Frugal Simple Living Tips

William Earwood shares his experience with frugal and simple living as a matter of survival more than choice.

| May/June 1974

Goat Eating Bark

If you run out of hay and money during the winter, goats can be fed tree bark and small twigs.


My wife and I were married on September 16, 1946 (celebrated our silver anniversary a while back). We've had quite a few discussions of our experiences in this period of over 25 years . . . and when we read many of the letters that appear in MOTHER EARTH NEWS we're amazed by people who are giving up nice homes and good jobs to live a life of so-called simplicity.

We've been living the Simple Life ourselves for quite a time now, but only because we were forced into it by discrimination. Frugal and simple living was more s matter of survival than a choice we made. Here's the story: In 1948 we had one child and an apartment in Columbus, Ohio where I was then working. When my wife became pregnant the second time we were asked to move, and the only place we could find was in a little town about 50 miles from the city . . . so I commuted.

Then that woman got pregnant again, and our benevolent landlord requested that we get the hell out before the child was born. We saved every penny we could, borrowed the rest and made a down payment on a run-down farm only 55 miles from my job. OK, so I roomed in Columbus and went home on weekends.

Probably due to the week-long separations and the happy reunions that followed, my dearly beloved was soon expecting once more. This time I quit my city job and found work (at slave-labor wages) in the little town near our farm . . . because in her condition my wife couldn't possibly take care of three children and bring in the coal and start fires. That, my friends, was only the beginning. We wound up with eight youngsters. Living simply with children, especially several children, is a challenge.

Now we come to the Simple Life bit. About a year after I started my new job I was laid off in what was termed at the time "Eisenhower's economic readjustment program". My unemployment compensation was $30.00 a week, and our living expenses $40.00. This discrepancy meant that some bill collector was going to have to use a little pressure to get his money. First the phone went, then the car, then the unemployment compensation, then the electricity, then some of the furniture. Lo and behold, we found ourselves with all the conditions that today would be considered requirements for living the Simple Life. At the time, though, we were under the impression that we were flat busted.

I won't bother you with the humiliations of that experience, though there were quite a few . . . usually from relatives, and from people we had at one time thought were our friends. Hard times, I'll admit, do separate the true from the false. They also teach you a great deal about scrounging. Here are a few tips for frugal and simple living:

dairy goat


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