Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Frugality: What It Means Now and What It Can Mean Later

What Is Frugality?

When you hear the word frugal, what comes to mind? I guess that depends on your position on the subject. To me, it means doing the best you can with the least amount possible. I have written various posts on the subject, as it spans across a wide number of topics. Being frugal has to be a mindset in order to work.

For you, it might means spending less on groceries each week by purchasing things that will stretch further. It might mean mending clothes and other home fabrics instead of purchasing new. It might mean conserving energy in various ways. It might mean learning to live with less in the "right now" in order to make sure the "long term" is covered.

Frugality With Food

I cannot stress enough how important it is to practice food preservation in some form or another. There are many various ways, and even subcategories within those ways. For instance, canning is a wonderful method of putting up food. You can pressure can, water bath can, and you can even can in the oven! Oven canning is used mostly for dry goods such as flour, meal and grits. Check out this video on the topic from HamPrepper.

Dehydrating is another great option for food storage for many different types of food. You can freeze foods easily as well, though this option will let you down in the event of a power outage. If you have an alternate means of power, such as a generator or solar system, you should be good.

Frugality With Clothing

We've all heard the old saying, "A stitch in time saves nine!". That means that if you mend something now that only needs one or two stitches, it will keep the hole from getting larger in the future and needing more stitches to close it up. I learned the truth in this the hard way when a favorite blanket of mine became torn. Just a bit in the corner turned into a disaster when I put it in the washer! Most of the stuffing came out and I wound up having to throw it away and clean my washer out to boot!

So when my daughter's goose down blanket got a hole in it, we immediately set out to sew it up. It only took a couple of minutes and there hasn't been another problem since! We've done the same thing with curtains that were coming apart at the seams, pant pockets that got a hole in them, pillows and so much more. 

Instead of purchasing new fabric for mending, I save any and all old clothing that would normally be thrown out. Anything that is stained, badly ripped or torn, or something that has already been mended a great deal (such as jeans with patches), I recycle. I have tubs full of fabric for those "just in case moments" and jars that contain buttons, zippers, elastic and hem pieces. Everything is usually reusable so don't throw it out!

I purchased a variety pack of sewing needles from the Dollar General store that has come in handy more times than I can count. I highly recommend getting it for your supplies if at all possible. It only cost a couple of dollars and believe me, I've already gotten my money's worth! It contains needles for repairing gloves, carpet, awnings, upholstery, tents, car seats, knit fabrics, elastic and more. Also, I recommend buying spools of thread in various colors whenever you see them on sale. 

Frugality With Energy

One of the things some people are still surprised to hear from me is that I do not own a microwave. In my own opinion, not only does it makes things too simple, it also consumes a lot more energy than you might think. Even a small one operates at roughly a thousand watts. At about .10 cents per kWh, if you use that microwave for about one hour per day, you will spend almost forty extra dollars each year. It may not sound like much, but when money is tight, every little bit counts!

You can multiply that by two if you're using a clothes dryer. How many loads do you go through each day? A medium sized family can easily do at least two loads per day, which doubles it again. So hanging clothes out to dry isn't going to save the world, but it might save a few dollars you could easily put somewhere else.

Something else that people don't often think about is the energy used when devices are plugged in but not operating. Coffee pots, microwaves, DVD players and so much more. My rule of thumb is that if there is a light that stays on all the time, you can unplug it when you're not using it. Again, this is not a life changing amount of money, but when you add all the little things up, you're sure to see a big savings. 

Benefits of Learning To Live With Less

If you practice a lifestyle of frugality, you are far less likely to suffer as much in the case of an emergency or catastrophe. You will already be use to living with less, so if you lose power or something similar, you will get along better than those who have practiced posh living their entire lives. Not that it can't be done, it's just much simpler.

It's also possible that adding up all the savings will give you the ability to stockpile a bit of cash. If things go south at some point in the future, cash could well become a commodity and will be worth much more than it's worth now. Especially if you save it somewhere in your home instead of in a bank or account of some sort.

If you believe that nothing bad will ever happen, you're not as likely to accept an idea like this. And you might be right. You may never see a major world catastrophe in your lifetime. However - and again, this is me personally - I would rather live prepared than be caught unaware.

I hope this little article has helped you in some way. If so, feel free to pass it along! 

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