Getting back to basics.

lukkiirishMay 3, 2012

Ok, I know this may be sort of a silly topic, but I'm old fashioned and miss the good old days when life was just simpler. Yes, this economy sucks on so many levels, but I have to say, with every negative there is a positive, and the economy forcing people to get back to basics has been a positive for me. I love when I come up with a new angle to save money or hear a back to basics story on the news and I don't ever miss some of the extras we've forgone. Somethings I've heard about recently are:

It's no longer uncool to be frugal or penny wise.

Inexpensive cleaning remedies are gaining in popularity.

As a whole, we are saving more and spending less to build a financial cushion.

Creative Repurposing is growing at a lighting speed rate. (I've never seen so many cool ideas).

Smaller vacations are much more popular. It's no longer a sin or child neglect to pass going to Disney World. Doing things that incorporate quality time is what matters.

Cutting back subscriptions to those unused movie channels.

Making small gifts or a card for your loved ones.

So are you trying to get back to basics and enjoying it? If so, how?

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We have a large veggie garden again after not having one for about 15 years. Luckily I still have all the mason jars from the last time when I used to can.

Living in the country has made our lives pretty basic already. It definitely saves money on eating out. Can't say it saves money on shopping though, thanks to online shopping. lol.

Not that it's cheaper, but I'm back to baking bread, either by hand or machine. I know it's healthier for me though.

I should make my own greeting cards since I always send them out for birthdays, etc. But I am making decorative crafty things for the house and for gifts also.

Instead of using the Kuerig we got for Christmas a couple of years ago as a gift, we're back to using good ole Mr. Coffee. It saves sooo much money. In fact, my friends have done the same. We're big coffee drinkers and we were drinking up the big bucks!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 3:34PM
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It's no longer uncool to be frugal or penny wise.

I didn't know that it was previously uncool to be frugal.

Are you saying that, in the words of Huey Lewis, it is now Hip to be Square?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 3:50PM
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The key is to appreciate whatever we have, whatever station of life we are in. Say "thank you" to the flowers blooming for being so beautiful! Say "I love you" to your pets as well as your human family. Bless your food and your house and your car and the furniture, and everything and everyone around you with love. FEEL grateful for all the blessings of this life.

Lukki, the list you offer speaks to me of expanding creativity and personal empowerment! Isn't it a wonderful time to grow and receive more in our lives as we focus further on growth and expansion and creating!

Guess I'm saying the gift of a downshift in the economy, even for those who proclaim they've "lost everything," may be a heightened awareness of just how much we really do have! We may learn for the first time that we love life, we love ourselves, and life loves us, as we truly recognize and focus on the bounty within, and all around us.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 4:18PM
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Ha! Terriks! Very clever! I like that, I guess I am! (though I did hear a news skit on tv about it a while back)

Oak, I wish I was a gardener and had a vegi garden; we have the yard for it, I'm just not into digging in the dirt. You have given me a great idea though. My husband loves pickles and buys those big jars of them all the time. I may just start a pot on the deck and grow some pickling cucumbers. How cool would that be to have pickles we not only pickled ourselves but grew as well! I love cooking from scratch, it just always tastes better!

Stinky, yes, to me getting back to basics means being creative and making better choices, valuing family and being content with what you have in front of you. I think when the economy was really moving, people forgot how to embrace and enjoy the small things in life.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Luk, make sure you get the cukes specifically for canning. I forget what they're called though. And I think DH planted the wrong ones. UGH. So I plan on buying them from the grocery store and making my own Bread and Butter pickles. Still a lot cheaper.

I sometimes make strawberry jam from the berries I buy at the grocery store also. This year my son turned their huge flowerbeds into nothing but strawberries. And he has five acres! lol Hope he'll give me some!

Oh, cukes spread out like a ground vine, but it would be easy to make a small square patch for them. Maybe there are vertical vine cukes?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 6:34PM
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I used to grow cukes on a trellis. Great space saver when a garden is small.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 6:45PM
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Great tips. thanks! I like the trellis idea. I bet it would be pretty too.

Oak, thanks for the heads up about the cukes. I'll pay attention to that. He just likes the dills, nothing fancy. They have them at the farmers market for a pretty good price, but I really like the idea of growing them.

Strawberry fields always bring back some great memories. Our parents moved the family to Orange County California when it was still all orchards and farmland. Every season after the farmers had met their quota's, they would open up the strawberry fields to the public. With 5 of us picking, you know we walked away with buckets full and our Mom would spend days after that canning them. The house would smell sooo good. We'd also pick corn and cherries which were the best too. It was great.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 7:09PM
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I've never tried cukes on a trellis - but sounds good, because they do spread. We plant them in "hills". The pickling ones you mentioned are what you want to make pickles with - you are on the right track! We do veggies, but mainly cukes, tomatoes, peppers. I'm not into canning though. We have a friend that does pickles for hubby. I make pasta sauce using the tomatoes and peppers adn freeze. I also freeze tomatoes for cooking.

Lukki - do you have a farmers market near you? Or produce stands? You can get lots of farm fresh produce that way. I buy corn and okra from a local farmer. Corn is something else I put up.

Strawberries are in here just in the last couple of weeks. Planning to get some tomorrow or Saturday in fact!

Maybe you should have started a garden topic LOL. We've gotten a bit off topic!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 7:33PM
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It IS always fun to see where these threads wind up. Kind of ike sitting around with a cup of coffee in the kitchen with a friend :)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 8:05PM
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ellendi - that is exactly my sentiment about these threads. And for some reason my coffee does occasionally wind up on the keyboard and sometimes I want to reach out and give someone a hug and sometimes I wish you guys could see me smile in agreement over something said. :)

But back on topic - My DH and I have been cutting back for awhile now because retirement is looming for us. Our house has more than retained it's value because of where we live but it's still scary. Anybody checked the price of food lately? OMG! When you're on a fixed income how do you absorb those kinds of increases. I've never had to shop for deals but I check everything now and buy nothing unless it's on sale.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Yes, groceries have gone up. Food and gas - and you have to have both.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 8:13AM
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All these homegrown veggies sound marvelous!

My reply probably sounded way off topic to many, but I felt it was worth noting that no matter how creative we are, or how many veggies we grow, or coupons we clip, or solar panels we install, any sort of action taken with a negative, "Why do I have to do this?" attitude, always backfires.

Clearly, the people posting here have tons of enthusiasm and find satisfaction and joy in what they are doing (And growing!)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 9:19AM
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Tina, we do have several farmers markets, my favorite is a locally owned one called Nino's Salvaggio's and it's a highlight for this area. The store is beautifully set up with a flower stand outside and the largest variety of produce I've ever seen; much of which is locally grown. They also allow local artists to sell their wares in the floral department which I think is pretty neat too. Since this is a large farming state, we also have a lot of small produce and flower stands which I enjoy stopping at. Corn is our primary crop and when in season, it's to die for. Right now, I'm craving watermelon and Nino's has the best I've ever had!

BLF, I feel the same way, prices are going up and packages are getting smaller. It's a bit over whelming for sure. My DH and I are in a similar boat.

Of course the term "getting back to basics" can mean a lot of things and something different for everyone. I'm also not very good at articulating myself but in my situation I think it's more about preferring a more simplistic lifestyle as well as finding creative and different ways to make that happen. I also want quality when I do buy something. I want to invest in products that are hopefully manufactured in the US and are going to last a long time.

I miss land line phones and antenna tv. Not so much because of the savings involved, but because the quality was better in every way from the actual service itself to the customer service if there was a problem. The channels may have been more limited but we weren't paying over 100/mo to watch the same show repeated every 3 hours either. TV seasons were longer than 8 weeks and we weren't inundated with commercials interjected into the programming or for eight minute stretches. I also may not have been able to walk around the house while talking on that landline, but at least the service was dependable and I could hear the caller loud and clear when using it. Same thing holds true for most manufactured items like furniture, textiles and even food which had hardly any recalls back then. The quality of manufactured goods is horrible and IMHO, in this regard, our quality of life has just deteriorated. Things were more simple back then and quality was better as a result, I think people in general were happier.

My early adulthood had some interesting adventures one of which was living on a ranch in the hills of Zacatacus, Mexico for 6 months. The house was a mud house with no electricity, no running water and a metal box to make food on. I bathed in a large wash bin and washed clothes on rocks in a river. I also traveled by horse, milked cows and moved a heard of cattle most every day. You really can't get any more simple than that and the thing that has always stuck with me is that the people there were happy. It could be because most of them didn't know any different but I like to think it was because of their more simplistic lifestyle and being content with life in general. So for me, getting back to basics is really about finding ways to creatively simplify and enjoy life more. That battle I just had with Comcast literally wasted a whole 2.5 days of my life and for what? To make them fix their lines so my service was working properly. argh!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 10:28AM
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Lukk, that sounds like quite an adventure in Mexico. How did it come to be? I've always admired the way most Amish live such a simple lifestyle. Not something I could do.

If you liked the landline so much better (and I concur!) why did you get rid of it?

Technology has opened many doors in my lifetime and I've embraced most of those changes, but at this stage of life I'm putting the brakes on. Enough is enough.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Natal, it's a long story with a lot of twists and turns but the most simple way to tell it I guess is I got married as a teen to an abusive husband and shortly thereafter got pregnant. The ex's father was on the ranch and dying from cancer so we went so the ex could be with him during his last few months. It was very remote and since at first I didn't speak the language I was pretty isolated. My ex was abusive and I was very ill, not only with morning sickness but severe dysentery. The work was exhausting especially since I was so ill and undernourished. I eventually came back across the border by ambulance and spent two months in the hospital recuperating. Considering the physical challenges I had, it was a miracle that the baby was born perfectly healthy, but she was. It took time for me to work through some of the negative experiences but there were also some treasured moments that have had a lot of influence on my perspectives. Most are from the time I spent with the elderly women there. They were amazing and the way they lived showed me first hand what it must have been like back when the settlers were first here. It was the elders who pooled the little bit of money they had together to get me home and to a hospital. Most of them were widowed and the sacrifice they made was huge. I'll never forget that.

In regards to the land line, we let it go because the cost wasn't justified by the amount of calling we do; I'm not an ATT fan to begin with and paying 60 a month for an average of 120 minutes use just didn't make sense. With Ooma, we can keep our home phone number and have some of the basic features but the service is free. Of course the quality of the call is not as good as a landline but since it's free how can I complain? I use it as back up when my cell reception is poor and so far that's worked out as a good option. If it didn't cost so much or we used our phones more, I'd switch back to a land line in a heartbeat. We did consider keeping it without any long distance options but our cell phones don't always have good reception inside our house and since I work from home, I need to be able to have a back up plan.

Putting the breaks on is a very good way to describe my feelings as well. I've just had enough and want less to deal with. Getting hounded by the marketing sector at every turn is really getting on my nerves too. If I get pushed to upgrade my Costco card or complete one more survey I think I'm going to scream!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 3:24PM
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I should add that the lifestyle in itself was actually really refreshing and a neat experience to have. I had come from an average middle class household and was thrust into it literally over night. My first night there, we slept in blankets on the floor of the single room hut. The door was cut in half so just the top part could open. We had kept it open for fresh air and in the morning when I opened my eyes a cow had her head hanging over the doorway and was looking down at me just inches from my nose. Scared the life out of me! LOL

Then when I walked out one of the elders (80 something years old) was walking past our property carrying a huge bundle of hay across her back and that was normal. It was very different and I learned a lot from it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 3:33PM
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The Amish really don't live simple life styles like we are led to believe. Sure, they don't have phones, etc., but they work 7 days a week from sun-up to sun-down. I thought it would be a nice way to live too, until I read about that! lol. I got into the Amish awhile back and read a few books on former Amish, and watched some shows on H2. Let's just say I'm not impressed anymore.

Luk, that's a lot of hard work you did! I think people who live that way simply don't know about any other way to live which is why they seem happy.

I'll always keep my land line, but here's what I don't understand. If I used a cell phone only, then I'd probably end up paying a lot more for it than the LL. Our LL includes the Internet too. My cell has a basic plan, and it's only $30 cheaper a month (no iPhone) from the LL w/Internet service.

Every couple I know have their own iPhones. Good grief, that is so expensive! All I know is I hate talking and listening with them. I agree, the clarity of a LL is so much better.

This is funny, in our storage closet is a phone I saved, and got it out for my DGS to play with. It's dialup, and he had no idea wht to do with it! lol

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 3:55PM
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It is hard work Oak, absolutely. I've always been intrigued by the Amish too. They thrive on hard work and doing a good job. It's just part of who they are and what they believe in. Just like making your own bread or canning fruits is rewarding for us, doing it all manually that way is probably very rewarding to them and why they are so proud.

I think you're right, when you don't know any different, it's just the way things are but after living the way I did for many months, I have a lot of respect for them.

With our cell phones we share 700 minutes a month. We're not big phone users so we never come close to using it all. DH only calls me so those minutes don't even count because with Verizon, cell to cell within their service is free. Texting and email also cuts down on phone time. We get a discount with his work, both have smart phone packages and pay 130/mo combined after taxes. That's another reason why I didn't want to pay for a land line too. My husband upgraded which increased our phone bill by almost double. That's funny about the dial up phone. Wow...reminds me of how some people are so used to digital clocks they can't read a clock with numbers anymore.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 5:02PM
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Lukk, I can understand how an experience like that could leave a lasting impression. Definitely would make one more grateful in life. You were blessed to have the compassion of those elderly women.

Oakley, I grew up near Amish communities. I'm well aware of what their lifestyle is like. I never said simple was easy.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 5:02PM
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We all have things we spend our money on. Yes, my husband and I both have iphones. We use them. What I mean is we get our money's worth. My husband needs his for business and while I could go with something cheaper, it's something I enjoy. I do get a reduced plan rate through my work. We get great reception with our phones.

As for the amish - hard working is different from simple. We have visited Amish communities and they just fascinate me. Sure they work 7 days a week, but so do farmers.

Lukki, you had mentioned your ex before but I had no idea about Mexico. What alot you went through and so glad your daughter was healthy!!

I don't know why I hold on to a landline, but we do. I'm more selective with who I give my cell number to. However, our landline service is somewhere between $35-40 a month - we don't have long distance on it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 5:06PM
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Sorry Natal, didn't see your response. Yes, I agree, I was very lucky. They literally saved my life as well as my daughters. Unfortunately, I never saw or spoke to them again so I could thank them.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 5:06PM
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This isn't silly at all - it's a great topic. I have thought more and more about this lately. In many cases it seems like life is such a rat race and people are so consumed by having so much stuff, and having the best and being the best and getting into the best schools, etc. I live in a major metro area though and in an area where people are into their stuff. I am so over material stuff. I have so much crap I would love to purge a bunch of it and just get down to the most basic needs.

I have not yet convinced DH that this would be a good thing to do however - at least not right now. I have forewarned him though that as we approach retirement (we're 55 right now) that a bunch of this stuff has to go. We also have two homes (one weekend lake place) and one of them along with everything in it is going to be going bye-bye.

I have even thought I'd like to live in a different country where the culture is not like it is here. I am probably quite naive about that though. I'm sure I could just choose a place to live in the US that had a different culture.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 5:15PM
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Thank you Gibby!!! Yes, I couldn't have said it better. It's like peeling layers off, keep what you like, what you NEED but shed the rest. I'm like that with spending too...I'll ask, do I need it or want it? If I need it I buy it but if I want it, I wait. If I'm still thinking about after a few days, I may splurge. A lot of people are scaling back and looking for better and more simple ways to live. And it's not surprising that a lot of people are happier with the results.

As far as living in a different country goes, that's not naive at all. My husband who is a Swedish citizen, says Sweden is a much safer and wholesome place to be than here. That's why he has held on to his Swedish citizenship and refuses to surrender it for an American one. He feels it keeps our options open for when we're older (were in our early 50's) and who knows what the future will bring, at the rate the economy is going, we may need it!

Thanks Tina, yes like I said there are a lot of twists and turns to my story, LOL I seldom mention Mexico though because it does bring up the curious questions and it's hard to avoid offering TMI. I'm not embarrassed about it, it's just things most people aren't very comfortable talking about. KWIM? BTW, I do loooove my iphone too. It makes my job so much easier! Remember? You told me I would!!!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 6:27PM
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I recycle everything I can (clothes, aluminum cans, glass, newspapers, #1 & #2 plastic things, furniture, books, magazines, etc), but I'd probably do that anyway just because it seems like the right thing to do.

We skip going to the movies in favor of dvd's we rent from Netflix. But then again, I think movies are outrageously expensive, so I'd probably go this route anyway.

I'd love to raise my own veggies, but the rabbits, deer, wild horses, bears, packrats and other wild things out here eat them unless they're planted in a very enclosed area. DH & I've been talking seriously about having something built this summer so that we can. I'd love a small greenhouse so that I could grow veggies year round.

I've tried composting, but it really draws the bears out here which can be extremely dangerous. Too bad, as it's a great natural and free fertilizer.

We're eating out less and at less expensive places.

I've also squelched my dishaholic/tablescape habit, and haven't bought anything in almost 18 months with no bad side-effects, no eye twitches or tremors (LOL). I'm just using what I already have . . . which is probably too much anyway.

I've also stopped shopping for the house unless it's something I actually need to replace, like our family room sofa that bit the dust two months ago. But, I did recycle the old one, giving it to 2 college friends of DD's and they loved it! I used to love browsing through consignment shops, TJ Maxx, Kohls and garage sales, but I found I was wasting too much money on stuff we didn't need and it was just cluttering up the place. As much as I LOVE to decorate, I've been surprisingly very happy just living with things as-is . . . and reading about everyone else's decorating re-dos here (LOL).

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 7:47PM
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Here's a "basic" one for you - fitting for the decorating forum. I've now lived in my house for 20 years. Our guest bedroom and bathroom still have the same wallpaper and carpet (bedroom only) they had when we moved in. With my current mindset it will probably have the same stuff when we move out....which probably won't be for at least another 10 years.

Once I got serious about a retirement plan, I'm way more into saving rather than spending so I can exit the rat race sooner rather than later. Just don't care about all the stuff any more - including most of my obsolete decor. I was thinking a lot of people probably start thinking this way at a certain age - and was wondering what age that is for most people.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 8:12PM
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IMO, Sweden has THE best culture and lifestyle in the world, hands down. Can you tell I've read a lot about it? lol.

Don't get me wrong, I do admire the Amish, but they work much longer hours than farmers. Well, I'm only familiar with wheat/cattle farmers, so I can't speak for the rest. Harvest and sowing are the long days & all-nighters, but that only last a week or so, pending on how much land they have. But they use $100,000+ machinery which gets their work done in no time. I don't think the Amish do, do they? I could be wrong though.

I do think they're the most talented people I've ever known. But I'd last one day on their farm, or being one of the housewives, before I'd keel over. lol.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 9:01PM
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Natal, where did you grow up? I could watch the Amish all day long. In Berlin, OH we got into a long discussion with an amish man who owned a furniture store. Furniture they MADE. Gorgeous stuff and oh, the quality. I'm sure he was glad when we left, I could not stop with my questions.

In some Amish communities we've visited, they will own a vehicle - well actually I've only seen them drive trucks, which I think they probably buy for t heir use on the farm. Many do still use horse/buggies.

I've never seen an amish farm with fancy machinary. In fact, in PA, most of their farm equipment was pulled by horses and had wooden wheels. Many still do not have electricity. No tvs, no computers, ipods, kindles, etc., etc.

Yes, Lukki, I knew you would love the phone! We have ATT service, but no charges for cell to cell and we also have a plan that shares minutes. My husband and I often text. Never thought I'd see him texting LOL. Glad you are enjoying your phone!!


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 9:47PM
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Tina, northeastern Indiana, close to Berne, IN where there's a large old order Amish community.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 9:54PM
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I have found it rather ironic that it's now 'hip to be square' as Terriks says. We've always lived somewhat frugally, primarily because DH's income was so seasonal and we budgeted to live off my salary, which is paid once a month. DH's income went to 'extras'.

Now we're looking at retirement in the next 10-15 years, and DH's income has dropped significantly due to the economy, and my salary has been frozen for the past several years. But the cost of living has gone up so much, so we are cutting back even more to prepare for the future.

I'm driving a lot less, we don't eat out often any more, and we take advantage of freebies. Our new TV has wireless capability, so we'll probably be ditching cable soon and going with on-line viewing. We have equal pay on our utilities, and THAT is nice and easy to budget with. We're looking at installing some rain barrels to use for irrigation, and we're getting ready to put in a good sized garden this year. In the past we've had gardens, but DH gave away so much of the bounty...this year we're going to freeze a lot instead.

I've been mending clothes rather than buying new (it's not hard when I realize my closets are bulging already) and DH and I learned to share our reading glasses! Also bartering has been a new thing for us, but it's working well. We loan out our utility trailer in exchange for oil changes or our lawn mower for a bucket of walnuts.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 10:24PM
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For whatever it's worth, the PA Amish are also linked to the many puppy mills in Lancaster county. That's not part of a lifestyle anyone would admire.

I really can't think of a way I've returned to basics. I guess it's a combination of not living too large in some ways and being selfish in other ways.

I never had a fancy phone or cell plan. Sometimes I think about upgrading but I just haven't really felt the need yet. Everything I save in that area can be spent elsewhere.

I'd cut back on cable in a second but one of us, and it isn't me, needs the sports channels and we have our internet with the cable company.

I don't garden or grow my own food due to a lack of interest and my allergies. I can keep hydrotropic basil alive for months! When I'm away my husband doesn't remember to add water, even though it's right on the window ledge on the sink, a place he must stand at least once a day, and it dies. I was away in April and I'll be going away again in May so I didn't bother to replace the one he allowed to die. I'd love to put flowers on the front porch but the same thing would happen so why waste the money.

My current 'first-world' problem is picking out a new car. I can't seem to get what I want and it isn't that complicated. I want a non-sparkly white with a gray interior and cloth seats. I've been test driving cars all week. Nothing screams BUY ME, well, the salesman might be screaming that but I haven't heard it from the car. There are 4-5 acceptable runners up but no clear winner. I refuse to consider any more brands or styles. The choice must be made from the current selection.

It's very hard to get back to basics with cars. They all have all sorts of gizmos and technology that mean nothing to me. Blue tooth. Sirius radio. Back up cameras. Dual control climate systems. You know what, the other front seat passenger can just suffer with whatever temperature I find comfortable.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 7:49AM
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We supposedly have some Amish not too far from where we live but I've never seen them. One Saturday last year we took a very long day drive through Ohio, Indiana and western Michigan where we saw some Amish. Their homes really intrigued me and most had their little buggies but we were surprised to see a couple of them driving trucks.

hhireno, I have never heard that about the Amish, it's disturbing and a big disappointment.

I don't think that getting back to basics means one HAS to automatically cut back. As shown here, many of us spend more conservatively anyways. Getting back to basics can mean a lot of things like taking time to make more home made foods just because its healthier. For others it's peeling the layers of "stuff" just to simplify or prepare for other things. When I think of getting back to basics, I think of the 50's and 60's when families were saving money, where lifestyles weren't so busy, products were much more reliable and food was more wholesome. Over all it seemed like stress levels were lower and people were happier. I don't know if that's really true, but it seems like it. Maybe I'm just living in the wrong era! LOL

The article I saw about how it's no longer uncool to be frugal or penny wise was referring to how people are saving more and changing some of their more care free spending habits. It talked about how a lot of people are becoming less concerned about having that big house and keeping up with the Jones and more focused on paying down credit card debt and sizing down in general.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:47AM
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I think my way of getting back to basics is keeping it simple. For example, I would love to redo my living room. It is outdated and I am tired of it. But, I will not be doing it because the furniture is still is excellent shape. Same with all my bedding.
I just can't justifye changing something out just for the ppurpose of changing it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 10:43AM
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"... it's a combination of not living too large in some ways and being selfish in other ways." Hhireno, that describes my approach too!

Lukki, I am so glad that your life is so much happier and more peaceful now than in your earlier years. You should write a book!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 12:01PM
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Luk, I understand what you mean. I think before the economy went belly-up, a lot of people were living above their means but would never say so. Do you remember this hilarious commercial a few years back where this guy is on his riding mower, bragging about all the things he has, then at the end he says he has a high credit card bill?

Back then people were probably embarrassed to simply come out and say, "that's too expensive." Now, we can all say that because the economy has hit almost everyone I know, one way or another, even if it's just the prices going up on everything.

I do want to say one thing about gardening. It's expensive! It would be cheaper to go to the Farmer's Market. Our summer water bill is generally around $25/mo. Last summer when we began gardening again, with a much smaller plot, it rose to $100/mo.

Plus we use our son's 'tiller.

Anyway, it's okay to say "I can't affort that" and not feel ashamed or embarrassed.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Oakleyok, good for you for gardening. I think as you continue, you will find cheaper ways of making it work. The initial investment in rain barrels pays off over time. Also there are cheap ways of mulching that reduce the need for watering by half. Keep at it!

My dh and I spent our twenties in grad school and learned to get by on next to nothing. Then we had kids and I stayed home for 12 years - again more years of scrimping. Last year I went back to work full-time and it was like we won the lottery. We'd order pizza once a week. If the kids ask to go to camp, we signed them up without thinking about where the money would come from. We painted the house, built a new deck, gave my mom money to help with her taxes. Now dh's company is closing (due to circumstances beyond the owner's control. He's been the best boss ever) and we are back to trying to figure out how to survive. I, for one, am not that thrilled with getting back to basics.

Luckily, my kids have an education fund and go to a good private school and will have money for university. The downside to that is that most of their classmates are from wealthy families and the desire to "keep up" is always a demon we fight.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 8:05AM
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Ellendi: Is there anyway you can change the furniture by restaining or painting it? If painting a room a different color can change the older stuff feels.

Stinky: Thank you so much. I have been told on many occasions I should write about the whole experience and the process I went through to get back on my feet. I just can't imagine that many people would be interested in it even though the story does have a happy ending! :c)

Oak, I don't remember the commercial, but I do remember a lot of news articles about how this country carries the highest credit card debt in the world and I just knew it was going to catch up to people sooner or later and it did, all at the same time.

Daisy, I'm sorry about the business and can understand why you're not so thrilled; from the sounds of it you guys have worked really hard and were just beginning to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I hope things work out for you and your family. ((hugs))

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 9:50AM
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Last fall, we went on a "field trip" with one of my university colleagues who does research in Amish education. There is a community about an hour away in the NC wine country that started a new community from Ohio. They have taken over farms that were abandoned and have an awesome general store. It was a really interesting day to visit with them and find out probably more about their culture thanks to my colleague. They are new order, so they use electricity and have some gas powered machinery. The bishop has a storage shed building business, so when we will need a new shed, we now know where to go. :) I admire the simplicity of their life, but I would no way want to join it.

Another colleague from another university has studied the Amish and physical activity. They take an average of 15,000 pedometer steps a day (this was old order), which is double or triple an average US adult, and some people get 10,000 steps before breakfast! One farmer manually plowing his field with a donkey had 50,000 steps. Needless to say, their levels of obesity are pretty much nonexistant, so that does say something for their lifestyle. Plus, they don't eat processed foods either.

I moved to start graduate school with stuff that fit in an 80's Chevy Cavalier. When I moved to be with DH after we got married, I needed professional movers! We are still getting rid of stuff. Unfortunately, our local Goodwill had an arson fire a couple months back, so they are not re-opened yet but have just started a donation trailer to restock the store.

I enjoy buying vintage because I feel I get a quality piece that was American made.

However, I don't see us giving up smartphones, cable/internet, laptops, and the iPad (luckily I won it from a faculty meeting).

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:40AM
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I think we're each frugal in our own way. We spend our money on what truly matters to us, and scrimp and save it when comes to the things that don't add that much to our lives. I feel very fortunate to be able to travel and that's where the largest chunk of our disposable income goes. Traveling abroad especially has added immeasurably to my life in ways that a "staycation" never could, so I'm not planning to cut back on that luxury. (That said, we do seek out the best value while traveling. No high-end resorts for us - good thing they aren't our style, because we wouldn't be able to afford them!)

Our cars are older (one is 16 years old), and we don't plan to replace them until we absolutely have to. While I might enjoy having a nice new vehicle with all the bells and whistles, it's not important enough to me to part with the money to own one.

I don't shop often for clothes. Yesterday I did buy 3 new pairs of jeans ("Not Your Daughters Jeans": Ever tried them? They're wonderful!), and they'll last me quite awhile. I have friends who are real clotheshorses and are constantly buying something new to wear. Hey, more power to them. That's what they feel adds sparkle to their lives. :-)

I thoroughly enjoyed picking up several treasures at yard sales yesterday. I haven't done that in quite awhile, but got some terrific pieces to add to my decor for very little money.

Aside from traveling a few times a year, we don't spend much money on entertainment. I was going to buy concert tickets but stopped myself when I realized it would cost about $250 for the two of us to see the show. It just wasn't that important to me, when it came down to parting with the money. What I love most is that time of the evening when DH and I both curl up in the living room with our books, cats nestled nearby, just reading and relaxing. Together, but each absorbed in different stories. It's nice and I enjoy that more than I would going out to dinner or to a movie.

Fun, interesting topic!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 2:21PM
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I discovered NYDJ's this year and love them. We have an outlet store nearby which is both a curse and a blessing;)

DH and I have been frugal all our lives and in our early years of marriage were accused by a financial adviser of "living below your means", which still makes a us laugh! Consequently, we have little sympathy for those who live beyond their means, lose their jobs and wonder how they'll pay their mortgage, car loans, etc. Though our income is comfortable now, we had years in which we lived on very little, but never owed anyone but the mortgage company. Even as our income increased we always purchased homes which were well below what we'd been approved for, only paid cash for cars and all other purchases.

Ironically, we are now at the point in our lives where we have the time and the money to take those trips we're told we should take, but find ourselves somewhat resistant. For one thing, though we are able to, spending thousands of $$$'s on a trip feels very odd. Secondly, we live in a fabulous part of the country and absolutely love being home. We are able to enjoy all of the outdoor activities the area offers and can't imagine anywhere else being better (we did live for several years in two European countries and one central american country so have seen a fair amount of the world). Having said that, due to a few wake-up calls via health issues of friends, we recently tested the waters and impulsively booked a trip through (fun site!) which we'll take in a few weeks.

This is an interesting topic. It's really a shame that difficult economic times are the impetus for many to examine their spending and saving habits. We've always slept well knowing we were doing all we could to be financially secure and it's a great feeling. An additional benefit has been observing our now grown children mimic our frugal habits which have been helpful in difficult times. In their mid-thirties they are well on their way to comfortable retirements:)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 4:52PM
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