Frugal Inspiration

by Katy on June 17, 2011 · 23 comments

As satisfying as it can be to stretch a dollar until it hurts, there’s not one among us who hasn’t lost inspiration or felt resentful when budgetary constraints get in the way of having fun. And even I am not immune to needing regular doses of frugal inspiration.

This video below features the Carter family who are choosing to live within their means and having fun doing it. I’ve watched this video before and really enjoy this family’s attitude and their balanced methodology. Nothing too extreme, and without the cry of deprivation or sanctimony.

I really like how excited he gets over a box of 89¢ crackers. It well . . . cracks me up! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

The father, W. Hodding Carter, is a writer for (now defunct) Gourmet Magazine and wrote a regular column on Extreme Frugality that I am only now starting to explore.


Katy Wolk-Stanley

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


{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jinger June 17, 2011 at 4:21 am

He’s a member of the very prominent and well connected Hodding Carter family of MS.


Carla June 17, 2011 at 4:26 am

Very interesting, Katy. Did I miss when this video was done? I would like to know how the Carters have done with their projects. The garden sounds daunting for a non-gardener, although it seems some people have a natural knack for it. (Not us.)

I’ll go take a look at Extreme Frugality. Thanks.


Cate @ Liberal Simplicity June 17, 2011 at 4:31 am

I really enjoyed watching this video. I love how this family has come together to accomplish their goal, and to accomplish it cheerfully.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl June 17, 2011 at 5:21 am

Love the video, Katy! And I’ll check out his columns.


Jude June 17, 2011 at 5:41 am

I, too, am curious about how their garden project comes out. Just noticed how early some of your readers comment on your blog. Four between 4:21 and 5:21 a.m.!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl June 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

Well, Mr. FG and I rise at 4:40 during his workweek, so by 5:30, I’ve been up and at ’em for a while. =P Not my ideal schedule, but I roll with it.


Audrey June 17, 2011 at 6:20 am

Gardening is so hard ~ I always recommend that people start out slow and build up each year. I love how he speaks about this crazy-big garden like it’s super easy and it will all turn out with no problems. I hope it does for their sake but I am skeptical. It doesn’t sound like he has any experience. Curious how it turned out….


CanadianKate June 17, 2011 at 7:59 am

For those interested in the rest of the story:

That only takes us to Jan 2010. I haven’t found any posts since then so I’m guessing they stopped the experiment.


CanadianKate June 17, 2011 at 8:04 am

I just realized that the US/Canadian date protocol messed me up. That article is from October 2009, not Jan 2010.


Jayson June 17, 2011 at 8:36 am

I’m curious as to where all the money to build the Chicken Coop came from. That’s at least $1500 worth of parts and lumber.

Not very frugal if you ask me.


Katy June 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I also noticed how fancy-schmancy that chicken coop seemed to be.



Ellen June 20, 2011 at 11:14 am

I wondered about the chicken coop as well and in general whether keeping chickens really saves money, i.e. where the break even point is in number of eggs vs. cost of feed, coop, etc. I’d like to get chickens but need to make the economic argument to my spouse.


Barb June 17, 2011 at 9:43 am

I think you’ll enjoy readint the whole series of articles-some of their experiments are a kick in the pants.


Anne Cross June 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm

At the beginning of the video, the father says they earn $41k but were spending for years and years as if they were earning $100k — What does that exactly mean? Were they running up $60k per year of credit card debt? Is that even possible? Would credit cards keeping extending that much credit? I’m really curious about the nuts and bolts of what they mean by living beyond their means.

I think Gourmet magazine closed down a while ago, that may be why the blog ends abruptly.


Kathy S June 17, 2011 at 6:18 pm

This is the first article of the series. It goes into more detail about their debt.


Jo June 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I believe he said his future social security benefits would be $41k, not his current income. They wanted to get their spending more in line with what his retirement income would be. At least that’s how I heard it.


Lisa Under the Redwoods June 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm

In the article it said they had averaged making 41k a year for 10 years. They also sold a house and inherited some money but ended up 75k in debt + a new mortgage.


Sara Wolk June 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm

There’s a great book on growing all your own food called “The Four Season Harvest” It’s actually based in Maine and its all based on low tech, no electricity season extending and storage like cold frames and root cellars. Check it out!


Jinger June 18, 2011 at 4:40 am

More on W. Hodding Carter taken from an article written in 2010.

“W. Hodding Carter — whose dad was the Assistant Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter — has made something of a career out of his peripatetic lifestyle. At 45, he wrote a book about trying to qualify for the Olympics as a mid-life swimmer. He sailed across the Atlantic in a Viking Ship. He canoed Lewis and Clark’s trail on the Mississippi, and he even wrote a book on plumbing (How the Plumber Saved Civilization). But it was his blog for that has merited him the most attention and that now has culminated in a movie deal. Fox is in the early-stages of developing Frugal Family for the screen. Based on that blog, Frugal Family is about a family that was living beyond its means (I believe I heard they were living a $120,000 a year lifestyle while only earning $40,000). So, he and his family in coastal Maine decided to live on a budget. A $550 a month budget. For one year, they accomplished this through farming, through eating out, through buying at liquidation grocery stores, and by using “dozens of other quirky saving measures,” like reusing paper coffee filters and bartering. (They are now living a modified version of that lifestyle).”


Mara June 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm

This is so funny. So this is frugality? This is how I grew up, with the exception of the chickens (both of my parents had chickens as kids and did NOT want to repeat that traumatic experience). Kind of funny that doing what pretty much everyone did in the 70s as a way of life is “en vogue” frugality!


Sharon June 21, 2011 at 4:29 am

Hi Katy, Love the video and your blog! Thanks for sharing!


Margaret August 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I’m sorry, but this was really painful to watch. A beautiful home on 40 acres of land… someone mentioned the deluxe chicken coop… I really think this guy is WAY out of touch with his supposed $40k a year.

Kudos to him for reducing his grocery bill from $1200 a month (PLUS EATING OUT!!! WITH 4 KIDS!!), but I think he had a lonnng way to improve.


robbiekay January 4, 2012 at 5:59 pm

My favorite part was where he said, “Mom was right all these years.” 🙂


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