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We are Frugalites, and goodness knows we like to save money. One only needs to read the comments section of any Frugalite article to get a sense of what a creative and thrifty bunch we are. While we all may love to clip a coupon or watch the flyers for sales, in this article, I am going to tell a few stories about some of the more difficult choices I’ve had to make when times are tough.
According to many sources, Americans are using credit cards and so-called “Buy Now Pay Later” loans for basic items like groceries and gasoline. Given the challenges we are all facing with inflation, I hope that my stories of tough choices I’ve had to make will be helpful to others. I’m also including a couple of stories about choices I’ve made that didn’t turn out so well in the hopes that these will also be of use.
Not having pets is the most difficult decision yet.
In 1995, I adopted a rescue dog that was at risk of being put down due to her health problems. She was the light of my life, and when I met my partner Peter in 2000, she was the light of his life as well. Indy lived to 11 years of age and provided us with the best companionship that anyone could imagine.
For many years since then, I lived in an off-grid tiny house on wheels that would not have been suitable for the kind of dog I would like to have. Now that I have built my eco-cabin, what financial resources I have are going towards paying down the debt incurred by the build.
Without a doubt, not having any pets at all has been a difficult sacrifice that I have made. I think that not everyone would agree, but this choice is right for me. My goal is to get another dog (the same breed as Indy, an English Setter!) in three years.
Not feeding the birds may seem small, but I loved it.
While this is clearly a smaller sacrifice compared to not having an animal companion, I thought it was worth mentioning. I did get a great deal of enjoyment out of watching the birds feed in my small window-mounted feeder. When my tiny house was on the family farm, I would get such a variety of birds! I would watch them while I sat and drank my morning coffee.
Sometimes, however, reaching big goals requires some sacrifices. Not feeding the birds (for now, I will begin again in the future) is one example of a smaller sacrifice that I have made to reach my big goal of building my own eco-cabin.
Because I have been willing to make many of these kinds of changes, they have added up to something bigger over time. If you are facing a lean budget during these times of inflation, making a number of similarly small changes could be the difference between being able to pay your bills and racking up debt. If you aren’t sure where to start, why not do a personal audit?
Giving up live music saves me a chunk of change.
Ya, so the pandemic kind of helped me with this one. Being out in a rural area helps, too. However, I have local friends who drive to the big cities 2 – 3 hours away for concerts now that things have opened up again.
Me? I’m not spending on live music for the moment. I just had a look at what our local symphony has to offer this season. It looks great! I’m just not at a place where I can afford to spend 50 bucks for a ticket. Now, I know that if you’re talking about popular bands in the big concert venues, you can be talking about hundreds of dollars. Nope, not for me. A difficult decision to make? Yes.
So how do I get my music fix? I listen to the radio. I have a modest collection of music stored on my computer. One playlist of uplifting favorites goes a long way for me. In the summer, I pay attention to opportunities to see live music for free.
Neglecting my dental care wasn’t a lot of fun.
OK, I don’t like to use the word “mistake.” I believe that we all make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time. So, at one point in my life, I really felt that there wasn’t enough money to care for my teeth. That was a decision that I regretted and ended up paying for in the end, big time!
Cutting out all meat didn’t really work out.
Once inflation really hit, I had a hard time stretching my grocery budget. One example: the price of a pound of butter has basically DOUBLED here from around $3 to more like $6. So, with meat similarly skyrocketing, I just decided to cut out all meat from my grocery budget. Unfortunately, that helped my wallet but not my health.
Yes, I had carefully checked that my diet still contained the daily requirement for iron from other sources. I was still getting what I thought was lots of protein from soups containing lentils and beans, nut butters, and more. I was eating kefir basically every day…but I was not well. My energy levels plummeted. I do manual labor for a living, so that was really tough to deal with. I spoke with my Aunt, who was a nurse, and she encouraged me to try and find some affordable ways to put meat back into my diet.
I checked out a local abattoir my friend had told me about. They were selling flash frozen beef from their own farm at prices much better than the local grocery stores, and the quality was amazing. It didn’t take a huge investment to get my health back. Now, I eat two servings of beef from there each week, at a cost of around $4. No, these servings aren’t two sirloin steaks: they are two good-sized, fairly lean burger patties.
In addition to that, I might buy a modest slice of Black Forest Ham at the local grocery store for around $2 to make a pizza or omelet. I actually have more energy than I have had in ages. Lesson learned!
Tough times call for tough decisions.
It isn’t always easy deciding what to cut during difficult times. Have you had to make some difficult decisions in recent times similar to the ones offered here? Do you have one you can share with us or any lessons learned? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!