goddess is having a Singles Awareness Dinner. This “group date” won’t cost any more than the average night out. Or-if you are politically minded, join one of the events raising awareness of violence towards women. Or show your love to the world by volunteering at a shelter. You may have friends that are lonely. You could send them all a Valentine’s Day message. It may be the only one some of them receive. There are lots of ways to experience love.

If you have a date but it is with someone new—now is not the time to shoot the moon with big spending. Just going out on Valentine’s Day sets up expectations that put pressure on a budding relationship. Spending way too much just adds another layer. If you really like your date, try to just enjoy their company. There are many ways to have a romantic evening that aren’t expensive. Try a walk in the moonlight or a trip to a skating rink. The most important thing is to find out what your date really enjoys and do that.

If you are spending Valentine’s Day with your long-term partner you have the easiest time of all—just pick something special you both have wanted to do but have put off, and do it. You know each other very well and have plenty of time. This is also the case where a little extra spending won’t hurt, as long as you have it in the budget. Of course you might be tired on the Valentine’s Day. Why not just have a relaxing evening at home and plan to go out when the restaurants in your area aren’t swamped?

The one time you might want to go all out with Valentine’s Day spending is if you are planning to propose marriage to your sweetheart. That is a big deal and it makes sense to make it special. So—if this is your plan, go ahead and spend!

Whatever your situation the Frugal Goddess wishes you all the love in the world.

The Frugal Goddess Goes LIVE with a Workshop on Food Waste!

Careful Planning is the Key!

The Frugal Goddess will give her first live workshop—Stop Food Waste Now with the fugal Goddess, in Santa Rosa CA on October 15, 2012.

The workshop will cover how we make bad choices that lead to food waste, how to plan a week’s meals that will really be eaten without waste, how to store what you buy so it lasts, and how to handle special problems with the flow of food through your household and your life.

If you regularly dump your money into the waste bin through wasted food, if you have great intentions on shopping day that lead to nothing but expensive compost, if you have “science experiments in you vegetable bin instead of edible veggies, this might be for you!

The first Frugal Goddess book on the same subject is in the works. There will be an announcement on this blog when it comes out.

If you live in the bay area please go to this link for tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/258266 and here is a link to the original post that started the whole project: http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/03/10/food-waste-why-we-do-it-and-how-we-can-stop/

The Frugal Bride—Are You Getting Married? Save Money and Still Have a Great Wedding!

A Lovely Wedding Can Be Frugal!

A wedding is one of the biggest events most of us will ever be involved in. It is also one of the most emotional. And of course we want our guests to have a wonderful time, and we want to create happy memories that will last forever. But—we may not have enough money to go around. What is the frugal bride to do?

When I got married in 2000 I only spent $1200 dollars. I recycled the rings from a pawn shop (after we smudged them with sage, that is.) I used a dress that I had bought awhile before but never worn, a frothy shell pink number with lots of lace. We got married in the empty field next door. We served homemade food to our guests, and my friend who is a baker made the cake. The minister cost $250, so we had to pay that. The only thing I splurged on was the flowers—the bouquet and one big beautiful arrangement.

The first thing you need to do to plan a frugal wedding is break down all the components. Venue, food, drinks, music, flowers, other decorations, officiant, wedding attire, rings, and whatever else you want to include. Then think each element through, with one question in mind—“How can I get this taken care of for little or no money?”

Do you have a dress in the family that would suit you? Wearing a family heirloom at your wedding could be very charming. Does someone you know have a lovely cutting garden? Maybe they would donate the flowers. Know a baker? Perhaps they would do as my friend did and make you a pretty wedding cake. Is someone in your family a remarkable cook? Let them run the lunch or dinner plans. Do you belong to a church, temple, or other congregation? Many times the group will provide the space for the wedding and the minister or rabbi will officiate free of charge for members. Why not ask?

Go through the list and dig up every source of help you can. When you have run out of free or discounted helpers it is time to take stock of the things you must pay for. This is one of the reasons planning ahead is so important. You can’t get good deals at the last minute unless you are very lucky, and who wants to rely on luck at a time like this?

Because it is your wedding, and that is a most important occasion, it is totally with-in the frugal plan to splurge on one or two elements. The only requirement is that you give due consideration to every detail before you open your wallet. It may be the wine or the dress or the rings. Whatever it is, think it through carefully, spend what you need joyously and without regret, and whatever else—enjoy your day!

 

Here are a few resources:

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Married-While-Spending-Little/dp/1453821473/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348855965&sr=1-3&keywords=Getting+Married+on+a+budget

 

http://www.amazon.com/Money-Still-Fabulous-Wedding-ebook/dp/B005PYVUEG/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348856029&sr=1-4&keywords=Getting+Married+on+a+budget

http://www.projectwedding.com/wedding-ideas/diy-wedding

 

If You Want to Save Money Take Safety Seriously

Safety is Frugal

The other day I read an article about frugality where a young woman told a story in which her tires were bald and unsafe, but she didn’t want to spend the $400 to get them replaced. She seemed to believe that this was the frugal approach, but she couldn’t be more wrong.

Safety violations waste money whether they are at home, at work, or on the road. Every year millions or maybe billions of dollars are wasted cleaning up messes that could have been avoided with some simple safety precautions that were skimped on. Remember the gulf oil spill? If regular maintenance is good for the wallet, then taking safety precautions is mandatory to keeping you finances in good order.

It is not hard to imagine all the ways that skimping and procrastinating on safety measures can bring hardship. It might even cause death or serious injury to you aor someone you care about. Those bald tires might cost you an accident that totals the car. Or they could cause a deadly accident. Taking care that your equipment is in order isn’t just frugal, it is essential to good citizenship.

So don’t stint on tires, checkups, fire protection, or proper gear for your activities, such as helmets for bicycling. Whatever it cost in money or time to stay save is actually a bargain. So take some time to evaluate in the next couple of days. Make a few lists: home, car, work, hobbies, and any other place you spend time. Write down all safety issues and make sure that everything is in order. Check the batteries in things. Check the fire extinguisher. If there are items that aren’t up to snuff—fix them now. And breathe a little easier.

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