The Difference Between Frugality and Being A Miser

There is nothing fun about having chronic insomnia, but it does provide me with plenty of quiet time in the middle of the night to read and watch TV. One of my favorite things to do is scroll mindlessly through Youtube, looking for videos on cooking, couponing, gardening, and saving money.

Because I’ve been into the frugal lifestyle since 2008, most of the tips aren’t new, but I do enjoy seeing how other families live, especially the ones who are extreme. 

What is the difference between frugality and being a miser? Choosing to suffer when there’s no need.

One lady I watched seems to revel in misery. She and her husband downsized from a 3,300 Sq. foot Tri-Level outside of Dallas into the woods of Northern Idaho. Totally off grid, she uses a wood cook stove, has no bathroom, no electricity and lives in a shed converted into a tiny house with 4 kids.

She gave an inside tour that showed a remarkable lack of furniture (3 of the kids share a small mattress) and only a single radio that runs on batteries for entertainment. They did have a computer and camera, but must visit the library for WiFi. 

In storage, she showed off reusable muffin liners, fabric Ziplocs, cloth diapers, homemade potions crafted from herbs, and a 5-year supply of emergency food rations with some scary looking canned meats. By the time she got to the reusable cloth toilet paper, I quit watching. (Added bonus: she does the wash by hand and air-dries, even in winter!!!)

Why, oh, why would anyone spend a single minute of their life reusing toilet paper? That isn’t penny-wise; it’s pound foolish! Not to mention gross, unnecessary, and probably not sanitary.

Toilet paper is on sale 52 weeks per year. By using coupons and rebates, it’s super cheap. As for cloth diapers? You’ve got to be kidding me. I have more Huggies, Pampers, and Seventh Generation in my stockpile than I could ever use—even if I had triplets on the way.

I tried canning food. The jam and pears were yummy. Will I do it regularly, standing over a stove, during the hottest part of the summer, boiling tomatoes to make pasta sauce that retails for $1.00 a jar? NO, it’s not worth it. 

Saving money can become a dangerous obsession. I choose to save in most areas so that I can splurge in others. What I want is the lowest-priced Coach purse, not a stained and torn potato sack that I made for free!

The point is this: Saving is good, but not at the expense of quality of life. Moderation is key. Every family will have a different budget, with different goals. That’s fine. Just don’t sacrifice your time, peace of mind, and happiness for a nickel.

Fake Service Animals Causing Extreme Chaos

Are emotional service animals a legitimate need or a rapidly-growing scam? Like anything else, the answer depends on whom you ask. I am a huge pet lover, with dogs, cats, fish, and a hermit crab sharing my home. I don’t bring them to most public places, however, because I don’t want to annoy others and I also see no point. Movie theatres, restaurants, and shopping malls are not designed to accept animals. When it comes to travel, the situation can become downright circus-like.

There have been numerous odd instances where someone tried to board a plane with a peacock, or a pig, or a turkey, etc. Call me crazy, but the thought of flying cross-country next to an ear-piercing gobbler that isn’t bathroom-trained is my idea of hell!

According to new rules issued by American Airlines, most people agree with me. If your animal is an insect, ferret, hedgehog, goat, spider or chicken, they will no longer allow them as a traveling companion. Strangely, miniature horses are still welcome.

To me, there is a huge difference between a service animal and a support animal. The former would be a seeing-eye dog to help the blind, whereas the latter could be a boa constrictor that soothes an anxiety disorder. It’s just not the same. 

Every reasonable effort should be made to assist the disabled—wheelchair ramps, braille, or motor scooters in grocery stores are all good examples. But when it comes to emotional issues, it’s very hard to prove that bringing your llama to Walmart will actually improve your symptoms. 

Anyone who has a serious emotional problem deserves to be recognized and if their needs don’t infringe on the group as a whole, of course we should do it. The question is where to draw the line. I have the utmost sympathy and compassion for anyone with PTSD, major depression, or panic attacks. But please don’t ruin my dinner out or my trip with barking, urinating, and/or aggressive animals that don’t want to be there anyway. 

There is a time and a place for everything. Let’s use our common sense to determine what that rightfully would be. A baby Chihuahua tucked into a bag isn’t going to bother anyone; an enormous, screeching zoo creature surely will. 

I Love Guatemala

Guatemala has become the second country, after the United States, to open an Embassy in Jerusalem. Such an act of solidarity with the Jewish people is truly incredible and my heart is bursting with love. 

Unlike many other countries, who are siding with Hamas terrorists and blaming Israel for the current chaos, Guatemala is smart enough and brave enough to challenge popular opinion. 

Here in the New England area, over 30,000 Guatemalans live in Massachusetts. I have met some, and I can honestly say that these are wonderful people, who are very family oriented and contribute a lot to the country when they immigrate (legally, of course). Even with cultural differences and a language barrier, friendship can flourish and I support them.

In addition to Guatemala and the US, I’ve heard that Paraguay is intending to move their embassy as well, which is tremendously exciting! Obviously, I want everyone to embrace Jerusalem. Unfortunately, that will not happen, but if we can get a majority, that alone would be a miracle. 

Israel’s existence should never be taken for granted, but She continues to grow stronger, year by year, providing a safe haven for Jews and a hotbed for innovation that benefits the entire world. 

4 Dairy Free Recipes That Mimic Traditional Shavuot Foods

Shavuot is a holiday when dairy foods are commonly eaten, with ice cream socials and cheesecake parties being a fun way to celebrate. I personally love this tradition and because no one in my family is dairy sensitive, it’s never been an issue. (Well, aside from the extra calories and fat, it isn’t.)

But what about folks who can’t eat dairy, either for health reasons or taste? Nobody wants to be left out, so making dairy free versions of what’s being served is a kind gesture. Because many copycat recipes taste truly awful, it can take some experimenting to find a winner. 

One of my closest friends has a little girl that is extremely allergic to cow’s milk—to the point that she can’t go to restaurants. Shavuot is probably the hardest Jewish holiday in their home because of the dairy issue. She has tested tons of different things and recommends this menu because it’s the most kid-friendly and tasty. I have not made any, but I have been served them, and I would agree. The flavor, of course, is not identical, but for anyone with a true safety issue, it’s an excellent alternative.

Cashew Alfredo Pasta

Like the classic fettucine, it has a cheese—sort of, it’s made from soaked and blended nuts. The look is the same; the taste is close.

Coconut Custard

Very smooth like a pudding. Try adding toasted almonds along with flaked coconut as a garnish. 

3-Ingredient Mocha Milkshake

The author makes her own ice cream. I’d use prepared because it’s easier. Yummy either way. 

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Similar to blondies, these make a nice chewy treat. Be warned the ingredient list is long, with some obscure items. The taste is wonderful, if you’re feeling ambitious.

For those who don’t have time to cook, look for So Delicious brand. Their ice cream is awesome and the fudge bars—provided you can find them—are another good pick. 

 

Do you have any dairy free recipes to share?