The Frugal Catholic: “What IS Frugality Anyway?” by M.W.King M.Ed.–Jan 2019

Last year, I turned 70, had my spine fused, and moved into a new multi-generational home. But the year’s biggest jolt was learning that some folks have never heard of the word “FRUGAL.” Yes, as I was walking the Platt River Trail in CO, I ran into two such adults. One lady in her sixties said, “Can you explain that term? I’ve never heard of it.” Another younger woman said, “Frugality? Is that some kind of disease?” So for my many readers in 2019, it is time to go back to the basics with some help from my frugal friends.

FRUGALITY DEFINED

As a writer, I LOVE words. So I looked up the term. The dictionary defines frugality as: The quality of being frugal, or prudent in living; the lack of wastefulness; careful with money, penny wise, or thrifty.


Georgia P., my neighbor in Washington, who is wonderfully frugal, described it thus: “To me frugality means living within your current means, not your imagined future means or what you believe you deserve. Borrow very carefully!  Delay luxuries in order to save. Choose high quality in small amounts over large amounts of cheap, poor quality. Control the ‘latte factor’ [Dave Ramsey]. Buy bulk–don’t pay retail. Do it yourself if you have the skills and are able. Ignore what the media says we should look like, how we should dress, especially what’s in fashion today. Stick with classic, not trendy. In the kitchen, stick with ingredients, not prepared food. Again, higher quality at lower cost.”

Margaret R., a friend of fifty-eight years from West Virginia, stated: “For me, frugality means spending our money and resources wisely with careful consideration of the needs of the past, present, and future. Even though I am financially sound, I have kept the habits of bargain hunting, cutting out unnecessary items, always paying credit card expenses in full each month, avoiding always needing to get the latest style, using the library, and fixing things myself rather than buying new.” Margaret added, “I have observed frugality in my parents, neighbors, and friends, and its appearance can be found in a wide range of age groups. Sometimes frugality appears to be stingy and other times generous. I learned most of what I know from my own experience on a limited budget as a single parent raising two daughters and working full time. Frugality allowed me to send them to college.”

And The Frugal Catholic’s best definition of FRUGALITY is: “SAVE IT HERE: STASH IT THERE.”

WHAT IS NOT FRUGAL?

Well, of course, this “save it here: stash it there” mentality is profitable for those who like to hoard ketchup packages that come with fast food meals, but what about taking the whole ketchup bottle off the restaurant table or grabbing fist fulls of raw sugar packs at Starbucks? Doesn’t that translate into “frugality”? No actually that is termed “stealing.” That is not “frugality,” for as Leslie states, “Frugality should never be confused with stinginess or lack of generosity. Leslie reminded me of a neighbor who experienced NON-Frugal. Stan and Susan (name changed) refinanced their house to a fixed rate mortgage–smart move– but also increased the mortgage to have cash for the kitchen extension–bad move. They over paid for the remodel because Stan, who worked with contracts all the time, had a “GOOD FEELING” about a contractor and failed to do any price comparisons. So Stan and Susan overpaid for the remodel by about $100,000 because the “good feeling contractor” he chose was wasn’t reputable. In addition, Stan revealed to another neighbor that he (unknown to Susan) had enough money in stock options to pay cash for the overpriced remodel but chose not only to NOT pay in cash but hid this fact from Susan. Susan stated, “Had I been informed I would have pushed very hard to use available funds rather than borrow. We could have had the house paid off more than once by now, and we would be looking at at least double the cash out.” Non-frugal was in failing to give complete information and decision making to his partner Susan and keeping that information to himself.

Thou Shall Not Steal

WHAT ABOUT GIVING?

So often when one thinks about penny pinching to grow rich, the last thought is about giving one’s money away. Yet the two of them flow together. Margaret states: “I believe tithing helps set the state for frugality. Giving the tithe first, set me free to be frugal. Being frugal and tithing both involve setting priorities and require self discipline. Being able to set spending limits required with frugality, allows tithing to be a doable option. Yes, they (frugality and tithing) are related but not intertwined. Tithing is centered on giving where frugality is focused inward toward self.” Leslie also added: “I don’t tithe per se; but in my paid working life I gave a great deal of professional time without pay, and have spent a huge part of my adult life caring for my parents, sometimes at high personal cost in money and time. I have opened my home to numerous friends and family members in need, and have rescued many animals in need. Being frugal in some areas allows for the generosity in others.”

FINAL FRUGAL THOUGHTS

One of the more interesting articles I studied was about rich frugal billionaires. https://www.businessinsider.com/worlds-richest-and-most-frugal-billionaires-2016-1#warren-buffett-chairman-and-ceo-of-berkshire- Warren Buffet ($60.7 billion) stated, “My life couldn’t be happier. In fact, it’d be worse if I had six or eight houses. So I have everything I need to have, and I don’t need any more because it doesn’t make a difference after a point.” Charlie Ergen ($14.5 billion and Dish Network Chairman) packs his lunch of a sandwich and Gatorade before work every day and used to share hotel rooms with colleagues, until recently. He attributes his frugal habits to his mother who grew up during the depression. And Carlos Slim Helu’ (the richest man in Mexico) stated “What you have to do is make it [money] grow, reinvest to make it bigger, or diversify into other areas. Maintain austerity in prosperous times (in times when the cow is fat with milk).”

Finally the Bible doesn’t address frugality, but it certainly addresses “the love of money.” It says in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” Yes frugality is an internal decision to stretch what you have; whereas, loving money is like making an idol to worship. And as Margaret wisely noted, frugality must come from within and from within is it achieved. Whether you think you can be frugal or you know you can’t–both are right. The decision is up to you, but frugality will change your life forever. It is a wonderfully radical decision.

Frugality can radically change your finances and life.


The Frugal Catholic: “Rid Yourself of Buy-Ite-Us” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–November 2018

How Do You Know if You Have BUY-ITE-US?

In 2017, the flu got a lot of people, myself and my husband included. It hit hard with little warning.  And we weren’t alone: a lot of friends got it, and some ended up in the hospital.  The problem with the flu is that  the vaccine doesn’t always cover what is actually out there.  BUY-ITE-US (the strong desire to purchase) is likewise indiscriminate on whom it strikes, for it can hit all ages.  Fortunately, unlike the flu however, a cure exists from this malady, and YOU are the only one who can completely remedy it with three  simple cures.

                             What Exactly is BUY-ITE-US?

BUY-ITE-US could best be defined as “a strong desire to buy—anything.”  This malady usually hits when you don’t have any money at the end of the month or even when you do at the beginning; and if you use Amazon Prime, it can strike late in the evening when you’ve had too much wine to drink.  It is a dangerous disorder that can wreck your credit ratings, divide a happy marriage, and generally leave you wondering what hit. 

This might be a clue to your challenge!

BUY-ITE-US can wreak havoc if one can’t control it, and it is particularly challenging around Christmas time. 


                                What Can BUY-ITE-US Do to You?

As stated this malady inflicts destruction on your life.  We want happiness, and somehow we think that shopping therapy will help.  But it doesn’t because our desire to feel better doesn’t get better.  We just end up with more stuff and no place to put it.  Only God can give us that feeling of peace and contentment if we but let Him.  The other main problem with this impulse buying is that everything should have a place in our homes, and if there is no space or place then you don’t need everything.  So what is the best way to deal with our wants versus our needs?

                                 How Can I Cure BUY-ITE-US?

                           Three cures exist for this condition. 

The first major cure is TITHING.  Now if you haven’t tithed before, here is what it looks like.  You take 10% of your incoming funds and give that percent to your church or a mission which you feel important.  That is God’s leading.  As The Frugal Catholic said last month, “Give to God His 10% due and 90% blessed will He return to you.  Truthfully, by giving away that first 10%, something happens in your brain.  You become more content with what you have and the desire to acquire is diminished.  Also by tithing, everything seems to last longer.  It is the same concept as when Elijah asked the widow for food in  1 Kings 17:7.  What she had, although very little, lasted well over many days.  Tithing is supernatural, but if you feel leery about tithing 10%, then begin with 5%, or wherever you can.  You will watch the Lord provide in amazing ways.

                     The Widow of Zarephath

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” 11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

The second major cure is to take stock of what you have when BUY-ITE-US hits.  For example, although I was really into used clothing, my closet now holds about one-fourth of what it did.   Everything that didn’t feel just right was let go and slowly the preferred brand names were purchased.  In taking stock too, look at your food and arrange cans or products so you can read them.  Often we purchase more of something because we aren’t taking stock of what we have.

The third major cure sounds easy but it’s not.  Number three is to stay out of stores.  Yes, that includes ALL stores, on line and the kind you walk into.  Just remember “SOS”  or “Stay Out of Stores.”  Now if staying out of stores is too hard, you can always go to your Amazon wish list and go shopping that way.  99% of the time that “Wish List” shopping helps remove the ITCH of Buy-ite-usJust don’t push the “buy now” button.  Not wise when no monies.

                    What Will My Life Look Like Without BUY-ITE-US?

When you mentally get control of your spending by tithing, taking stock of what you have, and staying out of stores (SOS),  you will most likely get better at living within your means through budgeting.  In the 38 years of marriage, the more closely we have tithed, the easier and more satisfying budgeting became.   A budget is just like a train track; it is a path to run on.   I also find that creating that  Amazon wish list and NOT buying is very satisfying.  So give these tricks a try–tithing,  budgeting, and staying out of stores.   The beauty of living this life as a Catholic Christian is that we are not in charge; God is.  The closer we come to living His will, the happier our lives become.

The Frugal Catholic: Wild Thoughts for October 2018 by Martha Wild King M.Ed.

Give to God His 10% DUE and 90% BLESSED will He return to you.  TFC

10% DUE = 90% BLESSED

I’m not the sharpest rubber band in the tack box, but I’m not the dullest tack in the rubber band package either.     TFC

Proverbs 1:7–The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

You are only as beautiful as you make others feel.  TFC

Proverbs 31   “Charm is deceitful  and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

The world is too perfect for there not to be a God.                                      William Shen

We are always in His hands even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Nothing worthwhile is beyond saving.  It just takes a little courage.    Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Deuteronomy 31: 8  It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Frugal Catholic: “Who’s in Your Gold Bucket?” by Oryssia Earhart, guest writer–September 2018

Dear Readers,

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a convenient place to deposit prayer requests?   Well, after much  research, I’ve  found that prayer depository, and it’s  called Your Gold Bucket, Golden Box,  or  whatever you wish to call it.  The best part, however, is  it’s free, requires no space, and is only visible to God.   This idea comes from my friend Oryssia Earhart, who is a fiction writer and substitute teacher in the Archdiocese of Seattle.  Oryssia, who graduated Magna Cum Laude with her  Masters degree in Theology from Augustine Institute,  shared this valuable concept; and  I believe you will find her idea complete and easy to use.

Blessings,

Martha

martha@thefrugalcatholic.com

___________________________________

 

1. How did you come up with the mental image of a golden bucket holding your prayers? 

Answer: I was having problems trying to remember all the names people gave me to pray for others, themselves, etc.   My poor mind couldn’t hold it all in.      Then I was watching TV and someone was talking about things to put into your bucket list to do before you die.   Suddenly,  it hit me— I don’t need that kind of bucket list.  Instead, I needed a mental gold bucket for prayers.  So I asked God to please remember everyone who had asked me to pray for them, plus the holy souls in purgatory who need our prayers, and to put their names into that container.   Now every time someone asks me to pray for them, I mentally write their name on a beautiful piece of paper and watch it float into the bucket.   Every day, when I say the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet,  I ask God to apply both to everyone in my Gold Bucket.    And in this way, when someone asks me to pray for them, I mentally put them into my bucket, and they’re good for a rosary and chaplet.   Now my poor brain is happy!

 2. Do you know if any of your prayers have been answered?

Answer: I don’t know and I don’t ask.   I leave that to God.   My job, as I see it, is to continue to pray– to be faithful to all who are in the bucket.   Even if a prayer has been answered, there will probably be more problems that the person has to deal with and will need more prayers.  You know what’s interesting?   The bucket, holding all those souls, including those in purgatory, has never gotten filled.   Amazing.

3.  Greatest advantage?

Answer: I let God do the remembering.   All I do is add another name. He knows who’s in the bucket, and he knows that my prayers are for all of them.   Incredible freedom.

4. Advice?

Answer: Use my idea, or come up with your own.   Maybe others who have better memories than I don’t need a Gold Bucket for prayers, but I’ve found that I don’t stress anymore if I forget to pray for someone.   I let God take care of a lot in my life,  and  I know He’ll give me the strength and  ideas on how to fix my challenges.  It is a relief to put my whole life and trust  into His hands and not let little things bother me.   I love doing God’s will instead of mine.

One thing I learned in my graduate program, from Augustine Institute,  is that we come from God, and we have to get back to Him if we are to have perfect happiness.  God gave us lots of tools to help us return–the Church, Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, and prayer.  The Father wants us to live our lives with Christ’s love and joy and do  The Father’s Will.

I love and live by Mother Teresa’s precept:

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered,
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

A final though which I find  to be very important is  “to learn how to get closer to God.” The best way I’ve found to draw nearer  is to do a  Holy Hour of Adoration every week.   Jesus doesn’t ask much of us, but He wants to give us His divine life.   Still we have to learn how to be friends with Him,  love Him, and express that love.   So spending time with Him for one hour a week in Adoration is not asking too much, is it?   Wouldn’t you do that for someone you loved?   I want to go to Heaven for that is my real home.   And right now, I am trying to do whatever I can to get there  because I want to be with God.  Nothing else matters.

The Frugal Catholic: “What’s Your New Straight?”–by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–July 2018

Some folks are born straight:  others are crooked to the core.  I am one of the latter.  Case in point.  When I was young, I asked God for curves;  I just didn’t specify where.  He gave me lovely curves at age 18– in my spine from Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS).  The moral to the story is to PRAY SPECIFICALLY, whether you’re straight  or not.  Well I am straighter now, (two and one-half inches taller)  and without pain because of complex spine surgery in Seattle  this April  by  Rajiv Sethi, MD and Jean-Christophe Leveque, MD at Virginia Mason.   In my 70 years, this has been my greatest physical test,  yet my most tender time of growth with my heavenly Father.  Life throws us curves, but God is always beside us  to make our paths straight.

So what “CURVES” are you struggling with —weight loss,  exercise, a new baby, a new move, a new job. . .  ?    We have an Elder Brother who knows firsthand how hard life is, and He imparts  the strength for that straight.  As it says in Matthew 3:3, “This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”  By hanging on to Jesus in all of our challenges, we can form better pathways.

An example of a 60 degree curve which mine was.

                                           What’s Your Curve?

None of us are without challenges; we are all carrying around some curve.   Christ, however, came to set us on a straight path to holiness– His joy. Nehemiah 8:10“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  And His joy is forged from forgiveness–of ourselves and others.     (“Father,  forgive them for they know not what they do”–as Christ said on the Cross.)  Correcting a CURVE is something like finding that joy through forgiveness.  It is hard work, it can be painful, and it feels  like it might do you under.  But, if you let it, that curve can be straightened out.  And the process could  help you become “the best version of yourself” as Catholic author and speaker Matthew Kelly says.  The interesting part is that with each new straight we acquire, God needs to rewire us.

A 50 percent curve corrected to 10 percent. Notice hardware now screwed into the spine.

                                                    God’s Rewiring

If our paths are crooked then God must reboot.  For me it meant learning to stand  and walk again without listing to the left, the direction my body remembered.   Fortunately I don’t have to think about it because  those 25 screws and three rods down my spine have  begun to rewire my brain.  My mind has also learned   that my spine isn’t  where it was; it has been reconfigured into a more normal shape and I am no longer feeling deformed or pain like  I did for 50 years.  It has taken three months  of work (like learning to walk again 🙂  but  each day, God has been lovingly reprogramming my mind.

                                           My Student’s New Straight

One of my former students, Mike,  shared his desire for a new straight by losing weight.  He stated, “It would help me not to cheat in little ways if I imagined a steel trap on my mouth that is locked shut and only unlocks at meal time in the presence of small portions of healthy food.”  That is a great “new straight” visualization  tool which God can employ.    Remember, my brain kept wanting to lean to my left,  but my new straight won’t allow me : I am locked in  with permanent screws, bolts, and rods.  So find a visual image or some kind of a mental tool  which can help you focus on  your desires.

                               My Homeless Friend’s New Straight

My  friend, Elizabeth,  has been living out of her truck for months, yet she too is learning a new straight.   She didn’t set out to be homeless.  She lost her job and has been using community and  faith resources to keep alive. Today she knocked on my front door with good news, “I got a job mowing the golf course.  Part time 20 hours a week for $13 an hour.”  As a former architect, that job is below her goals, but it is work.  Today in morning Mass she cried to  God to show her His love.  He gave her a job:  Her new straight.

What has she learned from this journey?  She has learned gratitude, lack of envy, and to trust in God no matter what huge new straights He has shaped.

                                                          The Big Plow

Sometimes when we are plowing through life, we aren’t paying attention.  When God gave me children, He imparted a desire to teach them all at home;  so I  home-schooled all five of them for a total of twenty-two years.  In that journey to educate my offspring, I came across a wonderful scripture that kept me going.  It states,  Luke 9:62  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”   Know why?  Well if you had a plow and an ox  in front of you and turned  to  gaze  at your work accomplished, what would the plowed rows ahead  look like?  That’s right.  BIG CURVES.  Yes, if I had lusted for an easier way than to home school, my eyes would have been on my goal, not God’s goal for me.    So no matter what STRAIGHT you might desire or need,  take His hand on this marvelous journey,  keep your eyes on His plow,  and have faith in His plan for His love will get you through.


The Frugal Catholic: “Wild Thoughts for April” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–April 2018

Wild Thoughts #1

You will spend 12-18% more when you use a credit card versus cash according to a Dun and Bradstreet study.  In other studies, I have read as high as 34%.  So cut your spending by using cash.  Give it a try and watch what happens because credit cards encourage impulse buying; whereas, if you have to fork over cash there is a sensation of loss.  Credit cards seem like friction free spending, yet 60% of credit card users can’t pay off what they owe each month so consider cash and watch how much better you manage your money.

 

Wild Thoughts #2

“The shortest distance between two points is to DO God’s Will.”

The Frugal Catholic: “Your Mother Loves You” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–March 2018

When my mother died four years ago, her final words to me were, “Your arms are too fat, and remember the poor.” Those words described our kinship.  Our relationship wasn’t what I wanted, but it was the one God gave me;  and it was the only one Mom knew how to give, for we can only give what we have received.  Mom’s words, however unkind they seemed at the time, did inspire me to lose weight and keep it off and to begin selling my dishcloths to purchase farm animals for the poor through Catholic Relief Services.   Her words accomplished their mission.

Now maybe your relationship with your mother is or was better than mine, or perhaps it’s worse.  After all, the only person who could chose His mom was Jesus.  And better yet, He gave  His Beloved Mother to us when he was being crucified on the cross which now means that we too  have the best Mom possible.

So how is your relationship with Your Blessed Mother this Easter season?  She wants to show you.

I first learned of this lovely tradition from Kimberly Hahn, mother of six and wife of Dr. Scott Hahn, a well-known Catholic author and speaker.  She told her children that whenever they find a PENNY, it is her way and Mary’s way of saying, “Your mother loves you.”

Therefore when you are down, look down, and most often you will find a penny on the sidewalk or street.  Ask Mary to show her concern, and some shiny copper will appear letting you know.  Feel alone or confused?  Well that small coin will show you aren’t.

Hence the next time you find that one-cent piece, pick it up and thank God for your Mom—your Blessed Mother, your biological mother, or your adoptive one. Then if you think about it, drop that penny into the collection for the poor:  She dearly loves them too.

The Frugal Catholic: “Make Money by Wearing It Out” by Kaveri Marathe February 2018

Dear The Frugal Catholic readers:  For the past four months my husband and I have temporarily  downsized from a big house to a tiny home of 325 square feet.  The reason is we purchased, sight unseen, a real fixer upper in the middle of Washington DC.  While renovating, I had the pleasure of meeting a resident in our building, Kaveri Marathe–a lovely young woman with an amazing frugal-earth-changing vision.  Hopefully you will be inspired by what she is doing as much as I have been.  For furthur information on her organization, go to

http://www.texiles.com

  1.   TFC–  Kavari, my last four Frugal Catholic articles were about— make it do, do without, use it up, and wear it out.  As I have discovered, www.texiles.com does exactly that. Can you explain what www.texiles.com is and why and when  you started this company?
KM—Texiles is a startup clothing recycling service dedicated to eliminating clothing waste in the landfill. We offer customers a home pickup of used clothing and household linens and encourage them to include items in their pickup bag that they would otherwise throw in the trash, like garments with holes or stains, or underwear. 
 
Americans throw out 80 pounds of clothing every year on average, even though 95% of that content is recyclable. I started Texiles not only to prevent usable material from ending up in the trash but to educate consumers about the harmful impact of the fashion industry on the environment and factory workers and the role they play when they make purchasing decisions. 
 
I started the company in September of 2017 and we are currently offering pickups in the DC area, though we hope to both add a few drop-off points soon, as well as expand into neighboring Maryland and Virginia within the next year.

2. TFC Whom does it benefit?
KM—Our service benefits the environment by keeping clothing and textiles out of the trash. In the landfill, these materials can biodegrade slowly, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and leaching toxic chemicals that are found in modern dyes into the groundwater. It also helps the environment by reusing material instead of manufacturing that material from scratch. It requires over 700 gallons of water to grow enough cotton just to make one t-shirt! By recycling used cotton, that water is saved.
 
We also benefit society by donating some of the clothing and linens we receive to local charities, such as Dress for Success, a charity that helps economically disadvantaged women, Thrive, a homeless shelter, and the Humane Rescue Alliance, an animal shelter. 
 
Finally, we help our customers by offering them a convenient and responsible method for disposing of their clothing.

 

3. TFC— Are lice and bed bugs a problem?

KM—So far, not at all! (Keep your fingers crossed for me on that front.) I require that customers launder everything before putting it in the pickup bag, which has thus far prevented any infestations.

4.  TFC—In what ways has owning this company affected your style of living frugally and dressing frugally?
KM–-I’m glad you asked this because this has been one of the biggest benefits to me personally, so far. Once I became aware of the environmental cost of manufacturing new clothing, and the harmful labor conditions in the fashion industry, I decided to only shop secondhand, do clothing swaps, or wear hand-me-downs (I make an exception for underwear!) Initially, I thought this would be a sacrifice as, previously, I would often make shopping pitstops when I had free time. Quitting shopping, though, was actually quite liberating–it made me much more conscious of the underlying emotions that were triggering my shopping habit as well as the vast amount of clothing I already had. Most importantly, I no longer feel the urge to shop idly or that I’m somehow missing out by not shopping.

5.  TFC—What advice can you give to my readers regarding their purchasing recycled clothing from consignment stores or thrift shops?
KM—Thrifting is so much fun! I think the best part about shopping secondhand is the thrill of the hunt. There’s no better feeling than finding a truly unique garment for an amazing price–it’s much more satisfying than shopping something new, even on sale. 
 
Some people worry about quality or cleanliness of items at thrift stores so my advice is always to take it home and wash it right away. I have some tips on my website for getting out stains and musty smells too. (https://www.texiles.com/blog/2017/11/7/dont-toss-that-tee-clothing-upkeep-and-repair-tips-to-help-you-keep-your-clothes-longer)

6.  TFC—How could The Frugal Catholic readers do something similar to help their environment?
KM—I think following the classic Reduce, Reuse, Recycle model is the best thing you can do when it comes to clothing. 1. Reduce your consumption. Think carefully before shopping for something new and see if you can borrow something or get by without it. There’s a great company called Rent the Runway I recommend trying that rents out fancy party dresses. 2. Reuse what you already own, i.e. shop your closet! Most people typically only wear 20% of the clothes in their closet regularly, so before heading out to the stores, head to the back of your closet. 3. Recycle what you don’t want, don’t trash it. Even if Texiles isn’t yet in your city, take your old clothing to a Goodwill or other charity that accepts clothing donations. Many Goodwill locations have recycling partners, so you can include your “unwearables” (clothing with holes, stains, etc.) in your donation.
 
Finally, educate your friends and family! Most people don’t know that 95% of clothing material can be recycled or that many charities will accept unwearable garments.

The Frugal Catholic: “And Wear It Out” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–December 2017

The whole concept of wearing something out sounds awful. Who wants to use something so long that it eventually gets holes and cracks and can no longer endure repair? Nevertheless, this thought is the last of our four tenets of that nearly 100 year old Depression  era motto.  MAKE IT DO; DO WITHOUT; USE IT UP, and WEAR IT OUT!!!  And “wearing it out” involves a whole lot more than than just saying goodbye.

        So Let’s Look at WEAR IT OUT and How to Do Just That

In America, most live with far more than needed. In her book, The Family Sabbatical, author Elisa Benick and her family of four lived for 18 months in a Mexican village to experience the culture of a completely pedestrian lifestyle. She said, “The simpler you can live, the more comfortable you’ll be anywhere you go. Keep in mind that the rest of the world doesn’t typically share the American obsession with stuff. People make do with much less.” Benick added, “We do, at times, wish we had more money so we could travel and take advantage of the concerts and restaurants this city offers in abundance. But even more often I think about how lovely it is to boil life down to this tiny box of money, thoughts, activities, and belongings. I suppose that’s actually the most Mexican of anything we’re doing. I feel like we’re slowly reducing our sense of entitlement and acquisition–those American habits of assessing each situation based on what there is to take, buy, or own.” Indeed when we choose to live frugally, wearing it out is much easier, for most of the world does likewise.

So instead of taking a look at how to wear it out (which is a no-brainer), let’s consider The Frugal Catholic’s:

                      5 Reasons Why We Don’t Wear It Out

1.   We Just Want Something New–Newness is fun even if the newness comes from a previously owned item. Why? Well your new item shines with no defects. It smells good. The article brings the possibility of lots of enjoyment. It is just like Christmas, but you, the purchaser have control over your present; and yes, if you want, you can celebrate Christmas by yourself all year round! New makes you feel happy, and who doesn’t want happiness. (And those people in those ads–they sure look happy 🙂

2.   We Get Addicted to Shopping–According to www.healthline.com , “Shopping addiction also known as compulsive buying disorder, or compulsive shopping, affects about 18 million adults in the United States.  It’s described as the compulsion to spend money, regardless of need or financial means. Little is known about this addiction.” They do know, however, that someone with this challenge gets the same rush or high from purchases as someone on drugs, and the brain will try to recreate that rush again and again. If you know of someone in credit card debt, check www.consumer.ftc.gov for “Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself.”

3.   We Are Sucked in by Advertising–When I was a penny-pinching  High School English teacher in Vermont, I was asked to do an ad for skim milk for Palmers Dairy. So for $25 in 1974, I scammed a lot of people with my white milk mustache which later was picked up in print by a lot of famous folk. I was completely allergic to milk, but the $25 looked like a worthwhile exchange. Thus for about three years, my milk ad played on local TV, and I never drank milk again. Was I deceptive? Of course, but thus is the nature of advertising.

4.  We are Trying to Impress Others–“Look at what I have that’s new? See you aren’t the only one who can afford it, and I deserve it as much as you!” ( unspoken thoughts)

5.  We Don’t Explore What We Already Own–Case in point. I sent my husband out to buy mayonnaise today which I had worn out–zero left in jar. What I failed to do was open my cabinet and spot the brand new jar overhead. Or maybe I want a new winter hat because my present one is too airy and lets the wind blow through. Could I wear a polka dot bandana under my present chapeau and achieve the same warmth as a new hat? Of course. I just need to explore what I already possess and figure out multiple uses.

              What To Do With Things That Are Worn Out?

When something is worn out, it is time to ask yourself a hard question: Is it worth repairing? Now if the answer is yes, then it’s repair time.

Do you own a clothes mending kit with needles, buttons, and thread? If not make one.  (Recipe included below.).  Hand mending is extremely satisfying. Before the sewing machine was invented, it used to take about 14 hours to make an article of clothing by hand, and most people only had a few articles of clothing, and maybe a new shirt or two each year. Now landfills are being swamped with cast off garments which could be given new life with a bit of the owner’s time.

If you need repair of other merchandise, check the owner’s manuals or better yet look on line for how to repair just about anything. My husband has now renovated two homes which were in an awful state of disrepair by solely researching on the Internet.

Jesus was a master in wearing it out and living lean. Remember when He sent his disciples out to minister? He told them to take nothing but what they were wearing. And how do you wear out five loaves of bread and two fish? You feed five to seven thousand people as He did and still have leftovers. (Matthew 10 and 14.)
And we know as Saint Paul stated in Philippians 4:9, “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God will meet our needs, period. The question is, will you see your needs being met with thankfulness or disdain for the lack of what YOU wanted  instead? If you let God change your heart about “wearing it out,” you’ll never lack.
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                                 Innards of a Good Mending Box

*buttons *safety pins *small scissors *seam gage *sew on snaps or hooks
*thimble *thread–black, white, grey *needles *needle threader *seam ripper
*straight pins for hemming

 

The Frugal Catholic: “Use it Up” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–November 2017

With today’s constant barrage of advertisements from the  Internet, the concept of USE IT UP seems quite  outdated.  Why should I focus on using up all of that creepy shampoo I got on sale versus purchasing a new bottle of one the Interned has convinced me I prefer?  Because when we do USE IT UP, we save dollars in two ways–from the past and for the future, and by using it up, we teach our families and community a valuable lesson in living.

 

Saving from the Past

One goal about choosing to  live frugally is that it helps cut down on impulse buying.  Most everyone likes to shop (I call that “a case of BUYITIS– BUY–ITE–US”), but sometimes we don’t give quality/quantity enough thought.  Then we end up with purchases where we might leave the tags on because we bought the article hastily and don’t really love it.  When we think about saving from the past, we need to give ourselves credit.  “I bought this curiously cheap shampoo–or whatever–because it was all I could afford at the time.  I need to not spend any more, and just use it up.”

Saving for the Future

So by using up our purchases from the past, we obviously don’t spend money which gives us more for the future. But how does one USE IT UP well when you feel like throwing it away?

The One Use It Up Rule

To use up whatever you need to, simply DON’T BE  AFRAID.  Yes, don’t be afraid to try new combinations of food, fashion, household, and whatever else needs using.  Got some stuff in the refrigerator which begs usage?  Then fear not when putting  that chutney or fancy mustard into your tuna sandwich.  Combine those shoes with a different outfit.  Put the polka dot blouse with the polka dot skirt and see what happens.  Wear that Christmas tie  NOT at Christmas.  Don’t fear when putting together; just have fun.

It is right and good to minimalize and have less.  Nevertheless, in the area of clothes, don’t  become anexoric  about having too few clothes either.  Use up what you have and slowly decrease your closet size.

Our Heavenly Father is The Master in using it up.  If you’ve ever hiked,  you might have noticed a “nurse log.”  That  is a classic example of using it up where one thing has several purposes.  The old, fallen log becomes a fertile ground for new trees to grow–thus the “nurse log.”  And we too should look for multiple uses from our possessions.

For example, by pondering  multiple usage, I have been able to make my knitted dishcloth ( or any heavy rag) into the following thus using it up better:

  •      A cloth for cleaning dishes
  •      A cloth for drying dishes
  •      A placemat
  •      A hot pad
  •      A holder to wrap around hot handles from the stove
  •      A napkin in a napkin ring
  •      A cleaning rag for the bathroom  

Yes, go ahead and throughly use up what you have versus buying new. Find multiple uses and don’t be afraid to try new combinations.  God provides for His children in so many ways.  He is the Master of letting nothing go to waste, and we should think likewise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equals Living Under Your Means with Wise Fianancial Planning and Discovering the Joys of Good Stewardship