Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality Minimalism Simplicity

The Art of Thoughtful Spending

An interesting thing happens when you realize that you have achieved your financial goals. You look around and want everything. This commonly happens to lottery winners. It’s the primary reason that they quickly spend themselves broke.

This is why I decided to purge before I allowed myself to spend. The reminder of how easy it is to accumulate too much serves as a counterpoint to the desire.

Even so, it became more and more difficult to resist the urge. My daughter has watched me pass up the things I’ve wanted so many times that she is actively encouraging me to cut loose.

But I do not want to be that person.

I didn’t achieve financial freedom by following the path of others. I didn’t achieve financial freedom by following their advice to spend and spend. I achieved financial freedom by focusing on my mind and my business. I refuse to step backwards.

That said, I could feel the urge rising as the kid persuaded me to window shop and browse online. I would catch myself ready to place something in the cart and realize that it was only a passing whim.

That was why, instead of buying like mad, I invested in a small notebook instead.

Every time I see or think of something I want, I write it down. I don’t worry about how outlandish the desire; anything that pops into my head is dutifully noted. At night before bed I pull it out, review the list, and make a point of adding to it. Then I close my eyes and visualize how my life would change if I added this thing to my possessions.

An amazing thing happens when you allow yourself to mentally spend money. Your mind begins to visualize the clutter. I could see myself wondering where I would stick things. I could even see myself using an item for a time before throwing it away.

I do not want to be that person.

That was when I began making my gratitude list. I started making entries about all of the things I already had that I was immensely grateful for.

On the top of that list was my freedom.

Everything I have added to that giant wish list pales in comparison to my freedom.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the urge to buy things. That said, in most cases we feel the urge to buy not because we truly want something, but because we have been programmed to believe that these things will somehow make our lives even better.

But what can be better than freedom?

The next time you feel the urge to buy-buy-buy, go out and invest in a little notebook instead. Pick one that makes you feel wealthy. Add a nice pen to that, and go home.

Start making a list by asking yourself:

What do I want?

At the very top of your list, write:

I want my FREEDOM.

Every time you feel the urge to spend, pull out your luxurious little notebook and jot it down. Then ask yourself: Will this thing take me closer to my freedom?

The answer will change your life.

As for me I’ve yet to spend much. Aside from honoring my promise to buy the phone, I am still purging. I do treat us to meals out on occasion, since one of the things I wanted to achieve with my freedom was the ability to do just that. I lack the skills or the desire to cook much, so this provides us with some healthy variety. Even better, it allows me to do something to help my local businesses survive the pandemic.

As for the rest, I am still thinking.

How do you deal with the urge to spend? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Happiness Personal Simplicity

How to Know That You Are Loved

I stayed up until sometime after 1am to watch the water. Even with the crest prediction being lowered, I wanted to be cautious. I gave my auntie one last call to let her know that we were okay and headed to bed.

BoomBoomBoomBoomBOOM!

My whole house shook from the banging. I rolled off the bed, landed on the dog, and knocked off my lamp as I staggered to the door.

GET IN THE TRUCK!” Katie’s uncle roared when I finally managed to open it.

“Wha?”

“Damn crazy fool, your house is gonna flood! It’s getting up to 26 feet, now get in the damned truck! Where’s my niece?”

He had apparently stressed his entire shift over the earlier crest predictions and raced to our house the moment his shift was over. It took thirty minutes and a phone call to the police to reassure him that the river was cresting and that we were going to be okay.

It was a hairy thirty minutes. For a time there we thought he was going to forcefully carry us out of the house!

It’s nice to be so loved.

I’ve had friends, neighbors, and relatives calling and visiting since this hit the news. I’ve received messages from near and far. The outpouring of concern and support even in the midst of this pandemic has been amazing.

I find it beautiful, and I am immensely grateful.

Today I am sharing a photograph that was taken as I stood at my front gate this morning. It looks scary but we are one of the lucky ones. Just up the street, cars are partially under water, streets are closed, and houses are surrounded.

So life is good in my tiny Kentucky town. It may still be a bit crazy, but life is still good.

I’m still a bit tired after staying up late, getting awakened, then climbing back out of bed again early this morning to monitor the water, so today will be a day of rest.

Even more importantly, today is a day of gratitude.

No matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for. Those are the blessings that give us the hope that will carry us through.

What are you grateful for today? Please share your stories in the comments below. We will all be thankful together.

Categories
Frugality Recycling Simplicity

The Importance of Ingenuity

As I repaired my mother’s quilt, it became obvious that I would have to re-quilt it. The thread she had used to quilt it initially had disintegrated in places; to skip that step would defeat the entire purpose of repairing it.

I had a problem with completing that task. In order to quickly quilt it, I needed to use the machine but I didn’t have a quilting guide that would allow me to get the stitching somewhat straight. I headed online, determined to purchase one…

…but then I caught myself. Was there a way to make something that would work? I asked myself. My goal is to limit, and eventually eliminate my reliance on corporations. Thrift shops are closed, so the hope of finding a used quilting guide was slim to none, but could I make something instead?

A paperclip and some creative bending later, I crafted a device that allowed me to do what I needed. I crafted a quilting guide using an item I already had.

I came extremely close to buying one, not because I didn’t have the skills to make something that would work, but out of sheer habit. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we need to buy the solutions to our problems. I’ve been conditioned to that as well. I can remember during my childhood how those around me secretly made fun of people who solved problems and created items using the stuff they already possessed. That experience affected me more than I realized, and I suspect that it’s affected you as well.

I remember my grandfather getting secretly teased for using old leather belts to make hinges and clasps for doors and gates. I remember my aunties getting teased for knitting and crocheting scarves and hats for Christmas.

“Too cheap to buy something so they’ve got to pass out that nasty handmade crap,” I remember overhearing one person say.

I remember wondering why store-bought clothing seemed to be made funny until I got older and realized that they’d altered the construction process to accommodate their equipment. I remember the commercials and movies that defined those who made things by hand as being extremely poor or eccentric.

And now I realize just how deep that programming, the programming of generations, runs within us all.

A paperclip. That’s all I needed to devise something that met my needs. In time, I could fashion a piece of wire clothes hanger to make a larger one if I wanted to quilt in wider gaps, and I don’t need to buy anything to make it; I’ve got everything I need to make one right here.

I want you to think about that the next time you stumble upon a problem and immediately think to head online or to a store. I want you to think about how you have been programmed to buy the solutions to your needs.

I want you to think about that, because the marketers are being paid to program us to buy stuff instead of making it ourselves. They want us to buy because that is what makes them rich. That is what allows them to hole up in the Hamptons while they order us to work in contaminated factories despite the risk to ourselves and our family members.

They don’t care if we catch Covid and die. They don’t care if the processes they use harm us or the earth around us.

We have literally became sacrifices upon the altar of their Money God, and only we have the power to stop them.

All we have to do is stop buying their stuff.

I’m not going to say that it’s easy. We have a lifetime of programming to overcome, and even this eccentric old woman is struggling. But if we just stop and think about things, perhaps we can devise solutions that don’t involve giving them our money, and every time we do that we win.

A paperclip became a quilting guide. A plastic milk jug or butter bowl can become flower pots. A bit of string can turn a recycled jug into a hanging planter. An unwanted lid can catch the water from those pots even.

An unraveled sweater in our closet can be used to create socks, hats, mittens, scarves, bed coverings, or a number of other items. A sheet can be turned into a dress, a curtain, a quilt backing, or any number of things. Belts can be used for lightweight hinges or converted into pet collars. Even old computers can be brought back to life and used to surf the Internet.

There are so many things we can do with the items we already have, but they don’t want us to know that. They want us to buy everything we need and toss that old stuff instead.

It’s reached the point where I honestly wonder if the Minimalism movement has been hijacked by the corporations. Think about it: if we reduce our possessions to the bare minimum by discarding or donating our excess, what will we have to do when the items we keep wear out?

We have to buy new, that’s what we have to do.

I am proud of myself for devising a solution to my quilting dilemma. I solved my problem by using something I already had, and I didn’t give the corporations an extra penny, since I already owned the paperclip in question. Now I am looking around my home with fresh eyes as I ask myself what else I own that I can repair or create using the items I already have.

Have you ever considered the value of making things yourself? Have you ever solved a problem by creating something instead of buying a solution? Do you have any tips to share that will make it easier? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decorating Frugality Recycling Simplicity

The 40 Year Old Quilt

I didn’t even know my mother was working on a quilt back then, but one day I arrived home from school to discover it upon my bed.

It was her very first quilt, and she’d made it for me.

I’ve cherished that quilt over the years. Even as it became tattered, I kept it. Eventually the holes from where I’d cut it during my childhood (and my children had repeated my childish mistakes) became unsightly, especially when combined with the decaying threads of her stitching, so I placed it in a box and stored it away.

Mama’s quilt before

People told me to throw the quilt away. One person offered to buy me a new bedspread if I would toss that old quilt, but I refused. It was a piece of my Mama, and my Mama died when I was 22. I don’t have much left that belonged to her, and this particular quilt was priceless to me.

I remember cutting that hole when I was just a child. I was terrified and hid the damage from Mom until the day she died.

“Hey. Mom, look what I found!” Katie held the quilt up in her arms when she stumbled upon it’s hiding place. “It’s getting in sad shape,” she noted as she inspected the damage.

I’m a different person now from the woman who stored it away. Old me would have never even considered it, but as I held that ancient quilt in my hands I decided to repair it. I would openly display the repairs, just to show the world that I loved my mother enough to fight to keep a piece of her in my life.

So that’s what I did.

I selected bright, colorful pieces of fabric from my stash and went to work. I worked on it during the evenings when I was too tired to think of sewing masks. Some nights I hand-stitched the patches in place using Sashiko-inspired stitching, other nights I patched it with the sewing machine.

As I worked, I grew more in awe of the love my mother put into making that quilt, her very first quilt. She must have had trouble assembling it, because some of the machine stitching had been whip-stitched back together by hand. She’d apparently tried to hand-quilt it, gave up, attempted to machine quilt it, and repeated the process until she finally finished.

And on top of all of that she’d embroidered the flowers of the months upon the blocks, placed the flower representing my birth month in the center, and added my name and birth date to it.

Most of that stitching is gone now, but I can still see it in my memories.

I ended up re-quilting it because the thread she’d used to quilt it had disintegrated. I deliberately used black thread to contrast with her white so that I could see where hers ended and mine began.

The back side of one of my patches.

I finished it tonight. As an added touch, I appliqued the G.I. Joe doll pants to the month of January, the month when he was born.

Grandson’s first pair of hand-sewn pants, appliqued in place.
The January block.

I am quite pleased with how it turned out. In time, I will learn a bit of embroidery so that I can add the names and birth dates of my parents, my children, and grandchildren to the relevant blocks. This will allow the quilt to become a family keepsake for when I leave this earth.

We’ve become so conditioned that we don’t think about repairing old things anymore. We use them up, toss them away, forgetting the memories associated with them. “If it’s old, it’s no good,” so many believe.

I disagree. I believe that age makes things worth more than the modern, heartless, disposable alternatives our society has embraced. And when something is created by hand, it comes from the heart, and this alone makes it priceless.

Have you ever considered repairing a piece of your history? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Simplicity Wardrobe

Old Pants, New Tailor

“Grandma, can I spend the night?”

It has been ages since I’ve heard those words from my beloved grandson. Risk or no, I could not have refused to save my soul. I reasoned that since we’d both been at home (and not exposed to potential nastiness), that we should be okay.

He was fascinated as he watched me sewing masks. Question after question was asked while I worked until he finally discovered my bag of sewing scraps.

“Grandma, can I sew on this fabric?” Grandson asked.

Once I gave permission, he announced that he wanted to make pants for his G.I. Joe doll. A few minutes later, he reappeared at my side with the creation in the top photo.

Those pants would barely fit upon his fingers.

I praised his attempt and reassured him that his next attempt would get better. The next morning, I discovered his first attempt at making a pattern:

Grandson’s second attempt

It was time to find the kid a pattern. He was obviously determined. After a quick online search, I found a basic pattern to work from. I printed it out and we went to work.

Grandson cutting out the pattern.

Since I didn’t have the doll available to check the pattern, I sacrificed a pair of my old sweat pants to the cause. I’ve widened a bit over these past few months so they’d gotten a bit tight and they won’t be missed. The stretch in the fabric would compensate if the pattern happened to be a bit small, I reasoned. We cut out the pieces and then started sewing.

Grandson sewing his first pair of pants from a pattern.

While he worked, I told him stories about how men who sew are called tailors, and how tailors used to be much in demand for sewing men’s clothing. I made an effort to discuss male fashion designers as well because I know in this area many consider sewing to be the exclusive realm of women. I wanted to mentally prepare him to know that it’s okay for guys to sew.

He was so proud of his creation!

Grandson’s finished pair of doll pants.

I am so proud of him! He did really well on those pants. I told him to let me know if we needed to alter the pattern, so the very next evening after he left Middle Daughter messaged me. She’d had to buy him a sewing kit and he was happily creating an entire wardrobe for his G.I. Joe. I gather she’s trying to locate a small sewing machine for him because she asked if I would teach both of them how to use it if she found one.

I readily agreed.

Back in the day before corporations trained us to buy their mass-manufactured garbage we used to make the clothes that we wore and the clothes we placed on our children’s toys. We made our own curtains, sheets, quilts, and anything else we wanted. We even knitted our own socks! My grandmother was so skilled at it that she didn’t even need a pattern; she could just look at an item and “know” how to re-create it at home.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as I sew on those masks. We would sew what we needed, wear it out, re-purpose the fabric into quilts and other items, and then make more, so we didn’t have a lot of excess clothing. Even better, we appreciated the clothing we had, but due to the mental programming we’ve received we now look at clothes as disposable. We buy it, wear it once or twice, and then pass it on to someone else, donate it to a thrift shop, or toss it in the trash where it ends up in a landfill.

What if we changed that? What if, instead of giving money to the corporations who have programmed us to buy and buy, we started making things for ourselves to wear instead? It would cost a bit more to buy the fabric but each individual piece would have a part of ourselves in them, and they could be tailored to fit us properly. We could even select fabrics that reduce the harm to our environment by avoiding synthetics. If we wore those pieces out, re-purposing them into quilts or other items, we could reduce the burdens on our landfills even more.

I believe that I am going to do that. As I wear out the clothing I have already, instead of replacing them with commercially sewn options, I believe I may make some instead. When I mentioned that to my daughters, they were delighted. Middle Daughter wants me to teach her how to sew and Katie has already placed a few orders with the shop of Mom. As I become more comfortable with that, I do believe I may be able to take it a step further by re-working hand-me-downs and thrift store finds, which would reduce the environmental impact even further.

Time will tell how far I take it but I like the thought of reducing my reliance upon mass market goods even further. I like the thought of preventing the greedy corporations from receiving financial encouragement to treat workers as disposable objects so this is a thought I am definitely pursuing.

Have you given any thought about reducing your reliance on mass-produced goods? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Frugality Simplicity Wardrobe

A Mother’s Work is Never Done

My Katie managed to score a day off from work yesterday, so we had the rare treat of sipping coffee together as we started the day. The conversation turned to brainstorming, since a relative had called to request some masks for herself and her son; she wants to pay and I don’t feel that it’s proper to accept money from her.

As we worked out a solution that would make everyone satisfied, Katie turned somber. “I know you’ve got a lot of masks to make, but if you get time would you mind patching one of my shirts? I love it but I can’t wear it now because of the holes.”

“Let me see it,” I grumbled good-naturedly.

At some point my daughter had acquired a camouflage button down Army Surplus shirt. While it was well-made, the years had made themselves known in the form of two holes that had appeared in the fabric. Katie wanted to patch the holes but she didn’t want the repairs to be too obvious. Fortunately, she had recently picked up some mask fabric in similar colors, so I offered to use that to make patches. She readily agreed.

I spent the remainder of the morning stitching those patches upon her shirt. She was so delighted that she made plans to wear it today:

Close up of Patch #1
Close up of Patch #2

While the images above make the patches seem noticeable, when she dons the shirt you can’t even see them unless you know where to look. I was quite pleased at the fact that I was able to repair that shirt using bits of fabric that I already had on hand.

Once that task was completed, I settled down at the sewing machine and worked on the masks. After a while I decided to take a break. I felt grubby so a bath was in order. Just as I began to relax in the soothing warm water I received a phone call from Middle Daughter. She had picked up some more fabric and was on her way to my home.

I didn’t even get to soap up. I climbed out of the tub and quickly toweled off, barely managing to pull up my pants before she arrived. She displayed her fabric finds, looked through my fabric stash, gushed over her excitement at being able to have Mommy make her some more masks (“I want to wear a new one every day!”), and asked how soon I could have them done.

“Let me finish my current batch, okay?”

“But Mommy! I want to wear a new mask! I like showing off your masks! No one else has masks as pretty as the ones you make!”

I ended up compromising. I would cut out the material for a single mask and whip it up along with the current batch, but she’d have to wait a day or so on the others. At 2 am this morning I’d just finished up, so, knowing that she was excited, I snapped some quick photos and sent them to her:

One side of Middle Daughter’s Mask
The opposite side of Middle Daughter’s mask

So my butt is tired today. Once I publish this blog post, I’ve got to finish up this current batch, arrange to ship the ones to my elderly relative, and start the batch of masks for Middle Daughter. At some point, however, this old woman is going to attempt to take another bath. I didn’t even get to soap up during yesterday’s attempt.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Frugality Simplicity Wardrobe

The Shoe Patch

A few years ago the kid bought this cute pair of “boat shoes.” I liked the shoes so I watched her enjoy them because I knew that, in time, she would get bored of them and pass them to me.

One night I noticed she had tossed those shoes in the trash can, so I fished them out.

“Why are you throwing away your shoes?” I asked.

“They’ve got a hole in the toe,” she responded. “I wore them out so I knew you wouldn’t want them.”

I examined the shoes carefully. One little hole had formed upon a single shoe, right where the big toe rests. Deciding that they would still work for running around the house, I added them to my collection.

That was a year or so ago. The other day while I was wearing them to mow the yard I noticed that the other shoe was developing a matching hole. Since the original hole was growing larger, I realized that it was time to make a decision. I checked the soles to discover that they were still well-secured and in good shape and then headed for my sewing kit.

Two tiny scraps of denim later and I’d repaired those holes. It was a challenge to sew on the scraps with a straight needle, but I’m happy with how they turned out. Not only did I use what I already had to repair them, I used up stuff that most people would have thrown away to save something else that most people would have thrown away. Even the thread was something that most would discard – it’s so old that the spool is made out of wood!

I’m rather proud of the fact that I repaired those shoes. I saved them from going into a landfill far before their time despite the fact that they were engineered to be used during some trend and then discarded.

To my surprise, I am enjoying the fact that I am able to do things like this. With every stitch, the joy I felt at doing my part to defeat the consumerist programming we have all received was immense.

Think about it. What do we all think when we find a cute pair of shoes that we like? We go out and buy a pair for ourselves. What do we do when those shoes fall apart if we really like them? We toss them in the trash and purchase replacements.

I did neither. I fished those shoes out of the trash. I wore the heck out of them, and then I repaired them so that they will last even longer. I’ll wear the soles off of those things for sheer spite, because fuck the corporations who have programmed us to buy-buy-buy. Fuck the corporations who are now spreading fear over our food supply because they got caught allowing sickness to spread in their factories for the sake of their millions. Do you think they care that the Coronavirus could possibly contaminate our food supply? You can bet your bottom dollar that they don’t.

I spent my entire childhood believing the lie that we’re supposed to buy solutions to our problems. I spent my entire childhood watching my father complain when he had to repair things due to lack of money. To him, it was a shameful thing to wear patches on his clothes because he considered it a sign of poverty.

Well guess what, Sunshine? We’re all going to be struggling for money before this is over. Well, the average person will. I’m not so sure about the millionaires. If we continue to listen to their lies, we’ll continue to buy their stuff and they’ll continue to weather this in the Hamptons. Oh, they’ll complain because they can’t afford to hire their private jets as often but I really don’t consider that to be struggling, especially since so many of us are having to rely on food banks just to eat these days.

Every penny that we can avoid giving the corporations, every penny that we can keep for ourselves will not only help us weather this storm, it will slowly add up until it begins to hit their pocketbooks. All of those bailouts that the US government is giving to the major industries won’t do a bit of good if no one buys their stuff once this is over. It will only delay their inevitable collapse.

I am now looking at this as a challenge. I now look around and ask myself: what can I do to prevent making the rich even richer? What can I do to show people that we’re throwing too much perfectly usable stuff away? What can I do to counter the programming?

And it’s apparently working. My youngest daughter hauled in a pattern and some fabric so that I could make her two pairs of pants yesterday. She’s remembered that, while initially more expensive to make, that the clothes I make at home not only can use the fabrics and patterns that she prefers, that they last a lot longer than almost anything she’s been buying at the store. Her friends are admiring the purse I made her a while back and realizing that they can make their own purses out of the fabrics they choose while building in features that make them more durable than one can find in a store. Even business owners are contemplating the financial impact of paying over $1 each for cheap disposable masks over having a seamstress construct masks that will last for the long-term.

I know. As they’ve seen how well the kid’s masks are holding up, they are starting to come to me for quotes.

I don’t know how this is going to pan out, folks. All I know for certain is that our current state of affairs is not sustainable. We’ve reached a choice between buying their disposable crap or conserving our funds just to eat. I see no point in letting the rich get richer while we go hungry.

I’ll start on the garden when this rain stops. I’ve already planted a few items in salvaged containers that I’ve repurposed to get a head start, and Dolly Freed’s logic of raising rabbits for meat has become oddly appealing. I don’t know if I’ll go that far, at least not here, but I’m going to keep my options open as I monitor the situation.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Frugality Minimalism Recycling Simplicity

The Art of Reframing Your Circumstances

“Here you go, Mom!” Katie dropped a stack of tee shirts on the kitchen table. “Cut these up so we will have them ready. I don’t know when we’ll be able to get more towels or toilet paper at the store so we may have to switch over soon.”

“Okay,” I replied as I picked my jaw up from where it had fallen on the table. The older she had gotten, the more she had grown to prefer using disposable paper products. We had been debating their use intermittently over the years. I wanted to go with cloth to reduce expense and our environmental footprint. Katie wanted the convenience of disposability. To see my modern child actively encouraging me to switch to cloth after arguing against it for so many years speaks volumes for the times we currently live in.

And I have a confession to make. I’ve never in my life experienced a time when we could not buy things like paper towels and bathroom tissue. Aside from my switch to family cloth before my move here, the only time I’d ever had to experiment with alternate sources of paper towels and bathroom tissue was when visiting the homes of friends in the mountains. Back then, quite a few people lacked access to indoor plumbing. While almost everyone had running water, outhouses were common, and within the outhouses of older folk you would see corn cobs, stacks of newspapers, and the occasional catalog (typically a Sears catalog) in lieu of the bathroom tissue that is ubiquitous today.

People thought I was insane when I switched to family cloths and menstrual pads. Even I thought I was going a bit overboard when I did that but I wanted to experiment so I did. Now I’m beginning to wonder if we all might have to switch.

That frightens me. The thought that our world has changed so much that things I’ve grown up with, things I’ve taken for granted may no longer be available scares me in a way I cannot explain.

To prevent myself from going insane (I’ve got people who used to make fun of me pestering me for advice now!), I’ve had to start reframing how I look at our current situation. If we look at this a bit differently, look at this from another angle instead of thinking about the fact that we are doing these things out of necessity, I believe it will remove at least some of the feelings of deprivation and make this entire situation a creative challenge.

But how do you reframe the fact that the shelves are growing rather empty at the stores? How do you reframe the fact that things you took for granted are disappearing?

I thought long and hard about that during our last shopping trip the other day. I stocked up even more than I’d planned, spending $200 on canned goods and other shelf-stable items as I felt the fear mount at the sight of the empty shelves. The kid must have been feeling the same emotion because our cart was overflowing by the time we dragged it home. Our freezer is stuffed and the canned goods have overflowed my pantry. I’ve placed the overflow on my living room shelf to compensate for lack of storage. I’ve not attempted to garden in the back yard, so based upon my failures in the front yard I am concerned. Will I be able to grow enough back there to supplement? What will we do if I can’t?

Reframe, Annie. Reframe this. This is just another challenge. You can handle a challenge. You are one of the foremost frugal living experts in the United States. This is your time to shine. You can do this. You can not only figure out a way through this, you are going to do whatever it takes to show others how to get through this time as well. So stop whining, reframe this situation into the puzzle that it is, and get back to work.

If I was concerned at our dependence upon Big Business before, I definitely am now. Based upon how this plays out (Trump’s “absolute power” and “LIBERATE” tweets are NOT HELPING!), our current situation may become the new norm. So how do we get through this?

It dawned on me that the more we can reduce our reliance upon the major corporations – the more we can reduce our reliance upon mass manufacturing, period, the better off we will be. But how do we do that?

Our primary needs at the moment are food and shelter. Most of us have enough clothes to get by for a while (you haven’t thinned out your wardrobes, have you? Please tell me you’ve not thinned down your wardrobes), so as long as we can pay the rent (or mortgage) and keep food on the table, we’re in good shape. So what about the rest of the stuff that we take for granted – like bathroom tissue and paper towels?

I don’t believe my grandparents ever bought paper towels. As far back as I can recall, they would use recycled cloth for towels that they would wash and re-use until those towels fell apart. My grandmother would sew repurposed fabric into potholders and thicker towels to handle larger messes. I just grabbed a handful of repurposed fabric to use before the kid persuaded me to switch back to paper.

When you think about it, using repurposed clothing as hand towels, cleaning rags, and family clothes is actually better on the environment. The damage is already done with those; they were made, they were sold, and they were used for their intended purpose until they reached the point where they either wore out or went out of style. If we cut those items up, converting them into rags or family cloths, we can not only reduce the burden on our landfills, we can reduce our dependence upon the corporations. If we reduce our dependence upon the corporations, it won’t affect us if they go under near as much as it would otherwise.

Even better, by reusing the things that we already own instead of buying disposable stuff, we can significantly reduce the amount of money we need to live on. I don’t know about you, but cutting costs is high on my priority list at the moment. “Da Corona” (as people jokingly refer to it here) caught me a bit flat-footed financially. I’d planned to go back to work come spring and had budgeted accordingly since I quit my job last October. Because of that I don’t qualify for unemployment like so many others are fortunate enough to do. While I do make a few dollars each month from my book sales, it’s not enough to make me feel secure. Since this old bat is in the age range where this stuff becomes seriously deadly, I’m pinching my pennies as tightly as I can in order to wait this out. I like living too much to risk it.

“Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.”

Unknown

That is the mantra I am chanting as I go through my days. That was the mantra I chanted when I realized that I am spending more of my writing time plopped upon my bed instead of at the kitchen table. I needed something to place my laptop on to allow it to breathe since overheating can kill a laptop. My first instinct was to order something online, which I immediately rejected. The less money I can spend, the better.

As I pondered the issue, I noticed the boxes that our latest pet supply order had arrived in. The cardboard was rather sturdy; all I needed was something flat and firm to rest my laptop on. I grabbed a roll of tape from my bin and got to work.

A bit of cutting and a few strips of tape later and I had my solution: a “board” made out of layered cardboard that was large enough to work as a lap table. It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever created but it works.

Laptop on stand.

I could dress it up with some paint or fabric but I decided against that for now. I want it to look rough; that way people will know as soon as they see it that I did not purchase a solution to my problem.

I want the world to know that I made it myself in order to encourage others to get creative as well. The less we buy and the more we make, the better off we will be. The more we repair and the less we replace, the more money we will have in our pockets moving forward. I am embracing that whole-heartedly.

For instance, not only is the laptop stand handmade from recycled cardboard, the laptop is a handmedown. It was gifted to Katie several years ago (thank you again!) and she eventually passed it on to me when she upgraded. This laptop is close to seven years old, which means that it is a dinosaur in our consumerist society. I installed an SSD in it that I found on clearance, added a lightweight version of Linux (Linux Lite, for the curious), topped it off with a keyboard protector to extend the life of the keyboard (that came with a matching cover for the trackpad), and placed it into service. With a bit of love, this machine will last for years, especially since the operating system I selected uses a fraction of the resources that Microsoft Windows does.

Big Business will not like my solution. They want me to buy their stuff rather than make something using stuff I already have but you know what?

We don’t need to buy their solutions. Purchasing their solutions may allow their employees to make a few pennies, but it also allows the CEOs and investors to quarantine in their mansions. I may not be able to do much about income inequality, but I can fight back with my personal choices.

This old woman is choosing to use what she has instead of buying new. I hope that you will do the same where you can.

It takes but a bit of effort to cut old clothes into rags and use them instead of paper towels and bathroom tissue. It takes but a bit of creativity to repurpose cardboard into a lap desk. Bits of cloth scraps can be pieced together to create larger pieces of fabric even. I’m currently using tiny squares of cloth scraps from my mask making to create a quilt even:

Tiny scraps of fabric that ended up being 1-inch finished quilt squares.

You don’t need as much as you think you need, my friends. You don’t always need to buy a solution when you encounter a problem. If you learn anything from me moving forward, I hope you learn that.

As for me, I need to conclude this post and get back to work. I want to make sure that the kid has enough masks to get through the week without getting bored. I also want to craft a few extra for another friend, who generously gave one of the masks I made away to an elderly lady that had crafted a mask from a paper towel. She is my hero, so I want to make sure she not only receives a replacement mask to stay safe, but that she has a couple of extras to give away if she discovers anyone else in need.

I may not have much but I intend to help my fellow man where I can. As for the corporations who believe money is more important than human lives, fuck them. I will avoid giving them my money out of spite. I don’t care how much money the government gives them, they will still collapse if we stop buying their stuff in protest. Even better, we will weather the economic fallout of this pandemic far better than those who continue to support them.

I think I’m going to enjoy the challenge of growing a garden this year. I believe that I will enjoy removing my financial support from a food supply system that doesn’t care whether their workers live or die. With every spade of dirt that I shift, I am going to remind myself of that. I will remind myself of the lives being lost to feed the machine.

I hope that you will join me.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Economy Finances Food Frugality Minimalism

Supply Chain Concerns

Okay, folks. At last count these are the situations we are dealing with in addition to the COVID-19 outbreak:

On top of that, there also happens to be a Swine Flu outbreak that I’m watching that will affect our food chain as well as the fact that the United States Postal Service is having its own financial issues.

Are you beginning to understand why I am urging you to grow at least some of your own food now? Because I didn’t link to all of the news reports I have found on this stuff; there’s actually more out there than I listed.

If you look back in history (which I did when I researched the Stock Market these past couple years, you will notice an astounding similarity to the Great Depression. While the exact details are different, the similarities I am noting are highly concerning.

When it comes down to it, however, our primary needs are food and shelter. As long as we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our bellies, we will be okay. That’s why I’m not going into too much detail about other areas at the moment. If you resist the urge to toss your excess at the moment, a bit of creativity will get you through this.

Everett Bogue’s concerns about a potential housing crisis continue to bother me. There are calls for rent strikes in major cities where the cost of living is extremely high. I had trouble sleeping last night due to those concerns. While they shouldn’t affect me (I live on less than many do), there is still a chance that it might affect others. If Coronavirus continues to run rampant to the point where state and local governments are motivated to keep us in place we should be safe for the most part, but I am beginning to find the stories our governor are sharing in my state to be concerning. Landlords are apparently attempting to bully people into paying up or moving out; while our governor here is making an effort to shut that down, I worry about what will happen in the states where the governors don’t care who lives or dies. We still have a few governors who have refused to take the steps needed to flatten the pandemic curve; those states might very well allow people to be evicted if they cannot afford to pay their rent.

I am torn about this situation. I’ve always been a firm believer in keeping essential recurring expenses as low as they can go; I’ve learned through hard experience that it is easier to come up with $200 than it is to come up with $2,000. Unfortunately, I know that not all of you have followed suit. You’ve either rented or financed a place that is more than you can realistically afford now that you’re unemployed or you live in a city that has sky-high rents.

You need to have a place where you can stay home and stay safe for the duration of this pandemic. With state parks being shut down, I’m worried about how the van-dwellers and full-time RVers are faring. I’ve not even had time to look, so if you have any news please share it with me. I do need the information in order to best advise you.

That said, I am going to go out on a limb based upon my current information. If, and this is a big if COVID-19 eases up with warm weather, there is a chance that governments will reduce restrictions on movement and allow evictions and foreclosures to resume. Depending upon which way Trump jumps with his plan to re-open the economy next month, some of you who are struggling to pay your rent may have a problem.

Even if Trump backs down on the May thing, we might have a problem depending on what COVID-19 does in warmer weather.

Once the scientists develop and deploy a vaccine we will have the economic fallout to deal with. At least one person is calling for the US Government to allow Capitalism to work the way it was designed this time around but based upon what I have seen in the past with the bailouts of the auto and finance industry combined with Washington’s determination to continue that pattern, I am skeptical that Capitalism will be allowed to follow its natural course this time either.

If they don’t allow Capitalism to work naturally, the US government will continue to throw fortunes at these businesses to prop them up, not realizing that 1) the money will not “trickle down” to those of us at the bottom of the financial food chain and 2) helping those businesses stay afloat won’t do a bit of good if the general populace cannot afford to buy their stuff. The failure of a number of businesses is inevitable because of that, regardless of governmental intentions.

If the pandemic eases a bit with summer to the point where restrictions are eased, you may want to consider locating a cheaper place to stay in order to best weather the financial fallout, especially if you are currently struggling to pay your rent right now. I don’t care where it’s located or what it looks like, this is something you might want to consider but only if the pandemic eases with warmer weather.

It will do you no good to escape a sky-high rent bill if you catch Coronavirus and die in the midst of a move. If your choice is between avoiding Coronavirus and paying your rent, I hope you will prefer to avoid catching Coronavirus. It seems to be killing people in all age ranges.

Should you choose to remain where you are (which I honestly believe is best if you can afford to do so), you do need to minimize your recurring expenses regardless. The experts are already beginning to call this a Recession. While the stock market is up a bit due to the bargain hunters scooping up shares, that will change as companies release their quarterly earnings reports and revise their projected earnings downward. It will continue as smart businesses cut or eliminate dividends in order to weather the economic fallout.

Economists won’t make the call until it’s already under way, but once they utter the term “Economic Depression” I suspect that the stock market will really begin to slide. They are already growing concerned at the signs.

I believe that the chances are high that we will face an economic depression. I’m not saying this to frighten you but I am urging you to prepare for that possible eventuality. Cut your expenses. Grow a bit of food. There is only one way through this and all I have to guide you are the stories from my parents and grandparents because the Great Depression happened before I was born.

While I doubt you will be forced to go barefoot and shove your single set of clothes into the cracks of your walls in hopes of keeping the snow from covering your quilt each morning (yes, my father had to do that), I do believe that we will learn hard and fast what is truly important in the grand scheme of things.

Just remember: food and shelter are your primary needs. Unless you’ve decided to toss all of your clothing here recently, you should have enough excess in your wardrobe to get you by. Since more and more US-based clothing factories are switching over to the manufacture of PPE, you might want to keep the clothes you currently have, despite any temptation you have to thin your wardrobe down. Clothes do not last forever, and modern mass-produced clothing does not tend to last near as long as most believe it will.

I learned that the hard way when I moved here with a week’s worth of clothing. The items I selected wore out so fast it made my head spin, leaving me in a lurch because I spent so much replacing the appliances I foolishly left behind that I struggled to replace my ratty clothes.

It is not fun to walk around with holes in the crotch of your only pair of pants, so keep your clothing, folks. Depending upon how bad things get, that extra may come in handy. If anything, you may end up needing to recycle that stuff for rags if you cannot afford bathroom tissue and paper towels – or even diaposeable diapers. Middle Daughter is already struggling to keep her youngest in diapers due to this crap.

I’m running on about four hours of sleep, so I am going to conclude this post before I repeat myself further. I’ve been doing this for days as I hustle to not only make masks for those I love but because I want to get the sewing caught up before I start the garden, whose time is fast approaching. The sooner I can get this done, the sooner I can take a couple of days off to catch up on my sleep.

I am seriously looking forward to some sleep. I am exhausted.

Stay safe. Think about what I’ve written here. I beg you to begin making preparations now while there’s still a bit of time. As for me, I’ve got to get back to work. These masks won’t sew themselves and I’ve a purse to make for a lady as soon as they’re finished.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Food Frugality Minimalism Simplicity

Blast From the Past

“Is it done yet?” Middle Daughter bounced in her toddler chair as she watched me sewing her latest dress.

“Not yet, honey,” I repeated patiently. “It takes time to make a dress.”

“Okay.”

“Is it done yet NOW?” she asked a few minutes later.

“If you don’t quit asking, I’m gonna quit!” I’d eventually warn her in frustration.

The death of my mother in 1992 left me with her sewing machine and several boxes of patterns and supplies. At first I stored them away in my “retreat” – a tiny extra bedroom that I would hide in when my husband’s movie and video game habit got on my nerves.

Every time I saw that machine I felt guilty. It was a piece of my mother. She loved to sew quilts as she aged. As a child, she had even sewn me a few outfits. My family had little money and I had no skills. That machine could fix that…if I only knew how to work it. I could do what my mother did and craft the things my children needed.

My first project was an unmitigated disaster. I knew nothing about needle size, thread tension, or any of the other myriad settings and procedures needed to turn fabric into something worthy of use. I burned that first dress in the backyard in shame.

But then I became angry. I was angry because my mother had refused to teach me how to sew and angry at myself because I didn’t learn the skill by osmosis. I began lurking in the fabric sections of stores as I worked through my rage.

That was when I stumbled upon my first sewing book.

With every book I managed to acquire my sewing skills improved. My kids loved the outfits I made them. They even started putting in requests when they saw patterns that they liked. My middle daughter was especially persistent. She would sit beside me as I worked, playing with her toys as she encouraged me to “hurry up.”

Friends began to give me money to make clothes for them as well. When I started making quilts, the demand grew even higher. I didn’t make a fortune but the money I earned allowed me to buy supplies that I used to make things for my family.

But times changed. It became cheaper to buy things off the rack or at thrift stores than it was to purchase material. Wearing particular brands became popular. People didn’t want to buy something designed to last, they began to look at items like clothing, quilts, and curtains as disposable. Use it a season, toss it, then redecorate with new became the trend.

As my children lost interest in my homemade clothing I began to sew less and less. The demand for homemade quilts faded when mass-manufactured imports emerged on the market for far less than I could acquire the material to construct them. The quality was inferior (in my opinion) but those who were fond of the items didn’t care. They didn’t want to keep the quilts forever – just a season or two until they changed their color scheme.

By the time I began to explore minimalism I rarely sewed. Aside from the occasional quilt, my tools sat unused. Clothing was so plentiful that I rarely needed to buy any; people were happy to give me their discards since they bought so much more than they could use and store. Clothes shopping had become a hobby, and quickly fading trends made them disposable.

I didn’t see that ever changing so in time I gave away my sewing equipment and supplies. Save for a sewing box my daughters had gifted me with on Mother’s Day one year, everything was eliminated.

But then Coronavirus happened. Medical workers needed masks. Cashiers needed masks. Everyone seemed to need something that they could not obtain in a store, so people started asking me to start sewing again.

As I began to hand-stitch my daughter’s first mask, she emerged from her bedroom with a surprise: her dad had gifted her with a sewing machine he had found in a yard sale several years previous when she’d mentioned to him that she would like to learn but she’d never gotten around to even opening the case. Would the machine make sewing the masks even faster? she asked.

Oh yes!

After a bit of tinkering I fired up that machine and set to work. The kids got masks, some friends got masks, and the requests increased. I started using the rotary paper cutter my kid had to make the process a bit faster.

My kid noticed. For my birthday she replaced my cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter. Both daughters (middle and younger) had remembered the tools I’d owned in the past so both began to hustle to replace the things I’d eliminated.

Cutting mat and ruler.

That was when Katie found a pattern for a handbag that she liked.

“If I get the stuff, will you make this for me? I’m tired of my purses falling apart,” she explained.

“Of course!” I replied.

She was so excited that I set the current batch of masks aside to get started. She even helped me pin the pattern to the fabric.

Help from Katie.

When my daughters realized that I was going through quite a few spools of thread, they remembered how I would buy cones in days past. Middle daughter located the largest spool of black thread she could find in one store; Katie actually managed to locate some cones.

Coned thread feeds from the top as opposed to the side. To use cones with a standard machine, one typically spends $10-$15 on the special stand. As I did years ago, I refused to spend the money; I took a wire clothes hanger, some cardboard, and a bit of tape to construct one myself. I had to explain to Katie that she’d gotten the right thread; I just refused to buy the gadget that consumerism demands.

She laughed after she saw my solution.

DIY thread cone stand.

I finished the purse in a day, reinforcing it because the pattern was not designed for the abuse I knew my daughter would give it. She keeps everything in her purse; at times she’s used it for a overnight bag when she’s taken trips to visit her fiancee (now husband). I’ve even seen her stuff her laptop in her previous bags so I took extra care to ensure that if it failed, it would not be because of my stitching.

Before I could take a photo of the finished purse she tossed her gear in it and went to work. I do have a photo of the pattern however:

The pattern for Katie’s purse.

EDIT: Katie came home from work as I was finishing this post so I managed to snap a couple of photos of the completed project.

Katie’s new purse.
Another photo of Katie’s new purse.

While I intend to take most of today off from sewing, I’ll have to work up some more masks starting this evening. Here are some photos of the ones I’ve made so far.

Grandson wearing his mask.
Middle Daughter and her mask
Granddaughter’s masks.
Right after completion of one of Granddaughter’s masks. Middle daughter was impatient to see so I snapped her a quick photo.
One of my latest mask creations.
Backside of mask. I make them reversible.

It took several days of research to come up with the final design. I knew from previous experience that elastic (especially the thin elastic most use) won’t hold up with repeated washing and use, so I crafted straps that would hold up for an extended amount of time. This allows people to fit them to their face properly and position the straps based upon their needs.

When I consulted with nurses, they informed me that the standard CDC and NIH guidelines weren’t sufficient so I also followed their advice and used a heavy non-woven interfacing instead of the fabric liner those agencies recommended. When I make something, I want it to be as effective as possible, last as long as possible, and look nice as well.

Based upon the feedback I’ve received I suspect I will be crafting these things for quite a while. I also suspect that both of my daughters will keep me busy sewing other items as well. Middle daughter plans for me to make matching Princess dresses for her daughters as soon as her youngest gets a bit older, and Katie is already shopping for pattern lots featuring clothing that she likes.

Based upon the messages Katie has sent me just today about how her friends have been drooling over the purse I made her, I suspect I will stay rather busy.

Even more importantly, I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. Just because an old skill goes out of fashion, one should never eliminate the equipment and supplies one uses to make or repair things. You never know when times will change and those skills will be necessary once more.

For the record, however, I am still dreading that garden. If I didn’t believe so firmly that the food would be needed, I would say “forget it.” I am so very thankful that I know how to make one, however. I suspect we will need one for this year at the least. Depending upon how this mess sorts itself out, I might have to raise one next year as well. Thanks to the old skills I have been teased for over my lifetime, our family is in a lot better shape than many out there.

I am immensely thankful for that blessing.

What are you thankful for today? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Food Frugality Minimalism

The Perception of Minimalism and Thoughts About the Economy

Everett Bogue sent me an email the other day. We email each other on occasion and he’d stumbled upon an article he thought I would find interesting.

I had to read the article twice. Then I had to ponder the article for a couple of days because I could not believe what I was reading.

Why? Because based upon that article, despite the fact that I was one of the top Minimalist writers of the Great Recession, I’m apparently neither the proper gender nor a member of the appropriate socio-economic class to be considered a minimalist. Colin Wright made it though; I was surprised he even got a mention.

One of the aspects of the high-handed article that I found so hilarious that Everett himself, the central voice in the Minimalism movement and the very person who encouraged me to apply minimalism as I struggled after having my telecommuting job moved to another nation, wasn’t even mentioned in the article. He was the person who privately explained to me that I could achieve my dream of being a stay-at-home single mother. Despite the fact that it was Everett’s personal experience and voice who jump-started the Minimalist Movement of the Great Recession, he was written out of the history of the Minimalist Movement.

Even more hilarious, the very impetus of the Minimalist Movement, the Great Recession itself, wasn’t even discussed despite the fact that many of us were driven to live on less because we had to. A lot of us lost our jobs during that time, including myself. The author decided to delve into the art scene instead, which has absolutely nothing to do with our lifestyle.

Leo Babauta wasn’t even mentioned. None of us old guard were named in the article except for Colin, and they didn’t even deign to link to his website, which is infuriating. Instead, they discussed the pseudo-minimalists who jumped on the bandwagon well after it left the gate, the wealthy folk who decided that Minimalism was cool and had the money to do what those of us who started this movement never could and definitely never would:

Throw money away on super-expensive, impossible to maintain furniture, appliances, and gadgets that the true Minimalists would have never deigned to bother with.

Minimalism is the art of eliminating the unwanted/unnecessary in order to have more time/money/energy to focus on the wanted and the necessary. A true Minimalist would know that it is stupid to spend $1,000 on a high-end special hotplate when you could walk down to your local thrift shop or box store and pick up a hotplate that serves the exact same purpose for $20 – or free in my case. My hotplate was given to me by a neighbor.

Minimalism isn’t about spending $1,000 on a high-end washer/dryer combo. A true minimalist would reduce their laundry and either wash their clothes in the sink (as I have in the past), go to a laundromat, or invest in a portable washer, hanging their laundry up to dry in order to minimize their impact upon the environment.

But since the elites hijacked the Minimalism movement in order to hawk their wares (you know who I’m aiming that dig at) and give fancy speeches to those who have so much money they can’t figure out where to spend it, the rest of us who started this movement, the ones of us who became minimalists due to our frustration at the economic climate at that time have apparently been written out of the history.

So I have one thing to say to the authors of that article: kiss my ancient female ass. I was a minimalist before you were probably out of short pants and I don’t give two shits whether or not I fit your paradigm.

I personally embraced minimalism because what I had been taught about life wasn’t working. The only way I could afford to feed my kids was to learn how to live on less money. The only way to live on less money was to reduce the amount I purchased. And as I reduced the amount I purchased, I realized that there were advantages to living on less that I’d not conceived. Not only was I able to become a stay-at-home single mother (which I’ve been told is still physically impossible), but I freed up the time that allowed me to write a number of books designed to teach others how to do the same if they wanted.

That said, I never imagined I would experience the time when minimalism, particularly my version of financial minimalism, would be desperately needed. I’ve already written a number of books on the subject; if you want to survive what’s coming I suggest you find one and start reading. I’m not about to repeat myself in a new book when my old books say the exact same thing and provide the advice you need to get through this.

Which brings me to the other subject I would like to discuss.

One of the things Everett pointed out in his email and bogcast shortly after was that, during the Great Recession, a housing crisis caused quite a few people to become homeless.

While I do believe that the housing sector is about to undergo a massive change, there is something different happening now. The Federal Government has suspended evictions and foreclosures. States are slowly following suit. They don’t want us to be homeless now. In fact, they are busting their butts in several states (including mine) to provide housing to the homeless, which is something I never imagined I would see in my lifetime. The governor in my state actually called out some landlords who were trying to quietly evict people just the other day, calling that a major no-no.

I suspect that the Federal Government is so determined to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that they might end up subsidizing or even purchasing the properties of tenants and mortgage holders in danger of being evicted. It’s either that or have the landlord class rise up in protest. Since Trump is rather fond of the landlord class (he happens to be one of them), I suspect he’ll act to serve his own personal interests and apply the method he devises to save his own butt across the board in some way.

So for now, while this stuff is running rampant, I don’t think any of us need to worry too much about being homeless. While a housing crisis is pretty much inevitable since so many of us can’t afford to pay rent, I see too many signs that indicate that the Federal and State governments won’t allow that to happen. The landlord class is at the top of the house of cards that describes our current economy; the Federal Government seems determined to throw whatever they can at those top layers, to the point that they are all but ignoring the cracks that are appearing at at the foundation. Because of that, they will do what they can to keep the landlord class somewhat content so we can remain in our homes. While I don’t know how they will do that exactly, for now I believe we’re safe.

So keep your stuff. Stay home. Plant a garden if you have a yard or scavenge some buckets to start a container garden. I heard of one lady who bought a bunch of $1 trash cans to start her garden in since she didn’t own any buckets, so that might be an idea you can use. While only time will tell how things will pan out in the housing arena, for now I believe we’re safe from being evicted.

I will keep an eye on the news and warn you if I see any indications of trouble. If you happen to stumble upon something in your area, let me know. This is definitely something I want to stay on top of.

While you’re at it, ignore the advice of frugalists who think living on thousands of dollars a month is living cheap. They have no fucking clue what we’re about to deal with. If you don’t like the advice I give, find someone else who practices what they preach. Find someone who lives on very little money like I do and follow their advice. Just as with the Minimalist Movement, the frugal living movement is filled with charlatans who have no idea how to truly live on less.

You’re not going to coast through this by living the status quo, folks. Prices are already starting to rise nationwide. They will continue to rise. Most of the stuff we take for granted (including quite a bit of our food) originates from nations that are being hit hard with this virus, and it will take a while for the production in our nation to compensate. That’s the real reason it’s hard to locate bathroom tissue and diapers in the stores. Worldwide production is down. While factories in this nation are working hard to compensate, they actually do try to pay somewhat of a living wage so prices will go higher.

But if the strikes over PPE, sanitation concerns, and hazard pay continue, we will have a rocky road ahead of us as they sort things out.

Minimalism, folks. You need it. While you don’t need the “toss all of your stuff” brand of minimalism that many propose right now, you do need to embrace the financial minimalism that my grandparents, my parents, and myself embraced as a way of life.

Water jugs and butter bowls can become bowls and planters to grow food. Plants can be grown to provide food instead of decorative greenery. Vegetables make pretty flowers too so don’t worry – they’re still pretty, just in a different way. If you can’t afford potting soil, make or grab a spade and a bag and dig some out of the yard. Find and “borrow” some if you have to. Do whatever you have to do to use what you have and locate what you don’t to start growing a bit of food. Some farmers are having to let their food rot in the field because they have contracts that won’t allow them to sell to the average person, so the cost of food will go up until that gets sorted.

If you happen to know a farmer, make that person your friend on Facebook. You can’t exactly meander out to their farm with the current restrictions, but if you can figure out a way to befriend them, they may allow you to quietly liberate some of the food they’ve got rotting in the field. If they have a heart (and dislike wasting food) they may be willing to turn a blind eye if some of that produce disappears into your belly.

Ask your friends if they happen to know a farmer who raises eggs and meat. I know some in urban areas who raise chickens and ducks. There is very little difference between chicken, duck, and goose eggs so don’t be picky. And if your kid happens to have a BB or pellet gun, clean it well and start target practicing. While I really hope it doesn’t get as bad as that, you can kill small game with a BB or pellet gun, and you don’t need a gun permit to own one in most areas.

If you really want to learn more about growing and quietly raising food, read Dolly Freed. I’m reviewing her book myself.

As for that surplus of clothes in your closet, you might want to keep them even if they don’t fit. Dolly Parton’s “coat of many colors” is a real thing. You can repurpose old clothes into rags (which will come in handy if you can’t afford paper towels, napkins, diapers, or bathroom tissue in the future). You can sew patches on your pants with the fabric, or even extend the legs on children’s clothing. You can piece them together to make quilts and other needed items. Hell, you can burn them in a stove in the winter if you get cold along with that stack of books you never got around to reading. It might not be the most eco-friendly thing to do but at least it will keep you warm.

I would rather have you over-prepared than under-prepared for this situation. Since we do not know what is going to happen, it is best to prepare for even the situations we cannot conceive of. I find it personally hard to even imagine that there will come a time when I cannot acquire food. I’ve not helped slaughter an animal since I was a kid but you know what?

That won’t stop me if my grandbabies get hungry. I hope it won’t stop you either.

So let the fools who think this is going to blow over in a few weeks do their thing. The so-called minimalists who are using their time off work to toss their stuff will learn the truth soon enough when their 401(k)s start plummeting to nothing. Everyone who has placed their faith in the stock market will learn a harsh lesson about life before this is over.

DISCLOSURE: I sold out of almost all of my stocks as I saw this coming. While one medical company I’d invested in went belly-up before I could catch it, the only companies I’ve still got an investment in are an entertainment company (since the demand for entertainment will increase for the duration) and a finance company that is essentially a “check into cash” place for the corporations. They make sure that they get their money first in the event that any company they provide financing to goes belly up, so they rode out the Great Recession pretty well. I kinda like the thought of someone charging corporations usurious interest rates the way so many of us are charged because we are poor, so even if I lose every penny I will receive immense satisfaction at the thought that those fat-cat CEOs are getting a bit of comeuppance.

I’m using the money from the companies I sold out of to help get through this. This girl is putting survival first.

I believe we will all learn some hard lessons about life before this is over, truth be told. We may have to learn and do things we never imagined to get through this.

But you know what? We’re going to be stronger in the end. So don’t be scared; just do what you can to prepare. While it could get rough, we are smart. We are creative. We will do whatever it takes to get through this mess. Just don’t waste your time casting blame, because at this point the reasons do not matter. What matters is that we survive this.

And we will survive this. I will share everything I possibly think of to help you through this. I’ve went through times when I had to feed a family of five on $25 a month. I’ve went through times when I lived on the scraps my kids left on their dinner plates. I’ve slept in stairwells. I’ve snuck into garages and huddled under mountains of scratchy curtains to sleep during the winter. I’ve even lived in my van in the past, so if anyone has the skills to figure out how to get through this mess it’s me.

Because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. And I will share every tip I possibly can to help you through it too.

But if you’re going to make it through this, you need to start preparing now. It is best to over-prepare than under-prepare. Hoard your cash. Cut your expenses to the bone. I’m even going through my expenses and doing the same as I wait for the danger of frost to pass so I can start digging.

For the record, I’m seriously dreading the digging. I’ve not had a garden in ages and all I’ve got is a spade to work with. If I’m lucky, Middle Daughter will find that hoe she thought she saw in her shed the other day. We’re combining our forces to grow a garden.

It will be a cold day in hell before I risk my babies going hungry.

And thank you for your email, Everett. I appreciate you more than you will ever know.

All you old-guard Minimalists who are still out there, who understand what minimalism is truly about, you need to get off your duffs and start writing again. Seriously, these fools that are popular now are not helping matters. I don’t care how you do it, you have a duty to help people learn how to live on less so they can survive this. Send me links and I’ll get the word out that you’re back.

We are all going to have to band together for what’s coming.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Minimalism

This is Not the Time to Practice Minimalism

We are currently experiencing an entirely new situation. Millions of people are now out of work, told to stay home in order to control the spread of Covid-19 because that is the one thing we can do to minimize the spread and loss of life. Businesses are closing their doors and they may not be able to re-open once this is over. Some businesses that we rely on each and every day were so leveraged before this happened that they may very well fail before the “all clear” is given.

We do not know how long this will last. We will never even know how many people actually died from this here in the United States because there aren’t enough tests. My friends are dropping like flies, healthy friends. I’ve had several that were found dead already, or became sick and died. I look at the local obituaries with dread now, shocked that this is happening so fast that someone I can talk to one week will be listed in the obituaries the next. I’ve never seen so many people die in our area – and none of my friends who died were tested for coronavirus. There simply are not enough tests for that to happen.

Now, think about this.

Most of the things we buy are made in China. China is trying to restart their economy, but due to the fact that there is no vaccine for this, they could get hit again and have to shut back down. We don’t know what will happen over there, we don’t know what will happen to the other nations who manufacture the other things we need.

One thing we do know is that our nation is, for the most part, a service economy. Compared to the past, we do not manufacture near as much as we buy in this nation. I watch my governor go on television every day, begging for someone to open a PPE manufacturing plant in this state, because every time we try to buy the supplies we need, our state government gets a notice that the items we were expecting to receive have been seized by the Federal Government. From what I can tell, that’s now happening internationally. If the US can catch it in transit or whatever (and I gather the manufacturer’s headquarters are based in the US), they’re taking it.

There will be repercussions from that in the future.

We do not know what we do not know. We don’t know what will happen at the end of this story. This is why I am begging you to be cautious.

Think about it. Say you’re off because of this current situation and you think it is a great time to thin out your stuff. You’re bored, so you decide to go full-on Minimalist. You don’t see any harm in it because you believe that things will blow over soon. You can always replace the items you discard should you need them.

But what happens if you can’t? What happens if you decide to thin down your wardrobe to a week’s worth of clothes, and the clothes you decide to keep wear out before this is over? Where will you go to replace your clothes? Will you even have the money available to replace those clothes? What happens if you decide to toss that extra refrigerator in your basement and your current one dies? You can’t just hop out to Rent-A-Center and get a new one right now. You may not be able to find a store open to buy one (if you do happen to have the money). You might be able to order one, but with the chaos in our shipping systems, it could take a month or longer for a replacement to arrive. What will you do in the meantime?

I am speaking from personal experience. When I moved here, I decided to eliminate as much of my possessions as I possibly could to minimize my moving expense and to explore just how little I needed to live. I know what it is like to need a way to cook and store food and not have the money to acquire it. I know what it’s like to have the clothes you decide to keep wear out before you are able to replace them. While my situation was a bit different (my issue was money), it translates over to the current situation because not only do we NOT know if we’ll have enough money to afford to replace the items we keep that fail, we may not be able to locate replacements to purchase.

I am begging you. If it is something useful or functional, please keep it for the duration of this time. Box up your extra clothes that still fit. Save your scraps. Definitely keep your sewing supplies and other “craft” supplies for the duration. Depending upon how this plays out, you may need them.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope this blows over and we are able to go back to “business as usual.” But there is enough uncertainty surrounding this situation that we may not be able to do that for a time.

You need to prepare for that.

Excellent leaders prepare in advance for all potential scenarios. I would be remiss in my duties if I did not urge you to do the same. While I do believe that, on the whole, we own and buy much more than we need, there is a chance that you may need that excess before this is over with.

Stop throwing your stuff away! If it is functional, I am begging you to keep it. Stash your excess for now. You can always toss it when it is over.

Categories
Inspiration Minimalism Writing

Minimalism and Creativity

In the book Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon writes:

” It takes a lot of energy to be creative. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.”

“Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon, page 119, para. 1

While I have written about that in the past, about eliminating the unimportant to liberate your time to focus on the important, I have never went into the details about how minimalism truly applies to creativity.

I must confess that the reason I’ve not covered this in depth was because I didn’t understand it myself.

I’ve always used minimalism as a tool to liberate my time and money to focus on things like success and family. Whenever I liberated a chunk of time, I used that time to clean my house, care for my kids, or study subjects that I believed would contribute to my long-term success.

This round I decided to do things a bit differently. When I quit my job I knew I was burned out, completely frustrated, and more than a bit disillusioned. I needed to step away from my normal habits and routines entirely just to recover.

So I gave myself permission to play. I tinkered with the television that the kid gave me. I allowed myself to read novels. Instead of banging my head against a keyboard every evening I made it a habit to play video games and watch a nightly movie. Instead of trying to force myself to write, to read and study and continually improve myself, instead of tinkering with Word or other writing programs to figure out how to format and use the programs to build better books, instead of reading books to improve my writing craft and search for ideas, I stripped it all away.

I literally said “fuck it.” I picked an ancient text editor and focused upon the words instead of the formatting. I allowed myself to write about whatever instead of trying to force myself to focus upon a single subject. I gave myself permission to use my time in ways that I’ve always considered wasteful and allowed my mind to wander.

I didn’t allow myself to think about what I could really write that would be helpful or make money. Aside from my daily goal of writing a single blog post, I allowed myself the freedom to do as little as possible. I used my minimalism, my freedom to spend my time however I like, to do just that for a change.

Which is why I skipped posting yesterday.

I made a pledge to write about the first thing that came to mind each morning, every morning, regardless of subject matter. I didn’t censor myself which is why I’m sure you’ve noticed that my language has changed. Instead of thinking “what can I write for somebody else?” I asked “what is something that I would want to read?”

Yesterday morning I awoke with a story playing in my head. It’s about a grandma who loves her kids, her dog, and her movies. While pursing these passions she discovers what she believes to be the Mother Lode of movies – only to realize that she’s uncovered something evil instead. Now she’s got to decide what she’s going to do about it.

The story was so vivid I could see it from the woman’s eyes. I could feel the things she felt and even smell the things she smelled.

So I started writing.

I didn’t do a single thing on my house yesterday. I didn’t check my email, work on this blog, or even feel the desire to take a break. If not for my kid making me, I doubt I would have taken the time to eat.

All that existed was the story, and I felt driven to get it out of my head. I went to sleep thinking about that story and was awakened with the same passion.

That story would have never came to me if I hadn’t allowed myself to eliminate the things that I had previously considered essential. If I hadn’t allowed myself to “slack,” if I hadn’t allowed myself to read novels, watch movies, and play video games, if I hadn’t allowed myself to “goof off” instead of work, I wouldn’t have given my mind the freedom it needed to imagine.

Sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack. We need to stop worrying about what we “should” be doing and allow ourselves to relax and have fun instead. And at its core, this is what minimalism is about. By eliminating as much stuff and as much tasks and as many obligations as we can, we allow ourselves to get bored. We give our minds the freedom to wander.

And when we do that, amazing things can happen.

I don’t know what is going to happen with that story. All I know is that I’ve written over 3,000 words this morning alone. I feel a passion, an aliveness that I haven’t felt since I was a child when I would fill notebooks with stories and doodles instead of doing my homework. And I am going to embrace that sensation.

We have become so wrapped up in duty, we have become so sucked in to chatting with friends and updating our timelines that we’ve forgotten who we are.

And minimalism can help us regain that.

Turn off your computer. Cancel your appointments. Change your routines. Eliminate everything you can eliminate. Allow yourself to become bored.

Because that is when the magic happens.

Have you ever allowed yourself to completely mix up your routine, to eliminate everything that you can eliminate in order to truly experience boredom? What happened? Please share your stories in the comments below.

And if I miss another post, you will know what I’m doing. I’m busy getting this story out of my head.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Happiness Minimalism

Sex, Celibacy, and Minimalism

Minimalism is the art of eliminating the unimportant to make room for the important. It is the art of eliminating the excess to focus upon the essential. On the surface, these definitions tend to make us think about stuff.

But minimalism can be applied to all aspects of our lives.

Perhaps it is because there is still a taboo surrounding the discussion of sex that causes minimalist writers to shy away from the subject. Perhaps it is because public media sticks the act and discussion of sex front in center in our media and entertainment. Perhaps minimalists don’t feel comfortable talking about sex because they believe they don’t have enough, they have too much, or feel somehow lacking.

Whatever the reason, it is time to open a discussion on the subject.

I realized this morning that it is safe to say that I have been celibate for two decades. I’ve not had sex since before I divorced. I never expected to be celibate for this long, so when I realized how long it had been I was surprised.

And if someone had told me twenty years ago that I would eliminate sex from my life, I would have laughed in their face.

I didn’t set out to become celibate. At first, I was struggling so hard just to pay the bills and keep food on the table that I didn’t have time to socialize romantically. I worked four jobs back then so I barely had time to take a shower, must less find someone to have sex with.

My life has slowed down immensely since those days. I dropped out of the rat race for several years, living on my book royalties to raise my daughter. While I re-entered the rat race after that to launch another life experiment which I eventually abandoned, I am once again living on the fringes of society in the slow lane.

I have had time over this past decade to establish sexual relationships but I haven’t. Why? I mean, I like men. I routinely admire the male physique and have no reservations when it comes to expressing my admiration. I enjoy engaging in flirtatious banter, yet I have no desire to take things farther. When pressed, I place the symbol of marriage upon the designated finger and tell people that I am unavailable.

Our modern society tells us that my decision to eliminate sex from my life is unhealthy. I have personally been informed that my decision to remain celibate is “unfair” both to the male population and myself. I have been instructed that I need to release my inner lesbian (because it’s “obvious” this must be my “problem”), and advised that I need to see a mental health professional.

I have been told these things many times over the years despite the fact that I am healthy and content. Apparently humans are supposed to “fuck like rabbits” so my decision not to is perceived as wrong. As has become my habit over the years, I nod along in agreement, promise to consider their advice, and do my own thing.

It wasn’t until this morning that I decided to analyze this decision. I hadn’t realized it had been so long until this morning. I’m not even certain what prompted the thought. Perhaps it is the fact that when I lay down at night I ask my personal diety to help me come up with writing ideas. I do not know the correct answer; I only know that I have made a pledge to discuss the first thought that enters my head upon awakening, and today that thought was about minimalism as applied to sex.

When applied to all aspects of one’s life, minimalism can help you sort the important from the unimportant. This sorting process doesn’t always happen on a conscious level; you just find yourself making decisions that, when you look back on them, are not only surprising but in-line with the goal of simplifying your life.

My unconscious decision to eliminate sex was one of them.

During my youth, my mind was filled with worry. Oh, he’s cute! Does he like me, or is he only flirting to be polite? Is he married? Does he have a girlfriend? Does he look like he might have a contagious disease? Is he gainfully employed, or is he searching for someone to support him financially? Do I smell nice enough? Has my hair gotten messy? He’s looking at my eyes – did my mascara run? OMG am I sprouting a mustache?!? Are my boobs lopsided? Is my butt too big? Do I have a matching bra and panty set? Is it good enough, or should I run to the store and buy a new set? Oh no! I forgot to shave my legs! Am I going to have to deal with another round of “put out or get out?” If we have sex on the X date, will he think me a slut? If we don’t have sex, will he dump me?

On and on the litany went. Whenever I was single, I found my mind filled with these and similar questions every time I encountered an attractive male, to the point where I spent so much time analyzing myself and the other person that I lost the opportunity to enjoy the moment.

But at some point the litany disappeared. I don’t know exactly when that happened, but at that time I unconsciously decided to drop out of the game. My stress levels dropped. Instead of worrying about the details, I focused upon the men I met as people instead of potential partners. My enjoyment of the interactions increased. As an odd side-effect, my unconscious decision to drop out of the sex scene made me more attractive. As one gentleman phrased it, it was refreshing to meet a woman who wasn’t “desperate” and who “obviously didn’t give a shit.”

But something more important happened when I made that unconscious change. By eliminating the pursuit of sex, I spent less time focusing upon my appearance. I dressed for comfort instead of male eyes. I shaved because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to. I wore cosmetics because they made me feel good instead of wearing them to make others feel good.

I started doing things for myself instead of from vanity and fear.

As I became more comfortable in my own skin, I not only freed up an immense amount of time from pursuing vanity and assauaging my internal fears, I liberated a large amount of time to think, explore, and pursue passions that had nothing to do with sex.

I dived into computers. I began to read a wider variety of subjects. Instead of pursuing a sexual relationship, I spent that time exploring myself. While I didn’t always like what I discovered, I grew immensely from each experience.

I wonder now if we pursue sex due to biology or if it has been programmed into us by society. Even now I wonder if I am somehow defective for my choice. I wonder if I should force myself to care, if I should set aside my comfy clothes, pour a bottle of dye upon my head, don my cosmetics, and go out in search of Mr. Right.

Yet deep down inside, I know that I am finally content with who I am.

Perhaps one day I will meet someone and decide to end my celibacy but for now I have realized that I no longer care if that happens or not. I have realized that there is more to life than relationships and sex. The world will not end if I sleep alone. If anything, my life has become richer as a result.

Have you ever given much thought to why or why not you pursue sex and relationships? Have you ever considered the advantages and disadvantages that come from eliminating sex from your life? For those of you who have decided to eliminate the pursuit of sex, do you ever question your decision? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Frugality Minimalism

The Television Adventure

When I eliminated my television back in 2009, I had no intention of acquiring another. I was perfectly content using my computer to stream videos or watch DVDs, so I thought I would have no reason to bother.

Katie disagreed. As everyone knows, my beloved daughter is not a minimalist. She works hard and shops with the same enthusiasm. I do not judge my daughter for this; she has the right to earn and spend her money as she pleases.

So when Katie came home one afternoon with a television in her arms, I shrugged and went on with my life. She wanted to watch movies and play games in her room and had decided to do just that.

I didn’t think about that television much. I watched it with her once a year, the day after Christmas, when we have a tradition of pigging out on clearance candy and watching Forrest Gump.

But then one evening after helping a friend move she came home with yet another television. Her friend had an extra that was larger than Katie’s and had gifted it to my daughter as a ‘thank you.’ Katie was delighted as she showed it to me; she could watch her videos on a larger screen thanks to the generosity of her friend.

My only question was what she intended to do with her old one.

Katie didn’t even give me the opportunity to ask that question. “As soon as I hook it up I’ll give my little one to you,” she announced. “It’s about time you joined the modern age and watched TV like normal folks!”

Oh geez.

That was how I found myself the proud owner of not only a small television but a Roku as well. She helped me hook it up and handed me the remotes with a smile.

I didn’t know how to work the remotes. The last television I owned didn’t have one. What the hell was I going to do with a television when I didn’t even know how to work it? I kept my thoughts to myself, thanked her profusely, and pretended to be happy with the gift.

That television sat in my room for a good six months untouched. I didn’t know how to work it, wasn’t motivated to try, yet I couldn’t bring myself to part with it because my daughter had loved me enough to give it to me. Eventually I realized that the situation was bordering on the ridiculous so I sat my butt down and figured it out.

Televisions have changed immensely since I last bothered with one many years ago. They do things now that I find amazing. I started out watching YouTube videos on the thing and eventually added one of those gadgets that play ancient video games and in time complemented it with a cheap DVD player.

It would save wear and tear on my computers, I reasoned.

As I developed the habit of watching a movie before bed, I realized that I could reduce my reliance on Facebook and the Internet if I had a way to capture the open air broadcasts from local news stations. I like to keep up with local news but I have a weakness for reading the comments. There was a problem with this, however. In order to capture the signals I needed to purchase another device and I was too cheap to spend the money.

That changed last night. While I was out to purchase some groceries, I stumbled upon a little antenna for $5. After asking the workers a few questions, I decided to give it a try.

It took several attempts but I managed to stick it to a window to gain reception. I fiddled with the remote, pressing random buttons until I finally found the proper menu and I managed to pick up a few channels.

For the first time in over a decade I watched the eleven o’clock news without losing myself in the comments section.

I feel as if I have stepped into an alternate reality. I can press a button and watch the news when it comes on instead of waiting for the highlights to go online. I don’t have to worry about my Internet going out when bad weather arrives. That’s an issue in my tiny area.

Part of me feels guilty for buying another gadget. Part of me feels odd because I am no longer part of the Minimalist Crowd that looks at televisions with disdain. But if I am going to allow others to live life on their terms, then that gives me the right to live on mine. The television was free, the antenna was $5, and now I can rest easy during storms. I can also use the device to play music when I slip a CD or MP3 DVD into the player I acquired, which means that I can shut my computer off entirely sometimes. I can even play games from my childhood, which I have discovered is a wonderful way to clear my head.

This little adventure has made me realize that change can be a very positive thing. It has made me realize that I need to abandon my comfort zone more often. It has also made me realize that if I embrace the older technology that I abandoned in the past that I can reduce my reliance upon the Internet. The world will not end if Annie cannot connect. To be honest, if I could teach myself to check email, respond to comments, and go offline after I upload my daily blog post, I would probably be better off.

I would definitely have more time.

If you happen to have a television (or manage to acquire one for cheap or free), you may want to consider buying one of those little devices that allow you to pick up stations for free. You would not only eliminate your cable expense, you may be able to drop some of those online movie subscriptions you pay for. They have a range of them, designed to pick up channels of varying distances from your home, so take care not to purchase until you find one that is powerful enough for your needs. The $5 one I purchased covers a 25-mile radius – just enough to watch the news, which is all I wanted. This is what the box looked like:

And always remember – minimalism is about living life on your terms, not the terms that some “expert” living out of a thousand-dollar laptop says you should live. You have the right to keep anything in your life that you find useful or gives you pleasure. If those experts want to judge, send them to me. I will be happy to show them what spot on my anatomy they can kiss.

So keep the old record player if you use it. Watch your DVDs. Play your cassettes and your VHS tapes. Wear the clothes you have in your closet. It is far better for the world if we use the things we already have anyway.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Frugality Minimalism Simplicity Wardrobe

The Art of Recovering from Disaster

A friend’s house caught fire over this past summer. He was at work. By the time the firemen departed, the house and its contents were destroyed. My friend was gutted. He’d not only lost everything he owned, he’d lost his trusted companion, a pet he’d had for almost a decade.

He took some time to grieve and then started the process of recovery. He rented a new place and began anew.

We can all learn from my friend. While disasters take different shapes and forms, the sense of pain from the loss is the same. With the right mindset, we can turn that loss into an opportunity to recreate ourselves from the ashes.

I started that process yesterday. By releasing the burden I’ve hidden for almost a year, I wiped the slate clean.

I had a good cry and then asked myself “what do I do now?” I found the answer in my friend.

It’s time to pick my butt off the floor and start over.

I knew that this was coming. I fought against it. I tried every trick I knew to how to try in an attempt to avoid my reality. I didn’t want to sacrifice the beliefs I’d held for a lifetime. I didn’t want to surrender to the madness. But ultimately I am a survivor, so I refuse to let what I learned defeat me.

I have no power to change the world. I have no power, no authority to do any damn thing but eat and shit and die.

I can work with that.

You see, I may not be able to change this world but I can change myself. I may not be able to change this world but I can control the choices I make and the things I do. I may not be able to change the world but I can go into the long night content with the knowledge that I did what I could.

“If you find yourself confronting an unjust and corrupt system, it is much more effective to learn its codes from the inside and discover its vulnerabilities. Knowing how it works, you can take it apart – for good.”

– Robert Greene, The 50th Law

I have fifty years of experience in how this world works. Corporations convince us we are lacking to persuade us to give them our money. They use the money we give them to further their own purposes; their purpose is to make the rich richer by draining the rest of us dry.

To stop that scenario is simple. To stop the corporations from draining us dry we have to remove the source of their power.

The only way to remove their power is to stop giving them money.

The milennial generation stumbled upon this truth some time ago. They stopped giving their money to support certain industries. When those industries felt the blow to their pocketbooks, they began to scream with pain. Do a search for “industries milennials have killed” if you want to read the details.

I may be old and uneducated but I’m smart enough to see from the evidence that the process works. I’m humble enough to learn from their experience so I have chosen to follow their example. I may not be able to execute it perfectly but if I can arrange to give the monsters less, I can help starve them out in some small way.

I’ve already began that process. Instead of following their instructions to buy new clothing, I have chosen to use what I already own until it falls apart. Instead of following their instructions to discard the excess clothing I have thanks to the little washer I own, I placed the items in a box for future use.

The longer I can go without buying clothing, the less I will feed the monsters. Even better, there will be less clothing entering our landfills. That is a wonderful bonus.

For far too long I’ve fallen for the lie that I needed to look and dress a certain way. The only reason they want us to look and dress in a certain way is because it makes them richer. In the end, as long as we’re clean and our bits are covered, the details only matter to them.

We have a surplus of clothing in our thrift shops. We have tons of clothes rotting in landfills because of their programming. I may not be able to change that reality but I can refuse to participate in it.

Is there a way you can stop feeding the monsters? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decluttering Finances Frugality Minimalism Simplicity

We Should Practice What We Preach

I stopped exploring most of the minimalism, simplicity, and frugality blogs on the Internet these days. As a general rule, they fail to practice what they preach so I find them offensive.

The first thing you see when you click on one of those blog links is a giant popup. “Sign up for my mailing list and I’ll give you this piece of advertising disguised as helpful information for FREE!” When you sign up to make the popup disappear, your inbox will be flooded on a regular basis with advertising. “Join my class! Sign up for my FREE webinar so I can talk you into paying money for this class, this app, or whatever it is I’m selling!” The variety of methods that they use to persuade you that you NEED to give them money is not only impressive, it is disgusting.

When you finally manage to dispose of the popup, you are then forced to read their content, content that is disrupted by ads as you scroll down if they don’t break it up into a slideshow format designed to force you to click several times and view a bunch of more ads.

Even worse, when you get to the content, what do they do? They review different products and services with the intent of persuading you to BUY.

Seriously, you don’t need to buy MORE crap. You’ve already gotten more than enough for your needs. If you happen to be visiting those sites, chances are that you’re so broke that you can’t afford to buy them anyway.

But they do this. They don’t care how poor or broke you are. They don’t care that you’ve got far too much stuff already. All they care about is emptying your wallets a little bit more.

It’s not about helping you; it’s about enriching themselves. Check into the private lives of many of these people and you will discover that they make more money (and live at a higher standard) than a poor person can even comprehend. How can they possibly have your best interest in mind when they don’t know what it’s like to be so poor that you have to cook a pot of beans just to eat that week? How can they possibly understand the challenges that they don’t have to face because they make so much more money than you?

See, it’s easy to buy a new gadget when you’ve got the money to spare. And it makes sense to them to spend dollars just to save a few pennies because that’s how they were trained. Even if they weren’t conditioned to purchase things that won’t really save money in the long run, they have realized that if they can persuade you to buy these things that they will have more money in their bank.

And the only way to tell them apart is if you see them practice what they preach.

An excellent example of this is Marie Kondo. I refuse to link to her site in disgust for her actions. I used to like her; I found her logic as related to eliminating items that didn’t “spark joy” to be refreshing.

Until she showed her true colors, that is.

I wasn’t bothered by the fact that she started a show about her particular brand of minimalism. I was grateful for that because it helped to spread the word that people as a whole need to thin out their stuff. I was glad that she managed to find a way to do that and make a bit of money in the process.

But then, after she preached and preached about the need to thin down and eliminate, what did she do? She released a whole line of stuff that she wanted you to BUY.

REALLY?

How does that even make sense? If you needed to buy something, you sure as hell wouldn’t be tossing your perfectly serviceable stuff away, now would you? How can you speak out of one side of your mouth to tell people to throw their shit away then open the other side and tell them to BUY?

It is hypocisy in the strictest sense, spurred entirely by greed. She doesn’t give a shit about you; all she cares about is filling her bank account. She doesn’t care that you’re poor and broke and overwhelmed; just toss out your shit, buy her crap, and suffer through the overdraft fees when you discover that the shit you’ve kept has worn out before you’ve managed to save up enough money to replace it.

Why do you think that I’ve refused to offer classes? Why do you think that I’ve refused to create a mailing list? Why do you think that I’ve patently refused the offers I’ve received to market tee-shirts and other items to you? Why do you think that I live in the Hood and dine on Ramen instead of filling this website with ads?

I do it because I actually practice what I preach. I do it because this is about more than filling my bank account. I do this because I’ve seen a problem with this world and with the ways we’ve been taught and I want to fix it, even if I have to starve in the process.

While I’m not starving (don’t worry), I have deliberately made choices not to market to you because I believe that you’ve been marketed to enough. I have deliberately made choices that have affected me financially because I believe in what I tell you and I live my life based upon those beliefs every single day.

It enrages me that there are bloggers and writers and so-called frugality experts preaching to you that you need to toss the shit you already have and buy their shit instead. And there is only one way to stop that. It’s the exact same way you can remove the power and control of the corporations who have taken over our nation.

Stop paying attention to them. Stop buying their stuff. Stop paying for their classes. Stop encouraging them to market to you and they’ll eventually go broke and be forced to quit.

When that happens, the ones who will be left standing are the ones who truly practice what they preach in regards to simplicity, minimalism, and frugality because they’ll be the only ones with the skills to know how to live on less. They will be the ones who will do the work for free, not because they don’t need money to live on (we all need that), but because they feel that the message is more important than profit.

Those are the people you want to support, because those are the people who truly want to help you.

So think twice before you stick your email into their popups. Think twice before you buy their classes, click on their ads, or buy stuff from their product lines. Because to them, you are nothing more than an income stream.

For the record, you can find some of my ebooks listed for free on the torrent sites. If you’re broke, feel free to download them. I know that they’re there, because I’m the one who uploaded some. I’ve given out scores of my books for free to readers who emailed me and shared that they wanted to buy my books but didn’t have the money.

I do this because this is about more than the money to me. This is about the fact that people are poor and broke and struggling and they don’t know where to turn. This is about the fact that I’ve struggled my whole entire life, and I don’t want to see other people facing that fate.

I want to make this world a bit better place.

I can’t predict the future. I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford to do what I do without acquiring a job for the long term. And that’s okay. That’s okay because this is about more than me. This is about helping you realize that society is broken, and the only way to fix it is to stop feeding the monsters.

It’s time for me to stop ranting for now. I’ve a house to clean and a book to write. If I can be of service to you don’t hesitate to email or comment. If you find my posts helpful, please know that even the shortest comment helps increase my ranking on the search engines. Sharing my posts with your friends helps to get the word out as well.

Please help me do that. Thank you.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Simplicity

Keep It Simple

This world has gotten so complicated that it is hard to keep track of things. We have to own and maintain vehicles, remember when to pay our taxes, determine which of the endless list of tasks need to be done, all on top of figuring out ways to pay our bills. Hell, go into a store these days just to buy a roll of bathroom tissue and you will discover an entire shelf of selections to choose from!

We’re faced with these choices every day. What do we want? Where are we going to get it? How are we going to pay? Which particular brand of this particular product should we buy?

The choices grow even more complicated when you realize that the decisions you make about what to buy, where to buy, and even what to use can contribute to building the fortunes of companies who are not acting in your best interest. When you realize that you are filling the coffers of companies who are using that money to control the government, it is easy to become overwhelmed.

I’m getting low on dog food right now but I’m torn about where to buy it. There are no local businesses in the area that I can turn to because they all died when WalMart moved in. I typically order my pet food from WalMart or Amazon but WalMart is spearheading the replacement of low-wage workers with machines and Amazon pays no taxes and has grown so big that I don’t really trust them any longer.

Until I can come up with something better, I have resolved to keep this process of decision as simple as I can. In the case of the pet food, I have personally seen the damage that WalMart has caused. I watched an old man cry because WalMart deliberately opened a store beside his little grocery when they couldn’t run him out of business from their previous location. I watched the businesses in this town and others I’ve lived in wither and die after they opened their stores. I’ve seen the fear in the factories that produce their stuff. I’ve heard the laughter from the managers as they bragged about their bonuses while the workers in the front cried because their hours were cut, knowing that their hours had been slashed by the laughing monsters in the back. As one explained to me, they only receive their bonuses if they keep their costs below a certain level–and slashing hours is an easy way to do that.

I may not like Amazon’s business practices but between the two, my issue with WalMart is much more personal. While I won’t stop searching for an alternative even to Amazon, at this point I would rather help them than WalMart.

I have resolved to keep things simple in other aspects of my life as well. Instead of worrying about options and choices and price points, I have resolved to go back to the basics where I can. I’ll write more about those individual items as time allows.

For now I am going to order a bag of dog food and move on with my day. I’ve got a book to finish, after all.

How do you keep your choices simple? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Business Finances Frugality Simplicity

A Private Revolution

Sometimes the most horrible revelations can teach us. Yesterday I was presented with the reality of our world. The image of a man who was somebody’s dad, who reminded me of my dad burned its way into my soul as I read about the treatment he received from the nation I called home.

There is absolutely nothing I can do to change the past. I can’t change what happened to that man and many others any more than I can change what has happened to others who have suffered similarly over the course of history.

There is not even very much I can do to change the future. I am just one tiny old woman in a great large world. Aside from trying to encourage change, I have no right to even push because it would violate the moral code that I hold dear.

I can do something, however. I can reach down deep inside of me and use the knowledge of this current reality to change myself. Hopefully, by sharing the things I have seen and the changes I personally make my personal revolution will go a bit farther.

As someone once instructed me, if you want to understand the purpose behind a thing, all you have to do is follow the money. I thought they were being silly at the time but the older I get the more I realize that they are right. Money is the primary reason so many do the things that they do; the pursuit of money infects all of us if only because we all need it to survive now.

The poor make the money with the sweat off their brow. The rich take that money by enticing the poor to part with it in any way that they can. While the poor just want enough to lead a comfortable life, however, the rich have gotten to the point where they want to collect money just because.

My personal issue is in the fact that our society has gotten so unbalanced that the rich are removing the ability of the poor to just survive. They use their money to promote agendas that on the face seem to be aimed at protecting us but when you examine them on a deeper level, you realize that the only ones they want to protect are themselves.

It has gotten to the point in our society that even the placid farmer has began to rebel. When John Deere decided to force farmers to pay outrageous fees by citing “intellectual property rights” and so forth to eliminate their ability to repair their own tractors, these farmers began to fight back. Some of them have went so far as to hack the computers in their equipment rather than bow down to their draconian rules. Others have decided to eliminate modern farming equipment entirely by purchasing and rebuilding older, non-computerized equipment.

Rebels within the trucking industry are doing the same. Rather than comply with new rules and regulations that are destroying their livelihoods, they are now opting to purchase rebuilt older rigs instead of buying new vehicles. A friend of mine drives for a company who rebels in this way. The owner of the company he works for believes that once self-driving vehicles advance a bit more that they will force him to shut down his business. His plan is to conserve his funds as much as possible so that he can retire once his livelihood is gone. My trucker friend is planning the same thing.

The beauty within the rebellions of the farmers and the truckers lies in the fact that they’re not really trying to save the world. They saw a problem that affected them and started voting with their money to make a difference.

We can all learn from that. If we see a problem with the word in general or our lives in specific, we can stage our own personal rebellions by changing the way that we spend our money. We can choose not to support the things we do not believe in by voting with the money we spend.

With this in mind, my dilemma at the moment is pet food. I order their food online but I have yet to locate a smaller company that can supply what I need at a price I can afford. Do I continue to switch between Amazon and WalMart when my supplies run low, choosing the one that offers the brands they like when I don’t want to give my money to either of them, or do I locate another path?

I would like to find another path. I haven’t found it yet, so I will order as little as I can at the lowest price in the meantime. The animals prefer Purina and 9 Lives respectively but I am willing to switch if I can find a viable alternative that they will eat.

Do you have any ideas?


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Frugality Simplicity

Washable Puppy Pads

We live in an age where so much of what we use is disposable. We are expected to buy these items, use them once, then toss them away for new. When we do this, however, we not only contribute to the landfill problem, we also give our money to corporations that not only avoid paying taxes, but use those funds in advertising designed to mentally manipulate us into buying even more or even worse – encourage our politicians to pass laws that favor them and not the populace they are supposed to represent.

Some of these items we need, so how do we arrange our lives to reduce the amount we spend?

I encountered that challenge a while back. One of my dogs has grown quite old and has to go potty rather frequently. I had resolved the issue by purchasing puppy pads in bulk but then it occurred to me that there must be a way to not only reduce the amount of money I spent but be more environmentally responsible. I may not be a perfect example of resource conservation but I do like to reduce my environmental impact whenever it is possible.

Examining the purpose of puppy pads, I realized that there wasn’t much difference between them and the pads placed beneath the elderly or the young. There are reusable pads that are designed to be placed beneath incontinent people, pads that can be washed many times before they lose their effectiveness. I reasoned that if these pads were effective with incontinent people, then they would be an effective substitute for the disposable puppy pads in the market today.

If I could teach my dog to use them, that is.

I purchased a four-pack of these pads, selecting a size that would allow me to wash them in my tiny washing machine. It would increase the amount of laundry I had to wash, but would eliminate the need to purchase disposable pads on a regular basis. Even better, the money I spent on my water bill would go to help my local community instead of a major corporation.

I started out by placing these washable pads on top of the disposable pads that my dog was accustomed to using. As she started to select the washable pad, I slowly swapped out the disposable ones until the washable pads were all that she had available.

It worked like a charm.

I use a bit of water and electricity each day to wash the pads. Every morning I replace the used pads with a fresh set and toss the dirty ones in my washer. It takes a bit of work but in the months since I started this experiment the pads have held up well. I expect to receive a few years’ use from them before I have to consider the purchase of replacements.

The trash we generate has reduced as a result of this experiment. I no longer have to dispose of plastic-lined pads on a daily basis. The water I use is cleaned through our local water treatment plant. It isn’t perfect, but I do believe that my impact on the environment is lower due to this decision.

I especially like the fact that I have eliminated the need to give a major corporation my money on a regular basis. A single pack of these pads cost considerably less than a year’s supply of disposables; considering how they should last for several years with a bit of care I have dropped that expense by at least half.

If you have older, incontinent pets or a puppy that has yet to be housebroken. If you are one of the many who are forced to leave your dogs alone for hours at a stretch, I urge you to consider this option. It will not only allow your animals to relieve themselves in a safe place when you cannot take them out as often as they need, it will reduce your burden on the environment and allow you to save money as well.

Have you considered non-disposable options for the disposable items that you use each day? Please share your stories in the comments below.

EDIT: I have received a request for the link to the pads I purchased for this experiment. Here is the link if you are interested. They don’t have these available in local stores so I had to go with Amazon: https://amzn.to/301u5nu You may be able to make them yourself if you have the skills that I lack.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!