Thursday, June 2, 2011

Living Frugally (and Simply) Throughout The Season

Previously, I’ve written about how I have found spring to be an extremely frugal season. That’s still true. However the truth is, that to be truly frugal (and to enjoy every season), one needs to live with, and enjoy each season and its own offerings. I’ve especially found this true as I work to be more frugal (I hate the word extreme), and to bring a little bit of simplicity and minimalism to my life.

There is an old saying about being able to have everything you want, just not at the same time. Living and partaking of the seasons is a great example. Generally when folks talk about taking advantage of the seasons to save money, they are talking about eating and cooking. Obviously that’s a large portion of our disposable budget and is generally good advice. But that’s just one aspect of using your location and the seasonal aspect to control the budget, and simplify life in general.

In my previous life, I spent seven years in Germany. Germans (and I suspect many Europeans) have a greater appreciation of the “now” than we do (for the most part) in my experience. Some of this I’m sure is economic, some has to do with environmental issues that we haven’t necessarily faced and some of it has to do with more people in a smaller space, and overall smaller homes. The end result is that when raspberry season arrives, every Gasthaus and restaurant will have menus based on the berries, as well as warm raspberries on ice cream for dessert. The menu may vary from restaurant to restaurant, but the ingredients will be similar. The same with Spargel (white asparagus). No matter what you order, asparagus will be the vegetable of choice with your meal. When it’s advent, there is no limit to the number of Christmas Markets one may visit, how many spiced wines one may drink or how many Christmas songs one may hear. However, Christmas is only for four weeks and after the day after Christmas, it’s on to another time, another season. To celebrate Christmas before the beginning of Advent would be blasphemy.

I live in Texas. While I cannot realistically open my windows and turn on my fans during the summer, there are other things that I can do. I deliberately dress like it is summer. This means casual clothing as well as extremely cool clothing. Everything else bars a sweater or two are put away. I keep the air as low as possible and try to spend a certain portion of my day outside. When I cook, I take advantage of outdoor cooking and salad opportunities as much as possible (both to keep the house cool and to save money). My shopping, be it at a store, grocery store or yard sale, consists of those things that will naturally be low cost or on sale. In the food department, this means I eat a lot of grilled and barbecued food and salads. My crockpot and rice cooker are left for other times. When I need culture or entertainment, I take advantage of what is free and available, first. Right now this means, art fairs, outdoor concerts, and Fourth of July celebrations. It also means exploring the bluebonnets and lavender, and taking a short drive to a free beach or lake.

In October, things will have changed. I’ll have kissed the raspberries, watermelons and blueberries good bye until next year. I’ll welcome pumpkins and my slow cooker with open arms. My entertainment choices will be fall dinners, pumpkin patches and visit the leaves. Summer clothes will (for the most part) be put away, and even in Texas it will be time to bring out sweaters and sweats. I’ll start reserving films at the library for those dark evenings and out will come popcorn and hot chocolate.

By allowing myself to appreciate and take advantage of what is available to me hear and how, I manage to both cut spending and simplify my life overall. Try it, you’ll like it!


  1. since trying to be frugal the past couple of years and eat healthier I've noticed I'm going with the seaons at least as far as produce goes. I know I crave salads more in the hotter months and soups/stews more in the winter but can't say my cooking is any different - at least not yet. Most of my cooking is done on the stovetop, microwave, or toaster oven. Since I learned to use my grill Memorial Day( a little dinky one that's good for me!) I plan to do more corn on the cob as I find it on sale and veggies and meat that's on sale. The crockpot I use mostly for chili and taco soup and a mexican chicken dish but that's almost always when I'm on my night shift rotation and that will probably continue through the summer months though not as much.
    I've never done much with clothing but live mostly in tshirts and jeans for work and I've worn shorts around the house in December and January so can't really pack anything away - plus there's nowhere to pack it!

    I do get tired of retail rushing the seasons though - I'd like to enjoy Thanksgiving then Christmas and not see it out 2 months before.


  2. I love reading your posts Barb. I often feel a renewed sense of needing to be more frugal after reading one... lol, though reading thru posts at FL does that to me too frequently.

  3. Inspiring. You've got it down pat! Thank you for your posts.

  4. Gayle-thanks for your thoughts. Believe me, I make as many non frugal mistakes as the next gal if not more (among them semi supporting a college student on my pension. For what it's worth, I am where I am because I spent like a drunken and depressed sailor after my husband's death before I got here.

  5. Morrison, see my post to Gaye-I am truly less than perfect, I just am naturally a glass is full kind of girl.........I accept what I can change and deal with the rest, lol,

  6. I love following your posts! You are a gifted writer and are right on point to my thinking and similar situations in a lot of ways. I was going to email you but didn't see an address. Anyway love to hear what you think about finding affordable housing...leaving Central IL is our plan...but where to go finding a home in the $50,000-$70,000 range. I'm only finding mfg homes or mobiles. Anyway I will continue to follow your quilts! I'm a crafter as well. CJ


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