Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Disposable Plastic Bags

They're talking about "one use" plastic again and at least one state has banned one-use plastic bags altogether. I know something they don't know and that's many "one use" plastic bags (as in the ones your grocery store uses) are used many times over in various ways. For some of us, they take the place of trash bags, beach bags, toy bags, dirty clothes bags, doggy clean up bags, yarn for knitting or crocheting, garden produce bags and more.

That's one way to look at disposable plastic bags, but when the cost comes from our own pockets, as other states have added fees or fines to using plastic bags, a frugal mind begins to think of other things.

Cloth bags are inexpensive, sometimes found in thrift stores and the simple ones are easy to make with a sewing machine, by hand, knitted, crocheted or even of plastic canvas/needlepoint. Once made or bought, they can be used for food and other shopping for a very long time.

But what about the other uses? The most important use for plastic grocery bags in my house in for trash can liners. How much progress will we make if we need to buy plastic bags instead of getting them for free?

I speak from a frugal point of view. I realize that not everyone reuses those bags and even the most frugal of us probably can't reuse every one, so there are still many that wind up in landfills. And, by the way,  how do they get into the ocean?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Learn Through Your Imagination, Scene Three: Toughing It Out

You can't survive this without being extremely frugal

This one is for those with pioneer blood! Let your imagination carry you away from the city streets (or the barnyard) to this place where you can learn by dreaming up frugal methods. Your imagination is the only way to experience such an adventure, so let it roll!

Scene 3: Toughing It Out

It's late summer, fall is coming on quickly. You're about five miles from town and have one acre of land in farming country with a snug, but empty, one room structure on it. It has cold running water only and two single pane glass windows. You have no electricity, therefore, no lights or refrigeration. You do have a small wood stove already set up, a pickup truck, a hand saw and a hammer. You can choose three more hand tools. You also have a tank of gas for the truck and you have a supply of canned and dry food as well as soap, but nothing fresh or that would keep without refrigeration.

You don't have any bedding, dishes, pans or other household things, including a mop, broom, etc. You don't have any wood for burning, although there are three trees on the property and a few bushes, but you can't strip the land because it's yours and you don't want to destroy it. You have no money except for five dollars. How would you make yourself comfortable and wash clothes, cook meals, etc?

This could be fun. Imagination makes you a pioneer in a new age. Remember that you live in the most affluent and least frugal society in the world. Think of what is thrown away every day of the year and how to use other people's trash for your treasure.

Keep an imaginary journal to show how you obtained what you needed to meet the cool nights and cooking and cleanliness needs. Your imagination will probably show you other things you'll need, too.

In all of these scenes, use your imagination and frugal creativity. Be as realistic as you can. Live it in your imagination so you'll realize what you need to survive.

You should come away from these exercises with a better sense of how you can apply yourself to your own, real, circumstances and get away from the consumerist mindset. Living frugally is an attitude and a way of life that, up until the last century, was the only way to survive for the common folk. Because we can't live the way our ancestors did, going there in our imaginations will help us see what we can do in the here and now.

You can learn through using your imagination. Creativity is within each of us and once it starts flowing, it's there to meet needs in ways you might never have thought about before.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Use Your Imagination, Scene Two: Homeless With No Help

Don't we all have a little Robinson Crusoe in us? It's fun to think of meeting our basic needs with only our wits and our own two hands - as long as it stays in our imaginations. It's the ultimate frugal test when you use your imagination to learn to survive the next scene.

Scene Two: Homeless With No Help

You have no transportation but your own two feet. You're in a place near or within a city where no one will care what you do. There are a few trees around, a grassy area and a small paved parking lot which is always empty.

There is a restroom/bathing facility nearby that you can use (you can't sleep or stay there), but otherwise you're on your own. It's winter and you need shelter, heat and light. You have a supply of food but you need a way to cook it.  Use your imagination to discover what materials you would use and how you would obtain them to create a shelter, stay warm and cook food.

You may work for cash two days only, at a going rate for unskilled labor in your area. Let's also assume that you possess a few things: Clothing, hammer, saw, scissors, knife, pencils and paper, ordinary utensils, dishes, etc., for one person so you don't have to deal with those - just a shelter, heat, light and a way to cook food over a month.

Write it all down - what you did and how you did it and how long it took, if you can. In your imagination, learn by trial how to build a shelter and stay warm and dry. Create or find a source of light in it. Figure out how to cook your food. Walk us through the things you would do and how you would do them. Try to stay realistic and meet your needs frugally - no unusual finds or rich uncles on the scene.

Did you learn anything about yourself?

Next week, it's summertime! But you have a problem that can only be solved if you're creative and very frugal.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Prepare for Higher Prices

I hope you have a garden. If not a garden in the ground, a container garden. If neither of those, a few plants on a windowsill. Whatever you have, increase it.


Because the cost of all kinds of food is going to go higher and higher. Some of it may unavailable at any price, due to the extreme weather the entire globe is having. Between floods, drought, fires and heat waves, fewer crops have been planted and part of what has been planted, has given minimal yields.

Watch out for an influx of beef and pork, especially, as farmers sell off butcher animals because they can't feed them. After that, the prices will skyrocket because of a shortage of animals as well as higher cost of feeding out what they have due to higher grain prices. Keep your eye on prices and buy while there is still a glut.

Vegetables may go high, too, due to tariffs as well as weather. Even home gardens are behind planting this year and truck farmers are having it just as hard as grain farmers.

I keep wanting to say "Be prepared!" but that's what frugal living is all about. This is just a heads up that you may want to be more focused than ever.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Use Your Imagination, Scene One: Hungry Spring

When we daydream, we allow our minds the freedom to solve problems in unusual ways. That imagination is essential to learning new and better ways for our real lives. On the premise that the human mind is an extraordinary thing when given a chance, I daydreamed up three different scenes in which we must be ultra frugal to learn to meet real needs. We can then use that frugal creativity in our real lives.

Besides all of that, it's fun to try.

Let your frugal imagination out of the box and see what you can come up with in the following scenarios. In all scenes, in your imagination you're alone with no children or family. (It's temporary!) You only have to fend for yourself and you only have yourself to rely on. You will have to be frugal and creative to survive.

Ready? Pay attention to all of the details.

Scene One: Hungry Spring

It's early spring and you have a home with all the amenities: Hot and cold running water, a stove to cook on, electricity, and a good bed to sleep in. You have a car with a full tank of gas. You're comfortable. There's only one problem: You have NO food, not even a smidgen of salt. Nothing edible, nothing to drink except water. Your mission: feed yourself for four weeks on fifty dollars.

The first week, you'll have twenty dollars to stock up, then you'll receive ten dollars for each of the remaining three weeks. Anything goes, whether it's unique to your situation or common to everyone, but please be honest about what you could and would do. You can be as frugal as you like, even if it seems drastic, as long as it's something you're really able and willing to do.

Write down what you buy or obtain in other ways, then write down your menus for each day. Don't forget to think about things such as needing oil or shortening to fry eggs, etc. Think about how you would go about making each dish or meal and write down methods if it makes sense to do so.

I realize that ten dollars will go farther in some places than others, but there's no way to adjust it. Considering that some of you will have had more experience or live in an area where there is more opportunity, hopefully it will even out somewhat.

Let us know what you come up with!

Next week: Extreme creativity is required for a little foray into the city.