Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Subtle Frugality

I don't know how many people have seen the movie, "Cinderella Man," about a famous boxer during the Great Depression.(This film is not for children, and ladies beware if you tend to have high blood pressure. There is too much boxing. You could get really caught up in it and have a heart attack. My doctor told me to stop watching boxing matches!) Quite accurately, they portrayed the welfare lines with people dressed up in their suits and ties, and ladies in their hats and dresses and nice shoes.

No one really wanted to be poor, nor did anyone want hand-outs. Some people even paid back their welfare payments, because it was beneath their dignity to take money from anyone, even the government. Perhaps one reason they showed up in their good clothes is that the suits always lasted longer than the work clothes and didn't have holes in them. Another reason could be that in public, people always wanted to present a good front. They didn't want anyone to think they were ne-er-do-wells who just wouldn't work.

Most people were poor at that time through no fault of their own, yet they still wanted to work, if there had been any work to be had. There was still some of this dignity that carried over into the 1950's. I knew a lot of poor people but they tried not to let it show.

This may be hard for people living in this era to understand, but they didn't want freebies and hand-outs. They were fiercely independent. They wanted to solve their own problems. Though they accepted help from good friends and relatives, they remembered to pass on the favor to others in need when they got better off.

The posts on frugality have gotten the most attention than any other posts I've had so far, and there are over 400 of them. So, I thought while the interest is still high, I would make another article about this matter. This one deals with being subtle, or quiet, about frugality. There are several reasons for this.

Friends may despair of including us socially when they get tired of our frugal remarks ("You should wash out that plastic bag and use it again! Are you going to throw away that tin can? Can I have your leftover chicken?") It gets to be a big downer for others if we are so "obvious" in our frugality. So, my idea throughout all these articles was to disguise it so that you looked like you were living well. I suggested that the main thing was to remain happy and optimistic about life, and not be trying to remind everyone about your own hard times. We should not be trying to impose our own gloom on other people. In spite of financial lack, women at home need to be happy and optimistic, assuring others that there will be better times, just as there will always be daylight after a long night.

There are two extremes in this case: one can either be too vocal about being poorer, and appear to show it off, making others feel guilty if they have more, or, one can cry "poor" and still be trying to live an expensive lifestyle.

If you are trying to be more frugal and overcome a financial hardship, you can't go out buy something like a horse. I've known poor people who couldn't "make it" but they went out and got a horse. A horse has to have care and food and sometimes a place to stay, if you do not live in the country. These things costs money. A horse, or even an exotic indoor bird, is another mouth to feed. In hard times, I think you should be happy with an ordinary cat or dog or fish. Some people just want to buy something like that, because poverty can be depressing, and getting something exotic makes them feel better. However, I've seen, particularly with horses, people lose even more of their living. Several families I have known, seemed to go down-hill financially because they would not give up their expensive horses or animals that were costing them a lot of money. They didn't want to give up a part of their lifestyle that elevated them socially.

Other things people won't give up, erstwhile complaining to their parents or their families that they have fallen on "hard times" are tickets to concerts, nights out with friends, new clothing from expensive stores, and trips. When they ask parents or grandparents who have money (those people that saved the rubber bands and twist ties off things), the lenders don't want to give them anything because the couple won't pare down their expenses and live simply.

Young women who want to come home and be wives and mothers and homemakers, will often have two or three vehicles to "support" and have huge house payments. I heard a mother telling her pregnant daughter, "You could sell off two of your cars and sell your house, buy a smaller one that doesn't have as high payments, and stay home when your baby is born." The daughter wanted to continue working so her little child wouldn't have to suffer poverty like her mother had, when she was a girl. I'm sure this is a common story. I have listened to young mothers tell each other their plans for their children. They want them in all kinds of lessons and camps and activities that cost money and keep the mother running back and forth in a car. These are expenses that are not important, and will not guarantee a rich life later on.

People have a strange attitude toward poverty, as if it were a deadly or debilitating disease, leaving you marred for life. I smile. I was poor growing up and so were my parents and their parents. We didn't know it. Our parents kept it from us. Our mothers stayed home. Our lives were made richer by that. We thought we had it all. With a warm, cozy house, and a mother there at all times, what more would a child want?

I, and many other women my age are living proof that poverty doesn't hurt you. In fact, it can really be a great motivating factor in your life. If it had not been for poverty, some people would never have invented things. If it had not been for poverty, others would not have made up stories for their children. Many mothers would never have knit a sweater for someone they loved, if they had wealth enough to buy whatever they needed.

Many fathers would not have striven so hard to learn how to do just about everything so that they could always find work or offer something to sell, produced by their own hands. If it had not been for poverty, some families would not have learned to entertain themselves by singing. Look at the family of now famous singers: all poor, but they found something within themselves that they could do which eventually became something that brought prosperity. Many people today who are very creative and talented, grew up poor.

While practicing frugality, I think it is good to behave with dignity and not walk around like life is over. At the same time, it seems like a good idea to explain things once in awhile, to those who wonder why you don't go out to eat with them or buy new clothes. You might tell them you are trying to show an example to others of living within your income, and that you don't want all the world's goods anymore.

In the meantime, as I said before, it is so important to eat well, and eat right.Most cheap food consists of simple carbohydrates. Living on carbohydrates is not good for you. Products made of simple flours and sugars will eventually make your heart race and you will experience panic attacks. You may even develop a sleep disorder and a feeling of fear and anxiety. Even in poverty, there should be something to eat which is very good for you: fresh vegetables, fruits, fresh fish, meats and cheeses. If you eat bread, you should eat the highest quality you can bake or buy. It might cost more, but you don't need 4 slices of it to sustain you. You may need only one.

To make frugality a subtle art, it is good to keep up with things like entertaining and helping others, being creative, or sharing your talents and knowledge. You may not have much money but life doesn't have to stop.

Hospitality is especially important if you are trying to be frugal. It gives you the social life that seems to lift you, and others, out of discouragement. Like "When Queens Ride By," it gives the impression that all is well in the kingdom and that the Queen is still alive and thriving. There used to be people who would deliberately have a celebration with friends and loved ones when they met with hard times, just to show their appreciation for them. Afternoon tea is the least expensive kind of hospitality and is so elegant, an excellent gesture in times of hardship. This kind of activity provides a luxury that makes life seem rich. It does not cost much, either, and most people are happy to come over for tea made in a real teapot and served in your good china cups.

Some of you might remember watching a series in the 1950's called "Wagon Train," depicting the treacherous journey across America to Oregon or California, via the Conestoga wagons. Not all the travellers were rich, but at night when they had camped, they enjoyed music and fellowship that many rich people did not.

Others can remember when nobles and lords suddenly lost their fortunes, yet kept an air of propriety about them. Just because they had no money, did not mean they would not speak properly or refuse to bathe or suddenly become thieves. Poverty is not an excuse to become lesser human beings. Many of my generation would have been considered very poor by today's concept of poverty. We still had to wash our hair and faces, brush our teeth, keep our clothes clean, and keep a clean house and behave honorably to our parents. If there were no jobs, we at least used the time off to improve our own houses, work on the garden, or do something useful. It is important to dress up and look up and not accompany lack of money with a sour attitude or sink into depression.

You can still have people over for afternoon tea, which is so popular today, especially here in the U.S. where tea rooms and afternoon tea in homes have been going strong for 20 years and not showing any sign of declining. This kind of activity provides a luxury that makes life seem rich. It does not cost much, either, and most people are happy to come over for tea made in a real teapot and served in your good china cups.

Subtle frugality requires a cheerful countenance and a soul grateful for the rain on your face and the sun on your shoulders. Every family will have ups and downs financially. Remember the apostle Paul said that he knew how to "abound" (behave when he was well off) and how to be "abased" (get through hard times). So should we. We need to be heroes to those around us by showing how we can get through poverty and still become rich in many ways. It probably is not a good idea to complain about being poor, especially if you are a full time homemaker. People will always tell you to leave your children in daycare and get a job. They do not understand that there are some things worth more than money.

Being subtle means being hardly noticeable where wealth or poverty is concerned. Just as anyone would be dismayed at someone showing off their wealth and living to excess, wearing your poverty on your sleeve might be offensive to some. It is possible to explain your frugality with words like, "I have developed a liking for spending the evenings at home," when asked to go out, or "We haven't decided what kind of furniture we want yet. We are going to use this until we find just the right set," might silence those who put pressure on you.

There is one other thing that can be demoralizing to the family when talking about being more frugal: telling people that you are too poor and can't afford something, can be a kind of put-down to your husband, especially if he is the breadwinner. You may not mean it to sound that way, but it does send the message that he isn't a good provider. Instead of saying you are too poor, say that the item is too expensive.

Even when not enduring hard times, it is good to have a respect for our income and to use it as wisely as possible. Being generous and hospitable seems to create a feeling of living a lavish life, and what can be better than showing love toward others?


candy said...

Hi Lady Lydia
I am really enjoying your posts on being frugal.
One of the reasons I am attracted to the Shabby Chic/Romantic Cottage home decor look is because its pretty, feminine and dreamy. But also because its inexpensive. You can just simply paint your old things pink or white to make them look new again.
My husband makes a good living but Id rather live frugal and save and give and be able to tithe, and help family.
Im always interested in living frugal and simpler. Theres so much more freedom and you dont have to feel like you have to keep up with the Jones'.

Excellent posts. Thank you.

Candy (from Canada)

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder how we define "poor". For me, if we have a roof over our heads, a warm house, food to cook and perhaps even a car we are not poor. I think that sometimes people feel poor simply because they cannot afford to buy everything they want, but even people on quite high salaries can't have everything...eg, a yacht.

Different people have different budgets depending on their salaries and it is better the live within your means than go into massive debt. Some people can't afford designer clothes, some people can't afford new clothes, but everybody in the West can afford nice clothes.

I also think that many "rich" homes are "poor". Poor in love, poor in manners, poor in creativity, poor in warmth, poor in time. Being on a smaller budget should not necessarily mean that you are poor in quality of life and sometimes, as you pointed out, it means just the opposite.

A very nice post, Lady Lydia, and it's made me think about how we define "poor" in the modern world.


Mrs. M (UK)

Stacy @ The Next-to-Nothing House said...

Hi Lady Lydia! Thank you so much for commenting on my blog. I can't begin to tell you how excited to see that you had even visited. You are one of my daily reads and I feel so blessed to have found your teachings.

Your posts on frugality remind me of my parents. They were both raised during the Depression and the invaluable lessons that they learned have been passed on to myself and my siblings. Yes, my mother washes the "disposable" cups after cook-outs. Yes, my father would rather "make do" than to buy new! I have learned so much from them and believe that, with posts like yours, the lessons can be passed on to those who haven't been blessed with parents from the greatest generation.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely perfect. Great post.

Tracy said...

Such wise words! I believe life is what you make of it - whether you have little or a lot. There is always something to be thankful for. :)

Tammy said...

Very well said!

I thought I would come out of hiding and let you know that I enjoy your blog very much.

My husband's grandmother was the very essence of this post. She did not have much but she cherished and cared for what she had. She was of the Depression era and just as you said still kept herself, her home and yard to the best of her ablility with no complaint. I've often said I want to be just like her.

Thank you for this uplifting article and God Bless!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

My husband was telling me recently that according to govt. standards, we would be considered "lower middle class" or even poor.

I was thinking about what my son told me, that so many of his friends who came to our house thought we "had money" because of how beautiful it looks. Skills learned during the years we WERE poor. :)

Great post, as usual.

Anonymous said...

I too am enjoying your frugality posts. I love your point about not complaining about being poor. Cinderella Man is one of our favorite movies - while the poverty the family endured was heartbreaking to watch, there were wonderful examples of how to behave when you have "nothing." Older family members have told Dpression stories about pouring another cup of water on the beans when company came - they all made it through the best they could. It makes me want to be more hospitable.

Because we've been "poor" most of our married life, my children and I have become more creative, I've learned to cook with real ingredients, and I've learned to walk more places (very handy with gas prices so high). We've become much more resourceful than we would have if we'd had more money.

Thanks again for these great posts.

Heritage of Home said...

I am so glad to be able to read words of wisdom from you!
There are not many women of your character. I am being bessed everytime I read! Thankyou! Thankyou! From the bottom of my heart! Titus 2 abounds here! Blessings to you today.

Anonymous said...

As usual, a very good post today. Our family is experiencing a downturn these past couple of years, & only recently have I decided that it was time to inform our children of our circumstances. But, I know that how I present myself, to them as well as to outsiders, will make all the difference in the world. They have never known anything but prudent living, waiting for things, & expectation of good behavior. I am thankful every day that because of this, my overall "lot in life" will not seem so stark, whatever may happen.

Thank you, once again, for posting such a wonderful piece. In particular, I liked this: "Poverty is not an excuse to become lesser human beings......It is important to dress up & look up & not accompany lack of money with a sour attitude or sink into depression." Well put!!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great, thought provoking post.

It is so true that we live in a society, when one is considered poor, while having 2 cars, a 3 bedroom home, brand-new clothes and all the electronic doo-dads one "must" have.

Your post helped me to reconsider the "air" I put on around others, regarding frugality. Thank you again!

Kimberline said...


I have been working my way through the encouraging articles in the sidebar and thought of a story that I believe I first read at LAF. I am hoping you will know of it and will be able to perhaps link to it. I would so much love to read it to my children.

In the story the people are living in a very messy and unattended home. I believe one of them is ill and has to keep to her room. Someone gives her a little pretty figurine or some such beautiful thing and they can't bear to put something so pretty down in such a drab and dirty room. Soon the item is encouraging them to clean up about the window. The panes are washed and shining, the curtains are then cleaned and pressed. One spot of cleanness and beauty then spread through out the room and so on through the home.

Do you know this story or perhaps one of the readers happens to know it? Could it be an article over in the sidebar along with " When Queens Ride By?" I know it encouraged me as equally as did the articles you have there.

Thanks so much for all you do and once again, LOVELY articles on the blessing of thoughtful frugality.


Lydia said...

Kimber, I did not write the article you speak of, but it sounds like one of the tales from an old book I heard of. It might have been an article that was once here, by Mrs. Alexandra in Europe, who now has the site, Creative Housewife.

Cindi said...

Good morning. I read your blog, but do not comment often. Today with recycling and environmental issues such a hot topic you can be frugal and keep in line with that topic. We garden (organically) because it is good for the environment and it is a better food supply. Not to mention it helps our food bill. We shop at thrift stores because it is recycling and keeping these things from the land fills. It is such a great time to be frugal in our society. You can be sheek and doing the "in" thing if you phrase it right.

Lydia said...

Candy, when I first saw shabby chic, I recognized it from my childhood. It was wood furniture and shelves whitewashed by the sun. It was nostalgic of times when our furniture was worn and faded, but still loved. Just going to the sites that feature this kind of thing and looking at how beautiful they present things, gives inspiration for anyone who thinks they "don't have anything." It presents your things in a new light.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia! This post is pure wisdom. "Poverty is not an excuse to become lesser human beings." So true. It should, in fact, cause us to shine even brighter, to show what God can do! Many great and accomplished people have come from poverty, and this gave them creativity and drive to better themselves; it propelled them forward. How interesting that often their children, who grow up with means, do not rise to the level their parents did. Again, thank you for this post. I am learning to be "subtle" in frugality because it offends my husband if I say to someone, "we can't afford it". I never thought this was of any consequence, but now I see that he may see it as a reflection on him as a provider. I am learning many lessons...

God Bless You,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this and your other articles on frugality. You know how to add beauty to anything in life!

Jennifer at Joy of Frugal Living

Lydia said...

A friend of mine just sent this to me for Kimber

Kimber, in the comments section of your blog, asked about a story. It is very similar to "When Queens Ride By" but I believe she is referring to this one which I found in a slim book, titled "The Joys Of Homemaking" by Daryl Hoole. The book was written in 1975. It is a very encouraging book for homemakers and can often be found on e-bay or old bookstores.

It is in Chapter Three which is titled, "Start Here"! Perhaps you can block copy this e-mail to your blog for her or just forward it to her.

"There were many problems at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Blank. The husband's paycheck was far from adequate. As a result, bills were stacked high and financial problems plagued them from all sides. The children were out of control and caused problems wherever they went. Mrs. Blank felt about five years behind in her housework. She was so depressed that she had developed a serious cae of inertia. The situation worsened with each day.

At the very bleakest point, a neighbor happened to give Mrs. Blank a bouquet of fresh flowers. It had been a long time since she had held fresh flowers in her hands, so she took minute to admire them. The she went into the house and found a little container for them and put them on the kitchen table. But the table was so littered that the flowers were completely lost there, so she cleared the table off. She then noticed how worn and bare the tabletop was, so she found a cloth to cover it an then put the flowers back. They really did look charming, she thought, as she stood back to look at them--but the effect was quickly spoiled by the neglect in the rest of the room. So she tidied that room up, which led to the next room, and the next one, until the whole house was in order. Then she herself felt out of place in her appearance, so she put on some fresh clothes and brushed her hair.

At this point something interesting happened. Mrs. Blank felt a surge of ambition go through her. (It's not what you've done that makes you tired; it's what you haven't done that's so exhausting. A day's work completed is really quite exhilarating. It's when you are halfway through the work and see that you are not going to make it that fatigue sets in.) Well, with this newfound energy, Mrs. Blank fussed over dinner that night. She seasoned the vegetables and meat especially well, managed to make some tasty gravy, and baked a pudding. As the children came home from school, instead of screaming and tearing through the house as they usually did, they exclaimed, "Mom, what's happened? Who's coming? What can we do to help?" And they were actually cooperative and pleasant.

Later Mr. Blank arrived home. But instead of greeting his family with his usual gripes and complaints, he was complimentary and congenial. His mood matched the atmosphere. His mood had always matched the atmosphere--it's just that this day the atmosphere had changed.

The family sat around the table enjoying the tastiest meal they could ever remember, with the flowers as the centerpiece. While they were eating, the landlord came to serve an eviction notice because they were so far behind in their rent payments. But as he entered the room and looked around, he changed his mind and said, "Oh, I see things are improving. I'll give you another month to meet the payment." And things did improve, because when the mother cared and tried, the husband and children did too."

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

Very good post and I like your reference to the movie “The Cinderella Man,” which is a movie my husband and I really enjoyed. I admire mothers and wives who are frugal with the family’s hard earned money.

Anonymous said...

I agree with not saying "I can't afford that" because it is a negative mindset. I say instead, "I don't want to spend my money on that" or "I'm saving my money for something else." Because, truly, I am not poor because I have food, clothing, and shelter.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Anther excellent post! We all need encouragement to be thankful and uncomplaining in all circumstances. I find it interesting that some people came out of impoverished childhoods with a bitter attitude and they often overreact by spoiling their children or living in debt. Others look back with gratefulness on their poor childhood and they carry meaningful lessons into adulthood. Besides the Lord working in their lives I think their parents probably had a lot to do with teaching them how to accept or reject the lessons of poverty. We can do the same with our families as well!

I know the most humbling(and hard) thing for me has been to have close family members scoff at our one income family and talk about how I have the "luxury" to stay at home with my eight children. It has been hard to keep my mouth shut, smile and not complain. The greatest gift I can give my husband is choosing to be joyful in good times and bad and being grateful for the way he works to provide for us!

Jill Farris

Kimberline said...


Thank your friend for her thoughtfulness for me. That is not the story I am remembering, but once again it is another fine example in the same spirit as the one I am thinking of and similar to "When Queens Ride By"

It is encouraging to think that many women have needed stories just like this one to lift their spirits and help them turn a new leaf :) I know your articles and the themed stories truly help me!

So...the mystery is still on! I am going to pore over a couple of homemaking sites, as well as the LAF site and see if I can find the story that I mentioned.

Again, thank your friend for sending that quite wonderful story and thanks for including it here in the comments! It was quite encouraging, too, and I plan to copy it.



Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your article very much. However, I have to comment about attitudes during the depression. My mother in law's family were immigrant homesteaders during the depression. They were as poor as you could get. We call them "rock farmers" because the land was so bad that there really was no way to grow anything. Even under those circumstances, they would not eat turnips. Turnips were only for "poor people" and fed to the pigs. She does not eat turnips to this day. Some things never change...

wendybirde said...

Kimber, I am so drawn to that story you mentioned...it would be wonderful if you might share the story once you've "solved the mystery".

Lady Lydia, i just love the story you shared, the one from "The Joys Of Homemaking", thank you so much for that! : )

With subtle frugality, personally i dont think its about trying to hide that you are poor, but rather about truly knowing you are rich in what matters most (family, prayer, peace, joy, etc). St Francis called this "holy poverty", and i find this such a beautiful thing. There is nothing to hide there, because it is a beautiful, full, rich life.

Peaceful Week : ) Wendy

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the Waltons. I love the shows. But it show family unity. Right now dh is looking for a job b/c is business has decreased dramictally. He has an interview Thurs. So prayers are flying around here. It is getting to the point if he doesn't find something soon I'm tempting to apply for food stamps. I don't want to but I might have to.
But we don't show our hard times. Why? It just makes us miserable.

yoshi3329 said...

Such wise words! I believe life is what you make of it - whether you have little or a lot (and I can vouche for that!). There is always something to be thankful for!

have a blssed day!


Anonymous said...

Kimber, I think the name of the story is called The Old Brown House?

It is about an old hermit woman, Aunt Ruth, who lives in a very old, low-roofed, and weather-beaten, brown house. A young girl named Bessie Lane is moving and has to give some of her things away. She gives Aunt Ruth a plant...a little potted rose.
First she placed the little plant in the warmest corner...then the south window. Doing so, she chanced to glance at the window. Why she never realized how dirty those windows were. So she cleaned, rinsed and polished the glass. By doing that she noticed the old muslin curtain was dingier than common...she continued to clean, and then began going to church, and you wouldn't believe the change that came over the little old brown house just because a little girl gave her little potted rose plant to the old hermit woman.

That is one I recall. Another is about a little girl who got sick. Her mother was so busy trying to work, that the house and children just sorta had to take care of themselves. It was not a nice place to live. The little sick girl couldn't go to school, and a little school mate began bringing the lessons to the little girl. Later in the story, the school mate brings a little porcelain figurine. The school mate placed the figurine at the window. Suddenly the family began to clean the window, then the curtains, then the rug...and slowly but surely it spread from the window where the figurine lived throughout the whole of the house and finally out of the family.

Both are very similiar and are great stories.

Shalom, Paula

Anonymous said...

I'm continuing to enjoy your series, Lady Lydia, thank you.

I admit I may differ when discussing our frugal living. I have a dh who does not mind me doing so and is rather proud of what we are able to accomplish on less money.

I find it sometimes helps others to know they are not alone and that it is often possible to live on much less than they believe. Although I would never claim to be poor as I feel rich in many ways (and certainly am compared to most in the world), I have been broke. I live frugally with a lot of joy and am not ashamed in any way.

Kimberline said...


The second story is the one I was describing. I'm hoping I will be able to find it online 'somehow' and then will come back to share :)

And you have now mentioned even one more story that is of a similar type! Thank you! Isn't it interesting that there are so many short stories in a similar vein to encourage home makers through tough times?

It is great that you remembered the title of the first story you describe. That makes it easier to find. On the second story, I'm not even sure of how to go about finding it. I am fairly sure I read it within a post at Ladies Against Feminism several years ago.

When I first began to use the internet I only surfed to about 3 websites. One was LAF, one was a birth forum and the other was Laine's Letters. I think it surely would have been on LAF, but as I said, it was inside a post and not the article itself as I remember. I have begun looking over older posts there but there are a lot to wade through! Also, I think some articles may have been left out when they underwent a format change.

When I first was surfing to LAF their format was not set up in a way that was easy for them to put their article text in, but it was GORGEOUS in how it was set up with LOTS of rich, beautiful pictures all through the text. I was sad to see the old format go because it was almost like reading on a piece of art. I can't describe it any better than that. It was a feast of words served on platter of beautiful artwork...a present for the eyes and a gift for the heart to read anything there. I still love the site and I totally understood that they needed a friendlier site format to get articles on there easily and keep everything accessible, but I miss the way it used to be.

Lydia does a lovely job on this blog of adding pictures within the text and I greatly appreciate it. One print she used in December is a piece of art I have a reproduction of over my fireplace. And one other that is featured in here was so pretty I went out looking to buy it. I didn't find the particular one I want but found out there are several in a series and all are gorgeous. I purchased one of the other pictures from the set. They are of women gazing out windows as they stand in wonderfully beautiful rooms. Now when I see the pictures they remind me of this site.

This website is both encouraging and RESTFUL for me. I just love to find a new posted article when I surf in and recently began rereading older postings. It is like finding a lost friend when a favorite pops up in my reading.

Thanks for helping with finding the stories. I am just feeling sure that between all of us, we surely will come across that story I mentioned. I can't wait! It was a favorite as soon as I read it and I am so sad to have lost track of it. Had I not though, I would have missed a couple of other equally lovely stories that have been posted in the comments here :)

Oh I love a mystery! Off to do some sleuthing.......


More than Survival said...

WONDERFUL post!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this series on frugality. You are always able to turn a sometimes frightening and fearful topic (not having much money) into something to be thankful for. We often have to re-align our sights back to the path, and not the world's version which is always driven by greed, and looking at everything in the negative- such as the thinking that always comes along with much "getting" that it's not enough...nothing will ever be "enough". It is great to realize this, and I wanted to tell you because of your blog I stopped our newspaper. :)

Mrs. Stewart

Catherine R. said...

I find your observations about subtlety very interesting. I don't know if you have noticed, but many people these days seem to be downright proud of their poverty. They cling to it as an excuse for being 'victimized' by the world around them and are quick to make sure everyone knows they are poor. They feel strong senses of entitlement to handouts and being financially supported by the government.

Yet at the same time, their homes are shamefully dirty, their appearance is intentionally tasteless and their demeanor is harsh and impolite. I wonder where the sense of dignity has gone to in our culture today. It seems like it was once the norm, from what you describe and from the accounts of the older generation. Even the pictures tell a thousand words, people in line for a handout were indeed well-dressed, dignified and *gasp* not obese.

Your advice is counter-cultural and thank you for it!

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts, and for having a blog of distinction and spiritual standard. I enjoyed visiting today and will be sure to return again! Blessings ~ Heather

mama k said...

Great post.
Lately I definitely "feel poor" and need some encouragement to have more perspective.

Stacy said...

This was such a great post. I hope you don't mind, i added you to my blog under "Blogs I Read" I agree with so much of what you said and i need to work on being more subtle about our situtation i think. *hugs* Keep writing, your words are inspirational!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Sherman,

Your article made me think of how so many people in our society consider themselves "poor" when they are amongst the most privileged people on Earth, living with shelter, food, clean water, utilities, often an automobile, more than one suit of clothing, have access to education for their children, have access to medical care, and all the other things that the "poor" of America, Europe and Australia take for granted.

I thought about my little foster daughter in Africa, Monicah, and her circumstances. Monicah lives in a one room house without electricity. One of her most important chores is to bring water from the local pump. Before last year, when sponsors such as myself paid for the pump, the water was not clean, and was brought from a dirty canal several miles away. Monicah goes to school now that she does not have to walk miles to the canal, and her clothing consists of her school uniform and one other set of clothing.

Monicah's community now has access to some medical care. When her little sister became seriously ill last year, her family was very thankful that they could get to a doctor and get medication to save their baby. After school, Monicah helps her father with their garden plot, where they grow all their food - corn, beans, greens and tomatoes. This work is done after her father returns from the nearest city, where he walks twenty miles to clean a large public building. They have chicken a couple of times a year, for special occasions.

The program I sponsor Monicah through arranges for an extra donation for a birthday gift every year. In the three years I have had the privilege of knowing Monicah, she has always used this monetary gift to purchase a necessary item for herself, like school shoes or pencils - and then she spends the leftover money for clothing and other necessary items for her younger sisters, who are not presently sponsored.

Though she lives in grinding poverty those of us in first world societies can hardly imagine, Monicah works hard toward her future. She wants to be a teacher, and though she has to struggle with learning English, which is not her first language, her grades improve every year. When asked what she will do when she earns money as a teacher, she always says "I will help my family, especially my little sisters". There is never mention of things that she will buy for herself or how she will live in a fine house. In every letter she sends to me she mentions the "poor people" she sees around her - because to Monicah, having a house to live in, sufficient clothing, clean water nearby and enough to eat means that she is rich.

Monicah lives in Kenya, and of late during the violence there, I have lost touch with her. I can only hope and pray that she is all right. She has taught me that I can never, ever, so long as I live where I do and have what I have, be poor. No-one in my country (Australia) is really poor, not compared to so many people in the world who struggle to survive against terrible odds, and have not so much as enough to eat or a roof over their heads.

Thank you for reminding us of how very blessed we are, and how we should strive to make the very best of all the wonderful things we have. When I see people neglecting their homes, their clothing and their appearances, I think of that little girl in Kenya, so proud that she bought her baby sister a pretty dress with money that was given to her as a gift.

All the best,


Tiffany Mims Shedd said...

Great post. Another answer when pressured to not be frugal is to say we choose to spend our money on different things and blank is just not a priority for us.

Also, we watched a movie called The Ultimate Gift produced by Michael Landon Jr. that was so on point to this post and really touched our family.

An extremely wealthy woman I knew used to wash out her baggies. I asked her why since she was so wealthy. Her reply, "How do you think I got that way."

Just Me said...

Thank you for your blog, Lady Lydia. I, and so many others, glean much, much wisdom from your site. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

During hard times it is even more important to maintain dignity and self-respect.

One of the differences between now and the Depression is that poor folks are keenly aware of the disparity between themselves and others as opposed to being surrounded by those living as they do, and also poverty often means living in dangerous neighborhoods.

Frugality (not to be confused with stinginess)is always good practice regardless of financial station because it is a form of respect for our resources and the environment.

Melissa said...

Lady Lydia,

I can't begin to tell you how much I am enjoying this series! One of the things that stuck out for me in this particular post is how saying that you can't afford something brings your husband's ability to provide into question. And questioning God's provision at the same time! Thank you for this. I have a few changes to make and a lot to be thankful for!

Many Blessings,
Melissa K.

MrsRitchey said...

I watched that movie. It was wonderful! One thing about that movie which really spoke to me was, and I know it is a movie...work of Hollywood, so maybe this wasn't true of the real person, but there is a scene in it, while they are living in that basement apartment, which is nothing more than a cellar, and it is neat, tidy, you can see the efforts made to make it homey, like a tableclothe on the table. And I know, it is a movie, but I like to think that while some of us may whine about our homes, and say it is pointless to keep the kitchen nice, because the cupboards aren't what we would like, or our house is too big, or small to be made homey, here she was living in a cellar, and she made the effort!


Survivalwoman said...

I was reading and was struck by the example from Cinderella Man , I have been in Public Offices where I have watched People Look over other people who were well dressed and make horrid statements about a young woman I knew. Oh how they commented. Ohh Look at the gold on her finger , Look at her nice clothing and her children's nice clothes , she's surely committing fraud by applying for food stamps.

Sadly I listened to these things.
The Jewelry she wore were treasured gifts from better times.

Her Wedding Ring , Rings Passed down from Grandmothers long before.

her clothes many years old , but well cared for , her makeup bought with the sweat of hard labor tortilla making , her children's clothes the best they had , often bought at the cost of one less meal for herself.

She didn't tilt her head in shame , she didn't even notice how people reacted.

She dressed as her husband told her , to always look her best so that he could always point her out and be proud.

i was filled with anger at the peoples assumptions about her.

my best friend works harder than anyone i know. As a wife. As a mother.

I held my tongue.

I prayed that they (the people i did not know ) never be judges so harshly.

Lydia said...

To the comment about the movie scene with the little table in the basement apartment: I noticed that too, and it was more accurate than people realize. Basically, more women were trained to be good housekeepers, and the surroundings or the income was not as important. I have old photographs of people on picnics in the early 1900's and even then, the cloth was laid and the table set and no trash laying around (at least not for a picture), where men and women actually dressed up, wearing hats!