The Good Life: Yankee Thrift in Action

With Wayne being a Baby Boomer and me, GenX, retirement is something for which our budget revolves around. When Wayne starts collecting social security it likely will be funded at 100%. For my generation? Not likely! Saving for us isn’t just a way of life but as old age approaches, a necessity.

In the examples below you’ll see how Yankee Thrift  is the way to a richer life for us. It’s about making smart purchases without the purpose of showboating. In other words it’s not about buying something because it’s on trend, or you need the latest model, or to feed an insecure desire to impress. It’s about quality and self-reliance with the smarts to know when you need to secure the services of a professional or invest in a big expenditure. We save where we can and spend more on where it counts. You’ll see how in each example we’re cutting back but it’s not a sacrifice:

I cook from scratch with wholesome ingredients often purchased in bulk and ensure that food waste is minimized or eliminated in our home. In the summer we have our own little organic vegetable garden. We eat meat or chicken on average once a week, or twice if there are leftovers. We do, however, buy more expensive, local (when available) organic produce, eggs and meat or chicken with a Whole Foods welfare rating of four. I’ve never seen a five, the highest.

We eat out or buy take-out on average only once a week. Wayne makes and brings his lunch to work every day. When we do dine out we aren’t too worried about costs since we save from eating mostly at home. We also leave tips of at least 20% and more when well deserved when dining out. I understand the sentiment of the author of the 1961 New Yorker article quoted in my previous post, in particular when dining in certain establishments! Fortunately we haven’t had too much of that attitude here other than uppity hipsters in trendy places, the likes of which we avoid.

I make coffee at home every morning in a vintage percolator I bought at a rummage sale still new and unused in the box for $1. It does not require the use of (and disposal of) filters. Wayne uses a travel mug to bring our home brewed coffee for his ride to work. No Starbucks! I use organic fair trade coffee.

Wayne and I love classic and often preppy clothing. We both have some pieces in our wardrobe that are over twenty years old, back when most everything was still made in the USA. I’ve written extensively on my blog about the challenges of finding new, sustainably made affordable clothing. Since the latter seems nearly impossible we purchase the best quality we can and still pay more, but what we buy will never go out of style so it won’t be in a landfill next year. We also buy only natural fibers so that we’re not adding microplastics into the environment. We also avoid anything that’s “dry clean only” and have found that even in those cases, most woolens can be safely laundered on the gentle cycle then dried flat on a rack.

We do not hire cleaning services since I’m very happy being the cleaning lady. As I wrote in my vintage diet book it helps keep me in shape and is a form of meditation for me.

Wayne does most of the outside grounds labor himself (although I do a lot of shoveling in the winter because it’s a great workout for me!) but we don’t skimp on powered equipment. Gardening tools, shovels–those can be found for next to nothing at estate sales, but we don’t buy used equipment or grab “free” machinery on the side of the road. We have two very nice snow blowers purchased new (one is more powerful than the other, but we’re keeping the older one as back-up) and a self-propelled lawnmower also purchased new. Since our yard is quite large there will come a time when we invest in a riding mower. Still, we’re spending less than on what we’d be paying an outside service.

We don’t belong to a gym, never will. We live an active lifestyle so that we don’t need to pay a monthly fee to lift heavy things.

My kitchen is outfitted with mostly vintage, pre-owned cookware, bowls and cooking utensils, back when it was high quality US made, purchased at rummage and estate sales for a penny (not pennies) on the dollar. I also own Le Creuset cast iron cookware purchased new because they are trustworthy workhorses and as much as I use them it’s a smart investment. Averaging out what I paid for everything, we’re still saving!

We both would love to travel abroad but we’re saving for that, both in time and money. We did not fly to an exotic destination for our honeymoon but instead had a romantic getaway right here in New England. Never once did we feel like we were going without. It was magical and memorable!

I’ve almost always gotten my pets “used” (ha) in that I adopt rescues. Our degus bedding is very affordable and sustainable; instead of buying expensive disposable wood shavings I use plush towels covered with soft pillowcases as their bedding that I launder. However, no expense is spared for a pet’s medical care when needed

We make annual donations to our local animal shelter (sometimes two of them when able) which has mostly been by donating vintage treasures to their fundraising sales. While we can’t afford to give them hundreds of dollars every year, while out picking I find things I know they can flip for a lot more than I paid. We pledge annually at church and put what we can in the weekly collection and serve when able. 

I could write more but will stop for now. I hope the above illustrates what Yankee Thrift means to us.  I would love to hear from you about your own examples with or similar to the spirit of Yankee Thrift!

12 thoughts on “The Good Life: Yankee Thrift in Action

  1. If you are so inclined to write more, please do. This is a wonderful article with great, real-life examples (being 1/2 of a semi-retired no-kids couple, I love me some Amy Dacyczyn, but don’t need to make dryer-lint papier-mâché 😁).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I didn’t realize how much I enjoy writing about this topic until I wrote this unplanned post early this morning! (Was dryer-lint papier-mâché in The Tightwad Gazette?? Too funny!)

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  2. I see so much waste, even by people who consider themselves “frugal.” I think one of the problems is that so many people are distracted, not really fully aware of what in the world they are doing half the time. Mindfulness in our actions goes a long way. Thank you for this article.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have given me a lot to think about, Mrs. Averyl. (Sorry I haven’t commented for awhile. We relocated from Wyoming to Southern California so I’m catching up on what I missed. (My email inbox is a nightmare and I’ve missed a few of your blog notices.) and did I see you selling recipes on IG? I was going to check that out and then forgot.)
    I walked in to a Whole Foods to try shopping and for the first time was completely intimidated by a grocery. What is that rating system on meat anyway? And would a level 6 be raising it in your own backyard? 😬 I have a friend from Massachusetts who was one of 9 children whose parents did just that. Her dad would put a steer in the backyard for the summer and have it butchered in the Fall. #respect! And they lived in town!
    I have wanted to keep chickens forever, but after watching my mom deal with predators and accidents and disease I lost the nerve.
    So…yeah…..backyard meat is totally Yankee Thrift! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I missed reading your comments! Welcome back and to your new home. I didn’t realize you moved again. So. Cali sounds like a friendlier climate!

      The Whole Foods welfare rating is for beef, pork, chicken, lamb and turkey. Here are the details:

      https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/animal-welfare/5-step-animal-welfare-rating

      We’ve been buying beef from Whole Foods that buys from a couple of local Maine farms. I’m hoping their welfare rating system is more accurate than the Certified Humane label (not Whole Foods) for eggs that turned out to unreliable. (https://simplelivingnewengland.com/2019/03/18/visit-to-frith-farm-in-scarborough-to-buy-organic-free-range-eggs/).

      That’s good that you researched raising chickens before committing to it, and backyard beef, very interesting!

      I briefly posted a recipe for popcorn porridge that could be emailed for $3, but decided to pull it for now since I really put a lot into formulating that recipe. To me it’s worth $300 but I know to many $3 for one recipe is too much. 🙂 In the meantime I will still periodically post free recipes here. 🙂

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