Category Archives: Simple Living Articles

The Frugal environmentalist

There is a myth out there in the big bright world, that being an environmentalist is costly. It doesn’t need to be, actually I have found being more environmentally aware has actually saved me money! Making the “3 R’s and a P” work for you can help your budget and the environment too!
I was introduced to a “new to me” concept this past winter. The naturalist at our Nature Center called it “Pre- cycling”. (The “P” in the “3 R’s and a P”) Whereas recycling keeps items out of the waste stream by turning them into another usable item, PRE cycling is actively doing things to prevent trash from ever “being” produced.
Take for example all those boxes of rice with seasonings one tends to buy. How expensive is that? Lets add it up… each prepackaged meal adds tons of extra cardboard and plastics to our ever growing landfills. Many times, the portions are not large enough for all we are serving, so we use two or three. A serving of rice with seasonings from a box cost about 3 times as much than if you had measured out the ingredients yourself, and it adds all that extra packaging to the landfills. A terrific solution would be to learn how to create those mixes yourself. Buy rice and spices in bulk. A cup of rice, a sprinkling of spices and Viola! You have your own homemade version. It costs less, and it really takes no more time to prepare than if you had purchased the boxed kind.
Another way to be environmentally aware and frugal is to bring your own containers with you to bring home leftovers when you go out to eat. (Yes, even being frugal I still go out to eat.) When it comes time to reheat, just pop your container into the microwave reheat and serve! How much easier can it be? You save money because you now have another meal – or two- from leftovers. You save the environment because you have kept take out containers out of the “waste stream.” It is a win-win situation for all concerned!
Other examples include:
-Trade out paper towels for cloth ones.
– Use canvas bags instead of paper or plastic bags when you go shopping.
– Use rechargeable batteries instead of regular one time use ones.
-View items on your computer instead of purchasing books or printing the items. (This works well with recipes. You can always go back to the website if you need more information. Certainly with all the terrific recipe sites available now, you can have your pick of specialty, diet or ethnic related foods. The web holds a greater variety than anybody’s kitchen bookshelf could possibly hope to!)
Have you ever wondered what all those plastic bottles we recycle actually are turned into? Well, I am happy to say I have many objects that began life as a plastic bottle. One is a terrific “canvas” bag, another is a pair of shoelaces, and a third is a t-shirt. And, I can tell you that t-shirt wears like iron! It is just amazing what our recycling technology has brought forth.
As a child, I looked forward to recycling day at our house each month. We would load up our station wagon with all the pop bottles and aluminum cans we had collected and proceed off to the recycling plant. It was a huge scary place with big crushing machines, loud crunching noises, and frightening junkyard dogs guarding the back lots. But, still, I looked forward to it. I knew after all, I would be getting a cash reward at the end of the day. Money that I could spend on a special treat like bubblegum or yes, even more soda pop.  As an adult, the recycling centers are much nicer! There are many conveniently located throughout my city. Small, clean little sheds and not a junk yard dog to be found! Now, I have the option of collecting my funds or donating them to a local charity with the push of a button. I still look forward to recycling day, as do my children.
Reduce, that is one 3 R that many struggle with. But, fitting reducing into a frugalities life is easy. It just takes a bit of practice. Reduce- to use less.
– Turn down your thermostat during the winter. Save money and save our natural resources. Simple, fast, and really your house doesn’t need to be heated when no one is home.
– Reduce the amount of time you spend driving place to place. Plan out your day so multiple trips will not be necessary. Shop on one side of town one day, and get all your errands done at that time. Next trip you can hit the stores you need to visit on the other side of town. Avoid criss-crossing all over the city to get a good deal. Make plans, save gas and save time.
– Scale down those birthday party plans. Somewhere along the way, children have been conditioned that food comes with prizes, birthday parties come with goodie bags, and parents will spend a month’s salary celebrating a day their one year old will never remember. Save the expenditures until the child is old enough to remember the festivities. Many of my friends were shocked to hear we were hosting a special party for my daughters 6th birthday. We splurged and invited 5 of her friends to a Build a Bear workshop. Each child went home with a new plush animal and an outfit for it. Splurged, yes. But, it was also the first party we had ever held for her. We had celebrated the first five with family only. Forgoing the bounce house, puppet theatres, goodie bags and pony rides so many others in our neighborhood had been compelled to celebrate with. We splurged, but that is what being frugal is all about for my family. Having the means to splurge on occasion, and appreciating it all the more.
Reuse- that is the easy “R” for my family. Think trash to treasure and you have the meaning and purpose of “reuse.”
– We’ve been the recipient of many terrific wardrobes over the years. Even before my first daughter was born I had people giving me baby clothes. How much money is wasted on clothes that only fit a newborn for a month? I am happy to report that except for special occasion clothes, my children reused many outfits from friends and family members. And, we in turn passed them on as well.
-We’ve passed on loads of books we’ve outgrown; and, happily accepted terrific books as well. As a homeschooler, one of the most important things we have learned is that one size does not fit all when it comes to a curriculum. What one of my daughters found a terrific resource, the other can’t bear to use. I am lucky to belong to a wonderful group of people that trade resources freely. Everything from books, to posters, to compact discs have generously been given and received. Money rarely changes hands, as in our community we all believe that you reap what you sow. Generosity breeds generosity.
-We’ve remodeled our kitchen with seats that a local eatery had taken out and had been throwing away. Now, instead of a mix matched set of chairs and a wobbly table, we have a wonderful retro kitchen set! By reusing someone else’s trash, have found a treasure. And, it was free!
Saving money and saving our planets precious resources all go hand in hand. It is never too late to start saving the planet, and certainly never to late to start reducing your expenses. It just takes a bit of planning, a clear idea of how to do it, and taking the steps to set the plan in motion.

Dana Eppele is a homeschooling mom and member of the Frugal-Families team!  She and her family live in California.  Dana loves homeschooling, her family, living a “greener” lifestyle and being a member of the Frugal-Families forums.

Simplicity – a changing lifestyle?

There are many articles and books being written on simplicity. It seems to be the latest craze of the baby boomers. We are all getting older and are getting tired of the endless work day, the demands on our lives by others, and we are searching for a simpler way of life.

For us, simplicity was changing our lifestyle. It meant giving up some things, but it has also meant that we gained a lot.

We gave up:

job security and, more so, a weekly paycheck
the house and the cottage
the luxury of two cars in the driveway
dining at fine restaurants every week
buying the expensive clothes
buying on impulse
the conveniences of city life
Many people thought we were crazy to leave our jobs and move to the country. And a lot of people thought we would never last, that it was just a phase we were going through. They thought we would not be able to handle the isolation of country life, especially during the winter months.

Well, it has been a year since we gave up everything and moved to the country. And we love it. We would never want to go back to the pace of life that we had, nor do we miss the things we gave up.

We have gained:

the freedom to do what we want, when we want, how we want! That in itself is worth all that we have given up
we have an appreciation for nature that we never previously had as we were too busy to even notice
we have fresh vegetables, and home cooking
we do what we love to do, so it is not like work
a relaxing way of life, where complications don’t exist unless we complicate it
a simpler way of life!
In fact, what we have gained, simplicity, far out weights what we gave up!

Stress Less Country – a lifestyle change. You will find a collection of articles, thoughts, quotes, and learning’s on: country crafts, stress, simplicity, gardening, recycle & reuse, and Atlantic Canada. http://www.stresslesscountry.com/

The Difference Between Wants & Needs

So you want to become wealthy? While there is no single road to getting there, it’s a sure bet that one principle is in place for those who keep their wealth over a lifetime. Live beneath your means. Spend less than you make. Don’t spend more than you can afford. It doesn’t come any simpler than this. If you want to create wealth, you have to learn to do this. It doesn’t matter if you make $10,000 a year or $1 million, if you don’t learn how to master the step of spending less than you earn, you’ll never create lasting wealth.

While the concept is simple, chances are you are not following it. In all likelihood, you are living paycheck to paycheck, treading water. No matter how hard you try, you never seem to get ahead. Even when the raises come, the money still disappears just as fast. If this sounds like your situation, you probably have not mastered the difference between needs and wants.

First, it’s important to realize that wants and needs are not the same. When you read that sentence, you probably said to yourself, “Of course, everyone knows that.” Again, while everyone may know this intellectually, it is a good bet that you aren’t completely honest with yourself when it comes to the things you purchase.

How many times have you heard (or for that matter said yourself) “I absolutely need (fill in the blank)” when in reality the meaning was “I really want (fill in the blank)?” I can’t live without those shoes…I will die if I can’t have that ring…I simply have to have that car…the list can go on and on. Please don’t get me wrong. These are phrases that we all use. That is why it’s important to step back and remember that wants and needs are not the same.

It’s important at this point to make clear that taking the time to critically look at your current lifestyle and what are the true needs versus those things that are convenient wants will go a long way in saving you money and enabling you to spend less than you make. Let’s take an example of your TV. Is your TV a need or a want? Although I can hear the arguments already rationalizing why a TV is a necessary part of your life, the truth is that it is more than likely a want. In most cases, it is probably an affordable want (The exception may be if you decided you had to have that 50 inch state of the art plasma television with the price tag of a small car). The question is whether the digital cable TV, 6 premium channels, satellite dish, the on demand movies, the DVD player with movie selection, etc are all also affordable wants?

Here is a list. Take a few moments to jot down what is a need and what is a want.

  1. shoes
  2. designer suit
  3. water
  4. large apartment
  5. bed
  6. ice-cream
  7. lottery tickets
  8. car
  9. entertainment center
  10. club membership
  11. lunch
  12. concert tickets
  13. trip to Hawaii
  14. medicine
  15. necklace
  16. computer
  17. daily espresso
  18. cellular phone
  19. golf clubs
  20. furnishings

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not completely black and white. What may be a want for one person may be a necessity for another person. For example, let’s take a look at a computer. If you make your livelihood on the computer, then a computer is a necessity for you. If you only use a computer to play the latest online games, then it isn’t. Knowing this, we can still make some pretty good guesses as to what are wants and what are needs from the above list for most people. Shoes (and clothing in general), water, bed, car, lunch, medicine and furnishings are good bets to be needs. Now that doesn’t mean that the latest model, 4 wheel drive sport utility vehicle with all the extras counts as a need for most people, but basic transportation to make a living does.

A large apartment, computer and cellular phone may or may not qualify as a need depending on your particular circumstances while a designer suit, ice-cream, lottery tickets, entertainment center, club membership, concert tickets, trip to Hawaii, necklace, daily espresso and golf clubs all probably fall into the want section.

If you can take the time to start being honest with yourself, you will find that a lot of the things which you assumed were an absolute necessity until now are in reality nothing more than wants. Once you distinguish between the two and look at these issues objectively, you have placed yourself in the position to live within your means by simply asking yourself whether or not an item or service you are about to purchase is a need or merely a want.

Jeffrey Strain has published hundreds of money saving articles and is the co-owner of http://www.savingadvice.com – a website dedicated to saving you money.

Accepting A Life of Simplicity

Once we discover our purpose we then have to make a commitment to pursue that purpose. Often we discover that our lifestyles will be altered once that commitment is made. Perhaps we have to live with less. We are then challenged to redefine our basic needs verses wants.

Some people never assess their primary needs. They continue to pursue their “wants”. If people really assessed their primary needs and concerns they may realize that putting in that overtime at work wasn’t really necessary. They could have put in some overtime with their family or loved ones instead. Or they could have put some overtime in on doing something they really loved to do. Material items do not replace time.

Sometimes we have to do without basic utilities, fancy clothing, and even vehicles. If we stop to recognize what we really need, we realize how insignificant material items truly are. In fact we may even learn that our focus on ourselves reaches a higher level of concentration when we do not have added extremities to concern ourselves with.

Living a life of simplicity does not mean that we have to have an impoverished spirit. In fact one may find their true richness when they are forced to live simply. Often we find it is almost an essential right of passage when we embark on our path. It seems that when we pursue something that we long for in life, we are forced to make sacrifices along the way. Consider yourself fortunate if you are appointed to experience this lifestyle as you will walk away with more than what you left.

So that when success does reach our doorstep we have a humble approach to its offerings as we know we can live with less. We discover that simplicity becomes a key element to not only who we are, but who we intend to be.

Artist and Inspirational Author Heather J. Tait work and articles are displayed internationally. She is the founder of Silence Speaks International Artist Association and the Editor of Intrigue Magazine. Published books include, Making Your Purpose Your Business and Recognizing Unhealthy Relationships. Email: contact@silencespeaks.com Silence Speaks

Spring Maintenance for Your Home

By Fisher Swanson

Winter weather can be very hard on the exterior of your home. Here are some good things you can do in Spring to find and repair any damage done by the ravages of winter.

Inspect Your Gutters

Spring is a good time of year to check your gutters. If you are in an area with snow, sometimes the weight of the snow can pull your gutters away from the fascia of your house. Nail any drooping gutters back to the fascia. The next time you get a good rain, make sure the gutters are draining correctly and that water is being channelled 3 to 4 feet from your house.

Inspect Your Roof

Inspect your roof for loose shingles and remove any large branches. You can probably put off a major cleaning until summer but you will want to repair any broken tiles or shingles as soon as possible. If you are inspecting from the ground, use a pair of binoculars to get a better view.

Get Your Air Conditioner and Fans Ready

Get your air conditioner maintenance done before hot weather hits. Check your manual for recommended annual maintenance. Much of it can be done yourself and will increase the output of the air conditioner and save you money on electricity. Table and floor fans also get dusty. Clean the fan blades and cages before using them.

Around the Foundation

Check the grading around your house and make sure that the ground is sloping away from your house. Make sure that no plants or dirt comes into contact with the wood siding of your house. Inspect your foundation for cracks and patch any that you find. Also, check the siding of your home for mildew. It can be removed with a solution of1 part chlorine bleach to 3 parts water. If any of the bleach water gets on to your plants, make sure you rinse them well as soon as possible.

Caulking and Stain

Inspect the caulking around the outside of your house. Patch any caulking that is missing or damaged. Another place that there may be caulking is around your chimney. If you have a wood fence, deck or outdoor furniture you should inspect it in the spring to see if you are going to need to re-stain it. Staining your outdoor furniture and fencing will dramatically increase their lifetime.

Fisher Swanson writes for ThriftyFun.com. For more information visit: http://www.thriftyfun.com