Living on Less: 75 Money-Saving Tips

These 75 money-saving tips will help you live on less. From food, clothes and entertainment to rent, health and education, learn how you can have fun and save money, while spending and consuming less and ultimately living a better, wiser life.
By Craig Idlebrook
October/November 2007
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If you live in a forested area, cut your energy costs by heating with wood. And wherever you live, never skimp on insulation — you’ll save money and energy.
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Discover these 75 money-saving tips to live on less. These inspiring ideas will help you enjoy life more while spending and consuming less.

Living on Less: 75 Money-Saving Tips

On paper, my wife and I are poor. How poor? In 2005 we made $4,303.84 combined; in 2004 we made half that. We’re in such a low tax bracket that I have trouble convincing the government of our tax return’s accuracy; they simply can’t believe Americans can live on that kind of money.

Yet in many ways, we’re better off than a Wall Street banker: We’ve saved enough money to buy land without a mortgage, we have no credit cards or monthly bills, I work 20 flexible hours a week from home, and my daughter has two stay-at-home parents.

Simply put, we never want for anything, and we have a lot of fun.

We’ve arrived where we are now through a decade of daily financial decisions. Because we didn’t want to spend our time earning money at jobs we didn’t like, we instead focused on how to stretch our money. We found that by controlling our day-to-day expenses, we could save a lot of money without sacrificing our quality of life. Neither my wife nor I will ever be confused for financial wizards; there’s nothing we’ve done that you can’t do if you’re serious about saving money. Here are 75 money-saving tips to consider, drawn from our own experiences. Find what works for you and enjoy living on less!

Good Cheap Food

1. Buy raw ingredients instead of prepackaged foods. If you don’t know how to cook, learn. You’ll save on food bills, and your body will thank you for it in the long run.

2. Buy in bulk from a local health food store, or place bulk orders directly with mail-order companies. If you can’t meet their minimum order size, go in on an order with another family, or organize a larger food buying club.

3. Avoid the middleman and buy directly from farmers. Look for farm stands, community supported agriculture programs and farmers markets.

4. Eat fruits and vegetables in season, when they are least expensive. (Once, we found organic watermelon for three cents a pound!) Stock up when they’re cheap and freeze or can any excess for later use.

5. Keep up with what’s in your refrigerator and make sure nothing spoils. Once a week, make soup or casseroles to use up vegetables and other leftovers.

6. Calculate the price of food per pound when you visit supermarkets. Doing the math will help you spot good deals.

7. Don’t overeat. When you do, you’re flushing money down the drain.

How to Avoid Paying Rent

8. Find a live-in elder care position and help someone stay out of a nursing home. There’s always someone desperate for reliable help, and often there are no qualifications needed other than compassion.

9. Help renovate a house in exchange for lodging. This is how we came into our current home.

10. For short-term stays, become a housesitter or pet sitter.

11. For long-term stays, become a caretaker. A good place to find such caretaking jobs is The Caretaker Gazette.

Find and Build Your Nest

12. Look beyond realtors’ listings to find cheap property. Try local penny papers.

13. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you see a piece of land you like, find the owner and ask if it’s for sale. It might be cheaper than you think.

14. Salvage materials for your new home. There are lots of possible sources: Look for someone who’s renovating a house and might let you cart away old materials; check the yellow pages for used building materials; or look for online groups, such as Freecycle, where people trade all kinds of unwanted items.

15. Never skimp on insulation or good windows. Build your home tight enough, and it will cost much less to heat. You may even be able to get away with a woodstove or other supplemental heating and avoid the cost of buying and running a central heating system.

16. Barter for services with carpenters. Some communities have organized time banks, to make bartering these kinds of services easier. You can learn more about them here.

17. Buy into a piece of land with another family. Be sure to check local zoning ordinances to be sure you can legally subdivide a property before you buy it.

18. Build with natural materials found on-site. If you have wood, the equipment to mill it yourself is relatively inexpensive, compared to buying lumber. (You can resell the sawmill after you’re done with it.) Building with stone or straw bales and using clay for plasters are other relatively inexpensive natural building options.

Keep Home Upkeep costs Down

19. Close off unused rooms to save on heat and air conditioning.

20. Be efficient with your appliances. Have a big baking night when you’re going to use the oven. Let your woodstove also be your dryer and water heater.

21. Take advantage of natural weather patterns to heat and cool your house. In the summer, open the windows at night and close them again by noon.

22. Place your refrigerator in the coldest part of the house so it requires less energy to keep the temperature low.

23. Wash your clothes in cold water. It’s the friction that does most of the cleaning, not the heat.

24. Switch off your water heater when you’re not going to use it for extended periods of time.

25. Buy energy-efficient light bulbs. The savings on your electric bills add up fast.

26. Unplug any unused electric items with lights, clocks or timers. They use an amazing amount of power just sitting there. You can plug multiple items into one power strip to make shutting them all off faster.

Creative Transportation

27. Carpool with friends or co-workers. Some cities maintain online listings to help people connect with other carpoolers.

28. Ask if your city has a carshare program or start one with people you trust.

29. Convert a diesel car to run on used vegetable oil. You’ll pay once for the conversion or kit, but after that all your fuel can be free. All you have to do is find a restaurant that wants to dispose of their used oil and will let you cart it away.

30. Keep track of your gas mileage and look for ways to improve it — keep your tires properly inflated and don’t speed.

31. Do as many errands as possible with each car trip around town instead of making multiple trips. You’ll save a lot of gas.

32. Book any airplane trips well in advance to get the lowest possible fare. Then show up early and offer to be bumped in exchange for free tickets if a plane is overbooked.

When You Can’t Avoid Shopping

33. Don’t go into stores unless you need something. Always carry a shopping list. Remember, stores are designed to get you to buy things you didn’t know you needed.

34. Hit end-of-season sales for as many items as possible, from kayaks to gardening supplies.

35. Before you shop, try borrowing the items you need from family or friends. Check out local Freecycle groups to find out what people are giving away. Set up borrowing co-ops for tools.

36. Try to find it used before you buy new. You can find a wide variety of items online, in the classifieds or penny papers, and at garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores.

37. When buying new, choose high-quality, durable items. It’s often cheaper to spend more upfront if you won’t have to replace the item in the near future.

38. Instead of shopping, scavenge. Watch the curbs at the end of the semester in a college town. If you live near a high school, try talking to the janitor the last day of school when they’re cleaning out the lockers.

Get Some Clothes On!

39. Buy clothing used whenever possible. You may have good luck finding clothes at garage sales, or find a wider selection at thrift stores, consignment shops and on eBay.

40. Have a clothing exchange party to trade unwanted clothing with friends.

41. Try sewing. Look for cheap material in thrift stores, or try reincarnating your outfits into something new.

42. Watch the clearance racks. It’s always amazing how much stores are willing to mark down unsold clothing.

For Your Health

43. Ask a doctor or dentist if they have sliding-scale fees.

44. Look for free or low-cost clinics and/or medical schools for treatment. (But be warned, sometimes you get what you pay for. I have a couple of bad fillings from a new dentist.)

45. Do preventive maintenance on your body. Exercise and eat well. Try yoga to reduce stress. Quit smoking.

46. Campaign for a national health care system!

Cutting Education Costs

47. For the college bound, take some general education classes at a state school or community college where the tuition is low, even if you plan to take most of your classes at a more expensive college. Just check carefully with your school of choice to make sure the classes will transfer.

48. Attend an in-state college. Establish residency for a year or two beforehand, if need be. The money saved can be well worth the time it takes to establish residency.

49. Buy your college books used online. Don’t give in to the monopoly of the college bookstore!

50. Watch for unique scholarship opportunities, including those that involve resources other than cash. (I once received a case of organic macaroni and cheese for making the dean’s list.)

51. Audit classes that you only want for the learning, not the credit.

52. For lessons, try bartering. For example, my wife is planning to do some photography in exchange for dance lessons.

Cheap Entertainment

53. Discontinue your Internet service and utilize a wireless “hotspot” where you can connect to the Internet for free. Even the smallest towns tend to have at least one.

54. Rediscover the radical notion of the library. Imagine Internet access and thousands of books, CDs and DVDs for free!

55. Volunteer to usher for concerts, plays and other events. (I haven’t paid for a play in years.)

56. Find low-cost fun in your local paper. Take full advantage of free concerts, events and movies.

57. When at a concert or movie, avoid buying anything to eat or drink. Some places even let you bring your own snacks.

58. Take turns entertaining with friends holding parties, potlucks or music nights.

59. Occasionally, go ahead and spend the money. Saving money’s like going on a diet: If you try to starve yourself, you’ll end up consuming more in the long-run. If there’s a form of entertainment you value, that’s a good place to consider splurging.

Travel the World for Less

60. Volunteer for organizations such as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) that provide food and lodging in exchange for a reasonable amount of daily work.

61. Trade your home with friends around the country and enjoy free lodging in a new location.

62. Go camping, or rent a cabin. Don’t overlook state parks and national forests, they’re often less expensive and less crowded than national parks.

63. Try a local vacation. Chances are, there’s something great to see within a 100-mile radius of where you live.

64. Ask hotels about discounted distressed-traveler rates, especially if you hadn’t planned to stop but must because of inclement weather.

65. There’s no law against haggling with a hotel on the room rate!

66. Make your vacations pay for you by combining them with work. I once volunteered for my school to check out an innovative learning program in Vermont and got to stay in a bed and breakfast with my wife for free.

67. Buy food at local supermarkets when traveling. It’s much cheaper than eating at restaurants.

68. Choose a vehicle with fold-down seats if you’re renting a car or truck. Find a safe place to sleep for the night, and you have instant, snug lodging.

Happy Families for Cheap

69. Definitely choose used clothes for babies. They’re so cute, they don’t need to be stylish.

70. Trade babysitting time with other couples and have rotating playgroups with other families.

71. During the holidays, draw names for gift giving with groups of family or friends rather than buying a gift for everybody. A fun variation or addition to this is the white elephant holiday party, where everyone brings unwanted items and other joke gifts.

72. Invoke a gift giving spending cap.

73. Give homemade gift certificates for a home-cooked dinner, massage or babysitting time.

74. Donate to a good cause that a friend or family member supports instead of buying a gift they don’t need. Not only do you support a worthwhile organization, but you’ll save on sales tax and transportation costs.

75. Swallow your pride; accept your family’s help every now and then. It’ll make them feel good.

These suggestions are just a starting place. You’ll find lots of new ways to save that work best for you. Make a game of it if you can, and keep it fun. After all, it’s only money. Happy penny pinching!

Have more ideas for saving money? You can add them to the comments field of this article.


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Post a comment below.

 

t brandt
1/15/2013 11:55:29 PM
I've been practicing medicine for about 40 yrs: Medicare was less than 10 yrs old when I started and CTs & MRIs hadn't been invented yet. Back then Medicare payed so little compared to private insurance, most docs didn't really want to accept it. But then the privates caught on and refused to pay more than the govt, so we have now, in effect, socialized medicine anyways: the govt sets the prices de facto...it's a myth that people without insurance are a burden on the system. The hosp has to pay the gas & electric bills anyways and have so many nurses & lab techs on duty, so a few extra "no pays" doesn't really add up to much. If you show up at hosp without ins, they treat you and dunn you for the bill if you have means of paying.(BTW_can you show up at a restaurant hungry and expect to be fed if you have no money?)...Our costs here are doubled the rest of the world because we have to deal with malpractice courts. That adds 50 -75% to the cost of treatment. It's not enuff that your doc knows what he's doing based on training & experience & clinical expertise. He 's also got to have printed test results to prove it in court to 12 people too dumb to get out of jury duty....The biggest problem in medicine in the US is the unreasonable expectations the public has, encouraged by the lawyers & courts....Insurance is a rip-off. The average person spends only 3 days in his life in hosp. Any idea what your $500/ month premium would be worth when you're 65 had it instead been invested @ 5%/yr? MANY millions of dollars...If ther govt had really wanted to fix the healthcare system, they could have. But they didn't. They just wanted to reward their political benefactors. They bought votes with our tax money. ..Americans are compassionate & generous. We only disagree about how our charity should be provided: thru private entities & acts of kindness or thru the govt. I prefer to have a choice to whom I donate my charity. That's called Freedom.

Katie
1/14/2013 11:29:08 PM
Would all of these people feel just as passionately if we substituted free public education system into all of these comments instead of national health care? What about all you "freeloaders" sending your kids off to public schools? And since when is the only community contribution worth anything to our world based on how much income you produce or taxes you pay?

Paul Myers
1/14/2013 9:28:48 PM
Does anyone understand the difference between caring for the needy and supporting the author's healthcare? There are some genuinely needy people in the world, and we SHOULD provide for them. On the other hand, the author seems to be able-bodied, and has chosen to earn so little money that he cannot pay for his medical care/insurance. There is a huge difference. I don't think this guy deserves a cent of MY money to pay for HIS healthcare. You make your choices and live with them.

Lisa Goff
1/14/2013 7:13:22 PM
CORRECTION: Ayn Rand took Social Security and MEDICARE(not medicaid) under her married name Ann O'Conner according to an article on the internet under her name Ayn Rand.

Lisa Goff
1/14/2013 7:05:37 PM
Since this has become a conversation about healthcare: I am 58- a U.S. Citizen- lived all my life in Ok, Mo, Texas and Mo again- NEVER thought I'd live to see the day when professing Christians could be SO COLD toward the nation's poor, elderly, disabled- indeed everyone! Paul Ryan was an ardent admirer of AYN RAND! She was a wicked woman who said it was even wicked to help our poor relatives financially! Upon researching I learned that SHE took Social Security AND Medicaid under her married name Ann O'Connor!!!! as for we Christians are we not our brother's keeper? Are we not to love our neighbor as ourselves? Is it not "harder for a rich man to inherit the Kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle?" Why don't we hear those quotes anymore? O recall a couple of years ago when Mother published an article about population control and so many wrote in threatening to drop subscriptions! We want to be overpopulated, but we don't want to share food and wealth and healthcare!? How stupid to send hospital bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to families where the parents earn little more than minimum wage and can just barely feed their kids mac and cheese and keep a sub-standard roof over their heads? They can't pay it! What's next?? Debtors Prisons?!

Carmen Gilchrist
1/14/2013 5:29:06 PM
In old age, our bodies have a pretty strong tendency to fail us, regardless of how healthy our lifestyles might have been. We might get away with no insurance or healthcare plan (beyond healthy living) in our youth and middle age, but old age is gonna get us. And even in our youth, accidents happen. We need for there to be a realistic way to deal with these issues.

Jody Doerfler
1/14/2013 4:45:21 PM
I don't mind contributing to help those who need it, That is why I already pay taxes. I agree that insurance should be more affordable for those who desire it, I agree that, more than insurance, medical care and medicine should be more affordable to those who desire it. My objection to out recent healthcare reform is forcing it on people. I use natural and herbal remedies. I have not been to a doctor or hospital since I graduated from high school and was no longer required to get physicals and shots to attend mandated school. But yet I am supposed to now buy insurance that will never get used? All this will do is encourage people like me to stop filing and paying taxes to avoid the additional expense. But when we do this it takes those tax dollars away from the assistance programs for those who truely need it, (and those who don't but play the system).

Cheryl Adkins
1/14/2013 4:18:40 PM
I am happy for all the people who either have an affordable insurance plan or who make enough to pay for their own health care(why are you reading this article?) but the truth is that many people do not have insurance. Either their company doesn't offer it or it is so outrageously priced that they can't afford it. Without insurance you indeed do not have access to the healthcare system as if you do get care you get the bare minimum of care. Why anyone thinks that making healthcare affordable for everyone is a socialisst program any more than say the education program or national highways, social security or medicare is beyond me. And indeed many free societies have such a healthcare program. Furthermore a non-free society the oppresses its people do not care whether they have insurance or even if they have medical care. I do not understand why people are against a program the allows for all the members of society to have adequate medical care. How is this in any way a program that can be harmful to society? We started the subsidized school lunch program to provide nutrition to school children to improve their health. It is subidized for all children and even more subsidized for low income children. This is indeed a social program. But the point to a social program is to benefit society as whole. Which is also why we have the public education program. It was deemed in the best interests of society to have an educated society. Why is it not equally in the best interests of society to have a healthy society with adequate access to the healthcare system that is priced to favor those with insurance that lobby for a much cheaper rate(even a third of the price) that non insured people would pay.

CARMEN ORTIZ
5/18/2011 8:49:52 PM
Most of the listing is on the spot. I receive $1273 between Social Security and a very small pension. Out of that I pay $756 to my equity line, not because I have to since the payments are less than half of that but because I want to finish paying it. Plus, I have $130 transfered to a savings account to pay property taxes and the house insurance annually. In other words, I live on $387 a month in a small city. Every year I remove more lawn and replace it with all kinds of edibles, my vegetable gardens double each year. I don't buy premade food, which means I rarely get sick, which in turn means I don't need health insurance. This brings me to #46 and the comment by ralston. For someone who is telling us not to be "upset" and ends by asking us to "give Obama credit", he sure missed the mark. First of all I worked for one of the two biggest "health insurance companies" in the USA. So I know that the fairy tale of the US having the most expensive healthcare in the world is not true. What we have are the most expensive middle men in the world. Guess why they were backing Obamacare. Providers are lucky if they see a third of the money that is paid in. The local hospital and clinic charge me less since I pay in cash. My daughter (different town) found a clinic that charges less and does not take health insurance of any kind. Why? Because they make more that way. This is all a huge rip-off. If you want insurance fine, just leave me out of it.

james ralston
5/18/2011 1:56:29 PM
For all those upset by #46 (health care) there was never a mentions of what system. You are making an assumption that this is a plug for "Obamacare" The truth is that we have a "National Health Care System" and it sucks. By wanting gov totally out of health care that IS a National Health Care System. The same as allowing each state to regulate Health Care, which is what our current system is. We pay way to much for health care and give Obama credit, at least he made some movement no mater if you think it is good or bad movement, at least he did something, which is more than can be said for pres Carter, Reagen Bush 1 or Bush 2 (Clinton tried but it was shut down)

Tom Moore_2
5/17/2011 6:35:37 PM
I enjoyed the article. That said, I don't agree with every suggestion, but everyone *SHOULD* look at areas where they can save, and DO so. If you find some suggestions that you don't believe are good, DON'T USE THEM. Take the ones that ARE good and run with them. Thanks for a great article!

K RHOME
5/17/2011 12:46:06 PM
Obamacare is the death of freedom and has no place in a free society, nor in this article.

JonathanSmith
12/28/2010 3:22:28 PM
Overall, a great article except for the socialist propaganda (#46)on Nationalized Health Care. Like many Mother Earth News readers, I believe in using our resources wisely and in being a good steward of the land. Many of us readers are average middle class Americans who resent the left wing political spin. Please stick to the facts. As for my own advice, I rely heavily on yard sales and thrift stores for items I don't immediately need. I also utilize Craigs List and other classifieds to buy many items used. Know someone who farms, has a woodlot, etc and barter with them. Avoid impulse purchases most of the time but also avoid unnecessary driving most of the time - plan your trips to save gas. If you have clutter or even tools you haven't used for a year or so - consider selling them to free up revenue. Maintain a healthy emergency fund. The worse thing you can do is live day to day and borrow for your expenses. Get rid of your land line if you have a dependable cell phone plan. Minimize or get rid of the cable tv. Dish Network carries a "Welcome" package of with a few premium cable channels for only $15 a month including locals. Save on electrical costs by drying clothes next to a woodstove or outside. Consider CFL's but also consider the danger if you break one of these - they break just as easy as other light bulbs. I would avoid using CFL's especially in outdoor/exposed lights, childrens bedrooms, etc.

Keith Hallam_1
7/20/2010 4:53:03 AM
Hi, item 22 is where a lot of people go wrong with refrigerators and freezers. Particularly with modern high efficiency machines. They are designed to work best in the environment they are going to be used in i.e. a kitchen. A place that is relatively warm. If you keep your fridge or freezer in the garage or other cold place the refrigerant will 'over condense' in cold weather. The temperature of the refrigerant will be lower than design conditions, the evaporator will frost up more and there is a danger of 'liquid slugging' where liquid refigerant returns to the compressor. The oil gets very cold and froths up and if the piston tries to compress liquid instead of gas damage can be caused. Otherwise a well written and informative article on living the dream.... but it can turn into a nightmare....

mary_95
5/29/2010 1:23:17 PM
Keeping my health care views to myself, as I work in health care. My favorite frugal tip is, when there is only a small amount of veggies left from a meal, even a few kernals of corn, put it in a bowl in the fridge. When the bowl is full it's veggie soup. Also we have a Restore in our town and for home repairs it is invaluable! I got this computer free because my work place was upgrading and gave them to the employees who wanted them. I also got a free TV the same way. I live in town and a small garden and so do my neighbors, we swap produce every year. Hope this helps someone. I know i've learned from other comments.

Mickey_1
5/21/2010 3:23:01 PM
AS A CHILD I LEARNED TO LIVE FRUGALLY, VISIT GARAGE SALES AND BARGAIN. WHEN I MARRIED AND HAD MY FAMILY I ALWAYS COOKED "FROM SCRATCH" BECAUSE I FELT IT PROVIDED BETTER NUTRITION FOR MY FAMILY AND WE SAVED LOTS OF MONEY. SINCE I DIDN'T HAVE SPACE FOR A GARDEN, I OFFERED TO PICK GARDENS FOR ANYONE WHO COULDN'T USE ALL THEY HAD OR NEEDED A REST, THEN I CANNED MY BOUNTY TO USE LATER IN THE YEAR. I HAVE AN ANNUAL (CHEAPER) SUBSCRIPTION TO OUR LOCAL PAPER WHICH IS FILLED WITH COUPONS. COUPONS, WHICH HELP ME SAVE AT LEAST 35% ON MY GROCERY BILL. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A SUBSRIBER TO "MOTHER EARTH" AND ANOTHER WONDERFUL SOURCE I USE IS "FARMSHOW MAGAZINE". A LOCAL NEWS STATION'S WEB SITE HAS WEEKLY FREEBIES AND COUPONS. I BELIEVE IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES YOU MUST BE A GOOD STEWARD OF WHAT YOU HAVE.

Wendy_32
5/15/2010 9:48:23 PM
I buy meat on sale in bulk and can it. Get your eye glasses at 39dollarglasses.com for $39 dollars. I do, the quality is great and the service is awesome! Plant your own food and barter what you have an abundance of. Download http://www.utorrent.com/ and share software on torrent websites. Bake your own bread. Check out http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/Artisan-Bread-In-Five-Minutes-A-Day.aspx

B. Tomlinson
5/15/2010 11:22:26 AM
I cringe when folks like Jan call charity, voluntary assistance, and honesty : "stinginess" "Self-serving" and worse yet mischaracterizing it as "I got mine, and you can't have any." This is exactly the sort of rhetoric we see from those trying to deceive us in order to steal that which is not theirs. They overlook that most of us gladly help out our neighbors, those in need, and give to charity willingly with what little the government leaves of our income. Currently on average a US Citizen pays 52% of their income in some form of tax. Now with the health insurance corporation subsidy coming into play, expect that number to rise dramatically, most dramatically for the poorest amongst us. Frugality is a virtue, but theft, which is what Jan is advocating, is not. Yes I can live on less of my money if I force others, through the weapon of the state, to pay for my life, but the cost in integrity is far too high, as is the cost to liberty. No Jan, don't criticize those of us who are giving of our time voluntarily, and thus take issue with the theft of our time and property. Stand up for what is right instead.

Jan Steinman
5/14/2010 10:49:27 AM
I am saddened by the many niggardly comments on this article regarding "freeloading" and attacking universal health care. When did the US become such a stingy, self-serving, "I got mine, you can't have any of it" nation? I worked my but off for many years, probably paying more in taxes during those years than most of the complainers earn in total. Why can't I have some relief by adopting a frugal life-style, which is still a tiny minority? When frugality becomes the norm, it still seems just that those who choose to consume more than their share of the Earth's resources by making -- and spending -- way too much money, that they also help subsidise those who are living lightly on the Earth. But what do I know... I'm a health-care refugee. The US spends 16% of GDP on health care; Canada only spends 7% and still somehow manages to provide it to everyone. To those who vigourously defend the US system: you're not a very wise consumer to be spending so much on your collective health care.

HTurner
5/13/2010 8:28:43 AM
Another way to be thrifty, learn your ornamental plants if you are a gardener and grow ones that will spread or grow in bigger clumps and learn to divide. Use nursery web sites for info on plants you like but please buy from local nurseries if possible and many will help you order special plants and give great advice. You can have a wonderful garden this way with a theme or get to know others and trade plants. Master Gardeners usually have plant sales for fund raisers and they will have good plants for less also a way to get some gardening education. Garden Clubs are another way to find educaiton or plant trades. You can also find free trees from Arbor Day celebrations or help from your local Extension service. Tax money that really does pay back tremendously with publications for free that cover just about anything you might need. You can also download such to save paper or postage. Extension offers food info, money management, growing info for food or ornamental plants, etc. Happy gardening.

Andrew_29
5/13/2010 1:36:35 AM
Oh yea. by the way.....somthing my wife and I do to conserve money is to reuse our styrofoam cups that we get from restraunts for our morning coffee....:)We use them up to 6 or 7 times befor throwing them away.....:)

Andrew_29
5/13/2010 1:32:33 AM
I loved the article....as for comments.....I beleive that mother earth news asked for coments on other ways you save money, not a public debate on our healthcare system or the authors views about right or wrong ways to save money. I could care less about other peoples opinions, but I am interested in saving money. I would like to see more money saving articles and less complaints.

Alinda Harrison
5/12/2010 11:29:54 PM
Getting back to the point of the article, living on less. Aside from the wonderful ideas in the article, here's a few things that work for our family: Get the most you can out of any meat purchases. For example, one whole chicken bought on sale will provide two or three meals for our household of 8. Bake the chicken, then throw the carcass and leftovers into a stock pot for soup stock. I often get enough remaining meat from the carcass to provide meat for both the soup and spaghetti sauce the next day. Keep a steady supply of low cost basic "staple" foods, then use small amounts of the other more expensive foods (or food from your garden, better still) to round out the basics and add variety without breaking the budget. Buy foods on sale in bulk, but only if you are going to use everything you buy before it goes bad. If you can only use a little of it, only buy a little. Food wasted is money wasted. Last, but not least, label all your leftovers and opened foods. We keep a roll of cheap masking tape and a pen on our fridge to label and date on everything that enters the fridge or freezer. Gone are the days when food would go to waste because it still "looked ok" but everyone was afraid to use it because they didn't know how old it was. peace

Grayce_2
5/12/2010 9:56:15 PM
The public library is my wonderful indulgence, and I visit weekly. I borrow books, cd's, DVD's, and software programs. There is free wifi if you have a laptop, or you can use their pc's. There are always stacks of free magazines that people drop off. That's where I drop mine off. There is usually a bin for coupons too. Plus there are always programs available , as someone mentioned. If your town or county has a community college, you can usually join that library as well. It is available to all community members. I can barely stand the thought of discarding seeds from veggies and fruit. I often start plants from the eyes of potatoes, sweet potato, pineapple tops, carrot tops, avocado, citrus, squash, cukes, and pepper seeds, etc. They make nice plants, and can be planted in the ground or pots. I've also made plants from cuttings from other people. Have a cutting exchange. We go on lots of picnics and hikes. So much fun. We eat little convenience food. Lunches usually are delicious, intentional leftovers from dinner.

B. Tomlinson
5/12/2010 3:19:13 PM
The "Campaign for a national health care system" is not only out of place, it is either short sightedly selfish and evil (since it relies upon harming others for your own personal dubious benefit) else it is simply contrary to the basic idea of the list since going to a "free" system drives costs through the roof since there are no direct noticeable consequences to abusing the system. If you must campaign for something to do with the health care system, and you care about being moral, practical, and frugal, campaign to get government completely OUT of health care! It is the overwhelming regulations which are driving up health care costs.

Kent_15
5/12/2010 2:28:44 PM
I was with you until you wrote "46. Campaign for a national health care system!" That's really a self-centered perspective. That's not saving money it's just making others pay for your consumption. Shouldn't self-sufficiency be exactly that? National health care is the epitome of dependency and entitlement, not self-sufficiency.

Doug Smith
5/12/2010 11:34:08 AM
Boy what great information. One can just deal with it for it's value or try and impose their ideas as some have taken the liberty to do here. I think you all are missing the point. It is our poor choices that have led to our poor health and therefore we have become a burden to our insurance and healthcare providers. Our economy cannot sustain more unhealthy lifestyles without bankrupting us all. We need to start taking better care of ourselves and demanding better foods in out stores and restaurants. It really is up to us as they will provide whatever we will buy. I believe the saying it "if you want to make change hit them where it hurts, the wallet". If they cannot sell an item, then it will go away. So demand better local produce, and grow what you can. Trade with those that do not grow and two definate things happen you get what you need and you make a friend. You also will start to develop a community. As for national healthcare, just remember whatever the government touches ends up costing us all way more than it should and never returns the dividends it promises!! Think welfare, Social Security, ....

Rachel_26
5/12/2010 8:39:57 AM
I like some things in the article. It is always good to hear some good ideas about saving money, scaling back living off the land. But was disappointed to see the line in there about campaing for a National Health Care System. With a National health you are no longer reling on yourself, but now you are free loading off the American people. I respect the fact that both you and your wife stay home with your children it is great, but please do not make my husband work more hours so you do not have to work. Instead of the goverment ie the American People paying for your health care, that would be a time for your neighbors, friends, family, and church to help with medical costs not the goverment. The bigger our goverment gets the less freedoms that we have. Thank you

James Van Daele
9/22/2009 12:59:36 PM
Wow, great article, a couple things to add, Credit cards can be a benefit, but ONLY if you get a card with points, you pay off the balance every month, you use it alot, and you don't spend more than you can afford. We use the points for our credit card to pay for about half of our yearly vacation every year. eBay... Seriously, you can get almost everything for less, don't forget to include shipping in your calculations. If you want brand-name clothes, get gently used, you probably already know what sizes are gonna fit you. I bought stamps on ebay for less than face value to use in my own online biz, I also got some energy bars for less than I can get in any store or other online place. PLUS, if you have a retail store, that sells small, relativly light objects (like jewelry) then ebay is where you need to source, If you do, ebay will give you a kickback on what you bought, I have earned over $150 in kickbacks for items that I already was getting MUCH cheaper than any other outlet, by buying direct from the factories in china. for city-dwellers, Craigslist is indispensable, I get everything off there, rotary lawn mower, kitchen cabinets, furnature, workout equipment, TV, you name it, if you can't get it cheap on ebay or WM, you can get it on CL

Kay _1
7/26/2009 8:29:12 PM
I loved this article. I have been living frugally for about 35 years. I haven't bought plastic bags or aluminum foil in all those years. When they come to me, I wash, dry and reuse them until holes appear. I dilute all soaps and detergents by at least 50%, and then start cutting in half how much I use until I find the tiniest amount that will work. I once used the same bottle of dish detergent for 7 years by doing that. Also, if you know people who buy store bought jams, jellies, and other things that come in jars with rubber rings around the inside of the lids, you can ask for and use those for canning instead of buying canning jars. Recently I started burning a candle once it gets dark instead of turning on the lights. And of course, everything stays unplugged until I need it, and as soon as I'm finished with it, I unplug it. Last electricity bill was $13.00, so my next challenge is to see if I can lower it even more. I also started catching all the water that goes down the drain while I'm waiting for shower water to warm up...I use a large mixing bowl, and put it into plastic jugs I've saved and cleaned. I use that to water the garden. I'm saving seeds from the garden so I don't have to buy seeds next year. I get free or almost free yarns everywhere I can, and knit gifts to give, and even my own blankets, drapes...I love sharing these ideas. Thanks for asking...and I have slept in my car on trips...

Lisa_72
7/26/2009 12:26:06 PM
I live in Manahattan, after taking family leave and getting ill I eventually was let go from my job. I wanted to find a way to live my life without having to totally change it because I knew I could not go back to a 60 hour work week. Here are some of my cost saving suggestions for city dwellers: Start your own business doing what you love....what ever you are/were doing for corporate America you can do without them. I provide the same services to the same clients and smaller clients my top ten firm would not consider taking on. I charge them less and I make more, working when I want, for whom I want and for a quarter of the amount of time because I dont have to worry about office politics, ass-kissing, innane paper work and face time. I work out of my home and can walk to appointments. I rent a conference room by the hour in my building when meetings are necessary. I use the library as my second office, printing documents for free or at low cost. I don't need a printer or fax machine. I also got rid of my land line and my television....useless money wasters. I still have my three bedroom duplex with a view on Fifth Avenue, only I now have two roommates that help me pay for it. When the market recovers I can sell it and retire in style in upstate New York. Already have the land I want to build my fully-sustainable home on. I bike or walk whenever I can(I have walked up to 4 hours to save subway fare, avoid germs and get great exercise) I use the bus and train systems to travel outside of the city. I invite friends/family to stay and I visit them for free- instant travel buddy and tour guide. When I need a car I borrow from family or friends -who I invite to come along- and I return it with a full tank of gas and run their errands as well. If I arrive at a destination passed midnight, I would definately sleep in a car and check-in early the next morning making use of their courtesy suite to save the $200/night fee. Whereever I am staying

Maggie_9
7/23/2009 10:30:38 AM
REDISCOVER YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!!! Do it! I'm amazed the number of people I know who talk about learning something new by hitting the bookstore; or who use Blockbuster for their dvd rentals. ($3-5 a movie?) I love bookstores, but seriously...hit the library first. If it's a book you keep checking out over and over (like the book on Renovating Old Houses my boyfriend finally bought) then buy it online used. But if you're only reading it once or twice, borrow it! For free! Plus, libraries have lots of programs your tax dollars pay for anyway....story tellers, classes for adults, movie nights, nice bi-lingual people who do taxes, videos, internet access, etc. Not to mention magazines and newspapers, so drop your subscriptions. You know they just pile up to be recycled after the first read-through anyway. At the end of the school year, as my students turn in their school library books sadly, I always make them guess the price of a public library card. Little kids think free stuff is very cool. They are wise... they are wise.

Joan Campion_2
5/10/2009 2:39:26 PM
Would like to suggest that all of us learn one or more alternative healing practices so we can cope with minor situations without checking in at the emergency room. These could include simple herbal treatments, reflexology, and much else. Googling something like "alternative health treatments" should yield a lot of information; and if you settle on something like herbs you may be able to plant your medicines in your garden or buy them in the herbs and spices section of your local market.

Jerome X
1/21/2009 11:58:47 PM
Do you find yourself taking out payday loans just to survive until the next paycheck? If you are having a hard time making ends meet each month, you may consider reading the article on frugal financing found on the money blog at personalmoneystore.com. Practicing frugal financing is sound financing planning. Poor spending habits rob you of more things than you can possibly imagine. Get away from the cycle of late payments, a payday loan, and debt by implementing a financial strategy that is both practical and realistic. Design and implement a budgeting strategy that will suit your needs while allow for progressive financial growth of your net worth.There is a lot more you can learn about frugal financing by reading the article series at http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2008/12/31/frugal-finance-part-i-a-payday-loan-money-blog-report/

Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton
11/11/2008 4:15:16 PM
I heartily agree with a lot of what this article has to say. We live in a trailer which we found for free and hauled onto our property. We use wood heat (an exterior wood furnace because trailers are flammable), plug in our hot water heater only when we want to use it, and grow over half of our food. I think that many Americans feel threatened by the notion that you can live well on less. In the end, it's all about time --- are you willing to do without some store-bought conveniences in order to live a fulfilling life with time for the things that really matter? I wouldn't live any other way! --- Anna. (Check out http://www.waldeneffect.org where my boyfriend and I talk endlessly about living simply on 58 acres of swamp and woodland in southwest Virginia. :-)

Kathleen Appelbaum
11/11/2008 11:55:33 AM
The main value of this article is to get people thinking of an alternative to just whipping out the credit card when you need something or just want something. Not many were new or useful to me, but I was inspired to rethink my recent spending habits. I plan to rip out some overgrown shrubs and replace them with blueberries. Because of limited space, I grow the vegetables most expensive to buy. Sailing small boats has been an enjoyable cheap hobby for us. Read ebooks if your library has them. Challenge yourself to live a frugal life but do it with a conscience. Be responsible for yourself and your family and help others to do the same by your shining example.

Jan_2
11/9/2008 1:42:04 PM
Another fun way to save a few dollars. Several years ago, we bought 2 large, used aquariums from a college student who was moving back home. We got them really cheap, they came with all the extra equipment also. After we cleaned them up and set them up in our home we happily took off to the local pet shop. We were shocked! The price of tropical fish is up there. After thinking for a bit, and since it was late May, we packed a picnic, loaded the kids, buckets and fish nets and took off to a local state park that had several creeks. These were shallow creeks we could wade in. After having a fun day, wading and playing in the creeks, we had a nice number of different minnows, snails and small crayfish. They thrived in the aquariums! They were fun and educational to watch, and when they got too big for the tanks, we just scooped them into buckets and returned them to the creek. Believe it or not, fresh water fish can be colorful and kept in unheated tanks.

Jotham
11/9/2008 12:08:16 PM
I agree with living frugally and many things should be cut out of our lives because they serve no purpose. like living without credit cards. The credit business is a money grabbing scheme that for the most part gives nothing in return. National Health care is a great idea and evens the field for all citizens. I don't think we should freeload by letting someone else pay for things we are not willing to pay for. Live within your income and you'll save a lot. If you cannot pay for something you should be prepared to work for it in other ways. This includes: Gardening, bartering, permaculture, voluteering, reducing energy use. Sometimes spending money helps save money: Subscription to lifestyles magazines like Mother Earth News, or Attending do it yourself, permaculture, alternative building and gardening seminars. When we can't buy, barter or trade we then depend on others. But avoid the credit trap if at all posible (you pay twice the price for anything you have contract payments on!)

Thomas G Fruge
11/4/2008 12:19:06 PM
I've always thought homesteading was living freely off the land. something that we've, lost along with our freedoms. I mean I try to live freely camping in the woods and know alot of other people who also do. But we get ran off by the forest service every 14 days. even though I keep my area clean and I'm not infringing on any others rights. I don't believe in paying for land,because I believe it is the right of every living creature right to live freely on this planet, including man. Paying someone for that right it is a infringment on our freedom. (this system we live in is proof of that). It creates a unessary hardship on us. That we don't need. And this idea that we need money to be organized and have a civilized society is total B.S. Money is the problem,it is a total form of control over our freedoms and liberty's.

Brigitte Fuller
11/4/2008 12:04:53 AM
I would have to say that I cant believe the people that say the horrible things they do. I live in Canada, our health care is not free, everyone pays and yes we pay for everyone else when I am sick I get a doctor, when someone else is sick they get a doctor. SOME PEOPLE SHOULD OPEN THEIR EYES AND LOOK BEYOND THE US IT DOES NOT WORK. I WATCHED A SPECIAL ON TV ABOUT US HEALTH CARE. DISGRACEFUL AND SO ARE THE INSURANCE COMPANIES. THEY DENY CLAMS TO JUST DENY CLAIMS WHEN AMERICANS WAKE UP AND REALIZE CANANDIANS LIVE LONGER,HEALTHY LIVES MAYBE IF YOU ASK FOR CHANGE IT WILL COME.

KATHY_5
10/30/2008 10:02:05 AM
That was a great article. I love Mother Earth News. The WWoof sounds awesome and I am going to pass this info to my 26 year old son (who was born on Maui), but is lost in his life right now and needs a job and is such a gentle soul. This would be perfect for him and he works hard. Thank you for the info. We need to all work together to eventually live off the grid. I work at it everyday, but have a long way to go! xo

timc1960
10/30/2008 5:56:43 AM
When are you good people of the USA gonna get a grip on reality and understand that National Health System doesn't mean free health care. It means free at the point of use not FREE! It is not a spongers charter. What happens is that you ALL pay a national insurance contribution as a percentage of your wages, so that when you turn up at hospital after a car wreck with your guts hanging out through your ribs or your find out that you have cancer due to the effects of the industrial food industries that are trying to poison us all, you don't have to worry about form filling or will my insurance cover this/will I be bankrupted by going to hospital. The only difference is that you don't pay your hard earned cash dollars to an insurance company that is there to make a profit for it's share holders first and treat you second using the cheapest methods and drugs available.

SR Davis
10/29/2008 11:04:51 PM
I cannot believe the anger and bitterness being spewed. Is this Mother Earth or Fox News? The article was really enjoyable with lots of great ideas!

Keith_4
10/29/2008 9:20:54 PM
Some of the thoughts in this article make sense, but I have to comment on the " sleep in your vehicle " suggestion. In today's world there are really no places to sleep in a car that are really safe. And how cheap can you get to sleep in a vehicle after being in it all day driving? I am all for being frugal; however, this is cheap! And the health care issue..........buy your own instead of making all of us pay for your insurance. There is a difference between being frugal and welfare!

Susie Q
10/29/2008 8:20:08 PM
Completely what I was saying... I don't use those deals that press the air out of your bags, or however it's done, they are expensive and refills are expensive. I use a long straw and it works great. It has saved me tons already, with a garden and freezing. My husband and I do not use, or have, credit cards, we pay cash for everything or we don't get it. I haven't had a credit card in probably 15 years and regardless of what some think, you CAN live without credit cards. Sure it makes things tighter in an emergency, but that gives you more incentive to try and save during the better times, so you will have a few dollars in the bank during the rougher times. We also make our own laundry soap. You can find recipes on the web and they do work. If you have a large family or just wash clothes a lot, this could be your solution. I also hang out all of my sheets and some t-shirts, etc... things that won't dry and be to rough and hard, like towels. That has saved us loads on electricity. Anyway, that is just a few of my tips. Use them or not, that is up to you.

Susie Q
10/29/2008 8:14:12 PM
I found some of his ideas interesting and wish that everyone had stayed with the program, which was learning to live cheaper. I don't recall him saying anything about gardening, unless I missed that. We just bought a new home and 2 acres in the country and we borrowed a garden tiller from close friends and grew a garden this summer. It was our first since being children at home, and we are now in our middle 40's. We worked the garden all summer and then shared the vegetables with the friends that loaned us the tiller. Next year our garden will be much bigger and again we will share with our 'tiller' friends, as we cannot afford to buy a tiller of our own at the moment. We have invited them to plant veggies they especially like also. Not only should we watch for sales and stock up at grocery stores when we can, which makes it cheaper, but everyone should learn how to freeze and can their own foods. They are so much better for you and cheaper. I bought a cheap water bath canner at Walmart, $18.00, and canned everything I could safely can. We are hoping that by next summer I can get a pressure canner so we can preserve the rest of our food without having to freeze it all. Your initial cost is a bit more because you must buy a canner and jars, lids, etc... but after the first summer you will have all of that to start the next summer with and all you'll be out is your seeds, water, time and energy. I love it. I've lost almost 20 pounds, my diabetes is right on track, my cholesterol dropped another 20 pts., and I feel 100% better. I rewash freezer bags and use them again. I am careful with them and I do buy the good bags because they seem to be a lot tougher. When I've used them once, I wash them, dry them, and use them once more. I've used some more than 3-4 times with no holes and it kept great. With a garden that has saved me a ton. I don't use one of those deals that get the air out, they are expensive and r

tracey_1
10/29/2008 3:16:26 PM
I really found this family and some of their ideas inspiring, but I was a little disappointed to see the article promoting the idea of national health care. I DO believe that those who DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY to obtain health care through work, or self purchased should get the help they need. People that are disabled, elderly, or otherwise in a lower income bracket rely on government help to survive. That being said, how fair is it that hardworking individuals pay so much out in taxes to the government, to fund programs to help pay for those like this family, that simply don't feel like working for items as crucial as health care. Not my idea of fair at all! As Mother Earth News readers most of us are interested in somewhat alternative, self-sufficient, lifestyles and breaking free from mainstream ideas. I applaud this families efforts to break the mold and live in a way that makes them happy, but I don't think that they should expect government handouts. There lifestyle comes with consequences.

Rosewood513
10/29/2008 1:11:50 PM
Wow, I read this article; some worthY and some worthless but some of you should be ashamed of yourselves. What ever happened to free speach and love thyneighbor. I intended to give my ideas but this became too political for me. I just would like to know how a simple article about living for less got so blown out of whack. You all must need a hobby.

Jenine_2
10/29/2008 12:32:16 PM
I thought there were some terrific ideas in this article. We bought our land, home, and paid for our septic, power pole, and water meter, with cash. We did have to finance a very small portion, but did so, with a quick payout. When we moved into our house, we realizes that we had neglected to buy any furniture! We had no bed to sleep in, no couch, etc. We had no credit cards and didn't want any. Our motto was to use what we had. We did our own plumbing, and electrical installation (my husband is an electrician), we bartered, freecycled, garage saled, and did whatever it took, to get started. Now, you are constantly hearing about people who are driving cars, that they owe more on than what the car is worth, houses that they have paid on for years, but can't afford to sell, for the same reason, and people who have relied on their credit cards in order to deal with the ever increasing cost of living. We, as a nation, have been living beyond our means for years, and now it's all coming back to bite us in our nether regions. We are being forced now, to do a reality check, like it or not. It's not easy.

captgeobob
10/29/2008 12:28:43 PM
Or you could just go on welfare and let everyone else take care of you for the rest of your life. Thank you democrats.

Glen2Gs
10/29/2008 12:22:00 PM
OFF THE SOAP BOX and back on track! Join a Local Credit Union...Don't Send "YOUR MONEY" out of YOUR COMMUNITY by using a Bank (even if you think/Banker said that it's local it isn't thanks to the Federal Reserve)

Cindy Adams_1
9/8/2008 9:12:49 PM
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Cindy Adams_1
9/8/2008 9:07:37 PM
Wow, well there are many varied opinions about living well and saving money. Sad for those who do not wish well those that are creative enough, and willing enough to work at putting a plan together and reaching those goals that do no longer rely on corporate America, nor do they need to "donate" to such factions they have chosen not to need. I truly beleive in the volunteerism as both a giving back and progressing forward, and bartering could easily be incorporated into such activites, thus creating a more caring and self-sustaining society. Have we grown into this busy society of large business and busy lives so much that we are unable to accept the choices of those wanting a healthier, happier and less stressful existence? That may be so. I recently had the "pleasure" of having my partners mother, a recent victim of a stroke, in our home for three months as she convalesed. I learned a lot in that time. Here was a professional woman who had many years ago made a conscious decision to lessen her "needs". Her idea was that as she did this she did not "need" to work as much. She gave up many conveniences and "things" for this choice. She lived in the middle of a big city, with no washing machine, no stove, small tv with rabbit ears, etc....She washes even her linens by hand. I personall saw that as a lot work to avoid work. My point, you have to weigh certain things in the balance. Some things may be more work than you are saving, and are there needs put onto others to take care of yours. Mother chose not to have a vehicle thus putting many chores onto others as they run all over town for her. Sure she is saving a lot of money on car pymts and insurance only for others to be put out. Just be considerate to how your choices may effect those around you. I am all for cutting back, i believe we have created a far to needy and mindlessly dependant society. I am just not as ready for it as I hope to be one day.

E Moore
9/8/2008 7:04:11 AM
Some good ideas were presented, and a little borderline free loading as well. As for the issue of national health care system so prevalent in the discussion here, I think that more a controlling of greed should be the focus then on a complete paid system. Insurance companies and health care providers bills are completely out of control in the US. $150 office visits that last less then 10 minutes (not and ER visit those are $500+ WITH insurance), and HMO premiums of $400+ a month to keep insurance that restricts you to going to see only their approved doctors. These are issues that need to be addressed, and even more important the insurance company should never determine what treatment you get from a doctor but this takes place far too often as well. Since doctors know that if they get black listed by the HMO the will lose most if not all their patients.

DLP
8/23/2008 3:44:35 PM
I'm very late to this forum, but I do have a comment and a suggestion or two. Most of the concerns seem to be with the author's suggestions for using free clinics and food pantries, and campaigning for national health care, coupled with his pride in making so little money that he doesn't have to pay taxes. It is true that most of the free programs he advocates are paid for by someone, somewhere. I wish he had given more emphasis to how to "repay" those services: if you don't have money, give your time. Volunteer at those food pantries, libraries, and clinics. There are also non-obvious ways to give to charity: some credit cards--and we all need those from time to time--donate money with every purchase, and some internet sites donate per search or per click. Another suggestion I wish he had made: the radio as a source of news and entertainment. You would have to subscribe to a good newspaper and several magazines to get the information available on some programs. Again, those are paid for by someone else, so maybe save your pennies to donate. It's not all about getting more and spending less; if you belong to a community, I think you should do you part to keep it going. My 2 cents. :)

John_139
1/22/2008 9:52:54 PM
What's wrong with Ann Coulter? Look, Long before M.E. News, there were good old fashioned, hard working folks in the countryside who lived the life everyone seems to think is so "progressive." It's time to get off hate-conservatives-train.

Anna_13
1/16/2008 1:10:47 PM
Is this Mother Earth News or Ann Coulter Online? Why all the anger about advocating for universal healthcare? As a now-well-insured-upper-income professional who clawed my way out of abject poverty, I sympathize all too well with the parent who can't bring their kid to the doctor for antibiotics to treat strep throat because they don't have insurance or $200 for an emergency room visit. The government should heed the old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and set up a minimal level of routine preventative medicine for ALL citizens(annual checkups, immunizations, acute care for accidents and sudden illnesses, and treatment for common public health ailments such as hypertension and diabetes), provide treatment at no-frills locations (such as having your kids line up at school to reaceive their measles booster every year), and then have the insurance companies compete for varying levels of additional protection (such as catastrophic illness or "frills" care). Free market ... only make the drug companies compete with the largest existing insurer, Medicare/Medicaid. Personally, I'd prefer not to wait in line and would be willing to buy extra coverage in case I get cancer, but the health insurance/drug lobby industry has so infiltrated Congress and gutted out the traditional "family doctor" relationship where your doctor would charge a fair rate for a routine 7-minute visit that it's disgusting!!!

Ellie_2
12/29/2007 7:12:46 AM
Some folks just don't get the idea of national health care. The idea is that proper health care should be right, not a privilege that you get only if you can afford it. In this country, the level of care you receive if you're sick is directly proportionate to how much you can afford to pay. Don't you see how very wrong that is? The idea of a national health care system is to level the playing field for every economic level. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you should have the same treatment as anyone else regardless of your means. As a healthcare worker, who pays plenty in taxes and insurance premiums, I see the disparity in care between the "haves" and the "have nots" every day. What makes people angry is the abuse of the current system. That is a different issue entirely. Believe me, people who truly abuse the system amount to a small percentage of patients. I do know that a lot of poor people show up in the emergency room with a condition that can be taken care of in a doctor's office, but they don't go due to... LACK OF HEALTH INSURANCE! There just isn't another option. Similarly, people will not see a doctor at the onset of symptoms and show up in the emergency room when they are in far worse shape and their treatment becomes far more expensive. We as a country are very short-sighted on this subject. We need to be more focused on promoting healthier lifestyles and preventing illness, with a healthcare system that treats all Americans fairly, with yes, a system in place that roots out abuses and corruption (THAT'S stealing, Curt). I would like to see someone do a study on what the American taxpayer shells out for treating the uninsured vs. a comprehensive healthcare program for ALL Americans that is focused on disease prevention from an early age (your kids are being fed garbage laced with chemicals in school). Like most things in life, I suspect it would cost LESS to approach this the

Curt_6
12/13/2007 11:36:50 AM
Ohh he missed one, always read magazines online thus cutting their revenue stream and putting them out of business. He's a freeloader. Theres living frugally which I'm for, and theres pulling food from the mouths of others, which I'm not. Pulling for a health care system you do not pay for when your a physically and mentally able is just like stealing. If you don't pay for it it isn't yours.

Heather_34
12/8/2007 9:13:25 AM
As a Canadian reader, I was shocked to see how violently some of you opposed the mere suggestion of a national health care campaign. Until recently, I have virtually taken for granted the fact that I can see a physician or have emergency surgery (which I did need, about 7 years ago) without seriously harming my family's already precarious financial situation. I know that national health care may seem outrageous to those who have decent incomes and/or insurance provided through jobs, but the truth of the matter is that the poor are oppressed. I have farmer friends who would not be able to afford a cast for their young son's broken arm if it were not for the national health care here in Canada. I feel blessed to have grown up under such a system, where care for sickness is covered - even if that means that the rich have to foot more of the bill. No one is giving a poor person a better quality of life - many of them will still be eating beans from a can - but I feel proud of the fact that no one here will be denied medical treatment for lack of financial prosperity.

Margaret_20
11/27/2007 6:50:24 PM
Oh for goodness' sake. I found this article very interesting, sometimes funny, certainly one person's idea of how to live well without much money. I'm grateful to hear his methods, whether I choose to use them or not. Lighten up, folks! We all go through life hearing (and reading) advice, and taking it with a grain of salt -- thanks to Craig for sharing his way of life with us!

Henry_6
11/26/2007 9:35:29 AM
I'm shocked at the comments attacking Mr Idlebrook actually calling his family freeloaders! Does this reflect the belief that one's impact on the taxpayer is ultimately more important than one's impact or the environment . Should all ideas to simplify our lives be weighed against the impact it may have on the public kitty and corporate America ? Are these the people who read TMEN ? Should this magazine become nothing more than a catalog of trendy emviro-gimmics for the upper middle class who can afford them?

maryzigman
11/16/2007 9:45:27 PM
I read Mother Earth because it offers different ways of approaching living in and experiencing our earth. How very disappointing to read the comments of the various readers who took this as an opportunity to grossly mischaracterize what the author was suggesting. Those readers clearly are caught up in mainstream ways of doing things. Why bother reading an alternative magazine just to spout mainstream propaganda? By the way, most of the negative responses were by people who clearly did not understand the main idea of the article. But, they are probably busy working 60 hour weeks, the kids are with the nanny and the wife subcribes to Mother Earth because it's her way to making a contribution to society? How's that for taking something out of context?

Thomas_29
11/15/2007 8:50:07 PM
ON SOAP BOX: I am writing in support of the overall theme, but responding to specific comments such as seeking national health-care causes no harm or that we shouldn't value the taxpayer dollars because it goes to fund warmongering. I don't national health-care or support the war (although war is necessary, none of our current adventures fit the category of necessary war). These are both harmful because they both destroy individual rights, individual rights are necessary for self sufficiency. Individual rights are destroyed through excessive taxation. My eventual freedom from the "wage slave" is slowed because close to 50% of my income goes to government programs (federal/state income, excise, sales, property taxes, and licensing fees, and inflationary policies). The founding fathers revolted over a Tea Tax that amounted to less than 1%, why should we tolerate being kept as "wage slaves" because the government needs "tax slaves". OFF SOAPBOX: I will use some of his tips to move towards freedom, however all are not realistic. Wireless internet at a hotspot requires me to have a laptop. A laptop costs more than my 5 year old desk top with less performance. Another tip to explore for my fellow wage slaves is look into High Deductible (Catestrophic) health plans and save your money in a tax deductible Health Savings Account (not a Flexible Spending Account that expires). The High Deductible Plans save you from medical disasters, while the Health Savings Account allows you to save money over time to cover routine visits to the doctor etc. It is "safer" than self insurance, but much cheaper than a standard plan that a healthy person rarely needs, and definitely doesn't destroy property rights through excessive taxation like national health care. P.S. Health Care is provided by doctors, and prior to the '70s they routinely wrote off care or had an adjustable rate for "poor" patie

Thomas_28
11/15/2007 8:49:25 PM
ON SOAP BOX: I am writing in support of the overall theme, but responding to specific comments such as seeking national health-care causes no harm or that we shouldn't value the taxpayer dollars because it goes to fund warmongering. I don't national health-care or support the war (although war is necessary, none of our current adventures fit the category of necessary war). These are both harmful because they both destroy individual rights, individual rights are necessary for self sufficiency. Individual rights are destroyed through excessive taxation. My eventual freedom from the "wage slave" is slowed because close to 50% of my income goes to government programs (federal/state income, excise, sales, property taxes, and licensing fees, and inflationary policies). The founding fathers revolted over a Tea Tax that amounted to less than 1%, why should we tolerate being kept as "wage slaves" because the government needs "tax slaves". OFF SOAPBOX: I will use some of his tips to move towards freedom, however all are not realistic. Wireless internet at a hotspot requires me to have a laptop. A laptop costs more than my 5 year old desk top with less performance. Another tip to explore for my fellow wage slaves is look into High Deductible (Catestrophic) health plans and save your money in a tax deductible Health Savings Account (not a Flexible Spending Account that expires). The High Deductible Plans save you from medical disasters, while the Health Savings Account allows you to save money over time to cover routine visits to the doctor etc. It is "safer" than self insurance, but much cheaper than a standard plan that a healthy person rarely needs, and definitely doesn't destroy property rights through excessive taxation like national health care. P.S. Health Care is provided by doctors, and prior to the '70s they routinely wrote off care or had an adjustable rate for "poor" patie

evening_star337
11/11/2007 2:16:42 PM
I found your article to be a well thought out article, filled with many ideas to stretch your income. It is a shame that some folks have a problem with people who try to be frugal, but of course someone always has something to complain about and you can't please everyone. I believe this article is great for people on a fixed income as well. I can't wait to read your next article!

me_2
11/7/2007 12:30:39 PM
Yes, it really works. I think more people need to get a hold of this infomration and also take advantage of their local co ops- especially for items like child care, sustainability environments and home eco friendly renovations with reusable materials.

Jeff_38
11/6/2007 12:46:26 PM
Good up to 46....lost me there

Dan_29
11/4/2007 10:22:39 AM
You guys pushing for national healthcare forget what the government is for. It surely is not for you to mooch off of. Everyone else needs to get off their butt and take the opportunities available for work and pay for things yourself. If you choose to live in this manner, good on ya, but don't expect me to foot the bill when you get in a pinch, or feel sorry for you when you can't pay to take care of your kids.

elin
10/22/2007 11:07:26 AM
On cars, learn economic driving, ie to drive efficiently

julie_30
10/20/2007 7:57:52 PM
I am surprised at the negative responses to this article. Although not all of the authors tips are applicable to my life, I like the message. I think the point of the article is to evaluate your living and develop ways to conserve the money you work so hard to earn. Let's face it, we all have stuff we dont' t need. In the last two years I have challenged myself to own as little as possible and I have never been so happy!

julie_29
10/20/2007 7:57:45 PM
I am surprised at the negative responses to this article. Although not all of the authors tips are applicable to my life, I like the message. I think the point of the article is to evaluate your living and develop ways to conserve the money you work so hard to earn. Let's face it, we all have stuff we dont' t need. In the last two years I have challenged myself to own as little as possible and I have never been so happy!

Suzanne_12
10/18/2007 8:30:53 AM
In Craig Idlebrooks' article, "Live on Less and Love It!", The auther suggests that purchasing produce from local farm stands can be an economical alternative to supermarket food. I live in a rural community in Carroll County MD, having moved from Baltimore some years ago. I have yet to find a farmstand or farmer' market that sells produce for less than the retail market value. In most cases, the cost is more, or at least the same. The reasoning behind this is that the consumer will pay at least the same amount, and usually a bit more for fresher food from a local producer. The sad fact is, at least in my neck of the woods, is that farmers cannot make a reasonable living farming for the local market. Global market crops, such as corn and soybeans are all that is produced. The few farmers who grow vegetables, raise beef, chickens and honey do so as a sideline to suplement their incomes. Those of us who can afford to do so visit the local producers to bring home wholesome things to our tables, and help our neighbors. Those of us who cannot must content ourselves with the vast array of bland and potentially hazardous items at the chain supermarkets. For me personally, purchasing anything other than the odd bushel of apples or greenbeans is not exactly a very thrifty venture. Luckily, I have a small lot on which I can grow many of my own vegetables that I am able to can, dehydrate or freeze. Keep up the good work, I am inspired, enlightend and delighted by Mother Earth News every other month.

BRANDI_3
10/16/2007 3:33:22 PM
to answer sarah's questions: a "internet hotspot" is a place that offers free wireless internet to its customers. lots of restaurants (even fast food) are now offering it as well as hotels, cafes, coffe shops, etc.

Jim_61
10/16/2007 12:53:34 PM
Sarah, A wireless hotspot is a location that offers wireless (via radio) connection to the internet. Your computer - a laptop obviously - needs something called a wireless modem. Some hotspots are free. There's a coffee shop near my house that offers free connections. Other hotspots - like Macdonalds and Starbucks charge for the connection - usually $1-3 per hour.

Michael_68
10/15/2007 12:04:49 PM
On the positive side of item #46, I have had the experience of being self-insured. When I turned 65 I was, essentially, forced into the Medicare system. The difference? My bi-annual Prostrate checkup cost $65 per visit before Medicare; it cost $115 after. Ditto for the lab fees. What this means is that most folks can self-insure and then back their own resources with a catastrophic policy which should cover a family of four for less than the cost of a pack of cigarettes a day. Finally, I want to point out that State managed "Health Care" programs have, without exception, proven to be a disaster (e.g. UK, USSR). If we must involve the collective in our health care, the only scheme which has worked at all is a National "Health Insurance" system. That having been said, I want to thank TMENs for publishing this article. Exception noted, it is full of excellent suggestions for living well and for less.

john.fisherman
10/12/2007 1:31:48 AM
I have found this article highly instructive, and I definitely think this kind of hands.down info is missing in the wwweb. Why should a person by attacked for pursuing his own ideal life style, when no one else is harmed in the process? I am sure Mr. Idlebrook has a far more constructive contribution to his community and to society at large than that of your regular salesman or insurance company office worker. Why should your frustration about your hard.working life be a reason to attack those who refuse the wage slavery? Last question: why do you place the taxpayers's money on such a high place, when half of it goes to murderous, hate.driven conflicts all over the world? Shouldn't you be reclaiming those precious sums for empowering yourself and your community?

syrbn1
10/11/2007 2:09:27 PM
#53 Above; What is a Wireless Hotspot, & just how/where do you locate them?

dom_hannah
10/9/2007 4:02:07 PM
A great article showing how little you need to get by on. The UK has a national health care system which is mainly used by those who don't adhere to tip No 1. If you eat healthily and exercise, you won't normally need a health care system, especially like the one here where you come out with more diseases than you went in with. Be careful of what u wish for....

Matt_14
10/5/2007 5:16:45 PM
Hmmm.. Guess I'm out of the mainstream again, I like the article. The article missed a couple of favorites of mine. 1) Public transportaio, or walking or biking to anything in reasonable distance 2) Learn to cut/style own hair, or get it done at a beauty school, or let it grow. 3) Straight razor lasts much longer than a disposable. 4) Find a local food-bank. There are more than you think and not all require qualifiying, although most will ask for a small donation (1-2 dollars) for expenses. Volunteer some time there. 5) If in an active agricultural area ask about gleaning the fields after harves. You'd be suprised how many companies will allow this activity.

gdawson
10/5/2007 11:56:06 AM
Hmm. I was one of TMEN's earliest subscribers; still have most of the issues from at least the first five years. I found the list of 75 ways to live on liss to be true to the TMEN philosophy of being self-reliant, frugal, and sparing of the use of the world's resources. I can only hope that the letters to the editor that Mother receives on this article are much more positive than the nay-sayers who have posted online! Rather than applaud what Craig has suggested, some here have chosen to berate him. If you don't like all that he suggested--then skip those! Perhaps they will be of use to someone else. Finally: Many years have passed since my early experiences with TMEN. I have a well-paying job in software development and am at the midpoint of my career. I'm single, thus have no tax deductions for dependents. Even after charitable deductions, I suspect that I am paying much more in Federal taxes than many of the righteously indignant commenters who have posted here. But I sincerely appreciated the article. Not everyone out there has had the breaks that I have had. Many people HAVE to live frugally. My home is in a rural area with many elderly retired people, who live very simply on fixed Social Security incomes (most were farmers, so never made very much money while they were in the work force). Yet they embody so much of the thrify-in-dollars-but-rich-in-creativity lifestyle that TMEN has always tried to encourage. I applaud TMEN for making this the cover story.

SMEE
10/4/2007 9:20:49 PM
It relieves me to see that most of the feedback about this article is negative. It surprised me to see that MOTHER would print this article, and tout it on the cover as the main article of this issue. What a shame, that such a great magazine about self-suffiency would ever print such a free-loading-friendly sermon written by a person who doesn't even earn his freedom to do so. MOTHER, how could you? When I receive my much anticipated issue in the mail, I can't wait to read the great ideas shared with, and written by, people I've always thought of as hard-working folks trying to reap the most they can from their efforts. Mr.Idlebrook isn't even close to being one those people. MOTHER, you owe your loyal readers an apology.

Jennifer_44
10/3/2007 2:25:55 PM
Here's 5 more suggestions for living on less: 1. Don't bother with health insurance, just go to the emergency room as a vagrant or to free clinics (how much did the birth of his child cost?). 2. Apply for food stamps. 3. Ask your local small business for free or reduced goods, after all, those capitalistic pigs are living off you! 4. Sue random people. 5. Cut your hair, spin it into wool and knit clothing out of it. I can't believe MEN printed this article. The audacity!

Pugstail
9/28/2007 7:15:28 PM
Very good article. I sit on top of the fence of National Health Care, but in defense of the comments above, why shouldn't a person who has obviously taken the time to come up with 74 other ways to save money, expect the other "non-self sufficient" citizens to pay for national health care? He and the rest of those who choose to spend more time with family shouldn't be refused a government program. I wouldn't think of it as taking advantage of those who work an average of 45 hours per week. The self-sufficent society will, most likely, be the minority for quite some time... so why not...go for it!

Joe_30
9/27/2007 6:55:48 PM
I read with interest your October/November, 2007 issue cover story, 75 Ways to Live on Less and Love It. The article’s title got my attention as I believe we could all do a better job of living on less and ultimately, living within our means. Although Mr. Idlebrook presented many good, common sense ideas to enjoy life, while spending and consuming less, I took exception with two of his ideas. Suggestion number 46 recommends campaigning for a national health care system. Mr. Idlebrook proudly proclaims that his 2005 family’s income was a little over $4300, with 2004 income being half of that. For someone paying minimal to no federal income taxes, I find it outrageous that he expects U.S. taxpayers to fund his family’s healthcare, while he does his best to minimize his income and, therefore pay minimal to zero income taxes. Suggestion number 75 recommends swallowing your pride and accepting your family’s help every now and then. I have to assume that Mr. Idlebrook means financial help. I find this suggestion equally outrageous. In my opinion, taking money from your family, while you consciously choose to earn minimal income is a form of “freeloading”. We should all be striving to live simpler, more wholesome lives. But, our goal should be to achieve this lifestyle independently, not by way of handouts from our fellow taxpayers and families. I found it ironic that this story was under the section titled “self sufficiency". Mr. Idlebrook should “regurgitate” his pride and enjoy life more while spending and consuming less, proudly, independently, and by way of SELF sufficiency.

Scott_38
9/27/2007 10:54:57 AM
This article does have a few good ideas, but I have a major problem with a person who is willing to brag about getting by on 4300 dollars, especially a parent. I guess when your family needs medical or dental care, you depend on the people who are willing to work more than 20 hours a week and pay taxes to make up for your laziness and inadequicies. What kind work ethic are you teaching your daughter? I'm guessing you become adept at being a paristic scrounge when you are too lazy to actually support your family yourself. I very much enjoy this magazine, but I think they should screen their contributors a little more closely.

Suzanne_10
9/25/2007 9:08:07 PM
Most of your suggestions are sound but some take a mite of further consideration. Take college. My daughter's tuition at Truman State in Kirksville, Mo. was less than it would have been at Illinios State at Normal. It also had a highter academic rating. And don't overlook dumpster diving. It can be a source of great entertainment as well as a great source of food and stuff. Retailers through away the darndest things!

ajdetc
9/25/2007 10:38:25 AM
Very interesting article but how does 46. Campaign for a national health care system! fit with a self sufficient life style? It definitely does not fit with efficiency. The government never makes anything more efficient. .








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