Author: Marie

I'm the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It's currently available in paperback and electronically as a Kindle book on Amazon. My passion is living a normal life without spending as much money as we usually assume we have to.

Plenty of Fish



No algorithm in its right mind would have matched my late husband and I. On the metrics they use, we were irrelevant to each other. On the metrics that can’t be measured in a questionnaire, we were a perfect match. We met pre-internet, back in the olden days.

Internet dating is becoming the norm. You can pay a monthly fee for the big sites that use computer constructs to find people who will be well suited to you. And maybe they will. On the other hand, for frugal dating, there’s a good, free, site called POF tied for second place in Consumer Reports’ survey.

As with any site, you have to use discernment. Meet at a neutral location such as a coffee shop for the first date. Maybe the second, too, if you feel uncertain. Don’t hesitate to decline a date if you’re uneasy about the person.

You have to use caution on any site, and the frugal path is the free sites.


Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

I first heard that phrase applied to refraining from managing other people’s lives inappropriately, but I find it also works very well in some cooking situations.

Don’t check on the rice! To make good rice, cook confidently. The package tells you how much water per cup of uncooked rice. Put that much water (or broth) in a pot, with a little salt, and bring it to a full boil. Pour in the rice and stir it once to spread it around. Put the lid on tight, turn down the heat to the lowest temperature, and leave it alone. After the cooking time*, take the pot off the heat and still leave it alone. Leave the lid on and let it sit for ten minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Now is the time to note any changes for next time. Maybe you like a different texture, so next time cook it less for chewier rice or longer for softer. Experiment with adding seasonings at the beginning of the cooking, so it permeates the rice. To make yellow rice, start with either brown or white rice and add chopped green onion, garlic, celery salt, and turmeric. The turmeric makes it yellow. The onion, garlic, and celery give it the unique flavor. The more expensive packets of yellow rice use saffron as well as turmeric. If you have saffron that’s good, but turmeric is much less costly than saffron and can stand alone in this recipe.


* About 50 minutes for brown rice, about 20 minutes for white.



A truism of mine is “There are always more than two choices.” At first glance, there may seem to be only two choices. Sometimes that is because many of the choices are so unpleasant we automatically disregard them. Sometimes it’s because we don’t have all the information yet, and when we do we’ll see the additional possibilities.

If neither of the obvious choices is attractive, look around for more.

To take an extreme example, suppose money is so tight that buying toilet paper is a problem. At first glance, the choices seem to be: 1. do without something else important in order to buy toilet paper, or 2. do without toilet paper (eew).

As described in my Frugal Living book, there are several other choices:

“The next step is cloth wipes. I’ve started with just using them for urine. As a woman of a certain age, I pee quite a lot and flush away a few cents worth of paper every time. One 2X T-shirt made about twenty wipes, roughly 6 x 7 inches. I didn’t hem them, and I didn’t need to, so that was easy. Some Internet posters prefer thicker material such as pieces of cloth diaper, or flannelette cloth.


I find them to be more comfortable and more effective than paper. They are much nicer in every way. And no bits of paper left behind! A damp cloth wipe can be used like the newly fashionable wet wipes. Flushable wipes can cause problems in water treatment plants, so wetting a cloth wipe is safer.

I toss them straight into a covered container. I don’t feel they add to my laundry costs enough to count. They are small, and collectively add up to no more than a T-shirt per load. I kept track for a while and learned that using this method I use roughly one third as much toilet paper as I used to. People who use them for #2 often use a disinfectant such as tea tree oil, vinegar or bleach in a diaper pail.

This is something that lets me do what disposables do, but without having to buy disposables. If I run out of paper, I’m not up the proverbial creek because the cloth wipes are there when needed. Even if I used wipes for everything, I would still keep paper on the dispenser for guests, of course.

I have seen this method scorned as “reusing toilet paper.” That’s silly. There’s no realistic and sanitary way to reuse toilet paper. People using this method are using reusable cloth instead of disposable paper. Nobody calls using cloth napkins “reusing paper napkins.”

In a pinch, the cloth wipes make okay handkerchiefs, too. A nice clean hanky or cloth wipe is also great for cleaning my eyeglasses without scratching. (Never use paper on dry glasses. It will scratch!)

On an episode of Extreme Cheapskates, I saw a family that used newspaper as toilet paper. This is NOT flushable. They put the used newspaper into a trash bag and when it was full, threw it away.”

In almost any situation, there may be more choices than you’ve thought of. Searching online and talking it over with friends and family may open up new possibilities for you.


A Two-Pronged Approach to Spending Less

One way to think about cutting costs is to come at it from both ends. What do I feel I absolutely must spend money on? And on the other hand, what are the obvious extravagances I have no difficulty in identifying and letting go of?

Perhaps one insists on having a home, not living on the street. That’s a good baseline for the housing part of the budget. On the other hand, perhaps one could cross expensive artwork for decorating that home off the list of future expenditures. That’s fairly obvious too.

Maybe have to have a vehicle to get around in a normal fashion, so I spend on that.  On the other end of the spectrum, maybe I don’t need to spend money having an optional moonroof installed on my vehicle.

These are wide extremes. As I’ve worked through the process of cutting expenses, I’ve gradually come closer and closer to the middle balance in all budget categories.


Is It True? Freezing Food in Glass Jars

“They” generally advise against freezing foods in glass containers. Liquids expand as they freeze, so if you do it wrong, the internal pressure will break the glass and then you’ve got shrapnel all in your freezer. It’s not safe to eat food whose glass container broke; tiny bits of glass may be in it. Also, if a container slithers out of the top freezer section of your fridge, like they do out of mine, the glass will be all over the kitchen.

On the other hand, there’s been some alarming news about the dangers of keeping food in prolonged contact with plastics. So, I Googled around some. If you do it right, you can use glass containers to freeze foods. Freezing liquids in glass is more risky, but can be done if you don’t mind the occasional problem.

Use tempered glass, like canning jars, or containers specifically designed for freezing.

Leave 3/4 inch space at the top so the food has room to expand as it freezes.

The Archeology of Adapting to a Lower Income

Every time I think I’ve reduced spending as much as humanly possible, I find another level of non-spending below the one I’m currently in.

They say that dirt goes on one layer at a time and comes off the same way. That’s why it takes several tries to clean a neglected baking dish or crudded-up bathtub.

When adapting to a lower income, don’t make yourself crazy thinking you have to change everything at once. If you can, great. If it gives you a kind of emotional bends, slow down and do one thing at a time. Start with what’s easiest. That way, you’re cutting the things you care least about, and so it hurts less.

Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely has a large range of ideas for spending less. Take what you like and leave the rest.


If you want self-esteem, do esteemable things. If you want children to have self-esteem, give them the opportunity to master skills and accomplish esteemable things. Telling a kid they are great is fine, but deep-down they know it’s just words. Give them hands-on experiences through which they can feel for themselves that they’ve accomplished something, helped someone, really done a thing.