The Frugal Catholic: “Depression Era Sayings and the 21st Century” by Martha Wild King–May 9, 2010

My favorite frugal sayings have lived on my tongue for 20 plus years.  I began saying them to myself when we made the decision to live below our means to fulfill a goal.  We wanted to go to England for a two-week vacation since Michael was going to be over there with the military.  We had our sets of parents to watch our two small children, but what we didn’t have were the funds.  In order to save up, I began cutting food costs and and investigating in the library on how to best reduce spending

It was during this research that “The Depression Era Sayings” surfaced, and they became my mantra.  Even today, they are ever on the tip of my tongue to gauge my spending.  These four sentences give boundaries to our consumption and force me to pause, regroup, and often not spend.  As I’ve heard it said, “The leach has two sisters: give and give me more.”  That is the problem most of us in America face, a consumption mentality.  Proverbs 13:18 states,”Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but he who heeds reproof is honored.” (RSV)  Proverbs 27:23 elaborates, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds; for the riches do not last for ever; and does a crown endure to all generations?” (RSV)

So what are these four “Depression Era Sayings?”  They are as follows:


  1. MAKE IT DO.  How can you use what you have for what you need now?
  2. DO WITHOUT.  Do I really need this item I am coveting?  Would something else work that I already own?
  3. USE IT UP.  Have I used my resources wisely?  Did I finish what I have before buying more?
  4. WEAR IT OUT.  Before I buy something new, have I worn out what I wish to replace?  Do I really NEED to replace it or NEED more “stuff”?


By applying these four phrases, by memorizing them and teaching them to your children, wonderful events will occur. Try putting these sayings into your family living, and watch your savings go up and your budget stay better on track.

Making a Frugal Dinner--Family Style


The Frugal Catholic: “Toe-Nail Theology and You” by Martha Wild King–April 4, 2010

We are created in the image of God: our body, though our own, is meant to be shared within the BODY of the CHURCH.  Ephesians 5:23 says “…as Christ  is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” (RSV)  Romans 12:1 (NAB) clarifies this by stating, “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” 1 Corinthians 12:20 continues,”But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.  The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ nor again the head to the feet,’ I do not need you.’  Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, ….” (NAB)

When I first asked Christ into my life 34 years ago and began worshiping as a Protestant, I really sought to be something significant, like an arm or an aorta.  What I found was that no one deemed me as important as I wanted to feel; thus I settled into my place as simply greeting at the church door once a month and cleaning up after communion which meant I dumped the bread and wine into the sewer–the act of which led me into The Roman Catholic Church.  So through the years I decided my place in His Body was simply being a “toenail.”  Yes, I was a lowly toenail, hidden away in a smelly left shoe.  I had no real worth in the organization of His Body and His Bride, the Church.

Then a change of thought occurred when I went on a backpacking trip with my husband two summers ago. We climbed five miles straight up, packs and all, into the rugged Olympic Mountains in WA.  Since I hadn’t hiked like this in 30 years, I had forgotten one important aspect of hiking.  Your shoes should be one size too big, and when you come downhill, tighten the boots versus loosening them.  So from that two-day trek came a swollen, blackened, left, big-toenail.  Finally after a few weeks, it painfully fell off, and a new one started underneath it.  That new toenail took about a year to be normal.

So the moral to this “Toenail Theology” story is: maybe you feel like a toenail within your Catholic church.  Maybe you feel that you have no value and no one really notices whether you are here or not.  Maybe you are wrong!!  Do you realize what a pain in the foot it is to NOT have a toenail?   God needs you  here even if it is to smile at someone else during The Sign of Peace.  You are part of His Body–The Church–The Holy Roman Catholic Church.  Rejoice toenail; we need you desperately.

The Frugal Catholic: “Making Marriage a Priority or Cheap Dates We’ve Known and Loved” by Martha Wild King–February 7, 2010

Over the Christmas holiday, Jane arrived at a neighborhood party, her petite, pretty self.  I wanted to ask her about her recent separation.  Although I knew it was prying, I wanted to know from her so I said, “Jane I know it isn’t any of my business, but I was concerned when I heard about you and Tom.  Is there anything I can pray for?”  Some part of her private heart broke loose then she looked at me intently and said, “Martha, Tom and I quit working on the marriage after the children came.  We just kept brushing our feelings under the rug, and didn’t deal with them.  We didn’t make our marriage a priority and make time to be together.  Whatever you do, work on your marriage!”

It isn’t often that someone you know only in a casual way shares such a deep part of themselves and her words hit me.  Not that Michael–The Good Captain–and I don’t work on our marriage of 30 years, but that she was verifying something which I know to be true, but so seldom hear.  Thus, dear reader, I pass this on: Take time to work on your marriage!

Looking through the eyes of Catholicism and frugality, what are some ways we can strengthen the sacrament of marriage?  Below are listed a few of which Michael  reminded me, and I will rate them according to restaurant symbols.

Remember: An investment in your marriage is like savings in the bank.  You dated before marriage and constantly reconnecting is a vital glue within your marriage now.  Dates don’t have to be expensive, but they speak to your children and the world that you make your marriage a priority!

$$$= OVER $50

  • Hire a baby-sitter and sail off to Seattle ( or any city for that matter) with your spouse for the afternoon.  Hit a hotel.  What fun.
  • Purchase season’s tickets to the symphony, ballet, opera, or a play series. These tickets will ensure that you get out periodically.  Michael and I have season tickets to the symphony at Benaroya Hall.  We go to six symphonies a year.  In the beginning, we bought these in the “nose bleed section” which is as high up as you can go at the cost of $15 a ticket.  On the first symphony, however, I had the feeling that I was going to faint and fall over the side (not a pretty site), so I told the usher.  He immediately got on his walkie-talkie and said, “Lady in the balcony with vertigo.  Need to seat her and her husband downstairs.”  He said to call the symphony and ask for the up-front same-price tickets which we did and have been sitting there with our $15 tickets for ten years.
  • Go visit a timeshare presentation, say at Whistler BC, and sit through the 90-minute event for the privilege of having two nights free.  Many couples do this but just don’t bring their checkbook.  We did, however, purchase when we went so this was not a cheap date, but it has proved to be a great family vacation investment which Michael calls “vacation insurance.”

$$=UNDER $50

  • Look on line and find coupons for dining out.  Heck, go to an expensive restaurant and order the cheapest thing on the menu.  Our favorite is cheeseburgers at an expensive seafood restaurant in Seattle.  Cost $10.  Or you can order one expensive entree and split it.  If you are looking for a reasonably-priced babysitter, check the Girl Scouts.  Often, the young girls take classes through The Red Cross, and they are looking for sitting experience.
  • For a dinner out without going out, try “dining in.”  Get two prepared meals from a caterer, Stouffer’s Lasagna, or a carton of grocery store soup (something you didn’t prepare); and when the children are down, enjoy a candle-lit meal with a $3 bottle of wine or sparkling cider.  The Breedens, parents of eight in Maryland, have taken this idea one step further.  Sharon purchased a little cafe table set for their bedroom, and they often retreat there for a “private dinner” while the older ones watch the younger ones.
  • Net flicks, of course, equals a movie at home.  So why not add to the event with some home-made popcorn.
  • And finally, consider family camping or even back-packing.  Dates work there also.  Some of my most precious memories are of sitting with Michael around the campfire when the children were asleep in the tent.

$=FREE or nearly so (these simple acts can truly add to your marriage)

  • Grad hands every time prayers are said at Mass.
  • Hold each other and pray together for the day before in front of your family crucifix before your spouse heads off for work.
  • Go for a long walk on the weekend.  We walk four miles on Sunday afternoons then have a cup of coffee and continue our walk.  This gives us a time to connect about family, finances, future, and get in exercise.  For the years we have done this, we have walked across the state of Washington in mileage at least twice–800 miles.
  • Read the Bible together at your dinner table which has been set with candlelight and place mats.  Dinner can be such a wonderful time to retreat and reconnect as a family.
  • Set up a place in the house for romance where you can light a candle, enjoy some wine or tea, and simply talk after the children are down.  Ours is in the living room and/or on the old wicker couch on the front porch.  Of course, now that the last remaining child is 13, she sometimes joins us on the porch as we all snuggle under the fleece blankets and chat.
  • Rent the first movie you ever saw together.
  • Re-read as a couple love notes or greeting cards you’ve given each other over the years.
  • Look through photos or videos of treasured times.
  • Write and share a list of 10 reasons why you love each other.
  • With a cup of tea in hand, recall the names of movies you’ve seen together, restaurants you’ve dined at, or vacation spots you’ve shared.

The greatest gift Michael and I can give to our five children besides our Catholic faith is our marriage.  Continue to “date each other.”  It is money well spent.

The Frugal Catholic: “New Year’s Resolutions” by Martha Wild King–January 10, 2010

Our lives are like magnets: whatever we put out there will be attracted to us.  And for what should we ask?  Well, first wisdom.  James 1:5-8 NAB

But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.  But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.


What we in our family have found is that when we write down our five or ten goals and keep them posted, we often see them occur.  My eldest son, David, now 27, was living in Bremerton WA and wanted to make some changes.  So he took a paper bag, wrote down on it what changes or goals he wanted to see, and posted it on his wall.  Low and behold, by the end of that year all had occurred.  Inspired by her brother’s example, my daughter, Hannah, age 23, did the same.  Last year, 2009, she compiled ten goals, posted them on her refrigerator, and eight out of ten came true.  I have my goals, eleven of them, on my bulletin board.  They are life goals and I keep my yearly ones with my daily prayer cards.  Again, it amazes me how they are coming to pass.


Sometimes I wonder about our Lord and how He approached His ministry.  He remained essentially unseen for thirty years and then He changed the world.  What did our Blessed Mother think in her heart during this time?  Did she ever wonder when He would take on His mission which was promised to her?  I ponder these things.  I reflect on how He approached His life and goals.  The days are short; the fields are ripe, and the workers are few.  Let us accomplish all we can for Him with wisdom.

GONE-------- (a goal!!)