Why we like to smoke


I feel like this blog is expected to be a deliverer of tricks and tips to live frugally. I do have a lot of those to share, but I’m gonna give you all your money’s worth in one post.

It really just comes down to mentality.

See, Steve and I grew up poor. Some of the things we do we learned because many of our family and friends had to do it because they didn’t have enough to do otherwise. The difference for us now is that we see it in a different light. Here’s the thing:

Frugality done in need can be bitter. Frugality done by choice can be fulfilling.

If you need to keep your family from freezing and you have no expendable money you take your ax out and chop wood without a second thought. You do it because you have to. Then, as soon as you have some expendable money, you buy propane and vow never to have to be so poor that you have to do a thing like burn wood again.


Here’s what I’m suggesting.

If you are willing to do a thing like burn firewood for heat even though you have money you could spend on propane, it’s quite a wonderful feeling actually. It’s not like you are forcing your family to do without simply because you’re living like you’re poor, you’re just making a conscious choice to do it that way.

And there is something hugely rewarding about overcoming an obstacle.

If you overcome an obstacle but take away the negative connotation (like “I’m heating with wood because I’m too poor to sit in the easy propane heat like Mr. Rich man over there.”) you can fully appreciate the reward.

Do you doubt the reward? Think about the time where you worked hard at something and then succeeded. Remember that time that you lost 10 pounds? You may feel frustrated that you can’t do it again, but you did it once and it was so rewarding! Or you sports people, isn’t there something super sweet about your team coming from behind and beating the team thought to have all the advantages?

The same it true for putting the work and effort into heating with wood. It’s work. It’s hard. It’s an obstacle. But there is no kind of warmth like the warmth collected and earned with your own hands.medium_217820792

And here’s the kicker: it’s even better on your wallet!

Now, I realize that in my example I’ve alienated a huge group of people. Where we grew up (in the forest) there are trees everywhere. It’s a fairly simple thing to turn to the woods for heat when money is tight. Many people have a woodstove or you could easily get one if you needed one.

Not so in the city. (I’m reminded of a Beverly Hillbillies episode here where they light a fire in the fancy oven.) I don’t think the city of Milwaukee would appreciate if we started de-tree lining the streets. This is not a way that we can currently save money. It’s a bad example of a frugality tip that anyone can use.

But the good news is that this one example can be morphed and changed to fit any situation. You simply find an expense, figure out how to do it cheaper, make sure not to put too much focus on your own comfort, (no quarterback ever made the winning play by strolling with the ball) then put some good ole conscious effort into being responsible for the outcome.

There are lots of examples.

Some things we do are: #1 Bike to commute, #2 Do lawn care with people power only. #3 Coupon (in my own weird way) #4 Do without common entertainment costs #5 Look at insurance and its prices differently #6 Provide our own food #7 Grocery shop differently #8 Work with the electricity company to get what we both want (and yes, I want a lower bill) #9 Clothe ourselves on the cheap #10 Home repairs #11 Vehicle repairs #12 Thinking about phone/internet differently #13 Keep our clothes clean with less #14 Budgeting.

I think that most of my “tricks and tips” you could probably easily come up with on your own. Just pretend that you only have the money for heat or the other thing and you’ll find ways to make the money stretch a little further.

But I will share how each thing works out for me. I’ll make this blog just like episode after episode of the Beverly Hillbillies if that’s what you’d like.  Just comment which ones you’d like to see and I’ll post about them. You’ll learn much and have someone to laugh at in the process. Yes, things are entertaining around here!

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidstanleytravel/12013986513/”>D-Stanley</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/ahron/217820792/”>Ahron de Leeuw</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;


2 thoughts on “Why we like to smoke

  1. Linda Crumley

    Love this entry, Emily. Thanks for the good reminders. I remember a time when I had little money for groceries– after having become used to always being stocked up on essentials. My daughter and I made a game of grocery shopping…After we thought we were finished, we looked at everything in the cart and challenged ourselves: “Do we *really* need this? How many things can we put back…and how will we do without this?” We laughed and had fun with it; it truly was rewarding!


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