Frugality and Self-Sufficiency - It's Nothing New, People

I'm always amazed at how people think frugality is just some new trend and they are on the cutting edge. Most of these people are younger and have always been financially secure, grew up in middle-class families, and never had to worry about money much. They went to college, got well-paying jobs, bought nice houses and fancy cars -- and then the economy crashed. They lost said well-paying jobs, some lost the nice houses and some even lost the cars. I lost all three, except the job wasn't well-paying and the house wasn't nice and the car wasn't fancy.

The difference between me and them -- I knew IMMEDIATELY what to do. Hell, I had been doing it all along. Couponing, stockpiling, growing food, cooking my own meals and even creating income on the side were not new concepts to me. I didn't even have enough money to budget - ever - so pinching pennies was second nature, just part of my being.

When I lost my job, my pride did not get in the way. The very next day, I applied for SNAP benefits. I luckily had enough food stockpiled so that my savings would support me for about 3 months. I thought I would find another job in that time, but that was mid-2008, and economy was falling down around us all, so that didn't happen. When I didn't get my benefits after 3 months, I called the Lieutenant Governor's office (Never call the'll never get a reply. The Lt.Governor is much more likely to return your call.) Within 3 days, I got that straightened out. Good thing, because my cupboards were bare by that time.

I had a friend who owned a produce store. I worked out a deal with her that I would come down and help her clean and close up, and she would give me tossaway veggies every day. She also gave me milk and eggs that were about to go out of date, so I was set. When she injured her back, I ran the store for her, which I would have done for free, but she insisted on paying me, so I only allowed her to pay me minimum wage because of everything she had done for me. She not only paid me, but she had a rule that you could take home veggies for your supper every night, which I didn't always do, but it was nice when I wanted it.

I had a neighbor who needed help to go grocery shopping and such, so we went once a week. The rest of the time, I walked the mile up to the closest grocery store for staples to supplement my garden veggies.

And I sold things. I had so many things that I didn't need -- in fact, I was a hoarder -- so I just used them to make money. Before I lost my car, I did yard work for people for $25 an hour. The point is, I did not sit around on unemployment waiting for the economy to get better...I acted.

During those first 3 months, I set up a blog with adsense and started promoting it on Twitter, plus looking for a new source of income. I found freelance writing. It didn't bring in enough income to save me, and I eventually lost everything anyway, but that has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I now am able to choose where and how I live and can earn as much money as I need with the potential to earn more than 3 times what I earned on my last outside job.

Now, 4 years later, all those people who have lost everything plus their unemployment have come around to the fact that their great lifestyles are gone, and they are now homesteading and blogging about it. Some managed to save their houses, and are now filling their back yards with gardens. They are proud of themselves. I am proud of them too, but I wish they hadn't had to take so long to come around.

Their children, on the other hand, will not be like that. They are growing up learning how to be frugal and self-sufficient, and their generation will be much more secure, because they know that if hard times come, they have the skills to survive. You never know when the bottom is going to fall out of your life. Illness, injury or disaster can happen to anyone.

So even if you still have that good job, nice house and fancy car -- plant a garden, use coupons, learn to use public transportation. Live like you make minimum wage and sock the rest of that money away for a rainy day...just in case. You won't be sorry you did when it starts to rain.


  1. Your life sounds a lot like mine. Great blog.

  2. It's so true about young people; they haven't a clue about what it means to be frugal.......I wrote a yahoo assignment article about simple ways to save me (because like you, I've always learned to live that way, 'cause I wasn't born with silver spoon in my mouth either) most of what I wrote was common sense stuff, but people who have never had to pinch a penny can really be clueless as to how they are wasting money. I have followed my own advice and live in a small but nice condo which is paid off; I have savings and medical insurance for life and will be able to retire comfortabley in 2 years.

  3. Nothing new about living frugally if you're old enough to have parents who went through the Depression, or a father who was bankrupted in the 1950s, like I had. We always turned off lights when we left a room, shut the doors to keep the warmth in, put on extra layers to keep warm - we weren't allowed to run the heaters unless my mother said so, didn't run the tap when cleaning teeth, ate left-overs disguised as new dishes (often with Surprise in the name!).

    As for public transport - it was that or walk. Walking was known by the old folks as "Shank's pony". We didn't have a car until my brother was 16, & he & my mother shared one.

    I still do all those things, as to me, they're just common sense. It is nice to be an adult & decide for myself that I CAN have the heater on, but I still put a sweater on first!

    When my daughter moved interstate at 18 to go to university, she told me the lessons she absorbed about frugal living helped her survive on a very meagre student allowance.

  4. Thanks for the comments, Jeaninne, Sue and Lil. I can't believe I ever thought I needed all the stuff I had. How ridiculous! Much simpler and happier life now.

  5. Out of curiosity, what do you do now Debbie?

    1. I'm still a freelance writer, but I'm trying to branch out into other things like some affiliate marketing and ebook publishing. I've moved twice since this post. I'm now in a 1 BR with a small courtyard that I love and am looking forward to turning into a high-yield micro veggie garden. I went over and took a look at your blog. I'll be commenting there. Thanks for visiting and if you are on Facebook, I have a Simply Deb page there.


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