So, I recently had a conversation with the lovely Ms ZiYou, who seemed astonished when I mentioned that I sew simple basic items for our home. I also mend our clothes, knit hats, crochet blankets and enjoy many other crafty endeavours which personalise and warm our home.
Instead, I wanted to show you a few things you can make yourself with an old duvet cover, worn out linen or some scrap piece, plus a needle, some thread and… rice?
Bear with me, it will all make sense in the end.
If you have never sewn anything in your life – have no fear! These are all square or rectangle cut projects with easy instructions. I intended to use an old duvet cover I got for free online for this tutorial, but when it came to it, I realised it had many years of service left. So I dug out an old piece of fabric I once bought with no clear plan instead.
In the name of decluttering and all that, you know?
In addition to reducing plastic consumption or the general need to keep purchasing more stuff, these simple items also make great gifts for exactly the same reasons. Giving away handcrafted items which reduce plastic consumption is, in my opinion, a great way to live by example and give friends and family a gentle nudge, with much less risk of being considered a nag or annoying for the effort.
All of these projects will of course be much faster if you have access to a sewing machine, but I have included instructions for hand sewing all of them, so that you can get started with a minimum of investments if you do not have the necessary tools at home.
As a cloth and sewing enthusiast, let me just include a small reminder that if you possess or buy cloth scissors – please never use them to cut paper, they will last you so much longer!
For most of us who for a shorter or longer period of time may have had to live on a sufficient but modest income (students, low income earners, part-time, etc), the following scenario might seem familiar:
You try to save. You tell yourself this month will be different. This month you’ll resist the temptation to buy that 2 pm muffin or that 8.45 am coffee shop run. This month you’re going to save.
And then the end of the month starts rolling around, your savings account is just as empty as ever, and your checking account it just a sad shell, waiting for payday a week away.
For the last two weeks of August, it has been quiet here in the Frugasaurus household. Mr. Frugasaurus has been putting his new laptop lifestyle to good use, and spent two weeks watching his grandmother’s dog while she travelled to visit family.
After the delightful recent surge of sustainability and zero-waste themed blog posts, I gave myself the challenge of trying to avoid single use plastic for the two weeks Mr. Frugasaurus was away. As with so many things, I did not go into this expecting a perfect score.
It was also made easier for me by the fact that this was only a two week challenge. Our pantry and freezer was full of food, and the deadline made anything more bearable. If I had wanted, I could have spent the two weeks just eating out of the pantry, and I would technically have “won” the challenge.
But that didn’t really seem in the spirit of the challenge itself, where the intent was to try to create awareness of just how ubiquitous single use plastic is.
It has only been a little over a year since I opened a blank excel (well, LibreOffice Calc, actually) sheet and started plotting the numbers of various savings accounts, investment account and my student loan debt. Since then, it has been a steady walk from underwater towards the red, and because we have never missed a student loan payment, there was always some improvement from month to month, even during the most spendy or tight ones.
This is the first time in almost a decade that I can claim to be in the black. Even though I didn’t track it then, it is no rocket science to deduce that I have been in the red ever since I set foot inside university for the very first time in 2009.
So with that, I’m not sure I could have made this month come off negative – even if I tried to!
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All right all you lovely people, I have some really exciting news to share!
Angela over at Tread Lightly Retire Early invited me to write a guest post for her blog! it actually went live last week, but I am a big ditz and late to the party.
But anyway, Angela is a really sweet person who has a wonderfully positive and upbeat blog about family, frugal life and zero-waste/sustainability. She is one of the most supportive people in the blogosphere (and author of the amazing Women of the financial independence movement) and just writes an all round great blog.
So if that sounds like something you would like to check out, and those links aren’t enticing enough for you, here is the link to the guest post: Imperfect Zero-Waste. As the title suggest, it is all about how we try to strive for a less-waste household and less plastic specifically, but are nowhere near zero waste yet. I also mention lots of specific things we do that you could incorporate into your own journey to reduce waste, should you want to.
I have been feeling a bit impatient lately. I know what I want and I want it NOW.
But now is not the right time. We still have to save up more money for that house down payment, Mr. Frugasaurus still has to get more established in his freelance career, I have to build a sidehustle business that can keep us afloat, and that perfect house in the forest/along the sea has still not come sailing along in the listings we follow.
I suppose you could call it the middle years saving slog, although we have only been aware of the financial independence community for the past year.
So, inspired by the recent Mad Fientist podcast, I thought I would sketch out the dream that is our “perfect” life.
That way we have something to compare our real lives to, when we get that far (and we can see how far off we were).
Being frugal monsters, it should come as no surprise that we try our best to avoid food waste. About one third of all food in the world is wasted, an abhorrent stat we should all do our best to change.
Yes, a lot of the food is lost on the producer and retailer side of things, but consumers have a big responsibility as well.
In Norway, we were hit by a dry season unlike any we have seen in living memory this summer. Farmers are desperate, many can’t get enough food for their cattle over the winter and fear they’ll have to slaughter down. Repercussions which will be felt for years in the dairy industry.
On the other hand, the media is asking consumers to be considerate of the crisis, and buy vegetables even if they don’t look perfect. You know, horrible growing season and all that, and I wish this was a bigger thing. An enormous amount of perfectly edible, nutritious, healthy food is thrown away every year, simply for not looking perfectly straight or otherwise picture perfect.
A few weeks back, someone recommended the podcast Bad With Money to us here at Frugasaurus HQ, and I have been checking out the content. Having bought an electric bike, I suddenly have a lot less time to listen to podcasts on my commute, so I am building up quite the backlog!
But I was listening to the podcast, and one financial health psychologist mentioned a phrase I had never heard before:
Specifically that there are two types of money scripts in particular: Poor money scripts and rich money scripts. As I listened to him, I realised that some of the things I do in order to “trick” my mind are actually an attempt at working around ingrained poor money scripts.
If you grew up on the less affluent side of the tracks, changing your money scripts can be one of the most difficult things to undertake.
With Mr. E. letting the cat out of the bag, so to speak, there are ways in which we wish to gently integrate a bit of LGBTQA+ awareness into some of our posts.
We were dating for almost four years before we tied the knot, and although I had no previous boyfriend with which to compare Mr. E, there are some distinct differences that I notice in how Mr. E. and myself organize our household, as opposed to how some of our friends organize theirs.
Obviously, this is my personal experience with one trans man, my husband. There will be differences between people, so don’t expect to find all or some of these things I consider benefits in all or even some other trans men. Your mileage may vary, and different countries’ socialization will have a big impact as well.
So ye be warned. This is written from a privileged Norwegian perspective, where both paternal and maternal leave is mandatory, and no one looks at you funny for leaving the office at four to pick up your child at the kindergarten, be you a man or woman.
It has been almost two months since Mr. E./Frugasaurus finished his exams and dove headfirst into freelance work and writing full-time. Even with the wedding and everything surrounding that, it is quite amazing how much work he has been able to do.
Even during the very first month, there were enough projects from his company to make him pull in a paycheck that was able to cover not just some, but the entire share of his expenses, and more than his stipend was as a student. He doesn’t seem to take it in at all, but I am amazed at how smooth the transition has been. Even now in the second month, he is set to blow past that by a mile, easily earning him enough money to set aside for months when there are fewer projects.
On my side of the freelance spectra, my little Etsy shop it growing slowly, and I am trying to publish something at least once a week, maybe two.
Over the last year since starting this blog, we have both realised how important it is to our mental health that we earn an income separate from an employer and their paycheck, and why we consider this our version of insuring for life.