Tuesday, June 8, 2010


A Facebook friend posted a link last week to a website giving tips in frugality. The title of the post - "Extreme Measures We Took to Stay Out of Debt." You can bet I clicked on over to look for ideas on additional ways, beyond the obvious, to squeeze a little more out of a penny.

Five years ago, our family moved to rural Obion County to be closer to family. Living in the country is cheaper than in the city, right? Well, the land we live on was given to us, free. Thank you, Granddaddy! However, we are paying exactly twice as much for the house we live in. We have a huge garden in the summer, and we can and freeze produce for the winter. The boys put a substantial amount of meat in the freezer every year, also - deer, rabbit, ducks, etc. But even with these "cheap" food sources, our grocery bill runs one-and-a-half times what it did in the city. That's with buying in bulk, using coupons, etc.

Higher living expenses are compounded by the fact that Steve now makes approximately half what he earned in Memphis, despite working two jobs. Obion County had a depressed economy before the current recession, and things have only gotten worse. These are hard times for everyone, not just big families with one wage earner.

So, I clicked on over to "Extreme Measures..." looking for a little hope and inspiration. Instead, I found nothing but the same old "we gave up cable TV and disposable diapers" fluff. Folks, the Kendalls are apparently living beyond Extreme - we're all the way over to Mega-Extreme.

No, we didn't cut out cable TV - we never had it in the first place. Nor did we eliminate our second car payment - we own all our limping clunkers outright. We don't shop at thrift stores - we rely on the generosity of folks who are cleaning out their attics. (It's not Goodwill shopping - it's Black Bag shopping.) We have not eliminated vacations - the kids go swimming in the pond several times a week, and we borrow DVD's for Movie Night. "Eating out" means we take dinner to the porch. No allowances - the kids all have ways of making their own spending money (selling eggs, teaching piano, hauling hay, etc.)

To be truthful, things aren't as austere as they could be. We haven't cut out tea and coffee. On birthdays, the guest of honor gets to choose whatever he wants for the dinner menu, even if it's country ham or steak. Graduations are rather big blow-outs, and we treat Sunday like a feast day.

Still, I am confident there are ways we could make a dollar go further. And I KNOW there are some very thrifty women reading this blog. So, Dear Readers, what are your tips for saving money? Forget the coupon books for discount tickets to the movie theatre - I want to hear the good stuff, the Mega-Extreme money-saving tips!


Anonymous said...

Try Craigslist for buying and selling used items and giving away or receiving free items. It is an online classified ad board split up by cities. For West TN, start with jacksontn.craigslist.org

Anonymous said...

Many people can save about 10% on heating and cooling bills by using a programmable thermostat. The greatest savings will come for the house that sits empty for large parts of the day. 10% doesn't sound like much but utility bills are a bill you will pay every month for the rest of your life so it does add up. Along the same lines, many utility providers will come to your home to do a free energy audit to help you find ways to save (adding insulation, plugging drafts, etc).

tracy said...

Are you going to post a compilation of the good suggestions you get, plus some of your own tips?

Lord knows that David and I aren't very frugal. However, I have been trying to not buy too many commercial cleaning products. I'm trying to use homemade cleaners using mostly vinegar and baking soda where I can, not only as a money saver but to be a little more earth friendly. The kitchen smells like Easter to me (Paas egg dying kits?), but vinegar and water work fine as a counter top cleaner.

Jessica said...

I use homemade cleaner for my countertops, bathrooms, even mopping. Mix vinegar, scented rubbing alcohol and water. What about going meatless a couple of times a week and replacing the meat with beans or legumes? Also do you guys have a garden? And by the way I love the idea of chickens and fresh eggs. It's a dream of mine to have my own henhouse with a couple of chickens and to get fresh eggs every day.

Diana said...

Have you ever read the Tightwad Gazette? It is a series of three books by Amy Dacyczyn. In the books she gives some good ideas for living frugally. One that my SIL does that I just can't seem to do is reuse ziplock bags. You have to pick and choose what will work for you. Since the books are about 15-20 years old some advice might be outdated but it is still good reading.

Camille said...

Thanks for sharing ideas, folks! Diana, re. washing ziploc baggies - that's something I picked up from my Grandmother years ago. I usually reuse them for the same product - I have a cheese bag, a cucumber bag,a carrot bag, etc.

I have a friend tutoring me in the fine art of couponing. One of her favorite websites is www.mysweetsavings.com. This involves making a stop on the way to church to buy a Sunday paper, then checking weekly specials and matching coupons. Kind of time-consuming and tedious, but I've hit a few really good deals (free toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) Definitely makes me more aware of how much things cost!

On another note, I put off my regular "big" grocery trip longer than usual this week. We ran out of tea early in the week, then milk. We've had to be very creative with meals, especially breakfast and lunch. Thankfully, the garden is producing and there is a store of deer meat in the freezer. We survived, but I commented to Steve this morning that simply not buying groceries was one way to save money! Of course, that strategy falls apart on the first big shopping trip to restock!