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30 April 2008

Frugal living

Photo taken last year in our herb patch.

It is strangely comforting to be in a group of people all excited by the possibilities presented by frugality. I started one of my budgeting courses yesterday, six people made a booking to attend, 13 showed up. There was a bit of last minute photocopying, cups of tea and coffee were made and then we settled into it.

I usually make a few notes to work from when I do one of these workshops but I'd been busy with other matters and meetings, so the notes went unwritten. No matter, I've done the course a few times now, I write about my frugal life frequently, I thought I could wing it. It was the best thing I could have done. Just speaking to what I know and not from a pre-prepared list, made it all flow naturally and it encouraged questions and discussion.

With the price of food and fuel rising so fast, the discussions where mainly on how to shop wisely. We talked about stockpiling, shopping at Aldi and local markets. I gave out a collection of my cleaning recipes, instructions for making bread in a machine and a few cheap recipes for a family to make from stockpiled items. I didn't think they'd be interested in making soap, so at the last moment I removed the soap recipe, but they asked for it. It will be in the next bundle of recipes I give when they all return next week.

My group was mostly women, there were two men. I loved that they were really enthusiastic about learning these new ways. Most of them were already doing a lot of wise things and having new strategies presented to them gave a sense of excitement to the room. We didn't talk about simple living but I did talk about how living within your means can bring joy and satisfaction and that it is possible to live a full and rich frugal life.

Sometimes in the past people have come along to my groups when they've been struggling with their finances for years and feel defeated by the entire process. This group was optimistic about the possibilities of frugality. They understood that almost everyone deals with having to financially restrict themselves in some way and that choosing new ways of dealing with those restrictions could open up their lives. They also understood that spending less makes a very strong green statement, when people realise that they often see cutting back in a new light.

I set some homework to be done before they return next week for the final session. They're tracking their money. Many of us here know what a surprise that often it and I'm sure it will trigger a healthy discussion which will lead us onto how to make up a budget. THE BUDGET - that often misunderstood piece of paper that many see as a way of ending fun and closing down lives. I see it as a map to future happiness, a way of showing where the money is and what needs to be put aside for regular bills and food needs, while keeping some for those bright spots that make life a joy - be that books, a little holiday, a trip to the movies or a special meal with friends or family. For one thing is certain, if we spend until nothing is left in our purse, if we don't take the time to examine our financial needs and to organise them to suit the life we live, we will be poorer for it - and not just poorer in a financial way.


  1. I would love to go to your class! Maybe you could do an on-line version of it! LOL Thanks for the daily inspiration! D.

  2. Excellent, Rhonda...this is what so many people need, and you're the perfect glad you're offering this to others! We'd benefit from doing this, ourselvees

  3. Tracking is soo powerful.
    I've got a lot of friends doing this & they all have been amazed at how small wasteful amounts add up.

    I know where every cent of our income & out goings goes. We have taught our kids to track all their money too. We give them a clothing & spending budget - it is very freeing on adult purse too. Eg if a child wants labels she saves up & has fewer clothes. If son wants all bush out door wear - he has to budget for tidy clothes too (and matching socks)
    Love Leanne

  4. I'd love to join your class too! For years I lived in financial chaos and that chaos was spilling over into other areas of my life. I finally learned that a budget gives peace of mind and a sense of security. Bless you and your colleagues for all that you do to support and guide those who need help.

  5. Tracking is very eye-opening! I am going to start tracking my spending again beginning May 1st. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  6. Dear Rhonda,
    Hello dear lady. :) I was thinking the very same thing Debbie mentioned!

    I would also be very interested in some of the frugal recipes you shared with the class. I'm on my own little personal quest right now, and making frugal meals is one thing I'm working on.

    I went into the grocery store today and I just can't seem to catch up with the weekly increase in prices, some items already $1 or more extra. Add it all up and it's a bit more challenging to work with when on a tight budget as I am sure many know.

    What a real blessing you are to so many.

  7. Rhonda, I'd also love to go to one of your classes, an online version would be so great.

    I've restarted tracking my spending this week too, its so important.

  8. A budgeting class is a wonderful idea. With the prices of food and everything else rising daily everyone needs to step back and see where they can cut corners to save on money. We have found that most of the ways that we save money are earth friendly as well- homemade cleaners, cloth shopping bags, scratch cooking etc. A double plus - money saving and earth friendly.

  9. Love the idea of the class.
    How do you work Aldi etc into the whole 'greenhouse miles' issue?
    I am making a conscious effort to try and buy local- shopping at the local farmers markets etc. Some of that Aldi food comes from a long, long way a-way?

  10. dear rhonda, i was just thinking how wonderful it would be if you would do an online version, as debbie j. said you really are a daily inspiration! how do i start tracking? sorry to sound naive, but i just don't know where to start... but i do know that i need to! just like you in australia, we here in the u.k are finding life getting more and more expensive, and i think many of us,wants to slow down our pace and spending, but are not quite sure where to start? i'm trying to do lots of little things,and i'm sure they all make a difference,but still find it a bit overwhelming at times. your writning is very inspiring, and so i hope you'll continue to take us by the hand, and guide us. thank you for a great daily inspiration!

  11. You make me want to buy a ticket and fly to Australia to attend your classes! hahahaha You are so wise and such a great "teacher" to SOOO many. :-)

  12. Oh, I wish I could take your course. I am burning up with envy! I agree with Debbie J. -- an online version would be terrific. Of course, your blog is sort of a class in itself.

    I thought of you today. We let the poults and ducklings roam in the fenced backyard (pictures in tomorrow's post). Josh reminded me of the pictures you've posted of your husband -- the birds chasing after him as he worked in the warm spring sunshine. There is just no better life than this, is there?

    Blessings to you, Rhonda!


  13. I went to buy a kilo of porridge today, just a plain bag, and the price was $4. DH drove home the point that food costs.

  14. I'm another for the benefits of tracking. I've been keeping a spending diary since the beginning of the year.

    It makes interesting reading and is showing me that it's the accumulative effects of the little and apparently(at the time of spend) inconsequential spends that has the greatest effect on the overall spending.

    That and remembering that for instance £10 a month doesn't seem much but it's £120 over the year which is a reasonable amount.

    Re KataTT's comment on green miles, I wonder over that too. I came to the conclusion that trying to source everything locally would have been far too expensive and I would end up straight back at the major supermarket for everything. Using the discount stores for basics saves me money that I can then spend on local quality goods.

  15. Morning Rhonda
    Oh I am so jealous of those people, I would soooo love to be able to meet you in person and attend one of your courses :-(
    I still think you should try again to publish your book, I am pretty sure you would be successful. Without even trying I know 6 or more people that would buy your book.
    Hope you are having a nice day.
    Love StephB

  16. On the topic of Aldi etc. I am always torn with what is best to do. I usually get Tesco's to deliver as I often manage to get a voucher that pays the delivery cost. But if I went to Aldi, I probably would'nt be able to get everything I need from there and it is 10 miles away which would cost me in expensive diesel. Diesel here this week is £123.9. Unbeleivable. I am never sure what to do for the best.

  17. My husband have lived frugal and debt free our entire married life. I just don't know any way.
    I have really enjoyed your posts and plan on coming back when I get a little more time.

  18. Tracking is something that I should do all the time but I have to confess I don't. I will make this my goal for May. Track everything and I mean everything DH and I spend.

    I would also love to attend one of your classes.

    Pippa in Cornwall.

  19. Hi everyone, I'll try to get back to the topics suggested here when I have a bit more time.

    KataTT, I have thought long and hard about the food miles question. If I had unlimited money, I would buy all my food from local sources, or as close to local as I could manage. I live in a very fetile area but we don't grow rice or wheat here so those things are always source further afield.

    If I don't buy local, I try to buy Australian products. Shopping at Aldi is exactly the same as shopping at any other supermarket in that there are local products available as well as those from international sources. I buy Alaskan salmon and tuna from Malaysia, mainly because they are cheaper but also because our local fisheries are overfished and depleted.

    So most of our bought food is Australian, a lot of it is local - I always support my local dairy and cheese makers - and some of it is international. We grow as much of our own food as we can and many days we eat from our backyard.

    It's a difficult question, one that each of us needs to think about and work out for ourselves. Everyone's circumstances are different and I will never say that how I do it is right and what others do is wrong. I do what I can and I am happy with that.

  20. Rhonda Jean, have you thought about doing an online version of your class... I think you would get a lot of students... I would be one of them! :D

    **I started my luffa seeds today! HOORAY! :)**

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