1. I’ve been lucky to have spotted that I was heading into debt a few months before I did, I still had savings in other accounts when my bank card told me I was broke. There were a few fast fixes that made it possible to save money once again, not going out to expensive places, getting a cheaper plan for my cellphone… and equally important, changing supermarkets.

  2. Brenda, I loved reading this. It reminds me of me so much since I was laid off from my job and unemployment money ran out. Two incomes have changed to one, and it's not so bad going back to living frugally as we have done at times in the past. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Brenda – I was around for that initial post… and I remember how brave and honest you were in a very difficult time. I haven't stopped by your space here in a while… you are doing SO well… great to see it. And you have some sage advice here, as always.

  4. Hi Brenda..I enjoyed your post. My husband and I have just started living frugally. We really enjoy it! We live in a 500 square foot studio apartment, we have eight pieces of furniture, everything was "thrown away" and collected from the street, except for our bed.(all is in good condition). We have two lights in our apartment, we need no more than that, One in the kitchen and the other in the "living room". We do not have cable. I am retired and work part-time, my husband is disabled. Children are married and gone. I am convinced that "living frugally" can be done and by gosh we are going to do it. We do not own a car as everything is reachable by bus lines. We do have a small dog, who it the love of our lives. We are determined that we can make this work and we are trying to do our best to make it so. We are trying to live with just what we have and are getting along well. Thank you for letting me share our newest plight.

  5. Hi Brenda! I just started to read about living a frugal life. My spouse and I live in a very modest (small) over 55, one bedroom condo in South Florida. I retired a few years ago from the hotel business, where I was a Front Desk Manager. My spouse will retire in a little over a year. We hope to purchase (cash) a small RV and travel back and forth to N.Y., where she has 2 grandchildren. Just wanted you to know, that I am blessed with having a spouse (7 years) who is even more frugal than I am! Keep writing!

  6. Hi Brenda! I understand what you are talking about when you said you missed the country. My husband and I are just learning to live frugally, it's a hard thing to do since we have been living a "normal" life. We are living in the city and I miss living in the country. We are both from small towns in New York state. We miss seeing cows…(laughing). We live in a studio apartment that is just big enough for the two of us and our new puppy. Our children are grown and married, so we have our lives to ourselves. We are still learning, but we are hoping to live with just what we absolutely need.

  7. I realize that this is an old post, but it is my first time to read it. I love your suggestions and use many of them myself, tweaked a little for my needs. When I retired a few years ago, I had to really learn to cut back and shop better than I ever had before. Although the rising gas prices, and consequently, the rising food prices since I retired in 2011 have posed some difficulties that my husband and I have had to learn to manage, we are living comfortably and are able to make it on my much-reduced income. As I tell everyone, I don't have a lot of money, but I don't need a lot of money! Thanks so much for your thoughtful suggestions.

  8. You are my clone-reading about your journey was like reading about me-I too separated from my husband and move to a whole other state. I was scared to death as I was used to a much larger income & moved to a small town that had very few jobs. I worked 2 jobs when I first moved here and still had a hard time making ends meet. Cup a soups & .88 cent budget meals were my friend-lol but adding a salad , bread & butter you got a nice filling meal. I love to recycle & re-purpose-its a challenge for me to find bargains. With the exception of a fear items, my house is furnished w/ 85% re-purposed items .
    We are a very wasteful society. My situation is alittle different now but I still live with alot less then I used to.
    thanks for sharing your story-its inspiring.

  9. Great post! I hadn't thought of shopping Walmart.com with the free shipping. I live in a rural area so that would be great for me!

  10. I have been following you since before your divorce. So I was with you all thru your move πŸ™‚ And I must say you have done well, so here's a pat on the back! Any of us can be frugal, it just takes some thought & a change of our lifestyle. I am like the above poster, Kris… I am an old fashioned gal living in a high tech world. I live in the fast lane, not by choice, but because life (my job as a pharmacy tech) is demanding & I have to work to pay bills. I have a very supportive husband who is also extremely helpful. He usually has supper (we also call it that here in Alabama πŸ™‚ when I get home from work. He gets off work 1 to 2 hours earlier than me. I find myself being frugal the older I get. And I enjoy it. I honestly think I would be frugal if I had a million dollars. Frugal is fun! I like to shop at thrift stores, I am definitely a bargain shopper & I am not wasteful. Anyone can do it & everyone should try! They'd be surprised at what they wouldn't miss πŸ™‚

  11. Hi! I just stumbled onto your blog today and I love the post. I am single, too and living frugally is not just a way of life, it is freedom from being a slave to debt and day jobs you hate.

  12. What a great post! I found you via Camp & Cottage Living.

    My husband and I have always lived frugally, but after losing him last Dec. I am looking to live this way even more. Our home is a little 50's cottage, roughly 700 sq. ft. on 1/4 of an acre. I do have a workshop, an outbuildings, and gardens. Enough to keep me busy.

    Learning to live alone while grieving is taking some getting used to, but God has been my strength and sees me through each day. I also enjoy solitude, we always did and were a couple of home bodies.

    I've already been encouraged and inspired by reading some of your blog and have followed you by email notifications.

    I wish you a lovely Thanksgiving.


  13. This is such a great post, Brenda. We do have more house than we need, but we do not live extravagantly at all. You talked about eating a lot of potatoes, and I've discovered something that could easily add some good protein to those meals. It's called TVP (textured vegetable protein). It's very inexpensive, tastes great in any kind of saucy dish (add to marinara, chili, etc.) and is available in some markets and online. One of our faves is adding it to marinara and eating it with spaghetti squash, but pasta would work, too! It's low in carbs and high in protein.

  14. This is an excellent post, Brenda. I feel just as you do, and follow many of these same tips. We are blessed to live in a small town where I can walk to town (just two blocks), so I don't have the need for a car most days (we only have one vehicle, having sold our second car earlier this year to further cut back on expenses). I love living frugally. It's not a sacrifice at all. It's a joy. Blessings, Nancy

  15. I toss of bunch of white wash cloths that I bought at WM into the usual laundry when I have a load of other things. These cloths are used for cleaning and instead of paper towels. Also it is not necessary to use a garage liner if you wash out the can.

  16. Hi Brenda,
    I do not think I've visited your blog before today. I'm playing hookey from work, shhhh, don't tell anyone. I found you through a sidebar link at Sharing Shadymont. I have to say that I am impressed with how you live and all the commenters who, too, shared reasons, either financial or philosophic, or both, for living on the "leaner" side of life. I was really heartened to see that I'm not the only one who lives modestly (I do splurge on occasion) and is happy to do so! I am happy without a car (live in the city and I walk or bus it, or borrow a friend with a car on occasion), cable t.v. and not even a Keurig in my life. I have one cup of Tasters Choice instant in the morning and that's it. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure years ago and my doctor recommended cutting out as much caffeine as possible. Makes me enjoy that coffee all the more, as you and your other readers noted. Savor the flavor all the more and a perfect way to start off every day. I was very sorry to read about your allergies and your asthma problems (your October 1 post). I know battery operated real wax candles can be expensive, but the little button batteries last a long time and can be recycled. I use several around the house and they have a very realistic flicker effect that make them look like actual lit candles, but without the danger of fire (I tend to drift off to sleep in the evenings and therefore very rarely lit candles unless I had company to keep me awake) and the smoke and soot going into the air inside the house. I found one very large "honeycomb" patterned battery candle at TJMaxx as well as a set of three smaller real wax candles there for $4 each. So if you shop the bargain places you can sometimes catch a good bargain on battery operated candles. Beeswax – the height of luxury. At one time, in some countries, beeswax candles were reserved for the "upper crust." Regular people had to use tallow candles. Much healthier than the paraffin that's around today, that's made out of oil or oil shale byproducts! Geez! The stuff we bring into our homes and we don't even know what is in it!

  17. I just love this post. I keep working on learning to be frugal and like new ideas all the time. Love the little red Kurig. I cannot have coffee with caffine in it. So not sure what packages to order or where. I can have tea, decaf and hot chocolate, and cider. I think that will be enough for me to enjoy this little gem and bring joy to my day. If there is a place that I can be selective about what I order would you please email me. Thank you Brenda. I really appreciate your honesty and you blog. Rita [email protected]

  18. Brenda,
    Thank you for sharing the coziness of your life and your philosophy-owning who we are and what we stand for is thee most important thing in life to me. Your tips are also most helpful-retirement is just a stones throw away for us-
    Warm Hugs Always,

  19. A nice timely post I would say.
    I fell and broke my right arm 2 weeks ago, so I can relate to finding easier ways to do things.

    I found a package of 4 plastic filter cups to use in a Keurig. They are refillable over and over. The lids just pop up and you can fill them with coffee of your choice.

    Most of my shopping is on line and I love it.
    Keep smiling

  20. Brenda, I too was told I wouldn't make it on my own, we proved them wrong! I think the path to being frugal is different for most. I don't own a TV so there is no need for cable. To save even more you could watch TV episodes free on Hulu on the computer, and Netflix is only $8 per month and can be streamed to the TV which is much cheaper than cable. I also watch documentaries for free on topdocumentaryfilms.com.

    I gave up my car living so close to everything I need and can buy anything not available locally I can have delivered like you.

    I do use the library and was given 2 large boxes of books which I took to the local used bookstore for store credit which saves me a lot on books.

    The other way I have saved money is to eliminate paper products. I use old fabrics/sheets/clothes for rags and made cloth napkins to replace paper towels. It all adds up.

  21. My best frugal tip – I signed up with our public library. I can download books and audio books all for free – up to 10 at a time. I download to my computer, Kindle or smart phone. Great books with all the top writers are available. Sometimes I just put myself on a wait list for the newer ones and they don't take that long to get. This is a huge savings, as buying audiobooks usually cost around $15 each. Also, there are tons of free books available to download from Amazon. You can really keep yourself entertained. Just saying.

  22. I put an extra shower curtain rod down the middle of the bathtub. It's great for a drying line and it is high enough not to hit anyone on the head.

  23. You have some good ideas. We were given a Keurig and were daunted by the use of the k-cups, expense-wise. The answer for us is that we both only have one cup each per day. If I want a little more, I bang the used-k cup and catch the first half cup, which is good and switch to another container for the rest of the coffee, which is pretty clear by that time and just throw that away. So we use two k-cups per day so that's ok. We still brew coffee on the stove top several days a week because I love the smell of brewing coffee and it's Hot and stronger than the k-cups. I tried the self filling filter and wasn't successful with it.

  24. I just recently found your blog and enjoy it so much! Thanks for posting about your frugal life–you have some great tips in it. I noticed in your photos that we both have the same book–Waterside Cottages. It is full of great and inspiring ideas. And, we both have a red mini-Keurig. Mine came with a My K-Cup refillable filter, so I use my own coffee in it, rather than the more expensive pre-packaged K-Cups. Just love to see that pretty red coffee maker on my counter every day! Love your colorful home and particularly love looking at your tablescapes page. I liked the picture of the bottle-filled tray so much that it is now my new desktop wallpaper! Looking forward to your next post!

  25. I feel I am getting to know you better and better each time I visit.
    You just showed a lot of people that you can live a beautiful life being frugal. My dad had a stroke 5 years ago which put him in a wheel chair and mostly homebound. He also uses Walmart for shopping. A very good tip btw. I am always looking to save money too I was laid off from a full time job it will be a year in November. thanks so much for your frugal tips!!

  26. Love your blog, altho I don't have a blog I faithfully follow yours! It is such a good blog and good advice. The funny thing is that the ad that popped up at the end of our postng was for a 14 bedroom vacation home in NC! It just struck me funny! πŸ™‚

  27. This post resonated with me in so many ways.
    Five years ago my husband was offered a buyout and early retirement. We debated back and forth on whether we should do it. It was a FIFTY PERCENT pay decrease! I read everything I could find on 'frugal living'…books, magazines, blogs. The ways we were wasting money was astounding!

    We bought our small home 25 years ago, paid it off and never had the itch to 'move up'. Smart move! Retirement at 50 would not have been possible otherwise. We share a car. We do odd jobs to earn extra money, prioritize our splurge spending (traveling and art and jewelry making supplies mostly) and incorporate the same things you do to save money. We recently discovered online grocery shopping. Who knew?
    The best advice I ever received? "If you want/need to earn more money, spend less!" So true.
    I love living my life this way. Absolutely. Love. It. Being less wasteful and saving money is the most satisfying feeling ever!
    I really enjoyed this post, thank you!

  28. Thanks, Brenda. My middle name is frugal. I certainly don't miss having a big house. Although, I can't wait to get back to having my own small space. I put very little mileage on my old paid for car and limit my trips. Most of the places I need tog go are very nearby and I stock up at Trader Joe's for most of my food. The library is my best friend. I order a big stack of books and pick them up once a week. Although we have cable TV I am not a big TV watcher and may not have it when I move into my own space. I, too hope the days of McMansions are over. xo Laura

  29. Hey Brenda,

    Such sage advice, as always! I have read your story from the beginning and you have proven to yourself (most importantly!), that self-confidence and conscientiousness go hand in hand. It took us almost 10 years to build our house and, as you know, my husband was the builder! So…only when the budget allowed could we progress. I take the morning bus (only one of two that depart from here), into town to pay the bills, get rid of the grey, and share a coffee with a friend, all on one trip. Your tips on saving energy are observed here, as well, and washing dishes is, for me, too, a time of reflection and calm.

    Thanks for sharing!


  30. You always have the best tips Brenda! I never thought about having things delivered. Right now everything is so convenient to our rental I don't need to think about that, but at some point we will be spending more time at the cabin which is convenient to nothing except some bears and deer ;).

    I love to watch House Hunters International. It really opens your eyes to how other countries live and how spoiled and wasteful we tend to be here in the US. Totally agree with you about McMansions. One of the worst ideas EVER!

  31. Hi Brenda. Your tips are really good. I don't order any household supplies or foods online, but I will check into that.

  32. Hi Brenda – I have a lot to learn about being frugal. I had a big change to my life almost 2 years ago that decreased my earnings by 30%. I've been living as if this is temporary but now I know it's permanent. Big changes ahead. J

  33. Hi Brenda. These are some great tips. I didn't know you could order online from Walmart. Since my hubby has retired he's pulled the money strings in on me. At first I was sad but it has helped me so much when I'm out to not buy something unless it just screams at me and doesn't cost much. Heck, I've saving him money! πŸ˜‰
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia πŸ˜‰

  34. Brenda,
    I enjoyed this read so much today. I often wonder how I would support my family on the little money I make if something happened and my situation changed. I do hope the McMansion era is over too, but looking around – it is still going on. Guilty to some extent – but moving forward – bigger isn't better.
    I hope your ankle heals soon. That is a hard place to recover from. Thanks for your candid post – you are a 'down to earth' girl and I, for one, appreciate that.

  35. My husband and I pretty much live as you do and sadly, it still isn't enough. I just wrote a post on my blog about my house of cards falling in explaining what I mean.. I would LOVE to sell my house and downsize but we are underwater so I can't sell. We don't need all this house, it's 1700 square feet has 3 bedrooms a living room, den kitchen dining room and 2 full baths. It's just me my husband and the 7 dogs WHO needs all this room.. Personally, I hate it..

  36. I have read you faithfully as I moved and am now living on my own. I need to live frugally and I agree with everything you said. I am still trying to adjust everything here but will take some of your ideas and start them soon. I have a cat and I can order litter and food and have it delivered…awesome!


  37. I do several of the same things. I make one trip to town and often share that ride with my mom and we do all our shopping in one day. I do extreme coupon too. I order online why spend gas when they can bring it to you. I do wish the people in my home would turn off the lights or the tv when they leave, but have had a hard time breaking them of that. I actually only grocery shop once a month and that saves a lot of money. Great post, Brenda.

  38. These are all such great ideas Brenda. At this point in life, we aren't worried all the time about money but I worry about the future. My husband's vision is very limited and we just never know what could happen. I'm always trying to save a penny one way or another.

    About Wal Mart…so you order your groceries?

  39. Great post, Brenda. As always. I enjoy coming by and I think being frugal is actually fun. I like to see how far I can stretch a dollar.

  40. I've always been glad we've lived in a small house and not a "McMansion" – not only due to the financial factor (mortgage, utilities, taxes) – but even aesthetics. I think smaller houses are much more charming than huge ones. I'm also glad that we never considered this house just a starter home and then moved up, as we'll be mortgage-free in just a few years. I know so many people that just had to "move up" to larger homes and they either lost their homes or were in terrible debt. Besides, who wants to have to clean and maintain all that space?! As for cars, we do tons of research before buying one to make sure we're buying a very reliable vehicle and getting a good price. Then we drive them until they die. We have never traded up just because our car was old or we just had to have the newest model. Clothes…easy to be pretty frugal in this area. When I was working outside the home, yes I needed more clothing than I do now (at home) but I always shopped at Goodwill or the clearance racks at places like Kohls and JC Penny.

    We don't have a water bill here, as we have private wells. I'm with you on the electricity and keeping lights off when possible – also using the AC as little as possible and using fans instead.

    We're not big into concerts; don't like crowds. Have only been to a couple of concerts in the past years (and one was due to winning tickets through a radio station). We rarely watch TV (especially me) so we only have basic cable. My mom doesn't even have a TV at all. We've told her she's not missing anything. πŸ˜‰

    Sorry for the long comment, but one frugal resource that should be taken advantage of is your local library. You can get all the free books and movies you want! πŸ™‚

  41. Great tips – well, really – life-style advice. I especially love the Wal-Mart tip. What a great idea to save wear and tear and aggravation for going out to get just a few things. Plus you can probably just add things to your online shopping cart as you think of them. I will be taking some of these tips ideas to heart.

  42. Brenda, I had no doubt in my mind when you moved to Oklahoma that you wouldn't make it on your own. I agree with you on the dishwasher, it's not a big deal for me. Maybe next year when you're completely healed you might want to look into one of those umbrella clothes lines. I have one and love it. Hardly need any room for it, it's maybe 5' across and you can get a lot of clothes on it. Thanks for the Walmart tip, will have to look into that!

  43. Brenda, I want you to know that you inspire me so much! For several years I've read your blog and have been through ups and downs with you and you've always held your head up high and tried to make lemonade out of lemons. You always give sage advice and I appreciate your honesty and frankness. PLEASE, don't ever change and give your sweet babies a hug from me and my baby! See you on the next post. Hugs!

  44. Good Evening Brenda, Thank you for this post, I really enjoyed reading it. Like you, I go into town once every two or three months. I make a list of things I need and keep adding until I have a list worthy of shopping for. I catch the bus….. because it is much cheaper than taking the car, paying for petrol and paying parking prices. I have a dishwasher, but it is used only as a treat, usually on a Sunday, otherwise I wash up using the kitchen sink. I also hang my washing out to dry, weather permitting and very rarely use my tumble dryer and that, I only use if I have an overload of clothes needing to be dried because the rain has not stopped pouring.
    Our house is relatively small, but enough for us, which cuts down on the housework and heating bills.
    It is difficult at first adjusting to cutting back, but when the habit is formed it becomes a way of life.
    Best Wishes to you,

  45. My husband and I are trying to do the same. It's hard when you have to live on a fixed income. I realize now, after I retired, … that things do not make you happier. Your home is lovely!

  46. Such good advice you give, Brenda. I knew you could do it. You have a little palace to live in and you've done it yourself and your way. I guess you've shown that "person" that you could make it on your own. Bravo ! !! ! ! !
    Abi and Charlie Ross have a great home to live in too—-a nice yard to explore and a great Mom who loves them.
    It's nice to treat yourself once in a while. I would think it's a real treat to have some of your grocery needs delivered to your door.
    I'm glad you have a car that is paid for. That means a lot !
    Many blessings,
    Charlotte in Va.

  47. I loved this post! It was very informative.
    Couple of things. I'm learning to use only lamps around the house. Even with the new cfl (?) bulbs… I don't like turning them off and on, so lamps are perfect.
    Also, like you… we are trying to eat our large meal in the afternoon and only snack at supper.
    I only WISH! we could break the eating out habit. The Honey likes to eat out…I personally could live on granola and yogurt in the evening, or some little something.
    I hadn't thought about having the groceries (ie: TP, cereal, etc. brought to the door) I may have to look into that, especially if the shipping is free. We don't shop WM anyway…but there are other places that probably offer the same service.

    great post, Pat

  48. I enjoyed reading your tips on how to live frugally. There were some good ones in there. I agree about trying to conserve gas and plan your trips accordingly. We do that. Some things work easier for a person living alone though, rather than a family with kids. I really need my dishwasher and dryer! I didn't know you could buy food and paper items online from Walmart. I shop at Walmart for our groceries too. I agree that there are too many oversized homes out there too. I see some people living in so much more home than they need and then they complain about how much upkeep it is. I always think…..then why don't you move??? You don't need that much house! Our house fits my family size well. I don't think I could get away with a smaller one for a family of 4 comfortably.

  49. I am similar in some of these things ….as to Walmart once it went to a super store in our area I rarely went anymore. So I shall have to check their prices on some things online and compare to when the store has a sale price and maybe do what you are doing with Walmart! πŸ™‚

    When my husband & I split up 15 or so yrs ago I was terrified about 'making it' but so far so good. Recently unemployed due to downsizing and that's a new adventure

  50. Brenda, you summed this up so eloquently, and I agree and do the same things!! I took a job to be closer to my mother in her last years and took a whopping salary hit. I had to adjust immediately. When she passed I realized that I didn't need a huge house (or tenants). I also cut back on coffee, entertainment, etc. I meet friends for breakfast/lunch and the occasional dinner is for a birthday celebration or when meeting up with working friends. My favorite expression I use all the time is, "It is NOT about what you want, it is ALL about what you need. Truth. But some folks have to find out for themselves. xo

  51. Bigger is not better!

    We live in a small cottage, pay cash for everything, and "live within our means". We ride our bicycles or walk to the grocery store a lot and don't pay for cable because we have not owned a television since 1999. I love clothes and shoes, but always looked for deals. Now that I am retired, I doubt if I will buy much because I have too much of everything right now and I seem to live in my yoga pants, tennis clothes or Patagonia shorts.

    What you and I believe Steve and I have done is to not care about keeping up with the Jones.

    Congratulations on living on your own.

  52. I've never understood why people don't plan their errand trips. When I was working outside the home, I always planned errands that were on the way home. Now I always do them all on one week day. I plan what store so that it's usually a one stop shop. I, like you, order much online and do the research there instead of wasting time running to many stores. As I've gotten older, I find the need to "decrapify" and get rid of so much "stuff". Clutter is beginning to give me hives at this stage of my life.

  53. You sound like a huge winner to me! Congratulations on not only surviving a huge life change, but doing so with style and wisdom.

  54. At 43 I said enough and left with 2 young teens in tow, not knowing how I would make it, but I did..

    I like your suggestions and I too hope folks come to their senses and stop living under the enormous, life damaging pressure of Debt.

    I didnt know you during your years of agony but I have gone back and read enough to know I admire you and am very proud of you because I know how hard it was to do. I have been there and walked in similar shoes.. The road was bumpy but we are both still standing~!

  55. Happy Sunday Brenda…You are so right! my house is just a 2 bedroom home with my husband and my Whestie..Fritzy..and we could so live in half the space..Glad you are so happy now..God is good! Carol

  56. Great tips from someone that lives her own advice. Don't you love when someone making tons of money on TV gives you tips like yours. They never have had to live the real life. We took a major pay roll cut 10 years ago. Major. We have adapted. Some times were so hard. But it's okay. Retirement worries me a little but we are conservative so we should be okay. I hardly ever buy clothes. We have done some things to the inside of our house because we'd like to downsize eventually. Our trips are to see our children. But, I am splurging this fall on a BFF adventure that I am paying for totally with my babysitting money. Your situation had to be so hard. So much not knowing….I'd say you have done very well. Bravo, Brenda.

  57. All great advice, Brenda.

    I am very glad you have proven to everyone – and mostly to yourself – that you are most certainly ABLE to live on your own, thank you very much!

    You keep at it and heal up, inside and out and just keep getting better.

    Negative energies ruin a soul – glad you aren't letting it happen to you!


  58. I am an old fashioned girl, living in a high tech world. yearning for a simpler life. I loved this post.

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