Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Random Thoughts on Frugality and Life

We’re still home. One sick child has gone back to school. Two sick children remain nestled on the couch. Middle sis is celebrating her 9th birthday in her pajamas. I think they’re over the worst of it. The fevers are gone. Appetites are returning. Hacking coughs and stuffy noses remain. My chair has taken up solid residence in the TV room. Right now we’re watching kids programming on public television. Hot chocolates are cooling. Hopefully the kids will imbibe before our animals sample the chocolatey goodness. The washing machine is working overtime and I’ve managed to unload the dishwasher. And during all this I’ve been pondering some of life’s major questions...

How long will one gallon of white vinegar last me while going no poo? There are 256 tablespoons per gallon. At four tablespoons per use I will get 64 uses per gallon. If I wash my hair every three days this will last 192 days. Therefore I will need two gallons of vinegar per year to wash my hair. A total investment of $5.38 cents.

What about the baking soda? A four pound box costs $3.63. This box has approximately 8 cups of baking soda. One cup equals 16 tablespoons. Therefore there are 128 tablespoons per box. If I use one tablespoon per wash every three days then this box, assuming it’s not used for deodorant or baking or household cleaning, will last an entire year.

Therefore washing my hair will cost $9.01 per year. That sure beats the $50.00 bottle of shampoo they tried to sell me at the salon.

Are chickens frugal? The answer is no, not so much. Chickens are more about knowing where our food comes from, how it is treated and what it is fed. We will be raising chickens for their eggs. I won’t be able to bring myself to slaughter one of our feathered friends. The coop will cost somewhere from $300.00 to $500.00 to build depending on chosen materials. We want an attractive coop so as to please the neighbors as well as for our own aesthetic pleasure. Eight chickens ordered online cost $63.00 including shipping. We’ll split the chicken cost with another couple. We’ll also need feed, a heat source, etc. I’m anticipating our initial investment will be around $600.00. These babies won’t start laying eggs for about 5-months. Once they start laying I expect to get around two dozen eggs per week (assuming we are good at keeping our chickens happy). If a dozen organic eggs are $3.00 we’ll have $6.00 a week in eggs. As the eggs start coming in we hope to sell some or barter them for things such as fresh roasted coffee. So that is $312.00 a year in egg production. It will take a good two years for a return on investment. But in the meantime we’ll have excellent fresh eggs, learn about small scale farming and have fun in the process.

Is knitting frugal? Knitting is very much the same as chickens. Materials for my current project cost about $35.00. I could buy a thrift store sweater for $5.00 and thus save time and money. But the thrifted sweater would not come with the satisfaction of knowing my heart and soul were knit into the yarn. Were I more inclined I’d buy the $5.00 sweater, unravel it and re-use the yarn to knit up a new garment. People do this. And I actually just bought a thrifted sweater for its buttons. This one was more expensive ($15.00). But it has six gorgeous wooden buttons from Ireland and a wealth of wool. I may just unravel that one and turn it into something else. Maybe something like this.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the difference between being frugal and being cheap.
They are not the same thing. In fact, they can sometimes be just the opposite. I love the current description of frugality from Wikipedia:

Common strategies of frugality include the reduction of waste, curbing costly habits, suppressing instant gratification by means of fiscal self-restraint, seeking efficiency, avoiding traps, defying expensive social norms, embracing free (as in gratis) options, using barter, and staying well-informed about local circumstances and both market and product/service realities.

We are frugal but we are not cheap. We believe in living the good life less expensively. But the good life for us may be different than the good life for others. Our good life is time spent with family, exploring our planet, eating delicious slow cooked food. It is reading and writing, thinking and creating. It's walking through the park on a warm spring day. It's drinking cocoa and watching Tom and Jerry with two sick kids (yes we moved on to the cartoon network).

And, finally, I want to end with a little linky love:

Check out Molly's homemade plastic bags. How cool are they?

And look at these fun nursing covers ... I may have to make these for the next set of pregnant ladies coming down the pipeline. I also love the way she packaged them.

And finally check out this great video found via Soulemama's blog.

Happy Tuesday all!


Sarah said...

This is the type of math problems my kids work up on a typical day. Do they do it at school?

Home-grown chicken eggs are more nutrious and healthier than store-bought even if they are raised organically, locally, hormone-free, free-range...when I was growing up, I get to eat warm, raw, fresh eggs as they are laid. It's the most nutrious way to consume them. I miss it because we can't have a chicken coup where we live. My hubby takes the whites raw in his OJs with store-bought organic eggs, but, I won't.

Personally, knitting is still an inexpensive form of therapy over doctor's bills. I find peace and something to show for at the end of a session or two :0)

Thanks for a thoughtful post. I find joy and comfort in reading it. Enjoy your day.

Gayle said...

I hope that everyone is feeling better today.

Shalet, your posts are wonderful. You always give me something to think about. I think it is a good think to live a mindful life.

I am starting something new on my blog this coming Monday. I am calling it Monday Memories and I will put up a Mr. Linky for everyone to link to a memories post or photo of theirs. I would love it if you would like stop by and link up to one of your posts, or photos.

Mimi-n-Moe's Mom said...

Good tips! I agree with you that you can live a good life without spending oodles of money. In fact, I know people who are far less frugal and more miserable because their happiness rests on material things...

Btw, we really love Charlie's Soap for our laundry.