My frugal life – Humble Beginnings

Frugal life, about frugality, growing up with frugality

While I’m trotting around the USA and Canada I wrote this post to keep you entertained while I’m away.   Being a very budget conscious person I thought it might be fun to give you an idea of my humble beginnings, just in case you’ve wondering about my credentials.  Fact is when frugal is a way of life there is no choice.  You either do or do not as Master Yoda would say.    

Hailing from rural New Zealand, frugal is not a lifestyle choice it is a way of life.

There are the idealistic notions one perceives about country living.

Baking your own bread, sowing your fields, rearing your own animals, living and breathing the fresh country air.

It’s a sweet picture isn’t it?

Until you realise the amount of labour and sweat that goes into working those fields and kneading that bread.

That those sweet little animals are being nourished and cared for only so you can eat them.

And the reality is, while the air is most definitely fresh and crisp in the country, it is always going to be tainted by the truth of living that life.

That’s what frugal living is really like.  Real, hard, and mostly hellish for a teenage girl.

Being frugal is always about using the resources you have and using them wisely.

Take water for example.  In rural areas of NZ water tanks are the sole source of supply, therefore treated almost as precious as gold.  Why?  The water tanks are dependent on how heavy it rains year round.

If it didn’t fall as heavy that season there wasn’t much to spare around.

Water wasn’t wasted on things such as personal bathing and you either got to to bathe in a teaspoon of water or have a bath filled with the bathwater eight other people have bathed in.  

We all got our turns to go first….and last.

There was also the “Shit-house” the rural answer to a flushing toilet.  Yes that really is what it was called and really is as horrific as it sounds.

Indoor plumbing in our house was for tap water, with our toilet far off in the distant paddock.

It looked something like this but not quite so rustic.

outside toilet horror, long drops, outhouse
No matter what the season, day or night, I was trudging through a paddock to do my business in a tiny building plonked over a hole deep enough to hold MONTHS worth of  proverbial shit.

And in case you didn’t get it the first time it held MONTHS worth of proverbial shit!

It was also the nesting place of several million spiders and shared a paddock with a few horses and a nasty goat.  Joyous times navigating this at night!

Growing our own food was the best thing about being frugal

Organic and home grown goodness with not a supermarket label in sight.

Imagine having a fresh salad straight from the garden or squash picked and steaming on a plate with butter melting over it in the space of an hour?


Sounds good aye?

It does to me but doesn’t discount the backbreaking hours sowing and weeding those paddocks (no small garden plots here), on hot days and cold days, when I couldn’t have cared less but had no choice either way.

There was always the canning to be done too to save all the excess, though I never had to do it.

Being the apprentice slave chef however meant I was stuck with the food prep.  Fun times!

Then there were our cute little animals

Ones I had the unfortunate habit of getting too close to.  When they were slaughtered I was often upset and never quite go over our kunekunes (pot belly pig) death.

As my family dined on him for months, I couldn’t bring myself to eat him, not one morsel.


But I did for the others because it would be wasteful and you don’t do that in the country.

Though I never slaughtered animals myself I witnessed it many times and while it’s hard to see, everyone should see it, if only to respect what they eat.

The only animals that avoided the chopping block were the chickens who popped out eggs like it was real business.

They were too good at their jobs I guess, though I would’ve eaten those hens in a heartbeat, nasty wenches!


In summer we got yummy fresh seafood straight out of the ocean, but it also meant cleaning the nets or shelling sea food.  Not hard, but took forever when all I wanted to do was run off to the beach for a swim rather than having to finish those chores.

I don’t live like this today though

I have made the choice to live in a big city, in a place that gives me barely enough room for myself let alone anything else, but with plenty of running water.

I do have my own special take on things, my tolerance for the not so usual and downright icky a lot higher than most and that’s where my humble beginnings have lead me.

An advantage I think!

Frugal now for me is a lifestyle choice but only to get what I want and that’s worth it!

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