Tag Archives: frugality

“Off Grid Laundry Saves Big” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–July 2019

“Projects” are my husband’s middle name.  Since retirement, he has  never stopped.  He goes from renovations to lawn to garden to daily walking four miles with my service dog, Bandit (whom clearly doesn’t want to walk that mileage every morning).  But little was I prepared for his newest restoration–redoing the laundry room–and how that redo would affect me.  For from this laundry room revival, I have learned how to do off grid washing  without machines–and it’s fun and saves big!!!

    Why Would Anyone in Their Right Mind Want To Do This?

Well, truthfully, no one in their correct mind would want to do their own laundry in their bathtub or shower, BUT if it meant that such behavior would help  that person get their end result, then they’d relish the idea of having their own personal, in-house, laundry-mat.  And since neither Michael nor I volunteered to take the family’s weekly dirty clothes to our home-town laundry, I decided to seek a blast from the past.  You see, I’ve always been intrigued by the story of how my mother-in-law, Helen King,  RIP, did the laundry for all four of her little boys in her bathtub.  And I remember, too, my grandmother, Mabel, and the old wooden ringer tool attached to her electric-plug-in-washing-machine found in her basement.  Drying in the fall and winter was in that dark basement, but  in the spring and summer, clothes were hung outside in the fresh air nearby the grape arbor.  Ah such lovely visions brought me to reality, for anyone who has spent any time in any style–plain, fancy, or plain ugly–laundry mat, knows  such places eat up your hours and your money.  So from that quest came The Frugal Catholic’s Five Simple Steps for Clean Clothes which anyone of any age can do.

             What and Why Do You Mean by ‘OFF GRID’?

Now just to clarify, I do have electricity and hot water in my home, but since the washing machine and the dryer are now unplugged and sitting in our living room, they are useless.  Thus ‘off grid’ means UP TO ME, my manpower or woman-power.   And the whys of it were because I was too lazy to go outside of my home and get my laundry  done. Your why might be because you are living in a dorm room or on a boat or a trailer and would like to take control of this basic step in our existence.   Also,  I wanted to experience what my mother-in-law had done so I turned on U Tube “How We Do Off Grid Laundry in the Winter” by Simply Starry Sustainable Living with God.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSm7KMNQxLI   Simply Starry got me off to a good start.

                  What About Space, Equipment, and  Costs?

My Space:
  • my bathroom tub
My Equipment:
  • two old green kitchen trash cans each 13 gallons in capacity (we already had them in the house) but you can buy two to three 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot or just get two 13 gallon kitchen trash cans—$15
  • Easy Go Products Hand powered Clothes Washing Wand from Amazon—$23.88

    This is a great washing wand because you can stand up versus kneel down.
    My Easy Go Washing Wand which I can use standing up.
  • detergent–I like TIDE (he), but if you want to go more cheaply,  you can make your own as instructed from the internet; however,  creating your own makes a lot and I LOVE the smell of TIDE.—$12
  • hand held sprayer  (the one I have dates about 22 years ago because we have used it to wash kids and dogs, hopefully in that order)–$5
  • fold-able clothes drying laundry rack (chrome because wood doesn’t hold up as well) from Amazon Basics—$25.98
My Method:
  1.  Twice to thrice a week I take our dirty clothes, put them in the green plastic trash cans, fill the cans with hot water from the hand-held sprayer, and a tiny bit of Tide detergent.
  2. I use the AMAZING Easy Go Washing Wand (see above) and plunge it about 100 times.
  3. Then I dump out the very dirty water (I truly am questioning how clean a washing machine gets our clothes), then using the hand-held sprayer, I fill the bucket again, and plunge it about 40 times more to rinse the soap out.
  4. Next I wring out the clothes by hand using the old ‘fold and twist method’, and….
  5. I hang them up on the drying rack which I have put in the tub. That simple.

Any Other Helpful Information??

Yes, I did buy a washboard like the one shown at the top.  They do the same thing that my Easy Go Washing Wand does EXCEPT you would have to bend over the tub to use it.  All old pictures which I have studied of ladies using a washboard have had this tool at waist level.  So save your money and your back and don’t buy a washboard unless you can do  your laundry at waist level.

My husband and I have also starting wearing our clothes for more than just one day–basically two or three days for an outfit. This action alone cuts down on the total amount of laundry I have to do, And if you are concerned that people will notice you are sporting the same garb for three days in a row, I guarantee you that they won’t.   Do you remember what your significant other wore yesterday?  Case in point. Also to use less towels, hang them up daily to dry.  Works wonders.

And my final thought is that through a little self-sacrifice called “extra work on my part,” I’ve taken the pressure off of my husband to finish the laundry room “ON MY TIME.”  Now he can finish the renovation on his time, and do it as he wants. Remember as it says in Luke 6:38 “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”  Kinda sounds like somebody is doing their own laundry!!!


“What IS Frugality Anyway?” by M.W.King M.Ed.–Jan 2019


Last year, I turned 70, had my spine fused, and moved into a new multi-generational home. But the year’s biggest jolt was learning that some folks have never heard of the word “FRUGAL.” Yes, as I was walking the Platt River Trail in CO, I ran into two such adults. One lady in her sixties said, “Can you explain that term? I’ve never heard of it.” Another younger woman said, “Frugality? Is that some kind of disease?” So for my many readers in 2019, it is time to go back to the basics with some help from my frugal friends.

                                                FRUGALITY DEFINED

As a writer, I LOVE words. So I looked up the term. The dictionary defines frugality as: The quality of being frugal, or prudent in living; the lack of wastefulness; careful with money, penny wise, or thrifty.

Georgia P., my neighbor in Washington, who is wonderfully frugal, described it thus: “To me frugality means living within your current means, not your imagined future means or what you believe you deserve. Borrow very carefully!  Delay luxuries in order to save. Choose high quality in small amounts over large amounts of cheap, poor quality. Control the ‘latte factor’ [Dave Ramsey]. Buy bulk–don’t pay retail. Do it yourself if you have the skills and are able. Ignore what the media says we should look like, how we should dress, especially what’s in fashion today. Stick with classic, not trendy. In the kitchen, stick with ingredients, not prepared food. Again, higher quality at lower cost.”

Margaret R., a friend of fifty-eight years from West Virginia, stated: “For me, frugality means spending our money and resources wisely with careful consideration of the needs of the past, present, and future. Even though I am financially sound, I have kept the habits of bargain hunting, cutting out unnecessary items, always paying credit card expenses in full each month, avoiding always needing to get the latest style, using the library, and fixing things myself rather than buying new.” Margaret added, “I have observed frugality in my parents, neighbors, and friends, and its appearance can be found in a wide range of age groups. Sometimes frugality appears to be stingy and other times generous. I learned most of what I know from my own experience on a limited budget as a single parent raising two daughters and working full time. Frugality allowed me to send them to college.”

And The Frugal Catholic’s best definition of FRUGALITY is: “SAVE IT HERE: STASH IT THERE; AND TITHE IT TEN PERCENT.”


                                     WHAT IS NOT FRUGAL?

Well, of course, this “save it here: stash it there…” mentality could be profitable for those who like to hoard ketchup packages that come with fast food meals, but what about taking the whole ketchup bottle off the restaurant table or grabbing fist fulls of raw sugar packs at Starbucks? Doesn’t that translate into “frugality”? No actually that is termed “stealing.” That is not “frugality,” for as Leslie states, “Frugality should never be confused with stinginess or lack of generosity.”  Leslie reminded me of a neighbor who experienced NON-Frugal. Stan and Susan (name changed) refinanced their house to a fixed rate mortgage–smart move– but also increased the mortgage to have cash for the kitchen extension–bad move. They over paid for the remodel because Stan, who worked with contracts all the time, had a “GOOD FEELING” about a contractor and failed to do any price comparisons. So Stan and Susan overpaid for the remodel by about $100,000 because the “good feeling contractor” Stan chose was wasn’t reputable. In addition, Stan revealed to another neighbor that he (unknown to Susan) had enough money in stock options to pay cash for the overpriced remodel but chose not only to NOT pay in cash but hid this fact from Susan. Susan stated, “Had I been informed,  I would have pushed very hard to use available funds rather than borrow. We could have had the house paid off more than once by now, and we would be looking at at least double the cash out.” Non-frugal was in failing to give complete information and decision making to his partner Susan and keeping that information to himself.

                                                    Thou Shall Not Steal

                                              WHAT ABOUT GIVING?

So often when one thinks about penny pinching to grow rich, the last thought is about giving one’s money away. Yet the two of them flow together. Margaret states: “I believe tithing helps set the state for frugality. Giving the tithe first, set me free to be frugal. Being frugal and tithing both involve setting priorities and require self discipline. Being able to set spending limits required with frugality, allows tithing to be a doable option. Yes, they (frugality and tithing) are related but not intertwined. Tithing is centered on giving where frugality is focused inward toward self.” Leslie also added: “I don’t tithe per se; but in my paid working life I gave a great deal of professional time without pay, and have spent a huge part of my adult life caring for my parents, sometimes at high personal cost in money and time. I have opened my home to numerous friends and family members in need, and have rescued many animals in need. Being frugal in some areas allows for the generosity in others.”

                                      FINAL FRUGAL THOUGHTS

One of the more interesting articles I studied was about rich frugal billionaires. https://www.businessinsider.com/worlds-richest-and-most-frugal-billionaires-2016-1#warren-buffett-chairman-and-ceo-of-berkshire- Warren Buffet ($60.7 billion) stated, “My life couldn’t be happier. In fact, it’d be worse if I had six or eight houses. So I have everything I need to have, and I don’t need any more because it doesn’t make a difference after a point.” Charlie Ergen ($14.5 billion and Dish Network Chairman) packs his lunch of a sandwich and Gatorade before work every day and used to share hotel rooms with colleagues, until recently. He attributes his frugal habits to his mother who grew up during the depression. And Carlos Slim Helu’ (the richest man in Mexico) stated “What you have to do is make it [money] grow, reinvest to make it bigger, or diversify into other areas. Maintain austerity in prosperous times (in times when the cow is fat with milk).”

Finally the Bible doesn’t address frugality, but it certainly addresses “the love of money.” It says in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” Yes frugality is an internal decision to stretch what you have; whereas, loving money is like making an idol to worship.  And as Margaret wisely noted, frugality must come from within and from within is it achieved. Whether you think you can be frugal or you know you can’t–both are right. The decision is up to you, but frugality will change your life forever. It is a wonderfully radical decision.

Frugality can radically change your finances and life.


The Frugal Catholic: “My Journey Home” by Martha Wild King—August 30, 2009


When I think of my journey into Catholicism, it mixes into my motherhood travels.  That journey began twenty-eight years ago with my quest for frugality.  Likewise, my first acquaintance with Catholicism started in 1982 with Natural Family Planning and the Couple to Couple League from Cincinnati Ohio.  A dear Catholic neighbor, Virginia Soter, introduced us to that method after the birth of our first child.  A few years later, I met a strong Catholic woman, Linda Di Muzzio, who gave me some tapes on the Mass.  From those I learned that, unlike in my Protestant tradition, Catholics believe Communion, or the Eucharist, is the consecrated body and blood of Christ.  Protestants, on the other hand, practice Communion as a symbol of Christ’s body and blood.  The way you can tell they believe it is a “symbol” is how these two are treated after Communion has occurred. Protestants throw the wine and bread down the drain or into the trash.  Catholics worship the remaining consecrated hosts (bread) which is kept in a Tabernacle in the church.

So after sixty years in the Protestant church and after thirteen years of helping “clean up” after Communion, one Sunday after church while dumping the wine down the sewer, I told God I couldn’t do it anymore.  While riding home, the idea hit me.  I could go to the early Catholic service then the 10:30 Protestant service with my husband. So I called St. Cecilia Catholic Church on Bainbridge Island WA and was told I could start RCIA classes.  While driving to that first class this winter, the moon was full and huge–a natural sign of God’s lavish love on my spiritual journey.

coming HOME

This past Easter, I became a confirmed Catholic, although until my annulment goes through (I was married before from 1971 to 1974), I can only be blessed during the Eucharist, but I can be near and adore the BODY AND BLOOD versus a mere symbol.  My husband too, of twenty-nine years, has decided to start RCIA classes so we can worship together.

So how does all of my journey into my Catholic faith have any connection with being a “Frugal Catholic?”  It was my quest for frugality that shaped my mothering, and my mothering pulled me into Catholicism.  Thus to be frugal and a Catholic, for me, go together.  And in truth, if we look to our Lord for the answers, He owned nothing.  He wrote nothing,yet He gave us His all.  We have nothing to worry about if we trust in His providence.  As was written in  Hebrews 13:5-6, “Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  Thus we may say with confidence: “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?” NAB

Frugality is characterized by thriftiness and avoidance of waste.  It is meager and involves little expense.  Catholicism is living my faith through the Church which Jesus Christ founded.  So what better way to live my Catholic faith than to live frugally so that I can give generously.