These Hard Economic Times

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These Hard Economic Times

For a number of years, there has been a lot of talk about hard economic times. Even though the economy is down, does the talk match our spending habits?

These Hard Economic Times

I keep asking myself, “Has the world gone crazy?” What are people talking about when they say “these hard economic times?” I am so confused because I hear so many people say these are such hard economic times but, at the same time, what I see happening with my own eyes and hearing with my ears is a totally different story.

Let me give you some examples what I mean. Are these examples of hard economic times?

    • Last year we spent more at Christmas and all year shopping than the year before.
    • Americans spend 500 million dollars a year to have their teeth whitened — not cleaned, just whitened to look nice.
    • A single mom on welfare spends $350 on a cell phone– not on the calls, just the cell phone.
  • On a home shopping show they were selling American Girl dolls for $135. The woman selling it said “Kit is our most popular doll.”

    The other woman said “That is probably because Kit represents the Depression Era and girls nowadays relate so well to that because they have to sacrifice and give up so many things in these hard economic times.” They sold out of the doll. This meant several thousand of these poor little girls who have had to give up so much received a $135 doll for Christmas. What was it they had to sacrifice? Maybe it was the $25 outfits that went with the doll. (I have never paid $25 for an outfit for myself let alone for a doll!!)

  • A woman just lost one of her part time jobs. She was sobbing and crying because her family was going to have to sell their house, which they could no longer afford. For the past several years they have been making very good money but they have been spending it on everything including $150,000 for decorating their home, several trips a year for the whole family to travel across the country and to Canada for sports events their sons wanted to play in, buying a couple of new cars every year, eating out frequently and the so on.

    Even after she lost her job they still took another cross country trip to go to a game. After coming totally unglued about the thought of having to sell the house she was asked if they might be able to save the house if they would cut back on their spending a little. Her reply was, “No way. I hate to scrimp and save and do without. I won’t live like that.” As my son in law loves to say “Allllrighty then…”

  • My brother just met a man who restores hot rods for a living. When asked if things are getting harder for him the man laughed and said “No, I’m doing better than I ever have and I need to hire someone to help me.” My brother is now working for that man. He is getting paid to sand people’s car engines so they will look pretty and smooth. People have so much money they can pay bunches to have their engines sanded? Go figure. For those of you who restore cars, don’t yell at me! My dad has restored Model A and Model T cars for years, so I know all about car restoring.
  • Here’s my favorite: A sales person selling a $1500 piece of jewelry said, “We know things are so rough in these hard economic times so we have put this on 5 easy payments for you.” They sold out of it. Do you know how contradictory that is? If things are so hard, what in the world are people doing buying $1500 pieces of jewelry, even on 5 easy payments?!?!

I don’t have anything against people buying jewelry, dolls, cell phones or restoring hot rods. What I do have a problem with is people moaning and groaning about how hard these times are and then taking off to go shopping or play a game of golf.

We get upset and angry about the government, big companies and their crazy spending but we need to stop pointing fingers and look at our own lives. Are they doing anything differently than the average American?

We may not have the opportunity to be foolish with millions or billions of dollars like them, but that doesn’t matter. The point is that many of us are being just as foolish with what we have as they are. We are up to our eyeballs in debt just like they are and most of the time it’s because we didn’t think or care about how we were spending it. Then we want someone else to bail us out.

Yesterday, I heard a pastor talk about this same type of thing. He had some good points to make. He showed a web site called Global Rich List, where you can type in an income and it will tell you how rich you are compared to the rest of the world.

Here are some interesting stats from that site:

If you make $35,000 a year, you are in the top 4.62% richest people.

Here are some others:

$50,000 – Top 0.98%
$75,000 – Top 0.82%
$100,000 – Top 0.66%

It makes you stop and think. Are things really that bad? Two million children died last year because of lack of clean water and I sit here complaining because the price of gas is so high that I might not be able to take a vacation this year?

Yes, unemployment is up but look at it this way: over 92% of the people in the US have jobs. Many of those who don’t have jobs aren’t even looking for work. I know a lot of people who are 20 or 30 something and living at home and not bothering to find a job.

We need to change the way we look at things and stop parroting what everyone else says about “these hard economic times.”

I’m not so naive as to miss the fact that financially things are getting out of control and will eventually bottom out, but that doesn’t mean things are so hard yet that people should be carrying on the way they are. Instead of moaning, we need to fix things, starting in our own lives.

The pastor I mentioned earlier said if we have a friend who is deep in debt who says “let’s go to the mall”, as a good friend, you need to say no. Suggest that your friend come over to your place for coffee and a visit, helping her and yourself not to spend more. Start looking at what you are doing and how you can fix it.

We need to face the facts. A big part of our “hard economic times” is summed up in this wonderfully appropriate saying:

We buy things we really don’t need
with money we really don’t have
to impress people we really don’t know.

Memorize that saying and the next time you go to buy anything stop and think, “Do I really need that?” Do you need to buy your kids the most expensive shoes? Do you need to get the most expensive car or would a two or three thousand dollar car get you by? What about those manicures and pedicures? How much do you spend on all the kids activities or on throwing that big football party and having the whole gang over?

I knew a man who lost his job and his wife worked at a very low paying job. He said he didn’t care if he didn’t have a job. He was still going to play golf every weekend (and he did). They are in a big financial mess now, but not because of “these hard economic times”.

When considering buying something, ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” Do you have the money to buy it? If you have to borrow money for it, you don’t have the money to buy it. It’s that simple. If you need it, work hard and save and then get it.

Many of us think that waiting to buy until you actually have the money is impossible, but once we stop buying everything on credit, we free up all that money we were using to pay credit card bills, interest and fees. That money is then available to buy things we need or want.

Why do you buy the things you do? Do you do it to impress others? This is pride. I don’t have room to go into detail in this article, but God hates pride as much or more as drugs, alcohol abuse or sexual immorality and so many of us suffer from pride. If you don’t think you have a pride problem, consider whether or not you might say one of these these statements: “I would never allow my family to wear clothes from a garage sale.” or “There is no way I will do without …….(fill in the blank)”.

The Bible cautions us to watch the words we say. Don’t just spout empty meaningless words like “in these hard economic times” just because the world is using them and don’t use words like that as an excuse to justify why you don’t have your life and finances together.

Actions do speak louder than words. Are your actions matching your words?



  1. says

    I’ve lived on SSI disability for 10 years now. Before that, I was never high income, and have always lived within my means. I don’t own the latest, newest, top-of-the-line anything. I live below the poverty line and am able to survive by being frugal.

    I taught my son to be responsible and to spend money wisely as well. I wish I could make a bigger point out of teaching your kids this. If I had not done so, my grandchild would be in the hands of social services instead of in my son’s custody.

    I can’t justify eating out because I get more than enough food stamps.
    I have a car. It’s 19 years old, and I paid $50 for it. My son can do most repairs and provide used parts. Car insurance is around $70 a month, and I pay for that by not having cable TV. I am entitled to transportation to doctor appointments and a bus pass, which would cost the state more money, but I will keep a car as long as I can by using my check for insurance, repairs and gas.
    My heat and electricity are included in my rent, but I try hard to conserve both heat and energy just the same.
    Yes, I have a cell phone. It’s a relative’s discarded tracfone for emergencies. The cell is ancient, costs me less than $100 per yr. to keep activated, and only makes calls and texts (which I never use). No pictures, no extras.
    My medical bills are covered, but I don’t abuse the system. I rely on my primary care doctor to diagnose problems, but if she thinks it’s my arthritis, or my spine causing the problem, I won’t take things any further. I am alergic to pain meds and what good would an X-ray or another MRI do, if there’s no way to treat me? That’s a waste of money. I do get my teeth cleaned regularly. Along with dental floss, it’s a necessity so I don’t lose any more teeth.
    Oh, and I do have my old computer, bought before I had a car, which I‘ve learned how to upgrade and repair. I pay $19.99 for cable internet service. Dial-up would not allow me to pay bills online.
    In the past 2 years, my check has gone down, and my food stamps have gone up.

    Two of my siblings who’s incomes exceed $50,000 a year are always in debt due to always having more, newer, or the best. One of them is recently widowed, is willing and able to fix her finances, and has begun doing so. The other is not, even though their inccome has been dropping for over a year.
    I also have 2 siblings who are homeless. One for major medical reasons. Last I heard, she was living in the woods in another state. The other is homeless by her own bad choices and is living with her children.

    I don’t know any better examples to show that it’s not how much money you have, it’s how you use that money.

  2. Sue says

    I am a 40 year single mother of 2. I lost my job in October 2009 by no choice of my own. My company closed it’s doors and I have been looking ever since trying to get a job. I even applied at McDonalds but here noone is hiring. It’s crazy. It’s not that I don’t want to work, I do and in fact need to be working and hate relying on my Unemployment.

    I do know quite a few people that are jobless but most of the people that I know that are unemployed are actively looking for work. So I wouldn’t say most people don’t want to not be working.

    We don’t take vacations as I can’t afford them and I look for free things to do here locally.
    I shop and thrift stores, use freecycle and craigslist.
    In the past I have made some bad financal mistakes and was on my way to working on those things and then I lost my job. I am suppose to be getting childsupport but my ex is out of work as well and his UE has ended.
    I do get foodstamps. $100 a month for the 3 of us and I use coupons and cook from scratch and make that money go as far as it can go.
    I am trying to teach my kids that they don’t need all of the newest hottest things.

  3. says

    Dee, you are a person of true integrity and I take my hat off to you! If more people over the last 30 years had maintained a responsible attitude we would not as a country be in such a mess.
    Right now things are really upside down as some communities have very little problems with unemployment and others are really ravaged. I agree that as a society we have a long way to go in understanding what frugality really means and how to make it a normal and acceptable way of life. Too many people just do not understand why living a frugal lifestyle has so many benefits. I guess they can’t see the “big picture” or too far down the road.

  4. says

    Jill, I have only ever used the line “”I would never allow my family to wear clothes from a garage sale.” I used it because my BIL had just said that I was pregnant with my 2nd son and Don was just starting back to work after a long lay off. He said Well I suppose we can find some of our boys clothes that will do for you.”
    I had passed on all my eldest’s things to them for 4 years including cradle crib diapers, clothes hand knitted blankets and bedding for the cradle and crib and also a change table.
    He made me so mad making it sound like my children could do with 2nd rate clothes even though I knew they were top quality since my family had given much of them as gifts.
    I told him “my children did not need hand me downs and to give them to someone in need, I always do.”
    That was 30 years ago and it still urks me that he made me angry and I said something that had hurt his wife.
    My children did get some hand me downs but never from that man.
    I don’t shop at garage sales because I don’t enjoy doing it. The few times I went with friends just seemed to be so others could make comments on what cheap stuff each sale had out.
    I grew up on hand me downs and loved it because my cousins would visit the first of spring and the beginning of fall and we would get a new wardrobe since they were 1 a year older than me and 1 2 years older so my sister and I got new clothes. Nice for my mother and since we had the same colouring nothing clashed.

  5. Joyce says

    My 89-year-old gentleman friend relates how his wife used to come home all excited about a sale at the retail store where she worked as an auditor. She would say, “I went shopping today and saved 20% on these outfits.”

    Since he knew her closet was well stocked, his good-natured reply was, “You could have saved 100% if you hadn’t bought them!”

    Priorities…that’s the name of the game. I only read the Sunday paper ads if I know I’ll have money to go shopping the following week. If I don’t, then I don’t tempt myself by reading the ads. (My newspaper is shared with several others after I’m finished with it.)

    I keep a constant grocery list, to which I add anything I’m close to running out of, or need for an upcoming meal. I go on scheduled shopping trips (usually to the dollar store) every Saturday with a friend, so my list is ready.

    I gave up my car because I could no longer afford the gas, insurance, and license expenses. I am 72, have a friend who takes me to doctor’s appointments and such, and a daughter and granddaughters who pick me up to go to church or their house once a week.

    Again, it’s priorities! I feel rich, and live only on Social Security income in a senior low-rent independent apartment building where there are no utilities charged. “Rich” like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thanks for all the good tips and articles.

    Joyce in Illinois

  6. jo says

    I have 4 children under the age of nine, one with autism and another with a learning disability. I work per diem as an RN and we basically live on my husband’s modest income. We live well beneath our means. We rarely go out to eat except on a special occasion, we spend about $80.00 per week on groceries for a family of 6 and that is without coupons. I rarely buy clothes at thrift stores and yard sales because I can get better deals with end-of-season sales and clearance racks. We have two cars that are both 14 years old. Our motto is, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

  7. Janie says

    Thank You! In the US we are so blessed. I think we take it for granted. I know that I do. There are those who are struggling right now, but generally speaking even our poorest citizens are better of than most of the world.

    • WYgirl says

      You are so right! Being an American is a true blessing. We all have a safety net in our government. So many complain of not getting enough from the state or feds, but in many countries people get nothing from their governments.
      I’m a baby Boomer & I was raised by parents raised during the depression. Even though I’m now retired & living on Social Security, I have more than enough & if need be could live on less. My spouse & I comment to each other often that we are very lucky. Now, much of this “luck” came from working hard & being conservative financially, but still “lucky”!

  8. alisa says

    I get lots of good ideas from reading letters on this site. One thing I always wonder about… jo stated in her letter of October 13 she feeds a family of 6 on $80.00 a week. How do you do that? In what part of the country do you live? I live in NJ which is ridiculously expensive for housing, taxes, insurance, etc. I will be heading to PA in 2 1/2 years when my son graduates. We have decided it is a priority that he finish in his current school. But then after that we have to leave. Also I lost health insurance due to a cut back in hours. Today I had to go to eye dr. for eye problem that eye dr. said I could experience due to my nearsightedness. That cost $195. I’m not eleigible for any state sponsored health ins. plans and private ones are prohibitive. Any suggestions?

    • val says

      Perhaps you could look into a credit card, Care Credit, that is only for medical and dental bills – if the amount is $250. or more, you can get 6 months same as cash with it. That gives you 6 months to pay off but not pay any interest. I got the application in my dentist’s office, or perhaps ask the receptionist. No fees as long as pay off in the time period, larger amount can get 12 or 18 months no interest. Works for me, never paid interest and the dentist likes it as his bill is paid in full right away.

    • Kim says

      I love the Prudent Homemaker website. It has some practical ideas on feeding a large family for a small amount. Since January, I have applied several of her ideas and am now feeding our family of six on $60 average each week. This includes two teenage sons! I REALLY wish I had tried this many years earlier! BTW, we live in a rather expensive part of Colorado. Groceries are not cheap here either.

  9. rose says

    alisa .. just saw ur post .. maybe you can make payments for the procedure ? ..
    some friends of ours do not have ins and well whenever they have procedure’s done, they make payments ..
    same thing with us too .. we do not qualify for the county/state health ins bc of all the new cutbacks and qualifications (you have to make alot less than we make in order to qualify and we do not make alot of income) ..
    sooo, what is one to do? well hubby gets medicare and i am starting to take supplements for my ailments .. that is all i can afford .. i cant afford to go to the dr and i cant afford the meds (my meds are not listed for the walmart $4 prescription meds) ..
    we do what we can ..
    not complaing here just sharing …
    same thing with our rent.. too too high but at the moment we cant afford to leave .. when our lease is up we will be moving .. i told hubby i would go into one of those manufactured mobile homes (they are secure into the ground and some of them are on cement foundations) (not the ones on wheels) … and just pay lot rent (some areas this comes with water and basic cable) … he wants a regular house with room to garden .. and i told him well with one of those homes we can fence it off and have a small garden still .. its just the 2 of us (and 3 if our son comes with us, which he can bc he is part time caregiver of his dad) ..
    dee, i think its awesome that even tho you have little income you do the best you can with what you have to work with …
    thanks for sharing everyone ..
    and thanks tawra and jill for this wonderful website where we can all share our thoughts, idea’s and lives with each other 😀

    • mildred lane says

      Rose, do not forget about container gardening. Now at 75 this is what I am doing and have enough to eat,freeze and some canning.Still fun.
      Have u tried internet seed swaps or sharing? I enjoy this now also.Special groups listed on Yahoo groups.

  10. says

    Alisa, I live in PA and am from NJ. My parents still live there and I think that the one thing that costs more here is food. Our ground beef is almost $3/lb! Our food prices are going through the roof but my mother’s prices have not risen as much. I am sure that it is a supply and demand issue. I live in a pretty rural area and well, she lives in central jersey. Depending on where you are planning to relocate in PA, you might not save on food. If you compare the rest though, I am sure you will make it up though :)

    • mildred lane says

      I save my not buying meats. I dislike meats, the taste,flavor, idea of where they come from. I do love beans and order off line the many different kinds. U can cook many ways, use many ways, etc. cheaper than meats. I enjoy Clara’s world war 1/2 cooking on u tube. She was still going strong at 96 w/ her grand son filming her. Lots to learn from her on being frugal.

  11. MARTHA says

    I love your comments!!! We need to stop complaining about everything. GOD is blessing this country with more than enough, every single day from day one. Even christians get into the habit of complaining, we need to start saying thanks to God, every day of our lives. HE does not have any obligation to blessed us, He can take His blessing somewhere else!!!!

  12. Rachel says

    Great post! We all need to be reminded of the blessings we have. We have become used to expecting, and in some cases, demanding more. When the Hebrews were wandering in the desert, God provided their food daily through the manna. We can have a pantry, fridge and freezer full, and stand there thinking I don’t see anything I want. I have a friend who has been going through a difficult financial time for about 4 years now. If I give her a coupon for brand x cheese, she tells me her family will only eat brand y, and it is always the most expensive brand on the market. I would think that if you’re hungry, brand x would taste pretty good.

    Why were people able to feed their families through the depression when they had so little? Because dinner was a pot of turnip greens, a pan of cornbread, and maybe some fried potatoes. My husband insists on meat every night. We can afford it, but if things change, like a job loss and having to live on unemployment compensation, meat will go. Sometimes I wish we were still living like when we were first married, no cell phones, no home phone, very little, but we were so happy!

  13. says

    This was so awesome! My family and I have been cutting back and and living within our means. We don’t make near as much as other people do, but we are happy knowing we can make it month to month without racking up a credit card (got rid of that at the beginning of this year) I wish more people would see how ridiculous their spending is and that it is not much different then what the government is doing.

  14. Alisa says

    Hey Rose and Dawn, thanks for your thoughts and comments. I will ask any dr. I go to in the future about payments and I’ve also heard sometimes if you pay in cash they’ll give you a discount. I’ hearing some of the same things about PA. My brother lives there and he said food was a bit more than in Jersey for certain things. He has kids in Jersey so when he comes to visit he does some shopping before he goes home. I love this site for ideas that people have and I also agree with a lot of people here who say its about priorities. Have a wonderful New year everyone!

  15. Stacey says

    This is such a great article. I have to share something with all of you that might disappoint you in me. I am a Christian, but have no patience at all for outright selfishness and stupidity. Case in point a woman I work with was bragging about her new $300+ top of the line cell phone. Not a week later some people at work were taking up a collection because she couldn’t afford to pay her utility bill. I didn’t give anything at all to help her out as she knew she had her bills coming up but just had to have the newest and greatest. Tawra and Jill if this offends you, forgive me as I love you guys and your site, but this sort of thing makes me very angry. We all want new stuff on occasion, and it’s okay to splurge, but not at the expense of the necessities. Sorry this was so long ya’ll, but wanted to get it off of my chest. You always post great articles and always look forward to reading my emails from you. Thanks for everything. S

    • says

      Stacey you didn’t offend us at all. You just repeated what we say all the time and boy do we offend many people. We don’t mean too but sometimes the truth gets people’s dander up really bad. We too get so frustrated with this type of attitude. God loves us very much but in the same way we get frustrated with our children doing foolish things I know He does too because of all the verses in the Bible on foolishness and that really is what that is but because everyone wants to be so politically correct and tolerant they don’t want to be honest like you and call it what it really is.

      I would go on but this is not a subject you want me to get started on. : ) : )

  16. says

    I have a question about finances for the future.
    I know systems are different in Canada and the States so this is along those lines.
    My husband and I are 56 and we are saving towards our retirement. He has a decent pension coming from the company and the mines will close in the next couple years so he will get a large payment based on the years he has worked there. We have an RRSP and just started a tax free savings account for him we put money in for whatever we want and don’t pay taxes when we take it out. This year it will go to topping up our RRSP so we get a bigger tax break.
    We save all our charitable donation receipts to also get the tax break.
    When I read the letters here with so many people struggling day to day do you have any retirement savings. If you don’t what will the government do to help you out. We have the Canada Pension Plan where part of every pay cheque goes there so everyone who has worked gets something of a pension.
    Does the States do this I am totally clueless.
    But I would find it awfully hard to struggle all my working days just to retire and still have to struggle in my old age.
    Don has almost always made a good wage and when the boys were little we were struggling some months.
    Medical is all paid for by the government and his plan at work prescriptions are all covered eye glasses every 2 years optometrists every year. Ambulance private rooms all covered.
    So right now we are fine but when the mines close it will be a slightly different story especially as our health is getting old as we do.
    Just curious maybe nosey.

    • says

      We have a similar type plan too Grandma. You pay into Medicare/Social Security while you are working then you get a small pension and part of your medical paid but it doesn’t cover everything. Years ago most people got a retirement pension from the place they worked at too so between the government check, their pension and what they saved they could do fine. Now though fewer and fewer companies are giving retirement and they are concerned that there won’t be funds in a few years to cover future pensions for the elderly.

      That is partly why Tawra and I holler so much to people to get your debt paid, house paid and to try to start saving because many people are reaching retirement age now with big house payments, debt and no savings. They are just starting to realize too what it is like to live off only a very small amount of what they use to bring in and after being healthy for years are now getting sick and are have lots of medical bills added to their already big debt and house payment.

      It is really getting serious. It is like watching a large head of people heading over a cliff and you are hollering with all your might for them to stop but they can’t hear you and there is nothing more you can do to stop them or help them.

  17. says

    We are lucky our house is paid for which is why we bought it in the first place. paid it off in 2 years and have lived rent free for 11 now. taxes water hydro fuel and upkeep is all we spend.
    But like you the government is saying there will not be enough in the Canada pension to pay for this generation to benefit from the plan.
    The younger generation is worried because all of us baby boomers are living longer so more money is needed. What they seem to forget is that it is us baby boomers who have been paying into it all these years.
    Companies going bankrupt and then saying they didn’t pay into the pension fund the employees were supposed to get and now don’t. I know one couple who lost $600. a month from their expected pension which makes for many short money months and there are over 200 people in this town alone like that.
    I was worried about us when I heard that but Don says we have a different set up with the mines than most companies. But still prices keep going up and money only goes so far.
    We didn’t worry too much about it when the boys were at home but now that retirement is getting closer we are saving as much as we can but it doesn’t build up fast enough to put the worry too far away.
    That is why I like this site. Small changes do make a big difference in the long run.

    • mildred lane says

      I have found a medicare D plan that works great for me. I do not own stock in the company.!!It is HUMANA WALMART. I pay $12.40/month and it cost 0 for the 7 generic meds that I am taking, I have it mailed to my mailbox free of charge. I get 3 month supply at a time. I have the insurance paid from my social security check. No forgetting to pay, or to mail, no cost to mail, no shipping cost,no having to call my prescriptions in to the pharmacy, Do u think this is a good deal.? What do u do for medicare D? thanks

  18. maggie says

    Just wanted to say that we have always been frugal and have taught both our children to save for what they want. Now, both of them have 2nd jobs as well as my son-in-law. My son mows lawns and has since the 7th grade (same customers) and uses that money to pay for his hockey tickets and bowling. His regular job pays his other expenses and his savings. My daughter works 2 part-time jobs so she can enroll my grands in hockey and gymnastics. Her husband does odd jobs in addition to his regular job to be able to add to their savings accounts. Each of them juggle their time so someone is home with the kids everyday. None of them spend if they don’t have the money.
    As for me and my husband, he is retired and I still work full-time. We work at the polls during elections and I use that money to pay off my credit card. Don’t charge anymore but still working to pay off the balance. We don’t have a mortgage but groceries, insurance and gas keep going up. I cook from scratch as much as I can and we rarely eat out. I’d rather have a big bowl of chicken and dumplings than pay for a meal at a restaurant. My sister was visiting this weekend and said she spends $900 a month for groceries for her, her son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter. (I nearly choked) She lives with them and is partially retired, so takes care of the groceries and cooks for them. Apparently, they eat out a lot and she cooks even though they don’t eat at home much. Such a waste. I told her to put menus together and only cook for the days they were going to be home. She needs to be more frugal and not spend so much on JUNK FOOD! Tough to tell that to your sister, though.
    Thanks Jill and Tawra for sharing all your good ideas with us. I passed along your website to my sis so hopefully, she will take heed to some of these wonderful tips.

  19. Jan says

    You definately get a standing ovation from me!!!!

    My DH and I are in that top .66% for income, but live way below our means…which means in 15 years we will be retired and living at the lake in a small cabin…and I get to realize my dream which is running a meals on wheels program from my kitchen. We went so far as too not be friends with the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ crowd and found friends who live frugally,and still have a great life. The simle life is the life for Us, hands down!

  20. rose says

    just saw this .. and well bc we moved to an apt .. and our rent is lower .. i am not sure if the utilities will be lower, higher or the same .. i know the water bill will be higher bc at the house we were on septic and here its city water/etc ..
    hubby is upset bc of the higher water and if the electric is the same for a smaller place (the windows and doors are not sealed very well but we are do to have new doors and windows installed sometime this yr) ..
    i told him it will all work out .. and of course, my son is still mourning the loss of the dogs but they were sick and old and well .. i couldnt take them with me and i def couldnt stay in that house ..
    the only thing that has changed is our diet .. we are eating much healthier .. fresh fruits/vegi’s .. and drinking juices (made from vegi’s and fruits).. and then blended in a juicer ..
    our daughter and son in law have joined us in this new quest to get healthier ..
    so our food bill has gone up considerably but since they help pay 50% of the food bill .. i dont see a decrease or a savings at all .. altho we have just started this and yes we have made many mistakes but we are learning to get at least 3 dif meals from one pot of soup/stew ..
    hubby is now in charge of this .. he is doing a wonderful job .. and well i have to say he is better at this than i ever was .. and plus he feels like he is getting better too ..
    and yes it is hard to save esp when things are going up and up and up .. we all keep trying .. thats the main thing ..
    not complaining jsut sharing .. and i am thankful too .. very thankful .. i miss the dogs but htis is actually a better place to be for all of us .. even if our bills have stayed about the same ..
    ((( hugs ))) to everyone 😀 ..
    thank u so much for the website and the many sales that have been going on too ;D .. lvoe them !
    ps my daughter loves her dig out of debt book !!!! .. 😀

  21. Dee says

    I’m a single mother,I raised both of my children without child support. My ex husband owes over $64,000 in arrears, refused to work for over 20 years, (he was a union carpenter) because he waslazy & mad at me for the divorce. He was voilent to me in front of our son, slept all day instead of working, then went out with his friends & refused to watch our children so I could work my part time waitress job. Needless to say, I have been better off alone.
    I have struggeled for years, & my biggest expense is food, it’s so expensive! I’ve saved money by using coupons,last month Purex laundry detergent was on sale, & with my coupons & saved big & bought 8 of the largest containers. This is something I must have & now I don’t have to buy again for months. I’ll also buy in bulk with coupons for toilet paper & other necessities. I try to combine coupons with a sale if possible. My friend at work gives me her coupons as well. I also save by getting just what I need from the store for the week. It’s on my way home, so I stop after work. I seem to spend more when I go on a day off & have more time to browse around. This way I’m in & out quickly & don’t make any impulse buys
    Now I plan a menu for the week. I don’t even look at the sale ads when I don’t have the money to shop. I always shop with a list & pen in hand, & I stick to the list!
    I’ve made some online purchases, but I shop sales, get free shipping & always use a promo code for additional savings. I needed new curtains & after researching to find the best price & buying them on sale, I saved over 50%, I was proud of myself for that one!
    I put flouresant light bulbs in every lamp, light & the outdoor porch lights. I also buy my electricity at the cheapest rate from a different supplier than the electric company. This took less than 2 minutes & lowered my bills significantly! I’m also a stickler about turning out the lights, I remind the kids all the time! No need to have lights & other things running in a room you’re not in!
    I didn’t even realize how much money I saved by having warranties on my appliances. I buy all my major appliances from Sears. After the manufactures warranty expires, I can buy a 1,2 or 3 year extended warranty that covers all repairs. My wash machine that I bought on ’04 has been rebuilt & repaired so many times, at no charge because I have this warranty. Recently the dishwasher that came with the house broke. The 1st time the repairman came out it cost me approx $100 to repair. The 2nd time,less than 3 months later, I paid $50 to be told it will be cheaper to replace. So I found a dishwasher on sale at Sears,& used a promo code online. I will pick it up to avoid he $125 delivery charge, & the repairman who has been out before will put the $50 I paid towards the installation. That will be the last time I see the repairman, as I will put the extended warranty on it after the manufactures warranty expires in a year, & I will never pay for a repair again! I didn’t realize how much money I was saving using these warranties!
    I hope some of these tips help someone else.

    • says

      It makes me angry also to see people doing things like this. I have seen dear friends and family pay $50 for a bottle of shampoo and then think they cannot pay the license fee on their car or pay $100 for a man’s tie (I didn’t know they made ties that expensive). We paid the fee for the expired license tag, but it was not without resentment. But we did not want them to then get a fine for non-payment. I am at a loss on how to deal with this as it has gone on for 30 plus years and my husband and I have saved and been frugal all of our lives. You all are so right. This country has gone crazy!

    • says

      Would someone else comment on how much extended warranties have saved them? we have never bought extended warranties because we have always thought that we could buy a new appliance for what the warranties cost in the long run and that the machine would need repairing within the regular warranty time if it was going to need repairs. I guess every situation is different.

      • says

        I have to say that I used to never buy extended warranties and probably have an article on here about how we don’t BUT…. :-) I have to say that stuff is made so cheaply now that we now don’t buy anything without it. I just had almost my entire computer replaced because it’s only been 3 years and it already dying. :-( EVERYTHING breaks down for us now. Maybe it’s because we have 6 people always using the stuff but now it has paid for itself every time.

      • jessica says

        Extended warranties, on average, cost far more than you save. Thisis why stores push them so much, the profit margin is huge. When someone tells about how a $100 warranty paid for a $300 repair, it seems like it paid off, but for every one of those, there are 4 people who paid $100 and got nothing.

        When my washer broke down out of warranty, I opened it up and found the shocks were broken. I orderednew shocks online and paid $30. If I had paid the 200 for the warranty, I would have called a repair man who would have charged $250 for parts and labor, and I would have thought the warranty saved me $50, when it really would have cost $170.

        Overall, over 16 years, I have saved enough by not buying extended warranties that I could replace every appliance that has broken down during those extended warranty years. Not repair, replace.

  22. Dee says

    I would like to add, I have found so many nice things at thrift stores. I found some very comfy sweatshirts & flannel shirts to relax around the house in, they have lasted me for years, & I paid under $5 for everything. I have sold used items on Craigs list. You have to be patient, but you will find a buyer! Be very discriptive when posting these items for sale, list the brand name, state the condition, make sure you renew the add weekly, & don’t expect top dollla. Some people ask ridiculous prices for their used items, I put mine on there for slightly less & they sell everytime. People are looking for a deal, & I made more money than I would have by donating them or throwing the away.

    • mildred lane says

      I buy many Christmas presents at the Thrift Stores that are new, still in the wrappers,clean, cheaper, and I search all year long for these on sale, items.

  23. Maggie says

    Dee, You are doing great with your deals. Love the curtain story. My sister always calls these “GONGA’s” so whenever we find a good deal at better than 50% off, we call each other and just say “GONGA”! Of course, then we have to share the deal but just wanted to say you are doing a good job at saving money. I find, too, that if I make menus before I go shopping and make my grocery list from that along with what I have at home, I really save a the store. I try not to buy many premade snacks. I try to make things at home for my husband or have fruit available for his afternoon snacks. Good luck, Dee, and let us know about your latest GONGA!

  24. Dee says

    Thanks Maggie! I researched the curtains at “discount” web sites, the cheapest I found them was $26.99. I found a web site where they sold for $18.99 each,& lucky for me they went on sale, for $15.99 each. I also got free shipping & used the promo code. It takes time to look around & find the best price, but it’s worth the effort.
    I also found that I tend to spend less at the store if I use cash verses my debtit card. I don’t know why this is, maybe because I can actually see the money I’ve worked so hard for, & have it in my hand, & I have to give it away for the things I need.
    I avoid the premade snacks too, & now I do all of my basic shopping at Aldi’s on the way home from work. Why pay more for basics like eggs. milk, & butter? They taste the same, I can’t tell that they came from a discount food store.

  25. Maggie says

    Boy, the more I hear about Aldi’s the more I wish there were one near me. My daughter shops at a Meier’s near her and gets her basics at really good prices. I just try to get the sales and sometimes find great Buy one, get one Free’s at the Safeway. I tend to shop there most often because it is on my way home from work and I like shopping after work, too, because I know I have to get home to make dinner before 8 pm. (Don’t get off until 6 pm so don’t get to the store before 6:45 or so.) I tend not to linger when I am tired and just want to get it done and get out. Thanks for your updates. I look forward to your next post.

    • says

      Oh Maggie I hate to torture you but Aldi’s is good. They have grapes for $.79 a lb. and bananas for $.33. All summer I have paid $.99 for a large (16oz) basket of strawberries and lge. cantaloupe for $.99 each. They do have some wonderful prices.

      • June says

        Just wanted everyone to know if you bring a grocery store’s circular to Walmart they will match the sale price of that item. Aldi’s had cantaloupe on sale for $.99 but I was shopping at Walmart instead and got cantaloupe for $.99 instead
        of the $1.99 Walmart price.

  26. Maggie says

    I am SO jealous. I have bought 3 lbs of cherries for $6.49 at Costco but that is really my best bargain for fruit this year.

  27. says

    I have lucked out big time. We go to the reserve to buy cigarettes once a week. The 2 road side stands for vegetables is on the way.
    The sell fresh vegetables 6 days a week at very reasonable prices. So that is why I have been doing so much canning.
    Well that same place has farm fresh eggs for the exact same amount I would pay for a dozen in the stores.
    So that is a nice bonus.
    Prices in the grocery store are high as we are considered to be a remote

  28. Gloria says

    Hey Grandma See you buy your cigarettes. My husband still is not ready to give up that bad habit and don’t know if those are for you or someone else in your family but we found a way to save big on them. a carton of cigarettes cost about 80 to 90 dollars and depending on how much you smoke can go higher. Well my husband has cut way down from a pack an a half to two packs a day down to less that a pack a day that is a good savings but where we save is he now rolls his own which makes him smoke less cuz he hates rolling. But a large package of tobacco cost about 40-45 dollars (I think it just went up) and for the tubes with the filters already on them for a box of 200 is only 2.99 so for 48.00 he gets what is in a carton which is about 200 cigarettes and it last him 1 1/2 months. The inicial cost of the machine to roll was about 100.00 and has more that paid for it self. He has been doing this for just over two years now and he has saved just about 600.00 a year or more cuz he would always buy by the pack which we all now cost more. ANd during the summer months I grow my own produce I am not good at canning and have to learn but I do give away what I can’t use to others who need. When I finially learn to can properly I will start to save more in the winter too.

    • says

      Can’t you grow tobacco for your own use? I think you can. Our state legalized marijuana, what the heck were they thinking? Goof balls! I don’t smoke either, but one year we grew nicotiana and then found out it was tobacco, the leaves were immense, even dried out. The plants smell heavenly in bloom!

  29. Stacey says

    Gosh you guys are awesome. Recently I drove my children and I out to Georgia to visit my family. My twin daughters hadn’t seen their family since they were a year old and now they are 12. I spent a lot on this trip, pretty much wiped out my savings and ended up with some debt on a line of credit through my bank. It’s not an excuse or even a good reason but I know that since my mother really isn’t doing well since her heart attack in March, I wanted my girls to have some remembrance of their grandmother. Now I need to seriously buckle down and get that line of credit paid off and kick start my savings account. I know that God is in everything and will show me the way. I only pray that it wasn’t a selfish decision on my part to take us on this trip to home. So if’n ya’ll don’t mind a prayer or 12 surely would come in handy right now. Loving the site as much as always. I tell many of my friends about it.

    • says

      I know we holler about taking vacations that you can’t afford but don’t feel bad Stacey this falls into a totally different category. This wasn’t a trip that was solely for fun. It in one sense was a need because it was fulfilling an emotional need for you, your children and your mom. Sometimes we need this as much or more then food even. I think it was a very unselfish decision and a very wise and good one. You aren’t being an unwise steward of your money either because as soon as you got home your first thought is to start paying for it which is very responsible. God knows our motives and needs. Trust Him. He will honor them. You will later be so glad you took this trip.

      • Jenni says

        I’m glad you commented on this – we are on a fairly strict budget ourselves, but set aside about $1800 per year to travel because we most of our family lives on either coast (and we live in the Midwest). Normally we would stay put, but this year we are flying our family of 6 to the West Coast because my husband’s grandmother will be turning 99, is losing her eyesight, and has never seen our youngest in person. This may be the last time our kids see her in person, so to us, it is worth it.

  30. Maggie says

    Stacey, Don’t begrudge the money you spent to see your mom. When my mom was ill and far from home, I had to charge my plane ticket and a train ticket to go see her and wish I had done it one more time before she died. But the kids were little and my husband was cranky that I was charging my tickets so I didn’t go when she was in the hospital and even now, 20 years later, I still wish I had just gone. The kids would have survived and so would he. But, you make decisions the best you can with the information you have at that time and looking back, you have a different view and cannot berate yourself (me) for taking a different road than I would now. My point is, after all this, is to enjoy your trip; the girls will remember it, and just work a little harder to save a few pennies to add a little extra to the credit card bill. Life is way too short to kick yourself for something that needed to be done.

    • mildred lane says

      Stacy, I pray u took many pictures on your trip. They will be reminders for life. Can u correspond w/ her and family on Facebook? stay strong.

      I find if I have automatic w/ drawal put into a savings account it gets done w/ out me having to go do the process.

  31. Stacey says

    Thank you so much guys. I do feel a lot better. It was kind of one of those things that I felt in my heart I needed to do. Granted we spent more time driving than actually visiting my family, but wow the US sure is beautiful even from behind the steering wheel. We made some good memories on this trip too. Thank you again. :)

    • says

      Stacey! I’m so happy you did this for you, your mom and daughters! Think of it this way, you were honoring your mother and God wants us to do that! I will be saying at least 12 prayers for you all!


  32. Dee says

    This week I did very well on craigs list. I sold 8 panels of Eclipse blacot curtains, & when they came to pick them up, I also sold her the sheer curtains I had as well. They went beautiful together, & I made an extra $10. I made $45 total! encourage all of you to go through your unwanted or unused items, the site is ready to use. I’ll be going throught the shed again this weekend to find more things to sell. My post above has some recommendations for using the site.
    Another way I saved money this year was starting some flowers from seed instead of buying the plant at the nursery. I am an avid gardener & have a large buterfly garden that gives us pleasure & peace the whole summer. The seeds cost under $2.00 a package, & there were lots of seeds per package. I didn’t do anything special, like use any sort of special lighting. I put them near the sunny window. I bought a large bag of peat that I got on sale. Now I have georgeous Zinnnias, they are so beautiful, I get lots of compliments on them. It worked out so well, I’m going to clear an area & plant on a bigger scale next year.

    • mildred lane says

      Dee. are u drying and saving your seeds to use again next year? U can also trade some of these seeds and get different kinds free again. Proud of u.

  33. Auntie says

    My husband and I have always been good stewards of our money. Somehow, we raised a daughter that is not and it breaks my heart. She is now well into her 20’s and is in debt up to her eyeballs. She refuses to get a job in a restaurant or even her trade which is hair dressing. She basically lives on her child support and her dad and I have to help pay her bills as we are on one of her loans as a co-signer. How do we get her on the right track and start being responsible short of kicking her and our grandchild out of the house and turning our backs on her? I just don’t know how to motivate her to start taking responsiblility…I’m hoping you have some suggestions.

    • says

      Let me say before I start that first we are imperfect parents raising imperfect kids in an imperfect world. In others we all deal with something. I say this so you won’t think I am judging you or your situation. I wouldn’t do that anyway because I don’t really know all about your situation or all the facts. I say that because sometimes when I answer a question like this some people might think that but I am really only trying to get them to look at things in a different way,to look at things honestly and to see what their options are.

      Also you are not alone in your situation. This is probably one of the top 5 questions I get asked. Adult kids staying at home is alarmingly on the rise. I was just last night talking to a woman who was telling me about her 55 year old brother still is not working and living at home. Anyway here are a few options. I will warn you none of them are easy no more so then when your daughter was young and she wanted to do something and you had to say no to her because it was for her own good. It hurts to do that but you have to love her enough to unselfishly be willing to endure that hurt so she can get better or not be hurt herself more.

      The hardest part about your situation is probably more that you don’t want to see your grandchild hurt or to suffer. Your daughter is an adult even though you don’t want it for her if she was alone then you would not have as many qualms about forcing her out on her own so grandbabies do complicate things and you will have to use your own judgement on the next things I say and I do realize it will be hard.

      First the only thing that will motivate someone like your daughter is for them to be forced to be on their own. Until they have the rug pulled out from under them they will not change. Why would they. They know you will bail them out so why should they bother to help themselves. Add to that she not only knows that you wouldn’t throw out your grandchild but also you don’t want to mess up your credit so she has you over a barrel. She may not even consciously know that is what she is doing but that is what it boils down to.

      Here’s your choices

      1. Between you and your husband agree that you will only from now on out be responsible for the loan you co signed for and nothing more. For other and future things never ever co sign a loan with anyone including your children. The only time I would do that or make a loan at all is if I do it with a willingness in my heart to never call in the loan. In other words I need to be prepared to not get a penny back when I give a loan.

      2. You can tell her she can stay with you for a small monthly fee and she has to also pay all of her other bills on her own. The monthly fee she pays you should be the first thing which comes out of her child support check not if there is any left over after she pays her other bills. If her support check is small it wouldn’t hurt for her to sign it all over to you and that way you can use it for her “rent” and what is left for clothes and needs of your grand child and she gets nothing from it at all for her own personal needs or wants. All this with the idea of her working towards getting a job and eventually moving out.

      3. Now this would be the hardest thing of all but if the other things don’t work you may have to break down and do this. You tell her she has 4-6 weeks ( you can choose your own amount of time just don’t make it too long) to get a job and to be moved out. At the end of that time you have her belongings sitting on the front porch and the doors locked. I know this would be awful to have to do and would take a lot of strength but this is the part where loving her more then your own hurt and pain comes in.

      You can tell her you will keep your grandchild till she gets on her feet and if after a week or two she hasn’t done anything to help herself you may have to file for some type of temporary custody if the situation seems very bad. I personally wouldn’t do this right away and only if I thought my grand child was in serious danger.

      This last part seems harsh I know and I would only do it as a last resort. I will tell you though if you don’t want to have to resort to this and have to kick them out I would not give her a dime more. If you think you must you can feed them and provide a roof but don’t pay any of her bills or give her a penny for any thing but to keep your credit ok and I’m afraid this is one of those life lessons with consequences you will have to pay the loan you co signed. If this doesn’t motivate her then move to step 2. You know your situation better then I do and you may have to start at step 1 or maybe it is bad enough you will have to start at step 3.

      What ever you decide you must stand firm no matter what. Let me just say don’t take this lightly and don’t be a party to emotional black mail. That is exactly what is happening here and like any black mail it will drain you completely before long. I don’t say this to make your daughter to sound like an awful person. She probably isn’t at all, she just is irresponsible but she won’t become responsible until someone (her parents) does something to make her be responsible. Being responsible is hard and it is work. There is no getting around it so you choose now what you are going to do because if you don’t act because you think it is to hard (which is the same thing your daughter is doing. She isn’t acting because it is to hard and uncomfortable for her to work.) then you will need to plan on supporting her and her children and some day maybe husband for the rest of their lives just like the 55 year old man I mentioned at first. They don’t change when not forced to.

      • mildred lane says

        Auntie, PLEASE LISTEN TO JILL or u will be like me and my x in supporting my 50 years old daughter who has not married, no kids,is very frugal,works part time, but does not mk enough money to support herself. I have now told her I can no longer help. It is money from my retirement plan. She has accepted it well.

  34. frannie fargo says

    the only problem i can see with that is if they are living there you have to go to court and evict them. my friend packed up her kids stuff and kicked him out and only after that fiasco did she find out about having to go to court and the the eviction thing.

    • says

      That isn’t the norm and I wouldn’t let that stop me. I think they only have a leg to stand on in court if they have been paying rent or you have a verbal or regular contract with them like you would a renter. They are making the laws much harder now to get people out of your home so be very careful before allowing anyone including family members to even move in temporarily.

  35. Deb says

    This was a bold and helpful post, but I don’t know if your figures about salaries in the U.S. are correct.
    In 2012 the average wage per U.S. worker was $44,322. That figure would be at odds with your statement
    that if you earn $35,000 a year you’re in the top 4.something percent of wage earners.

    • says

      You know Deb in my research I can go to 10 different places and get 10 different figures so I usually try to take an average of them. The thing that bothers me about statements like this is I worry that you are missing the whole point of the article because you are concentrating on picking it more apart then trying to understand the main point and the feel of the article. It is like they announce a tidal wave is coming and everyone needs to evacuate right now and take the road to the north and you stand there and say – Why the north? Why not the road to the south? – and the tidal wave strikes you down. The whole point wasn’t what road to take but to just get out of there.

  36. Marybeth Mitus says

    Jill…what a spot on piece you wrote! We are beginning a “Dave Ramsey”ish type program to pay off debt, and reading this newsletter this AM was just the affirmation I was seeking.

  37. Darla says

    I just loved this article that you wrote.
    For the last 3 years we have had hard economic times, brought on by our own mistakes.
    We would struggle to have $5 dollars and say a loaf of bread or toilet paper, I am not
    writing this as to say oh me oh my, We have been there and we are starting to get better, but in those times I learned to be frugal and taught my family this lesson also, we have never had a lot of money and my husband was the only one working and I had health issues.
    I hope you article lets someone see that you may be struggling but there is always some one some where worse off. Thank you and Blessings to you all.

  38. Jessica says

    Thank you! My family has had very hard times and am amazed at how many people whine about hard it is to make it. Yet they have 3 car payments and eat out every day at lunch. They don’t get my sympathy. Sorry. We shopped garage sales for clothes, Christmas presents, did not eat out except for a special occasion, no vacations, even went without health insurance so we would not lose our home (which is very modest). We made it through with perseverance and our children never even knew how bad it was. It was just the normal for them. We went camping and such and they have great memories. Now we have no debt, good jobs and life is great. We get to do nice things with our children and their families.

    You do what you have to do and if you do it with grace and class, all the better!

  39. Liz says

    Unfortunately, the people who need to read this article, won’t. I’m thankful for you both writing articles like this to help keep me in the right frame of mind. I often would like the latest thing, but after the loss of my husband’s job 4 years ago, and it taking him almost a year to get another one, we’ve learned to live without a lot. It’s really helped us get our debt in check. We only pay cash, as we gave up all our credit cards. If we need a card for something, we use our debit card. That forces us keep our spending in check. Our computer is 13 years old, our cars are 14 and 6 years old, we don’t have cable t.v., and we only have internet because of work we do on the computer, and my husband needing it to fill out job applications to get a better job. I read an article on Yahoo today about a certain group of people not signing up for healthcare (AHC). If you go to my local county health dept., that group of people fill up the waiting room for their free healthcare. (Why should they sign up for healthcare, when they can get it for free at the health dept.?) But, they all have the latest Smart phones and their kids are wearing new GAP clothes! ARG! Very frustrating! I can’t afford the latest gadget, and probably wouldn’t buy it if I could afford it. (It’s been so good having that debt decrease!) We still have a flip phones and are on my dad’s plan ($20 per month). People can REALLY live without a Smart phone! I know several people, including some of my daycare parents who have the latest of everything, but had to go on food stamps and child care assistance due to all the things they’ve purchased with his $10,000 bonus instead of saving their money for bills. (Her 13-year-old son threw his cell phone yesterday and smashed it. She was contemplating about getting him a new one. She said it cost $150, but a new one would be a lot more. I told her he shouldn’t get a replacement, since he can’t take care of it. Duh!) Very frustrating to those of us who ARE sacrificing what we’d like to have and working two jobs each to fund THEIR govt. assistance. I just keep praying that God will keep taking care of us and rely on Him to help us through this time in our lives…and to help me not get so disgruntled with those taking advantage of the govt. assistance programs (not those who actually need it).

  40. Mary Jane says

    Thank you for your timely and for some people, uncomfortably true article. We have seen and felt this kind of counter productive assessment of priorities that makes people choose unwisely. We have made a few ourselves, especially in our early years, but caught on quickly, and held the to the long course to get back on track. A few years ago, a woman complained that she couldn’t afford (and tried to maneuver people around to help)to pay $150.00 to have her woodstove chimney inspected by a licensed inspector (a requirement by the insurance company) after experiencing a chimney fire. Ultimately, what she did, I don’t know. However, at the same time, she told people about what a good deal she got by buying a several hundred dollar saddle for her daughter to go horseback riding. They live in town, and borrow horses. This same woman commented several years ago about another older single lady who was living on minimum wage. “No one can live on that amount of money!” she said with contempt. But the single lady can and did, quite successfully. I remember thinking that it may well be a challenge, but certainly not impossible. Oprah Winfrey did a few shows about the economic downturn, and in one show, a regular low income earner who relied on the food banks, said that she could pick out the ‘pay-check-to-paycheck’ rich, who were now in trouble. They were the ones showing up with hair highlights, and fading manicures. They were also the most frantic. One newscast said that many people were doing well, or were unaffected by the down turn in the economy in 2008. They were people who had always lived frugally, or those who had always been on low income. In other words, people who had already learned to do without, and learned to live within their means or without credit. How much better it is to learn these lessons voluntarily, rather than wait until it is forced upon you. We were just talking about this the other day, after church, with a few seniors. There is a general consensus. Most of us think there is a time of real and true economic hardship yet to come, unlike anything we have seen yet. What concerns us most, is not the downturn, per se, but the fact that there are a few generations of people out there worldwide, who have no idea of how to do with less, make do, be resourceful, and still look out for others needs. There is a strong sense of entitlement, and confusing needs with wants, and it crosses all ages, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds. Your website, and others like it help provide a learning experience and feed back for those who would rather live with priorities, peace, and with God’s help, provision for the future.

  41. says

    jill, I could not have said it better! that needed to be said. I notice that most of the time, folks do not express thankfulness, at all. an attitude of gratitude goes a long way in giving us peace of mind. when we are so occupied with thinking about what we do not have, we cannot think positively about anything. when we think on things that are of good value, then our minds are more capable of making right decisions. we can literally figure out ways to do more with what we do have.


  42. Shelly says

    I don’t know how long I’ve been reading your newsletter, but I’ll tell you this….one of the main reasons why I signed up for the newsletter was for a support system. See, in my marriage, I’m the frugal one and my husband is not. Now don’t get me wrong, he makes sure bills are paid, but he’s always been ashamed of my use of coupons or any of my saving habits(I don’t mind shopping @ thrift stores or flea markets). I’m 37 yrs old a wife and mother of 5 kids and I’ve been for as long as I can remember and it’s just nice to be able to find such a wonderful website like yours(you’re my support system)and I thank you for a well written article.

  43. Sharon C. says

    All I can say after reading your post for today is AMEN! I had to leave a good paying job two years ago due to health issues. I began couponing, cooking at home and trimming down every expense I could figure out to trim. At first my family balked because we were “doing without” but I held firm. We HAD to cut our expenses. Now, no one even notices the lack of cable TV or eating out several times a week. Not only are we debt free, but we are living comfortably on just my husbands income AND still putting some money in savings every month for those rainy days. I 100% agree with what you said!!! Thank you!

  44. Tracy says

    Enjoy reading your website.As a family job loss is common.And most people panic when they lose income. Over many years you learn to keep some savings for emergencies.You learn not to have debt and pay down those bills. Using your debit card or cash for all your purchases.Make a household budget. Stick to those amounts. Asking for assistants from family ,friends can be helpful. Things always get better and finding employment come available and life goes on.
    But most people spend more than they save. And your website has been very helpful over these many years.

  45. Linda Luke says

    What an excellent article! My husband and I live frugally and love it. My battle cry is, “Never pay retail”. It’s all about priorities for most people. I hurt for the people who truly struggle in this world. Just today, I was in our local discount grocery and in front of me was a tiny elderly lady buying some very basic groceries and just a few of them. She used her EBT card and the cashier told her it was rejected. It turned out she had just over $6.00 on it and she said she would pay cash for the rest of the balance. Her trembling hand pulled out a five for the rest. This was one of those times I wished for a five dollar bill in my own purse to have paid the difference for her. She was well-dressed and I could just tell she had probably known better times. She smiled at me and told me she was sorry I had been delayed. I smiled at her and said, “I’m in no hurry; you take your time”. I had a lump in my throat and thought about how hard many of our elderly do have it. Now, on the other hand, I have to walk away from conversations at work when I hear some of our staff members griping and I know they get assistance and a paycheck and are planning their next cruise while using their salon manicured nails to eat their take-out lunch. They do this while complaining that they “just can’t make it”. Arrggh.

  46. Teresa says

    You definitely hit the nail onthe head. We as Americans, do way to much complaining and not near enough thanking our good Lord for what we do have. I personally am very blessed and thankful, thank you for reminding us.

  47. Peggy Riley says

    Amen to that Jill! I agree 100%. Thanks for your support to all of us who REALLY are having a hard time.

  48. J. Weaver says

    My husband and I made a decision to completely lean on God and cut up ALL credit cards in November of 2013….even though we hadn’t used one since April 2013. We were bound and determined to take 2014 to stick to a budget…it’s not easy…and we are still working on some things like a weekly menu…I know that is coming…we home educate our 5 children and so we felt like God was telling us not to teach something to our children that we don’t already do so we have done it. Took us two months to fully understand and commit to our budget. We do one every month because things come up and it is easier for us. Been living on a budget since March 1 and sticking to it! One of the biggest “money eaters” for us was eating out….we realized that is was laziness…a lack of planning…now he and I go on our weekly “date” and only spend $20 and that is with the tip…AMEN! God is good and He blesses us when we use His money the way He wants us to!

    By the way, a friend of mine looks for American Dolls at garage sales and she got a great doll…beautiful condition for $5….it’s out there people…you have to be a go-getter and plan what you want and need…but never pay full price for anything…that’s our motto!

    • mildred lane says

      I find that I get the best buys at church garage sales.

      We have a community thrift store that sales items that were donated and use the money for Toys for Tots. They have great sales give away free grocery items to the public and not just low income. It helps.

      My mom taught me to not refuse any items offered bec if u refused the person might not offer u a freebie next time.

  49. Miller says

    3 relations in their 20’s. One has a 3 yo. They and mom live with her 70’s parents. Mom works. The 4 mooch. Grdmom nevered worked. Grdpa works full 40 hrs +SS+small pension/grama get 1/2 SS of Grdpa. Hse is a health hazard with 6 smokers. But they never have $. Mid 25 yo came job seeking. Got on and made $18 hr training. Didn’t make probation and was fired. Now we are horrible ppl because we refused to let person stay. Grdpa came and got him. This help fiasco cost me $6k and made 2 80’s sick with stress along with a 57 yo. Still digging out from $ costs. Now we are all sorts of horrible names because we refused to “give” trailer and small vehicle to non working healthy relative that was supposed to be for it this person made the job to full employ. Or continue to buy his cigs or tobacco for handmade cigs. Plus vandalized trailer. Had to give it away because we couldn’t afford to repair damages. We are not made of $. We didn’t have to evict!! No documented agreement existed or did he give 1 penny to us as any payment. So we were able to completely remove person. One sibling of said person refuses to work, they will turn 27 shortly.
    Now blessings for those of kind heart and charity. 2 windfalls have come our way. $2k each. Tax time is here. I just told God I can’t figure anymore. It’s yours. Boom! Sold a vehicle. Person out of blue wanted it. Done deal. Been for sale but not well known. Bonus from work, a few hrs overtime for classes have added $. I figured out sale items to 1ct per oz on laundry items. Bought in bulk. 88ct rice dish that sell for $1.49 a box. Another store selling generic hamburger helper style pkg for $1. Reg $1.39. Buy on sale. New line on clotheslines and new pins. Bought my friend a used clothesline on eBay. Gave her some new pins. She’s all electric. Now if she’d quit smoking. CFL’s, turn off lights not being used. I refuse to go to the store. Only as a have to. Buy clothes on sale at Walmart. Older clothes become work clothes. And I do patch work clothes and blue jeans. My husband has the Fonzie look. Rewear clothing only worn a few hours. Hang out to air. Every bit counts. I pick up pennies ppl walk by. I’m not too good not to pick a penny up.

  50. Miller says

    Oh and I don’t make menu plans, freeze made ahead meals, just not how I roll. But I do crockpot cook a lot. One or both are on several times a month. We eat lots of stews, soups and beans. Easier for me because I can come in from a 12.5 hr graveyard and my meal is ready. My husband doesn’t have to do much for a meal prep. You can bake in a crockpot. Crockpots are low wattages. Can be left alone. Don’t heat up the house like other appliances. Also I recommend a toaster oven. Doesn’t heat the house like a full oven will. Live in the hot desert, a hot oven or range top makes a difference. Microwave as another need in the kitchen.

  51. Grizzly bear mom says

    Miller, my sister, her 4 children and 1 legitimate, 3 illegitimates grands, their 9 cats and 2 dogs live with my “retired” mom. In addition to all but my mom being insufferable, my 80 year old mom markets, cooks, washes dishes and does child care, all for free. My sister and her two daughters work, neither son does. My mom’s hands are work worn. Sis and kids have lovely manicures. Niece and nephew smoke on the front porch and drop cigarette butts all over the place. You can’t walk through the house without tripping on their stuff. Besides the 9 cats, they cook in off gassing teflon pans on high heat and use “glade plug ins” and cleaning chemicals that aggravate the pneuomenia I had when I was there. They dislike my 10 year old dog. I recently said that I wouldn’t be back. I am sad that I am staying away from my mom but she puts up with it.

  52. says

    Here I am on my soapbox again I have been hearing on the news about the food stamp glitch in Louisiana. The cards had no limit, so you know all those 300.00 cell phone started going off with the message “get down here quick” and all those buggies were piled high and I bet out of all that stuff not 10 items had any nutritional value at all. And now the only punishment is that that household receives for 1 less for 1 year. I am so tired of these kind of people using their kids as human shields, knowing they will still get to eat. That is still stealing and they got away with it. At what point do we stop taking care of every bodies kids, this is not teaching them anything, we are looking for a rerun in the future. They know they don’t have to buy backpacks, school cloths, school shoes or even Christmas because they know someone else will.

    • says

      So true Sandy. What has happened in all areas of life is people no longer have what we use to call integrity, character or morals. If there was a mistake on something they would not take advantage of it. If you needed help you would only take what you barely needed not take advantage of the one helping you out. People didn’t have the attitude “I deserve this” which eventually seared any small amount of guilt they maybe had at one time for doing these types of things.

  53. says

    I read this article and the following comments with great interest. I completely agree with the wastefulness. I have lived frugally out of necessity since I moved out of my parents home. I honestly can’t imagine any other way. I scrutinize everything to figure out how to save money and coupon, stockpile if possible, shop at Aldis, compare amazon with brick and mortar stores, use promo codes, always have a coupon for almost everything, scrutinize our monthly utility bills and frequently call and ask if there is any other plan available that may save money. I recently downsized to save money on rent, (I have another plan to finally attain home ownership – I plan to start selling real estate part time on top of my full time office job and put away my real estate commissions. I then plan to buy a foreclosure property, posssibly a condo or whatever I can get the least expensive. I have no credit cards whatsoever. I buy generic whenever I can, our clothes come from Goodwill, Walmart, Old Navy clearance sales etc. I buy all my cleaning and paper products from the Dollar Tree store (unless I have a coupon that makes it less than $1). I am a single mom and have raised 4 children (3 still at home) on a salary of $35K a year with no help from child support (ex has no income coming in regularly), welfare (they claim I make too much – I am not too proud to take it). The decorative items and household items I have in my home all come from Goodwill – I never pay retail if I can avoid it. I have fancy designer name dishes, decorations etc for my home all purchased from Goodwill for 49 cents or a dollar – I am talking Fitz and Floyd, Dept 56, Mikasa, etc. My sister is the same way – she is extremely successful and has her own company in another state. When she was named for a top honor in her city – she went and purchased a dress from Goodwill to wear to that fancy dinner! (She lives in Seattle where people give away expensive brand items to Goodwill!). I dont own a cell phone as I am appalled at the prices of the plans and phones, we do have a home phone rolled into our cable and net access package all of which I am constantly asking for price reductions on. I know cable is splurgy but we use it so frequently that it is our entertainment. When we go out we do things for free or low cost – if we have a saturday afternoon “treat lunch” for example we use coupons such as the receipt coupons to Burger King (buy a fries and drink and get a whopper for free.) We buy the least expensive fries and drink and get the whole meal for just over $2 each. We march in to BK and have the cashier ring each up separately in order to use the coupons LOL. To fund gifts such as Bday or Christmas or school clothes for back to school I sell items on ebay – I purchase them for next to nothing at Goodwill and then resell on ebay for a considerable markup. I have made close to $1000 every Christmas doing this. I plan holiday meals way in advance by going through our cupboards and figuring out what we already have on hand and recipes that can be made the least expensive way. Sorry for rambling I just think people should put more thought into things and they can find there are lots of ways to survive.

  54. mildred lane says

    saving on gas—-I use the rewards card from Weigle’s and save $.10/gallon of gas. It soon adds up.

    I charge every thing on my Bank of America visa charge card because it is a cash back for using it. It pays $.03 percent for gas, $.02 percent groceries and $.01 percent on everything else. I pay off each month,pay by phone, get a copy of my bill ea month and check it w/ my receipts. It is simple,and works for me.

    I had my Dish cable stations decreased-taking my bill from $55/month to $26/month and lets me order Netflix movies for $8.40/month.I love the no commercials,movies,etc. Lowering another bill in my retirement years.

  55. says

    The whole time I was reading this newsletter I was saying to myself, “YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!” Well you are, and you make me feel real proud to know you. You help me keep on keeping on in my frugal battle. I’m so thankful for you, two. I don’t feel alone, I’m surrounded by poor me, isn’t the economy awful .

    God bless you!

    • says

      I’d like to include all the ladies who responded, in my being grateful. It’s so nice to know there are many of us who haven’t made money our god. My GOD, has always provided for me. And I’ve learned to be thankful for that!


  56. Toni says

    I agree wholeheartedly! How can people afford 2000.00 for season tickets for football???? It is a game! Also women who get their manicures & pedicures! I carpool with a lady who gets both, & goes out to eat 3 or 4 times per week. Yet she complains about not having enough money to pay her bills. She always has to have a new car. We no longer carpool, because she drives me nuts.

  57. says

    This was a courageous article! I do find that it is difficult to live on our social security and small teacher’s retirement. In spite of this, we have paid off our mobile home (we downsized) and our car. Now we only have our space rent to pay in our mobile home park. We are also paying down the debt we amassed due to some medical bills, a cross-country move, and helping out our daughter and grandkids. We expect to be in better shape in two years.

    Even with this concerted effort to become financially stable at 68 and 70, it seems food costs and now gasoline again keep going up. I am appalled at how much we spend on groceries. My husband has a special diet and it costs more to buy gluten/dairy free foods for him. Even with Medicare, every prescription or specialist kicks our expenses up a notch. It seems we cannot catch up, even though we live frugally.

    I greatly appreciate all of your tips and those of your readers that are shared here. I shall still attempt to live within our means.

    One more thing….our daughter receives food stamps and medicaide and works as much as she can, but at $9 an hour, that’s not much. She gets child support, too. What I don’t get is that she has the latest and most expensive cell phone and plan and takes the kids to Walmart the first day she gets her paycheck. She feel she “deserves” to do this and so do the kids. They have all the latest electronics, too. She is not a clothes hog, but at 45 she’s only now beginning to think about the future for her and the kids. I finally got her to get some life insurance and start a retirement account. My question is, Why don’t adult children accept responsibility these days? When I was 18 I got a job while going to college and never went back home. I did borrow $500 from my mother once, but paid it back. Have we truly failed at raising responsible people who think the world owes them the best of everything?

    • says

      I’m afraid we have with many of them. We lived through the days of civil rights, women’s right, hippie rights (and I am not saying these are wrong) but if you will notice they all end in rights and we wonder why our children from that generation are now demanding their rights and thinking they have a right to everything and anything even if they can’t afford it. Throw in a victim mentality (everyone is to blame but me) and you have got a mess.

  58. lorelai styles says

    I know that here in the US people worry that there will not be any SS $ or Medicare left for future generations. One thing that people would do is to not rely on the gov’t & invest their own money. If you choose not to have SS $ taken out of your check & invest it yourselves you will have for more money when you retire. the government seems to think that people are like children and need to be taken care of, but the truth of the matter is, they are making a great deal of interest from ss with holdings and we are suffering as a result. Also, Medicare usually is accepted by a lover tier quality of doctors and provides a lover quality of care – especially in terms of nursing homes &hospitals – than private insurance. it is wiser to forego the government with holdings for medicare and pay privately – it could be a decision that saves your live.

    **Just some advice from a former City Hall employee**

    • says

      Your advice is so true. Most of the time you don’t receive as good as medical care. That is why I hated to see Obama care come into place. People had no idea how the quality of medical care would go down and how it would make a mess of things. It is really bad in many areas already. I remember seeing a special showing the hospital room where one of the royal babies was going to be born in England and they were showing what a nice room it was. The icing on the cake was this room even had it’s own private bathroom. I thought then people here just assume they are going to have a private or semi private room with their own bathroom for the average bathroom. That will all change. I had to use military hospitals for the first 21 years of my life and most were not that great. When I had surgery I was in a large ward of about 15-20 women all in one room and they had a huge partial walled shower in the center of the room with about 8 shower heads where you all took a shower together in the same little area. It was not too much fun. I have a feeling that is what things down the road may eventually turn into. Not even mentioning the awful way I was treated and taken care of. It happened to be in one of the biggest and best military hospitals in the country too.

  59. Tommie says

    Jill, I am 74 years old, live alone, looking to save some money on Internet, landline phone, TV.
    Currently I get these three services “bundled” by Suddenlink for $152 per month. My AT&T cell phone is $50 per month. I am told by others that this is cheap for these services—am I nuts or is $200 a month a lot of money to keep one person in touch with the world. I need a cheap. cell phone when my AT&T contract runs out, (for emergencies) a landline,and a really basic TV service—I do not wat h the junk that Suddenlink provides me. I am willing to dump the internetd. I enjoy my iPad, but my emails are 90 percent advertising–much of it is distasteful. I would love to hear from those who have this figured out. Thank you. Tommie in Texas.

    • says

      You are so right. The prices for this stuff is crazy. It reminds me of many years ago when AT&T was the only telephone company and we had to pay $.50 a minute for a long distance call and by that I mean anyone who lived 50 miles away from you sometimes. We just didn’t call back then. It takes quite a bit of research to find the best prices but hopefully some of our readers can give you ideas on what they use.

  60. says

    I agree and the people who use the words are just spending and borrowing with no regard towards the future. They did it to themselves by living a lie. If you live within means, and slowly build a financial foundation, you can avoid the need for imaginary bail outs. We all are the designers of our financial lives, and those who can’t do it, have no right to feel entitled to something they haven’t earned. Good post and I appreciate someone else writing the truth of what is happening in our society.


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