A different view of frugality...

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This is from the Dollar Stretcher...

A Different View

I discovered the Dollar Stretcher website a few weeks ago and I think you have great advice on budgeting and frugal living. However, I was surprised to read what some Americans spend money on! What are dryer sheets, for example? My family has never owned a dryer, and we never use fabric softener either. I have never missed those things.

I am also amazed at the misuse of credit cards. I am 28 now, and I have never owned a credit card; I always pay cash. My mother got her only credit card just a few years ago - for a trip to the USA, because she was told you can't rent a hotel room or car without it in America! Why don't companies take cash if owning a credit card does not mean you will be able to pay your bill?

Using leftovers for cooking - is that really a new idea to some folks, do people really discard food that's not gone bad? When my parents were little children, their families were close to starvation after World War II. My grandmother often donated blood in exchange for milk and eggs she could give to her children! So I grew with the notion that it is a sin to waste food. I always feel ashamed when things go bad and I have to throw them away. For me, using leftovers is not so much about saving money, it's a way of thanking God for your daily bread by valuing food.

By now, I bet you think that I am living in some remote village in Albania? No I'm not. I live in one of the middle- class districts of Berlin, in what used to be the "American Sector" of the city prior to the German Reunification.

So, good luck with your frugal lives! Just remember, you are not depriving yourselves of things that "everyone else has", you are mostly cutting back on things that most people on this planet have never even heard of. Greetings from Europe Annika

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (me@home.net), April 01, 2002


A few weeks ago I was talking to some people that I thought were very careful with thier money. I mentioned that my clothes drier went out a year ago and I have not replaced it. I wanted to try doing laundry without it and if needed I could always go buy one. I don't think I need one now. These people looked at me like I was an alien. The main comment was, "oh just go and buy one" We made it through the winter drying clothes in the kitchen in front of the woodstove and I never used it in the summer anyway. I know our frugal, homesteading lifestyle is the right way for us but there are days I get tired of people laughing at us and asking when we are going to live again. 99% of the time I ignore them but there is a day now and then that it makes me angry. That is why it is so nice talking with people here and reading your adventures. I feel a real kinship with you. Thanks everybody.

-- Joanie (ber-gust@prodigy.net), April 01, 2002.

I did the same thing with my dryer a couple of years ago. My washer and dryer went out in the same month as did the hot water heater. I wanted a larger water heater (propane) and that meant the dryer wouldnt fit. So I told my dh we would just see how much trouble it would be without it. I didnt use it in the summer anyway and drying in winter gets a little strange sometimes but certainly not that much trouble. In our part of the country it gets cold but rarely stays below freezing during the day. Winter sunshine doesnt dry as fast but it will eventually. I realize drying outside isnt possible for everyone but I sure enjoy it. Blessings Peggy

-- peggy (peggyan2@msn.com), April 01, 2002.

I could agree with the dryer part, but the original writer points out how different things are here in the states as far as credit cards. The credit card has made life much easier for merchants (you trash the car/ hotel, they charge your card for it), and also for consumers--your card is stolen, call and stop it--you can't put a stop on cash after it's stolen. As long as you pay your card off every month, it may as well be cash.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), April 01, 2002.

OH How I understand your comments, I too have had to deal with the upturned nose of Dave's family, because I use leftovers to make soup, I freeze leftover mashed potato's, and worst of all, I NEVER cook from a box. Only from scratch. I can dried beans, I recycle the kids clothes for whatever I can use them for, I save toilet paper rolls, and rubber bands, odd pieces of string, ect...

Here is a great example. I bought ( can you believe it!!) pink paper easter grass for the girls easter baskets. Afternoon comes and as I clean up the living room, I am stuffing the paper grass into a recycled zippy bag. My mother inlaw wonders what I am doing, I explain I could use it for somthing else in the future. She was horrified that I would save such a thing. I told her, I had paid .87c for it I was going to get more than one use of it. She just shook her head...... Like im crazy.... course we will be debt free in about 5 more months, SHE will be in debt till she dies and Dave has to pay off her bills.... One more thing to look forward too...LOL....

-- Kristean Thompson (pigalena_babe@yahoo.com), April 01, 2002.

We lived it Italy for two years. Practically no one over there has a dryer. I got very accustomed to drying my clothes on racks. In fact, I'm really sorry I didn't bring those racks back to the States with me. Quite ingenious contraptions.

I really got a chuckle out of Kristean saving her Easter grass. I saved my children's Easter grass and their baskets for years. On the eve of Easter, the children would carefully place their grass in their baskets and leave them outside their bedroom doors for the Easter bunny to fill. (BTW, I had made the baskets.)

Once when my mother was visiting, I was preparing baked potatoes. I went into the frig and took out three butter wrappers I had saved and used them to grease the potatoes before baking. My mother insisted she had seen everything now. I even saved butter wrappers.

I have a friend who's husband wants to retire early (he's only 48 and wants to retire next year.) They have recently discontinued the cable, newspaper, magazines and many other things they have decided they can live without. It just all depends on what is important to you.

Wishing you enough.

-- Trevilians (Trevilians@attbi.com), April 01, 2002.

We use hay for our Easter baskets, then it goes to the chickens.

We dry our clothes outside or on the folding racks in the bathroom or porch.

I understand how Annika feels. We lived overseas for a number of years and people there lived on a whole 'nother planet from us here in America. We could learn a lot from her - wish she would post here!

Thanks for an interesting post, Melissa.

Have a Blessed Evening

-- Michaela (flhomestead@hotmail.com), April 01, 2002.

Hay is an interesting idea! I don't use anything in my kids baskets. I never liked that plastic stuff, seems like it just got everywhere. So I have never bought anything like that...

It is interesting to read how people in other countries do things. We have so much here, and don't realize what an abundance we have.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (me@home.net), April 01, 2002.

Wow, I can't believe that I never even thought about the butter wrappers. Great idea, I'll use it, thanks.

-- Elizabeth (ekfla@aol.com), April 01, 2002.

Maybe if more people in North America thought like us, and Annika, then we wouldn't be running out of landfill sites, and poisoning the land so badly.

-- Rheba (rb@notmymail.notcom), April 01, 2002.

Nice point Rheba. Since I can or freeze almost everything we eat, other than the root cellaring, and we buy almost nothing but some feed and I reuse the feed sacks........my husband take our throw aways to the dumpster where he works. It consists of maybe one of those plastic grocery bags every couple of months. (I do need to pitch some coffee cans though............ever since I spent so much time in Haiti where a coffee can is a VALUABLE possession cause it is the unit of measure for everything that is bought or sold that will fit into it, I have been hard pressed to just throw one away!!!!)

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), April 01, 2002.

When we owned a motel we didn't take reservations from any one who didn't have a credit card----I was guaranteed of payment--& also if they did damages to our property----

Sorry to say it is the only way you can own a lodgeing business anymore---is to only accept credit cards for reservations----the credit card companies get a piece of our money along with the companies that sell us the auto credit card machines--hooked up to phone lines---to check on credit cards & also run the numbers ---for useing---

You also have to have so much busines with credit cards or pay extra fees for not haveing the traffic----

But it is the only way a lodgeing business can go anymore---if it is a motel or bed & breakfast---or hotel---

I use to have people say to me I don't own a credit card----well I could not reserve them rooms with out a guarantee---as I had been stiffed way too many times---learned the really hard way the ONLY WAY YOU CAN RESERVE ROOMS FOR SOME ONE IS IF THEY GUARANTEE IT WITH THEIR CREDIT CARD!!

-- Sonda (sgbruce@birch.net), April 02, 2002.

When I was in Germany years ago, I was very impressed by the lack of excessive packaging in grocery stores. Also, people would bring their own baskets to the stores, carrying their groceries home that way and eliminating the need for "paper or plastic."

If any of you have seen the special show "Affluenza" (very good, BTW), there's a short segment where a couple from The Netherlands allude to how different things are there and here regarding concepts of frugality, consumption, etc.

-- Cat (catcrazy@somewhere.com), April 02, 2002.

Your once a month shopping would not work in Europe. There they have neighborhood grocery stores and you go about every day or two for basics. Part of this is because they have TINY refrigerators and so there isn't much storage. If you lived in the country, then you would have animals for milk, etc. Also, homes (and therefore, kitchens) are much smaller. I had a hard time getting used to the fact that they only heat one room, because heat is soooo expensive. We would put a hot water heater in our bed to warm it up at night, and had a little space heater to use when getting dressed. You never wanted to be the first in the bathroom, because it had not had time to heat up yet!! I have to agree that here in America, we live on a totally different planet than the rest of the world, and so many people don't even realize it. We hope to be able to take our boys to Europe for a month or two to live and see how the rest of the world functions, I am afraid it will be a real shock to them!!

-- Ivy in NW AR (balch84@cox-internet.com), April 02, 2002.

Actually there was never a shortage of landfills except in a very few areas. Right now there is a great oversupply of landfill space and the wastemanagement companies are losing money and using politics to force farmer to use the high tech, high cost landfills.

-- charles (cr@dixienet.com), April 02, 2002.

Where is the landfill space there is so much of? Probably across the street from a nice family farm like the one I grew up on, until they put the landfill in across the road and poisoned the water and trashed the land.

-- Christine in OK (cljford@mmcable.com), April 02, 2002.

I agree, there is really NO "good" place for a landfill and it is our responsibility to see to it that they are needed less, not more. Our country generates too much trash plain and simple!

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (me@home.net), April 02, 2002.


Diane- Coffee cans - you too? ohmyword!! For the same reason! We still use them today to describe units of measure and quantities...oh that's tooooo ffuny! LOL

Was it Ivy talking about shopping every day? We used to pull a little red wagon with side stakes and walk to the market shops every day. Eat one of those long loaves on the way home...hehehe And the heat in the building was turned off at 10pm sharp, not to come back on till 6am (or so, sometimes) Still scares us to think of what could have happened with those old Aladdin kerosene heaters on wood floors...all the girls shared one bed to keep warm, the boys another....oh my such memories. Hope your son gets to share some of those with you, I truly do. Makes one see our country wide-eyed and awe-struck on return.

Trevillians - I thought everybody saved butter wrappers. What a shock when MIL (herself a Scotch lady of the first order) saw me buttering up a bread pan the first time!

What a wonderful and diverse readership this place is....and yet we have so much in common.

MOM, I'm Home!!! ~grin~ By the Grace of God

-- Michaela (flhomestead@hotmail.com), April 02, 2002.

I have enjoyed reading this forum but haven't posted anything until now. The comments about what to put in an Easter basket encouraged me to share an idea. Several years ago I bought simple baskets for my kids and decorated them with large bows made of colorful tulle. I then cut strips of tulle and use them in the baskets. Reusable and much less messy than Easter grass. Deanna

-- Deanna Piercy (dpiercy@adacomp.net), April 03, 2002.

I bet they were beautiful Deanna.

What a great idea. Thanks for sharing, hope you'll post again, sharing ideas is what it's all about.

In His Grace

-- Michaela (flhomestead@hotmail.com), April 03, 2002.

I have an idea, we don't do the Easter egg thing, but when we did I recycled the "Grass stuff" Some one gave us a paper shredder , why not keep the colorful envelopes and colored bulk mail and shred into a separate bag, now use this for a fill in the baskets! I love to hear of others who are frugal too! :o) I save butter wrappers and use them to grease my pans oil the potatoes etc..... LOL!! People just have no imagination today, back during the Depression they HAD to do those things in order to survive, some still are frugal to this day and others were resentful because of having to do it. Just my $.02, keep up the good work if we don't who will?

-- Kelle in MT (KelleMT@yahoo.com), April 04, 2002.

we had coconut dyed green for Easter grass.

-- carol (kanogisdi@yahoo.com), April 05, 2002.

The Easter grass topic is hilarious. I grew up in a reasonably well to do lifestyle, we never did without anything but we never wasted anything either. (My grandparents were frugal Germans who probably considered it a sin to waste ANYTHING.) Easter grass was always saved....when I grew up and married I took with me my original Easter basket AND GRASS and eventually used it for my oldest daughter.

I recall one time when I was in my early teens, my aunt, uncle and young cousins came to visit for Easter. That afternoon as we were cleaning up after dinner, my aunt threw away the baskets (and grass) from all 3 of her kids. I was nearly speechless, but when I finally asked her about it, she looked at me like I was loony and informed me they just bought new ones each year. This aunt and uncle have both worked full time government jobs most of their lives and lived luxuriously. I've noticed that even now that they are retired, every few years they are building a new house, buying new furniture, redecorating, buying new "big boy" toys, etc. They never seem to have "enough".

As for my old Easter basket, it finally bit the dust and I gave in and bought my girls new ones. Nearly 20 years later, I am using one of them (and the GRASS) for my granddaughter.

-- Lenette (kigervixen@nospam.com), April 05, 2002.

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