Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America — A Book Giveaway

by Katy on July 10, 2011 · 77 comments

Today is day ten of the July Food Stamp Challenge, and I think it’s high time for a book giveaway. And not just any book, but Barbara Ehrenreich’s classic 2001 Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. This book chronicles the author’s social experiment to bring light to the challenges faced by America’s working poor. PhD educated Ehrenreich spent a year working as a waitress, hotel maid, cleaning woman, nursing home aide and Wal-Mart clerk.

When I wrote of how we judge one another’s food choices, (whether or not the buyer happens to be receiving food stamp benefits) the comments received ran the full gamut. Everything from:

“The sickening foods piled high in TWO grocery baskets of some people made me want to walk up to them and hit them with a bag of fresh apples.”


“I work with low income families and I would add that many low income folks do not have proper cooking facilities or tools to cook with. Yes, it is easy to make pancakes from scratch, but if you have no griddle, measuring cups, storage containers or physical space to put the items in, then ready made stuff is easier.”

None of us can tell what is person is going through by looking at their appearance, or even looking at their grocery cart.

This book, (which I highly recommend) is a fascinating and well written peek into the struggles that Americans face when working full time (and often more) at minimum wage.

To enter to win this book, (which was a $1 garage sale find 😉 ) write a little something about how you stretch your hard earned dollars in the comments section below. I will randomly choose a winner Wednesday, July 13th at 9 P.M., PST. U.S. Residents only, one entry per person.

Good luck!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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


{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie Heck July 10, 2011 at 4:05 am

I try to shop for most of clothes at the goodwills, and other thrift stores. I made a chart of each stores 1/2 off day or fill a bag day. That way I get the cheapest price possible. On regular days the clothes are just too expensive for something that’s used.


Jessica L. July 10, 2011 at 4:10 am

During the summer months, I dry my clothes outside until they are about 95% dry, then toss them in my dryer for about 10 minutes to finish them up. This helps keep energy costs lower and not heat up the house. I would keep them out there until they were 100% dry, but I don’t like wearing crunchy clothes.


Lee Ann L. July 10, 2011 at 4:26 am

I try to shop around for the best price on things we need or want. I rarely do impulse buys. I once waited nine months for items I wanted to be deeply discounted. We can live and make do without many things. But, it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice things we need or want — the only thing we sacrifice is just time (to wait for what we want). I love shopping at Goodwill stores and stores like Marshalls and Ross (and Kohls) because items and clothing are much cheaper than items at department stores. I also use coupons for grocery we buy. I’m not a fanatical couponer though. I only clip and save coupons for the items we usually buy.


jen July 10, 2011 at 5:15 am

I used to make a good salary as a university lecturer and my husband was a high school teacher. When we moved back to the US and took low-paying jobs and, eventually, when I quit to be a stay-at-home mom, our income shrunk and shrunk again to less than a quarter of what it was. We’re going to be stretching that hard-earned income by moving in with other family members next month–me being the stay-at-home mom who cooks and cleans for everyone else as they go out to work. I’m looking forward to it!


Debbie July 10, 2011 at 5:17 am

I try to buy as little as possible–I’m not a recreational shopper. I look for sales, shop in discount stores like Marshall’s or at Goodwill, and always check for printable coupons online. I cook mostly from scratch, shopping at the cheapest grocery store nearby and using coupons. I grow vegetables in my garden. We drive our cars (NOT SUV’s or vans) for at least 10 years, till they HAVE to be replaced. I own Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette and use a lot of her tightwad tips.


YR July 10, 2011 at 5:18 am

I stock up on non-perishable items when they are on sale as a BOGO deal.


Susan July 10, 2011 at 5:19 am

I use to buy a Sunday paper for the coupons each week but I have since stopped. I found myself looking at all the sales ads and thinking that is cute or I need to replace this or that. I have tried really hard to limit the amount of advertising coming into my home whether from the paper, magazines and TV. I only go grocery shopping once a month. I will buy milk and fresh fruits/veggies every other week. The time a save I have invested in learning the art of bread making. I have reduced my spending and my grocery bill by 30%.


Indigo July 10, 2011 at 6:07 am

My furniture is largely cast offs I have fixed up, repainted, and now look better and have more character than a lot of new stuff out there.

I spend money on quality which saves me in the long run. Because I use cast iron cookware it will last a lifetime with proper care. I have a pair of good hair cutting scissors so that I can trim things up at home and rely on a professional only a few times a year while still looking professional.

I look at potential. Sometimes I’ll find something at the thrift store that isn’t perfect as is but with a bit of effort is ideal. I’ve transformed too large sweaters in laptop cases and proper fitting sweater vests. A spice rack that just needs a good coat of paint to update it and all those little glass vials are great for beads. It is also work I enjoy so entertainment value as well.


Mary July 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm

We buy most of our furniture used and fix it up and it looks 10x better than most of what I see in stores. Lots more character.


Dee July 10, 2011 at 6:24 am

I’m recently separated and it’s made me very aware of how much lifestyle inflation I’d experienced in the last 10 years. It’s back to focusing on the basics of frugality for me. Now all of my clothes are dried on racks, my food is made (mostly) from scratch, and I’m not eating out as often. I was able to move into a smaller place and my electric bill is 1/3 of what it was last year.


Claudia July 10, 2011 at 6:52 am

I’ve joined a few local museums and botanic gardens that provide free entry all year for the cost of membership (which is often tax-deductible). Visits to these places, plus stoop sales and excursions to the farmer’s market, constitute the bulk of our family’s entertainment for the summer. I also try to keep my kids away from TV commercials so that their expectations for “stuff” are reduced. We also love to cook, and bring everyone into the kitchen for meal prep, so we get entertainment out of it in addition to fresh, cheap food.


Emily Thayer July 10, 2011 at 6:55 am

I don’t pretend to be immune to impulse buys, but I cut them down substantially by instituting a 24-hour rule. For example, I came across some amazing deals on dresses (woo! that fit me!) for about $15 each. After waiting 24 hours, I realized that the colors are not flattering on me, and I have an overflowing closet already, so I passed them up. Had I not had that 24 hour rule, I’d be $30 poorer.


Emily Thayer July 10, 2011 at 6:56 am

BTW I’ve read this book and don’t need another copy, so I’m not officially “entering” your contest… I just thought I’d share. 🙂


Jenny July 10, 2011 at 7:18 am

Lately I’ve been focusing on the food arena: stretching my weekly grocery shopping to 10 days to make sure we use up everything and to help clean out the pantry and freezer, blanching and freezing or canning in-season fruits and vegetables while they’re cheap so we’ll have a wide variety to choose from this winter, cooking beans from scratch, baking bread., growing vegetables.

I don’t need the book, though. Have myown copy and have givien several to high school grads as well.


Kat July 10, 2011 at 8:46 am

Instead of feeding quarters into the apartment building’s washer and dryer I load up my laundry in the bike trailer and take it over to a friend’s house who lets me use his washer, dryer and clothesline (I got that the last one and hung it up). In exchange, I do house and cat sitting during his frequent trips out of town.


Mindy July 10, 2011 at 8:50 am

In reference to the second quote in your post, I find it hard to believe that someone can afford to buy processed foods, but can’t afford a trip to a second hand store for a pan and some measuring cups.

Our family’s dollar stretching is less of a conscious effort and more of a habit at this point. Yes, we’re human and buy things we don’t need or can’t afford at times, but our overall budget reflects the money coming in every month. There are no regular extra expenses. No cable, no cell phone for me, no ‘oh that’s so cute’ clothes for the kids, no new car payment. Sure it would be nice to go on a shopping spree, but who wants the stress of having to pay it all off?


Rachael, July 10, 2011 at 9:33 am

Mindy–A lot of people living in poverty do not even have kitchens. In my city, many people live in ‘rent by the week’ seedy motels. Families with children live in these dumps. They may get food stamps, but don’t have any cooking facilities. They may not have bus fare to get to the supermarket, so they have to make do with food from 7-11.

Or imagine you are couch surfing–hoping your relative or friend doesn’t kick you and your kids out onto the street. You may be reluctant to take over the kitchen and try to get by with items you can make quickly.

Or you work three minimum wage jobs and take care of your kids. You NEVER get a break–you’re exhausted.

Just some stuff to think about.


Kris July 10, 2011 at 9:53 am

Food stamps won’t work at Goodwill. They only buy food – not the things you need to cook the food. Sometimes, food stamps may be the only “income” a family has. If they qualify for cash assistance too, that money often goes to rent and utilities. So while it is difficult to understand, it is possible and likely that people can buy food but not pots and pans (or toiletries for that matter – they aren’t covered with food stamps either).


Raeleen July 10, 2011 at 8:56 am

I recently went from a good full time job to living with my sister, unemployed with no unemployment, my kids live here and my ex husband won’t let them move and my husband lives 4 hours away. Life is a mess and I am finding any judging I have ever done about anyone going right out the window. I am sure there is a lesson here I am just unsure at this time what it is.


Kris July 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

Raeleen, I’ve been in a similar place. We are finally coming out of a couple of hard years. I learned that I had a lot more biases and judgments than I thought I did. I learned that the story behind the family getting assistance is so much more than people realize. I learned that we are all just a job loss away from being “those people.” I learned that my faith and trust in God could be – and is now – deeper and stronger than before. HUGS Raeleen. You will come out of this season in your life better, stronger, more compassionate and more generous than ever before.


fiwa July 11, 2011 at 9:49 am

Ditto what Kris said – coming out of a couple of really hard years, and realizing how much I judged other people. You just never know what’s going on in other people’s lives. It’s hard not to judge, and don’t get me wrong, I still do, but I’m TRYING not to. Maybe being aware of how judgemental I am was the lesson I had to learn.
Hugs from me too, Raeleen. Things will get better.


Rachel July 10, 2011 at 9:16 am

I’ve been working on learning how to make clothes through knitting, sewing, and upcyclin from thrift stores. The knitting isn’t usually any less expensive than store-bought, but then I can make sure it fits me well and isn’t made out of shoddy material (wal-mart shirts come to mind). This is a double whammy for me; I get clothes that are o better quality and (usually) cheaper, and I enjoy it so I’m also not surfing Amazon or spending money some other place to try to stay entertained.


Maureen July 10, 2011 at 9:42 am

My husband and I are on a clothing purchase moritorium. We have so many clothes that I find shopping in our closets, dresser drawers and storage containers so much more rewarding. I can’t stand the fact that we have so much that takes up so much room.


Kris July 10, 2011 at 9:47 am

Man, have I learned the hard way about streatching dollars and the NEED to do it, not necessarily just because I want to do it. For me, the biggest way I stretch my dollars is to make do with what I have and use my resources to find items (hand me downs, freecycle, free community activities and the “loot” that often goes along with them). Using what I have already (indluding minimizing waste of all kinds) makes the dollars I have go further in paying for the things I have to pay for – utilities, food, gas to get to work, etc.


Mama Minou July 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

Two things that come to mind…

Drive less. I bike to work, even in the dark & rainy winter. Also instituted 3 “no car” days per week when my (older) kids can choose to take the bus or bike, alone or with us, to school & after school stuff. Biking plus walking the dog is good exercise-I can’t imagine paying for a gym membership!

Also, we use the library for books, music & movies. Period. We used to spend $20/month on movie rentals, when we lived near an independent video store. I know that Netflix isn’t too expensive, but half the time we don’t end up watching what we borrow anyway.

One more thing…we saved a lot on “fixed expenses” by fiddling with insurance premiums, cutting on the phone plan, piggybacking with neighbors & sharing costs for garbage, etc.


Sunny July 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

About judging others. I work for the OR Dept of Ag and made a comment about how many people in my office eat frozen “plastic” food. I rarley eat pre-made frozen foods. I really put my foot in my mouth though. One lady commented that if she didn’t she wouldn’t eat at all because her salary is small, she has two growing boys (teenagers) and her husband is on disability…so they have $250 for the four of them for a month. Now, it’s possible she could eat better food and I think it’s totally doable but that’s me and she really felt judged. Boy did she make me think! Any ways, we do quite a bit to save but could do a lot more. This book is great. I’ve read it before…I don’t need a copy. Just wanted to share!


Christopher July 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

A bit more about judging others. My young son’s recent Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis (ironically) put a bunch of small-portioned, pre-packaged items into our shopping basket that would have been unthinkable to us before, and now fit into the category of medical necessity; little juice boxes to treat low blood sugars, portioned “carb snacks” that need to be available at school, cheese sticks, little yogurts, etc. I double-check myself now when looking at what others have in their carts. Who knows?


DannonL July 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

I try to really think about what my money is paying for. For example, when I buy food I think about the amount of energy, nutrients, or happiness the food will provide to me or my family. I try to reason whether or not it is worth the money I spend.


beccaWA July 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I have been a single parent for 14 years. My daughter is now out of the nest (age 23) and my son is still here, age 14.

Some of the things I do, or have done in the past to get by include:

Drying most laundry outside or on a clothes rack in the house (darks, sweaters, etc. in winter).

I open all the windows in the cool mornings in summer, and try to wait as long as possible before turning on the AC, if at all. Opposite in winter. Set furnace very low. Use woodstove as much as possible.

Shopping at thrift stores and garage sales.

I have gotten AMAZING deals on Craigslist “free” section – everything from awnings for my house, bathroom tile and solid maple flooring for the kitchen, as well as smaller items. I haunt CL free!!!

Cook almost everything from scratch, including things like making my own baking powder, maple syrup, etc.

I go to the food bank when times get tough (summer is tough for us. I am a teacher’s aide for a school district & do not get paid in summer or for Christmas break, spring break, etc.) The food bank/community center also has a clothing bank for people to make use of.

Our community also has a low-income farmer’s market with great deals on fresh produce if you are under their income limit.

I try not to go to the store very often. There’s always temptation if you do.

I garden. Really helps out with the food bill.

I work a side job doing transcription online, mostly in summer.

I haul my own trash to the dump/recycle center. If I had curbside service, it would cost me THREE TIMES more. Also when I go to the recycle center, they give away items that have been turned in such as: paint, bug spray, furniture polish, cleaners, lawn & garden pesticides & herbicides, etc. Free for the taking. I’ve painted a room and fertilized my lawn for no cost!

I must have cable for my computer, because I need it for my transcription. We do NOT have T.V. I do pay $8 a month for Netflix. There are a ton of things to watch on Netflix, no commercials and we also go to the library and get DVDs and CDs.

I keep close track of our community online events calendar. There are many things that are free or nearly so, especially if you “pack a lunch”.

I take advantage of “Groupons” which is a coupon system you sign up for that delivers coupons/deals right to your email box. It provides deals from local businesses in your area. I got first-run movie tickets for my kid for $4.00 (normally $11.50) from a Groupon, for instance.

Our city has a nice, long paved trail for walking or biking.

We camp for vacation.

In summer I take my son to the pool with his friends. It’s $1 to get in. Beats paying $30 to get into the water slides, and some of our pools here do have large slides, anyway!

Well, maybe that will give you all some ideas. Hope that helps!


beccaWA July 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Oh! Just one more thought on phone service. I bought a MagicJack for $25 a YEAR. It works fine, and I even call my daughter who lives in Alaska. One drawback might be that it is only on when the computer is on. Therefore, I applied for and got a free Tracfone from Safelink for low-income people. You get 250 minutes free per month, every month.

Just a P.S. Thanks!


Christina July 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Just wanted to say that this is an excellent book, I think it shows how hard it can be to get ahead when all your energy is consumed with just surviving. About judgement – I believe if people know better they do better. It’s sad to witness how many people don’t know better and therefore can’t move beyond where they might be stuck by life’s circumstances. That sounds judge-y I know, but it comes from a place of compassion, not feeling superior.


Jessica Wolk-Stanley July 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I use the library extensively, I hang our laundry (in the livingroom of our small NYC apartment…it’s a look!) and I have a mother-in-law that thinks that everyone is too spendy and loads us down with groceries and pre-cooked meals!


Jan Foselli July 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm

In order to stretch our dollars, we have raised the A/C temp to 78, unplug the hot water heater & stove each night; make homemade cleaners, and hang dry our clothes. Nothing different than many of your readers, but all these little things add up!


M July 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I drink water (not soda) and make my own iced tea during the summer months.


judyyy July 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I line dry our clothes, raise a garden and can extra produce. My neighbor has an apple tr


judyyy July 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm

computer messed up so finishing my deal here-tree and she just lets the apples rot. This year I ask for some and made 25 pints of applesauce.


Amanda July 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I only shop thrift stores or freecycle for our clothing. I also buy food in bulk and make everything from scratch. We haul our own garbage and recycle everything else. I have a garden and a greenhouse and glean food to preserve from the local orchards. Last year I picked up a ton (yes, 2000 pounds) of apples for $100 and canned them into applesauce, cider, and slices. We homeschool and rather than buy curriculum, I get all my resources free online or from the library.


Liza July 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Where we live, the county bus service is free. So, my son and I go once or twice per week by bus to the library where we reserve and/or check out books, movies and CDs. It has been a great way to relax and spend time together (an outing of sorts) that is entirely free! And we have no cable at home, so our entertainment bill is free, thanks to the public library. That’s something I learned to do some time ago, thanks Katie for the idea! And I just purchased an outside line to dry clothes on, thanks to all of the great comments on this blog…And tomorrow, we are borrowing a friend’s truck to pick up the free freezer we found on freecycle!


Donna July 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm

My husband had been layed off for over a year so we had to tighten our belt in all areas. We went over all of our bills and shopped around for the lowest rates for our car insurance, did away with our land line phone and use just a pay as you go phone. Any clothes that need to be bought have been gotten at resale shops & we now eat only vegetarian meals.


Kayduh July 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I make my own yogurt, granola, bread, and jam to save money.


sandy16502 July 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I have been “professionally frugal” for over 30 years since my husband and I went back to grad school with two young kids and no jobs (yes Dad, we were nuts). Number one, know the difference between wants and needs. Number 2, think of used as someone else finding the weaknesses for you (fading, stretching, etc.). Number 3, make getting by, getting creative a badge of honor. My life is a habit now and even though we might be able to change I can’t justify it to myself.


Katie July 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

We’ve been living frugal for years but our current focus is on using up what we’ve got. We’re about to move across the state so for the last few months it’s been all about using up what’s in the pantry because moving it will waste precious space & time.

Meals are like a puzzle, I look and see what I have and scour cookbooks like Use it All the leftover cookbook to creatively assemble them.


Beth July 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I stretch my dollars by buying quality used when I can. It is often cheaper than lower-quality new items, but they last (and look better) much longer.


Lucia Jenkins July 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I have recently hung a clothesline in my backyard, and am hanging laundry to try and save some money. Our electric bill has been very high and it is making a difference. Every penny helps, and hanging the laundry is actually very soothing.


Carla July 11, 2011 at 3:06 am

I don’t wish to be entered in this drawing since I’ve read this book (library) a couple of times now. However, using the library first is a definite, very simple way to stretch dollars.


Jennifer July 11, 2011 at 3:21 am

I haven’t had cable/satellite for 7 years. I estimate that this alone has saved our family 8640!!! And we can get the regular networks and PBS for free!


rhonda July 11, 2011 at 6:05 am

This is not for the drawing, as I checked out and read the book from my public library. Another really enlightening book I read is “Without a Net”, by Michelle Kennedy. Through a bunch of touch circumstances Michelle ended up living in her car with her three children for an extended period of time. It has been some time since I read this, but one of the things I remember was how frustrated she would get at the fact that it was “expensive to be poor”. She didn’t have enough cash at one time to afford large portions of foodstuffs, and living in her car, did not have the refrigeration or storage to keep it. So she ended up spending more money to get individual portions. I know from our own circumstances that often if your cash flow doesn’t allow you to pay on time, you are charged more money in late payments. If you struggle and your credit score suffers, it costs you more money to borrow, or to buy insurance, etc. We work hard, and try to live within our means, but sometimes your best efforts aren’t enough. It often seems as if we are penalized for being poor.


Michele July 11, 2011 at 8:16 am

Most recently, instead of running to the store for a new sun tea jar, I re-used a well washed out pickle jar. It makes just the right amount of sun tea for my daughter and I.


Pollyanna July 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

My ways of saving money are similar to others’ comments. I am fairly crafty so gifts are often homemade (and much appreciated by recipient). I shop Goodwill for clothing and household bargains, watch for sales, use the library. My current focus is to reduce our grocery bill and to make sure I use all leftovers, etc (no food waste).


Stephanie July 11, 2011 at 8:34 am

Coupons! And yes….you can buy more than crappy packaged food with them. I spend an hour or two each week matching coupons to store ads. Just shopping the sales saves a ton. If apples are 77 cents a pound one week, you better believe that will be the fruit of choice rather than the 1.49 per pound oranges!


Isis July 11, 2011 at 8:35 am

I’m afraid that I’m probably not contributing anything new to the pool, since I really only do the same stuff other readers do.

I make yogurt, bread (when I have time; must work harder at that one), cakes, etc. I can what I can find in season for cheap. Canning is really quite easy, and a lot of fun. I’ve always hung up most of my clothing because I’m really tall and can’t afford ANY shrinkage, but I’m working on doing that with more of our stuff. Unfortunately, my fellow prefers the texture of dryer-dried stuff.

I’m on a purging mission, since I’ve realized I have far too much stuff in general. At least it’s 99% from yard sales, so at least it doesn’t represent a ridiculous monetary investment. However, it is cluttering everything and I want more space in my life! My wardrobe is undergoing a bit of a change too, as my interests change and I realize I can’t wear the same clothes I did when I was 18, even if they still fit. But I’m strictly limited to occasional yard sale and goodwill shopping, and altering and mending things to make the clothes I do like last longer and look better.

On the same note of having too much stuff, we’re on a quest to clean out the fridge and freezer a bit. I habitually maintain an extremely stuffed fridge, and we throw away far too much food that we simply forgot about and couldn’t see, buried at the back.

I haven’t had cable or even an antenna for the past 9 years or so, though we do watch a lot of movies (Netflix, or that we already own). The Guy does have a video game addiction, but he’s content to replay games rather than constantly getting new ones.

I also joined a vanpool to my (1.5 hours away one way) job, rather than spending a terrifying $300/month just on fuel. Plus, that way I can read and nap on the commute!


fiwa July 11, 2011 at 10:01 am

It was so interesting to read through the comments. I can’t think of anything new to add. I buy all my clothes through 2nd hand shops, drive a used car that’s over 10 years old but gets great gas mileage, have my cable chopped down to the most basic package I can buy and still get local stations. Apparently I’m in a bad spot for reception and even with the converter box and antenna I can only get local stations in a spotty way without cable, which let me tell you I resent the heck out of. I use the library for books and DVDs, shop at a discount grocery outlet and coupon where I can. The one thing I think has helped us save money the most was going to a cash allowance system for my husband and I. We each get so much cash a week to spend as we choose, and that’s it. It has really helped keep impulse purchasing down.


Jess Barnett July 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

I enjoyed reading this book years ago. I shop at Haymarket near my house on the weekends, where fresh produce can be had very cheaply (think 5 ears of corn for $1). That also promotes seasonal shopping — different types of vegetables and fruits are available at different times of the year. I also bake my own yogurt bread.


Bobbi July 11, 2011 at 10:29 am

The biggest thing I do is just not buy stuff that I don’t need; not a very exciting tip, but it sure saves a lot of money! The key to this is to cultivate happiness in non-material things, like my relationships, hiking with my dog, sharing a meal at home with family and/or friends. My other frugal habits are the usual suspects that have already been mentioned… my car is 8 years old and I bike or take the train when possible, use the library instead of buying books, shop at thrift stores, buy unprocessed food and bulk food, drink tap water from a reusable bottle, bring my lunch to work, don’t have cable TV — we stream Netflix and love it! I am self-employed and purposefully keep my hours part-time; I could work more and earn more, and have a more consumer lifestyle, but I prefer to “buy time” by working less and living frugally.


mairsydoats July 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Let’s see – I hang my clothes out to dry, and did away with cable completely. I didn’t anticipate how different it is to not consume advertisements and current tv shows. I still get old stuff on Netflix, but I no longer schedule around certain shows, or think about buying stuff nearly as much.


Megg July 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I had to read this book my freshman year in college and I did NOT appreciate it the way I think I would now, so I’d love to reread it.

These days we’re stretching our dollars by shopping at Costco. We buy fruit in ridiculously large amounts (but always eat it all!) for a ridiculously low price per pound. Though we haven’t had to do this yet, Costco meat is a good price too, so when we do buy it I will freeze it with the seal-a-meal we got as a gift last year.


april July 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I bought a multi-color pack of washcloths that we use instead of napkins at dinnertime; the washcloths stay by the dinner mat if they weren’t used very much. Between that & using cut-up old t-shirts for cleaning instead of paper towels, we have cut way back on buying household paper products. That also means we throw away less.


Maryanne Sivers July 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I cook and bake from scratch, and eating out is a rare treat. Better financially, and physically!


Lisa July 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I do just like your tagline says…Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without. 😉


Martha July 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I am definitely the one people know as the “food mooch.” Everything can be used up, frozen for later or used for baking.


Cate @ Liberal Simplicity July 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I cook and bake from scratch almost exclusively. There are some things we buy pre-made (especially now that I’m in the throes of intense morning sickness), but I try to cook at home as much as I can.


Kathleen July 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I have a copy of this, so I’m not in for the giveaway, but just wanted to say this book is fabulous! She hits the nail right on the head. I can’t vouch for the other jobs, but I was a slave @ WalMart for four years, and absolutely everything she writes about is true, and more.
My current job is helping unemployed people find a job (frightening enough in today’s economy) and we get kind of stumped trying to help people in the shelter, with no vehicle. Hard to go very far on foot, and most of the shelters have strict rules about how much time you need to spend looking for work. All of my clients had good reasons for leaving home and being in the shelter. Breaks my heart, how hard they try.
I’m thrilled to have my foodstamps! I might not eat otherwise. My call center job evaporated when they laid off 450 of us in one day, and closed the center. Unemployment ran out in February. I work 15 hours a week at minimum wage, which just about pays the utilities. I apply to at least 5 places a week, most of the time lots more. I have interviews, and find later they’ve hired the cute young girls right out of school. Nobody seems to want the experienced worker (who might just need health insurance or retirement benefits?). I’m getting by, but just barely, with the help of good friends. And I just celebrated my 58th birthday.


Kathleen July 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Nothing against the young people just out of school; they need to start somewhere!


mary m July 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm

We participate in Salem Harvest which is a neat way to contribute to the foodbank. Farmers donate their harvest (cherries, blueberries, whatever), volunteers harvest what is left (often times it happens after the farmer does it’s main pick), and 1/2 the amt harvested goes to the foodbank, and 1/2 the volunteer gets to keep.


Becky B. July 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Coupons, coupons, coupons… 🙂 Along with living a “simple” life. I hate waste, so I work hard to use up my dinner leftovers as lunches, cut up and re-purpose worn out apparel items, and use my natural light during the long summer days.
I LOVE this book by the way. Read it as required reading for a class I took in college, and it changed my life. 🙂


Amber @ July 12, 2011 at 4:02 am

I use old veggie scraps, throw them in some water, and make veggie stock! The rest go into compost. I grow (well, try at least) veggies and I don’t want to spend money on something I can make at home for free, and is so beneficial to the environment. Why throw out all of those nutrient rich veggie scraps!?


Tabetha Smelser July 12, 2011 at 6:21 am

We wash our clothes with baking soda and vinegar, which (especially) when purchased in bulk is a lot cheaper than detergent and our clothes get just as clean. Also, we buy whatever staples we can in bulk and avoid buying things like pizza rolls or cookies in bulk (because, honestly, it’s expensive and cookies never last long around here, bulk or not, lol). We look for free entertainment in our neighborhood, such as the Children’s Museum just down the street that we have a free membership to because of where we live and the art museum that is just down another street which has free admission.


kari July 12, 2011 at 6:32 am

We use coupons, cook mostly from scratch, use the crockpot (a lot!) and NEVER Throw away food. Freeze it and use it later!


Lynda July 12, 2011 at 9:37 am

I cook, bake, can, dehydrate all from scratch. I have a huge garden, chickens, raise a hog, keep worms (for compost tea and worm castings and they eat everything: newspapers to eggshells). I manage a Farmers Market and buy from the vendors at the end of the day (or buy their *seconds*). I buy grains at the source (in the field during harvest). I have in the past cut volunteer alfalfa from the side of the road to feed my animals…now I buy broken bales in the field. I can make a dollar last forever! ; ) As the manager of the Farmers Market I handle the SNAP program…I pass on my money stretching tips to the voucher holders…from how to cook a squash, to how to keep chickens for pennies and how to grow a garden. Veggie/fruit seeds can be bought with food stamp/vouchers.


dustimc July 12, 2011 at 9:56 am

I try to not take my younger two to the store with me. They both have a terrible case of the ‘gimmees’ (give me) and I found myself putting extras in the cart so they would just be quiet. And they were- until we got to the next aisle.(they both have developmental delays so save the parenting advice. I’ve probably already tried it.)
We also take “sailor showers” several times a week. We get wet, turn off the water, soap up and then turn the water back on.
My 14 year old and her friends have “naked lady” parties where they swap clothes. This is really great if they live in different schools districts and no one else has been seen in that shirt.


Jackie July 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I make my own cleaning supplies and have almost weaned off paper towels (still use for pet messes). I also eat most of my meals from home.


Annie July 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I use newspapers, magazines and old paper bags to wrap presents and I decorate it with old ribbon I’ve collected from gifts received throughout the years.


Christine July 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I only buy it if it’s on sale AND I have coupons — and preferably a doubler coupon as well. Nine times out of 10, cashiers either ask how I got the total so low, or they simply compliment me for shopping smart. All our meals are home made — we eat at home, or bring it from home and we eat well! Btw, I’ve just read the rest of this series (fabulous) — I never turn my nose up at shared leftovers, and yes, I peek at other people’s carts in the grocery store. Sometimes, I even ask about their choices — you’d be surprised at what people will tell you 😉


Linda July 13, 2011 at 4:57 am

This book is great! We read it for our book club a year or so ago. It is amazing (and sad) how some people work paycheck to paycheck and don’t feel that they have a way out. One medical emergency can put a family in debt for years.

I do many things: no paper towels (we use cloths), no sponges (yuck) we use cloths, coupons and making food from scratch help in a huge way.

I will need a new car soon. My car has about 200k on it. In the next month I will look around for deals on good used cars. Once I find one, I will buy it. I also tell friends that I am looking for a car and they sometimes help. A few years ago my in-laws friends sold their car to us for $2500. It only had 39K miles on it! Great little car for my husband and then my daughter.


Sarah July 13, 2011 at 6:20 am

I stretch my dollar by buying pre-owned clothes for my kids. Whether at consignment shops or on ebay, or even by receiving hand-me-downs from others who do not request payment, I like knowing that I am helping to use the clothes again so that new ones might not have to be made, and also saving myself some money!


Julie July 13, 2011 at 9:26 am

I’d love a copy of this book! thanks for putting out such a great website. i really appreciate it. I’ve come to question some of the things I do!


Nicole July 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

COUPONING!!!! My budget a month is between 150-175 a month with a trip every other month (try too) to costco for about 200.00. I am also feeding a family of four. I coupon for food, meat, basic supplies, and even for medical exspences (Call your providers for pay off discounts) This is the only way we make it and we eat HEALTHY not just all boxed or junk food. Some junk, I love my icecream.


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