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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Friday, July 23, 2010

The five "R"s of frugal living

Remember this saying?

Use it up;
wear it out;
make it do;
or do without. 

It was a saying that came to be chanted during the great depression and continued through the shortages of WW11.  Almost everyone has heard of it.  My grandmother taught it to me.  I guess you can sort of tell that my grandparents were financial heroes to me.  I loved the way they lived and have tried over the years, from time to time, to live the same way.  I kept falling for the hype of spend, spend, spend until I came to my senses and tried to go back to the old ways.  In my latest venture to seek a less complicated life; my grandparents are more on my mind than usual.  Maybe it's true that as we get older we do go back to our youth. 

Anyway, my grandmother also taught me the five "R"s of being frugal.  I've decided to share those five Rs in this blog.  Some people will recognize the 5Rs while others may not have given them much thought.  Before I start sharing those 5Rs let me talk a little about history.  History of the frontier days. 

In frontier days there weren't all the modern conveniences of mega stores and mega malls.  Almost everything they used was made right at home.  Animals were raised to provide food.  When they butchered an animal they saved the tallow for making candles and soap.  The hide was saved to make saddles, shoes, and other items.  They sheered their own sheep, carded the wool, spun it into yarn, and knitted it into stockings, mittens, sweaters, scarves, and caps.  The family loom was kept busy weaving materials like cotton to be made into dresses, shirts, pants, and diapers.  Houses, barns, and sheds were made from whatever material was available to build with.  It could be mud, sod, stones, wood, or even digging into the side of a hill. 

Very little was wasted because the people knew how much hard work went into producing it.  I don't think you would have found our ancestors filling up a landfill with last year's fashions.  Especially when the clothes they wore might have taken months and months to make.  A year of waiting for the cotton to grow or the sheep to grow more wool.  Weeks of carding and then the spinning and weaving.  Next the careful cutting and sewing to make a garment.  Grandma would have been horrified to see all that work tossed aside like it was nothing.  Grandma would have saved the worn out clothes to be cut into usable pieces to make a child's outfit or cut it into strips to make a rug or a warm quilt.  Even flour sacks were saved to make undergarments.

Grandpa would have tanned the hides; made the shoes or saddles; dug the potatoes, carrots, and beets from the garden; stored them in the earthy smelling root cellar; and if he couldn't make the house comfy during the winter he had no one but himself to blame for not cutting enough firewood.

Life was harder in some ways back then; but, they had the satisfaction of creating things with their own hands and using their ingenuity to provide for the needs of the family.  Everyone in the family helped with the work.  Boys learned the farming skills from their fathers.  Girls learned the hand working skills and cooking skills from their mothers.  Children were taught to do their part of the work as soon as they were old enough to walk.  Children didn't set around vegetating, they learned to grow vegetables.  Even a very young child could learn to toss a handful of corn to the chickens and gather the eggs. 

Gradually, families started moving off the farms into cities.  They no longer had to use the farming skills they knew.  There were no occasions to teach the skills to the children or to the children's children because none of it was done anymore.  So the skills are forgotten (or never learned) by those of us today. 

I believe, with the world's rapidly expanding population and dwindling supply of natural resources.... and because many of us are tiring of plastic manufactured products that all look the same..... many of us may want to relearn some of the old skills.  Of course we can't all go back to raising sheep and dipping candles but we CAN learn to live a more simplified life.  Most likely we can't set up in a weaving loom in the spare bedroom to weave our own cloth; but, we can learn to reuse the clothes we were planning to toss out.  Girls.... and boys.... can learn the skills of the 5Rs. 

The tv news is not good.  Right now the powers in government are trying to decide whether to extend unemployment benefits to the millions out of work.  History repeats itself.  Isn't that what the government did to get people back to work during the depression?  They started the WPA project.  Their version of unemployment benefits.  Well, in my opinion, their version was better than unemployment checks.  At least the people had to actually "work" to get the money.  I believe if the government of today were to set up a new WPA fixing things like roads and sewer lines and electric lines it would do more for the economy than just handing out more checks.  BUT, who is going to listen to me?  I'm just a little old lady with a goal.  My voice won't carry all the way to Washington and it certainly won't land at the ear of the president.

Ok, I'm getting off subject.  I guess it's time to go put some of the things I want to do....to actual use.


kathi said...

Ania, i am SO WITH YOU about the "better way" to extend unemployment benefits. WORK for it. There are so many roads, projects, etc that NEED to be done. I understand the unemployed are in desperate need. BUT we can't just keep throwing money out and receiving nothing for it. It is not GOOD for ANYONE to get "something for nothing" ALL the time. WPA. THAT is the program we NEED. not "send out the checks for a while longer".. and WHAT?

I am afraid to say it. BUT, i feel that our president, our congress, our government is acting like a teenager or any person with a "new" credit card. BUY BUY BUY,, SPEND SPEND SPEND. and NOT A CLUE IN THE WORLD of HOW it is going to be PAID for. and we all know THAT kind of financial mentality leads ONLY TO DISASTER.

Rosey said...

I love your frugal hints. I remember being told about the things my grandparents did and the way they lived. I never remember them complaining. Now people think they work hard, what about back then. I guess most of us don't really know what a hard days work is compared to our grandparents. My grandpa never owned a car had to walk to work. Anyway I love your blog.