“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Countries around the world have officially declared their economies to be in a recession. The big debate between economists is how long this will last. The best thing any of us can do is to prepare for a long recession or a depression, making choices that will help us weather the storm for a long time if need be.

What we’ve all seen this year is that any job can disappear overnight. Jobs that previously seemed recession-proof may not be recession-proof at all this time. Any of us could face a severe cut in hours, wages, or our jobs; you might be unemployed or underemployed right now.

We are always finding ways to lower our expenses. Our income most years since 2007 has been 70-75% less than it was in 2006 when we bought our home. We’ve lowered our expenses significantly to be able to stay in our home on a monthly amount that is equal to or less than what our monthly mortgage payment was in 2006.

Weathering the storm well means finding ways to live on significantly less than before so that we can stretch what we have to be enough.

Look into a refinance.

A refinance was an important step for us in lowering our expenses. It cut our payment in half.

Right now, mortgage rates are at an incredibly low rate. If you’re currently employed, now is a great time to call a mortgage lender to see if you can get a lower rate. If you can lower your percentage rate by more than 1%, making the change will more than cover the cost of refinancing. You could save several hundred dollars a month and thousands of dollars in interest in the years to come.

If you’ve been thinking of downsizing your house or moving to an area with a lower cost of living, this is a great time to sell. Houses always sell best in the summer. Prices are still high, and with low interest rates and a shortage of homes for sale, the market is great for sellers.

Sell what you aren’t using.

This could mean having a garage sale, selling used clothing online, selling used books online, selling outgrown children’s toys, selling the kitchen items you never use on a local Facebook garage sale page, or selling something large, like a second car that you are no longer using much now that you’re home all the time and school is online. Being a one-car family will save you the cost of registration (several hundred dollars a year in most places, even on an older car), maintenance (often a couple thousand dollars a year), a smog check, and gas, in addition to payments, if your car is not paid off. Check your records to see how much your vehicles truly cost you last year.

Pay off debt.

If you have any outstanding debts, now is the time to pay them off.

Pantry Slideshow 1

Stock up on items that you’re low on in your pantry when they go on sale.

Some regions of the world are still facing shortages, but some are not, and sales are still happening. If you can buy items on sale now, you’ll stretch your grocery budget further and be prepared to feed your family for months should you end up unemployed. Buying a few extra items on each grocery trip can help you when stores are low, or should you need to quarantine at home for two weeks. It can be as simple as buying a couple of dollars’ worth of extra bags of dried beans, buying a 25-pound bag of flour instead of a 4-pound bag, or buying a 25-pound bag of rice instead of a 1-pound bag.

Buy ahead for the coming year or two when it comes to clothing and shoes when the clearance sales happen.

In our warm climate, I wear sandals eight months of the year. In 2006, I found a pair of comfortable sandals I loved and I bought them on sale in black and brown. When they went on clearance, I ordered 3 more pairs of each. Those sandals lasted me over a decade; I wore each pair out completely, and I was so thankful for them.

Look on Facebook garage sale pages for used children’s clothing that you can set aside for the next year or two as well as clearance sales as the seasons change.

Grow more in your garden.

If you don’t have a garden but have the space for one, now is the time to start. Beds can be prepared now and you can plant a fall garden outdoors now if you’re in a zone 6-7. If you’re in a colder zone, you can prepare a new bed for next year now: cover the grass with black plastic bags weighted down or weigh down boxes (from all your online orders!) to kill any grass that is there. You could also build raised beds and start to fill them with fall leaves, covering them with good soil in the spring.

If you already have a garden, evaluate how you can use the space for effectively. Take out any fruit trees that haven’t produced after being in the garden for 5 or more years. Consider removing non-edible plants to make way for more edibles, such as trees that are decorative instead of fruit-producing. Add trellises so that you can grow more vertically in your garden. Look at your front yard to see if it can’t be changed to grow more edibles. Add pots (which will be on clearance soon if not now) to your patio or balcony.

One of the things I’ve been focusing on to decrease my garden expenses is to purchase open-pollinated (heirloom) seeds so that I can collect seeds from my garden each year. My hope is to get to a point where I no longer need to purchase any seeds for the year. While I’m not there yet, I was able to plant many seeds this year that I had collected in my garden in years past. I plan to collect more still as the year continues.

Cut the unnecessary expenses from your budget now and set that money aside in savings.

If you were to find yourself unemployed for a year or more in the years to come, what things would you wish you had cut sooner so that your savings could pay your mortgage or rent and utilities in the months to come? When you find yourself wondering how you’re going to pay the electric bill after six months of being unemployed, will you have wished you had the money because you skipped picking up takeout on the days you felt too tired to cook? Will you regret not canceling a subscription tv service such as Netflix a few months earlier so that you can buy milk? While these treats seem almost needed right now while we are so limited on what we can do for entertainment, they’re still wants, and that money could be put aside as part of an emergency savings.

Chances are, you’re still going to have the internet to work and have school online. Instead of a subscription service, you can choose from several options. You can watch shows on YouTube. You can check out what online streaming services are free when you sign up through your local library, such as Acorn tv. There may be additional free streaming services in your country as well, such as Peacock tv, and Pbs.org (shows are free for three weeks after airing and go up one day after airing on television) and you can try free one-month trials for several streaming services, canceling before you are charged.

Instead of going out to eat, challenge yourself to make all of your meals at home. Learn new recipes that cost less to make and make your least expensive meals more often. Cook large batches so that you have leftovers and don’t have to cook every meal. Make big pots of soups that can be lunches for 2-3 days and frozen for other days when you need a quick meal and you don’t want to cook.

Diversify your income.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a side business or working part-time, an additional income could be the means to start or add to a savings account, or it could be used to pay extra principal down on your mortgage.

Keep looking for ways to save.

One thing I’ve found over the years is that there is always something else you can cut. Find ways to lower every expense that you can. Reevaluate them again and lower them some more. The weekly money-saving posts here are a great place to learn new ways to save. I read every comment, and I learn a new way to save money every week from my readers!

Picnic in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Find contentment at home.

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere, and it’s easy to want to go out and go places. The more you stay home, the less you’re spending on gas, car maintenance, eating out, or purchasing other items.

It’s easy to feel stuck at home, especially this year with the lockdown since March. Rather than viewing yourself as stuck, look at all that you can do now that you’re home more often! I get asked all the time how I get so much done, and being home as much as possible is truly the secret to getting more done! You can organize your home, make long-needed repairs, start researching and making holiday and birthday gifts, download a price book app and start a price book, work on a garden, learn a new skill using free online tutorials (such as how to cut hair), download e-books from your local library to your phone to read, play card and board games with your family, watch some shows for free online (we like to have a family movie night every Friday with popcorn), and work on home decor projects.

What we’ve been doing to prepare:

I’ve found myself changing plans this year. I’ve spent more money stocking up on items that I’m low on as they’ve gone on sale or become available in stores.

I’ve stocked up on clothes and shoes for myself and some things for my husband. I ordered a few clothing items online for two of my daughters that are just a little big, as they’re on the cusp of girls’ sizes and women’s sizes, so I bought them extra small and small women’s sizes rather than size 16 in girls. These should last them several years.

I had two orange trees suddenly lose all of their branches (one also lost the trunk) in March for no apparent reason. My lime tree did the same. I dug out the orange trees and put them in large plastic pots that I had, and have been trying to revive them. I have a new trunk and branches now on the lime tree from above the rootstock and a new trunk on one of the oranges (and new branches on the other). In place of the oranges, I planted two apple trees. If I can keep the oranges alive, I’ll find some new large pots for them.

We pulled out a self-seeded mulberry tree and cut down out elderberries that never gave us anything. I will be planting more lettuce, Swiss chard, squash, and parsley in the planters that were there that were too shaded to grow anything.

I added 10 primocane blackberry bushes to the garden. Next spring, I plan to order Tayberry bushes.

We added four trellises using materials we had on hand, allowing me to grow more vertically in the same space.

We changed out all the lightbulbs in our house and garage to LED bulbs.

Anticipating a recession at some point in the future, my husband negotiated his rent at his prior office to a month to month contract many years ago. Last fall, we were concerned about a recession this year. My husband used that freedom in October to move his office to a smaller office that had become available. It costs him 45% less in expenses.

We listed some items for sale locally.

I just added affiliate links for Amazon Canada and Amazon U.K. to my site!

I started a photography business last year.

Lastly, I will be making prints available for those of you who would like them! I have been asked many times over the years to offer images for sale. I’d love to hear what kinds of images you would like the most! I will be setting up a way for you to order both prints and digital images (so if you’re in another country, you can have the image printed somewhere in your country without paying for shipping).

What are you doing to prepare for the possibility of a long recession?


  1. Thank you Brandy for your words of encouragement and your advise. I feel like I have been preparing for the past 4 years, but now everything seems more urgent. After my husband passed away 4 years ago, I made the decision to cut as much out of my budget. I wanted to take my time to grieve and heal, and wanted to live my life without the external pressures that a job would give me. I did not return to work. I remain retired. I have a small income from interest, and have no mortgage. Key for me in this journey, was reducing my living expenses as much as possible. I eliminated cable, reduced car insurance by a $50 a month (reducing the mileage driven), got a better rate on internet service, cut grocery expenses, became more conservative in electric use by: line drying more, shutting off the water heater during the day, increasing thermostat to 78 (I live in South Florida). I reduced my consumerism as much as possible, and am trying to learn to make things as much as I can, from my own sauces to gifts. I am not a good gardener but I PERSIST!
    Key in this journey was discovering your blog and other frugal and living simple blogs from which I learn, and get much needed “friendship” and encouragement. I rarely comment, but I am a faithful reader. Much grace to us all during these times.
    With deep gratitude.

    1. Hi Patricia,
      I have thought about turning my propane water heater off during the day. I wondered if that would shorten the life of it turning it on and off? Have you been doing this for awhile? Thanks

      1. Lynd, my water heater is electric. It is on a timer and goes off at night from 6pm-6am. In addition I switch it off during the day for additional savings. I am not sure how a propane heater would work. Hopefully, other readers of the blog might provide some answer.

      2. Hello Lynd,
        We have a natural gas heater, and the way we save energy is by turning the thermostat way down in the summer and then up when the weather gets colder. Like Patricia, I’m in S. FL; we don’t use AC, so cooler showers are fine in summer. It isn’t practical to turn the gas heater on and off, but when it’s time to replace it, on-demand heaters are less expensive to operate. Unfortunately, due to the configuration of our windows and existing plumbing, there’s no place we could put a gas on-demand heater. Maybe one would work for you.

  2. Hi Brandy, great article – thank you. Warm greetings to you and all your lovely readers.

    My income has been reduced 60% which is a huge and worrying drop but years ago there was another occasion when I had to leave a job for medical reasons and my income dropped 70%. I didn’t know how I would survive but I did by the grace of God and I believe that no matter what He will be our helper.

    My main strategy now is to have every item of expenditure under fierce scrutiny and if it doesn’t need to be spent then it won’t be. I am also looking at trying to reduce regular outgoings as much as possible – the phone/Internet, electricity, insurances etc. I am sure I can make savings in these areas.

    I’ve cancelled two subscriptions and will be cancelling a third soon.

    Fortunately I have been well prepared for many years as a way of life and there is undoubtedly enough food in the pantry and freezers to see me through at least a year. I also have a large garden and around 25 fruit and nut trees, raspberry canes, grapevines and similar so I can produce a sizeable proportion of my own food. I will likely add a few more hens.

    I live a simple lifestyle, content with my books, garden, crafts and photography for the most part so I rarely go out or spend outside the home anyway such as on trips or restaurant meals etc. I don’t really require much in the way of clothes either except for what I already have.

    I have quite a few unwanted items I am planning on selling for some extra cash.

    Fortunately I did build up an emergency fund but I don’t intend to touch that unless absolutely necessary. Still it is a great reassurance knowing it is there!

    I am going to try and increase my income as much as possible. I have a small seed business and as we head into Spring in the Southern Hemisphere sales are quite good. I am also planning on growing more plants to sell, selling some produce, more of the jewellery and crafts I make and so on. I have a few irons in the fire in terms of income streams!

    Take care everyone. These are trying times indeed but we will get through them.

    Wendy (New Zealand)

    1. Thank you Brandy for your amazing blog. I am a Dave Ramsey follower. I am a nurse who works in long term care. Thankfully my job is secure at this time. Since March I have been able to actually save a lot as my kids are home. I have a 3 month emergency fund working towards 6. My retirement money is stable. My home will be paid off in 2021 at the age of 50. My 2 girls are blessed with great academic achievement and b/c of their hard work should get a full ride, In 2022 I should be able to put $2000 month away in savings and continue to build savings. As a nurse I make very little, but there are many positives to that. I get financial help with all medical bills, my kids will be able to get grants for school if needed. I have been very frugal out of nessecity and times have been hard. But God has blessed us at every step of our journey.

      1. Lauri this is inspirational to many. Well done! You have modeled wonderful choices and dedication for your daughters.

  3. Brandy- Just a note to say how much I appreciate your blog. Your beautiful pictures combined with your focus on family and apparent serenity are just so refreshing in a world that can seem pretty off balance. After reading your posts and looking at your beautiful pictures I always feel renewed focus to living a life that matches our families’ purpose. Thank you!

  4. Our family went through our own recession/depression years ago when my husband was laid off from his medical sales job. Our children were very young, and we strongly desired that I would not work in order to be home with them. At the same time my husband went back to school to earn an occupational therapy degree. There were many complex needs and desires interacting, but the hard choices that were made and the hard work that was done gave us a wonderful life. We moved in with his parents for 3 years while husband worked and studied. We were careful to pay our own way in every area except for rent and utilities – which my in-laws very graciously provided. I cared for and homeschooled our children, did babysitting and made crafts for sale to bring in extra money, purchased all clothing at garage sales or thrift stores, and made gifts. We lived a very simple life – very organic with homemade fun. Just before my husband was laid off, I encountered a radio program called “How to Manage Your Money with Larry Burkett. It was life changing. We had at that time credit card and student loan debt. We were rarely giving at church, bouncing the occasional check, eating out, etc. I was really clueless about handling money. But with Burkett’s financial instruction about wise stewardship of money, we made a big turnaround – becoming debt-free one month before the layoff. It was also through this financial teaching that I learned about the Tightwad Gazette – hardcore frugality, very uncommon in that day. The tips I learned from TG were really helpful, but even more important was the instructions about how to think about spending/saving money. Long story a little shorter – husband has been in OT for almost 25 years, we homeschooled our children from pre-K through high school (both are college graduates), our home is paid off, our retirement is funded, our savings are available, we give regularly to our church and nonprofits, our grandchildren are being raised in a frugal home and their homeschooling is just beginning, and we still live a simple life. My confidence does not rest in our retirement funds or savings, because that could all pass away. My confidence rests in the Lord God who has provided for us each step of our way

    1. From OHIO I still use Tightwad Gazette pizza crust recipe.I think I will pull my books back out for bedtime reading. Thank you for reminding me of this
      Blessed Be

      1. I love my Tightwad Gazette. Hubby found it on a free shelf at work. I had the first one but this one is all 3 books. He wrapped it in the comics for me. One of my favorite presents. I think I will read it again.

      2. My copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette (by Amy Dacyzyn) is very worn, with highlighting, underlining, and splatters on the recipe pages. I keep it handy on my kitchen bookshelf and refer to it often. I was a single mom for 6 years at one time, and boy, did it ever save me! I learned so much about being frugal, and I love her philosophical articles about why to do these things. Very inspiring and timeless! At first (many years ago) I checked each book out of the library, then I stumbled across a version with all 3 of her TG books in one volume at a garage sale. I snapped it up for $1, and have since read it dozens of times. Highly recommend it!

      3. I ordered a used copy of the Tightwad Gazette earlier this year when so much was shutting down and shelves were empty. I’m from Ohio also!

    2. When I began my frugal journey in the early 90’s, Tightwad Gazette was a Godsend!
      Re read it periodically!

    3. You are the first person,that has mentioned Larry Burkett ever. I read every book he ever wrote and it was how I learned to manage finances. I’m so glad all worked out for you and the Lord provided, as he always does. We are working towards retirement with the house paid off. Thank you for the great memories of learning how to budget in my early 20s.

  5. Paying off debt has been number one for me. I was very blessed to just sell my home, and am now debt-free. I am getting re-married in a few months, and when I do, some of the proceeds will pay off his vehicle – then we only will have the mortgage on our marriage home to knock out. I also have started a garden this year, and am taking notes to improve it for next year. I always have extra meals on hand so takeout is rarely needed (I have systemic Lupus, and sometimes my fatigue is so bad even warming something up is more than I can handle). I stock up on items I use frequently when I find them on sale.

    Windows are open as I type. Any time the temp is low enough, the windows are open, and closed when the heat begins to climb. A/C is always kept at 74 degrees.

    I started my own business this year, with a partner, and we renegotiated our rent during lockdown, effective with our new lease signing. We also decided not to pull salaries right now (which being debt free helps to allow!), as it is a typically slower time in our line of work.

    Thank you for your tips and encouragement, Brandy – I always learn something from you and from other readers!

    1. Sorry to hear you have lupus. With all of the Covid information, many doctors have said they treat Lupus with hydroxychloroquine with long term success.

  6. Good morning!

    I loved reading this! It’s so encouraging. People think working in healthcare is a secure job right now but when the elective surgeries were stopped for about 6 weeks earlier this year our hospital census dropped dramatically and nurses were getting half their hours. It could happen again. I have been getting clothes and shoes for my children at back to school sales and from mothers on our church sale site. I purchased several medical things, rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide to have in case. Two of my children and my husband suffer from reactive airway disease, which means they have no breathing problems normally but when they are ill they become temporarily asthmatic. I purchased refills for albuterol inhalers, nebulizer refills and a primatene mist inhaler, which is over the counter inhaled epinephrine. This is used by the ER to treat bronchospasms and severely restricted airway. It’s not something I ever want to have to use but in the past I have had to take each of my two children to the ER, one once and the other twice for breathing difficulty that inhaled albuterol was not curing. Now I have the same medication they use available at home. If I need to use it I will need to get them a doctors appointment for steroid medication because this is an emergency medication only. However my ER copay is $300, and my doctors office copay is $30.

  7. Brandy very good points. We have incurred expenses that we didn’t want to due to husbands disability issues as we continue down the road of his cancer and it spreading. We are having to have a walk in shower installed as he is no longer able to get in and out of the bath tub shower we currently have, my Honda Civic he was having trouble getting in and out of the car so we purchased a used car which has added more insurance, license plates, registration of title and taxes, AAA since it’s a old car and you never know when you might break down and need towed. So we continue to try to budget more in other areas. I look for meat markdowns, cook all our meals from home and from scratch, borrow books from the library, we have Smart TV so we get alot of movies for free to watch, he cut out his yearly subscription to POGO and found free games to play on the internet, we checked in to our internet subscriber and found we were being overcharged and not getting as high a speed as we should have been getting, saved us $15 a month. Our electric usage went down and our new budget is $9 less a month than it was last year, gas budget went down $4 a month. The little things do add up. I am using old material such as a pillow case that was tore and worn in a spot cut that material sewed it in to squares and am patching old quilts that my dogs have chewed little holes in instead of buying new “used” ones. Husband with his problems walking but still is working a co workers brother who uses electric scooters was selling a old one, a HovAround he wanted $400 for it but husband told him our budget only allowed for $200 and he agreed to that price, so now husband can get around his plant alot easier. I found a shower chair for him to use in the new shower stall for $3.93 same one new was $50.00. Found a walker with wheels for home for $7.00 at the thrift store. I go to a weekly free produce pop up market for anyone who needs it and get free produce each week this week it was a bag of oranges, a bag of apples, a bag of potatoes, celery, carrots and a gallon of milk.. the milk I gave to a elderly neighbor who has 3 kinds of cancer and will only drink milk right now and gave her family who are caring for her the bag of potatoes. God is good and he does provide our needs. When I make meals any leftovers are put in containers froze and become another meal. I try to plan out my meals with variety so we don’t get food fatique from eating the same things. I watch videos on you tube on gardening, budgeting, being frugal to keep myself inspired and motivated.

  8. I love you, Brandy! I learn so much from you!
    On another note, I just read 2 books I recommend: Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson and Miss Buncle Married by the same author. (Maybe you recommended them here? I can’t remember but they are very wholesome and sweet.)
    Linda Westley
    Walnut Creek, California

    1. Hi Brandy and everyone
      I have no doubt things are going to be tough in the UK. My husband and I are so blessed because we are both retired and have pensions coming in every month. We don’t have enough to fund a cruise lifestyle but if we’re careful we can cover the basics. Our mortgage is paid off, we don’t have any debt and both our daughters and son in law are employed in secure jobs( we hope! Nursing, veterinary surgeon and defence). My husband has started gardening for others three mornings a week which brings in helpful extra money, I sell unwanted clothes etc on eBay and will work casual hours as an exam invigilator when exams start again, maybe in the autumn. My husband dug up some of our lawn to expand our food growing area and we have invested some money in extra fruit trees and bushes. We always look first on Facebook Marketplace for things we need, followed by charity shops. We buy needs like new shoes in sales. We do most of the things that you and your readers do regularly like cooking at home, not driving too much to save fuel costs, etc. I am buying things early for Christmas, both gifts and food that will store and I will make some gifts. I am building our pantry stores/ essential items by buying extra every week rather than buying a large amount in one go.
      No matter what is thrown at us we continue to count our blessings and I think this is so very important. I know I say this from a position of privilege and acknowledge that other people have a much harder life than us. Every night before I go to sleep I give thanks for the good things that have happened during the day and also for the things we take for granted like clean water, shelter, good health ( and the NHS) etc. So many people in the world would think we are rich and they are right, we are rich in all the things that matter. We can make it through.
      Your blog and all the comments from around the world are genuinely helpful and a source of encouragement and information. I’m sorry I haven’t posted any amazing ideas in this comment because we do the same things as most others but I am always interested in everyone’s ideas. Good luck everyone.

  9. Since Daddy just died, Brother and I had to deal with his IRA’s…joke was on us since he’s been retired for over 30 years,and only had $30,000 to invest at that time so we thought a couple thousand. He had enough left he could have lived more yrs in the nursing home at age 93 (natural causes). Brother told me the nursing home costs was $9,000/month. A friend told me his mother in law’s assistant living was $12,000/month.Both said that they were told to put back over $100,000 / person for medical not covered by medicare A and B or medigap coverage. Hubby and I sat down and figured if we filed for early social security and used Daddy’s IRAs and really only pulled enough from our IRAs when needed we could pay off the house in the 10 yrs we have to close out Daddy’s IRAs. We have 28 yrs left on mortgage. We would only pull from our own IRAs for what wasn’t covered as Hubby’s hauling business for the Amish is at the breaking even point and this is just his first year.

    We are stocked, I am out of room in some areas and shoving things else where with notes on the frig of where it is. There are , a few odds and ends that I am not finding and will be okay without getting except for one OTC med I use during winter/spring. I planted a lot of heirlooms this years and will be harvesting some for seed for next year. Hubby is asking Amish neighbor what yellow sweet corn they plant. If it’s heirloom I will be getting that seed to plant for freezer corn, they call it canning corn. I have corn,kale, tomatoes, onions, dried beans, blackberries and some fall lettuce coming in right now. I just finished cucumbers and zucchini that was given to us. I have a few peaches left to deal with this week that we bought from Amish.

    I changed my cleaning products from convenient to what is able to be made at home to refill those convenient sprayers . I have made my laundry soap for decades. I bought a second rack to hang washed bedding or towels so I can have the regular drying rack for the clothes. I do have a dryer, it’s used mostly once a month to fluff pillows if I can’t hang them outside.

    We know what we struggled with in 2008 with losing 2 homes and going into bankruptcy. I am hoping that lesson was learned WELL.

    Blessings to you and yours Brandy and to all that read here.

    Clothes wise Hubby needs new work boots. That’s about all we need. Amish neighbor showed me how she makes patches for their clothes as what she does in sturdier than just stitching things back together.

    1. That would be wonderful to pay off your house in 10 years! What a blessing that would be! I hope you can do so! It would be a HUGE savings in interest and a great comfort to know your house is paid for.

  10. Great article! Be careful with stocking up on clothes though! I see often on Facebook marketplace clothes still with tags, that were never worn, bought on sale, and then never used. My rule is: make clear list of needs, and buy only from the list, and keep one in, one out rule. Otherwise, stocking up on clothes may actually mean speaking money unnecessarily.

    Bonus points for doing “one year clothes shopping ban”. I went through it in 2018 and not looking back!

    1. I don’t buy a lot of clothes, so this isn’t an issue for us! I have a list of needs. I’ve always had a garage sale list with the items we need that I’m looking to purchase. I aim for a week’s worth of clothing for each person.

  11. Since Hubs retired a year ago (waited until he was 70 to maximize SS), we paid off all the lingering debt (medical bills & CC) at that time with the exception of our mortgage. We were in year 4 of a 15 year note. Payments were relatively small ($367/month) and interest rate was around 3.5% . But, at that time, we started a challenge to ourselves to pay that down faster. So I printed out an exact amortization schedule so we could see, payment by payment, what the principal amount was each time. We have worked hard on paying it down extra each month and today have just 4 years left of regular payments. We average 6 payments/month. Getting out of debt is one of those strategies we feel is vital in these challenging times as well as because of our ages.
    We have beefing up our savings account each month too! As we declutter and sell something, we immediately add the lion’s share to our savings account. We have a side business— longarm quilting, fabric bags,soup cozies, flannel Kleenex, etc that bring in a nice little side stream of income. Because I add to inventory stock in “between”times, when an order comes in, I an just pack it and send it out. Because we raised a large family, people will still think of a project they want to hire someone to do and call us! The times we pass up one of those is rare. So, putting our Financial house in a stable position is vital to our preparation.
    We have always had a well stocked food storage, but the last several months, we have prayerfully considered what things we need to do to expand it. We are finding even more foods that we can DIY rather than buy from the store. We have diversified our storage even more with frozen, dehydrated, home canned and other shelf stable foods. We watch for sales more closely and buy as much as we can to replenish what we already have.
    Our garden and landscaping is larger and becoming more thoughtful for long term edibles that will produce well beyond summer.
    We are also, through the amazing technology available, learning new skills to build or repair things. Those things we can learn add to our joy and self reliance.
    We will have enough and to share with others.
    Gardenpat in Ohio

  12. Thank you, Brandy, for your grace and good humor during these troubling times. I find myself depressed and anxious more than i care to admit. I have to remember to focus on what we do have rather than what we don’t, as you said. My Dr. told me to make a plan. It’s the planning that gives you a lift. If it doesn’t work out, make another plan. That, and staying busy, are very helpful. As always, you are the calm in a storm and i appreciate you!

  13. These are all so helpful. This is hands-down my favorite website and the only blog I still read. THANK YOU for all of the time you put in amidst your very busy schedule to helping others! Do you have a price book app that you like the best? A price book is going on my August goal list. Along with several other ideas, after reading this article! Also, are you on GoodReads? I’d love to see what you’ve been reading! 🙂

    1. I am not on Good Reads.

      I don’t have an app that I am using right now; I used to do it on paper and then in a spreadsheet, and now it’s in my head, but I may be switching to an app as prices have been changing a lot lately.

  14. Again, once more, you have blessed and encouraged us with your words and knowledge. Thank you for sharing all your insight on how to live within our means and still feel happy and blessed.

  15. Great post! 2020 was to be a year A tiniest bit of “frivolous” spending. But with what our household is seeing, our jobs aren’t necessarily secure as they were a year ago. Also, last time there was a bad recession I was working still in the family business, so there was the comfort of being with family in the same boat. It’s weird not having that. You are reminding me to stay the course with kindness and it’s what this tired mind needs right now.
    Since Covid, I am making as many pennies stretch further than before.
    I’m going to try and plant another peach tree. Third time has to be the charm.
    Has anyone switched from Verizon to Visible or ATT to Cricket? That could be a savings of $30/monthly but I’m unsure of how good the service is in rural areas.
    Today I did see some family and we safely exchanged produce from our gardens. I will be able to can 2 pints of salsa, pint of tomatoes and zucchini (great soup base) and some kale and potatoes. From those exchanges.

  16. I love these kinds of blog posts. They keep me inspired and motivated! I have gone back to your post of Cutting Expenses When You Think You Have Nothing Left to Cut again and again, and I know I will be coming back to this one, too. They remind me of all the ways I may have forgotten on how to tweak the budget even more. We have been stocking up our pantry slowly since March and it has helped so much. We are also putting away as much money as possible for emergencies. My husband has been laid off since April and is looking for work although he also gets Social Security. We have been eating more meatless meals, gardening more than ever, and keeping expenses lower than we have in the past.

  17. Brandy, excellent article, thank you!

    As for photos, I am a fan of scenery rather than people. Your photos of people are usually are taken in beautiful rural surroundings, I would be happy with the landscapes!

  18. I’ve always wanted to make jellies and can them. We live in MN so I really struggle with gardens, although really good at tomatoes. If I was going to can jellies/jams I would buy the fruit from a local orchard. How long are jellies/jams good for after canning? This is the one thing that has always stopped me from doing it.

    1. A year and a half is the recommended time, but I have opened and used older ones than that.

  19. I’m afraid we may be hit by a quadruple threat this fall:
    1. Economic fallout from the lockdowns last spring(recession);
    2. Food price jumps. Due to farming travails as well as food processing problems all due to covid. How many families can take a doubling of their grocery costs?;
    3. Increased covid panic because of the start of the usual cold/flu season, only now there will be covid in there too. This may lead to another lockdown, which means an even worse recession;
    4. Supply chain disruptions, on practically anything. From factory to transportation to sales, covid and business bankruptcies can make anything unavailable. For example, what if your furnace broke down in winter, and a replacement took months? Car parts? Medical things?

    So we are trying to plan ahead as best we can. Thinking beyond groceries to other necessities too. Like next summer’s canning lids, adequate sewing supplies, shoe repair glue, saving seeds, a room heater (in case of that furnace breaking!), feminine supplies, and do on. This is a relative calm for what could be a very disruptive storm.

    Keep in mind also that if the situation deteriorates, any of us could wind up having family members arriving at our doorstep having nowhere else to live. So our preparations need to take that into account too.

    I sure hope I’m very wrong!

    1. Elle,

      Several areas have re-entered lockdown–the state of Victoria in Australia being one of them.

      The furnace parts are a real problem, as are refrigerator parts and air conditioning parts. I know someone here who has been trying to get her a/c repaired for a month. It’s been 111 here. It was 93 in her house.

      In Lebanon right now, food prices have more than doubled. The last I read, they jumped 192%. Unemployment is over 50%. While their situation is not for the same reasons as everyone else (they’re also dealing with a decrease in the value of their currency at the same time) I wonder how many other nations will soon have similar problems.

      1. The Australia situation is very troubling. Just tonight, the state leader spoke on “addressing meat shortages “, and said he was working to “not have a really critical shortage of basic food”! My eyes popped at that.

        Thank you, Brandy, for doing so much to encourage all of us to be as prepared as possible.

        1. Commenting from Sydney re Victoria, Australia: Yes national supply chains will be affected but this will only mean shortages of some products/brands, not empty shelves or actual hunger here thank goodness. I work for a national company and half my team are in very strict lockdown in Melbourne now. It is their spirits that are suffering most. The mental preparedness for hard times and long periods of disruption and uncertainty is every bit as important as the practical things we do re food supplies etc. Young people in particular are bewildered by this change in the world. Kindness and cheerfulness (without being a Pollyanna) are an absolute essential in these strange days.

        2. Hey there, typing from the heart of lockdown here in Victoria, Australia. My dad has seen shelves with no meat, but I haven’t. And both my parents and I have plenty of meat in the freezer. Also having caught up with a range of friends online, we all have enough to eat.
          We are praying and hoping that this lock down will reduce the possibility of our meat worker and other ‘at risk’ folk of getting covid19. Please pray for us all, and other countries that we won’t lose too many loved ones.

      2. Just Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, Brandy, not the whole state. Rural Victoria is on Stage 3 restrictions and can still get out and about as long as they observe social distancing and wear a mask. I think the media make it sound worse than it is, but we are in a Melbourne suburb and yes, we’ve had to make some changes and adapt to a new way of doing things, but honestly, I’m a homebody anyway, so staying home isn’t a drama for me. My husband had to get a permit to work as he is considered essential and has to travel around the city for his job; he’s also down to a 4-day week, but we’re looking at it as a practice run for getting ready to retire 🙂

        1. Sadly the news was saying it was Victoria in lockdown. Sigh. Well glad that some people can still go to work. Somehow we’re going to have to find a way through all this, worldwide, so that we can work but also not die. There don’t seem to be any wonderful solutions anywhere in the world.

    2. I’m reading many reports of people not being able to find canning lids for this summer’s harvest, let alone lids for the future. They are sold out in many areas and on many websites.

      1. Tattler has the reusable lids in stock. It may be time to make the investment. I’ve been using mine for about 6 years and bought more last week after hearing about shortages.

  20. Great post, great advice.

    My husband works in tech and I work part time in healthcare in the Seattle area. Our jobs seem to be secure for the moment, but I know that everything could change in an instant. Our condo isn’t large, but for years I have had a decently stocked pantry and a small chest freezer. We try to keep our fixed costs as low as possible, and have an emergency fund.

    I went through my own difficult financial time about 25 years ago, when I was living in Europe with my first husband (who was European, I am American), and he decided he no longer wanted to be married. He left, and I decided to stay in our inexpensive (and kind of crappy) apartment and figure out my life there. I didn’t speak the language fluently yet, but I managed to find a job. The pay wasn’t great, but it covered the basics. I cut all my expenses as much as possible, and honed my black belt frugal skills. I cooked inexpensive food at home, got by without a car (I rode by bicycle and used public transport), found cheap or free entertainment, and bought things I needed cheaply or used. It helped that all my friends were frugal out of necessity too. Eventually, my language skills improved, and I was able to find more lucrative work as a translator. I also trained to be a massage therapist, to diversify my skills. I managed to save enough to have an emergency fund and also travel for several weeks every year (inexpensively, of course).

    About 10 years later, I ended up moving back to the US to be with my now husband, who had a good job in tech. I had been very frugal for so many years, and it was shocking to me that many of his friends – who all had good salaries – were pretty much living paycheck to paycheck because they spent so much money on restaurant food and entertainment. It absolutely boggled my mind. My frugal ways rubbed off on my husband, thankfully. I am so grateful that I learned to be extremely frugal early on, as those skills have served me well over the years.

  21. Brandy, thank you for this post. I look forward to reading and learning from everyone’s comments!
    My husband works in the airline industry. It is likely that he may be laid off from his job in late fall or winter if things get worse. I am a stay at home mom.
    -We are bracing for this lay off. House prices in our area are crazy high. It was a difficult decision, but we sold our old fixer upper home at a large profit. This allowed us to pay off a very small vacation property we own and purchase a newer home that does not need as much expensive maintenance for the same mortgage payment we had previously. The vacation property was purchased last time the housing market crashed, and we bought it at rock bottom price using a company bonus my husband received. (Many people used that bonus to buy tvs, phones and clothes, we bought real estate!) Our lay off plan is to rent out the vacation property for a year or two until we feel secure with new employment. This won’t cover all of our bills, but it will be a big chunk. I feel very thankful to have this investment. If we have to, we can sell it.
    -I hope to re-open my eBay store soon. I closed it when the stay at home order started in our state last April. I will sell the stock I have, and hope that things get better by the time I need to hit the thrift stores for more merchandise. (I don’t go to stores at this time due to a health condition.) I am also going to sell the many toys that my son is too old for and some things for my Mom. I don’t make a lot at it, but every little bit counts.
    -Our new home will have a place to plant a vegetable garden with full sun. Our old home was against the forest with almost no sun, so I had no luck with vegetables there in our climate. I hope to grow a fall garden to supplement our food this year. I’m researching berry bushes and other edibles to add to the ornamental garden areas.
    -Stockpiling has taken on a new urgency. With a possible job lay off and the anticipation of shortages this year, I’m trying to buy extra each week to store away. With shopping only online for groceries, I have found it difficult to find good prices. I miss being able to shop from the clearance section!
    -We are not spending any money on anything extra! No clothes, toys, no household items unless we absolutely need them. Cutting hair at home, no take-out, no cable, no traveling. Bare bones!
    -It’s a very stressful time for everyone. I’m grateful for everything I have learned from this blog and the comments!

    1. See if you can find an e-book copy of Steve Solomon’s Gardening in the Pacific Northwest from your library. When we were hoping to move to Washington (many years ago; we ended up moving to this house instead when our property purchase fell through due to the seller backing out to sell the property to a family member), I bought that and found it very good! I learned a lot about year-round gardening in the PNW. You live in a wonderful area for growing so much! Your acidic soil is so wonderful for growing berries!

      1. Thank you for the book suggestion, Brandy! I will order a copy from my library!

    2. Susanmarie, we, too, own a vacation home…something we never expected. It is in a rural area, near where a local hospital and long term care facility use a lot of traveling medical staff. (This is very common in rural areas). We are hoping to have our place in shape by winter for 90-day (plus or minus) rentals. If this interests you, contact HR at rural medical facilities in your area, ask if they use traveling staff and where those workers live while working for them. As I understand it, many/most of the personnel services pay $3,100 per month for rent and meals, although a lot of traveling staff prefer to live cheap and pocket the per-diem. If your property happens to be in an area where there is no such thing as a cheap rental, this could be a way to put your property to work for you without the hassle of VRBO.

      1. Maxine,
        Thank you for the information. Our vacation home is in a rural town, but it is in a gated community with lots of rules. The minimum rental time is 6 months. However, I will still check things out with the local hospital, they may have traveling health care workers who need the longer stay. We also have a School of Wooden Boat Building close by. People come from all over the world to study there, so I think we could probably find a renter through that school if we need to.

  22. All excellent points. This pandemic time of isolation and no stores open meant that when my fitted sheets blew the elastic I had to make a home repair that is holding very well…but it made me aware that long term thinking would have seen me with more than two flat sheet sets for our bed! I’ve been going over my stock of all things and thinking seriously about how much I need and what might be wise to have on hand. Definitely more sewing supplies for repairs and more fitted and top sheets are needed, but not necessarily sets. I use all white sheets so I can mix and match. I’m good on towels, clothes, but underthings…there’s an area that I need to resupply. Same for walking shoes.

    We’ve never gardened seriously, but I’m thinking now is the time to start even if I must employ trial and error means to do it. I’ll be buying seeds for Heirloom variety vegetables that we typically would eat anyway, and I’m going to get a few flower seeds as well because flowers are a necessity!

    We are retired and debt free. Recently we had something occur that made my husband ask if we’d be okay financially. I told him that we would be because we were so accustomed to making do and managing on limited funds already. This year has been a test. Even though the money we receive monthly was a big drop in income for us over his working, we are still managing to set money aside each month.

    1. Flowers are really important for our souls and keeping our spirits up! I agree! I think they are even more important now when we are all at home more.

  23. Brandy,

    Excellent discussion with plenty of food for thought. The one thing I want to do is to reduce the cost of my cellphone. I had thought of getting rid of it completely but am keeping it for emergencies. I am just about to start gathering together emergency first aid and medical supplies. I want to get a water purifier, extra vitamins and medicines, standard things like rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, extra shampoo, soap, etc. Swedish fire stick and matches. I want to keep an emergency packed knapsack by the door — you never know!

    I am thrilled that all of my nasturtiums are blooming. Only a few of my sweet peas have come up. Next year, I will buy very few annuals (as it is I didn’t buy many this year) but grow more from seeds. My cherries are almost ready to pick.

    It is very hot — one of the few days in our summer when we need air conditioning. I turned on the furnace fans which is helping a lot. Probably now it is cooler outside than inside but my fans will fix that problem.

    1. I don’t know if this will help your cell phone bill since you are in Canada and I’m in the US. I have an ATT cell phone that I pay $3.33/month. I think that I get 30 calls/texts but I always lose some of those to unsolicited calls/texts. I basically use it only for emergencies and only call out on it. I’m EMF sensitive so I only turn it on if I need it. If I’m meeting someone, I give them the number but explain not to use it otherwise. I have a Google Voice account that is free where I can check texts on my computer.

      Also, a friend of mine told me that his wife has a free cell phone plan through Comcast. It uses mostly Wifi. I haven’t checked into that since I’m EMF sensitive our Wifi is turned off and we have corded internet.

    2. Ellie’s Friend… We’re in Ontario and we have a cellphone plan through Public mobile for our oldest daughter and it’s $16.95/month Canada wide calling only (no text or data). Good deal if you already have a phone and don’t use text or data.

    3. I’m in the metro Vancouver BC area. I bought a flip phone from London Drugs when it was on sale. I then bought a $100 prepaid card from Telus for voice/text. I forget how many minutes/texts that includes but I have yet to use them all. The $100 card does not expire for 365 days. It’s great coverage. When I renew for the next year, my unused minutes are returned to my account.
      The only down side is if my account goes over $150 then Telus will switch the account to a monthly $10/month plan. I have only had them switch me over to the monthly plan once in about nine years.

    1. I don’t! This was from the butterfly habitat that we visited, and they brought in a lot of butterflies from other areas.

  24. I am so pleased you are going to sell your prints.
    I am very interested in some of your florals. My bedroom is a purple and light pinks in color. So any of the prints with lilacs, peonies, violets, etc. will be what I am interested in for this room.
    I love your veg prints.
    Your Christmas tree and gift prints were lovely. They would make wonderful Christmas card prints.
    Take orders and print them out. Brilliant idea.
    As for what I am doing for this stressful time. I am stocking up on food, bath and health items.
    I am looking for places to store more food. My house is small and my youngest and her two babies live here again.
    I have quit buying treats for the grands that live here. This idea had gotten out of hand. My fault, but I have put a total stop to this craziness.
    I am going to have a fall garden (thank you, Brandy, for the information about that).
    I am watching my money with “both eyes” instead of a casual…”oh okay”.
    And last, but certainly not least, I come here and read what you share every time you post. Thank you.

  25. My husband is a teacher and right now on a year-to-year contract. So if enrollment declines, he could be let go next year. I am trying to do what I can to be in the best possible situation if that should happen. Our youngest daughter is a college senior and I am wondering what sort of job market she will face when she graduates. I have my biggest vegetable garden going and am trying to keep up with planting new seeds as older plants finish. We moved last year and so our fruit trees in the new house are small. But they will come. I, also, am thinking ahead to clothing needs and household needs. I bought one more pair of work pants on clearance for my husband. He has 2 new pairs of shoes, also clearance. We dropped work-use on our car insurance when shelter-in-place happened and we will not add it back until he has to drive to school again. This has saved us each month. I keep an eye on my Buy Nothing facebook page for anything that might be useful. Today I picked up an orange tree, it appeared to be newly purchased. I am sharing extra produce with my neighbors, they also share with me. Being part of a good community really is a great support. I also look carefully at repeating expenses. Some are worth it to us, and some can changed. I started an Etsy shop that has been a joy to me, and a little income too. It feels good to have that.
    Thank you for all that you do, Brandy, for the ideas, encouragement and kind nature. I’m glad that you are going to be selling photos!

    1. Kara, I love the Buy Nothing Facebook group in my area, too! Everyone is so nice and generous. You just never know what you will see pop up on the page that someone no longer needs. An Orange tree is an amazing find!

  26. Thanks for your thoughtful insight Brandy-
    How are we preparing?
    -My basement grocery store, stocked pantry, continues to grow. I took a detailed inventory and went to our favorite store (low prices) recently.
    -We retired a few years ago and faithful kept our budget, spreadsheets, and innovative project lists to stay on target. We sold our home and moved to a less expensive community and updated our purchased house with our do-it yourself projects now means we are prepared with a redone economical home.
    -I planted a little garden and am working on more plantings for the fall.
    _Purchased natural gas for our 500 gallon tank at .92/gallon compared to the 3.00/gallon during the winter months. Gives me comfort knowing we can heat our home this winter.
    -Track our expenses and compare to the previous year. We are trying to save as much as we can in preparation for recession/depression. I am very concerned about the possibility of an “under funded” retirement account.
    -My husband is partering his time with a buddy to swap for help he needs with an advanced carpentry project-thus no money spent.
    -I have my sewing machine set up and am making some Christmas gift using fabric and supplies I have on hand.
    -Friends have been borrowing me magazines and I am part of a book club. (Borrow the books from the library).
    -Try to keep household supplies stored and purchased . I still can’t find many things and have found work arounds. (ie: lemon scented ammonia is no where to be found.)

    Stay frugal and as prepared as possible. I believe that if you do your best now that the future will be a little more secure.

    1. If you are in the U.S., try Dollar General. I happened to purchase some several months back when I was looking to make a repellant spray.

  27. Husband and I are so lucky, we are in our 70s and 3/4 of our income is government backed and I really don’t see the entire U.S. government failing. The other 1/4 is in a private pension, THAT might fail. House and cars are paid off, have been for many years, no consumer debt, whatsoever. STILL things can happen and we are on constant watch. We also give charitably and want to remain in a position to continue to do so as others around us will need help for some time.

    So we have stocked up on canned goods and toiletries, and will do even more in the next month or so. We only have a refrigerator /freezer and no room for another freezer in house or garage. There are only two of us so we’re going to try and get by with a crammed full of meat little refrig. freezer. We can eat a lot of things out of cans if we have to. There is ALOT less food waste since the pandemic started. Terri Cheney talks a lot about that on her blog and it’s inspired me.

    We both have plenty of clothes, so there is a moratorium on buying them. The big thing we did is reduce our position in the stock market by about half. It’s hard to give up 8-9% a year in dividends, and settle for around 1% in CDs, but we have to be able to sleep at night. And heaven only knows what kind of ride the stock market will give in the next year or two.

    Neither one of us ever made a great deal of money, but we always lived frugally. Still, no matter how old you are, there is always room for improvement.

    1. We are in exactly the same situation as Anne. While it does make it easier to face the future, we got here by saving and investing and paying off debt through good times and bad. (I realize some of your readers are just now facing their first hard times and in different situations). Because we’re older, we had lots of years to get ready…but there were lots of ups and downs. The stock market is going great for us, but we, too, are moving money into CDs and just plain ca$h.

      I am trying to get more organized and foster more contentment in my home. Making soft furnishings, such as tablecloths and napkins, dish towels, cushion covers, etc., has helped more than I ever expected. Keeps me busy, lovely to look at. I have only used/reused materials I already had. I am gardening (though not in a big way) and preserving what we don’t eat fresh. I am rebuilding my pantry. I’ve always kept a big pantry, and it’s one of those things that helped us “through good times and bad.” One thing to remember is that food storage isn’t just for pandemics and job losses. It has helped us the most during bad weather, illnesses and accidents, and those things you can’t predict…but you can prepare. We’ve always done it a little at a time, as we could afford it and prices were good, and we constantly eat and use our stock.

  28. Excellent post. This crisis has pushed me to experiment in the garden—new vegetables I’ve never grown before (annuals like cucumbers and beans instead of most perennials), new methods (pots versus always in-ground), and new locations (front yard watermelon patch! unpaved strips on the side yard). It’s mostly working and Saturday evening harvests have become a fun summer habit. Thanks for all you do and I’ll be wishing for many blessings for you and your family in the months to come.

  29. Good morning! You make many important points this week Brandy. I think many sense that difficult times lay ahead.

    For that reason, I have been keeping my pantry and freezer topped off as best possible. I’ve finally been able to buy extra yeast online, and bread flour from my co-op. In addition, my medicine cabinet is stocked for cold/flu season. Not exactly a savings now, but extra that we may be thankful for later.

    I’ve been evaluating my garden space and striving to maximize it. I will be moving two beds of strawberries into a garden tower. I currently have a bunch of runners that I’m rooting for that project. That will provide more space for veggies. My husband and I are discussing adding arches between beds to grow vertically. But we have to evaluate sunlight so we don’t shade other beds.

    We’ve added four hens to our family this spring. They’re three months old and so fun to watch! While more expensive than eggs from the store, we like the idea of a backyard egg supply that is high quality. I felt very uneasy when egg shortages happened this spring!

    I’ve also been stocking up on clothing basics for my family. Everything is made overseas and we have seen supply disruption. I sew, but I’m not skilled at making undergarments or knitting socks. 😆

    Other than that, we follow the Dave Ramsey Every Dollar plan (free version). I’ve been watching You Tube tutorials on gardening, grape growing, hair cutting, sewing & crochet tutorials, and backyard chicken raising. So much knowledge out there! I plan to sell some items on Craigslist soon to declutter, organize, and stash a little more cash. Starting in September, I will offer a new service for my online personal training business that will be less expensive for clients but allow me to make more per hour.

    Your photographs for sale sounds like a great idea, Brandy. I’d love to see some roses! Have a blessed and happy week everyone!

  30. Thank you for your post Brandy and this blog in general. I , like many of you, never thought we would live through such a time as this but indeed here we all are. To that end, we have begun making many preparations to hopefully bring us through this challenge in the best way we can.
    Thankfully both my husband and I remain employed. At the time the pandemic hit my husband did have a part time and full time job and has gone to just a full time job for right now. This was a slight shift but not too bad. The change was due to the fact that the employer wasn’t sticking to safety measures such as masks and social distancing and we felt that it was unsafe for him.
    We began looking for a freezer in March and were unable to locate one, new or used, to purchase until June. Even this was miraculous as freezers where we live are back-ordered until the end of this year.
    We are using the freezer to preserve all that we can out of our garden and to stock up on some meat as well as it goes on sale. I also ordered 1/8th of a cow which will amount to at least 50 lbs of beef for our freezer and plan to stock up on turkey & ham as well if available. I continue to stock dried goods such as rice, beans, flour, yeast, spices, oats. I would like to purchase a supply of baking soda and baking powder but am concerned as to how I can extend its shelf life once purchased.
    I have also began working to stock toiletries, paper goods, and OTC medicines that we need/use on a regular basis. Some of these items have been a challenge to find as I have noticed many others doing the same and stocking for what they see we are headed for come fall. Cases are on the rise where we live and although we are taking every possible precaution, many around us are not which is frustrating.
    We planted a spring garden which has been very successful and we have been eating from the harvest and preserving the excess. We have also been purchasing veggies from a local farm to add to what we are growing and thus be able to put away more fresh produce. Once we hit October or perhaps even late September we will purchase apples, pumpkins, and squash to put away. We will purchase citrus in the winter as well when it comes into season. This of course assumes that farmers markets will be open and crops will be available and not plowed under as we saw earlier this year.
    I plan to purchase some clothing items for our son as he outgrows his clothes quite quickly – pants, coats, shorts for next season, long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, socks and underwear.
    I am grateful that God has given us the provision to be able to prepare in this manner however in the natural I must confess that it is exhausting. I find myself constantly thinking of what we have & what we need….and it can be a bit overwhelming at times. Prayer helps. Being in the garden helps as well. I find that in nature it is so very evident that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and I find this to be a comforting fact in these uncertain times. On a light note, I find this life to be much like what I read in Laura Ingalls books as child where the family made preparations for the winter and there is a bit of fun in that.
    Be blessed everyone!

    1. Angie – I so understand your comment on being exhausted by all the additional planning. And I get the reference to Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have read them so often – for over 50 years! – that I have certain sections almost to memory. I have been thinking of several of her books, especially By the Shores of Silver Lake. The food stores that were put there for the surveyors and that the Ingalls’ family is able to use always fascinated me. Canned peaches in particular. Both of my grandfathers had some hard time as children and canned peaches were at the top of their list of ‘special’ foods – rare treat. I don’t re-read the Long Winter as much – it is a hard one. Then they get the “Christmas” barrel with a still frozen turkey. Mary

  31. True. No debt, if possible, save every penny, and live in the cheapest home you can tolerate. Housing is a huge expense. Used, cars, if carefully purchased, also help because of the depreciation factor. I also stock up on low cost, but wholesome food, like dried beans, rice, canned vegetables and fruits, tuna, peanut butter if not allergic, pasta, etc. I have found that added a little bit of dried cheese powder, although initially expensive, saves me money in the long run for casseroles. I also keep parm. cheese in a can to use, if I am out of the other cheese. I prefer the taste of frozen vegetables to canned, usually, but because I run the risk of our power going out a good bit, I prefer to keep canned food so nothing goes to waste.

    1. Cindy, that is a great idea to use cheese powder in casseroles to save on cheese. We go through so much cheese! I can think of other dishes to add cheese powder to. Thanks for the tip!

      1. I also bought butter powder so that if I run out of butter, I will not have to go to the store. I have found that in casseroles, butter powder, cheese powder, and milk powder, I really cannot tell the taste difference between it and fresh.

  32. I’m so excited to learn you will soon have prints for sale – congrats on the new addition to your endeavors! I know I’m not alone in this – I hope it’s a lucrative option for you, as so many of us have raved about the photos you’ve posted over the years.

  33. Oops! Forgot to say, I’d love to see some prints of the desert flora, like the background of the picture you posted of you with your girls. I have plans in the works to redecorate some rooms and, oddly enough, my color palette is right in that vein. I’ve come to really love the rugged beauty of our Arizona desert and that photo really speaks to me thanks to your NV similarities.

  34. Brandy, great advice! Thank you. What does one do whose spouse is not frugal? And he is the one making the money so I can’t really do outside of what I can do at home…he is over the finances since I homeschool and care for our seven children. Has your husband always been on board with being frugal, etc? Any advice? If we need something, he just buys a new one without seeing if we can make do, etc. And I’m sure there are lots of subscriptions that I would get rid of if it were up to me. He’s come a long way tho….so that’s encouraging.

    1. My husband is much more frugal than I am! I believe Dave Ramsey has some advice on what to do when one spouse is frugal and one is not. I would check out his site.

  35. This is such a good post, with good ideas. I look forward to seeing what ideas other comments have.

    In 2010, when we knew my husband’s work place was going to basically shut down — it had limped along after the 2008 financial fiasco, but was not recuperating — I was the surprised recipient of a $500 gift card as an anniversary present from my workplace. So I used it to buy a new clothesline, since our old one had died, a wooden drying rack, and the supplies to make my own detergent, kombucha, and cleaners. I also stocked up on things like toilet paper, toothpaste and deodorant. Since then, his health has declined so he never could go back to work, and we’ve been surviving on just my salary, which is not much. We struggled, but managed to pay off our mortgage. We have a vehicle, a small, fuel-efficient car, but my husband can no longer get in and out of it, so I did have to purchase a used small pickup, which meant we could also put a lift for his scooter on the back. Luckily, the VA is providing us with the scooter and lift, but the truck payments are ours, so I am paying extra every month. I am trying to plan ahead, as I did in 2010. I planted a container garden. I am avoiding all other debt whenever possible. One downside is that our house is now old enough to need some work on it. We aree doing as much as we can with cash.

    We cut the cable several years ago, and I’m actively trying to reduce our electric bill. Our grocery bill is currently a problem, as I don’t see many helpful sales in our area. Still, I am working to stock up when I can. We can get through this! It may be hard, it may not be so hard, or it may put us in a place we never thought we’d be, but we can get through this.

    1. Jo, that was such great use of a giftcard. Many people would have used it on frivolous things. Your determination to save and stock up is inspiring!

  36. Thank you for all this great information. We live in the same zip code (in the exact same house) and for months we felt the calling to sell our home and seek the lifestyle we truly want. It is a seller’s market in our area and the house sold in a day. We are renting for the next year for 29% less than our mortgage until we decide our next move. It was a bold scary move but we have faith that it was right for our family and our future.

    1. Kim, congratulations on taking the leap of faith to sell your house while it’s a seller’s market! We just did the same,. It was a very difficult decision to sell during such a time of turmoil, but it was the best decision for us. It’s great that your rent is so much less than your mortgage! Hoping you find the lifestyle and home that is truly right for you!

      1. Susan Marie, Thank you! It was very difficult and emotional but we knew in the end it was the right choice. Our dream is to have an acre to build on, some small animals and a fabulous garden. We’ll see where God leads us. Did you buy after you sold your home?

  37. My pension money is enough to pay my monthly basic expenses – but – I still have some debt so I work PT to pay that off (I was “retired” earlier than planned when a lot of older workers were purged). My PT hours might get cut a bit but should be relatively safe – especially as I am showing willing to take on some projects that need to be set up and administered over the next year.

    My pantry, both food and non-food is well stocked but I am still adding to it each week. I also have a plan to add certain items as we get closer to the Fall/Winter. Included in this plan is more PPE as masks are mandatory here and likely to stay that way for many months to come.

    One thing I have been very negligent about is renegotiating some expenses like my phone and insurance bills – this is on the agenda for this week! It has been pure laziness.

    I am quite content in my little apt. – it is clean, tidy, well organized and holds all that I need. I have a ton of books, puzzles, writing materials and Netflix & Youtube to keep me occupied so lots of entertainment options. If it is safe, I have memberships to the Art Gallery & Museum (both of which have been extended) and my next year’s theatre subscription has already been paid. If we are unable to go to the theatre I will receive a refund or will simply roll it over to the following year. I do like to entertain so again, if it’s safe, I am happy to have friends over for coffee or a meal. I enjoy eating out but since neither me nor my friends are ready to go back inside a restaurant at the moment, coffee on a patio or in the park will suffice. I think – or at least hope – that we have all learned a lot about what we really need rather than simply want.

    I have nowhere to garden and since I have a notoriously black thumb it would be a waste of money. I do try to support local growers but for me canning would again cost more than I would save as it’s only me. I watch for sales and really think about what I actually eat before spending money on things and do manage to freeze items like peppers, which get very expensive here in the Winter. My small fridge & freezer are well organized and my pantry works really well – much as I’d love a real walk-in pantry like you see on Instagram etc. I am very jealous of yours Brandy!

    I have been slowly replacing and adding to certain household items – nothing fancy but things that I use day to day and that will last for years. I was just going over my clothes purchasing plans with a friend and it boils down to new black walking shoes, some rain boots, new slippers, underwear and socks – that’s it. I NEED nothing else and I’ll have even more options once I get some weight off!

    I do miss being able to travel – to see family and friends – and just because I enjoy it. But again, friends that I travel with are in the same camp as me – we might do a small road trip in the Fall but we don’t anticipate getting on a plane anywhere – for at least another year – if then. And the friend who wanted us all to save up for a cruise to celebrate her 60th birthday next year is already thinking up something else as NO ONE is prepared to even think about that option! I do feel restricted but then I think about how well off I am compared to many and I give myself a kick in the butt! I am about to go online to pay my monthly bills and the funds are there, the rent is paid and there is plenty of food on hand so I am a very, very lucky person. Thank you for reminding us just what is truly important these days Brandy. Have a good week everyone.

    1. Thank you Brandy for the likely recession reminder. I am close to retirement & called my financial person to move my retirement $ out of the stock market. I was planning to do this but your comment reminded me to get it done while the stock market was up. I do not want any risk I can avoid. I rest easier knowing the $ was moved & hopefully protected. I am still working full time & plan to work for 2 more years. I am grateful I have options.
      I was raised by a single mother (widow) along w/ my 3 siblings. We were taught to live within our means. (You mentioned once that you & your husband decided to get life insurance. A good decision. My father died young & my family did not have this safety net.)
      I am debt free as is my husband. I have always avoided debt like the plague.
      My husband’s garden did not do well this year but I have a decent amount of food stockpiled.
      I do some urban foraging & find many of the things we need. I bought the Pom brand toilet tissue Brandy recommended at Sam’s so we have that stockpiled. We have what we need in terms of shelter, food, & health insurance. I have a vacation condo that I can rent out if needed. I think we are ready to face an uncertain future as senior citizens. My faith is in God. He is in control not me.

  38. I checked an affiliate link, and I was easily able to get to my Canadian Amazon account that way. It used to tell me to sign into the Canadian website, which took me out of your affiliate range, but now I just select the Canadian flag instead of US flag, and I am able to use my account.

    I will be delighted also to see your prints for sale. With all this time at home, I am trying to make sure I can see the outdoors all year round on my walls while inside. I’d love flowers both in your yard and the desert, though I love arrangements with roses, peonies, dahlias and irises.

    This is a great guide, and goes well with lots of the other posts on your website on spending less. I’ll be waiting to see if I can buy butter at less than $5.25 a lb before I buy a very big bag of flour, though! Most years I can get it at $3.33 on sale, but no sign of anything like that yet. I’m laughing when I tell you this, but we buy flour and sugar and popcorn and rice in kilos which are 2.2 lb each. I still convert them in my head to lb, which is what I grew up with, so I always think I am getting 10% for free.

  39. I’ve so looked forward to this article and I’ve read it three times already! Thank you, Brandy!
    I don’t have any good tips that haven’t already been mentioned, but maybe someone can benefit from what I WISH I would have done. That is to have taken better care of my health and not gained a massive amount of weight. It’s harder to lose when one gets older too, it seems. Of course many illnesses can’t be avoided, but not being excessively overweight and not being sedentary would keep some afflictions at bay and give one way more energy to enjoy life and participate in healthy outdoor activities (including gardening). Unfortunately, lots of thrifty meals might not be so healthy so that’s something to remember too when stocking up. Also, good dental hygiene is an easy one to follow– a filling is easier and way, way cheaper than a crown or implant.
    So now, with both knees shot, I need to make a very unfrugal purchase of a ramp to be able to get out of the house. Medicare doesn’t help. Renting one is over $800 installation and close to $500 a month rental, or over $5000 to buy. If anyone has ideas or pertinent experience I’d be grateful to hear about it.

    1. Contact your local Boy Scouts. The boys need to do a project to get their Eagle Scout award. A boy did a ramp for an elderly man in the neighborhood. He had all of the materials donated. A local contractor came to supervise and a group of boys built it. It came out great.

    2. Shirley – contact your local senior advisors or senior center. They may have options for having a ramp installed. There are a number of volunteer agencies and community groups and even organizations like Rotary that volunteer time and materials for things that can improve someone’s life.

      1. Marybeth and S. CO Mary — Thank you, thank you for these great ideas! I’m feeling so much more hopeful now instead of hopeless.

        1. If these two suggestions don’t work out, see if you can find a local handyman to discuss building one. It should be much less than $5000. When I was confined to a wheelchair after some foot surgery, my husband built a temporary one with scrap wood that we had. Cost us nothing. Best of luck

    3. I went on a church mission trip one summer. We built w/c ramps for low income people in a small Texas town. I know mission trips are cancelled due to COVID right now. Perhaps you could call a local Baptist or Methodist church to see if you could get on the list for next summer. Habitat for Humanity also does some repair or rehab jobs.

      1. Thank you Texasilver. Those sound like good ideas too. Guess I’d better be prepared. that Covid might put any volunteer type help on hold for awhile.

        1. In my area (DFW, north Texas), Habitat for Humanity is still working and building. The church I work for often partners for builds, and I know they just completed one. They’ve just been limiting the # of volunteers and taking a lot more precautions, but the work is still happening. I’d suggest contacting local churches and asking if they have any sort of “carpenters on call” program or can suggest anywhere to try. Also try contacting any local charitable organizations – United Way, Salvation Army, Habitat, etc. and ask them. I would suspect between all of those options you may be able to find a way to get the job done for low or no cost.

    4. Shirley– Thank you for your honest advice. I hope you can get the ramp situation addressed quickly!

      I wish to add to your advice: Protect your hearing! My father, (who never had things like head phones or rock concerts; he’s 97), has very poor hearing, even with expensive hearing aids, with those annoying expensive batteries to change every few days. It makes his life miserable to not be able to participate in what is around him with family, church, medical care, watching TV, etc. Deafness is even more isolating than blindness.

  40. We are running into some necessary expenses, with my husband sick (dementia) and me trying to add all his former “chores” to my own. He is truly getting to the point of being able to do very little at all. My daughter suggested last week that it might be time to hire a personal care aide part of the time. I’ve recently hired a cleaning lady for 4 hours a week, am purchasing 3 night’s a week’s dinners pre-made, and just today made a decision to call a lawn care company for lawn mowing and some really needed yard clean up. Neither of us is able to start the lawnmower and our neighbors have been mowing but I hate to impose and more is needed than just mowing.
    Luckily we have been frugal all of our lives and saved a decent retirement nest egg, and furthermore, have not spent much of it yet. We now have contracted for a new roof on house and barn, which should be done by mid-September. I have still not found much to stock up on as far as groceries are concerned. I was looking at dehydrated foods for long term storage and plan to re-read the section in Brandy’s archives because I think I might be wise to look there for products not available locally at this time. I also had my daughter pick up some beets at the Farmer’s Market last week, which I intend to cook and freeze. I will try to put what I can get good prices on into the freezer as the harvest continues.
    One of our strange expenses right now is gas for the car to take my husband for rides. He seems to be less able to read, which has always been a big time consumer for him. These beautiful summer afternoons are good opportunities to take rides in the countryside where we live. An hour or two out of the house improves his mood (and therefore mine). Because of the covid restrictions, we don’t often get out of the car, but today we stopped at the farm stand to buy peaches, and at Panera’s to splurge on a loaf of ciabatta and a “kitchen sink” cookie, which was delicious, and SHARED because it was ridiculously expensive! I probably haven’t been in that store for 2 years, because it’s too expensive, although I do like their foods–just not often.
    I, too, buy clothing and shoes at end of season sales, and often at close-out sales online. I wear Easy Spirit shoes in XX width, but mostly buy when their sneaker clogs are marked down to $29 or $39 a pair–from $69 or $79. I also buy underwear at Jockey.com, usually on close out too. Although I have found that you can’t tell on line whether the men’s undershorts are short or quite long indeed!! I’m learning to read carefully but that doesn’t work 100% of the time.
    We have plenty to do at home–lots of books, puzzles, sewing, knitting, (haven’t had time to do much lately) but I do mend things as they need it, so can make items last quite a long time. I overcast the edges of my bath towels if they start to fray (twice over) and they last a long time after that. Then they are demoted to cat towels, or made into rags. I cook many things from scratch as time is available, especially breads and desserts. We have one cat now but have had as many as four at once previously.
    That is where my brain has been concentrating it’s efforts this week!

    1. We are spending more on gas, too, and for the same reason–rides to escape the 4 walls. (Although I love my home). Lately we’ve discovered a few places we’ve never been, and places where we haven’t been in a long time.

      1. Maxine,

        My mom put a room thermometer in her car to see what temperature it gets in the summer while parked. It was 141. I dread going anywhere in our van in the summer. Our trips are usually short trips (close by) and it never gets cool. October and November are beautiful here, though!

  41. Like all of you, I am trying to stock up where I can and have already noticed that prices are certainly up in the grocery store! I was thinking about the “Tightwad Gazette” book by Amy Dacynzyn which I own and want to reread, but right now it is in storage. We too, felt prompted to sell our home and did so in March, but we are having work done on our new home, which was less expensive, and are in transitional housing for a few more months.

    As I was preparing dinner tonight, I realized that I could cut back just a little on the ingredients I was using. I didn’t need a whole onion, just enough for flavor would do. And I put one less tomato in the salad, with no compromise on the flavor. I only used half a lemon, rather than a whole one, in the dressing and I added a bit of water to the dregs of the Dijon mustard bottle and have plenty of mustard to use again. And I could probably eat just a little bit less of what I cook.

    So I am thinking of ways I can cut back on my current consumption, which means that I ultimately have more on hand, and more in my budget to spend when I do shop. Fewer chocolate chips in the cookies, a little less sugar in the jam, a smaller serving of meat….

  42. A few years ago, my husband’s job ended. We knew we could not afford the mortgage on our home for very long, so sold it before we got into the huge financial pickle we knew would come if we did not. It was difficult, to say the least, to leave the home we loved, but it was the smart thing to do. We moved into a very small house, and downsized over 1/2 of our belongings. We turned most of the backyard of the new, town house, into a huge garden. We continue to can and freeze produce we grow and are given. It was a hard decision, but I would recommend it to anyone facing a very hard financial situation, because now we can live on much, much less than we could before.

    One of the best things we ever did to prepare for hard times is to develop skills. Over the years, we’ve learned to garden well, preserve food, I can sew well, cook many meals, clean and organize, and my husband is great at fixing things and woodworking. We are constantly practicing skills and learning how to do things, both by reading books or things on the internet, and by practicing. When I was starting out, I was pretty bad at some things, such as gardening. Over the years, I’ve become quite proficient. It takes practice. So, I would encourage everyone to practice now, before you are struggling. I got a lot of advice from people along the way. It helps so much to have someone show me how to do something. We also learned to live on little, work very hard to do things for ourselves, save our pennies, and pay off our debts.

    In practical terms for this current crisis, we are now stocking the freezers and cupboards with fruits and veggies as we have done for all 37 years of our marriage. We used more than normal this last spring, so we are canning and freezing a little more this season. We are buying bulk bags of things like gluten-free flour, sugar and oats. We have 1/2 beef on order from the farmer we get it from each fall, and have checked with him to make sure it’s still available. When I see a sale of a non-perishable item I use, I buy extra. We will go down to the docks on the Oregon Coast and buy tuna off a boat to can. Last summer, we didn’t need any, as we had plenty of extra, but this year, we will do a goodly amount. I will buy chicken breast on the bone if it comes on a good sale as it often does during the summer, make broth to can from the bones and can the chicken. I will be cleaning the deep freezers soon, to make sure space is utilized to the utmost. My berries and garden are extremely prolific this year, so I’m giving away the extra and keeping what I have room for and think we will use. I’m also helping one of my sisters can and preserve with some of the extra because she wants to put more food by this year.

    I love this article–so helpful to many during these times.

    1. Thanks, Becky, for your comment. It inspired me to hear about nurturing skills. I always do better if I have a goal, and there are many, many skills that I’m wishing for right now!

  43. Thank you Brandy for a warning delivered in a calming and concrete manner.

    I would like to add one more economic concern and that is inflation – not just what we have seen in the grocery stores due to supply and demand, but an overall devaluation of the US dollar and an increase in prices across the board. Last week Goldman Sachs issued a warning about US inflation and Forbes has had several articles in the past week. Here’s a link to one: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pamelarosenau/2020/07/30/reality-vs-illusion–unmasking-the-financial-market/#23b252f93aa3

    I’m old enough to remember the oil crises and hyper inflation of the 1970’s. If you think you will need services (i.e., home remodeling) it might be better to wait a year as prices will fall due to people being out of work and less demand for these services, but if you need things (i.e., a new refrigerator) than it is probably better to purchase sooner rather than later as inflation will increase the price.

    Like so many of us, I too have been stocking up my pantry and freezers. I have also been thinking about anything I use that needs to be replaced on a regular basis such as windshield wipers and cabin air filter for my car, parts for my CPAP machine, oil for my lawn mower, rock salt for the winter ice, furnace filters, computer paper, etc. The Tightwad Gazette books changed my life and allowed me to stay home FT with my son. One lesson I learned from Amy D. was to try and anticipate needs as much as possible to allow time to shop around for best prices, to think of creative solutions that don’t cost money, or find someone willing to barter/trade.

    I am always so grateful for your posts Brandy. Sending love and light to all.

  44. There are so many great comments. We are starting to do a deep dive/sorting/organizing/inventory of absolutely everything and every place. By that I mean interior and exterior. We did the big pantry this weekend and wow! There was a top shelf that I couldn’t get to and would require help from my SO (who has been very busy with outside chores – but it was just too hot to be outside for a couple of days). I found four boxes of Special K cereal that were still good! The only thing that wasn’t good were two boxes of taco shells that had gone rancid. I found at least five pounds of white sugar, five pounds of powdered sugar, 10 pounds of flour, corn meal and even an unopened large bottle of olive oil and one of balsamic vinegar. Everything was fine – no critters! We reorganized everything in two different places that we have food stored. Next are the freezers.

    Exterior has been interesting. When we moved to the farm we moved just after my FIL passed away. As with most farmer’s/ranchers he had a huge Quonset hut/barn filled with ‘stuff’. We brought home boxes of jars of various hardware, spools of wire, tools, etc. We also had a large home that we moved from that had a lot of stuff as well. So we have multiple tools, a LOT of hardware/wire/various parts and pieces. We need to go through all of that as well. Over the years we’ve found that supply of ‘stuff’ invaluable when we had a project or had to fix something. What we don’t have but know we’ll need we are making a master list – furnace filters, various chemical/oils we need on a regular basis, parts for mowers and the small tractor.

    I remember my grandmothers telling me how valuable needles and straight pins became during various times of their lives – the depression, WWII. Also – thread and fabric and how to reuse fabric, repair shoes, etc. My maternal grandfather even converted the early 1900s Singer with a small motor so that it could ‘do more’. Nothing, absolutely nothing, went to waste. And both sets of grandparents were relatively okay during the depression – one had a small business and was connected to family that had the general store, etc and ranchers and farmers and the other lived on a ranch that was self supporting and continued to be viable during the 30s (supplying mules to the US army and mining). But everyone really felt in the same boat and those who had shared. So we are planning on doing the same. I am going to go through clothes during the next super hot spell – from what I saw in Spring we are in good shape, other than some work boots for both of us. We should get an extra pair for each of us.

    Finally – also working to understand what we need for our dogs and cats. Looking at vaccinations, food, ongoing medications. They are so important to us and we want to make sure they are taken care of as well. I can’t imagine getting through this recent time of almost no contact with anyone (we live in the country and other than seeing people driving by and the little we go to town we see almost no one other than SO’s cousins – we don’t have children and settled far away from close family). The critters are sources of laughter and love.

  45. Hello Ellie’s friend,
    My daughter uses Chatr and I use Public mobile.
    We have our own phones. She purchased hers on eBay and I purchased mine in a Costco sale.
    Generally (in Canada) if you have your own phone and look on the internet for the best month to month with your own phone the savings are amazing compared to a locked in plan.
    Whistleblower is the site that does a search every month for the best month to month plan.

  46. Thank you Brandy for the time you took to write this very thought provoking post and you are right we all need to think ahead on how to prepare in these harder times 🙂 . The steps you have taken are very frugal and have reduced your expenses a lot as well as provided food, extra finances and clothing to your family for future needs.

    Here is what we have done here in Australia in our home to reduce expenses where we can –

    – I rang up our bank about our variable mortgage interest rate and had it reduced by .13 % saving $10 a month in interest. Not huge but it adds up over a year or more.
    – DH rang up our internet and home phone provider and had us moved to NBN which saved us $50 a month.
    – We replaced all of our light bulbs with LED light bulbs and tubes to save on electricity costs.
    – We had a stranger come into our yard and wanted to buy two mature bottle trees in our back yard for $1500 for both total. As we had planned to dig them out and plant our potted lemon and navel orange trees in our yard in those places we were happy to say yes. We have now happily planted our 2 fruit trees in nicely deeply dug soil.
    – In the gardens we installed more trellises using wire we recycled and grew more upright crops such as snow peas and cherry tomatoes to get more produce in a smaller space.
    – As we grow in bulk amounts in the vegetable gardens we have been blanching and freezing our excess in meal sized portions in the freezer for meal ingredients for a few months in advance.
    – As specials and markdowns on groceries have become less frequent here I make sure I have been making sure I stock up on any items when they do.
    – With bonus dollars we earn on our grocery store rewards card I have been using this to stock up our pantry further for free 🙂 .
    – Online I have been sourcing more lower price bulk staples and buying them to save more money over time on items we use regularly. This has saved us a considerable amount over buying groceries in smaller amounts in packets in the supermarkets.
    – We set up a trading friendship with our new neighbour and we trade produce we grow that he doesn’t for produce he has growing and we don’t. By doing this we can use less garden space and therefor water as we are in drought here.
    – The grey water from our grey water tank gets pumped out waters all our fruit/berry trees without using any town water. We use low phosphorus cleaning products here and it is a good way to get a second use from our waste water.
    – We save shower warm up water, rainwater that drips off our tank stand shed and vegetable steaming and blanching water to water fruit and berry trees, to clean around the home and to water the vegetable gardens to reduce water usage.
    – With any maintenance jobs that we can do ourselves we have been doing them rather than hiring tradespeople saving a considerable amount of money.
    – If we have a maintenance job to do around the home we try to reuse and recycle as many things as we can around the property without buying anything.
    – With recent hugely low priced clothing sales we have built up a couple of years supply of clothing and underwear for DH and myself saving a huge amount of money. Usually skirts for me are about $50 and I purchased them for $5, jeans for both of us are usually $25 + dollars a pair and we purchased them for $6.95 a pair and the list goes on.
    – Recently we saw shoes come on specials and I took advantage of buying multiple pairs sandals for myself for $3 a pair reduced from $25 and $19 a pair, and pairs of sand shoes for DH reduced from $39 a pair down to $15 a pair. Like yourself Brandy we have super hot summers here and I mostly wear sandals and all of mine were worn out.
    – With the new clothing and underwear we purchased I keep a certain amount out to put in the wardrobe and vacuum seal the rest for when the others wear out to use. We do the same with sheets and towels if we find them on good specials as well.
    – As we had both recently received multiple supplements from the government for Covid so we banked them into our emergency fund to build that up past 3 months of our total living/bills expenses.

    Always a work in progress here and like you Brandy we are surprised at the extra ways we continue to save money and reduce our expenses.


  47. I looked back at the start of our lockdown in the UK and analysed what I was short of then and where I’d wished I’d been better prepared. So – I’ve bulk bought yeast, flour (which I store in a freezer: bring it out to get to room temperature the day before you need it – we have noticed no change in quality or “performance” and it is definitely bug-free!) and toiletries and cleaning supplies. I have stocked up with some tinned and packet foods and bottled (canned) and frozen fruit and veg on seasonal sales. I have made redcurrant jelly and I will be making my Christmas cakes in 3 weeks time (as I always do) and storing them in tins. I am making dishes for the freezer and will also be storing a variety of meats that I can use as I wish later on. We have also stocked up on second hand books and DVD’s for the long winter evenings – we do not have TV or e-readers so these are essential forms of entertainment for us. I’m also ensuring that we have plenty of warm clothing for the winter and blankets for sitting around – we keep the thermostat very low and live by the maxim that the clothes/ blankets are paid for: the heating isn’t!

    1. Debbie,

      I am able to read e-books on my phone using an app from the library. Our library uses the Overdrive app and the Libby app. Perhaps your library has something on their webpage about an app that would allow you to download e-books to your phone or computer.

  48. Lots of good advice on this post, and of course all the weekly posts. I’m a single, 77 year old woman, who’s been on her own for years but I can say now that I’m truly scared. Does anybody of any knowledge about Social Security and pensions still coming if we go into a recession? My house is paid for but I have a home equity loan due to the furnace, oil tank and some other items having to be replaced in the last 2 years. I also had to buy a new car when mine wouldn’t pass inspection. I could even live without a car if I had to, but at my age I really don’t want to lose my house. Food wise, I’m good. It’s the loans that keep me awake at night.

    1. A little search just now says the recession could mean a drop in benefits in 2034 instead of 2036. It would be 79% of what you’re currently getting in 2034. But you will still get paid.

      1. 2034???? I’m 77 now so guess I won’t worry too much about that yet! Thanks for checking.

  49. Thank you Brandy for your wisdom and encouragement. The paragraph about being content at home really sank in.

    My husband and I are retired and live just north of Toronto. We are grateful to have a secure but very modest income during retirement. We have a garden and do our best to look at each purchase very carefully. Food in our area continues to increase week after week. Shelves are mostly stocked but limits are placed on staples but not junk food. We have gone to a mostly vegetarian diet to decrease the cost of food as much as possible. I will be stocking up on all essentials over the next few weeks as we both believe this situation is going to get much more dire.

    Thank you for the amazon link. I want to support your site so I will do that with the next order I place.

  50. Brandy thank you for this timely article. I always leave your website with positive encouragement.
    I have given much thought to the coming months; with a much lower income we have already reduced our expenses to essentials only. I am stocking up when I am able to purchase anything on sale. I am keeping busy with productive chores and projects, making gifts in my spare time, and being thankful for everything I have.
    I am happy to hear that your Canadian Amazon link is now available and will be placing all orders through the Prudent Homemaker.
    Thank you again for all you publish and share with everyone.

  51. Thank you for this insightful post. I have been stockpiling both food and toiletries in the last few months. I recently reorganized all of our food shelves and freezers so I know what we have and what few things I need to stock up on. I’ll wait for sales for these few items. We are debt free and I am so thankful for this. My husband has been collecting the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit but this ends in September. If he is unable to go back to work in September we will have to transition to Employment Insurance which I know will be far less than we are getting now. At this stage we are unsure if there will be work for him in September as he works in food services at our local university and most of their students will be learning online. Even if there are hours we have to evaluate whether we want him to work as we have a disabled son and do not want either him or us to get sick. At the moment, there is a lot of anxiety around what will come in September for us. I am trying to combat the anxiety by being active and prepared.

  52. I love your photos of flower arrangements and your garden! You’re so right that cheery flowers just lift your spirits. This year is the first I have zinnias and I love that they can handle heat! Sunflowers are my favorite summer flower to bring inside.
    This is such a worthwhile blog post to read right now. While my husband is a real estate agent having his own firm (and in spite of switching companies he’s affiliated with in April), he’s had an incredibly blessed year so far. Real estate is hot here in NC. He has 10 under contract and has hired an assistant to help him out and still working overtime. I’m so thankful for the income when so many don’t have that and I’m also blessed to be able to stay at home with our 3 little children. We’ve also been able to pay off quite a bit of debt!
    I have been stocking up on bulk items like wheat kernels, flour, popcorn, beans, rice, coffee, coconut oil, oats, and honey as I can. We butchered 42 fryers we’d raised last summer so I still have some of that meat as well as lots of venison hubby got last winter as well as a hog we butchered from his dad’s. I felt very blessed to have all this meat when there was a shortage and I didn’t have to worry! My 2 deep freezers are full and canning shelves are filling up from garden veggies as well as 60 quart of peaches I put up. We’ve been eating a lot from the garden and I bought the first lettuce this season since February/March as mine is in-between harvests in the garden. Thanks to you I’ve learned to grow my own lettuce as much as possible.
    I buy pretty much all our clothes second hand at a few thrift stores that have a half off day once a month. And I buy ahead a few years for my children and keep the clothes from one child to the next. You really don’t need to spend so much on small children clothing. I try to buy neutral boots etc to use interchangeably.
    We have our own laying chickens this year so we haven’t had to buy eggs and we get healthier eggs. I give them extra kale leaves every morning and they love them! We also are blessed to have a farmer give us milk for free for the last 7.5 years since they can’t sell it to anyone. That is a serious savings! I try to make things using lots of dairy. I make yogurt every other week.
    A DG store opened up a mile from my house and so I try to buy basics there using the app and the $5 off $25 that’s available every week. I don’t go shopping every week though.

  53. Some of our normal things we do to reduce waste (of money, resources, time and health) are:
    We are strict vegetarians and so avoid the expense of animal products. We avoid sugary foods, including fruit unless it’s in season, and even then, we limit it because I’ve learned that fructose is one of the more damaging sugars. We find that following the Plant Paradox Diet we stay slim and feel good. We don’t limit healthful oils at all. We avoid nightshade foods.
    We’re lucky to volunteer for an organization that is donated lots of produce, some of which they cannot use and we can. (If we can’t eat the produce –potatoes, for example– we donate it to the local Food Not Bombs or a nearby church.)
    We don’t use cell phones although we do have old ones (mine was given to me, his was $50) for emergencies. Through Ting, we get connected for about $6 per month, then it’s pay as you use. We don’t have TV or any streaming service. We get most books from the library or neighborhood free library boxes, or thrift stores.
    Our animals (cats & dog) are on raw food diets and that keeps our vet bills very low until they become geriatric and even then, I worked for 10 years with a holistic vet, so I’m blessed to have his advice and the services of other homeopathic and wholistic vets who are also friends and give me a break. I use homeopathy and supplements for most issues and as a last resort, have access to vet prices for allopathic meds.
    We also use homeopathy and my homeopath has dealt with my ailments over the years. We believe staying away from conventional medicine has been a large part of remaining healthy.

    We drive old cars (his 13 years, mine 16 years, and the small truck we mostly use for our volunteer work, 25 years). We bought all when they were already old. They do not get good mileage (the cars are Volvos) but we don’t drive that much and where I live people drive very dangerously so we needed safe vehicles.
    We buy most food, toiletries and household items from Azure Standard or Frontier Co-op.
    We don’t use AC or heat and have gas for our water heater and stove. In winter, we may use oil heaters. we have solar panels and a white roof. We use the electric dryer maybe once per month at most. Our electric bill would be very low if not for the FPL nuclear tax, and the penalty for not having a EMF emitting “smart meter.”
    We collect rain water in barrels and buckets and use it for washing clothes and watering plants.
    We save shower water and dish-washing water for plants.
    We compost everything including coffee grounds we pick up twice a week from nearby.
    Our biggest expense is property taxes, largely because we own the house next door (and try to rent it, but honest renters are not easy to find here).
    I’ve told Gary that I think we should get some of our retirement savings out of the market, but because he took a 30% pay cut recently, he’s reluctant. I keep sending him articles you all post, so thank you.
    I am grateful for Brandy and the rest of the posters! I learn a lot here.

  54. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the year my oldest child was born. When we went to file our taxes, we realized we’d made a whopping $11,500. (This was 2005.) The thing is that we didn’t know any different and felt like we were doing pretty well. It was “easy” to be really frugal until we got a taste of more financial freedom! (Thankfully?) we’ve experienced lay-off or job loss almost every year since then. So, it’s just part of life for us. I’m working diligently on building up a 6 month supply of food and household items, which could possibly be stretched much longer depending on the season and what the garden is producing. I already have clothing stored for several years for each of our 8 children and people continue to bless us with more! We will continue to enlarge our garden and I’m going to try saving seeds, even from non-heirloom varieties of plants as I know several people who have had great success with it. I’d like to have them just in case it’s even harder to find seeds next year. Canning lids have been very difficult to find so I plan to continue to stock up as I see them through the winter in order to be prepared next summer.

  55. Brandy,
    Thank you for this great post. It really eases my mind to have a community like this where it feels like we are all working together doing the best we can where we are at with what we have. During the lock-down the one thing I needed but didn’t have was a shower curtain liner. I use the cloth ones and after washing numerous times it just gets to the point of needing a new one. Yesterday I bought four so I will be stocked up- my son also uses them and he may need one. What could I use as an alternative if I run out? any suggestions?
    Thank you to the woman that mentioned needing bed sheets- that was something I hadn’t thought about- I will purchase a new set soon.
    The only clothing items I will purchase for myself are sweats or leggings which I will need if I am staying home during the winter months-they really help keep me warm and I currently only have one pair.
    I recently found a large silk scarf at the thrift store for $1. I plan to make myself several face masks out of it. I checked with my doctor on this because I was having an awful time getting enough air through the cloth masks and he said it was most important that I get enough oxygen and not to worry so much about the protection part. He suggested I just find a fabric that would allow me to get the level of oxygen that I needed. I fainted twice due to lack of oxygen while using the other fabric masks- I was trying to be really good and use the best protection I could to keep myself and others safe.
    I find myself worrying a lot about the future but I figure my daughter and her family and my single adult son can all come live with us if need be. Yes, it would make for a full house but it would be a life-saver if they found they could not make enough money to pay their mortgage. We have done it before and I know we can do it again if necessary.
    We have been busy over the spring and summer making sure we have a good year’s supply of fire wood so we can heat our home with that and not pay for electricity. I need to start collecting pine cones to use as fire-starters.
    I have bought clothes for my grandson in his current size for this winter and also for a couple sizes up. I just need to find a good pair of winter boots for him.
    The one purchase I made early this spring was a basketball hoop for the drive-way. This has already provided my grandson many hours of entertainment and exercise. We also play as a family so we have all gotten use out of it. Just shooting baskets is good exercise and helps with eye/hand coordination. This will provide us many hours of entertainment while staying home.
    The one thing I know for sure is that God is in control and will take good care of each one of us.
    Thank you to Brandy for having this amazing blog and all the time you devote to it.

    1. About your shower curtain issue: I am also from the Pac. NW, and I have found Home Goods or Marshalls to be have the nicest quality and in the long run, the most economical shower curtains, towels, and sheets, if I want to buy new. Also, if you want to revive a shower curtain you have, you might check into a spray that is sold at JoAnn’s Fabrics. I wanted to make my own shower curtain to coordinate the decor in my bathroom, so I talked with an employee at JoAnn’s about the spray. It has been a while, and I don’t remember the name of the product, how many coats of spray it would have taken, or how much the can of spray cost, but I remember it seeming like a fairly economical product, if one had the fabric already.

      On the sheets issue: I have seen some new sheets in store packaging at Goodwill. I have also found some very nice cotton blankets that were like new after I washed and bleached them. I also found a new down comforter in store packaging at Goodwill for a very low price that will come in handy this winter. One of my goals is to have enough blankets/quilts for the beds in my house in case we have no heat in the house, and all of our beds need to be used. My daughter and I were talking and both realized that we need the heat on in our houses for people to be warm enough at night, and that without heat, neither of us have enough bedding! Although, we could do like my grandmother and heat round rocks and bricks for people to put by their feet in bed. When we were children at my grandmother’s house, when we had our pajamas on ready for bed, we would line up by her coal stove. She would lay a piece of old toweling in our outstretched hands and ask us which rock or brick we would like. She would lay our rock of choice on top of our towel piece and pin the towel up around it with diaper pins. (I have been able to find diaper pins only at Baby’sRUs, although a Mennonite catalog advertised online might have them.) We would carry it off to bed. I loved sinking into her feather bed with my rock with her homemade quilts as covers. There was no heat in the house, but no one was ever cold at night there.

      Uses for old sheets besides paint dropcloths: I have some king-sized flannel sheets that are worn out in the middle, but the sides are still in very nice condition, so I think may try to make some nightgowns for my granddaughters out of the side fabric. I have researched children’s sleepwear fabric and how temporary fire retardant treatment is, and from what I can find, I don’t think it is that helpful, but I would appreciate any information anyone on this site has on that topic. Where I live, it is cool enough that I keep flannel sheets on the beds almost all year around. They feel nicer, and I don’t feel that compelling urge to iron flannel sheets that I have with percale. I found one new flannel Company Store sheet at Goodwill for $8. I love that sheet because it washes up so fuzzily, and I plan to buy some more from that source when I can afford it. I suppose the sides of flannel sheets could be made into diapers, too. I made some flannel diapers to use on my babies back in the day. I never did use disposable diapers. I just washed out the soiled diaper in the toilet with just a touch of chlorine bleach, rung it out and put it in a diaper pail. Then I washed one load of diapers per day. My babies had no allergic reactions; their diapers were snow white; I didn’t find it that labor intensive, and it saved a lot of money. I found that about five dozen diapers kept two babies in diapers. I used 24 inch wide flannel for the ones I made. Well, I’m rattling on. I really like the new look of your site. It’s very nice.

  56. I would love to see your floral and fruit and vegetable photos available to buy as blank note cards. I always keep a supply of pretty blank cards on hand so I am prepared to send a birthday, sympathy, or other card without having to run to the store. Just yesterday, I was able to get a sympathy card in the mail to a family member the same day I heard of their loss without out of pocket cost or braving an extra shopping trip.

  57. I’ve just caught up with this post after visiting a friend and trying to switch off from everything for a few days and I’m feeling very anxious about my unpreparedness. I have a small pantry which would last a month or so but feel I need to add so much more to it. My husband has very little work at the moment so I’m struggling to see how much I can add in reality. I’ve never sold anything on eBay so I’ve just downloaded the app and I’m going to try that avenue as a side hustle. I’m thinking if I split anything I make 50% preparedness and 50% paying down debt I should be able to ease my anxiety a little. Any tips would be appreciated!

    1. I think that borrowing the Tightwad Gazette from the library would give you loads of ideas.

      The Bluebirds Are Nesting has several series that might help. Pantries and Preparedness talks about inexpensively finding avenues to save. Vicky Challenge series is just great. I love the idea to try to do one frugal thing a day and the journaling ways you saved money, along with tallying how much it would have cost to buy it. Crock pot series has many cheap recipes.

      God bless. Don’t fear. Just take one small step at a time.

    2. I think you are just the person our local food pantry loves to give a hand to. They don’t care if you have some food or no food at home. And if you go there and get a little help, it will stretch your month’s supply a little, as long as it doesn’t take so much gas to drive there that it wouldn’t save you. The Seventh-day Adventist churches generally give out free food and free clothing and are happy to help anyone who stops into their Community Services Centers. They generally have short hours when they are open, so it’s a good idea to check ahead. You can volunteer and pay back, if you want to or not. I like Brandy’s idea of stocking up in small quantities. We can only do our best and pray that God will help us. I am just now praying that God will help your husband and/or you get more work.

  58. Brandy, this is such a great article. I wonder if there is anyway to put it into a PDF form so that we can print and save these wonderful ideas?

  59. Hello
    One way I save money, actually began as a medical condition that required a Dr.’s visit. I had developed a condition called Fissures in the lower female region and could not get it healed up on my own. I finally, after a visit to my Dr., she recommend I stop using toilet paper since I had developed a allergic reaction to the chemicals that toilet paper is made from. She recommended switching to 100% organic flannel. I was not impressed with her diagnosis and didn’t do as advised.
    The problem persisted for quite some time until I caved. Finally, after years of pain and problems I did switch and found relief about 2 months later. During the height of the pandemic when there was a run on toilet paper, I was relieved that I wasn’t one of them having to scavenge about looking for some and yes over the course of the years It has saved me money, an added benefit.

  60. I am new here and love reading all the comments and suggestions.
    So refreshing.
    I have been working on stocking up my pantry and necessary household items for awhile. After I got a fairly good start, I focused more on sales and bulk items. I actually made a spreadsheet of what we have on hand now so that when I go to the store I can focus on what we still need and not feel overwhelmed.
    I included all sorts of things on my spreadsheet like Bandaids and medicines and sewing supplies that we might be low on.

    I bought a couple of good sturdy clear totes to put items in that the mice might chew through so as not to waste what was stocked up. One mouse can do a lot of damage in a short time!
    I have also been saving and drying seeds from peppers and squash and flowers in hopes of being able to use them next spring.

    My husband is in the shipping & delivery business and last week suggested to me to consider getting anything I might want to buy online soon because the shipping rates are scheduled to go up significantly in November.

    1. Kim,

      I figured there would be delays in Christmas shipping, so I have been trying to order gifts now as my children decide what they would like. Thank you so much for the heads’ up in rising shipping expenses!

  61. This is a great site, with lots of helpful ideas. We take advantage of sales, and stock up. Get rain checks when necessary. We think we have enough food to last a year, with maybe a few items to fill in holes. We keep an inventory notebook of where we have stored food. We have it under the bed. Totes stacked up and numbered. We have 2 deep freezers. One is a current one, that we eat down. The other is for new sales. Keeps our stock in rotation. If a recipe calls for something we don’t have, I substitute. We don’t garden. The only canning I do is jam. We eat meat every day. Not large portions though.

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