In case you were wondering…you don’t have to make yogurt.

by Kristen on August 27, 2009 · 35 comments

in Organization

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Something odd happens when word gets out about your frugality. (I think it’s safe to say that word has gotten out about mine!) Somehow, even though it’s not my intention at all, other people are feeling guilty for spending more on groceries than I do, for not making yogurt, for not baking bread, for using their dryer exclusively, and for a multitude of other things.

So, I just want to say, right here and right now, that I don’t think anyone has an obligation to live their lives just the way I live mine, nor do I think it would be a good idea for everyone to be just like me. When I post here on The Frugal Girl, I’m not trying to convert everyone to my way of living. I simply want to share my life with you in the hope that you might find some helpful information or inspiration.

For example, if you want to make yogurt, I want to help you do it well. If you don’t want to make yogurt, I’m not going to try to guilt you into doing it. Your life is different than mine, which means that yogurt-making may not be the best way to spend your time each week. I’m certainly not in a place to judge that.

The same goes for your grocery budget. You shouldn’t feel bad if you need to spend more than $100 a week to feed your family. Maybe your family has larger appetites than mine do (that’s quite likely, actually! Though we don’t starve ourselves at all, none of us here at Chez Frugal Girl has the appetite or build of a football player.), maybe you have teenagers instead of gradeschoolers, maybe you buy all organic, maybe you work full-time and can’t cook from scratch as much as I do, maybe you buy healthier food than I do, or maybe you live in an area where food is more expensive.

If you want help in reducing your grocery budget, I’m happy to be of assistance, but I would never want someone to feel discouraged or hopeless because they couldn’t manage with the budget that works for me.

Heck, Money Saving Mom feeds her family of five (two parents, two little girls, and a baby) on $40 a week, and I don’t think I need to stress out about that. She’s got a different set of circumstances than I do (smaller kids, slightly smaller family, midwest prices, and a diet different from ours), and $40 meets their needs currently. I don’t think I could make it work for us, but that’s ok.

The bottom line is that you need to do what works for you and your family, not what works for me and my family.

And contrary to what people seem to think, I don’t spend a lot of time stressing about the way that other people spend their money. I know that my frugal ways are quite a ways toward the over-the-top end of the spectrum, and I don’t expect everyone else to be inspired enough to maintain the level of frugality I do. Everyone has their own set of strength and weaknesses, and while one of my strengths is frugality, some not-so-frugal people out there have strengths in areas that are weaknesses for me.

Really, the only time I think much about other people’s spending habits is when they complain about not having enough money but continue to spend like there’s no tomorrow. In cases such as those, I admit to occasionally thinking things like, “What in the world is wrong with you??” but as a general rule, I have a very live-and-let-live approach to other people’s money.

So, when you read my blog and find something helpful, great! I’m glad to have been able to serve you. But if you read something that’s not at all helpful or possible for you, just ignore it and carry on. ;) I want my blog posts to leave you not feeling discouraged, hopeless and condemned, but encouraged, inspired and equipped to do a good job of managing your money, your family, and your home in your own unique way.

Which will, of course, be a little different than my way.

And that’s just fine.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessie August 27, 2009 at 7:56 am

Great post! I think I’ve also started to get a few funny looks from my friends and family. I don’t want anyone to think that since I make my own laundry detergent and wash my hair with baking soda, that they should too. Sometimes I just get a little enthusiastic about my choices when someone asks! I try to make sure everyone knows that I’m not looking down on their life choices.

On an unrelated note, your “Money Saving Mom” link is broken – FYI! ^_^

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2 Sarah August 27, 2009 at 8:56 am

Gosh, I hope you’re not getting a lot of negative feedback. I love your web site even when you post about things that I don’t want to/can’t do. For example, I love trying out your recipes and reading about your compost and food waste updates, but will not be home schooling or making yogurt regularly. That works for us and I’m good with that (and really isn’t that your point?). I, for one, find your posts fun, educational (such as your gluten post) and even inspiring (food waste, anyone?). So, please keep the frugal tips coming!

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3 WilliamB August 27, 2009 at 8:57 am

The main reason I read your blog is that you’re interesting without being dictatorial. Your attitude that “this is what I do and I want to share it with you; you should do whatever works for you” comes through loud and clear. That’s a rare talent. There are other websites that are more relevant to my circumstances, but I’ve stopped reading them because they come across as dictatorial.

I also like the Q&A and the baking.

Jessie, will you share about washing hair with baking soda? I’ve always been curious but most people seem so pro- or anti- that it’s hard to get a reasoned view.

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4 Battra92 August 27, 2009 at 9:27 am

It’s odd that many people see people showcasing their ideas or lifestyle and others see it as a condemnation. Unfortunately for many people, this is the case. One only needs to look at politics to see why people get so defensive; someone is always attacking or being attacked daily so we’ve all gotten rather defensive.

So while I won’t buy clothing at the Goodwill, I do love the posts on making things or finding ways to cook or bake different things. We can’t all live in boxes and pretend everyone lives like us. Difference of opinion and lifestyle are good.

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5 Elizabeth August 27, 2009 at 10:19 am

Since it sounds like you’re getting a lot of negative feedback and/or comments, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy and appreciate your blog. You’ve helped me so much in my quest to spend less money and made me feel positive about it. You’ve inspired me to take up bread making and to become the official bread supplier of all family functions. My life is incredibly different from yours (I’m single) but I still find use in almost everything you write about. And what doesn’t apply to me, but might someday, I store away as a reminder of how to be more frugal later in life. Thanks so much for being such a wonderful writer, posting beautiful pictures, and for being such an inspiration!

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6 Kari August 27, 2009 at 10:26 am

Great Post, Trent at simple dollar is always posting about the value of your time too and how much its worth vs. how much you are saving by doing something frugal. Some things go right out the door for him without guilt because he weighed the value of his time.

Saving money on yogurt may or may not be big but you can make it with your kids adding value to the cost savings too (for you this works), but another person may see it as time consuming and not being able to fit in family movie night or something which would decrease the value of the cost savings.

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7 Mindy August 27, 2009 at 10:35 am

Great post Frugal Girl. I have recently subscribed to your posts and I enjoy them. I have lived the frugal life for a while now and I enjoy finding new ways to stretch our income. Keep up the good work!!!

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8 Becky August 27, 2009 at 10:53 am

Great post! I think I read your blog explicitly because you don’t seem to push your ideas onto others, and I definitely feel that there’s a “take what you can from this, and leave the rest” sort of approach. Love it- and keep up the good work!

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9 Kristen August 27, 2009 at 11:10 am

Oh, no, I’m not getting negative feedback! I just feel bad because sometimes people seem to feel the need to explain to me why they can’t do $80/week for groceries, or why they don’t make yogurt, or why they use a bread machine and I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to justify their lives to me. That’s definitely not the point of this blog.

I’m very happy hear that most of you don’t seem to think that I’m pushy. And I’m always so encouraged to hear that I’ve been able to help you all save money…that’s what keeps me going!

I have such lovely readers. :)

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10 Brandy August 27, 2009 at 11:21 am

I think your blog is great! I do adapt a lot of your tips to my life (single, young, works 50+ hrs a week and travels on business a lot) but I still find your posts useful or at the very least inspiring. I think it’s important that people also realize that being frugal isn’t about what you aren’t spending money on (fast food and designer purses) but what you ARE spending money on as a result of being frugal. And while for some, that’s college funds and mortgages but for me, at this point in my life, I’m frugal so I can travel before I settle down and worry about my future kids and their college funds and braces!

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11 Kathleen August 27, 2009 at 11:22 am

I, for one, love your recipe for making yogurt. The one that I used several years ago never gave me satisfactory results because I just couldn’t figure out how to maintain the temperature for the length of time needed. My usual method for keeping curds warm (I make my own cheese) allowed the yogurt to cool to quickly. You discussed using the cooler and I had an immediate “duh! Why didn’t I think of that?” moment.

Amy Dacyzyn (sp?) also had negative responses with her Tightwad Gazette. Her book (checked out from the library) has been one of the most useful and money saving things I have ever read. It certainly made me change the way I look at spending. With your blog I see that normal people really can live a frugal life comfortably!

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12 Tanya August 27, 2009 at 11:42 am

I LOVE your blog! I love the pics that you post on Thursdays so I can see what other people are finding at thrift stores. I have enjoyed many of the recipes and lots of the other stuff. I look forward to your new posts.
Jessie, I am curious about the baking soda hair thing too. I am washing my hair less and less but not sure how to start that.
Thanks again for the great blog.

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13 Jessie August 27, 2009 at 11:47 am

@WilliamB
Certainly, WilliamB & Tanya! I actually have my own blog, Jessie : Improved, where I have a page dedicated solely to my hair routine, since so many people asked about it.

http://jessieimproved.wordpress.com/no-poo-hair-routine/

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14 BarbS August 27, 2009 at 11:59 am

I just have to chime in here, in agreement with all of the above! I found your blog through Katy’s “Non-Consumer Advocate” blog. I only read 2 blogs daily — yours and Katy’s! The reason I read them is because I get great ideas and inspiriation, and never ever feel that either of you are pushy or preachy.

We don’t home-school, I work full-time outside the house, and my kids are older than yours. No one in my family likes yogurt, and several are lactose intolerant. So we won’t be making too much yogurth from scratch at my house! But if a post doesn’t immediately apply to me, that doesn’t phase me! I still like to read your posts, because they are always well-written and interesting. I find them inspiring.

I love how you save money where it makes sense to you, in order to spend on the things you will really enjoy (e.g. a new camera lens!). This helps me to think about my own priorities, even though they might not be exactly the same as yours.

So thanks, Kristen, for your wonderful blog. We love it.

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15 Michelle August 27, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Just had a thought “AWESOME BLOG” . Don’t think your “pushy” at all! Your blog shares with me what I might not be thinking. And it hits me “Never thought about that….” I do read your blog and want to be inspired with an kind of help, maybe coupons, cooking, cleaning,etc. I am loving all of it and had no clue I could make yogart. My family loves yogart. Keep up the great work and always know this you are helping me and my family and many people you will never meet. Don’t let the little things in life get you because I promise it won’t matter in 1,2,3,4,5,years! You keep doing what you do best!!

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16 WilliamB August 27, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I know this post isn’t really about yogurt per se, but I want to throw in that making yogurt is both easy and quick. (Actually, it takes a long time but you only need to be around for 30 min or less.)

It’s funny how different people view different tasks. I find making yogurt and composting to be quick and easy, and shopping at Goodwill and hanging laundry to dry to be hard and time consuming. In fact, I never expect to do either. I like baking bread so I do it even though it’s time consuming and I still don’t have favorite recipe (multigrain bread from Cook’s Illustrated) down right.

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17 WilliamB August 27, 2009 at 12:37 pm

@Jessie Sounds simple enough. What kind of vinegar? Dunno if I will do this but if I do, it won’t be to save money. I spend about $3 a year of shampoo. Truly, a bottle of V-8 lasts forever.

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18 Tanya August 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

@Tanya
Sorry, there in another blog that I love that posts thrift store finds. I was confused for a sec. Please forgive me:)

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19 hiptobeme August 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm

I get many wonderful ideas from your blog. I love how you have been able to take on your role in your family and make it your own. I do that in my family in my own way. I did try yogurt making thanks to you and now I am hooked! I don’t do it every week but once in a while I get the urge for some frugal homemade yogurt and my family loves it. Keep on keeping on, you are wonderful, just the way you are!

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20 Samantha F August 27, 2009 at 3:44 pm

I love to read your blog! You have so many good ideas on how to be frugal! It seems that every time you have a new post, it was something that I was thinking of doing, but couldn’t put my finger on it. Just the other day I was thinking of baking something, but it was too hot…and then low and behold I look up your blog, and your blogging about “un-baking cereal snacks”. So I went ahead and made them and my family LOVED them!

And then I’ve been meaning to look up how to make homemade yogurt, and today I look at your blog and whola!! There it is! It’s so weird, I LOVE it! :) Keep up the good work!

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21 Diane August 27, 2009 at 8:30 pm

I love reading your blog. I did learn how to make yogurt from you, but now I make it in a crock-pot. I love it and I’m still perfecting my technique. I make my own laundry soap, but only because I had both washing soda and borax taking up room on the shelf. Until I run out of ingredients, it’s practically free! Even though the recipe comes from another blog, it’s certainly in the spirit of The Frugal Girl. Viva la Frugal girl!

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22 Kim August 28, 2009 at 1:36 am

Bravo! Well said. I loved reading this post because I feel like it can apply to so many different areas of one’s life than just money. I always feel bad expression my opinions on things like budgets or eating habits ’cause I feel like my thoughts on what’s good for ME can be misconstrued as what I think everyone in the world should be doing. I’ve never gotten a pushy vibe from your blog and that’s what I love so much about it. Thanks, and keep the frugal tips comin’! :)

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23 Kim August 28, 2009 at 9:03 am

how long does the homemade yogurt last? I’m going to have to try this at least once.

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24 Julia August 28, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Kristen, you’ve found your calling. Rejoice in it!

The best thing about your blog is that even if that day’s post is not relevant to my life, the posts are always interesting and thought-provoking.

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25 WilliamB August 28, 2009 at 2:17 pm

I had a thought last night that I wanted to add. I am not as frugal as Kristen; this does not make me feed badly. I have never gotten the sense that she wants to convert us, just show us how she does it and perhaps lay out the path if we want to follow it.

But I do feel odd about *saying* this.

There are common frugal things that I have no intention of doing unless I face a startling change in circumstances. For example, I hate shopping at thrift stores. Really, I hate shopping period. Particularly for clothes. When I do have to shop I want to get what I need at a good price (value > cost) and get it over with. This outlook does not fit well with thrifting. So I don’t shop at thrift stores and I don’t ever expect to.

Maybe we need a support group for frugal groupies. “Hi, my name is WilliamB and I’m more interested in reading how others are frugal than doing all that myself.” ;->

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26 Kristen August 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

William-I feel the same way about bread. It takes a while from start to finish, but not much actual hands-on time.

And don’t feel odd…I never used cloth diapers, and more ridiculously, I’ve never shopped at a yard sale! We all have our areas where we aren’t frugal.

re the frugal groupies…you could be like people who watch the Food Network all the time but never cook! lol

Kim, I’ve kept mine (unopened) for up to a month, and it’s been just fine.

Thanks again for all of your encouraging comments…you’re the best readers ever. :)

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27 tobye August 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Thank goodness, Kristen! Cause we don’t even really like yogurt all that much. :)

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28 Theresa January 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I enjoyed reading both your blogs about “You don’t have to make yogurt” and “You don’t have to be perfect.” I was just thinking along those same lines this morning about how we waste so much time trying to perfect that we are bogged down by that. I think we should just accept that we are uniquely made by our Maker as we strive to improve our lives in different ways. You touched me with your yogurt blog because just that day we were talking at work about making our own yogurt and I came home and read your blog and thought ” what a small world we live in!” So keep up the good work and thanks for all the positive information.

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29 Kristin @ klingtocash January 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I really like this post. I do have to say you are much more polite than I am. Generally, when I hear someone complain about how they have no money, I tell them to do something about it. I’m very blunt. But then again, the people who complain they have no money are generally the same people who get mad when I say I don’t have the money to go out to a fancy dinner or event. I have no problem giving it right back to them!

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30 Jen4 March 2, 2010 at 8:30 am

Very Nicely Said…

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31 bearclaw4 March 18, 2010 at 1:42 am

Posts like this are why I, and probably so many others, read your blog daily. A heaping cup of helpful, and zero guilt. Thanks!

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32 Annette April 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm

You’ve been a blessing in our home. I easily save $35 a month just by baking bread and making yogurt and grape jelly. That small adjustment has allowed me to switch to organic while still staying within my budget.

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33 Heather February 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

Hi FrugalGirl

I think we spend way over the top on our food. Just to get an idea what should be the range of expenditure on food for a family of 4 – 2 parents, 19 year old girl and 13 year old boy.

Glad if you or any other reader could give me an idea.
Tnaks

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