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We Frugalites are a proud bunch, with many strategies available to us to maintain our budgets. In this article, I am going to share my idea of the Frugalite “Last Straw.” My own recent experience with this was an eye-opener to me on how this concept could be useful for making sure a Frugalite on a strict budget can stay the course.
What is a Frugalite “Last Straw”?
To me, a Frugalite “Last Straw” is a moment when you see the price of something and decide, “Nope, I am not buying this anymore!” It could be an item or a service. It could be something you’ve bought for years or something newer to you. At its most basic, it is the idea of saying, “No!” to something in order to maintain your budget and your concept of a fair price.
Daisy’s Inspiring Frugalite “Last Straw”
It wasn’t long ago that Daisy herself was writing about her own Frugalite “Last Straw” regarding the rent increase she was facing on her North Carolina apartment. With no law in place to protect tenants and an influx of tech companies putting pressure on the rental market, landlords were adding huge amounts to leases. Whereas so many in the region were simply buckling down to pay these huge increases, Daisy simply said, “No!” to what amounted to a $600 a-month increase.
To read the full story about how Daisy leverages her own frugality to live a glamorous lifestyle of world exploration and travel, check out this inspiring article.
My own recent Frugalite “Last Straw”
My own recent “Last Straw” is on a decidedly smaller scale, but I hope will also inspire others who are having to make difficult decisions about what to buy and what not to buy.
First of all, a bit of background: I am proud to be a homesteader on my half-acre homestead and aim to be as self-sufficient as possible. I grow a lot of my own food and barter for items I don’t produce with my local friends. What I don’t produce, I buy only twice a year at the bulk store in a nearby city. As a result, I am not often looking at prices in the local grocery stores.
One small luxury I used to allow myself was buying gourmet burger buns at a store in a local village. With prices rising all the time, I recently had an experience of “this is the last straw”! Four brioche burger buns for around $3.25. “That’s it!” I said, “I will make my own from now on.”
Now, for some of you, that amount might not seem like a lot. For me, I think it was all of the other things that I could buy with $3.25 that made me think: almost all of my milk for a week! A fair amount of gas! In the background, I already make all of my own bread on my homestead. I have enough organic spelt kernels to make anything I want. Sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly why something is a last straw. I was mad, really really mad! I thought, “I’m no longer going to pay you for these at this ridiculous price when I know I can make them myself for basically nothing!”
Why “Last Straws” are important
A last straw is that moment where you get mad enough to take action, or, unlike me, it could be a more thoughtful moment where you realize you can’t buy that anymore and continue to stay on budget. I think most Frugalites would acknowledge that staying on budget requires careful monitoring of the said budget. It requires reflecting on what’s possible with that budget.
So, you might be wondering, did I stick to my guns on this? You betcha. The next time I had a burger, I made a simple pan-fried savory bread. Some of you who are more ambitious might have made a whole batch of yeast-raised buns and frozen them for future use. For me, I like something quick and easy, which is why I generally stick to quick breads. I made my fresh warm savory pancake/burger bun in the time it took for the burger to cook. My cost? Pennies plus time.
While I probably could afford to buy buns, it’s off my list for now. My savings over the year? $39 that I can use to buy an extra tank of gas. Win-win!
I believe that the financial challenges we are all facing are only going to increase in the long run. That’s just my opinion, but there it is. If I am right, then one of the ways we can all improve our situation is to become producers, rather than consumers. This is the mindset shift that I teach about on my website. Here is a great article from the OP on this topic.
The “Last Straw” can be a great thing
Sticker shock is becoming a regular occurrence at the grocery store and all other retail locations. Could you see yourself taking action on any of the scenarios offered here? Do you have one of your own Frugalite “Last Straws” that you can share with us? 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. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient. Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!
17 thoughts on “What’s a Frugal Last Straw, and Why Does it Matter?”
I love guacamole and have a killer recipe to make it. Every time I’ve served it to people they go wild and eat more than they intended. One man admitted to having planned to skip a meeting until he remembered that I would be serving guacamole. The other day avocados were “on sale” for $1.29 each. No more guacamole until the price drops!
Hi Mary, Oh, I wish I lived closer so that I could sample your guacamole. I absolutely LOVE guacamole. Yes, your frugal last straw is one that I totally get: $1.29 EACH!?! I hope that the price drops soon, for you and all the fans of your guacamole!
My last straw event happened in December 2022 when my pasture raised organic eggs went to 4.99 a dozen (now at $5.49) along with deli meats n cheeses n my favorite breads that had doubled in 2 years. I went to oatmeal n yogurt with berries for breakfast n crackers with cut block on sale cheese or PB for lunch. I skip a dinner every other day now.
I drive about half as much these days n get more exercise coz the gas prices stress me out.
Hi K8, Wow, a lot of our “last straw” events are quite similar. Cheese price increases have meant that I no longer buy any cheese, at all. That is saying a LOT because I do love cheese. However, I do make my own kefir-based cheese, and this is what I have on crackers (when I buy them – I mainly make my own now) and the odd pizza I make. Yup – deli meats – no longer, except around 1.50 worth of spicy salami every other week for my pizza with homemade cheese and homemade crust. That’s it.
I have tried to stop driving almost altogether, except for a weekly trip where I try to do it all at once: trip to the dump, to the local thrift shop, and an elderly aunt, and the local grocery store where I buy (yup! you guessed it! my salami and milk to make kefir). I’m sorry to hear about your skipping dinners. I will have an article on that topic coming out soon, because I know many are in that situation of needing to cut back food. Thanks so much for sharing your last straws with the Frugalite community. I am sure that many, like myself, can really relate.
I would love to know how to make homemade cheese. I love cheese. But prices have really been rising.
Hi Tammy, Thanks for your interest. Yes, I make my own cheese for literally pennies now! It is a homemade kefir-based cheese. I show it straining in one of my videos on my course “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” The next session will likely begin in July, so you can get on the waitlist for that to get tips about making kefir at home and all the benefits. Info on that is on the homepage of my website.
Basically, once you make your own homemade kefir, all you have to do is strain it to take the whey out. if you want harder cheese that you can grate, there are simple ways to press the cheese. I used to always make two cheeses (hard cheese and soft cream kefir cheese), but that was more time consuming. I found that I can just put my kefir cream cheese on my pizza in little “dollops.” it has a taste like mild goat cheese and makes a great pizza that way. One benefit of not eating any more cheese is that I actually think I FEEL better. lighter and more alert. So, the first step in getting going with making your own cheese like I do is to get going with making your own kefir. It you’re interested, I have a “How To Guide” on getting started on my website right here: https://halfacrehomestead.ca/how-to-guides/
I would like to know what the price of the buns were before you decided that they were too expensive……
Hi Donna, That’s a great question. I don’t remember exactly, but in order not to attract my attention previously, I’m imagining it would have been a good 30% less (keeping in mind these were a gourmet treat I bought once a month, not your regular bun). I’m not sure what the situation is in America, but our grocery stores in Canada are being investigated for possible legal action regarding opportunistic price gouging that began in the pandemic. Wishing you the best!
I’m a plus sized lady and my “Last Straw” moment was looking at a pair of jeans my size and realizing they would cost $75 — and right now I’m getting $185 a month. I started eating more vegetables, cut out junk food ($5 bags of chips which is mostly air) and since I started I’ve lost 17 pounds. Instead of snacking I drink tea. I’ve decided I’ll mend and make do until I’ve lost enough to fit in standard and thrifted sizes.
An amazing bonus was when my roommate was having a cup of coffee with me and noticed we’re not spending as much on groceries even though prices are soaring. I really appreciate all the recipes on this site and those readers share that taste great and don’t cost much.
I read once that there’s a green triangle: You do something healthy and it’s often good for the earth and economical as well. That’s certainly proving true in my case!
Hi MmeHomebody, CONGRATULATIONS!!! I’m sure that what you’ve shared in your post will be an inspiration to many others. 17 pounds is amazing. I’m very happy for you. I could not imagine spending $75 on a pair of jeans. YIKES! What a great feeling it must have been to be able to celebrate your accomplishments with your roommate. With the way prices have increased these days, what you’ve done is a real achievement. I had not heard about the green triangle. I like that idea! I am going to give some thought this week to the green triangle in my life on my homestead. Many thanks for sharing and wishing you the best!
Great article. It got me to thinking about some changes that I need to make. I always enjoy reading your articles. I hope you are doing well. I pray that you will continue to mend. We are still working hard to get settled in our new “homestead”. Got a lot more to do, but we are making progress. Best wishes.
Hi Trish, How lovely to see your post today. I will be in touch with you very soon with an update. I am glad to hear that the article got you thinking. It’s wonderful for a writer to receive that kind of feedback. I wish you the best on your own homestead progress. Talk to you soon!
I also enjoy your articles!
Hi Tammy, Thanks so much! I love hearing from readers like yourself. It is uplifting to know that my writing is being read and helping others, which is my goal. Wishing you the best!
Colett would you please give your “burger bun” recipe to us?
Hi Paula, I am going to make them tonight. There actually is no recipe, it’s such a hodge podge. I will write it down when I make them tonight and post it in the next couple of days. Thanks for your interest! I was excited that you wanted to know!
Hi Paula, I made my burger buns tonight and tried to write down the recipe. It really changes according to my mood!
Here’s a good version to start with, and you can vary it how you like:
COLETTE’S “PANCAKE” BURGER BUNS
1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
several shakes of hot pepper flakes
1/2 medium onion minced and separated -if you like raw onion on your burger, take out what you want as a topping and add the rest to the dry ingredients.
1 LG egg (beat in small bowl with fork before adding to dry ingredients)
1/2 cup milk (probably any kind of milk would work here)
Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until mixed. Do no overmix.
Pour burger bun sized portions of batter onto a hot griddle. Flip when bubbles appear. Brown on other side.
Makes 4 burger sized “buns” plus one small one for a snack!
Variations: Add your own spices that you like. Instead of the onion, add any other vegetable that you have on hand, like finely chopped greens, corn kernels etc. Probably cooked veggies or ones that aren’t too hard would work best. Or, if you use raw carrot, maybe grate it first.
If you try it, let us all know how it goes! Wishing you the best!