Keep Our Service Free-Donate

Monday, July 8, 2019

Extreme Frugality

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources


Extreme Frugality

I spend a huge amount of time reading blogs, finding resources, and condensing the lessons to save you time.

We all know another recession is coming at some point.

Economies are cyclical. Bust always follows boom in the same way the moon follows the sun.

We very nearly had a recession in early 2016. I remain impressed how it was averted then by the application of tremendous amounts of newly-printed-from-thin-air money.  It took several trillions of dollars globally, but it worked (if we can call enabling the global economy to take on additional $trillions in debt that will never be repaid ‘working’)

Anyone who can read or access the internet and has at least minimal curiosity can detect the signs of the deep stress all around us — in our environment, in our society, and in our economy.

Industrially-farmed soils are going to be completely exhausted within 40-60 years, requiring ever larger fossil energy inputs to keep them transiently supplied with nutrients.

Add all that up and what do you have?  Is this making a strong case for an uncertain future.

Extreme Frugality

A needed mindset for the age we live in.
by Chris Martenson 


We didn’t have a lot growing up, as my mom had to single-parent three kids. Most anything I wanted required disciplined frugality.

I bought my first fly rod from Orvis at the age of 13, which took the better part of a year to save up for. I hand-tied the first flies drifted from its lines from the hackles of roosters I raised expressly for that purpose.

In my later teens, I took a long cross-country climbing/working road trip where I lived on $5/week (1980s). Doing so was an art form involving dried beans and camping for free on federal lands, including the time I woke up to a large bull pawing and snorting a few yards from my tent.  I knew nothing about the behavior of bulls, and still don’t; but I knew that wasn’t a good sign and so I backed away using the tent as a shield and climbed a tree.

Sleeping on the ground, or on sofas doesn’t bother me. I am a remarkably un-picky eater. I’m just easy that way.

All of which is to say that being frugal and ‘making do’ with what’s on hand comes naturally to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy spending money, and have indulged in some expensive hobbies in my life. But I can also zipper the wallet and not skip a beat.

I’m glad I can, because being frugal is an extremely valuable skill to employ as we get ready for a future of ‘less’.

System Failure

Sometime, much sooner than we’ll be ready for, the systems upon which we rely will fail us.

The weather system is already becoming intolerably wonky. Heat in Europe, crop-ruining rains in the US farm belt, and unprecedented heat in the arctic are all telling us that something is terribly amiss.

In fact, at this moment on an 80-degree late June night, in New England, I’m typing next to an open window, no screen, the room lights on, and there are exactly zero insects flying about the room. Not a single one.  I’m old enough to remember the swarms of beetles, moths, mosquitos, and other bugs that such a night would have brought.  That they aren’t here tonight is extremely unsettling to me.

Anyone who can read or access the internet and has at least minimal curiosity can detect the signs of the deep stress all around us — in our environment, in our society, and in our economy.

It’s critical to realize that everything in the financial sphere — from the lofty prices of stocks and bonds to the fiscal solvency of nations — depends on the future economy being exponentially larger than it is currently.  But this expectation is flawed; you can’t extract ever-increasing exponential growth from a finite system.

A ‘credit recession’ almost destroyed the global economy last time (2008). Yet now there’s an even larger one primed and ready to burst.

But you’d never know that by watching the nightly news or reading the major media outlets. Because the more dangerously-lopsided things become, the more urgently the entire interlocking system of narrative control works to convince the masses that everything is fine.

But curious critical thinkers like you and I know that’s not true.

Our knowing is in the ecological data, which is horrifying.  Plastic pollution now virtually everywhere, vanishing insect and amphibian populations, steadily declining phytoplankton levelsweather anomaliesshattering records across the globe, food chain disruptions in the oceans leading to reduced fishing and coral reef systems eroding.

It is in the cultural and sociological data, which show that the epidemic of obesity is worsening, suicide rates are hitting record levels, multiplying increasing feelings of isolation.


It’s in the economic data, which shows the widest wealth and income gaps in history, desperate central banks able only to conceive of ever-more stimulus (easing) efforts, massive and rapidly growing households which do not have any savings to draw upon, and in the US alone, over $200 trillion of underfunded pensions and Medicare bills must be met.


Even if we could set all of the above aside (and we cannot), a looming net energy crisis tells us that the future will be terribly different from the past.  Most people are unaware — falsely lulled by the recent US shale ponzi — that oil production will indeed peak and then decline.  Or that total net energy output from fossil fuel is already falling steadily now that all the easy oil and gas are gone.

Our economic and population arrangements were made back when huge 100:1 net energy returns from fossil fuel were routine.  Comprehensive planning and mitigation strategies have to be made right away if we are to transition to the lower ~5:1 returns offered by shale oil and solar.

Forty to sixty years are required to effect a smooth energy transition.  Meanwhile it looks like oil output may well peak in the US around 2025 (a lot depends on easy credit and a high price for oil), has already peaked and gone down in 18 countries since 2005, and the world remains heavily dependent on the output from a small handful of ageing super-giant oil fields discovered and put into service more than 50 years ago.

In other words, we don’t have 40 to 60 years. We may only have ten. Yet no urgency can be detected in the official policies of the world’s major nations.

Industrially-farmed soils are going to be completely exhausted within 40-60 years, requiring ever larger fossil energy inputs to keep them transiently supplied with nutrients.

Add all that up and what do you have?  A very strong case for a very uncertain future.

My interpretation is these are the warning signs of a global culture that has grown past its natural carrying capacity and has yet to face that reality.

Which is why the sociological data tells me that people are very worried, even if they cannot exactly explain why.

Extreme Frugality

Given all that, everybody wants to know: What should I do?

It turns out there’s one fairly robust response that any individual can employ that will help address the developing predicaments identified above: Extreme frugality.


Don’t have much money?  Then spend less. 

Have money and want to protect it?  Also, spend less.

Want to protect the natural world?  Then consume less. 

Want to be happier?  Then spend less and gain more free time.

Worried about money?  Then spend less, save more, and have more.

Want to resist corporations’ endless grabbing of your money?  Then be frugal.

Want to retire earlier?  Spend less and save more.

The answer to many of the challenges we face are directly addressed by spending less and consuming less.

Taking a cue from an old Saturday Night Live skit with Steve Martin, if you cannot afford it, don’t buy it! [Use this link to watch the SNL skit]:

There’s a lot to be said for frugality and especially extreme frugality.  By cutting out all unnecessary expenses, you align your concerns with your actions.  It helps you regain control over your financial life, especially if you are on (or over!) the edge.  Statistically speaking, that’s most people out there.

This won’t work for everybody; some people just don’t have the psychological make-up to be frugal. They’re too addicted to the instant gratification, “buy now, pay later” consumerism that corporate retailers and credit card companies do their best to hook us on.

But the concept of extreme frugality doesn’t frighten me. Or seem like deprivation. It just fits with who I am.  I’m perfectly happy scoring a used, dented item at a tag sale or on as long as it suits my needs.

And it shouldn’t frighten you. Frugality is one of the fastest paths towards relieving the ever-present money worries that plague most of us. It’s a freeing act.

The less money we require, the less control money has over us — how we spend our time and our level of happiness.

I’m not saying we all have to become ascetics and embrace a life of poverty. What I am saying is that frugality helps re-center our priorities away from the superficial and material and towards true substance — fulfilling relationships, meaningful activity, our connection to nature.
Getting Started

Looks, the world is changing rapidly, and nobody knows how long the current good times will last.  And we’re well overdue for some kind of clearing event — the next recession, more record-breaking weather, a debt crisis, an implosion of the current credit cycle. The list of candidates is long.

Given the extreme state of the world, and given that tighter times almost certainly lie before us, it only makes sense to explore and adopt as many sensible frugality measures as we can, while we can still do them on our own terms.

One of the great killers of the last big bust in 2008 for many people was their too-slow dialing back of expenses.  They lost their jobs but kept up the same level of spending.  Kids stayed in private schools, eating out continued, and every subscription and cell phone plan remained in place.  When the unemployment rate kept rising, and the savings were finally gone, many families experienced the deep trauma of sudden, forcibly-imposed austerity — which was not fun. Not fun at all.

Learning the skills and habits of being frugal will be important for the future of “less” that’s coming.  Indeed, as wide-scale layoffs are starting to happen again, for many it’s already arriving.

Those looking to kick-start a more frugal lifestyle can begin with these straightforward steps:

1.      Create a good set of ‘books’ for your finances. Have a solid income statement and balance sheet.

2.      Identify all expenses that can be trimmed and cut as many as you can. Then set a budget and stick to it.

3.      Identify passive income streams that you can build over time. Whatever money you have invested in the markets, be sure it is being managed prudently by professionals who understand the growing risks of a damaging market decline


Additional Extreme Frugal Ideas:


Cloth Rags as Toilet Paper

Some peoples consider themselves cheap and will so anything they can to save a few cents. Some people, on the other hand, go way beyond being cheap. Frugality is a great thing if you’re trying to save money, but extreme frugality can sometimes lead to strange, seemingly abnormal habits.

For instance, some people willfully choose to use washable cloth rags or wipes instead of toilet paper. Why?Because cloth rags can be used multiple times whereas toilet paper needs to be disposed of as soon as it’s used.

Cloth Diapers

In addition to cloth rags instead of toilet paper, some people choose to use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones, claiming that it’s cheaper to wash a cloth diaper. While this was obviously a method used in previous generations, modernity has allowed for disposable diapers to make things easier. Of course, they might be more expensive, so it’s a personal decision to go with disposable or the more frugal option of cloth diapers.

Dumpster Diving for Food

Another example of extreme frugality is picking through the trash or a dumpster for food. Now, hopefully people who choose this option are only going after boxes or cans that are unopened. Though, it wouldn’t be surprising for someone to go dumpster diving for unused or uneaten fruits and vegetables that have been thrown out.

Reusing Water

Some people choose to save the water after their shower to do their laundry or to take another bath. While this might conserve water and save you some money on your monthly water bill, someone doing this has to make sure that the water is actually clean before reusing. Saving water to reuse it later is great, but not if the water is still going to be dirty.

Not Washing Clothes

Many of us have worn a specific piece of clothing a couple of times before washing it, but some extremely frugal people choose to go weeks (or months) without rewashing clothes, sheets, or towels. It’s one thing to wear a pair of jeans two or three times, but another to wear them constantly for a month before washing.


There is a growing trend among preppers and non preppers alike of creating hidden storage to secure valuables, weapons, or even food. From small in-the-wall spaces to large safe rooms, hidden storage is becoming more and more creative.

Preppers hide things for a several reasons. Like everyone else, they want to conceal their valuables: jewelry, money gold. Above and beyond that, they want to prepare for the dire times when their neighbors and even friends become desperate enough to break into their houses looking for their “stash.” In these circumstances, preppers expect that everything becomes valuable and look to conceal the things they have invested in, such as food, seeds, medicine and so on.

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

1.     Wall Storage. There are many options for creating secret storage spaces in your walls. One of these options is behind the cabinet box. It involves placing a storage box inside of the wall behind the interior area of the cabinet. Another interesting wall storage idea involves placing a small storage area behind a plug or a light switch. Perhaps one of the most familiar ways to create a secret storage space is to put it behind a picture. It is in fact so familiar that it becomes far too easy to find. It is probably a good idea to avoid placing your valuables behind a painting. Instead, consider a shelf equipped with a switch, that pulls out of the wall to reveal a secret drawer or a wall light that comes out and exposes a cylindrical hiding space in the wall.

2.     Staircase Storage. Another common storage option is inside the staircase. Install the hinges on a step to open it and reveal the hidden space.

3.     Floor Storage. Floor storage is another convenient space that can accommodate larger items. It is also easy to have several storage units in multiple rooms. They are very easy to install. You simply have to lift the floor boards, find the spaces that were left by carpenters for easy pipe and wire access, build boxes of corresponding sizes, insert them in the spaces you find in the floor and cleverly cover them up. This is a great way to conceal some of your survival supplies

4.     Basement Storage. One of the easy (and frequently ignored) places to install storage is the basement. Basement are prime candidates for secret storage spaces because they are usually a labyrinth of rooms, wires, furnaces, water heaters and other smart and important things that are essentially the “internal organs” of your house. The benefit of building hidden storage in the basement is that everyone expects idle space between the basement walls, but not many people expect to ever find anything in that space.

When you think about creating hidden storage spaces, think “plain sight.” Use the idle spaces that naturally occur in your home to create storage for your survival supplies.

Every generation is skilled at using the technology of its era. For example, people today are very good at driving cars, using smartphones, setting up home entertainment systems, and so forth. The problem is, if the end of the world as we know it ever happens, all those skills will be useless. The skills of our forefathers, on the other hand, will never be useless.

 Below, we’ll take a look at 30 survival skills from our past that have mostly been forgotten today. If you want to be able to survive in a world where relying on technology isn’t an option, these skills are certainly worth remembering.

 Note: For each skill, I included links to resources where you can learn how to develop that skill...


Here are my ideas for new bill [s] to improve government


>Since term limits never seems to gain any traction perhaps we should entertain the idea of zero pay for elected officials after their third term in office…give them their office, expenses, health insurance while in office and a living allowance only=much like our Founding Fathers and see how many decide to remain in office.

>Perhaps we need to resurrect a new version of ‘war’ bonds, perhaps calling them “government bailout bonds” to help pay off our national debt and/or to help pay for our massive deficits and proposed new spending projects since fewer foreign nations are buying our debt!

>An idea I've suggested before:  Eliminate ALL city/state & Federal taxes on the 1st $25K of income for all people. 41% of citizens pay no Federal tax, many city/state taxes are killers for many. Tax laws that encourage more US manufacturing/jobs & elimination of red tape would help too.

More Updates:

Papercrete-the new concrete

Not only is the building material incredibly inexpensive and Earth-friendly, but it is also extremely durable, especially if you know the process of waterproofing papercrete. You can make papercrete building blocks by up-cycling used or discarded paper products. They often have a sturdy frame of possibly rebar and metal lath added for support as well.

Prepping doesn't have to cost a lot of money if you know how to look for bargains. Garage sales and yard sales are great places to scoop up cheap survival items you might need for an emergency. The old saying that one man's junk is another man's treasure certainly applies here.

 Many people holding garage sales don't know the true value of what they're selling, or they simply don't see items for how useful they are and end up selling them for next to nothing. Yard sale season is here, so now is the time to get out there and start hunting down the things you need.

 Make a list and take it with you. Don't assume you will remember because there are quite a few prepper items to look for. Here are just 14 of them...


AOC, Omar, Tlaib of MI, others recruited for office by Justice Democrats, an offshoot of Communist PartyUSA

Communists from across the US, along with international delegates from Germany, Canada, Venezuela and elsewhere, sought to send the message that their party has been the most consistent champion of those ideas, has been on the right side of some of the most consequential ideological battles of the last hundred years, and is ready to continue the fight into its second century.


Is our media spreading false narratives?

Do they have the power to confuse and confusticate the truth?

Threat to Freedom Part 1: “the insider”

Threat to Freedom Part 2: Then “news flies. news lies.”…

Threat to Freedom Part 3: the champagne tower”…

Read below to get caught up…


Free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom!


Contributors and subscribers enable the Poor Man Survivor to post 150+ free essays annually. It is for this reason they are Heroes and Heroines of New Media. Without your financial support, the free content would disappear for the simple reason that I cannot keep body and soul together on my meager book sales & ecommerce alone.

You Can’t Buy Life Insurance After You’re Dead-Prepare NOW for Emergencies…

Finally, grab an emergency power cell or solar/battery radio weather radio!

Having the Patriot Power Cell on-hand for emergencies keeps your essential electronics up and running in case you need to call for help. 

Back in stock!

High Density Pocket-Sized Solar Generator Keeps Your Family Alive-Bonuses


Get your own personal, “mobile” solar backup power generating system:

Support our efforts by shopping my storefront…





A Smoking Frog Feature, Shallow Planet Production


Lee said...

Thought provoking & useful tips and resources-As always!

Bob said...

I'm a pretty frugal person & am able to make use of the many do-it-yourself and how-to resources you're kind of our go-to-buy for all kinds of useful stuff!