Cheap by Choice: When Frugality Means Freedom

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As a parent, sometimes I’ve asked my kids to do things they don’t want to do. (Haven’t we all?) The biggest key to their success in the endeavor is their attitude.

Scenario #1:

Me: Kiddo, it’s time to swap your winter clothes for your spring clothes. Please go through your closet, sort through your winter clothes and get rid of the stuff that’s too small or that you don’t want anymore.

Kiddo: I don’t want to! I hate this! It’s not fair!!!

Kiddo goes through the closet, angrily shoving things in a garbage bag without taking a good hard look at things. She sulks, pouts and is otherwise miserable. She gets the job done but makes sure that it is unpleasant for all of us.

Scenario #2:

Me: Kiddo, it’s time to swap your winter clothes for your spring clothes. Please go through your closet, sort through your winter clothes and get rid of the stuff that’s too small or that you don’t want anymore.

Kiddo: Okay – this gives me a chance to see if there’s anything I can re-purpose, too!

Kiddo goes through the closet, eagerly sorting items into piles. She comes up with a good stash of ‘new’ materials for craft projects, a bag of donations, and 2 shirts that were buried at the back that she forgot she had. The job is done and the end result is its own reward.

Switching over to a more frugal lifestyle can be just like the above scenarios. You can embrace it and relish the challenge of it, or you can sulk, pout and be absolutely miserable.

Sometimes a reader comments on my website or sends me an email telling me that by preaching a frugal lifestyle, I am, in fact, giving in to some kind of global elite cadre. They feel that I should be recommending other types of resistance. They say, “Why should I have to do that when THEY have trashed our economy? Why should I do without?”

I understand, truly, where these readers are coming from. They’re right – we shouldn’t have to be thrifty because the “elite” have trashed the economy for everyday people. However, I choose to. I opt to live a frugal, non-consumer lifestyle because of my personal experiences. Disengaging from the uncaring financial machine has provided me with a freedom I never had when I was pulling down close to six figures in a corporate game of mousetrap.

The Story Behind My Advent into Cheapskatery

I suffered some great financial losses back in 2010. I lost my house, my car, and my business. We had been living frugally in comparison to many people, but not frugally enough to counteract that personal economic disaster. Looking back, I’m not sure if any amount of frugality could have really made a difference.

It was a devastating blow, and it came right on the heels of the loss of my sweet father. We became even more thrifty of a necessity, and I resented the need to do so every single time I stepped into a mall, purchased groceries, or emptied my bank account on payday to keep the utilities on and a roof over our heads, with nothing extra left over for fun, or even secondary needs. It was a very grim time for our family.

When the depression began to lift, I saw that getting out from under that mountain of debt had actually provided me with a gift of enormous freedom. I realized that my life could take a different turn. I was no longer tied to anything.

And that’s when I began to embrace my cheap side.

I realized that I no longer needed to buy into the system that had been the source of my economic collapse. By supporting them, I wasn’t supporting us. By being as self-sufficient as possible, by cutting my spending, and by not needing “the system”, I was winning.  I was becoming truly free. When an entity has nothing to hold over your head, all the options are your own.  You can make your decisions based on what is good for you and your family, not on what terrible things might happen to you if you don’t “toe the line.”

Embrace your cheap side

Hard-core frugality is not just making a choice to buy the generic brand of laundry soap instead of a jug of Tide with scent beads. Hard-core frugality is buying the ingredients to make 5 times the amount of laundry soap for half the price of that name-brand detergent, all the while LOVING the fact that Proctor and Gamble are not getting your money.

When you can cross that line between resenting the fact that you have to strictly budget to embracing the fact that by being as frugal as possible, you have a freedom you never dreamed of before, then you have begun to embrace your cheap side.

Being a black belt in frugality takes creativity and an optimistic outlook. It should never be some grim, sad thing that you have to do. It should be something that you choose to do. By finding joy in your non-consumerism, you will be far more successful at it. It becomes a game that you win if you can do something for free that others spend money on. When you feel like you require less, then you are happy with less. This means that you have to spend less time working at things you may not truly enjoy to pay for the things that you never actually needed in the first place. This means that the Money that you have goes a lot further

You might be a cheapskate if….

Here are some surefire signs that you are embracing your cheap side:

  1. Before throwing anything in the garbage you take a few seconds to ponder how it might be reused, and then either compost it, put it aside for a re-purpose, or you turn it into a homemade “log” for your fire.
  2. You have an ice cream tub in your freezer nearly full of odd bits of leftovers, awaiting their reincarnation into “leftover casserole” or “leftover soup”.
  3. It’s physically impossible for you to drive past an interesting-looking garbage pile at the curb during somebody else’s spring cleaning frenzy.
  4. Your first stop at the grocery store is the “last day of sale” rack in each department.
  5. Your kid looks at a necklace or pair of earrings at the “cool” store and scoffs, “We could make this.”  Then she puts it back and asks you to take her to the thrift store for items to disassemble for the supplies to make her own accessories.
  6. A day of yard-saling is planned out like a military invasion: you have a Mapquest route of at least a half dozen sales, a thermos full of coffee, a wallet full of small bills, and a list including measurements of all empty spaces in your home that need to be filled, kitchen items you are seeking, books your daughter wants to read, and upcoming birthdays.  Your alarm is set the night before, a blueberry muffin is wrapped up and ready to go on the counter, and your comfy clothes are laid out.
  7. If something must be replaced or purchased, you always look for a used version first before doling out the money for a new one.
  8. You know how to darn socks….and you do it.
  9. You wash and re-use sandwich baggies, and you’ve even rigged up a little drying rack for them beside your sink.
  10. You are outraged at the idea of spending $18 on a jug of laundry detergent because you could make a year’s supply for that amount of money.
  11. You have recently advised your child to cut off that teeny bit of mold on the brick of cheese because the other side is just fine.
  12. You don’t carve the Jack-o-Lanterns until the day before Halloween so that you can cook, puree, and can the pumpkin the day after Halloween.
  13. You have (and use) a clothesline.  Year round.
  14. You know how to repair a plastic clothes hamper by “welding it” with a bread tag and a hot glue gun.
  15. The dish soap beside your sink is actually 50% dish soap and 50% water.

How to Become a Happy Non-Consumer

Be grateful.  An “attitude of gratitude” is the most vital part of embracing your cheap side. If you’re happy with what you’ve got, you will find that you “need” far less than you did before.  That’s because you aren’t seeking some momentary hit of joyous adrenaline by purchasing something.  That rush rarely lasts and you’re just left with more stuff and less money.

Be creative.  How can you make something, save something, or repair something in a totally original way?  Embrace the challenge and tap into your creativity – you may just discover that, in your originality, you’ve come up with something far better than the purchased alternative. (We’ve found this to be especially true with fashion accessories, home decor, and birthday parties!)

Give.  Don’t let your pursuit of frugality make you stingy.  There are always people who are worse off than you. It’s important to give a hand up to those people.  If your kids were hungry, or cold, or without shelter, wouldn’t you hope that some kind person would help them?  Even at our absolute rock bottom financially, we donated one can of spaghetti sauce and a package of noodles to the food bank every week, which hopefully provided a warm comforting meal for someone who needed it. It isn’t really necessary to debate whether people are truly in need or just milking the system.  That is a subject for them and their consciences.  Just give.  You are responsible for your intentions, not theirs.

Spend your money where it really matters.  We opted to move to a very small community into a drafty little cabin in the woods.  We made this decision as a family, in order to reduce our monthly output.  By getting rid of “city rent” and all of the bills that came with it, we cut our monthly output in half.  This means that I can spend a little extra on high-quality meats and dairy, for example.  When my daughter needs new glasses, it’s not a problem to pay for them.  It means my older daughter can get through college without crippling student loans.

Less need equals more time.  Not only does a thrifty lifestyle mean that I can refocus where my money goes. It means that I can refocus where my time goes.  I don’t have to work quite as hard on stuff outside the home and can focus on farm and family.  I have the time to make hats and scarves instead of purchasing them. I have time to garden and can the harvests.  I have time to perform money-saving tasks like cooking from scratch, which goes into a big happy circle of having more money to put towards important things.

Stay home.  When you stay home more, you are tempted less.  You aren’t thirsty, requiring a beverage. You aren’t hungry, requiring a snack.  You aren’t using the car, requiring gas.  You aren’t tempted by all the colorful and wonderful things in the stores.

Hang out with like-minded people.  It is so much easier to embrace your cheap side if you don’t have people telling you how deprived you are all the time, or berating you for being too cheap to spend $27.85 on a movie ticket, popcorn and a soda pop.  Most of my closest friends are thrifty.  We swap  clothing, we borrow and lend tools, and we cheerfully hang out without spending a dime.  Instead of going out to sit in a boutique coffee shop sipping a $6 latte with whipped cream, we sit in the garden at one of our houses sipping a coffee that one of us made, along with a nice fresh blueberry muffin.  We enjoy the same conversation we would have had at that coffee shop too. Instead of heading to the mall, we chat on Skype.   When your nearest and dearest are on the same page, life is a whole lot easier.

Turn off the TV.  People go to school for years to study how to make people want what they don’t need.  That great big brainwash box sitting in the living room is a direct pipeline into your brain.  From the beautiful homes on the TV programs, the fancy clothes and cars, and the ads for food, recreation and new cars, the whole racket is designed to make you feel you what you have now is inferior to what you could have.  Kids are the biggest target of product placement advertising in popular shows.  If you watch TV, limit it.  Become aware of the scams and discuss them with your kids so that they can easily identify how marketers are attempting to manipulate them.  (Confession: we do watch a little bit of TV in our home, and when we do, it’s a big game to identify the hidden ads. While this may sound contrary to the advice to turn the TV off, I believe that some limited viewing coupled with an awareness of the marketing techniques  inoculates my children against the sales pitch.)

The Two Week Challenge

Okay….do you want to get started on your journey to frugality, freedom, and fun?

Make a list of the things that you absolutely require over the next two weeks.  This, for most of us, is the distance between one paycheck and the next.   So, if you need some milk and other supplies, pick that up.  (If you are already a prepper, you probably have enough food to get by for several months!)

Then – lock up your bank card, your cash, and your credit cards (if you use them).  For the next two weeks, I don’t want you to spend a dime.

(Obviously, the bills that must be paid, must still be paid – I’m not suggesting you stiff your landlord or skip a car payment!)

But for EVERYTHING ELSE…..put it off for two weeks.

Every time you have the urge to spend money, write it down.  (You can cheer yourself along by promising to make this purchase when the two weeks are over, if you still want it.)  You are going to be AMAZED at the things you spend money on, as well as the amount that you would have spent.

Come up with creative solutions for your “needs” and most likely, you will discover that they were actually “wants.”

So for two weeks you will NOT be purchasing….

  • Additional groceries
  • Drive-thru coffee
  • Take out pizza
  • Movie tickets
  • New clothes
  • Books and magazines
  • That adorable pair of shoes – you know, the ones that are ON SALE!!!!
  • Gasoline (unless this is absolutely necessary for work – but try to get by on one tank of gas if you aren’t a commuter)
  • A candy bar or a pack of gum (easy since you won’t be at a checkout stand – right?)
  • Music downloads
  • Greeting cards
  • Special ingredients for a meal
  • A sweater for the dog
  • A throw pillow for the sofa

You get the idea.  If you cannot go for two weeks without spending money on any of the above, it might be time to take a critical look at how you’re living your life.  What will you do if you lose your job? If the economy gets worse? If all of your money goes to keep a roof over your head and you have nothing left for discretionary spending, it’s going to be far worse to have that lifestyle forced on you by circumstances.

At the end of the two weeks, take a look at your handy-dandy notebook and tally up the money you would normally have spent.  Are you surprised?


To switch over to a frugal lifestyle successfully, you really have to want to do it. If you’re constantly bemoaning what you don’t have, you’ll be miserable.  If you are resentful that you can’t have “stuff” then you won’t stick to your frugal plan.  The most important thing of all is to switch off your personal “want” button.  When you don’t want or need the things that the big corporations are selling, then you are suddenly free of their restrictions.  You are no longer a slave to the wages you must earn to pay for the things they tell you that you should have.  You don’t have a lifestyle built on expectations, debt, and the never-ending search for happiness bought from a store.

I know that lots of you are already doing all of these things, and more…what are your suggestions for people who are new to the cheap side?  How has the art of thrift changed your life and set you free?



Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Love it! Another website that advocates frugal living is “The Prudent Homemaker”. She went through a very tramatic drop in income in the 08 crash and lived through most of it on her food storage. I found it inspiring as well.
    This economy is getting ready for another bad stretch I think, so I am really trying to get to the ultimate frugal side of me too 🙂

  • The difference in conspicuous consumption and living a frugal lifestyle allowed me to retire at 56. Living frugally in the country vs. working in the city? No brainer for me!

  • You are absolutely correct. We have lived the frugal lifestyle since we were married. This has allowed us to live essentially without debt. In our society there are always bills or taxes to pay. One can only reduce them. It takes work, but it is a goal. All of the adult children didn’t think it was punitive, and continue to embrace this style. Unfortunately, two of their spouses do not.

    I recently had a conversation with a friend, relating how we were going to step up our frugal living another notch; we had been a bit slack in a few areas. My friend could not think we could do even one more frugal thing. While we might be a bit more creative in finding areas, and shore up those areas that we can plug up the leaks, we certainly can find them.

    When admitting to friends concerning the (almost) paper product free system we have in place, you would not believe the responses! I didn’t realize we were doing things in the extreme! While the focus is usually on paper towels, little do they realize that one could even eliminate “the roll” if the system was set up correctly. We do buy TP, but would never even whisper how eliminating TP could be done hygienically. I will not tell them about any of the other non paper solutions I have used, including using (gasp) cloth handkerchiefs!

    The elimination of paper towels and paper napkins was the start of my/our frugal life. What I thought to be common sense, most consider to be “extreme.” If they only knew…

    • About the TP thing…I’ve been to Cambodia and they have an amazing solution! The “Bum Gun”. It’s just a hose with a spray gun (think kitchen sprayer that you use to wash the veggies with) attached to the water feed for the toilet. Except this is high powered. While sitting on the toilet, you spray your “butt gorge” with the “gun” facing downwards towards the toilet bowl. Super hygienic and TP free! I embraced it while I was there…super easy to replicate anywhere where there’s a toilet with running water!

    • The toilet paper thing ; i bought a big box of washcloths just for that ,never had to use em for that but they come in handy for other things also , a tip for raising free range chickens is that before the sun comes up i awake them with some cracked corn or just leftovers and they learn the early bird gets the worms that is when all the worms come out of their holes

  • The greatest benefit I have found is the pleasure of doing things with my children.
    In the past year, we have:
    Made bread, lemon curd, various jams, planted fruit trees, berry bushes and various vegies.
    Swapped fruit and veg with our neighbours.
    Made a toy garage with my son with found scrap wood and left over paint.
    Just finished making a toy sail boat out of plastic bottles with one of my daughters. Thankfully it didn’t sink.
    I think my whole family has benefited from doing things that take up a fair amount of time, that cause us to slow done.
    The financial benefits are a bonus

  • I do not buy paper products at all, even tp. I keep tp for company and used 8 rolls during a gastrointestinal attack. I have machines and can make all my clothing and undergarments. Right now, a physical problem has made sewing impossible. I buy from thrift stores, garage sales, and rock bottom sales at all stores.

    I NEVER buy full-price cards for any occasion. All my cards for all occasions come from yard sales. Gift wrap and ribbon is often dirt cheap (25 cents) at yard sales. Many of my gifts come from yard sales or thrift stores and with the tags on. At the store earlier tonight, I bought my g-daughter a new sweatshirt on sale for $1. I have 2 hens for eggs and cook from scratch.

    One year, I made gourd birdhouses for gifts. Gourds were 50 cents and I used paint leftover from other projects. Sofa pillows were gifts another year. I spent less than $2 for inside and fabric for the pillow covers. People love gifts from me and don’t think I am stingy.

    More than half the time, I hang clothes outdoors. The few freezing days in the winter I hang clothes indoors or use the dryer. Oh, spring oak pollen dictates I cannot hang things out because I have allergies. I dress warmly in the winter but must use the ac all summer. Health and allergies demand I spend a little on ac. I cannot raise much food, but buckets work for planting a few things. I can, dehydrate, and freeze food.

    Curb shopping and dumpster diving (I reach in) have given me some nice things. I do live in the city but own my home. I spent decades not having fun with friends who chided me to be able to own a home. Now, they all lost theirs and are actually in worse shape than I could ever be.

    There is no area of my life that is not affected by my parsimony/cheapness/frugality.

  • Sometimes thriftiness brings you freedom, and sometimes spending much brings you freedom.

    Your story rings like mine. I lost my job in 2009 and, though I was already living somewhat frugally, I couldn’t have kept us from disaster if I’d needed. Bless God, I found a great paying (if high-stress) job making, like you, close to six figures.

    But before that I’d contracted chronic fatigue and it seemed to get a little worse on this high-paying job. I wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to risk giving up the job to find out if the job was causing it and be wrong. After all, I was sick before I got the job.

    Chronic fatigue affects my stamina, concentration abilities and “give-a-care” quotient, all of which are necessary to maintain higher levels of frugality. Oh, when I was extremely tired but happened to go grocery shopping, I’d still check the “last day of sale” rack, but usually it was my less-frugal wife doing the shopping, so I’d only be saving a fraction of a percent of our total grocery bill. (Don’t get me wrong, she’s average thrifty, but still has room to grow.)

    So I poured most of the extra money into two things: 1. Making life easier 2. Doctors/vitamins/dieticians/physical trainers/sleep studies/organic food/free-range meats and eggs/etc. My goal was to be as spendthrift today as necessary so that I’ll have the energy and desire to be thrifty tomorrow. PARTICULARLY when the balloon goes up.

    And it’s paying off. That high-stress job? I’m now more able to handle it. We have turned our housing situation from having no equity and lots of things severely broken (would be in debt if we sold) to now a smidgen of equity and most things are fixed (no debt now if we sold). We have a well-maintained, if older, minivan that is paid off, and we have no other debt.

    I’m more physically fit than in 2009, although I still have room to grow. If I lost my job tomorrow, I have the desirable experience many employers want, thanks to the high-stress job. If the balloon goes up, while I don’t have that many practiced skills, I have sufficient knowledge, some food, some tools, some seeds, some books and a bug-out location. I have room to grow there as well, but I’m far ahead of 2009.

    So there’s a place and a time for thrift, and there’s a place and a time to spend much. Some are thrifty and it brings them freedom, and some like myself are spendthrift and it brings freedom. You have to judge your own situation. Pray for wisdom. (James 1)

    Good stuff, and God bless!

    • You have an interesting perspective equating freedom with thrift/spending. I thought the article/post was about financial freedom. Maybe I misunderstood.

      I must respectfully disagree with your understanding of skill. There is a big difference between understanding how to do something and being able to do something well. It usually means a big learning curve.

      It has been my observation that people who say they are going to (learn a skill) during their retirement will never do it. If they are not doing it now, it will not happen.

      I would encourage you to evaluate what “sufficient knowledge” is. My idea of sufficient knowledge in the skills I have worked on during my lifetime will most probably be different than what you would consider “sufficient.” Learning any new skill is frustrating and sometimes boring. It takes fortitude to move forward. And many times a teacher.

      My husband has always said that it is important to have the right tools for the right job. I agree. We must also have the right books, as well as other items. It takes a full understand of a skill to know what the right tools are.

      With having a high stress job, I am assuming that you are also working long hard hours. I know. I was there. Your “free time” is limited, and your finances allow you to purchase what you need.

      Frugality, for me, has always been about creativity and less dependence on Big Brother/The Beast. Making and doing, improves my mental well being and gives a joy that my job never gave.

      A high stress job and frugality are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The problem is probably time. I would encourage you to buy as many books on the skills you are interested in. Hopefully this will inspire you to try them out–one at a time! Frugal lifestyle changes, should you wish to add some to your life, should also be added slowly, one at a time. Once the system/method is in place you won’t even think about it. Except when you continue to push your shopping cart past the item you now do no need from the store!


  • Thoughtful comments but there seems to be some misunderstanding. Guess I wasn’t clear.

    I must respectfully disagree with your understanding of my understanding of skill, LOL 🙂 Yes _absolutely_ there is a _world_ of difference between knowing how to do something conceptually and knowing by experience. That’s why I said, “I don’t have that many practiced skills.” 🙂

    Chronic fatigue stuck me to the chair, so I might as well have been reading. But that’s just head knowledge, not true skills. Less-than-adequate. I’m eager to get out and actually practice what I’ve read about, and God willing I will very soon.

    To your advice, I have sought after many of the best books as I could imagine needing post-balloon. I have a jam-packed library. Can’t wait to start practicing these things.

    By the way, sorry if I wasn’t clear, but I wasn’t equating freedom with spending. Was trying to say it’s different for each person. If my mind and body were working properly I’d have been actively working on thrift. While mind and body were tired I was spending money on my health with future thrift in mind.

    And the investment has paid off. Today I had an EXCELLENT day. Thinking with clarity, getting things done, etc. Have had so many good days that perhaps the sickness is permanently behind. We’ll see.

    Thrift lets you invest in what’s *really* important. I’ve been thrifty in other areas (e.g. not spending on pleasure) and invested MANY dollars in what mattered most: Health. This should let me one day be more thrifty elsewhere which leads to, as the article is speaking about, freedom if things get worse, or even if they don’t.

    • I am very glad you are doing better! You seem very determined. With that determination, you will meet your goals!

    • I appreciate your comments. I also live with chronic fatigue, which is such a challenge when trying to live a frugal lifestyle. Most of the things I want to do take more energy than I have available, so, like you, I keep my mind active learning when my body has to rest. The biggest factor for us was to move our large family into a small home and get out of debt. Our small home is easier to take care of and cheap to maintain. This makes our lifestyle simpler even when I’m not able to save every penny I would like to.

    • I’m so glad you like it! Hopefully it’s easier to read and navigate!

      Have a great weekend!

      ~ Daisy

  • Rarely do I come across a preppimgyor homesteading post that makes me stop and rethink how I live.

    Congrats, you made the Geek Prepper ponder his wasteful lifestyle and spending habits. Well played, OrganicPrepper! Great great article. I tweeted it to my followers.

      • Obviously you neither drink alcohol nor smoke. I do, but am already trying to grow my own tobacco, which I hear is not only difficult to grow but difficult to use for smoking once grown. And I have purchased both the equipment and books to make home brew (beer) which I do like to drink now and then, and wine (which I do not drink, but might wish to have on hand as a barter item). I have also planted some grape vines for both eating and other varieties for wine making. First year for this, bought vines supposed to be for my growing area – the two bought locally for eating are growing like wildfire, the two supposed to grow grapes for wine do not seem to be doing very well. Also planted blueberry bushes and a couple olive trees, which might be big enough to produce olives perhaps 20 years after I’m in the grave.
        On your list of items to do without for two weeks, other than a few groceries, gas now and then, and a Kindle book now and then, I already do not buy the others most of the time. BUT I do buy cigarettes and beer, and generally buy enough cigarettes at a time for the month, but usually only buy beer on a daily basis to avoid temptation to over drink. Since I am totally unwilling to drive at all after drinking, I can and do only consume what I have on hand. I usually drink one or two cans of beer at bedtime, since I have had 10 back surgeries and need at least one more, and I basically have a choice between the beer or accepting my doctor’s kind offer to make me a narcotic pain killer addict. the beer works as well for me, it allows me to lie down flat so I can go to sleep. I also have an inner ear disorder which allows me to stay a cheap drunk, since if I were to even try to drink more than I do, I would get sick to my stomach (thank God for inner ear disorders).
        I do my best to buy only at sales, troll the aisles at all the local thrift stores, buy most of my shoes at thrift stores, but from what I’m reading of your suggestions, I have barely scratched the surface of living frugally.
        I was planning to buy two or three pullets but the store that usually sells them locally quit doing so, so I’m trying to find another source to get them. Have access to a nice chicken coop or one of the neighbor kids has told me he can and will make one for me even cheaper.

  • It’s always a blessing to find like minded people. My thinking is exactly as yours! I too am so happy when I find a way to make something that I used to buy. I sometimes have felt that frustration that maybe “they” are winning, but it’s that feeling of freedom that spurs me on. It’s such a wonderful feeling. I make all my own convenience mixes & save so much money at the store & it is healthier for us! Yet I still have that “product” to use just as before. I am not as frugal as you are, but I’ve been taking baby steps for years. I wouldn’t trade how far I’ve come for anything & am ready to embrace the next step, which for me is canning & putting up all my own sauces, soups, etc. There is so much to learn and do, but once you incorporate something into your permanent lifestyle, it gets easier and easier.

    • I’m also at the point of taking on canning and making sauces and soups I would never have thought I’d dare do just a few years ago. Wondering how to go about buying a pressure cooker without looking like a terrorist wannabee. Wish I had bought it at the beginning of this month instead of having put it off one month. I’m also a bit, well more than a bit, scared of pressure cookers, ingrained as a child by my mother who would not allow one in the house because “they are too dangerous.” That was over 40 years ago and people have been telling me they are safer than they used to be, so I’m going to try to get into it. I have a large garden and think I will need to can some, even with the amount I give to neighbors. Am serious considering increasing the size of the garden as well.

      • Hi Gena! 🙂

        I was absolutely terrified the first time I used my pressure canner. In fact I wouldn’t do it until the kids went off to school, on the chance that I blew up my house! You are going to be surprised at how easy it is, truly! Here are instructions for pressure canning.

        Also, if you type “pressure canning” into the search bar on the site there are loads of simple recipes for canning yourself.

        My canner is a 23 qt Presto. It is a bit less expensive than the All-American, which is the absolute best one on the market.

        Please feel free to post any questions you might have and I will be delighted to help.

        ~ Daisy

        • Thank you so much for the kind note and encouraging advice. I will be looking for one at the beginning of May when I get paid again. And will try to find one such as you suggested.

        • 23 quart is almost 6 gallons, if I am thinking right for a change. Isn’t that awfully heavy to lift? I’m 65 and have had a lot of back surgeries and know I’m not supposed to life anything heavier than a gallon of milk (but do so all the time). However I have gotten to the point I can barely lift more than about 20 pounds. One gallon of milk or water is around 7 to 8 pounds, meaning six gallons would be 42 to 48 pounds, if the thing is full. About how much would you guess your’s usually weighs when you are canning or using it otherwise? Would someone with back problems be able to use this or should I look for something a bit smaller?

          • Gena ~

            It is fairly big, this is true, and the pot itself is somewhat heavy. You only put about 3 inches of water in the bottom for pressure canning and then the rest of the weight is the content of your jars. I have a history of back issues, and am very careful when lifting things like this. A couple of tips to make it more manageable….You can put it on the stove and add your water with a pitcher. Then place your jars in and process it. When you are done, if you have a gas stove you can simply turn off the burner and let it cool down until it’s time to open the lid. At that time, let the steam escape and use your jar lifter to remove the hot jars. Then you only have to lift it to dump out the 3-4 inches of water.

            I like this size because I can get 7 jars in each layer (sometimes I put a little shelf in and do two layers of jars). The smaller ones work, but don’t go smaller than 16 quart. That capacity will allow you to can 5 quart jars at a time.

            I hope this helps! 🙂


  • I ,to have been taking baby steps the past two years trying to find other and better ways to live healthier and frugally. I have always bought used for clothing and I sew my own clothes as well. I am now making my own bread, canned salsa and beets last year from my first garden. Now I’m looking to make my own juice with a juicer I got for my birthday and am now happy to say I have a stockpile for emergencies. Still hoping to get further in the other areas I am lacking.

  • I am a widower at the age of 65 ! I have to start living cheaply to save for my later years . You know, 70’s and 80’s..It going to be a challenge , but with the help of GOD and you I just may do it.

    Thanks for the tips on being CHEAP !!! I NEEDED THEM !!!


  • what? I have to go two weeks without buying a new sweater for my dog? but I live in Canada…

  • Wonderful article! It is all about attitude, isn’t it? It can be a joy to live frugally if you let it! Off to explore the rest of your site…


  • Love this article, were 2 months in to no cable and my brain and wallet appreciates it. Yard sales are excellent for cheap stuff. But beware, my wife went to a church consignment fair and paid 65 dollars for a used stroller that is 60 dollars brand new. Just know what your buying. If you have a smart phone, and cant dump it (I use mine as my internet provider to save) there are shopping apps that allow you compare product prices by scanning the bar code. It compares all major stores and online outlets. It really can save you enough to pay for that phone bill. Thank you for the great article. Being frugal is a fun lifestyle, to me its my only way to get back at the money bag`s of business.

  • These really are simple steps to being successful in life, but sadly many people had parents who did not take the time to teach these basics of living. This to me was taught as how you lead your life and lucky for me, I found a partner who feels the same. By the way all my friends think I’m rich, but it is easy to do when you live within your means and compound those savings into tangible items. I know my kids are still amazed at the amount of food I keep around, but that is how I was raised and if there is anything I hate is running out of something I like.

  • so enjoying the comments!. I’m just 60, and grew up first in the suburbs in illinois where we had a small lot where my folks grew corn, berries, etc. and my mother canned, and that was back in the late 50s–she was a prepper before it became popular. my dad had grown up on a farm so we always had to have something growing, even a dwarf tree or small veggie garden. i have just converted a huge part of my yard into a small orchard, just dwarf or semi-dwarf citrus trees, a banana tree, fig, and also some berry bushes and a grape. my mom canned, and isn’t the old-fashioned way to boil the water the right degree and put the mason jars in it? I don’t think i want to do pressure cookers. any websites would be helpful, also, i do want a dehydrator for my berry bush bumper crops and the figs, so any ideas or websites would be great. I also bake my own bread, shop at thrift stores, it’s just a way that i was raised, and the frugal way is the only way, —self-sufficient, practical, and having appreciation for a simple lifestyle.

  • I love these kinds of posts. I love the challenge of getting something cheaper, or better, or just the challenge of thinking “what do I think its worth, what is it worth to me, how difficult will it be to dispose of…do I really need a new one”etc.
    We have become mindless consumers. I hate that word- it has a negative connotation now. Being a producer, if only for your own wants and needs, is crucial- and it builds brain cells!!
    Necessity is the mother of invention- never let a good crises go to waste and use your mind(s) to create a solution. I love it. It is accomplishment.
    Another really important point is, not contributing to the evergrowing waste in the world. Plastic water bottles are toxic- but they also are such a waste- plastic bags, etc. The creation of them is also awful- petroleum. I love not contributing to BIGCORP, while solving my own problems. Rock on Daisy- may we all develop skill in our daily consumption.
    Thank goodness I was paying attention to my elders who came from the dustbowl depression era, where not a thing that had any use, was ever thrown away. (Compost piles as high as the house when they died!!)

  • I also lost everything in 2010. It was the best thing to ever happen to me. I now buy used everything. I haven’t had a car payment in years! I’m the one with 50% dish soap by the sink, the clothesline, frozen used tea bags in the freezer.I bought a used mobile home for 20k and have my own land. Thinking of selling it and doing RV. The house is too large for my son and me, hoping to cut utilities. Thanks, love this blog!

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