Make it Stretch…Chapter 5 Super Frugal and Thrift.


We continue with the little book I’m having fun writing during April’s NaNoWriMo challenge.  Once again, for those who are just starting on this novelette, no editing energy has been expended so ignore the errors and enjoy the book.


Chapter 5

Super frugal and thrift. It Ain’t borin’


Everyone talks of frugality now. It’s interesting and inspiring for those trying to make big changes in their budget. If it’s a new thing to you it can be very fun to get on the thrift train and ride all the way to a lifestyle that will be so much easier and less stressful.

I don’t know what the future holds for any of us, I know that we are not as prepared as some of these amazing homesteaders I see on YouTube. We don’t raise animals for milk or meat or eggs. We just planted our orchard and will be waiting years before we have a basket of fruit or berries. My seeds haven’t sprouted…I may have started too late and I’m working with a new climate. However, we started and we dove into what we do know and understand.

The frugal and thrifty lifestyle has been ours for years and years with constant improvements each season and passing year. To me, it is a game and with this game we have seen our abundance increase and have doubled our properties. Things I never thought we could accomplish have been done. Yet we live on so little. The trick is simply this: have NO debt. Have vehicles paid off, take good care of them, try and have cars that last like Toyotas and get great gas mileage. Live on far less then you make. Have a small mortgage or rent. Practice every frugal trick you can learn from the wise ones that went before us (mostly grandmothers and great grandmothers).

Then there are all the details to living frugally.

We have already discussed growing a garden, cooking from scratch, stocking your pantry, but what about stocking your savings? What about saving all those pennies for a rainy day…or to move to a better location, buy land, start a business, travel, or one day work less?

Buy less. Have month after month of no spends. Make saving money and stretching that paycheck a game. Set goals and challenges each month. Each time you grocery shop. Each time you shop for anything. Free is a magic word and making it yourself is a craft.

When I need something, say some extra shelving in the pantry, I try and find it free on Craigslist. Even the side of the road. It takes waiting and foraging. If I can’t find it I may make some shelves with old boards and crates or buckets. I may find them cheap at last from Big Lots or a yard sale.

I try to use what I have. I decorate with what I have. We just moved into a 120 year old house. My furnishings looked perfect in the other little 1941 stucco bungalow for which I slowly found and selected pieces. They don’t really fit this old house that has seen two World Wars, the Spanish Flu, and the Depression. But we are here having our own bit of history with the COVID19 and a looming recession. I don’t dare spend a dime on furnishings, not even thrift store furnishings half off on the first Saturday of the month. I just keep rearranging what I have, throw a new piece of cloth on the couch, rearrange the paintings. It’s shabby chic, for sure. Do I really care? No, as long as we are warm and dry in the winter and cool and sheltered in the summer. I make things cozy with throws, rugs, candles, lush plants, and my beloved TV.

We aren’t going out anymore. Well, we can’t right now. We are sheltered in big time. If we even walk downtown a cop will pull over and ask what our mission is? We can walk in the woods…that is all we have left outside the house and yard. So, what a great time to start the practice of not going out. Perfect time for a no spend!

I cook delicious meals at home. We love good food. If I cook good food with flavor, variety, and throw in treats, baked goods, and snack plates, then we don’t long so much for restaurants.

I have an Italian stovetop espresso maker and handheld milk frother. I always have a big stash of good coffee, Cafe Bustelo, which is divine (literally the best coffee I’ve ever had) and cheap, grass fed milk and some sort of flavored creamer that I add just a smidge to the milk to get a fantastic creamy, sweet latte every morning. Do you thinking I miss the coffee shop? No, I am actually disappointed in the coffee cocktails I pay for at the café. I make the best ever and I rise and shine each morning in great anticipation of my golden coffee beverage.

I can bake wheat bread and Amish white…trying to prepare mentally for sourdough. Then there are my crackers (a bit thick but great with cheese) and graham crackers (also a bit thick but they pull it off better than the crackers), and my blessed tortillas!

I love beans…and potatoes, so this is not a hard life. Fries, baked taters, then burritos, or combine the two and make chili fries or just a plate of fried onions, potatoes, and pintos. It sticks to the ribs.

So, we eat well but it doesn’t cost much because our base foods are simple, inexpensive foods. Sometimes we do have baked brie or something luxurious now and then but it is usually a sale I’ve discovered at Grocery Outlet.

And my dear Grocery Outlet. I get organics and good hair dyes, make up, luxurious lotions, and frozen pizzas now and then.

Then there are the things I do to save and reduce spending. I use cloth everything; menstrual pads, stovetop coffee pots that don’t need filters, cloth napkins, and towels, washable dishcloths, washable mop cloths. I clean out my vacuum bag over and over making a disposable bag last a year. I water down dish soap, shampoo, laundry soap to make it stretch.

I use a Berkey water filter and we have the cleanest water, never buy bottled water.

I’ve graced the movie theater a handful of times since being married and having babies. Now it’s sort of out of the question. I did spend a little cash on a Roku TV for my bedroom. Cost $118 and is the greatest joy of my evenings…No cable bill, not even a Netflix payment. Free movies and TV and music galore for the whole family.

I know this life isn’t for everyone. Many a man and, woman, don’t find spending their days cleaning and cooking fun. But this is my job and career. I take great joy and pride in making my home cozy and keeping it clean (for the most part). I enjoy cooking. Gardening is a great pleasure for my husband and I because you reap so much abundance from it and the savings is tremendous when you can grow tons of organic food for free. An organic nectarine can be $3.99 a lb. We grow our own now. We can gorge ourselves on organic nectarines and the only cost is the labor of picking it each morning filling a breakfast basket with this delicious fruit.

I love cleaning and decorating my house. It is my grown up dollhouse. When I was a child I loved my dollhouses. I had a nice victorian one and one made of boxes that I painted, glued hand made curtains and made rugs from scraps of old towels, furniture made from egg cartons and various cans and little food containers. I think I loved my box house more than the victorian.

Today I have my old grown up dollhouse that we live in and I rearrange the furniture and decorate all the time while I have my music or an old movie playing in the background. I put on a pot of coffee and go about tidying my house, giving thanks that I have a roof over my families’ heads. We have soft beds and all the luxuries such as TV, washer, and dryer. If you have had to use the laundromatt in the past or present you know what a luxury this alone can be. To have a full kitchen with working stove, to have a bathroom with a tub. To have a pantry! I never had a real pantry before…and I probably don’t have an official one now but I had so much room in my laundry room that with the addition of a fridge and shelving it was quickly transformed to just such a room.

We have a quarter acre to garden like mad. Gardening is a craft, maybe even an art form. We can decide to have orchards, kitchen gardens, bees, chickens, rabbits, goats. We could raise almost all our food except flour, rice, and coffee. We could trade with our homegrown groceries.

Each day I can choose to greet the day with gratitude and delight in that we have a home and land that we can build and create for as long as we choose. I can turn my duties into rituals and ceremonies. I light candles when I wash dishes and spend that time in quiet to rest my mind. The burning of incense when I vacuum and dust to change the air. A good movie while folding the laundry, afternoon tea and biscuits with the boys, a book in the evening, a walk on forest trails anytime we like. People plan trips and drive long distances to walk forest trails on vacations. We take nothing for granted.

To drive here and there, shop at the malls, go out to eat, these things can be fun but they are also a waste of money and precious life. Going out should be a once in a while treat, not a daily or weekly habit. Driving should be reserved to a day of errands and appointments. Groceries only need to be purchased twice monthly and maybe not that often. There is too much wasting of gas and time because everyone is used to being busy. They fill up their days running about.

The only way to save money and grow your life is to nestle into the home and focus your energies there. Those of us that stay home have orchards and gardens, we have homes that are cozy and inviting, we have pots of coffee or tea on the stove, we have hot meals at dinner time. It cost very little to keep a nice home, to cook homemade meals, to sit in your yard and enjoy the birds and bees and flowers, to cuddle your children while watching Moana for the tenth time…or in my case Godzilla.

Find your entertainments, joys, and fulfillment at home. Grow your wealth and use it for good and a piece of mind. My greatest fun right now is planting things…vegetables, fruit, flowers. I can see how my huge, bare yard will look in a few years. My other is having my coffee and a chat on the phone with other friends and family that are sheltered in. People that are normally too busy have time to chat, to sip a hot drink and plan out a new yard. They are pondering more time for fun, rest and family.

Well, time for my chamomile and book. We’ll chat more later on this wonderful subject.



39 thoughts on “Make it Stretch…Chapter 5 Super Frugal and Thrift.

  1. today,We were up in the mountains getting dirt for the gardens. Way out in the forest. We needed to be free out in the wild where there weren’t people. I wish people here were taking social distancing seriously. We needed good soil. I have made vacuum bags out of fabric. I made 3 bags so that I would have extras. I have a bagless one now, however I make my own filters. I wash the canister and filters every week. Great post


      1. A raging party next door. I was livid. I called the Sheriff. There isn’t a fine but they aren’t happy about me calling to report it.. We live in a weird area. I take it shelter in place seriously. We have 5 cases here but they aren’t really testing this area.


  2. Well said! Now with shelter in place in effect I see my neighbors & chat with them more than ever. Some I am seeing for the first time! I love this slow pace of life!
    My teens & adult daughter spent all Saturday helping me plant our garden terrace. We are making such great memories!
    Kate, you are an inspiration to me each day! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am absolutely loving this slower pace of life! Also, I am temporarily laid off so I am thoroughly enjoying my dream job of staying at home and taking care of my home and hubby.


  3. This is completely random, but if you pour a few drops of A1 Steak sauce into your hot fried onions and stir it in, and then make a bean burrito with it (refried beans, fried onions, cheese) it is one of the best burritos you will ever eat. A1 steak sauce and fried onions are best friends 🙂 I don’t usually like steak sauce but I use it religiously for this!


  4. I thought my life was slow until this happened. I work part-time in the medical field but I’ve been working from home the past three weeks and I’m loving it. I might have a hard time going back into the office.


  5. Hi Kare! I am thoroughly enjoying your blog and have been devouring your YouTube channel. Any chance you could share some frugal/inexpensive recipes with us? Thanks and hope you are all staying safe and healthy!


  6. Thank you so much for sharing these chapters! I was going to wait until I rebuilt my gardens to start planting but you inspired me to just move the leaves, dig up the dirt, and begin! So far so good! Gardening keeps the blues away for sure. Just like you say, keep brewing the fancy coffees at home. I put on my brightest and most colorful clothes that I own these days and stroll through my garden while sipping on my coffee. I usually wear lots of black and dark colors, but lately I need color. The brighter, the better!


      1. Yes, ma’am! Hubby found the sprinkler and set it up for me. I’m still going to use my milk jug watering can, though 😉 Everything is sprouting already! I have tons of wild parsley everywhere that’s thriving. Gotta love free herbs! Can’t wait for the southern mustard greens, turnips, and arugula!


      2. Yes! So cool that he found the lid! Now you have a homemade backup watering can LOL What did you plant? I’m trying green beans. I want to try beets but I fear my soil is too dense. My allergies turned into strep throat this week, so I can’t go out and work the soil right now. So frustrating!


  7. I follow your vlog but really appreciate that you still contribute to your blog. Sometimes it’s nice to just read things at our leisure. I’m especially enjoying your new blog book, and Chapter 5 is my favorite so far. Thanks for keeping me on track when I’m tempted to forget my frugal life!


  8. Hey Kate,
    Loved your last video. I am very much like you in terms of getting my soul food from different sources. How do you teach your boys about spirituality in this eclectic way? (I have two boys too!) Also, do you consider your frugal simple life to be part of your spiritual practice? I do.


    1. I definitely feel that being wise with money and practicing sustainability and green living is a form of respect for the Earth, environment, and money is really energy. I just read and listen to my stuff and share all sorts of things with the boys and they take what they like. Arjan detest Christian stuff, Sam loves it. Arjan really detest anything spiritual but believes in metaphysics. Sam loves Christ and spiritual stories and work.


    2. Love this! I really want a garden, but I have a bad back so bending over is hard. My husband is going to build me tall raised beds. I tried to read some books on organic gardening but it overwhelmed me. My dad raises a garden every year, but he sprays for bugs and uses fertilizer. He also plants in the signs. Not sure if that is just an East TN thing or other places do it. Could you recommend a good place to start studying on how to raise an organic Garden? Also what about cookbooks cooking from scratch? Love your videos! It is so nice to find someone who is also interested in frugal living. I also love to read about the Great Depression! It amazes me how people survived on so little. Thank you!


  9. Hi Kate… Your series here is wonderful! Very sound advice and encouraging. Congrats on your new “old” house… I hope you will share some pictures soon… I bet it is fantastic. One of the points that you make that really hit home is making due with what you have especially furniture. I have several pieces that have been passed down from my grandparents, to my parents and now to me. Are they the latest and greatest? no but they are beautiful to me and I continue to make what I have work! Thanks for sharing you wisdom and knowledge in such a lovely way!


  10. Great post. I especially enjoyed the paragraph when you said the only way to save money and grow your life is to nestle into the home and focus energies there. I don’t have kids at home now. But, I will enjoy the time I have at home cuddling my husband and Focus on my home. I loved eating out because I felt it was a treat. I realize now that I can have a cozy dinner even with rice and beans. I am great cook and need to take my moms advice. She tells me to cook at home and leave dining out to people who cant cook to save there lives. Lol. I have started saving a thousand a month too. It’s easy if I don’t eat out and buy things anymore We have an income almost as yours. We don’t pay rent because I manage my apt. Complex. Your YouTube videos and your blogs have inspired me. Thank you so much!!!!


    1. You are so fortunate to manage an apt complex! I was watching the manager across the way and I wondered if she had free rent and think that is the best way to do it. Save while you can. I love going out too and you do need to treat yourself now and then, especially if you are saving so well.


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