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November 24, 2008



I'm a huge fan of the Foxfire series as well! I love the interviews with the tough old mountain ladies -- they are so strong and self-sufficient. (The rest of your reading list could have jumped right off my bookshelf.) I've been re-reading Your Money or Your Life. That book is amazing for giving you a little perspective about what exactly you are trading (life energy, specifically) for your piles of shiny stuff.

I love that more people seem to be thinking frugally and sustainably. I just hope it continues even after the economy is more balanced. I still talk to people who are trying to convince me that shopping is what is going to get us out of this mess and suggest that I am irresponsible for refusing to shop on Black Friday ("The economy needs you to participate!").

I'm grateful that I have been drawn to reading about/practing simplicity (more or less) for a few years. It makes what is going on in this economy not so scary -- I know that I can survive and provide for my children (and even be comfortable doing so) through this downturn.


unfortunately i didn't have frugal parents so i'm kinda learning as i go. our family is a work in progress and we are always trying to undo some of the wasteful habits that our children picked up over the years.

for us, it's all a balancing act: my hubby and i share a car; our family rarely, if ever, eats out (I can probably count on one hand how many times my 10 year old has been into a McDonalds.)i would never even consider paying someone to do something i can do myself---no lawn service for us. but there are some fancier things i enjoy: i have a weakness for expensive beauty products and perfume, so i'll eat lunches of pb&j or black beans from a can just to be able to afford my Saks splurges. some people would probably consider that a waste, but the beauty products make me happy, so for me it's worth it.

we also have a cable bill....we've given it a lot of thought and scaled it back in the past few months but will never get rid of it altogether. we spend a lot of time at home, so for us cable is something we get a lot of use out of.

in the past, so much of our family's spending came from what we assumed society expected us to have, not necessarily what we truly wanted.

oh by the seven weird things are up, if you haven't seen them already.



Incredibly, incredibly jealous over the foxfire find! I couldn't agree more - frugality is all about choices and that its incredibly individual, you said it so very well.


If you ever replicate Chicken Korma, you'd better share the recipe.

Ah, sweet frugality. I just hate spending a lot of money on anything. It doesn't matter how much money I had, I think I'd feel the same way. I love the high from a good buy, and the excitement of squirreling away saved money. Growin up, I was raised by my divorced mother, without financial assistance. I learned frugality from her and it was a great lesson to learn.


I LOVE the Foxfire books!


I love this blog. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, your family. We are in the throws of moving and I can't help but take a little time out to wonder what our new neighbors think as my "thrift store" furnishings are carried up the front steps. Maybe they will be too distracted by the aprons hanging in the kitchen window! :)


Foxfire books are so great. It is amazing that when reading them today, it seems like another world away, but if I remember correctly they were written in the 1970's (when I was a kid). I grew up on a farm. Mom had a HUGE garden and we had a "cave" which would also be called a root cellar. We went to the mall about one time a year - to St. Joseph, MO. We spent hours walking about and "shopping" which actually meant looking. We never bought anything. In our small town there was a Woolworth's dime store, a general store with creaky wood floors which sold shoes, flannel shirts in the package and fabric by the yard, along with housewares. We shopped there a lot. We also had drawers full of "handy stuff" in the kitchen - string, bolts, paper and all the stuff that mom saved to reuse.

Meredith from Merchant Ships

I love what you've been writing lately!

I wonder if, since you're moving, you could pay the curry chef to teach you how to cook his chicken korma. Might be a compliment to the chef and a frugal investment to take with you to the new city!


What a beautiful post Selena. I feel truly blessed to know you and have your influence in my life even for just a short time longer.
Thanks for sharing!


Our DVR and its fee is such a blessing. I never knew how much of my life it would free up, being able to NOT watch television on a schedule set by others. And being able to zip thru those commercials is a plus, too.

I've read the Tightwad Gazette and have incorporated a few of her suggestions. But there are limits to what I feel I can do without feeling deprived. I'm always glad to find others who also feel the need to be frugal up to a point and understand that not everyone's choices work for them and vice-versa.


It's funny, because some people may think of something as living "frugal", but it seems in your case it's simply doing what you love. Everyone makes choices of what's worth paying for and what's worth working for.

I don't really care for shopping. I mean, I still do it and usually enjoy it when I do, but most of the time I only shop if I need to. I find ways not to need to often. Because it's how I feel, it's not a sacrifice. And because I don't care to shop, I am able to travel, which I love. So, when people ask me how I can afford to travel, it's never that I'm giving something up. I just make the choices that give me the life I want.

I think the key to all of this, and to frugality, is to just think about what your definition of happiness is. Is it really necessary to have everything you want? No. Will it make you happy? Probably not. But making a decision to do one thing instead of another and using time and money on those things that are more fulfilling.

And you know what one of the bonuses of being "frugal" is? It's a challenge. Finding something you feel strongly about, finding a way to make it all click... it's hard. But it's so much more rewarding, isn't it?


I am thankful for growing up with very little money and a sometimes, dare I say it, financially selfish mother, because I learned to be incredibly resourceful with everything from clothes to food. I learned that you can get by on less, even if it means being slightly uncomfortable for a while so that you can make things happen in other arenas of your life.
I'm also grateful that I went to college in a town that was extremely organic and earth-conscious. I learned how to recycle like crazy, and how to buy in bulk and how live healthy and inexpensively at the same time.


I love that in many cases, being frugal is also the most environmentally friendly way to live. I tend to do better at living frugally when I look at it that way.

Amy Zimmer

Ah, Selena, I was just thinking what my gratitudes at Thanksgiving will be this year. And like you mine are centered around my mom who stretched out of societal norms to bring me an upbringing around social justice and idea that our planets riches are for sharing. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this gratitude.

xo Amy


This was a wonderful post. Mostly because I believe in your principals. I may not always adhere to them, but I believe in them and try to apply them as best I can. I had a very sad moment on the weekend trying to teach these principals to my 11 year old niece. She was raised to be very materialistic. I was trying to inform her that a 40 dollar winter bonnet won't make her happier in the long run than one purchased at Walmart. She pouted for a very long while. Sadly her parents don't believe in these frugal principals either and bought her the bonnet she wanted. I often wonder what kind of adults they will be? Very sad ones I presume if they base their happiness on stuff.


Another thought provoking post, Selena. We have some of the same favourites, I see, although I've never heard of the Firefox books. I'll have to keep my eyes open. Have you ever read the More with Less Cookbook? It's one of my favourites from my childhood.

My vice? Definitely good yarn! :0)


I've never heard of the Foxfire series--thanks for sharing!


Amen, sister! If you don't spend money you don't have and learn to live frugally, then when you lose your job, you don't have to go into full panic because hello! you have SAVINGS! and you know how to live INEXPENSIVELY!

Robin~Thrifty Miss Priss

Loved this post!
We had a german shepherd named Rocky years ago....we turned the song "Rocky Top Tennessee" into "Rocky Dog, You'll always be the best little rocky old dog to me...good old rocky dog...rocky dog Tennessee!"
LOL!'re not the ONLY ONE!


Hooray for "hippie" parents! That's what everyone in town called my folks when they took us to Salvation Army for our clothes. And I'll admit, I was not happy about it as a kid, and I certainly had a bout of being able to have whatever I wanted when I first became financially independent, but it's good to feel like we make decisions about how to spend the money we bring in. It's allowed us to purchase a home (also the most fixer-upper in the neighborhood) in these trying times. And we're eating pb&js until Thanksgiving in order to travel to see friends and family TWICE in the next 3 months.

My big splurges are good shoes, locally produced food & alcohol, and throwing get togethers with lots of fancy cheese for our friends. The hubby's are satellite TV with the "hockey ticket" so he can see the games from back east, and the tivo charge. : )


I love your blog! I also have both Tightwad Gazette books and have learned so much from them!

Do you find it hard to live a frugal lifestyle in the middle of the city? (I grew up in Los Angeles but now live in a suburb of Boise, Idaho).


I love the Foxfire books. My mom and I will just sit for hours reading through them! :)


Selena, you always write such great posts. What a sweetie your husband is. Your very own book!

I just dropped in to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I will be gone all week but I will come visit your blog next Monday.

Have a great week!
Deanna :)


RIGHT ON!! What a great post, and so timely. I am jealous of your find. Those books will be an awesome hand-me-down to the kids ... passing on the lessons that were taught to you. How cool!?!

Elizabeth Yule

What a wonderfully thought provoking post - thank you. My mother has a copy of the 'Complete Tightwad Gazette' and I love to flick through it and gain inspiration whenever I'm visiting her. I agree that some of Amy's ideas are too 'hard-core' for me but there is no denying what a wonderful example of a happy and frugal life she and her family are.

The joy for me of being frugal is that, unlike many, many others in the UK, we don't have to have nightmares about the debt we're in, nor worry frantically what would happen if my partner lost his job (a possibility as no job is safe here any more, especially in the City.)

I don't really have any vices, although I do love nice soaps, shower gels and shampoos but I can always find those at car boot sales, or ask for them for Christmas / birthday presents. What I would really love to own is a dishwasher but until we move to a house with a bigger kitchen, that dream will have to wait.

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