charmin

Thoughts on the Toilet Paper Price War

I’ve written here about the impossible task of truly figuring out the best deals for paper goods such as toilet paper and paper towels. All I really do now is simply divide price by number of rolls, use a coupon and call it a day. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Toilet Paper Price War”

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Recent Events Remind Us That Living in a Big, Beautiful House Doesn’t Always Mean Life is Rosy

Every time I sit down to write a post, it seems too trivial to discuss frugality in light of recent events. However, my 13-year-old-son continues to ask questions about Sandy Hook that seem in some way related to the topic.  Continue reading “Recent Events Remind Us That Living in a Big, Beautiful House Doesn’t Always Mean Life is Rosy”

A Worthwhile Reality Show: CT Financial Reality Fairs for Teens

I watch my middle-schoolers budget their tiny bits of money–one is saving up for an iPad, the other just bought a used bike with his money. My daughter, who is saving up for an iPad, had to be enlightened about a few things like the tax on the item, the 1-year replacement program (must have for teens), and of course there’s the cover for the iPad. All in all, it went well over the $399 she thought she’d have to shell out. I am hoping that the CT Financial Reality Fair for Teens reaches the area’s middle schools one day!  Continue reading “A Worthwhile Reality Show: CT Financial Reality Fairs for Teens”

vegetable garden

Earth Day is Every Day When You Strive for Zero Waste

In light our annual Fairfield, CT Earth Day Celebration, I have updated this post I wrote.

Hey, Fairfield, Reduce Your Waste! It’s Frugal and Sustainable!  Continue reading “Earth Day is Every Day When You Strive for Zero Waste”

Teen Still Loves Goodwill’s Prices–Look What She Found Today!

Today Aimee and I took our daughters to Goodwill in Westport to shop for clothing. My daughter really needed summer clothing — we are out of hand-me-downs, unfortunately. (Ah, those were the good years when I rarely had to pay for great clothing, but now, the hand-me-down stream has dried out.)

teen clothing
I paid $16 for four items of clothing, all in excellent shape, at the Westport Goodwill today. That kind of money won't get you far in a clothing store. (However, I will say that I scored an adorable long-sleeved shirt at Old Navy this weekend for my daughter for a whopping $1.97. Gotta love their clearance sections.)

Here’s what my daughter found and everything looks fantastic on her. She found four items that were $3.99 each. So, for $16, she was able to get four items for the price she’d pay for one flimsy piece of clothing from a regular clothing store. The tops are in great shape, hardly worn, and the jeans (Old Navy–with adorable detailing) and shorts (Gap–also with cute detailing) look brand new and fit her perfectly. We left before Aimee checked out, but I think her family scored some great deals, too, since it was “1/2 off blue ticket” day.

I can’t wait to get a day to myself when I can scour the racks for some new items.

~Marilyn, TFF

Inspiration for a Simple Lifestyle — The Zero Waste Challenge in Fairfield, CT

The Zero Waste Challenge – Fairfield, Reduce Your Waste and Health and Wealth Will Follow

We are a family of five, including three growing children.  Our ranch style house is 1,100 square feet, with a 600 sq. ft. finished basement that has a full bathroom (thank goodness!).  We have been a one-modest-income family for nearly nine years.  We live debt-free in one of the most expensive counties in the United States.  Little did I realize that it all began with cutting down on waste – literally, garbage.

The first expense we cut was our garbage service.  (If you are reading this from out of town, you read that correctly.  Garbage service is not covered by city tax.)  At that time, we had two in diapers and a town dump run four times a month.  So for the first couple of years, it was only a savings of about $100 per year.  However, a couple of years later, after our third child was born, we did two things that affected our garbage disposal: established a compost bin and discovered Freecycle.

Compost Bin
Image via Wikipedia

With a compost bin and worms from the backyard, our vegetable scraps turned to soil.  Composting eventually led to the start of a modest 4’ x 8’ ft. raised bed garden, which in two years lowered our food bill and raised our health quotient. Freecycling decreased our need to purchase items.  I’ve gotten great toys and games, arts and crafts, winter boots and clothing –in great condition- for our family.  Conversely, by offering items Freecycle, I began the long, on-going process of de-cluttering our house.  With composting and Freecycling, our trips to the dump and our spending began to decrease even more.  Bonus: the environment benefited, too.

Other ways we began to cut down on waste and spending:  for the last five years, since my daughter started 1st grade, we have been using cloth napkins, and much to my husband’s dismay, stopped using paper towels.  Instead, we reuse rags, wash with cold water and hang clothes on outdoor- and/or indoor- laundry lines.  Also, for the last eight years, we have belonged to an organic and natural food buying club and buy food items such as the “dirty dozen” organic produce, grains, flour, sugar, and dried herbs, and non-food items, such as detergent in bulk at much lower prices than stores such as Mrs. Green’s, Whole Foods, and even Trader Joe’s.

Today, with composting, single-stream recycling (as of last summer – #1 – 7 plastics and paperboard boxes (cereal and tissue boxes) can now be recycled), and just buying less, we go to the town dump once every three weeks!

Several months ago, an online news video story about the “Zero Waste Home” caught my eye.  Bea and Scott Johnson and their two growing boys downsized from a 3,000 square foot home to a 1,400 square foot home.  They went from filling two large rolling garbage cans per week to holding four months worth of garbage in two hands.

Their grocery bills have been cut by 25% by shopping locally and carefully planning meals.  Their utility bills have gone down even more.  “Zero Waste is good for your wallet,” Bea says.  But most of all, they have achieved a well-being of health and happiness they did not enjoy with having more stuff.  This family is a living example of “LESS IS MORE” and “HEALTH IS WEALTH.”

Living in Fairfield, CT, in Fairfield County, one of the most expensive and affluent counties in the United States, is being surrounded by a majority who believe that success is defined by having the most square footage, the most luxurious cars, and the latest “stuff”.  I challenge you, dear reader, especially Fairfielders, to help turn this definition around.  Let’s teach our children that success is defined by the ability to put people before things, and to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Less IS more.  Health IS wealth.

Click here for The Zero Waste Home video news story I stumbled upon.

Here’s The Zero Waste Home Blog that inspires me.

The “Dirty Dozen” Organic Produce list helps make eating organic fruits and veggies affordable.  Download the app or print the wallet-sized shopping guide here.

One of many resources on cooking and eating on a budget here AND here for budget food ideas.

Our organic and natural food buying club is open to new members.  Send me your email address to learn more.

—Aimee, TFF