Frugal living

Debbie left a comment on this post about frugal living that I’d like to share because it was very encouraging to me.  We are not crazy just because we don’t live the typical American-consumer lifestyle!

These are truly remarkable adjustments you have made.  The added bonus is that should we reach a point when we MUST live without these conveniences we take for granted, it will not be the same shock to  your family that it will to most.

I am currently visiting my son and family in Japan where the cost of living is through the roof and they are forced to be frugal.  Last month this family’s water bill alone was $300 – JUST WATER.  They think twice about long showers, extra laundry etc.  Power and propane fuel is unbelievably high.  I notice that they don’t dispense paper napkins, towels, etc. at home or in restaurants.  We have come to rely so much on disposable everything and we waste so much in overpackaging – another reason to do more from scratch.

In Japan, they carry their groceries to the car, bus or train in reusable containers because they have to pay extra for a plastic or paper bag.  Wouldn’t it be wise to start this before we  have to pay for the luxury?

My son does the laundry and he hangs the clothes, often strung in bedrooms, kitchen and anywhere they can mount a rod or hang a plastic hanger.  With lots of rain here, (and snow in winter in this part of Japan)  they often don’t have the option of hanging outside.  But, when they can there is plenty of support since everyone here is in the same boat – no snooty neighbors or ridiculous restrictive covenants that force unnecessary expenditures.

Where I live incineration is against the law due to air quality concerns.  I remember having these in the 50s and early 60s.  It really cuts down on garbage.  The local restrictions can make it hard at times but in this valley we do need to make changes for the good of the community.

You probably use ceiling fans.  I have installed these in two bedrooms as well as the living room and find them to be very helpful and cost very little.  (Be sure they are switched the right direction depending on the season).  How quickly we forget that we managed without A/C in the past – even in the car driving through the desert to Disneyland.  I have no doubt that some places are worse than others without A/C or central heating.  Here in northern Japan where climate is similar to Salt Lake where I live, only individual rooms are heated in winter when they are in use – thus the sliding walls and window coverings (paper, rice weave, bamboo, etc.).  The children are very good at knowing to keep the rooms closed to conserve the energy and not let heat escape in winter.  The same in summer but they only use A/C rarely in a single room.  They have also learned that huge homes are not “needs.”  There is much we could learn from different cultures.

I guess my suggestion is just to consider all we take for granted and realize much of it is habit; not necessity. (emphasis mine)

Frugal living is simply good stewardship in action, and is one of the ways we seek to honor God.  It won’t look the same in every family and household, but we all need to live within our means and make the most of the blessings God grants us.


  1. Wonderful comment there!

    I too married a non-American and living simply and being materially conservative comes naturally to him. Harder for me, but I’ve gotten used to it.

    Our aquaintances and neighbors do think we’re crazy though. :p

  2. “Frugal living is simply good stewardship in action, and is one of the ways we seek to honor God. ” This is the best part of the entire post.

  3. These are some great thoughts. We too are trying to be more frugal. I realize from her comments that I can be even more frugal than I am now if I had to be, so I have more changes to make.

  4. Charlotte says:

    Good post! I am living in China and can relate to much of what was said. We routinely go half days without water I have learned to stock up and only use it when necessary. Our water/electricity costs aren’t too high, but we usually go over our “limit’ on electricity, so we are always trying to reduce this. We also have to take our own bags to the store and market (we don’t have a car so we must walk to these places). My husband (Chinese) often tells me of his childhood and what all they did without. I grew up in a rural area in the States and though we didn’t have much, we had what we needed. Comparing our childhoods, I lived like royalty.
    American’s are truely blessed and I wish everyone would have the opportunity to live in some other country for 6 months to a year to realize what others do without or pay a price for. It is a humbling experience and makes you really learn what are “needs” and what are just “wants”.

  5. When we lived in Japan we also had water rationing- 24 hours, 24 hours off. And we did without air conditioning because we could not afford it. I had a child with allergies who was very sick without the AC, but we really didn’t have a choice. She spent a lot of time in bed with a cool wet washcloth over her face to filter the dust and molds that were everywhere (we lived in WW2 era housing in Okinawa). We read aloud and sang to her and told her stories.

    I was so relieved when we got base housing and could run the AC again, but I have never forgotten what a blessing it is.

  6. I began living frugally about 2 years ago even though my husband made a more than ample living. Unfortunately, his job required him to work around 60-70 hours a week, often more. Because we lived frugally anyway, we have a freezer full of venison, broiler chickens, we’ll be adding pork in 2 weeks, we have our laying hens, and I have been able to stock up over a years worth of supplies for our pantry as well as toiletries. All with savings from shopping frugally at the grocery store – in fact my budget has gone down!

    He just started a new job where he will be home for both breakfast and dinner daily, no on-call weekends, and the cell phone can be turned off when he’s here. We are rejoicing that we will be blessed with his presence so much more, but it will come with a price- a big pay cut. So Debbie’s comment “The added bonus is that should we reach a point when we MUST live without these conveniences we take for granted, it will not be the same shock to your family that it will to most,” rings true for our family!

  7. julie mulford says:

    GOOD STUFF! we all neglect to think of stuff like this, and i think more people need to with the economy going the rate that it is! thanks alot for all the encouragement! have had quite a few conversations lately about the fact that the things we need have become taken advantage of and the things that we once wanted are the things we need! scary but true! i think people need to really think long and hard about the difference of needing and wanting! God Bless!

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