June 19, 2024

10 Frugal Tips for Hard Times

The Frugal Meal, Pablo Picasso

At one time frugality meant survival. It may again, and probably sooner than later. 

When this happens people will turn away from the marketplace, and rely on themselves and their communities to meet their needs.

Many wants will go out the window, but we may be better off without them.

Self-reliance, cooperation, and frugality will be the new currencies, ones that can't be inflated away.

In hard times frugality makes the difference between hardship, and getting by. 

Our very survival will depend on it again.

Frugal Tips For Hard Times

 1. Don't pay to have someone else do something you can do for yourself.

2. A cow and/or chickens and a garden can mean the difference between a fed family and famine.

3. Pay for things with goods or services rather than cash.

4. Eat low on the food chain. Beans, rice, and lentils can go a long way.

5. Keep everything small and simple and fly below the radar.

6. Learn and use the wisdom of Elders, as well as the enthusiasm and robustness of Youth. 

7. Cook/bake/make as much as you can from scratch.

8. Learn to hunt/trap/fish. You may never need these skills, but in the event that you do, it may be too late to learn.

9. Go car free, now, if you can.

10. Practice fix and repair to make things last.

If there was a most important life skill to learn today, it would be frugality.

It is an essential survival skill in good times, and in hard.

What are your favourite frugal tips?


  1. Anonymous6/21/2024

    My favorite frugal tips are buying from bulk stores, such as this example: a pound of red lentils at the regular grocery store is around 8 dollars because you are paying for advertising/the brand name. The same amount of lentils at the bulk market is less than half of that cost, at $3.75ish. I also knit a ton, and have made fingerless "socks" to go over my gloves for extra warmth, as well as hats, scarves, a couple shawls, and I tried my hand at a knitted bum bag (people also call them fanny packs). I sew to make my own clothing, to repair pants, shirts, etc, and also learned about what kinds of edible plants grow within walking distance. So far, I have foraged water dock, salsify, lemon balm, dandelion greens and roots, and Siberian pea shrub (whose seeds can be prepared and eaten like a legume, is considered an 'emergency food' that is high in protein, and even the leaves can be used as a dye, plus the bark of it can be made into a sort of rope or twine). I want to learn how to repair bicycles someday, because I have this feeling anything that takes gas might become more of a burden in the near future due to climate change and inflation (I don't drive at all, but I take the bus often and walk everywhere). I hope other people comment because I want more ideas haha 😄 --E.V. ( my initials, not 'electric vehicle' )

    1. Anonymous6/22/2024

      You have so many good ideas, and you want more. That is what we are all about - never stop learning. Something else we are all about - lentils!

      Thank you for sharing here with us.

      Come on NBA readers - we need more ideas...

      - Gregg

  2. These are great ideas. I do pretty much all of these too. The one I would add is practicing genuine contentment and gratitude with what you have and where you are right now. Not always easy, but we are trained to want more, have 'better' and more stuff and just to never stop wanting. If we are able to look around us and realise the blessings we already have, even if times are tough-that can go a long way. Also, lentils :D

    1. Anonymous6/22/2024

      Dear Karen, ....especially if you were raised by people who put it in your head at a young age that you *should* want more, better, material things....more people are coming out of the woodwork and telling me this wisdom lately, about being here now, contentment in the present.. and practicing gratitude. When I think about arbitrary materialistic milestones and the future, I become full of anxiety and frustration, but when I slow down and think of the blessings right in front of me, I calm down and become grounded, centered. I embraced minimalism in 2010, and was raised poor as a kid, so this all feels like "training from the universe" ! --E.V. time to strengthen spiritual ways!!

    2. Anonymous6/22/2024

      Those of us in consumer societies are completely brainwashed. If one had never visited other parts of the world one would be tempted to think this is normal. After travelling earlier in life, I could see that this was not true.

      In most parts of the world that I experienced, people were much happier with much less. Not only that, but they were happy to share what little they had with others. Such joy in the simple acts of simply living.

      Contentment is hard to come by in "developed" nations where we are purposely kept in an unsatisfied state for most of our lives so that we will continue to buy long after our needs have been met.

      I am grateful these days to have my health, a wonderful partner, good neighbours, an old bicycle that keeps on going decades into its life, and enough to eat. Do I not have everything I need? I'm good, and no amount of advertising is going to change that.

      If that is the Universe talking - I am definitely listening and learning.

      - Gregg

    3. Anonymous6/24/2024

      Gregg, I mentioned embracing minimalism in 2010, I should have also mentioned it was in big part due to reading your blog since then! I had discovered Fukuoka and Daniel Suelo around the same time as well, and I have been on the path ever since. Have you ever read Material World? I forget who wrote it, but a photographer travels the world and asks people from many different cultures to pose with all of their worldly possessions. It was very eye opening...it had me thinking the most happy and content people do not have a lot, but just enough. And they don't necessarily live in what would be considered "rich" (like modern, wealthy) places. You maybe have covered this exact book in a past blog post ,but there are so many subjects to read here, and get lost in that I lose track, so forgive me if you already know of it --E.V.

    4. Anonymous6/25/2024


      Material World is one of our favourite books of all time, and one which should be taught in every school in North America. But no one in power here wants us to know that you can't buy happiness. We did do a post on this blog about that very beautiful book. You can find it at:


      - Gregg

  3. Anonymous6/23/2024

    I’ve really enjoyed this post and the comments — lentils!

    I’ll add a few things that I do:
    - Make friends with likeminded people so we can share our knowledge.
    - Keep a veggie garden and a pantry full of staples for simple, whole foods cooking.
    - Have books in my house!! I want to have access to knowledge on edible plants, gardening, homeopathy, and holistic first aid at all times. Being one’s own doctor is self-sufficiency at its finest.
    - Keep a good supply of water filters. Bottled water is nice if you’re desperate, but expensive and a hassle to get.
    - See the sun in the morning and evening — healthier and cheaper that sleep aids.


    1. Anonymous6/24/2024

      I forgot to mention books! Yes ! I would love to get my hands on the Foxfire series, as well as the more esoteric ones like the Planetary Healer's Manual by Viktoras Kulvinskas...I already have some on herb identification and remedies, as well as some Eastern stuff like Krishna consciousness literature and I really should read Yogananda sometime....being raised with individualistic western values has tired me out, spiritually speaking....
      What water filters do you recommend? Bottled always carries the risks of either microplastics or not having the room for storage.
      This year I am trying my hand at gardening, and so far I have so many pepper plants along with a big pot of mint, some tomatoes, brassicas, potatoes, as well as hoping that carrots also grow in pots rather than straight into the ground..I volunteer at a community garden/farm in town, and I have to admit, I have learned a lot in just 3 months! Transferrable knowledge..it is so therapeutic. I love how everyone got delighted at the mention of lentils!! 🩵🥰--E.V.

    2. Anonymous6/25/2024

      "Be one's own doctor." Yes!

      When did we give away all responsibility for our own health to the medical industrial complex? What a mistake.

      I have not been to a doctor for many years as I have had no reason to do so. Not to say they don't have their place, but I use them with caution. Post-covid I am more hesitant than ever before. They really betrayed our trust in their "expert advise" with all the deadly mistakes they supported, or were forced to support.

      Unfortunately many of the good doctors were purged from the system when they dared to stand up for the actual science, truth, and their patient's best interests.

      The corrupted ones that are left are still pushing the useless and harmful jab.

      Many doctors and treatments are not safe or effective.

      Who knows my health status better than me? I should at least be considered a knowledgeable partner in any medical intervention, and bodily autonomy is crucial for that.

      - Gregg

  4. Anonymous6/29/2024

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, Gregg. They do have their place. And it’s a small one.

    The purge was disgraceful. And I suspect that was the point.

    Filters—Berkey made wonderful and long lasting ones, until the EPA shut them down. I know there is a court case, so hope they can resume production at some point. Zero Filters are good, but wear out quickly so get expensive. Nikken makes nice filters.

    Peace , Erin


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