This Is What Frugal Looks Like: The Lean Times

by This Is Frugal · 10 comments

in This is Frugal

This is What Frugal Looks Like is a series that highlights different ways that people can be frugal in their lives- after all, frugality doesn’t have to be drastic or just about clipping coupons. Frugality can be fun and easy. Each respondent answers the same four questions.

Today’s interview is with the writer of The Lean Times.

What does frugality mean to you?

For me frugality is the means to live a better life. I do a lot of stealing from Peter to pay Paul, which means I will be very frugal in one area so I can do a planned spurge in another. I really enjoy looking for ways to save money; I find it a challenge to beat “the man”.

Living frugally has made me more creative. I am not going out socializing as much but have taken a sewing class where I met great people. I have started making jewelery again and am selling it on Etsy. I have taken on a real make do and mend mentality which is so much more fulfilling than the ‘I shop therefore I am’ one.

What is something that you do that is ‘typically’ frugally?

I try to eat seasonally, buy about 85% of my fruit and veg in the market. I am very lucky to live near Portobello in London so the variety is wonderful and very cost efficient. I also always hit the bread stall about 3pm when they are marking down so I can buy ciabatta to freeze. When I visit the supermarket, I always hit the discount area first to hunt out anything for the freezer. For me happiness is a full freezer.

What is something frugal that you do that is unusual?

I don’t think I do anything super unusual in the frugal sense. I am an avid library goer, I belong to ones in five different boroughs. I almost never buy books.

I try to get the most out of what I have as in, if I roast a chicken you can bet there will be a pot of stock bubbling a couple of days later.

I am obsessive about getting the best price, which is why I buy a lot of basics like shampoo on Ebay. Ebay sellers do not have the overhead of having a store so it is almost always cheaper. I also buy in big sizes and decant into smaller containers. A big salon sized bottle of shampoo will last about six months and cost a fraction of the price. I wrote a whole post about how much I love Ebay.

What are some of your longterm goals that being frugal will help you to accomplish?

My biggest goal is to be debt free. I have gotten on the Dave Ramsey “be debt free” bandwagon and am trying to reach that beautiful place of financial peace. Frugality is one of my avenues to get there. I have a few more long term goals but until I am in a happy financial place, I am keeping them to myself. Let’s say they constist of a larger flat with an extra room for crafts/office.


I am an ex-New Yorker that has very happily resided in leafy London for over ten years. I have always been interested in saving money where ever I could so I would be able to guiltlessly splurge in other areas. I believe you can live frugally with style; it is all in how you do it.

I started writing The Lean Times, when I found myself continually giving out advice. I was giving advice on saving money, organization, where to buy things, how to find a bargain on line etc. so I thought I would be a good idea to start a blog then when someone asks advice I can just send them to the computer.

We all have Lean Times, when we are looking to cut corners, whether it is when you are saving for a deposit on a property, working to get out of debt or just to buy an expensive pair of shoes with cash. Everyone has times when they need to be Lean especially in the current economic situation.

Links to favourite posts


1 Amy Reads Good Books October 22, 2009

I never thought to buy staples on eBay. Great idea!
.-= Amy Reads Good Books´s last blog ..Booking through questions =-.

2 jennifer888 @ Negotiation Board October 22, 2009

I love the fact that you have found a way to contribute, by making jewelery, instead of just consume!
.-= jennifer888 @ Negotiation Board´s last blog ..Lower Your Credit Card Rate in 60 Minutes Flat =-.

3 Thea October 23, 2009

Great advice…especially in these times…we all need to be a bit frugal in one way or another.

4 Cassie October 23, 2009

You can buy shampoo on Ebay? Where have I been?! *runs to check it out*

I would love it if you posted your Etsy stuff, I really like seeing how crafty people can be, since I so am NOT crafty at all!
.-= Cassie´s last blog ..How to NOT lose weight. =-.

5 Daniel October 24, 2009

Totally agree that you can live frugally and yet live in style. And our lives too have been all about living cheaply in some areas (small apartment, modest cars, cheap eats) so we can “live large” in other areas (travel, flexible careers and work schedules). This post is real thought-provoker!

Casual Kitchen
.-= Daniel´s last blog ..CK Friday Links–Friday October 23, 2009 =-.

6 My Frugal Miser October 25, 2009

Isn’t London one of the most expensive cities in which to live? Seems like you’d get to your “end” if your means were more prudent. Just curious how you justify that, unless it’s to be close to a nice paying job.
.-= My Frugal Miser´s last blog ..Cost of a Frugal Miser’s "Vacation" =-.

7 Viviana October 25, 2009

I have chosen to to live in West London, it is culturally exciting and diverse. I could in theory live somewhere less expensive but for my work that would be penny wise and pound foolish. I believe there is more to life than just saving money, I hope I have conveyed that in this interview.

I try my best to live a lush exciting life with thrift.
.-= Viviana´s last blog ..The Lean Singleton Inhabits =-.

8 Financial Samurai October 25, 2009

I found London to be 30% MORE expensive than NYC, which to me is America’s most expensive city. I lived in NYC for 2 years and it was very difficult to save money, even if you made $100,000 a yr.

When I was in London, I’d eat Indian and Malaysia food all day. Loved it! and better value. 🙂

See you at FS one day!
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Six Figure Incomes & Unemployment – Challenging Reality By Engaging The Community =-.

9 Calvin from immediate debt relief October 25, 2009

thanks for the information great food for thought, its amazing how much we don’t want to account for?
.-= Calvin from immediate debt relief´s last blog ..Debt Initiative | A Consumer Debt Relief Initiative =-.

10 Darren October 26, 2009

well said – there are so many frug ways to live – once you have made your mind up it almost becomes a hobby

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