Tag Archives: frugal


Children grow so quickly that there was always a market for their "gently worn" clothing.  Now more and more women are buying "vintage" clothing for themselves.  Photo by Cathy Sherman.

Children grow so quickly that there was always a market for their "gently worn" clothing. Now more and more women are buying "vintage" clothing for themselves. This is a Kansas City consignment store, which recently underwent a major renovation and expansion. Business is brisk!

Being frugal is cool these days.  I like the new name — frugalistas, people who are experts at finding frugal ways to enjoy life.  Becoming or remaining debt-free is one of their top goals. (See link below.)

I was born a coupon clipper and a recycler.  There’s a photo of me as an infant with a pair of scissors (blunt, of course) with the caption “Cathy’s first tool”.  OK, I’m just kidding about the photo….. (I did recycle the photo above from my post on consignment stores.)

Couponing and shopping at sales are two obvious ways to save, but only if you buy items or meals you need. (Yes, need is a vague term, which is why our houses are full of stuff we thought we “needed”. )   These days, the half-life of a coupon seems to be about ten days, so some of the joy is gone.  What happened to “No expiration date”?  Of course, companies don’t last that long any more, either.  Being a frugalista is much more than coupon clipping, though.  It’s an attitude. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy life. You don’t need as much as you think.  Sometimes, it’s a decision not to buy something or to find a different, cheaper way to do something you enjoy. 

  • Check out books and movies from the library.  Yes, it means you won’t have a clue about this year’s Academy Awards nominees, since you’ll still be catching up on last year’s.  But so what?  We haven’t rented dvds in years, but I have bought a few dvds that I want to keep. (More on those dvds in a later post, probably entitled “Shameless Promotion”.)
  • Walk in the park.  Kansas City has more than a two hundred miles of walking trails in stream-side parks with lots of access, so that’s easy for us.  You can be a bird-watcher, cheap entertainment.
  • I save the newspaper plastic sleeve and use it to clean out the cat box.  (There’s no way you can make this fun, sorry.)   Plastic grocery bags, if you’re still getting those, can line trash cans, but everyone knows that!
  • Consignment stores.  I’ve bought some great stuff there and sold some stuff, too.

    I'd be lost without my scissors. I have ten pairs, so a pair will always be near.

    I'd be lost without my scissors. I have ten pairs, so a pair will always be near.

  • Garage sales. Yeah, I know, it’s pain in posterior, if you conduct one yourself.  However, sometimes it’s the only way to clear out your house.  You can donate your stuff to charities, which is good, too, but a lot of that stuff gets dumped, unfortunately, because charities don’t have the resources to sort, display, store and distribute the zillions of tons of donated stuff.  When someone invests a dollar for an item in your garage sale, they might actually use it.   There’s also www.freecycle.org  Conversely, you can get some great stuff at garage sales. We’re working on putting together a garage sale right now, because our neighborhood and several others around us are having one May 1-2.  I’m going to try to enjoy it.
  • Eat at home, including making your own espresso and lattes.  I tried giving up coffee, mostly to avoid caffeine withdrawal in the morning, but I just couldn’t do it. I have a cheap machine, but I’m not picky about my foam, which is a good thing because the foamer is clogged. I order my coffee  in bricks by the case from www.cafebustelo.com  with free shipping in the U.S. on orders over $50. I order six months’ worth of ground coffee.  I’m not hung up on grinding it myself. I’m happy if it’s strong and full of caffeine.
  • Since recycling is the theme this week of Earth Day, I’m recycling another blog of a young frugalista from Kansas City who explains how she does it.  She also has other great frugalistas on her blogroll.  Carrie on the Cheap, a young frugalista.

I’m recycling this blog post of mine because I forgot to put tags on it the first time around, Coffee, the Miracle Drink. I’m sure it’s still steaming hot, ha, ha.

 “Austere Times? Perfect” — Article from the New York Times on Frugalistas.


Filed under Bird-watching, Books, Conservation, Drink, Entertainment, Environment, Food, Howto, Humor, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Money, Personal, Random, Shopping

What I Did On My Summer Staycation

As gasoline prices soar, staycations are popular these days.  I’ve been finding plenty to do without leaving my yard.

I know some people might call that agoraphobic, but I just call it being frugal and inventive when you can A family of raccoons visited our deck.  Photo by Cathy Sherman.find so many ways to entertain yourself at home.  I’m sure you can do better, but here’s what I like to do.

Wildlife Watching: In the neighborhood where I live, there’s as much variety as an African savannah — deer, squirrels, opossum, woodchucks, chipmunks, skinks, plenty of birds, an occasional snake.  There are even coyotes prowling around.

If I get up in the middle of the night, I might see raccoons peering in the windows. They even leave little messy gifts for us on the deck, full of mulberry seeds.  I find their paw prints on the dusty sills of the windows facing the deck. (Yes, I need to clean those some day.)

Two of my favorite creatures to watch are small and feisty — carpenter bees, which look like over-sized bumblebees, and ruby-throated hummingbirds.  From my window or deck, I have a ringside seat as the bees hover and dive bomb each other.  The hummingbirds do the same, fighting over sips at the feeder. (Better get two feeders, if you want to peace to reign.) It’s cheaper than going to a stadium.

It’s also fascinating to watch carpenter bees drill holes in the support beams of my deck.  I’ve read that their holes are harmless, so my deck won’t fall down, I hope.  They pollinate my plants, so they’re useful, too. (See, my post, “Welcome Bees”)

Gardening:There’s plenty of entertainment here. Digging, planting, weeding, watering, weeding, watering, weeding. Picking off ticks, slathering on sun block, swatting mosquitoes.  Eventually, you might even harvest something and save some money.  For example, I’ve planted a mixture of fancy lettuce that would cost about a zillion dollars at the grocery store. Unfortunately, the seedlings look like weeds when they sprout.  And they don’t look much less weed-like when they are large enough to be picked.  If you don’t hear from me for a while, well, what I picked might not have been lettuce after all.

And this brings me to Cooking.  You don’t need to go to restaurants.  With all of your home-grown produce, you can become Rachael Ray or Alice Waters in your own kitchen. That is, if all of the animals (See “wildlife watching” above) have left you anything.

If you’re not outdoorsy or are allergic to kitchens, you can still be entertained with home projects.

Wardrobe Maintenance: I’m sorting my clothes by color in my closet.  Let’s see.  There’s black, black and then more black.  Done. That was easy.  Now what?

Organizing my finances: It’s nine months until taxes are due. I’ll put that off.

Catch up on old magazines: In the stack waiting to be read, are photographs of Brad and Angelina toting only three kids. Twenty presidential candidates still thought they had a chance. How time flies. 

Home upkeep: Looks like the outdoor trim needs a little paint.  Oh, let’s put that off. It can last another year.

Exercise: Ok, let’s forget that suggestion.

Read: This is one of my favorites.  You can order books and movies online from the library.  I’ve been saving this suggestion for last, hoping you don’t read this one.  This county has a great library system, but if more of you use it, I might have to wait longer for my favorite books and movies.  You do have to leave your yard to pick up your requests, but you can get a big pile and keep yourself entertained for weeks.

I confess that I may come up with some gas money to leave town.  A change of scenery is nice, too, I admit.  But I’ll be glad to get back to hanging out at home.  Who knows what I might miss while I’m gone?

I previously published a version of this in a Kansas City newspaper.  So, yes, I’m double dipping.


Filed under Gardening, Humor