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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 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
Frugality Simplicity

Is it Socially Acceptable to Save Money?

As I look back upon this year, I realize that the majority of the criticism that I’ve received concerns how I choose to spend (or not spend) my money.

Among the things I’ve been told:

  • I should rent or buy a bigger home.
  • While I’m here, I should spend money painting and decorating my current home, despite the fact that I neither own this place nor intend to live here forever.
  • I should purchase more clothes, despite the fact that I have more than enough.
  • I should definitely go to college, but I should go to a more expensive school in order to acquire a “better” education–to earn more money.
  • I really “need” a car, despite the fact that I don’t go anywhere.
  • I “need” a high-paying job.
  • I need to invest in a modern, high-end computer since I love them so much.
  • I need to buy (insert item here).

These criticisms are usually framed in a back-handed way in an attempt to mask the criticism:

“I admire how you want to live a simple life, but you really do need to get a bigger place. It’s ridiculous that you sleep in the living room.”

“I understand that you want to save money, but would a bucket of paint kill you?”

According to the people I interact with, I “need” to acquire a larger home so that I can have my own bedroom. I “need” a traditional cook stove and a standard-sized refrigerator. I “need” to toss my perfectly serviceable kitchen table and replace it with new. I “need” dentures, new clothes, matching dishes and many other items.

When I ask why I “need” these things, I’m informed that I’m depriving myself or given long-winded speeches that are hard to decipher.

Why is this? Because I’m definitely not depriving myself. I’m content exactly where I am.

Is it because my life is so different from others that I receive this criticism?

Is it because they believe that I am secretly judging them?

I don’t have any answers to these questions but when combined, it makes me wonder if it is socially unacceptable to avoid spending money to keep up a certain appearance in our society. It makes me wonder if we’re programmed to own certain things, to spend our money in a certain manner not because we care about the items in question, but just to fit in.

I asked a friend about it once over this past year. She informed me that we need to own a certain amount of stuff, of a certain quality because it tells the world that we are doing “okay.”

Why do we care what the world thinks?

More importantly, who gets to decide what we buy or don’t buy?

Could this be why so many people are struggling in our society? Could it be that we are programmed by social pressure to own things that are meaningless in the grand scheme of things to the point where we jeopardize our financial security just to acquire them?

As we conclude this decade, I would like for you to ponder this situation. Have you ever felt pressured to acquire something or live a certain way, to spend money that you wouldn’t ordinarily spend?

If you removed the social pressure, how would you live? What would you spend your money on? What would you stop spending money on?

In short, why do you buy the things that you do? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Frugality Minimalism Recycling Simplicity

Has Consumerism Tainted Minimalism?

Minimalism is the act of eliminating the unimportant in order to make room for what is important. That seems simple enough at first glance. However, a deeper look at the subject reveals that there may be a darker force at play.

From The Minimalists to Marie Kondo we receive advice to throw out or donate our old stuff. It doesn’t matter if the items are perfectly functional or if we could use them up in time. These things contribute to the chaos in our lives so they must be eliminated.

But what happens to the things that we discard? Many of us, either through impatience or lack of time simply throw these things into a dumpster. Others who realize that it only passes the problem on to our overburdened landfills choose to donate the items instead.

And what happens after the house is clean and simplified? The things we choose to keep eventually wear out, forcing us to purchase even more. In some cases we may go on an acquisition binge that doesn’t stop until we find ourselves overwhelmed with stuff again so we repeat the process by eliminating even more.

Who benefits when we throw our perfectly functional stuff away, only to replace it when we wear out the items we actually keep? Our wallets certainly don’t but the companies that produce the items do.

Let’s ask another question. What would happen if, instead of discarding our excess, we placed a moratorium upon future purchases until we used up the items we already own? Who benefits the most from that scenario?

Our finances would benefit because we’ve stopped buying stuff we don’t need. Our finances would benefit again because the act of using up and wearing out our current overstock of possessions would eliminate the need to buy more for an extended amount of time. The landfills would benefit because we wouldn’t send things there until the absolute end of their useful life. Donation centers would even benefit because it would reduce the amount of donations they have to sort through and discard in the search for saleable items.

Big Business wouldn’t benefit, however. Their sales would go down because we wouldn’t purchase near as much. The clothing industry would take a major hit because they could no longer persuade us to buy the newest fashions. Even the appliance and electronics industries would feel the pain because instead of buying “newer, bigger, and better” we would hold on to the things we already owned instead of discarding them for new. The only industry that might benefit from this new paradigm would be the storage industry—until we used up our excess to the point where we no longer needed the storage, that is.

While minimalism in the short term may benefit us with clean homes and empty spaces, the questions I’ve asked above make me wonder about who truly benefits in the long run. It makes me re-think my decisions in the past to discard the things I’ve discarded.

This also makes me wonder if my grandparents were smarter than I gave them credit for. They used the things they acquired until those items died and then recycled the pieces into other things to extend the usable life of their purchases even further. I’m beginning to wonder if we all need to start doing that.

To be honest, I would be surprised if I discovered that there was a conspiracy to encourage us to throw away our stuff just to entice us to buy more. That said, I do believe that we need to rethink our actions when it comes to the pursuit of minimalism.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Frugality

I Hate Modern Furniture

I detest modern furniture with a white-hot passion. I’d rather set my money on fire than to buy the worthless crap that they call modern furniture these days. When I was a kid, you bought a piece of furniture with the knowledge that it would outlast you. My parents bought used furniture back in the 1960’s and 1970’s that would still be here today if a flood hadn’t destroyed it. I’ve still got an old coffee table that I salvaged from that flood and it’s still going strong!

Modern furniture isn’t designed to last. Unless you buy hand-crafted furniture from the Amish or at a flea market (or can afford an artesian piece), the rest of it is all mass-produced, composite-wood crap. It’s more glue and plastic than anything!

I’ve spent the past few months in a continuing debate with some friends over my furniture preferences. They posited the argument that I would be better off (and have nicer-looking stuff) if I allowed them to take me to a furniture store to search for a new bed or another couch to replace the one the kid traded me out of since my current bed sags in the middle.

I grew madder and madder as I examined the selections at this “high end” store. Every single piece was cheaply-produced garbage that wouldn’t hold up for a year, much less a lifetime, and these idiots wanted a fortune for it!

Metal bed frames? Forget it. The metal was so thin it would warp if my kid jumped on it or more than one adult sat on it. Wood was a complete joke. The pieces that used “real” wood used wood that was so thin I could snap it over my knee. There is no way in hell that crap would survive more than a year in an active household and I told them as much.

The salesmen were offended but I didn’t really care. I didn’t even feel bad for my friend. It was her idea to go there to prove her point–and her point failed miserably upon examination. I had tried to explain in advance that I’ve purchased modern furniture in the past but she wouldn’t listen. It was gorgeous when you first put it together but if you actually try to use it you will watch your hard-earned cash go to waste when it starts to sag or breaks entirely.

I’ll never forget the two-hundred-dollar chest of drawers I purchased for my kids back in the day. In less than six months they had it destroyed, while the used chest of drawers my parents gave me during my childhood is being abused by my grandson to this day. It is being used by a third generation after miraculously surviving a flood while I owned it!

I’ll never forget the $1,500 sectional my cousin purchased a few years back. She was so proud when she had it delivered. It was going to be the last couch she ever purchased.

Four months after she bought it they heard a loud snap as one of the kids sat down on it. A piece of the frame had broken. She tried to keep using it but it continued to deteriorate until she was forced to replace it. Fifteen hundred dollars straight down the drain.

To my friend’s immense annoyance her trip proved to me that I was right in hating modern furniture. I’ll just go to a lumberyard and have a thick piece of plywood cut to the size of my 1960’s-era Roll-Away bed frame. It’s not only cheaper but it will last a helluva lot longer than the furniture on the market today.

Do you detest modern furniture? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Frugality

Consumerism has Gone Too Far

The other day I discovered that there is a new fashion piece that has taken over the Internet. It is a pair of jeans with a piece of transparent plastic at the knees. Here’s a photo of them:

This is a prime example of how businesses are deliberately creating things that encourage us to spend our hard-earned money to purchase things we don’t need.

Think about it: exactly what purpose do these pants serve? Reviews say that the plastic causes your legs to sweat, sticking to your knees and becoming physically uncomfortable over time. The plastic is too high up on the leg to be useful as a knee guard for those who like to garden, so they aren’t very useful to protect your pants from stains in situations where you need to work on your knees. Considering the lack of comfort, you would definitely be better served by using an old, stained pair of pants that you already own if that’s the reason you want them.

If the purpose is purely cosmetic, purely fashion…why are you so shallow? Do you actually think anybody really cares what type of clothing you wear?

Now let’s be honest: why were these pants really created? They were created as a gimmick. People aren’t buying as many pants or whatever so the designers decided to create something controversial to spur their sales. Every time you purchase these pants or something similar you are encouraging them to market more stupid stuff to reel people in.

Stop it. Just stop buying this crap!

Seriously, how many pairs of pants do you need? How many shirts, or shoes, or underclothes do you need? I’m willing to bet that you’ve got enough clothes in your closet, right now, that would allow you to wear a completely different outfit every day for several weeks, if not longer.

You don’t need new clothes any more than you need a new car or a new television or a new computer or a new phone. What you’ve got already does the job, so stop it! Use what you’ve got already and stop giving these assholes your money. Save that money or use it for something you really need.

Until we stop encouraging these idiots they are going to continue creating artifical needs, they are going to keep designing ridiculous products in an attempt to keep us roped into working two jobs, taking extra overtime, and running up credit card debt. Do you think these businesses give a damn about you? Hell no! All they want is your money. All they want to do is keep you trapped in wage slavery until you fall down and die. Then they will focus their market on the next generation.

So stop it. Just stop. Don’t you dare let them win.