A Busy and Frugal Analogy

by Katy on November 21, 2013 · 14 comments

I’ve kept myself extremely busy this week. Both with work, and also with a thousand piddly tasks and errands. Normally, I like to spread the busy-ness out, as I’m someone who needs some white space between my patterns. Instead I decided to do everything at once in order to get it all over with and earn some downtime.

Need an example? Here’s what I did yesterday:

  • Got both boys up and off to school. (They start at different times.)
  • Cleaned the kitchen.
  • Ordered my turkey from New Seasons Market.
  • Scanned and e-mailed a host family form that was due a few weeks ago.
  • Did two loads of laundry, one of which I hung on the clothesline.
  • Dropped two enormous bags of Costco dog food at my father’s house. (They don’t have a Costco membership, so we pick these up for his dog.)
  • Quickly stopped into his area Goodwill to search out any hidden Eames chairs. Left empty handed.
  • Stopped at the Nike Outlet to buy soccer socks for my younger son. (His club soccer league plays on a Nike field, and all other brands are forbidden. Of course, they were out of soccer socks.)
  • Stopped at the nearby Title Wave used library bookstore to scoop up any 10¢ Atomic Ranch magazines. I found one, as well as some vintage knitting booklets. (Total spent: 50¢. I will sell everything on eBay and in my Etsy store.
  • Went to the dentist for a scheduled cleaning.)
  • Picked up some over the counter medicine for my son at my hospital’s pharmacy. (Used my employee discount.)
  • Stopped at the pediatrician’s office to pick up a prescription for my son.
  • Returned a $8.29 file folder that I’d bought for my son. I found an unused one at my mother’s house, which she was happy to hand over.
  • Bought two big bags of groceries.
  • Brought groceries home and realized that I’d left the milks in the grocery cart.
  • Returned to the grocery store parking lot where the milks were miraculously still in the grocery cart.
  • Did not cry about the milk. Thought about it though.
  • Made dinner from scratch. (Shrimp and crab spring rolls.)
  • Picked my son up from Japanese tutoring, while also checking out some library cookbooks so my older son can learn to prepare meals before he’s off to college.

So yes, my day was busy.

I began to think about about how this style of extreme busy-ness is similar to frugality. With frugality you scrimp and save on the tiniest little thing so you later have the money for life’s important splurges. And with your hours in the day, you do as much as possible in a short period of time in order to later spend time on activities that bring you pleasure.

And today? I did spend the morning ticking items off my mental to-do list, but now I’m able to sit and write this blog, as well as meet up with a friend for coffee and writing talk.

Work now, play later. It works both for stuff you do and stuff you buy.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

PoppyEcho November 21, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I laughed at the cry over lost/spilled milk “joke” and then I Realised that actually, when you have just spend hours and days doing errands, going back again really does feel like the one more thing that might make you lose it.

I think I should develop, As you do for the blog, the habit of listing the all the little things I’ve accomplished, because If people ask me what I’ve done, I tend to answer “nothing” because I figure grocery shopping, etc doesn’t count. But it does count, and it counts the way I try to do it, frugally, and certainly without a car it counts as good earth citizenship. And then I might feel less demoralised, as I regularly do, by all the tedious, seemingly infinite things to be done.


Su Mama November 21, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Yes, there is much to be said for the “Did” list,” as well as for the “To Do” list. Each day presents us with multiple opportunies to feel that “nothing” got done. Some days are triumphs simply because everyone within our four walls ate well, and got to wear clean underwear. Other days, tons of things get done. Truth to tell, we don’t always dictate what kind of day lies ahead, and the notion of a “schedule” is sometimes a cruel joke we play on ourselves. Treading water can be progress. Ease up, aim for balance. Me, I try to list what I want to accomplish on a weekly, rather than daily, basis.


Kathleen November 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I like your phrase “treading water can be progress.”


That Other Jean November 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Thank you! A “What I Want to Accomplish Weekly” list would make my life so much easier, since I’m no good at all at daily “To Do” lists. There’s always an interruption, a rabbit trail, an emergency, or a better offer that blows a daily plan to bits. Looking at it by the week, though, I think I’d feel much better about what actually gets done.


SusieQ November 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

The weekly plan sounds good. I started to keep a monthly To Do list in my notebook and score things off as and when they’re done. It gives me an indication of what I’m procrastinating on when I see the same things being repeated several months in a row!
Life is very busy here as I was admitted for surgery on Monday and sent home unscathed an hour later due to a throat infection. So I’ve had a quiet week at work (where I was supposed to be off sick) and a busy week at home (channeling my frustrations into housework).
I also managed frugal as yesterday I found a solid wooden wardrobe and chest of drawers at a charity shop plus a nice leather recliner sofa and persuaded the lady to reduce the overall price by £30 ($45 US) which covered the cost of delivery. Today has been spent decluttering, cleaning, tidying, moving furniture, cleaning some more, detail vacuuming and steam cleaning in among the usual chores.


Amanda November 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Some days I make a mental “did” list for the productivity high I get from it. I am nine months pregnant tomorrow so these days things like shower and get dressed are making the list. 🙂


megyn November 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I definitely have times like this too. I like my productive days, but I like the time off after them even better.

I also wanted to let you know that all three of your posts from this week just showed up in my Blogger roll at the same time. I was thinking you hadn’t posted this week, but it was Blogger’s fault. Not sure if others are having issues, but wanted to make you aware 🙂


S November 22, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Realy I just want to know when I get to see the knitting books.


Robin November 23, 2013 at 6:19 am

A recommendation for your son – maybe he will like the Stone Soup blog (http://thestonesoup.com/blog/). I find that this gal can be a tiny bit overbearing at times, but there are TONS of great, cheap, super easy recipes (5 ingredients or less) and I basically learned to cook from this site only after I moved out for school. And best of all, it’s free! 😀


Linda Sevanick November 23, 2013 at 9:03 am

Here is something very well worth reading and Katy, I think you could have written it! The author reflects your sentiments.

Thank you for all you do to speak up and out, clearly and in an entertaining way, to educate others.


J.P. Choquette November 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I can so relate. I’ve considered writing a “did” list as some others commented but it feels too overwhelming. Sometimes too, I think that living more frugally/environmentally responsible takes more time/effort, at least in certain areas. Kudos to you for plowing through your list so you could make time for what mattered.

BTW, I’ve recently talked my family into reserving one rest day a week–no screen stuff, no commitments, just spending time together, with extended family, out in nature, with God–it’s been an amazing experiment and one we’re going to keep up with. Working hard all week and then having a special time to look forward to is awesome!


tna November 24, 2013 at 9:16 am

I find myself becoming more frugal with my time and efforts and not just money. If I have to run myself ragged just to save a little money how is that ibeneficial? I’m not sure it is. I keep weeding stuff as well as time and efforts out of my life. More and more I’m becoming more of a minimalist and finding in the process it makes me more frugal and nonconsuming to boot.


tna November 24, 2013 at 9:34 am

I find myself becoming more frugal with my time and efforts and not just money. If I have to run myself ragged just to save a little money how is that beneficial? I’m not sure it is. I keep weeding stuff as well as time and efforts out of my life. I’m becoming more of a minimalist and finding in the process it makes me more frugal and nonconsuming to boot. Having less stuff is less to take care of and delegating tasks to others and not just taking on the responsibility myself frees up my time….of course it may make me seem like a bitch to those I quit doing stuff for and I’m beginning to think I’m willing to take that risk. HA! Ya, I’m tired, gimme a break.


Michaela November 26, 2013 at 7:02 am

I can’t say I’m the most frugal person when it comes to money. I’m cheap in some ways, and in other ways I am willing to spend extra to get exactly what I want. But time management is sort of my baby (I say that as I’m messing around on the computer LOL). I run a business during the day, and it requires a lot of time management to get stuff done. Anymore I try and squeeze in all the errands I can during the day (on top of working) so that when I roll in around 5pm I can send out my work and veg out for the night (semi-planning the next day – always). If I have to travel somewhere, I try and do all the errands I can. For example, go to Costco if I’m going to be near a Costco. The nearest one here is 45 minutes away, and living in a rural-ish city you gotta travel to work, get stuff done, visit, etc. so I do as much as I can when I’m in the vicinity of something that needs done.

But I did enjoy reading what you do in a day. It would be fun to just hang out and see you work your magic. I wish I had more time to do the things that you do like cooking and browsing thrift stores. Glad your milk was where you left it – I probably would have had a minor freak out on the way back to get it LOL!


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