How to be Frugal – do you save or spend?

I recently found a book for my Kindle called “The American Frugal Housewife” by Lydia Maria Francis Child.  Originally published in 1832 as “The Frugal Housewife”, it became necessary to change the name to “American” because there was already an English version with the same name and it wasn’t adaptable to life in this country.  Needless to say, I was intrigued!!

After reading only the introduction and the first couple of chapters, I think we are going to get a TON of really useful, interesting and fun tips from this book.  Here are a few things that I got out of just the introduction.

“The true economy of housekeeping is simply

the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost.” 

Isn’t that just the greatest quote?  Basically, NOTHING need be wasted — not time nor materials.  This is frugality at it’s very basic idea — teaching how money can be saved in addition to how it can be spent wisely.

“Do not let the beauty of this thing,

and the cheapness of that,

tempt you to buy unnecessary articles.”

Being Frugal

  1. Anything that is reusable should be reused for another purpose.

The example that came to mind was wrapping paper.  My mother saves it and she learned it from her aunt.  It can wrap another gift (duh) but also line dresser drawers, decorate plain paper for wrapping or cards, kids crafts, etc.  Think outside the box when it comes to reusing things.

Note:  There are a BUNCH of ideas in this book on reuse that will be revealed accordingly.

Work Ethic

  1. “Time is Money” – idleness is loss of time and money.

I have decided that I’ve had this concept slightly backwards.  Using an example that they used in the book, I think that some conveniences are worth the money – i.e. socks.  The philosophy in the book is that making your own socks puts the “down time” to good use so that time isn’t wasted (evenings and rainy days perhaps).  Also, knitting is something that the elderly can do so that they feel as though they are contributing to the family.  Something to make you say “Hmmmm”.

Another example was patchwork quilting.  There is no need to cut fabric into small pieces only  to sew it back together in a pretty design (my dad has said this for years to my mother and me!).  Again, it gives idle hands something to do…and ultimately serves a purpose.

2.  Children can learn things at a young age

Even a young child can “help” with chores and projects.  This teaches them to manage their time and contribute to the family in a meaningful way.  It also teaches responsibility and that everyone works to make things happen at home.


“Neatness, good taste and gentility are attainable without great expense”

  1. Live within your means

“If you have $1, spend 75 cents; if you have 50 cents, spend only 40 cents.”  This way there is always have a slush fund for the situations that are not planned for.

Buy only enough to “get along”.  Things that are a want can only be determined after some experience so don’t rush into trying to determine those things too early.

  • It’s easy to overspend but much harder to cut back later!!!

2.  “Overspending is morally wrong, as far as an individual is concerned; and injurious beyond calculation to the interests of our country.”  Wow — those words hurt a little!  Thinking of the debt that I’ve had over the years (though now paid off), it truly is a burden to an individual.  If you consider the debt of accumulative individuals, it is not something that makes a society strong and healthy.

Childhood Lessons

  1. To save everything — not necessarily for their use but perhaps for use of others (donating maybe)
  2. Share everything with their playmates
  3. NEVER allow them to destroy anything (again, if they don’t want it anymore, donate it … don’t destroy it)

Good stuff, huh?  I can’t wait to delve into this book and share all the tidbits of wisdom that I find!