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.

  • Goat Eating Bark

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:

9/7/2017 10:55:18 AM

If someone thinks this article (which is meant to stimulate the brain, explore possibilities, and note some risks) is irrelevant, then I think those persons are probably seeking a perfect handout on how-tos. That is not what an independent life is about. Its about self-reliance and risks. A useful "homesteading for dummies" isnt exactly appropriate in all situations. Its about using ingenuity, because thats all you have when doing it for real.

jeffrey vasby
9/6/2017 12:41:04 PM

Served my Country in the Army, been around the world and all over the USA. Had big farms and small homesteads,homeschooling my first family when it wasn't accepted. Made big money working too much and have lost everything more than I care to remember. God has Blessed me through good and bad but Love and Compassion and living simple we all should teach and live. Sad that so many young people don't know how to take care of themselves or plant or raise anything. Grandma always said it's better to be prepared and nothing happens then not be prepared and something bad happens. Thanks and God Bless! Uncle Jeff!

9/6/2017 12:41:03 PM

I agree,we live to work instead of work to live. I've been on top and down to living in my van. Materialism and laziness have overun our society. Grid goes down,riots,looting,crime,because most people don't know how to take care of themselves or others. Our ancestors always kept, food, water and supplies put back for hard times. I do for my family because my Granny taught me to.When I lived in my van temporarily we made it a camping adventure. Our neighbours when the power goes out lose their mind. We turn on our solar lanterns and portable radio for news. We also have coolers and candles as back up to that. Preppers? Grandma always said it's better to be prepared and nothing happen than something bad happens and not be prepared. Thanks Granny I love you forever and will meet you with God.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me