Quarterstaff Revolution
A Childhood Memory Found

Surviving Hard Times

As of yesterday, according to Gallup, only five percent of Americans hold a positive view of the economy. (They’re probably all hedge fund managers.) Fifteen percent of us have a mixed view and 79 percent think the economy has gone to hell.

That’s not exactly how Gallup words it. “Negative” is their mild take, and mine is more polite than I feel. But however you say it, there are few of us who aren’t hurting financially.

Gas prices get the headlines, but have you been to the market lately? A good bread is nearly $4.00. My favorite morning coffee blend is up 20 percent. A head of romaine lettuce set me back $2.99 last week. And it’s a damned good thing I don’t care much for beef, pork or veal. Even my staple protein, chicken, is so expensive that I buy two or three and freeze them when there is the occasional 99 cents-a-pound sale.

My favorite summer fruits, blackberries and raspberries, are $3.99 a half pint - I won’t be gorging on those this season. The first apricots were in the store yesterday. I can’t remember what the price was, but it was so shocking, I passed them by.

I have only myself to feed - well, the cat too (don’t ask what’s happened to the price of his food), but I approach grocery shopping these days with a heavy heart and a too-light pocketbook.

And it’s not just food. Or, perhaps, it’s because of food and gas prices that I have come to carefully consider every potential purchase, no matter how small. I am particularly skittish right now, waiting to hear from the oil company what my heating fuel will cost next winter. There is a certain pair of summer silk pants I want, but I’ve put off buying them.

All this has led me to try to recall how people got through hard times in the past.

Although I never felt deprived as kid and certainly never hungry, I realize now how my parents stretched their short supply of dollars in a hundred small ways. They kept the heat turned low and when I said I was cold, my mother told me to put on a sweater. One way she bulked up meals was with bread – cubed in soft-boiled eggs and a stewed-tomato side dish; slices under the beef stew.

We had a lot of side dishes that my mother and neighbors had canned themselves: tomatoes, beans, relishes, jams and jellies, pickles. I don’t know if it was planned, but apparently neighbors grew different fruits and vegetables, then shared their canning with one another. So my mother might say at a meal, “These are Judy’s carrots” or “This is Carol’s strawberry jam.”

But I don’t suppose most of us grow much food these days, let alone can anything. I have no space to grow large items like peppers, cucumbers, carrots and not enough direct sun for tomatoes. But I am growing all my herbs this year: basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary and two kinds of mint – enough to dry or freeze some for winter. At the market, fresh herbs cost $2 for half an ounce, double from last year.

It's not necessary to dive too deeply into the internet to find dire warnings that hard economic times are going to be with us for awhile and I’m looking to cut every corner possible. The price of gas doesn't affect me much; I need to drive so little that I fill up the car about once a month. But I’m not renewing a lot of print subscriptions and I’m going cold turkey on my most expensive indulgence - buying books.

There are several repair projects around the house I'll do myself rather than hire someone. Although I don’t want to, I can live without those silk pants and I hadn’t planned a vacation this year anyway.

Most TGB readers are old enough to have weathered several economic downturns and a few remember growing up in the Great Depression. That ought to be good for some suggestions. Who among us are cutting back and how are you doing it? What are your best tips and secrets for surviving hard times?

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clair Zarges gives us a lesson about survival in the desert southwest in Mr. Zee Goes Up.]


Hi Ronni,
I have a large garden that is doing well so far this year with strawberries, blues and raspberries.. Tons of tomatoes coming along that I will freeze as sauce and soup. Also potatoes, peas, beans, eggplant, peppers and carrots. This on a terraced hill. And herbs.
I have come across three bloggers so far who have either lost their homes to foreclosure or are fighting it. And that is just among the cat bloggers.
We don't have to spend too much on gas since we do most of our work at home. But we do have a woodstove and we are cutting and stacking. And we cut costs a lot last year by re-building our studio so there is a first floor apartment for my husband's parents. They cover the heat and we work upstairs. It works well for all. We also share the home phone and cable and electric and taxes. And we save a lot in gas since we don't have to travel to help them out.
We started out here building the house by hand and heating just with wood. Guess we can do it again if we have to.

I know we are all seeing the effect of ever-rising prices on our standard of living. It is particularly sobering to those of us who are on relatively fixed incomes that don't keep up with hyperinflation, largely brought on by the increases in gas prices.

Meanwhile, our government is spending billions of dollars in a war in Iraq and big corporations are making record profits. This is the final result of the "trickle down" economics we've been living with. I personally hope that we will see a major change in November, but the effects of these past eight years will take their toll and no new administration can protect us from the brunt of it. In fact, the new administration will be blamed for the pain the current administration has caused.

In the face of all this doom and gloom how can I continue to have fun? It seems almost unpatriotic to be walking around with a smile on my face. Well, the smile on my face costs NOTHING. The price of happiness doesn't go up with the price of gasoline. Yes, we are cutting back on unnecessary expenditures, but the stuff we are cutting out doesn't seem to impact on our happiness. In fact, having sold our second car, selling our house, and selling other stuff we have accumulated just seems to make us feel lighter. Last night my beloved Elyn said she had never seen me as happy as I am right now. I am lightening myself up and I'm encouraging myself to enjoy every minute. This is the happiest time of my life so far and it doesn't cost a cent.

I have just a small plot of land but large enough for some wonderful herbs in part of it and flowers in the other part. Flowers may have to give way to veggies. I won't be able to grow a lot but maybe enough to put a small dint in the grocery expenses.

Ronni, my dear spouse is the King Of Frugalness. This is one era that I follow his lead without question. We have ten acres so we have our own vegetables to eat and we get lots of eggs from our chickens. We do not eat our chickens because they all have names, but I guess if push came to shove and we were starving, we could.....well, no we couldn't.

If you could see our blackberries that surround our property you would be terribly jealous.

Because we live in the country any shopping trip is costly so we prepare a weekly list and try to make one trip instead of running into town ever day or so. We have a post office box in town but I started having my Netflix sent to our home because that was the main reason I had to go to town daily.

I learn ways to save from my husband but none of our children will look at our example and they continue to run amok, complaining about costs but refusing to take our advise on ways to save.

My quarterstaff, when I get one, should lend me the appearance of intelect and perhaps our children will take my advice then:-)

I have always had a small garden.
At my new city location did not know if I would have good luck.
I am amazed. 5x12 plot has already yielded a dozen zuchinni, onions, yellow squash. green beans for one and my tomato plants are loaded. Also have cucumber, cantaloup and 8 different herbs.
Future pear tree, strawberry plants and blueberry bushes will be nice.
My big treat was eating lunch out 3 times a week. I have stopped this. This was done not for the food (I like mine better) but for the social interaction as I tend to like being home by myself. Also I was continually getting in my car to run an errand. Now I do this once a week.
I do not eat much and mostly vegetables and bake some so I do not have a lot of expense in this area.
Does not take much for one and I do not need or want anything so I am fine.
I truly feel compassion for families.

I have been cutting corners so long I don't know how to do anything else. If it isn't on sale, I probably don't buy it. Friends call me to ask where to buy things cheap.

As to books, which I consider a necessity,I buy them (and lots of other things) at Goodwill, Salvation Army or go to the library.

Movies? We have a movie theater where it only costs a buck -- and Monday is Sr. Citizens day and only costs 75 cents with popcorn and a beverage for $2. (I skip the latter mostly.)

eBay is my mall. There is a strategy to shopping there and I have learned it.

Like you, I don't drive much and fortunately, my little car gets awesome mileage (my last trip to Motown only took less than a half tank each way.)

There are a couple discount grocery chains here where I buy staples in bulk.

And for cheap entertainment, our city has been hosting a lot of free concerts and other activities.

I truly commiserate with you if you need to go cold turkey on book buying. I know I would panic if I had to do that - praise be for abebooks who sell all cheap secondhand ones.

Here ins south west Spain, the crunch has come and is biting deep for some, mostly those on a fixed income where they rely on a good sterling/euro exchange rate.

We grow much of our own fruit and veg and we're surrounded by Spanish plots who love passing on their surplus produce...all organic.

We already live a simple life style and remember post war rationing of the 40s in UK. It's time perhaps to resurrect some of the cook books of that time and I'm off now to go rummage in my cupboards!

I have learned some tips from friends. Gas and electric bills in our area are up 47%! I have a friend who told me if I unplug all the appliances that are not used or needed, I could save about 10% on my bill. It seems that these plugs, even when not in use, still draw on the electric. So, hair dryers, electric coffee pots, toasters, all such items are unplugged when not in use.

The other thing I did was to purchase those funny looking light bulbs with the squiggles that are advertised as lasting longer and pulling less electricity. I replaced all my bulbs with these (it was costly at first). But this year, just between these 2 items, my electric bill went down even with the increase in rates. I was amazed. The only BAD thing about the squiggle light bulbs is that they contain mercury so you must be careful not to break them as mercury is a hazard.
I use my microwave or small toaster oven when I can to cook. These use much less electric (or gas) then ovens and stove do. And when the weather is nice, I grill. It's only me so I try to cook on Sundays for the week and not turn on the oven.

If I don't hand wash, I rinse all plates and put in dishwasher but only run it once a week.

I think that's it. Thanks for doing this; would love to see what other tips come in.

Yes, there are elders among us who remember the Great Depression and many more who, like me, were in Europe for WW2. The biggest thrills for me, in 1945, were the return of bananas (I had never seen or tasted a real one before) and my first taste, at age 9, of ice-cream. But this is different. It is not just about getting through 'hard times' and looking forward to the day when it is all over and material prosperity returns. It is about a necessary and permanent change in the way we live. All of us. Everywhere.
In fact, I think it's really good news that economic hardships are now starting to force the changes that so many folks have been unwilling to make voluntarily. Because, just as Gary White suggests in his comment, there's deeper and more lasting satisfaction to be gained from living simply and frugally than there is in being able to afford everything you want. And the bonus side-effect of everybody downshifting to a sustainable lifestyle is that we get to keep the planet.

On a philosophical note.....wouldn't it be wonderful if the "tightening" of the budget included family & friends Sunday visits, the demise of the cell phone (except for emergencies)& texting so families started to talk to each other. And how about walking to town or better yet biking??? What about community gardens where neighbors shared time, effort & food? And pot-lucks & kids who learned to entertain themselves without video games & numerous trips to amusement parks. Good grief! These hard times may further restore some sense of community & family. I'm trying desperately to be positive, but like others, I'm re-using, re-cycling & doing without all the while trying to find some hope. Dee

Living on a farm where we raise cattle and sheep, we notice it in our supplies for them. To get us through the winter this next year with hay will be substantially more than last year. Gas to power the tractors is of course higher but so is everything else that the animals need to prosper. Wire for fences, posts, irrigation repair parts, everything is up and often without corresponding increases in the value of the product we sell. Livestock prices are not controlled by the rancher but by the meat packers. If people cannot eat as much beef, the price we get will go down even if your price in the store goes up.

I feel a lot of concern for our country economically and wonder if a lot we grew up taking for granted won't be true much longer. I did grow up in a home without a lot of money, where small pleasures were the big ones, and that has helped a lot through my life. I don't equate things with joy, but this situation right now is going beyond 'things' for a lot of people as it cuts into basics. I don't know if it's all the fault of lousy Republican management or also a product of change. Transition generations never find it easy going.

I am 40, but my husband and I have been living below our means for years. We live in downtown Chattanooga, and walk most places or ride our bikes to where we need to go. We have had one car for the last 8 years, and it is a Subaru. It is all wheel drive, but gets good gas millage and should last up to 300K miles. My grandparents taught me how to live like this. We buy things with the foresight of it's value appreciating instead of depreciating. No new furniture except for the mattress and couch. Antiques will maintain or surpass their value at time of purchase. Trying to find anything new these days that is mass produced and of good quality is like trying to find needle in a haystack. We bought a share in a CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) at the beginning of the year, since we don't have a place to grow our own. It cost us $800 dollars for 30 weeks of fresh, organic produce. It was a good hedge against inflation, since we pre-bought the share. Gas prices don't affect the cost of our food. We have one credit card that we use to travel with or make reservations with online. If we don't have the cash, we don't buy it. We became debt free years ago. I don't color my hair-that used to cost 50.00 per month. My gray looks great. I don't dress like a fashion plate, but I am appropriate for most occasions. Our landlord installed water radiators and that saves us on oil prices in the winter. We have made cutting back a game over the course of our marriage. I listened to my grandparents stories about the Depression, and took up many of their habits. I am grateful for the lessons, and while my peers (Gen X'ers) thought we were weird, some of my friends are now in the process of losing their homes, I have had cousins approach me for money that I haven't heard from since we were kids, and my thrift store find conversations don't end with eye-rolling. A few good books to check out are The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs and The Good Life by Scott and Helen Nearing. One thing that I can recommend to your readers is to buy local. This can be applied to food, clothing, furniture, ect. Cleaning supplies cost a lot...use vinegar and baking soda instead, it's better for your health and it cleans. By focusing your attention in this direction, you can substantially reduce your expenses. We use Netflix and cut off our cable. With Netflix, you get unlimited movies delivered to your door and you can download television shows and movies directly to your computer and then use a S-cable to hook it up to your television. That alone saves around 60 bucks a month. I get my news from the Internet. Pay bills for free with your banks online bill pay. It's free, and with the cost of postage these days, that is no small savings. I can rattle on about this stuff for days, so I will depart...but I think this is a good thing for our country. We lived too high on the hog for too long...without any repercussions.

Ronni, I,too, love to read but I seldom buy a book anymore.

I go to the library and get a selection of books, read them FREE. One good thing about library books is that you don't have to find shelf space for them when you are finished reading them. Just take them back and get more.

When I was a child during the 1930's most people were poor and couldn't keep their homes as warm as they would have liked. If I complained to my Dad that I was cold he would tell me to go outside and sit on the porch for just five minutes. At the end of that time when I went back into the house from the 20 degree weather outside, the house felt toasty and warm.....

We shop at the Dollar Store for shower curtains, pot holders, Christmas decorations, bath soaps of three in a package, spices, some food items and more. Surprisingly, the dollar store shower curtain has outlasted the fifteen dollar one bought at a major home goods store.

I cook in smaller amounts to avoid waste. When cooking larger amounts, part of the meal is put into the freezer or set aside for a left-over casserole.

We borrow books and movies from the library and watch more PBS. Disconnected cable. (The cost of cable t.v. is a week's groceries for some households!)

Having great luck at yard sales.

A lot of the best things in life are free from a dollar value too.

I'm enjoying your blog and reading other elder blogger sites. I like the information everybody shares.



I am doing two basic things. One is not to panic about the our investments. Small investors always do the wrong thing and sell at the bottom and buy at the top. So I'm putting new money into ultra safe cash stuff and sitting still while the markets gyrate.

Second, I am working a little more. I am retired, but have considerable experience in teaching online courses. So I am currently working for 3 different schools teaching online psych courses. These do not pay a whole lot, but it keeps the brain active and supplements the income enough to keep up with inflation.

Also, we bought a Prius Hybrid 18 months ago. It gets about 45 mpg in town, so it has been a big help in coping with the gas prices.

Best from sunny Kansas,

I was one of those who grew up during the Great Depression. "Waste not" want not was a way of life. Anything that could be reused was saved. Worn out towels, underwear, socks, etc. made great cleaning rags. Left over food became a dish we called smulgulleon (How the heck it's spelled is beyond me).

We had a large Lodge that served as a recreation room and office for the cottage court. Once a week my grandmother threw a party for everyone in the neighborhood. Those that could, brought a covered dish and trestle tables were set up for a feast. They were moved after the dinner for dancing. My grandmother and anyone else who could play an instrument provided the music. This was the only entertainment most families had and probably the best meal they had during the week. Community was absolutely a way of life and helping each other was mandatory.

During the war we had a Victory Garden and raised all of our vegetables. My Mom canned everything and kept us in food the entire winter. My step-father was a hunter and fisherman and kept meat on the table. For birthdays we got practical things. I usually knew my presents would be panties and hair ribbons.

My thrifty habits stayed with me and I am a master at buying things half-price. I had 101 recipes for hamburger. It shocks me when I see the waste that goes on now. Maybe a little belt tightening will make people more appreciative of what they have.

What a great discussion! I drive less. I used to shop once a month at Costco. Now I go once every two months. What is frightening is the difference in the haves and have nots. I heard today that real estate agents here in Wellfleet are telling renters they need to buy big screen TVs, air conditioners, etc. for the summer tenants. That is what rich folks are requiring these days. More to say, but there is a thunderstorm here.

I do worry about those who will have or already have trouble feeding themselves and their family, and feel blessed that I have enough cash flow and few expenses (no car, either) that I didn't notice that food prices had already gone up until people told me.

I'll be donating to local food banks more this year than in the past. Living expenses are so high in Vancouver that many people don't have much left over for food and clothing.

Doesn't this new food crisis make you peeved at how farmers in the past have been paid by their governments to *not* farm, due to oversupply?

I just wrote on this very topic today....with an illustration. What a timely subject. Now that I'm retired, I worry about every penny. I'm not used to not getting a regular pay check.

Where until recently, I drove my full sized pickup to a major grocery store...and home, I now walk to a smaller corner store. I spend less on food there also. This neighborhood grocery store may not be able to match the quality of Safeway/Vons, but the variety is actually better.

I'm using a friend's old big red wagon, and I am using cloth bags. We are eating less, loseing weight, feeling better all around.

I clicked on "Preview" by accident, and I found myself at the "Previewing your Comment" page with all blanks fully filled out. You might write typepad and tell them of this annoyance. It's a burp in their system.

I told mr. kenju that if something doesn't give soon, we will be eating nothing but beans! I am cutting back on everything but necessities, and driving less, whenever possible.

I'm a lively and happy 71-years with no savings and no retirement fund. Here are a few things I'm doing to get along.

Just ordered the makings of home-made laundery/cleaning/dish soap from SoapsGoneBuy.com Laundry should cost me about 2-3 cents a load now, and since it's made from real soap and not detergent, it's much better for the environment and gentler on my skin. Note: I grew up in the mountains of West Virginia and watched my Mom make home-made soap all through WWII that looked like bars of Ivory soap. She would shave it on the box shredder and use it for dishes and laundry. It worked great.
Am working from home doing bookkeeping for some CPAs here in the area who don't want to do the scut work for their clients, but like the job I do on cleaning up the paperwork for them. Pays $20-25 per hour and keeps me in groceries.
Now sharing my 3-bedroom home (in which I was rattling around by myself) with a lovely 55-year old woman who was literally on the streets herself as the woman she had been renting from fell for and lost her home to that horrible Nigerian scam.
Don't have any space around the outside of my mobile home either, but I've got 5 tomato plants in huge, plastic, reusable planters for which I paid about $8 each at WalMart, one pepper plant and one zucchini plant so we'll have good tomatoes up through November here in Southern California. Can't stand the store-bought ones.
There are farmer's markets (most of them selling organic foods) all over the place on Saturday and Sunday here in San Diego County. One, happily, is next door to our local library, so it's one-stop shopping for me on Saturday mornings. Fresh veggies, fruits, herbs, and fresh books for the week. Oh, happy me.
My warmest regards and the best of luck to the rest of my peers who also worked from paycheck to paycheck, and now have no reserves on which to spend a restful retirement.

A lot of us who are of a generation born before WW II came out of the Great Depression and the deprivations of WW II ... and know a great deal about how to get along on next to nothing. It's amazing how well you can "make do" when you have to.

There's a 40 foot wide easement on the north side of my property that runs between the street my house fronts on and the one on the east.
The city was deeded the property by the developers but has ignored it completely ever since we moved in almost 10 years ago.
This spring I planted a small garden there and have tended and watered that as well as mowing the easement.
Now, I'm trying to make up my mind about next year. Should I:
1. Maintain my little "Victory Garden as it is?
2. Expand it to about double its' current size?
3. Invite other people in the neighborhood tp establish gardens there as well?

Expansion would mean increased water consumption via my meter- if the neighbors joined in it could get complicated.
Growing a good crop of vegetables is an attractive idea. Question is
is it worth the hassle?

Revamped the garden this year and fenced it in to protect it from attack by golden retrievers. Xeriscaped a lot of the rest of the yard. Added a new patio for entertaining at home, which cuts water use and provides a place for my teener and 20 something to gather with their friends so they don't need to spend money going out.

Paperbackswap.com for books. (Try it, you'll like it!)

Buy high-quality goods when I do buy stuff to make sure it lasts. No cheap crap plastic anything.

Got a nice chest freezer a couple years ago to store whatever meats and such are bought on sale or in bulk.

Energy efficient windows, air conditioner and heater, appliances, and tankless water heat (saves about 15% on gas bill).

Lots more - been cutting for years in anticipation of the economy turning to suck.

This week I broke my toe which is keeping me from going out shopping and spending money. ;^)

My mother did wonders with a tight budget. Looking back I remember eating lots of eggs, chicken and soup.

She did millions of things with that chicken - made soup, used the liver and made chopped liver, sauted the chicken fat and used it instead of oil or butter. Baked her own bread, pastries and even made her own noodles.

In those days the apartment we lived in had a small number of closets. We didn't need more because we didn't have much to store.

I had the basic toys - a doll, a carriage, a table and chairs and a tea set.

We had one radio, one telephone and in later years one TV.

When you left a room you put the light out, I still do that to this day.

My father wore white shirts to work and when they started to fray, my mother would turn the collars.

When I owned my own home my husband and I had yearly yard sales, that way we cleaned out the cellar and made some money. My son and his wife carry on the tradition and have one every year!

What do I do now: I have two supermarkets near me, their prices are on the high side, I go to them just to fill in. When I need a lot I go to a market a short drive from where I live.

I try to use coupons when the item is on sale and when chicken or meat is on sale I buy extra and store in the freezer. Same goes for frozen vegies.

I don't cook much these days but when I do, I make a big batch and freeze individual portions.
That way I use less electricity and have a meal on hand when I don't feel like cooking.

Hi Ronni

I haven't visited your blog in a little while but I popped in today to see that you have asked what people are doing to face the current economic crisis. I thought you might like to know about Rhonda Jean's excellent blog at http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/ She's an inspiration to everyone, has just had her 60th birthday and lives in Australia.

Chris (in the UK)

We're also doing many of the ideas listed above including a garden, warmer air conditioning, clothes on the line, mowing less yard, and driving a 37-40 mpg car. We do have a small van size RV. We will continue to take roadtrips although perhaps closer to home and at a slower pace. Also, we eat out much less, especially when traveling.

We moved to a place with a low cost of living. What is going to hurt now is my husband has to have Radiation Therapy on a daily basis for several weeks. This will increase our fuel expenses considerably. We were already consolidating our trips by only going to the grocery store on the day of Dr. appointments. We are looking into using the handicapped van service for treatment visits. I have not costed it out but I think it will cost less overall.

Have been buying 80% of my clothes second hand at Village Valeur in Montreal. Big warehouse sized stores, with neatly hung clothes, dishes, furniture, etc. Great savings on clothes if you know your labels. Take them home, wash them and they're good to go. Some people would never dream of buying second hand clothes. Why? Me? I dress very sharp on little $. I come out of there with all kinds of excellent pieces for amazing prices. I also shop off season. For example, if I see a gorgeous winter coat in the boiling summer at VV for $30, I grab it, dry clean and put it away. You have to shop and buy creatively. Think of it as "sticking it to the man." Who is "the man?" I don't know. Government maybe? Who cares? It feels good. Sometimes I buy clothes in the children's department, like last week I got a beautiful waterproof sport jacket for $35, and a similar adult one was $65. Nobody could tell mine was for a teenager. I did this kind of shopping even when working. Nobody knew! I also just got my senior bus pass and my mom gives me tickets, as she gets them from her city for free. So I can go all the way downtown or anywhere else on the island for nothing! We're 5 minutes from bus stop. We live in the suburbs, no mortgage on house, no debts. I save by riding my bike, using the bus, staying home to garden, read and relax, rather than roam aimlessly in my car. We get all our messages done in one drive & leave one car at home. Netflix is good too. But we still go downtown Saturdays by bus to see movies and eat. We get senior discounts whenever we can. I keep a healthy slush fund in case of emergencies & we are always improving the house with renos that we save for. Montreal has a ton of festivals all summer long, with free outdoor concerts. It's a great city for wandering, eating and shopping. No need for us to travel in the summer. We have camping gear which we use, kayaks, a lake down the street. Library and universities close by. Gardening: I picked up rocks from everywhere and did my own landscaping, saving big $ and also made my own stepping stone/river stone path to the back yard. We are always improving the house & have planted tomatoes and peppers this year. Will see how they turn out. I read books at the library or read at Chapters where I can sit for free, read an entire book and buy a coffee. I might buy a Smart car next spring as I HATE spending $ on gas. I earn extra pocket $ by gardening for seniors around my neighborhood. That way I get paid to exercise. Better than joining a big ass club where I have to line up to use a machine. I thought nobody would call me for gardening this summer, because of the high gas prices, but I was wrong. They're all lining up for my trowel. I hope to do this until I am at least 75. We don't waste food, and freeze leftovers. I make big thick soups in my crock pot that are meals, to eat with pita bread. I worry about the future too much though and hope we all get through this learning a big lesson- the lesson being...make a small footprint, don't squander. Live below your means. We're all responsible for this situation. We got here, we know why, we can turn it around. But it will take time.

I make all my own bread with a favorite family recipe and a bread maker. My bread maker is 5 years old and I bet I have made 300 loaves of bread with it. Email me if you wan the recipe. Marion.vermazen at gmail dot com

What a great post today, Ronni.

My husband and I are in our 40s. What we've done: We switched my son from a school 45 minutes away to one in our town. I cut my commute (nursing school) to 3 days a week, down from five. We are buying a wood burner to replace our oil burner. It cost us $450 monthly to heat our home last winter so we will net substantial savings from the new burner. We grew a garden this summer. I'm learning to change the oil filter on my car. No more books -- am borrowing from the library instead. Biking more, doing the shopping one day a week, things like that.

Dear Ronni,

Just discovered your blog and wanted to say how much I am enjoying the tour! You have an excellent, content-rich resource and I am excited to have found you.

In fact, I listed your blog in my summer review of Women bloggers to Watch for 2008 at http://virtualwomansday.blogspot.com/. Please stop by and leave a comment.

Many thanks…keep up the great work! Enjoy your retirement. Sounds like you work harder now than ever.

Heidi Richards Mooney, Founder & CEO
Women’s eCommerce Association - http://www.wecai.org

We've all had to learn to tighten our belts in little ways recently. Thankfully the elders know how to do this. I wonder if there is going to be a run on Mason jars.

I've been poor most of my life, so this is nothing really new for me. My husband, however, indulged us shamelessly. I have acquired a few habits that are hard to break. I like half and half in my coffee. He bought a coffee grinder, and I like to buy beans.

I got rid of the $90 coffeemaker--I never make latté or espresso on my own, and was wasting half a pot of coffee every day, so I now use the old 4-cup pot. The thermostat is now set on 80° instead of the 68° he liked. I've closed the register in the room I don't use.

I use towels several times instead of washing them after each use, and have devolved back to cheap shampoo. My showers are cooler, and I hang what laundry I can to dry. I've decided to grow hair, and abandon the beauty parlour. I lent the Suburban to a friend, and just drive the Miata, which gets 30 mpg. I have always bought my clothes at the thrift shops, or made them. I don't much like modern styles. I don't go out, except for an occasional meal, and Netflix is my friend.

My major indulgences are cable TV and Road Runner. I buy used books from Amazon, as I don't have time to peruse the shelves at the Goodwill or Half Price Books like I used to.

For the most part, I buy generic groceries, rather than brand names, and have cut back on meat consumption. I don't double up on protein sources any more--I eat my eggs without cheese. sour cream has become a thing of the past. And, sadly, I no longer can afford the imported Dutch licorice that had been my guilty pleasure since Jim's death.

As a newcomer to Blogging I've been browsing to get ideas and your Blog seems full of them!Here in Australia we are suffering from rising prices as well so it's certainly a global village. When your 'commenter' wrote about bananas in WW2 I was reminded of my own experience. For some reason I was one of the first girls to take a banana to school in 1946 (I lived in the UK). Everyone stood around and watched me eating it! And I was terribly disappointed in the taste but I didn't let anyone else know that! I write, in verse, about anecdotes such as this and my Blog is at Rinkly Rimes.

I feel the pinch at the grocery store, as well as the gas pump. I have always been frugal. I even unplug my hot water heater, plugging it in only an hour or two before I need hot water. A time would cost $200, and that would wipe out a whole year's savings, so why bother? I have not been able to find a full-time job, and I am not eligible for even the partial SS benefit yet. I am managing on a part-time income and dip into savings when needed.

I grew up in a frugal household where the practice became a necessity for my mother a few years after I was born. She had grown up on a farm which, though prosperous as many family farms were in the early 20th century, they also practiced a waste not, want not approach to life. She knew how to continue such practices when the need arose.

We ate leftovers which she often turned into an inviting new dish. We didn't waste food -- you put on your plate only what you could eat, since seconds were usually an option and we were expected to clean our plates (not always a good idea if we had too much, but that's another topic.)

We used all our utilities carefully -- not wasting water, always turning the lights off if we left a room, leaving no other electrical items on either, if we left the room for very long i.e. radio, and later TV. So much more I could describe here such as not buying so much that's disposable after one use thus avoiding reuse.

My mother prided herself in being able to make something from nothing, a practice which I absorbed. Consequently, I'm always viewing items I might otherwise discard as having potential for some other use -- an enjoyable challenge. I've become somewhat lax in recent years so must reassess how I can tighten up my life style.

I think I'll resume a couple or so flower boxes in which I stagger planting dates for leaf lettuce, maybe once again plant some tomatoes in big pots for starters.

Certainly making auto trips count by consolidating shopping trips and reducing frequency becomes a necessity.

Ronni, I read the summary of the frugal post and then the "rest of the story." We have a reverse mortgage on our house...which gives us a place to live until we die (or even after if they don't find out about it....ha ha ha)
We are also paying for our funerals which is part of a 36 month plan - so our children won't have to worry about that expense...they have enough of their own with the economy now a days.Thanks Ronni, for bringing good folks to light...you have been an iconoclast with this blog. Kol Ha Kavod!!! (you know what it means....)

Fuel Assistance via Self Help Agency - they have been wonderful for us low income folks...check it out

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