Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Preparing for rough times

Until a couple of days ago I hadn’t realized how negative my blog may read at times. I try to convey my thoughts and observations with positive words but sometimes its very hard.  I’m not a natural born writer. I have to really work at it.  I want my blog to be about “hope” or “possibilities” and not about doomsday.  My intention has always been to show readers that the lack of money should not keep you from being happy.

Food and kitchen 2014 180

Learn to keep living foods stay fresh longer

I write about life as a person living with very little money because I am a person with very little money.  I say I’m living frugal because the word frugal has a more upbeat meaning than the words poor or low income do.  (read more here)

When I say troubling times ahead I mean that prices of everything (food and other stuff too) could get much higher than they are right now.

Does anyone remember all the “hype” around the year 2000 and how so many believed in the Mayan prophecy the world was going to end? The talk of doom and gloom was all over social media. Well, I believe many people are preaching doom and gloom again these days because of all the similarities to events in the years leading up to the great depression and WW2.  Some people just want to see only gloom and doom and make money from it too.  Of course anything is possible but why worry about what you cannot change?  Prepare for a change but don’t worry about it.  Worry and stress change nothing.

Food and kitchen 2015 001

Pan drippings are washed to make lard

I’m a firm believer in learning from our ancestors.  With today’s budgets being strained by rising costs, weather related crop damages, virus epidemics, and threats of global warming; I believe the wisdom of our grandparents or parents during the “make do and mend” years are just as relevant today as they were back then.

But will that same frugality of our ancestors speak to a new generation suffering from stress & anxiety in a fast paced world that is enduring an economic crisis, environmental concerns, and threats from an enemy who is determined to rule the world? Gosh, I could be my Grandma Mama talking to her friends right now.  Many similarities can be seen between that time and today. Yesterday it was Hitler we fought but today its terrorists.  Yesterday it was war with Germany and the Axis Alliance but today its war in the middle east.

FOODS 2013 017

Recycle energy to save money

I don’t think there is much I can do to prepare for rough times that I’m not doing already.  I’ve been low incomed all my life so the things I do are mostly what I’ve always done.  I admit there is room for much improvement in my skills though.  I’m practicing to get better.

Food and kitchen 2015 321

Try new ways to preserve your foods

To prepare yourself for rough times go back to the knowledge of your grandparents and great grandparents.   Re-learn the old ways. Concentrate on what people did during the depression and both war rationing times.  There is a super amount of frugal wisdom there.

I suggest the first thing to do is learn to cook from scratch.  Invest a few dollars in baking supplies and practice, practice, practice.  If you learn nothing else at least learn to make biscuits and pie crust. With those two thing you’ll have many menu beginnings.  If you look closely at recipes from the rationing years you will realize the portions sizes were very small compared to what we eat today. Absolutely no “super sized” drinks or meals back then.  People ate mostly vegetables back then too.

Hmm…. has anyone noticed that you can buy a t-shirt cheaper than a loaf of bread from the store?  Just an observation.

Food and kitchen 2015 193

Learn to cook from scratch

Ok, there are going to be those who say they can’t cook from scratch or other things because they hold full time jobs.  Well gosh, women back then held full time jobs while still maintaining a garden, cooking from scratch, sewing for their family, washing, ironing, and canning at night.  No one came home from work to plop down at a computer screen or in front of a tv while eating a fast food meal.  People, especially women, worked full time jobs and kept their family fed, clothed, clean, and healthy.  Children worked too.  They had chores to do.  There were no game playing couch potatoes back then.

Energy diet 2014 009

Imitate the old ways by doing what people did even if you can’t do them exactly the same way

Gosh, I could type talk endlessly about how to be frugal or prepared but I really must get other things done too.  I hope this answers some of your questions?  I will write more as my time permits.  I do work and live frugally too.

18 comments on “Preparing for rough times

  1. Faye
    August 6, 2015

    Newby here….I found your site as I am a regular on Frugal Village and one of the posters there mentioned you. I am sooo happy to find you! I love your easy writing style…you are soo down to earth. I have lived frugally for awhile and I ENJOY it! I purchased a little old house and decided that I needed to feed myself better and with the rising prices of fresh vegetables and fruits I needed to take action. So I thought about it and contemplated what my ancestors would have done. Instead of working myself to death or shopping at expensive grocery stores. I have used almost my entire front yard for a vegetable garden. I have saved ALOT of money as I eat what I grow! I have been eating alot of zucchini right about now…laughing. Take care and keep writing. I wish I had gleaned frugal tips from my grandmother while she was still alive. I still remember finding an old rationion book in her living room bureau.

    • Na Na
      August 6, 2015

      What is frugal village?

  2. mea
    July 20, 2015


    First time writing here, stumbled on to your blog. For some reason I have latched onto the idea of being frugal, well actually been for decades but feel I need to be even more frugal now as I will retire in a few years. I look at the world around me and see people being stressed, homelessness, people in poor health,signs of poverty. What is scary is that I think some people don’t need to be in debt but they are to undisciplined to hold back and question if that purchase is really necessary. My mother told me about how poor some people were when she grew up, one story made me cry. People in those days were much more humble, life was not guaranteed. I work full time, but I have to work very hard so time management and being frugal is very important, I just think of how hard I have to work to make a dollar.
    Todays frugal deed: Black berries are starting to get ripe, I picked some wild black berries, wore old leather gloves. If I get to pick enough this season, some will to into the freezer for the long long winter.
    I like to throw in a useful quote that improves our frame of mind: Don’t compare your life with others, you don’t know what their journey is about.

    • Na Na
      July 20, 2015

      Hi there, glad to have you visit. In my humble opinion the things you feel are signs of your age and reaction to the economy. Many of us baby boomers are noticing things differently these days.

  3. Sarah S
    July 15, 2015

    Hi Anita,

    You share such valuable insight, and it is good to be reminded that for many reasons, hard times can come again at any time.

    I’ve just pulled out 3 loaves of bread and 1 dozen hamburger rolls from the oven, the kitchen smells lovely. Cost to make all of these beautiful breads, less than one fancy loaf at the grocery down the street.

    How do I find the time? I don’t own a TV, and feeding my family well and frugally is a priority. We harvested potatoes, cleaned cured onions, picked free peaches today, then I baked. All this accomplished because it is a necessity to take care of ourselves by eating good food.

    I love that you use your spare room for a pantry, I have shelves in our cellar that are filled with bins of homegrown produce, jars of home canned tomatoes, salsa, jam, ect, and a tupperware tub that houses the sale items like flour and sugar I buy when the price is right.

    thanks for your stories, they brighten my day, and it is good to know their are like minded souls out there!

    Sarah in Kansas

    • Na Na
      July 17, 2015

      Oh my! Sarah, I can almost smell the bread through the computer. A cellar would be a lovely place to store food. I wish I had one.

  4. Because... I'm cheap
    July 14, 2015

    I don’t drop by as often as I should, but I love reading your posts. I especially think this one was great. It makes one want to go back and read more of what you do. Like the food preservation post, I’m heading there next to read 😉

    • Na Na
      July 17, 2015

      Dropping by now and then is fine. I can’t post as often as I’d like to either.

  5. Lynne
    July 13, 2015

    Thank you for being so matter of fact about all this. I too grew up with depression age parents and never knew we were so poor. I am sick of all the sites with so much fear and paranoia. You are a breath of fresh air.

    • Na Na
      July 17, 2015

      Thank you Lynne, I appreciate that.

  6. Heather
    July 11, 2015

    Found your blog while surfing the internet for frugal ideas a few weeks ago. I think it is one of the best frugal blogs I’ve read to date. Hope you keep going with your writing. It is full of practical ideas and such a wonderful reflection of real life solutions. Love your down to earth style as well! I have you bookmarked and hope to drop in often to see your blog posts. Just wanted to encourage you to keep writing and sharing! Thanks so much!

    • Na Na
      July 11, 2015

      Thank you Heather I’m glad to have you reading. I do plan to keep writing as long as someone finds it useful. When people stop reading I’ll know I’ve told all there is to tell.

  7. Sarca
    July 11, 2015

    Just keep telling your stories, Anita.

    • Na Na
      July 11, 2015

      Thank you, yes, I will.

  8. Linda S.
    July 10, 2015

    Anita, I look for your posts everyday & I’m so happy when they’re there! I don’t think you’re negative at all. I’m 69 yrs old so my parents were depression era children. My mother was born in 1918 on a cotton farm in the South. In 1928 her mother died giving birth to the 7th child. The Dust Bowl, the boll weevil & the 1929 crash took care of cotton prices. She told stories that all of us of a certain age have heard; no shoes, no medical care, 1 pair of clothes per kid, all hand me downs. She went on to educate herself, had a good job & retired quite well off. But til the day she died she wasted nothing. If there was a tablespoon of mashed potatoes . leftover it went in the fridge for tomorrow. My dad polished his shoes every night because dirty shoes were a sign of poverty. I have to be frugal now as I have 3 grandkids to raise but I remember her lessons. Bless you – I don’t think you realize how many people treasure you.

    • Na Na
      July 11, 2015

      Thank you Linda, I appreciate that. Raising the grands can be both stressful and enjoyable at the same time.

      Yes! That’s what I’m type talking about. Telling the stories and re-learning the skills that got that generation through the rough times can also get the current generation through any rough time ahead of us. Hmm…. denim jeans and jackets were also a sigh of poverty back then. Denim was the cheapest type of fabric and least desirable to wear.

      • Amy
        July 12, 2015

        My mom would tell of getting cardboard shoe inserts when they had holes in their shoes. Also of my grandma rendering lard for the small grocery store they ran. “Oh the smell was terrible.”

        • Na Na
          July 13, 2015

          Oooo… I forgot about cardboard in the shoes. It was also used when there were no holes in the shoes. It was to prevent socks from wearing out too soon. I never understood that logic. And used to add a little extra layer of warmth to thin sole shoes in winter. Yes, rendering lard can be very smelly but a really good product when done.

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