It's the story of Nate, Liz, their two kids, dog -- and their land out in the East Coast woods. They used to live in town, but through massive saving, scrimping and whatnot, they were able to afford this 60+ acre property.
Now Liz has written her first book, Meet the Frugalwoods. It's a sort-of "how we got where we are" recapping of their story, complete with tips and ideas they used, in order to save so much money.
I love the blog. Didn't care that much for the book.
Liz, who refers to herself as a "constantly recovering perfectionist," is also a control freak. When things don't go exactly as planned -- and when do they? -- she tends to obsess. She jumps the gun a lot about the difficulty of finding work and an affordable place to live; Nate's marriage proposal; getting pregnant (or not); her first child's birth (she seems surprised that it would hurt); her job commitments; etc etc. She fusses about snow, icy roads, vehicle reliability, gardens, trees (how dare the wild creatures eat off them!?!); too cold/too hot; tracking in dirt; and everything else you can think of. Worry, worry, fuss, fuss.
Geez, Mrs. Frugalwood, you're living out in the boonies. What can you expect?
Maybe the book was written when she was much more nervous. Her most recent posts on the blog, like this one on using time wisely, are more relaxed. Do what you can...and leave it at that.
Are you starting to mellow out, Mrs. F.?
|If life gives you lemons...|
The Frugalwoods point out that things take up our time and energy, as much as anything. "You can afford to buy the things that are most important to you and you have enough time to do the things that are most important to you," she says. "In order to do this, however, you have to eliminate all of the unimportant time and money drains from your life."
Not only that -- eliminating them means you give yourself more time, not less. In other words:
Fewer things (and only keeping things that are truly useful) =
more time & energy for what's really important.
As we get rid of more and more, in preparation for moving into the trailer, I see the wisdom of her urge "of wanted less, of needing less, of being truly content with less."
Meet the Frugalwoods is worth reading -- but at arm's length. Jobs like theirs are found more in hippy dippy places like Boulder or other college towns, than they are in average America. Their food purchases are anything but frugal, with their emphasis on 'organic,''artisan' and such. (Easy labels to slap on, harder to prove.) And there's always the sense, 'If we can't get it to fit/do exactly what we want, then we'll discard it or make it fit.' People and circumstances don't always work that way.
However, I did pick up some helpful ideas:
*Buy it secondhand. Only pay for new when you can't find what you want in pre-used condition.
*Budget and save for what you want - but don't be afraid to grab an opportunity when you see it, either. When you're buying secondhand (and nearly all their possessions are), this is crucial.
*Spend more, if need be -- but only if that item works/operates/lasts better than a lesser brand. (This is one of the Brick's favorite tenets.)
*Frozen pizza saves the day. Keeping extras in the freezer means quick suppers, when you're tired or not feeling well. (Or live miles from the nearest restaurant or takeout.)
*Partners take turns. If he does the meals, you clean the bathrooms. He cuts wood, you pick apples. A true marriage is a give-and-take partnership who are better in tandem than they are separately.
*Don't skimp on what you really love - just find a way to get it cheaper. They're huge fans of carbonated water, but hated paying for the cartridges in their machine. Voila, Mr. F. figured out a way to hook up a tank, instead! That simple act saves them hundreds of a dollars a year.
*Research, research, research. Not only will you find the best buys -- you'll learn how to repair and replace, using Youtube videos and such.
*If you're at a garage sale or Craigslist search -- ask if they have anything else they'd like to sell. Baby items and furniture particularly benefit from this simple question.
*Grow or gather your own food. Not only will it fit your fussy requirements -- it will cost less and keep you healthier through exercise.
And it will give you an even stronger connection with the land and people you've grown to love.
Maybe that's why Mrs. Frugalwood is calming down.