"Frugal" Things You Do/Don't Do - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 03:06 AM
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Great topic, @CopperLove , and straight away I wanted a "love" button for what you wrote, and what @Avna wrote straight after you. I'm closer to Avna's age than yours, and her thoughts on this whole mess we're in are very similar to mine (and naturalist and documentary presenter David Attenborough, who's nearly twice that age, basically thinks we are doomed); but you're a young person, and to see your enthusiasm and willingness to be different, and to make a difference, is very heartening for me, and I think positive change happens mostly from the bottom up, rather than the top down.

Brett and I are members of the Australian Grass Roots community, which is loosely based around a magazine created in 1973 to give voice to and connect the Australian hippie and DIY/alternative lifestyle communities, and is now a well-loved alternative cultural institution in this country. I've also been writing for the magazine since just after our own "tree change" in 2010. We found it really hard to live lives that weren't ecologically destructive when living in suburbia and doing fulltime professional jobs. You could do some things, like reduce, reuse, recycle, drive a small fuel-efficient car, take public transport, not buy truckloads of stuff you don't need, buy second-hand, DIY, etc, quite easily. But, the entire system is just so rotten to the core - for example, you put things in the recycling, and then find out that most of it isn't actually recycled anyway (in Australia - because lots of recyclable items aren't recycled by the local governments that charge you recycling fees and provide you with recycling bins but then put a lot of it in landfill anyway, and in some places, bribes were given by industry to bury recyclables like glass so recovered materials wouldn't compete with newly made ones and drive their price down, etc, and now China is rightly saying we should stop sending our recyclables to them and process them ourselves, so a whole lot of stuff is getting stockpiled while ineffectual people supposed to be running this country are scratching their heads).

It's such an obstacle course to be a mindful consumer in a country where you actually have no idea under what environmental and social conditions goods are produced - and labelling laws are weak - unless you know the actual makers of the items, and even then you have to trust they're not lying to you. In so many ways you are so locked into a sinking ship, and it's hard to get away from it. Avoiding wasteful packaging is difficult as it's so ubiquitous; ditto with built-in obsolescence in modern consumer items - things are designed to fail shortly after the warranty expires, so you're encouraged to buy a replacement. Repairing isn't as easy as it was; many items are made with cases you can't get into, spare parts often aren't available etc - when I was a child, electrical items were designed to last, and to be reparable, but now, economics has determined that more money is made when people are forced to buy low-quality things with built-in obsolescence. We try to find items that last, and can be repaired, but it's an obstacle course - the Internet is helpful there these days, though.

There are many many more points... I'll stop ranting now, or my book will be longer than yours.

When we tree changed, we saw an opportunity to make a more radical change to our lives, and to reduce our ecological footprints more. We designed and built our own eco-house on a modest budget that was smaller than the average Australian building budget. It took us five years, but now we live in a house that naturally stays in comfortable temperature ranges through passive-solar, superinsulated design with appropriate thermal mass, we're independent for electricity (via solar panels and storage batteries) and water (rainwater tank, solar bore), and we recycle all nutrients that enter our house as food into food-producing systems (waterless compost toilets make organic fruit tree fertiliser etc). We grow our own heirloom F&V from seeds, and are now around 50% self-sufficient for food, having never gardened before our tree change. If I kept a milking cow and we killed our own beef cattle (currently they all go to market), we'd do better still, and that's on the possibilities list for the future.

The only externally sourced energy that goes in our house is a camping bottle of gas for cooking, about every two months. This costs us under $150 a year, and is the sum total of the utilities costs for our house. We have a small wood heater with cooktop, oven and water-boosting wetback that gives the solar rooftop water heater a bit of a hand on cloudy winter days. It's on around two evenings a week in winter, and the wood comes from firebreak clean-ups of fallen branches, in our 50ha on-farm bushland conservation reserve.

We've now successfully downshifted from two fulltime professional salaries, to one part-time salary and a bit of freelancing. We've got the equivalent of one fulltime position freed up so we have more time to work for ourselves, via food-growing, managing bee hives and a small herd of beef cattle, more ambitious DIY projects than when we were both in the rat race, and establishing a farmstay to eventually replace much of the part-time salary. We're also in a position to steward biodiversity conservation on our own farm, and to implement sustainable farming practices, which we've been doing from the start - planting shelter belts, tree fodder, not overstocking, using organic growing principles and permaculture design, etc.

But most of all, downshifting has given us a less stressful life, and more time for each other and the things we consider important.

Photo albums of all that here: Red Moon Sanctuary

And we totally share your attraction to books - we literally live in a library now! Books are our luxury. We also buy good-quality chocolate, and have stationery fetishes.

SueC is time travelling.
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post #22 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Aprilswissmiss View Post
This is one of the many reasons I think when I'm older and (hopefully) have enough money for a house, I'd want something small - just a small house and a small stable, and a bit of land. With space comes an excuse to get more things! I grew up in a relatively small one-story house (plus a basement) and I've always felt sort of overwhelmed by the possessions in larger houses whenever I visited friends or family. The amount of times I've heard "Yeah, I did have that [insert somewhat expensive item], but I lost it somewhere in the house a few years ago" makes my brain hurt. Sometimes I sit and think about the thousands of dollars worth of "lost" items in a single house that must be beneath beds and in cabinets and in the back of closets, and think about all that wasted money and wasted space. It would drive me crazy! Plus, I really, really dislike the hassle of walking around things rather than through an open space. Excessive furniture just seems like a good way to convince you to stop weaving through it all and instead sit down... Which, as an active person, I don't like lol.

Single story house with an open floorpan and a lot of natural light... That's the dream! It helps that I don't want kids, and neither does my boyfriend if it counts for anything. All that time and money can instead go towards my/our pets, most of which would be out in a stable and pasture anyway It helps that we're both tracking pre-vet! Reduced vet bills!!
We built our first house ourselves (just the two of us, no contractors just a few friends helping), and we had that small eco house you want. But we could only afford a steep hill in a redwood forest (200' evergreens all around, ie dark), in California. We wanted another one of those little eco houses when we moved to Massachusetts -- buy, build, or have built -- but we couldn't find good land to put it on here, either. So we ended up with a 230 year old farmhouse instead. Not insulated worth a darn either. We did change that, and have many more ideas to decrease our carbon footprint, but the stable, the pastures, the trails, the deep quiet and the beauty, sold us. We don't regret it.
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post #23 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 07:55 AM
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I don't know if I would consider myself minimalist, but I am definitely frugal. But, no-frills country living does make it easier to be frugal, too, doesn't it? I mean, in our village, there is no place to get a haircut, have your nails done, buy a designer coffee or a new pair of shoes. So, impulse buying is completely eliminated. And, when you do buy something, it is most likely something you really need and have been thinking about for a while, because you have to drive quite a ways to get it.

Today, for example, I am off to the city for lunch out with my son because it is his last day of exams. Later, we'll go get myself 2 new laundry baskets for my new laundry room that I have been needing for a long time. Isn't that exciting? Well, for me it is.

I have also recently bought on amazon those reusable produce bags to take to the supermarket, instead of using plastic bags. Several people have already asked me where I bought them, so I think people are becoming very aware of the evils of plastic.

Which brings me to another pointÖ bottled drinking water. In our dry climate, the water often comes out of the tap yellow and smells like sludge from the bottom of the reservoir in the summer. So, yes, we use bottled water. Please don't hate me! But please help me find a smarter solution (did the Brita thing - still not potable).
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post #24 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 10:04 AM
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This thread definitely caught my eye because I consider myself a very frugal person - I got the habit from being raised by a single mother with a teacher's salary. I read the thread so far, though, and I probably couldn't be considered as minimalist or eco-friendly as some, though I definitely try! We live in the suburbs in New England, so it's a bit difficult to be as eco-conscious as I'd like.

I'll share some of the things that I think make me frugal:
  • I really avoid buying things as much as I can. I wear clothes and shoes until they're really worn out (the same few outfits). I don't buy/wear jewelry.
  • Anything I do buy I always buy the cheapest version (online, I always sort search results from lowest cost...)
  • I lost a lot of weight recently and had to replace most of my wardrobe, and discovered ThredUP for the first time, so all new outfits I got were used and I managed to probably spend about 1/5th to 1/10th what I would have spent buying new.
  • I had to buy a new car last summer after my 10 year old Altima with almost 200k miles stopped accelerating on the highway. After discovering Certified Pre-Owned I will never buy a new car - cars depreciate by more than half within 3 years.
  • I bought a Chevy Volt that feels new, and I almost never need to buy gas any more so I cut out my fuel expense. My work has an EV charger so I barely have to pay extra on my electric bill at home to charge.
  • My husband does any DIY projects around our house himself - he has rather advanced carpentry skills from his father.
  • I buy all of my groceries from Aldi. This cut my grocery bill in half.
  • I don't buy drinks - we only drink tap water.

Things that aren't as frugal:
  • I love to travel. The way I travel is frugal compared to the way many travel (very affordable hotels or AirBNBs, I do all the planning myself to cut-out travel agents, cheapest flights possible even if it means layovers), but I recognize travelling in and of itself isn't frugal.
  • My dog. Up until last month he was going to doggie daycare 2 times a week at $200 a month...Ouch. (I'm trying to turn this more frugal by seeing how he does at home during the day instead.) I also have health insurance on him, which I consider a significant monthly expense.
  • My husband and I bought a modest house (3 small bedrooms, 1.5 bath) and while we can completely afford the mortgage, it about doubled our monthly expenses. Taxes in our area and having to get PMI due to a low down-payment doubled what the mortgage itself is. For at least the next 5-10 years we will owe more on the house than we could sell it for, which is a really awful feeling to be honest. I love our house though, as it made it possible to get my dog.
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post #25 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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(Sorry, lots of people tagged in this as I respond. I've really enjoyed reading everyone's posts!)

@Aprilswissmiss I kept an aquarium in college also! (A 10 gallon, the biggest we were allowed.) I have made so many moves with an emptied tank and a cooler full of fish! My familyís home was only about an hour and 15 minutes away from where I went to college, but after my first year moving in and out I learned quickly that I didnít need as much stuff as a lot of my peers wanted in a dorm. I had a falling out with my roommate my Sophomore year for partly that reason (although there were many other isses). She would always bring SO MUCH stuff. More stuff than any person in the room (we shared a 4 person dorm) and always had to have help getting it all back home (She was from Maryland, we went to school in KY.) That particular semester my aquarium had crashed, and she kept asking why I didnít just take it home if it didnít have fish in it. So I finally did, and came back after that weekend and she had moved and taken my desk because I ďdidnít need itĒ! I ended up getting a friend to help me and crammed everything I owned in that room into my Nissan Altima and I left. A few belongings didnít make itÖ I was so mad and ready to get out of there I trashed what wouldnít fit in my car (which obviously taught me I did not need something I was willing to trash in a bad situation.) After that I started thinking a lot more about what I lived with. Junior and Senior year I brought even less (I also hid my pet rats in my wardrobe closet, so that kept me from keeping too many clothes at that time as well ) I definitely have a lot more stuff now, but I still have list in my head of what Iíd pack up in my car and leave with if I had to if something bad happened.

My boyfriend and I share the closet in our bedroom, a single dresser, and then he has some stuff in one of those small set of rolling plastic shelves that Iíve had since I lived in the dorm. But we do have another closet that we have heavy winter clothes boxed away or hanging in. I donít think we would have that much clothing if our parents didnít give us clothing occasionally (which I appreciate, but sometimes itís really more than we need. I end up donating some of what mom gives me.) Sharing the space works out fine for us. The dresser is a bit overflowing but he crams some things in there that probably should go elsewhereÖ there are some shipping materials, tools, etc. I agree with you about wanting space to move around in, furniture you don't need is just a waste of space and peace of mind.

@SueC You were one of the members I was thinking of Iíd seen talk about what theyíve done with their land and their home before I went to college with the man who manages local recycling, and I know he is really concerned about the environment and is always trying to learn more, so I trust that the right thing is being done with recycling locally but honestly there is a lot that they canít take here, including glass. After it leaves here for wherever else it has to go though, who knows? Iíve heard people say similar about the US, that a lot of recycling actually just goes to the landfill. Itís also hard to find a place locally to take electronics to be recycled when one has pooped out and you canít repair it. Kentucky really is a beautiful place, despite the stereotypes youíll hear. The land that used to be my grandfatherís farm is actually in my name, and I intend to hang on to that as long as I can despite the fact that Iíll probably never live there just so no one will be able to come in and cut the trees down. But as you drive up that mountain and are looking at the beautiful forestÖ there are still people who throw their furniture and electronic trash like TVís, washers, etc. out into the woods and valleys. Itís hard to look at.

I will have to do a lot more research before I ever look at buying or building a home and the property itís on. Building a home seems so far out of reach right now, but I suppose if I planned carefully, building a moderate home with a few tweaks might be as economical as buying one. Many of the houses Iíve seen on properties that would suit my dream home are either very old and need a lot of work, but are small like the kind of size I would want, OR they are the big old, poorly insulated farm houses like Avna mentions (probably not 230 years old here, but the kind of houses that people who had big families and farmed actually used, but are big and boxy and have fallen into dis-repair from not being used and cared for.)

One reason that buying or building a house seems so daunting to me, is that my parents lived in a trailer for as long as Iíve been alive. When mom retired, they simply moved the old trailer, bought a new one, and placed it where the old one sat. Iíve had former friends from other states who didnít understand the phenomenon of so many people in this area living in trailers. But itís pretty common here. Itís a cheap payment to own. But they donít hold their value over time like a well-kept house does, can be more dangerous in bad weather, and often arenít well-insulated. Itís an investment that wonít last but for a lot of families itís all they can afford and all they know. We currently rent a trailer. Itís definitely not my dream home but itís small, cheap and pretty easy to heat and cool because it is so small and I feel like living there really is helping us save for whatever we decide we want to do in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avna View Post
We built our first house ourselves (just the two of us, no contractors just a few friends helping), and we had that small eco house you want. But we could only afford a steep hill in a redwood forest (200' evergreens all around, ie dark), in California. We wanted another one of those little eco houses when we moved to Massachusetts -- buy, build, or have built -- but we couldn't find good land to put it on here, either. So we ended up with a 230 year old farmhouse instead. Not insulated worth a darn either.
I work for a community/technical college, and I am able to take a free class per semester if I want to, as long as I can work out a schedule with my supervisor to make up any hours I might miss during work. I REALLY want to take some carpentry classes, learn to use the tools and build and just things I donít know how to doÖ my dad thinks this is a horrible idea, as I will obviously ďgo and cut some fingers off with a saw.Ē I wonder how he thinks riding is a much safer hobby for me? I am in awe of people who can just... up and build a house!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanish Rider View Post
Which brings me to another pointÖ bottled drinking water. In our dry climate, the water often comes out of the tap yellow and smells like sludge from the bottom of the reservoir in the summer. So, yes, we use bottled water. Please don't hate me! But please help me find a smarter solution (did the Brita thing - still not potable).
There are definitely situations where one simply cannot drink the water out of the tap. Before a water line was run to mom and dadís property, we had to haul water to a cistern, which Iím guessing now looking back on it that it just wasnít built in a great place. When it would rain heavily, the water would run brown with dirt that had washed over into the cistern. I even remember one time as a child that I ran a bath and there were earth worms chopped up in it!

I donít know if youíve heard of what has happened in Flint Michigan in the U.S. but theyíve not had clean drinking water from the tap forÖ I donít even know how long. I feel like itís been over a year now. Itís a ridiculous situation that made the news for a while, but it didnít do much to help fix the problem.

Unfortunately I know nothing about filtering your own water Maybe someone else will have an idea.

@IRideaHippogriff That sounds like a fantastic car! Brand new cars will also not be in our future for a very long time, if at all. I currently drive an Altima that's about 12 years old now and I intend to hang onto it as long as possible. I don't know if I'll be able to get such an economical on gas option when it's gone though Living in a rural area, needing to haul hay, horse, etc. When dad is gone (as bad as I hate to think about anything happening to my parents) there won't be anyone to help with that kind of thing unless we own our own truck.

I think despite my dad's wishes, I am still going to sign up for carpentry courses where I work. I would love to be the kind of person who knows how to build and fix my own stuff. Travel is also on my list of things that I value that I would like to save for. I love my home, but I want to see more places!

"She could be a witch, and he would never build a pyre upon which to burn her thoughts, desires and dreams."
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post #26 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 10:56 AM
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I used to consider myself frugal, but these days the money is just getting spent. Mostly because of the horses....different tack, horse trailer, feed, shoes, show fees......I don't actually spend a whole lot of money on myself, but I would definitely NOT put myself in the minimalist category of living. My b/f I would actually consider a bit of a hoarder (we have a shop and he works on his cars - so he keeps any little piece of scrap metal that could be used).

Some areas in which I TRY to be frugal:
- I don't pay for satellite - all our tv watching is either movies or from Netflix. However, with all the movies I've ordered from Amazon I probably might as well have paid for satellite.

- I try very hard not to spend money on 'extras' when grocery shopping.

- We plant our own veggie/fruit garden. So at least during the summer months we have fresh produce at our finger tips.

- I am a big reader. I ended getting a Kobo for Christmas one year so I just load it with the cheapy $1-$5 books on Kobo.

- I try very hard to buy most of my horse tack used. Now that I'm getting into showing I am also going to buy my show clothes used as much as possible.

- I am a huge stickler on not wasting resources. Lights NEED to be turned off when no one is in a room. I am crazy OCD over this. I also try not to use my dryer as much as possible and will hang laundry on the line as much as possible (weather permitting).

- When I have time I make my own buns/bread and baking. I also hardly NEVER eat out.

I know where I could cut costs, but just choose not to. I am a long distance runner, so the numerous pairs of running shoes I have that look almost brand new would make someone think I was nuts. But as soon as any of the cushioning starts to break down I buy a new pair and they run me around $150/pair. I buy a new pair every 3-4 months. That is one place I will not cheap out on. I also like having wine in the house - so I do spend copious amounts of money on wine. I don't really drink a whole lot of it, but I like to have full wine racks.

There are other things - but honestly, 90% of it is related to owning horses and maintaining my vehicles to haul my horses.
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post #27 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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I know where I could cut costs, but just choose not to. I am a long distance runner, so the numerous pairs of running shoes I have that look almost brand new would make someone think I was nuts. But as soon as any of the cushioning starts to break down I buy a new pair and they run me around $150/pair. I buy a new pair every 3-4 months. That is one place I will not cheap out on. I also like having wine in the house - so I do spend copious amounts of money on wine. I don't really drink a whole lot of it, but I like to have full wine racks.
Honestly, the whole point, for me, of saving money in certain areas is just so I can put it toward other things. We could rent forever if we wanted to, but I would really like to OWN a home in our area. I could do without my horse... I'm such a beginner. I'm still taking lessons. But I don't WANT to do without her... I already have her, I don't want to give that up even if we both need some work. That's a choice, something that makes me content. It felt so good driving out to the ranch yesterday to see her (just started boarding her here vs. keeping on the family's property so she is closer, we can get some training together and I can work with her more frequently.) It felt like coming home, even though their property obviously isn't my home. I do know I need to save for retirement, emergencies, etc. But I think mainly it's a decision to devote money to the things I really want to do vs. the things I don't care about as much. It can be surprisingly hard to weed those things out though, the things that eat up my time and money that don't really matter. Running is important to you, so it makes sense that you invest in the equipment which is also an investment in the health of your feet!
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"She could be a witch, and he would never build a pyre upon which to burn her thoughts, desires and dreams."
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post #28 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 11:48 AM
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Speaking of old cars....

The family cars are a '91 Mitsubishi and a '98 GMC Safari. They're not pretty, they're not the cleanest, but they're older than I am and they still work.
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post #29 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
We could rent forever if we wanted to, but I would really like to OWN a home in our area.
I am sure that I am quite older than you, but for me this was essential (perhaps a sign of my time). I was raised that renting for more than a couple of years is just throwing your money away. So, I told my then-fiancť, now-DH, that I was not going to get married to live in a rental property. He took me seriously, and before there was even a ring, there was a down payment on a teeny-tiny condo in the city where we were working at the time (Madrid). [In fact, we never even bought an engagement ring because I preferred something small, simple and sentimental, which was my great-grandmother's ring.]

When we bought the condo, I was 24. By my mid-forties, it was paid off. Rental on that property now pays for the mortgage on the home we built in the country, so we are basically living for free (...knocking on wood as I write this). Something to consider, as it is the only way we can pay for our kids' college educations in the US.
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post #30 of 65 Old 06-14-2019, 01:59 PM
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This may not fall into the category of frugal, but I drive old cars. The cost of a new car is not just the price, it is the whole industry, the setting up, changing things, cost. The fuel mileage is bad on my cars, but insurance and repairs are cheap. And what happens to all these cast off cars. They just end up in a junk heap. Is it better to get a car that gets better mileage, or just repair the car you have? Now obviously living here in So Cal you can keep driving old cars. Some climates that may not be possible.

But going back to the beginning, cars were welcomed in cities because of the amount of manure. Now cars are polluting the planet. Now we are told to buy a car that gets better mileage. What's next? We just keep casting off and buying new cars? How about my plan of keeping my old cars.
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