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 Ellen from Confessions of an Overworked Mom.
What does frugality mean to you?
To me, frugality means doing the most with what you have. Self sufficiency is a big part of being frugal. Many of the things we spend our money are cost so much because of added costs that have nothing to do with the actual product (shipping, advertising, labor, etc.). When I cut out the middle man and started relying more on myself, I saw our expenses make a huge drop.
What is something that you do that is ‘typically’ frugally?
I’m not sure a lot of what I do is typical because of our lifestyle. We homestead on two rural acres in Vermont. If I had to choose something, I’d say it’s the fact that I use coupons. But, I really don’t coupon the way many people see couponing. Because of food allergies and sensitivities, we eat mostly organic, all natural and gluten free. There aren’t a lot of coupons out there for these types of foods. Plus because I’m in a small, rural town, there aren’t a lot of options for grocery stores that carry a good selection of these products. The one store I’ve found with reasonable prices and a good selection doesn’t double any coupons so my savings are not huge but they are savings.
What is something frugal that you do that is unusual?
We do a lot of things that are a little different than what many people do. We try to use as little electricity, propane and oil as possible to keep our costs down. Energy bills are generally huge for many people. We heat with wood and only use our oil furnace if we are gone a long period of time and don’t want the pipes to freeze. In the winter, you’re just as likely to see me cooking on my woodstove as on my gas range. When the weather cooperates, it’s not unusual to see me outside cooking dinner in our solar oven.
A lot of our frugality can be seen by what we don’t do or don’t have. We don’t have a dryer. All our clothes are dried on a rack in front of the woodstove or on the line in the backyard. We don’t have a dishwasher All our dishes are washed by hand and, yes, I’ve heated water for it on the woodstove too. We don’t own a microwave, an electric beater, a food processor, a bread machine or many other electric appliances.
In the summer, we garden and wildcraft for wild edibles in the woods. We have vegetable and herb gardens. We also have pears, persimmons, plums, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb and blueberries growing. I love gardening and preserving our harvest. We also have ducks and chickens for eggs and manure for the garden.
What are some of your longterm goals that being frugal will help you to accomplish?
My ultimate goal is to work from home. My husband is disabled and doesn’t work. Right now I am working somewhere between part and full time and because our bills are so low, that works for us. Our mortgage should be paid off in about 4-5 years which will make it even easier for me to work from home.
Married mom of two from rural Vermont interested in homesteading, self sufficiency and eco-friendly, green living.