Frugal Living

Mason Jars
See Also
Senior Discounts


Celebrating the 'little wins,' simple actions that save money These are not earth-shattering strategies, but they keep me inspired and motivated. There are few things as satisfying in life as saving money. Whether it's done through shrewd purchasing, or, better yet, choosing not to buy something, the idea that more money is accumulating in my bank account, as opposed to flowing out of it, always makes me feel happy.

Trent Hamm, one of my favorite frugality bloggers who writes for The Simple Dollar, calls them 'little wins':

"They’re little frugality tips that, on their own, aren’t life changing, but they’re just simply better ways of doing things compared to what I used to do. In each case, they result in more money in my pocket, but they usually come with additional benefits."

1. Cooking from the pantry

I find it exciting and challenging to open the fridge and pantry, assess what's there, and figure out how to cook as many meals as I can using only what's available. I also take pleasure in delaying grocery shopping by a day or two (until my husband is really complaining!), just to see how far we can stretch it. My efforts aren't always successful, and the meals are sometimes less than stellar, but they help me to use up forgotten ingredients and expand my culinary boundaries.

2. Cooking in large batches

I don't do this as often as I should, considering that I have a busy young family at home, but it is deeply satisfying when I do. The cost per meal goes down and the amount of time saved goes up.

3. Using the library

I once had someone tell me they "wouldn't be able to afford" my reading habit, at which point I explained the purpose of the library. I, too, would not be able to afford my own reading habit if I were buying all those books! It would be absurd. The library is an incredible resource not only for books, but also for printing documents (I don't own a printer because it's easier and far cheaper to use the library). Our library has everything from day passes to the local museum, to fishing rods and tackle for kids. With every checkout, I feel like I'm making a statement in support of an institution that needs protection more than ever.

4. Riding my bike around town

I live in a small town, so the distances I ride are very short, but every time I get on my bike I feel satisfaction at having left my car in the driveway. There are dollars not spent on gas, fumes not emitted from the tailpipe, congestion not added to the streets -- and a clear message sent to all the drivers and pedestrians who see me riding that bikes belong on our roads, too.

5. Buying second-hand clothes

If you want to feel great about your frugality, start buying clothes at the thrift shop. It takes more frequent and persistent visits to find good stuff, but it pays off rapidly. Especially for kids, it's easy to find clothes in great condition for as little as 25 or 50 cents apiece -- a mind-boggling amounts of savings compared to the cost of new clothes. Why so few parents do this, I do not know.

6. Having a no-spend weekend (or week)

Hamm and his wife plan their no-spend weekend purposely, deciding not to spend money in any form between Friday and Monday. That means no gas, no groceries, no bills. I love when this happens and I reach Sunday evening with the realization that I haven't opened my wallet a single time. Sometimes I manage to do this for a whole work-week. While this sometimes means putting off expenses that must be made eventually, there are other desires that fade with time, and that money is saved.

7. Not buying junk food for my family

I'm always shocked at how expensive potato chips, ice cream, and fancy beverages are, and have difficulty understanding how people can afford to buy them on a regular basis. We choose not to buy them, both for health and financial reasons, opting instead for snacks like hummus, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, nachos with salsa. Every time I walk out of the store without a bag of chips, I get a surge of satisfaction.

8. Living in an old house

My house is more than a hundred years old, so no doubt someone will challenge me on this, questioning its lack of energy efficiency; but I once read that "the greenest home is the one that's already built," a line that I've never forgotten. As I watch the suburbs explode around us with mega-homes slapped together at reckless speed by developers, I can't help but feel satisfied with having 'saved' an old home from abandonment. Sure, it leaks cold air, has all the original windows and creaky floors, and needs some work, but we paid about half of what some of our acquaintances have paid to build their new mansions in town, and ours has more character. In its defence, our house has long finished off-gassing noxious chemicals; it's within walking distance of everything; it's shaded by magnificent old trees that cool it in summer and shelter it in winter; the yard is buzzing with wildlife that takes shelter in the overgrown gardens and hedges surrounding the property. I feel satisfied at not having contributed to the sprawl.

Frugal Living, Sustainable Ways blog possible subjects:

  • Urban or Rural Homesteading
  • Anything DIY
  • Frugal Recipes
  • Preparedness/Survival
  • Repurposed Projects
  • Upcycled Frugal Finds
  • Animal Care
  • Natural Gardening Tips
  • Herbal Remedies
  • Green Cleaners

The list could go on…

5 steps toward going 'zero waste' in the kitchen I don’t have much hope of reaching Bea Johnson’s level, whose family produces only one quart of waste annually, I have certainly learned a lot by paying close attention to how much garbage and recycling my household generates on a daily and weekly basis.

One happy discovery I’ve made is that the zero waste movement is much more popular and widespread than I thought. Recently I spoke with Shawn Williamson, who lives with his family just outside of Toronto and runs an environmental sustainability consultation firm called the Baleen Group. He hasn’t taken a bag of garbage out to the curb since August 2011!

If you’re looking to go zero waste, or at least ‘minimal waste’, the kitchen is a great place to start. Here is a list of the most useful tips I’ve encountered, gathered from my conversation with Williamson, Johnson’s book, and personal experience.

1. Shop with reusable containers

' Prevent waste from entering your home, and then you won’t have to deal with it. Refusing packaging also makes a public statement and educates people about zero waste. I shop with glass Mason jars, which are easy to fill, store, and clean. Read more about it here: Why I’m hooked on shopping with glass jars.

Take along reusable produce bags for small items that can’t be kept loose. I purchased some organic cotton mesh bags with a drawstring that can be easily laundered. Available online at Life without Plastic (the site has lots of other very cool things for going zero waste).

2. Buy groceries in bulk

This can be interpreted in two ways, both of which are important. “Bulk,” according to Johnson, means bought in reusable containers, since that’s what many alternative bulk stores do. For Williamson, it means literally buying large quantities of food in order to minimize the amount of overall packaging. He shops a few times a year for dry goods from the suppliers of bulk stores, picking up 50lb bags of rice and almond flour. It’s much cheaper that way, saves gas on trips to the store, and you rarely run out.

3. Set up a good backyard compost system

Composting is the best way to deal with organic household waste, since the waste doesn’t need to get shipped anywhere and gets converted to rich soil. In Williamson’s household, the composter diverts 74.7 percent of their waste. He uses a 2-part system, with an earthworm-filled box composter that receives the initial load of food scraps and a tumbler that finishes it off. Within a month of warm weather, he has a fresh load of soil – and that’s in Ontario, with its relatively short gardening season. Meat scraps go in the green box, which is the municipal composting program.

4. Make certain things from scratch to avoid packaging

Some might scoff at the idea of making the following foods from scratch on a regular basis, but I can tell you from experience that once it becomes part of a routine and you become comfortable with the recipes, it can be very quick, and even save time by not having to run out to the grocery store.

5. Ditch the disposables

There’s no need to keep paper towels, paper napkins, garbage liners, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and disposable plates or cups in the kitchen. Though it may seem strange at first, you will always find reusable alternatives when the need arises. I find it’s better just to get rid of those ‘tempting’ items and make do without. It makes for a lot less stuff in the trash can.

10 Unconventional Ways to Use Old Paper Towel and Toilet Paper Rolls Around the House bird feeders, napkin rings, cord holder, seedlings, plant protectors.

Controlling cutworms with TP rolls


Homestead Revival Journey back to the farm.

Extreme frugality allowed me to retire at 32 – and regain control of my life Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful life. It enabled her to retire at 32 with her family to a homestead in the Vermont woods

The Vermont homestead that Elizabeth Willard Thames shares with her husband and daughter. Just a few years ago, this seemed like an impossible feat. Photograph: Elizabeth Willard Thames

Mason Jars

Mason Jars Strong, versatile, easy to clean, see-through, and plastic-free, Mason jars are an asset to every kitchen.

Is there anything the mighty Mason jar cannot do? Strong, versatile, easy to clean, see-through, and plastic-free, Mason jars are an asset to every kitchen, which is why you should start stockpiling them now. My approach is never to turn down Mason jars when offered, and always to pick them up if I see them at a yard sale or thrift store. Mine come out on a daily basis, in all different shapes and sizes, to serve a variety of purposes. Here are some ways in which Mason jars can make your kitchen – and, by extension, your life – more organized.

Mason Jar / Mason Jars in use

Use jars to store leftovers.

It can be difficult to find the right container and lid at the moment I need it, but it’s always possible to find a Mason jar and screw-top lid! Wide-mouth jars are particularly good for food storage, and I use a funnel to pour soups, stews, and dals into the standard-sized ones. You can also microwave them in the jar to reheat.

Store salad ingredients.

Wash lettuce, arugula, and spinach, rip or chop into small pieces, and put in a large Mason jar. It will stay fresh and crispy for days, as will sprouts. You can also keep herbs upright in a jar, with a bit of water. Same goes for washed, chopped fruits for salad garnishes, fruit salad, or plain eating.

Freeze foods.

You can freeze foods in glass, as long as you leave plenty of space for expansion. Freeze with the lid off initially, then add it later to prevent freezer burn. I love jars for freezing homemade ice cream and leftover stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, homemade pesto, and excess grated cheese.

Use as an emergency lunch container.

Did you forget to run the dishwasher before school? That’s when you can pack your kid’s lunch in a small Mason jar (or two). Just don’t tighten the lid too much. Take a Mason jar in your bag as an on-the-go coffee cup; it's sealable and leakproof, although it can get hot.

Store dry goods.

Time for a pantry clean-out? Transfer dry goods, such as flour, cornmeal, beans, lentils, quinoa, couscous, rice, and small pasta into glass jars, rather than keeping them in boxes. Food will be more visible, you’ll be able to monitor quantities better, and you decrease the risk of bugs getting in. Better yet, take them straight to the grocery store for zero-waste shopping.

Use as a junk corral.

Not that you have any junk kicking around the kitchen… Well, I’m kidding. Don’t we all? Mason jars are perfect for storing elastics, twine, batteries, twist ties, a stack of cupcake liners, etc. That way, they’re easy to see, easy to reach.

Use for food prep.

Mason jars are great for preparing busy weekday meals ahead of time. You can make salads in a jar, overnight refrigerator oatmeal-in-a-jar, veggies with hummus, and noodle bowls. You can even layer chili with cornbread batter on top, and bake in the oven for a really delicious on-the-go treat. Make salad dressings in large quantities and store in jars, measuring out single-serving amounts into smaller jars for packed lunches.

Jars are great for fermenting foods like kombucha and kimchi; making homemade yogurt; drying herbs from the garden (I stand them up in the jar and leave them by the window); mixing spice rubs; making iced tea or homemade fruit juices; storing sourdough starter, bacon fat, or homemade lard.

Store kitchen utensils.

If your utensil drawer is jamming, or if you need quicker access to spoons and spatulas while cooking, stick your utensils upright in a large Mason jar and set in a convenient spot.


In praise of frugality People wonder why they can't save money, and yet they spend money like it's going out of style. Whatever happened to "living within one's means"?


Why frugality isn't just for the rich Knowing how to be frugal is a useful tool, no matter how much or how little money you have.

There has been an online debate simmering for the past few weeks about the role of frugality in society today. The trigger was an article in the Guardian by Elizabeth Willard Thames, a.k.a. Mrs. Frugalwoods, [see below] who runs the eponymous blog and has recently published a book about her young family's experience leaving the urban rat race in Boston and moving to a homestead in Vermont. Not surprisingly, her story has been met with mixed emotions.

Writing for the Outline, Miles Howard attacks Willard Thames' approach, saying it "slots neatly into the classist myth that millions of adults in this country [the US] still believe." This myth states that, despite the 2008 financial crash and reduced professional opportunities for Millennials, young people's greatest problem is themselves. [see art. below] Howard writes:

"Nearly a decade after the crash, the mainstream media still seems hell-bent on portraying people born between 1982 and 2004 as a bunch of decadent and 'fun-employed' narcissists who piss their parents’ money away on matcha green tea lattes, spend too much time Instagramming their pets, and are thus responsible for the economic rut they’re stuck in.

"This myth — which scrubs millions of underprivileged Millennials from the picture — is crucial to understanding why the media is swooning over the Frugalwoods right now. What’s remarkable about them is how they’ve managed to offer the public a kind of Millennial redemption story: a tale of two Millennials taking the time and responsibility to learn about money, rein in their spending impulses, and achieve financial security. But how realistic is that narrative?"

The Frugalwoods may have zeroed in on a single tool, but if you read more of their blog posts, you'll realize that they employ all of those tools listed above. They deserve respect and admiration for what they've done, not criticism, since they've exhibited a level of self-restraint and stick-to-itiveness that the rest of us can only dream of. And goodness knows we need all the inspiration we can get to curb household spending.

Extreme frugality allowed me to retire at 32 – and regain control of my life Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful life. It enabled her to retire at 32 with her family to a homestead in the Vermont woods

The Vermont homestead that Elizabeth Willard Thames shares with her husband and daughter. Just a few years ago, this seemed like an impossible feat. Photograph: Elizabeth Willard Thames


'One Less Straw' campaign wants you to avoid straws during October "An estimated 500 million disposable straws are used every day in the United States"

Life Without Plastic

See Also


Alternative News Sources

Commons the mostly forgotten idea that most things belong to all of us.

Energy articles and links

Farming Green new more sustainable methods.

Feminism the forgotten ascendency of women

Freethinkers thinking outside the box.

Funerals the scams of the funeral industry and green funerals.

Garden notes my garden and how to notes.

Vegetable Gardening notes on how to garden veganically; permaculture.

Wildlife Gardening my DIY project to convert my yard for wildlife and native plants.

Household DIY tips, many frugal.

Meat, Eggs, Dairy: Their Disastrous Environmental and Health Effects

Universal Basic Income (UBI) the rational answer to the coming situation when few people are needed for traditional jobs.

Permaculture the ultimate frugal approach to everything, especially gardening and farming. Started in Australia.

Conversion of my swimming pool to a wildlife sanctuary a DIY project of mine. Most really good ideas come from Australia.

Propaganda how the modern world works... not frugally. Pushing the consumer culture

Vegan frugal and healthful way to eat and preserve the environment.


Never Pay Someone Else for These 10 Easy Repairs


Selling a Car: don't Get Scammed


How To Outsmart Amazon And Pay The Lowest Price Every Time Medium

Think you’re already getting the best prices? You’ll be surprised. Amazon has an enormous selection and cheap prices, so its no wonder that it’s one of the most popular online shopping destinations. However, the Amazon system makes it nearly impossible for the average shopper to compare prices and get the best possible deal. Even a careful shopper can accidentally overpay—I definitely have, especially when I'm in a hurry! Luckily, there’s an easy way to outsmart the Amazon marketplace and ensure you pay the lowest price every time you shop: Honey []. This nifty browser add-on gained popularity among shoppers for its automatic coupon feature, but it also offers powerful Amazon shopping tools that can save you TONS of money. And, yes, it works with Prime!

Here’s how it works:

Shop on Amazon as usual. Visit any product page and Honey will check to make sure the price displayed is truly the lowest price available. In just a blink of the eye, Honey takes into account sales tax, shipping costs, seller rating, and Prime status. If it finds a better deal, a little orange tag will show how much you can save. I’ve found savings ranging from $.02 to hundreds of dollars—not bad considering it takes zero effort.

In the case of this coffee table, Honey was able to find $63.44 in savings, and all I had to do was click.

10 seconds to save $17.50, and I still get the same 2-day shipping and fulfillment by Amazon. Same coffee maker, same shipping, just cheaper!

Sometimes the displayed price is actually the lowest price, and in which case, Honey tells you. Either way, you’ll feel confident knowing you didn’t get ripped off! Over time, your savings can really add up if you shop on Amazon frequently.

Cable, Senior Discounts

15 Discounts Seniors Didn’t Know They Could Get You’ve Earned These Discounts, Take Advantage!

1. Cord-Cutting Explodes: Never Pay For Cable Again

This brilliant device allows you to watch new movies and TV without a monthly subscription. We all know how frustrating overpriced cable bills and subscription services can be. You pay for cable, movies, and sports on demand... it adds up. And of course, there is all this hardware. Your receiver, AppleTV or Firesticks, DVD player and often expensive smart TVs. So it doesn't come as a surprise that more and more people are searching for cheaper, simpler solutions to cut cable bills and get rid of all the hardware.

Skylink With Over 1.5 Million Units Sold Worldwide, Here Is The Best Solution To Watch Your Favorite Channels, Programs And Movies For Free!

on sale right now for less than $36

Payment once - no subscription, no monthly fees.

SkyLink Antenna Reviews 1's Featuring dual-band functionality, the ability to receive signals from up to 50 miles away, and a slim design, the SkyLink Antenna claims to help you enjoy your favorite programming for free.

The website advertises that this cutting-edge technology was developed by a NASA scientist using military technology to deliver dual-band reception (VHF/UHF with 20 dB gain) from up to 50 miles away, anywhere in the United States.

You’ll just need to start by connecting the antenna to the back of your TV's coaxial receiver, and then positioning on the wall, window, behind a picture frame, on a shelf, or wherever you get the best reception using the included tape, which will "depend on the geological environment." Finally, you'll perform a channel scan with the antenna selected as your source, and enjoy your free content.

When it comes down to it, can you expect such spectacular results with a digital antenna like SkyLink, or should you consider other options if you’re looking for freedom from expensive cable bills? Is it really the “#1 rated indoor HDTV antenna in America,” as advertised on the website?

Also, as briefly mentioned on the SkyLink Antenna website, the signal quality you’ll ultimately receive can depend on a wide variety of important factors, including tower distance, any features that might scramble signals (e.g., trees, hills/mountains, tall buildings, etc.), as well as the antenna’s placement in your home (e.g., in the basement vs. on the inside of an upper floor window).

Avail. Amazon $21.95 to #27.95

These include popular online search results like the Mohu Blade ($40), Rocketfish HDTV Antenna ($30), and the RCA ANT lineup ($15-$30), as well as other options the HighYa team has written about in the past, such as SkyWire Antenna, Clear TV, and TV Fox Antenna.

Pro tip: In fact, while we didn’t test any devices ourselves, SkyWire and SkyLink appear to be identical products, with the same weight, dimensions, pricing differences, and overall advertising claims.

And this is to say nothing of the potentially hundreds of generic options widely available on online marketplaces like Google Shopping, Amazon, and Walmart, some of which can be found for $15 or less. How to choose?

After testing dozens of models, Digital Trends concluded that there are no set-in-stone rules when it comes to finding the right digital indoor antenna for you. It’s almost certainly going to take some trial and error, so they recommend purchasing a least a couple of options to test out before making a final decision.

With this in mind, they pointed out several general guidelines you can use to help point you in the right direction:

From a quality perspective, you get what you pay for. The farther away you are from transmission towers, the more you’ll likely want to spend.

You don’t always need a built-in amplifier, which only boosts a weak signal, but won’t improve picture quality if you already have a strong signal. In fact, they point out that attempting to do so could actually damage your TV.

Just like there are no given rules when it comes to the ‘perfect’ antenna (SkyLink or otherwise), it’s much the same with room placement; it will take some trial and error.

However, start by going to sites like and entering your address, which will display the closest broadcast towers relative to your location. From there, you’ll want to place the antenna in a window (without a screen, ideally) that faces those towers.

Antenna Web Use to explore your television viewing options. Its Cord-Cutting Guide helps you evaluate alternatives to cable or satellite subscriptions. Click here to find out more.

Discover how many FREE channels are available from your local broadcasters. AntennaWeb also helps you choose the antenna that matches your viewing preferences. For FREE local, cable and satellite television schedules, visit

3211 Quakertown Dr, San Antonio, TX 78230, USA
Up to 56 channels from 18 over-the-air stations may be received at this location.

The table below lists the stations predicted to be received at this location. The stations are sorted according to the color-code antenna type needed to receive them.

[Nearest station is located on Vance Jackon half way between 410 and Huebner Rd.]

Channels: CW, Univision, Telemundo, ABC, KLRN, and TBN.

Just keep in mind that according to Digital Trends, their testers found that camera (and even people) placement could affect signal strength by up to 20 percent, as could other objects like plants, lamps, and so forth. Even the TV make and model can impede your antenna’s signal.

2. Negotiate Your Mortgage & Save Up to $291/Month

Seniors can save big on their mortgages thanks to a forgotten government program that was passed by the Obama administration (remember him?) This home refinancing program is still in effect, and can help middle class seniors reduce their current mortgage payments by as much as $3,500 a year.

3. Seniors With No Tickets In 3 Years May Qualify For a Big Discount

Experience counts when driving! And it counts a lot for car insurance.

Many seniors will get an automatic discount just due to their age, but there are other factors too, like where you live, how much you drive, whether you commute to work… all of these things can mean even bigger savings for seniors.

4. The Simple Secret For Normal Blood Sugar Levels

Promoting normal blood sugar levels is a real concern for millions of people. Fortunately, there’s a natural supplement that specifically targets this need. Glucocil is the only supplement to address all three essentials in glucose levels: It naturally blocks the intestines from absorbing glucose; it reduces the liver’s production of glucose; and it increases glucose uptake in the body’s cells. Combined, it’s a powerful weapon in the fight against difficult blood sugar.

It took 144 clinical and lab research studies to select the 14 natural ingredients that make up Glucocil, making it one of the most effective blood sugar support supplements available on the market.

Free Sample

5. Save On Life Insurance

As we age our life insurance costs can add up and slow us down. The best way to ensure you are getting the best deal is to shop around and compare. Luckily there's a new website called Assurance which has guaranteed approvals up to age 85. Save up to 70% on life insurance with no medical exam needed

6. Roadside Safety Flares - Designed To Keep You Safe On The Road

Everyone should have these no matter what your age. There is a brand new invention from 1Tac called the Roadside Safety Disc that is surprisingly bright and useful and should be in every car.

Now you can be prepared for an emergency road situation without risking your life. The 1Tac Roadside Safety Disc is visible up to 5,000 feet and has 24 led lights, 8 unique flashing light modes, a built-in magnet, and a recessed hook that makes it easy to hang from anything.

Roadside emergencies happen, but now you can be prepared for them and make sure everyone stays safe.

Save 50%

7. Consolidate All Your Existing Debt Into One Simple Payment

You are not alone. More seniors are struggling with debt than ever before. Millions of senior citizens are carrying sizeable debts, making it difficult to live on fixed incomes. Reduce your debt by up to 50% and make one low monthly payment. Many seniors have been able to settle with their creditors and save $$$.

Get debt solution (844) 538-7502

8. Compare Loan Options For Retirees

As you move into your older years, your lifestyle changes and so do your finances. When that happens, you may find that getting a loan isn’t as easy as it was when you were earning money from employment. Not to worry, there are lenders that will consider you for a personal loan. These loans can help you access to money if you don’t have sufficient time to save for it, or if you don’t want to dip into your equity.

See if qualify for loan

9. No Pill Can Stop Joint Discomfort But This Method Can Provide Relief

As we age, our joints get… well… creaky. Especially the knees. But you can do something about it, thanks to an innovative, powerful supplement called Instaflex Advanced. This amazing formula utilizes the best ingredients that have been scientifically tested to target joints. Clinical studies have shown that key ingredients in Instaflex Advanced have improved joint stiffness and discomfort by more than 60%. The UC-II® Collagen and BioPerine® reduce knee discomfort and increases absorption of vital nutrients.

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10. 50% Off Immediate Relief Socks

Compression technology proven to limit swelling, both for those their feet a lot, and those who avoid being on their feet due to pain. Wear with or without regular socks by simply slipping it on as a normal sock would fit. Designed by a leading Podiatrist who has extensive treatment in foot pain management caused by the lack of support for arch, heel, and ankle core stability.

With 3 levels of compression, Dr. Socks creates permeability and structural compression for hiking, running, sports activities, gym, walking, standing; leaving you feeling fatigue free all day long.

Site potentially malicious.


How to pull off a no-gifts Christmas

Send comments to, Colby Glass, MLIS, PhDc, Professor Emeritus