Monday Q&A-Bread Machines, Grain Grinders, & Religious Frugal Bloggers

by Kristen on January 11, 2010 · 42 comments

in Q&A

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line.

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What’s your take on bread machines? Do you have one? Use it?

Also… have you ever considered grinding your own flour? I noticed a post about buying flour on sale, so it looks like you have decided not to. Any reasons why not?

-Esther

I don’t actually have a bread machine, and I don’t really want one. Here’s why.

  • A bread machine only makes one loaf of bread at a time. This is great for small families or for single people, but not so great for my family of six.
  • A bread machine is big. My kitchen isn’t exactly full of counter space, and I don’t know where I’d put a bread machine! I’d rather use up my counter space with my Kitchen-Aid, which can be used for making more than just bread.
  • I don’t like the way bread machines bake bread. I think they tend to produce a crust that is too thick and hard. This can be solved by using the bread machine to only make the dough, and then using your oven to bake the bread. However, I’ve been baking bread for so long, the dough prep seems like breathing to me, so having the bread machine do that part of the process wouldn’t save me much effort.

That said, I definitely think bread machines can be a good option for some people, and I don’t at all look down my nose on people who own them. I just don’t want one, that’s all!

As far as grinding flour goes, I do indeed have a grain grinder and I grind all my whole wheat flour (you can read a little more about that in this Q&A post). However, I don’t use whole wheat flour exclusively. I know it would be healthier for us if I did, but we do love us some fluffy white rolls and bread.

I use whole wheat flour when I make sandwich bread, which is what we use for breakfast toast, and for sandwiches at lunch, and I often make Whole Wheat Pancakes with my ground flour.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the frugal websites I’ve found in my web wanderings are written by persons (almost always mothers) who self-identify as overtly religious, usually along the lines of “what’s most important to me is God and my family.” I think about 80% of the frugal blogs I’ve come across are written by women who identify themselves so. This is in marked contrast to other blogs I’ve read over the years, such as political blogs, TV show blogs (I was a Law & Order devotee for many years), and book or author blogs.

Why do you think this is the case?

-WilliamB

Well, as far as the female thing goes, my theory is that women tend to write frugal blogs (which are usually really practical and home-related) and men tend to write personal finance blogs (which have some frugality, but also include topics like investing, mortgages, and debt-reduction strategies). As is the case with any rule, there are some exceptions, but I think that this is something of a pattern.

So, it’s not that women are writing about money and men aren’t….we just tend to do it differently.

As far as the religious thing goes, I would venture to guess that’s because a lot of Christian women share my conviction that God wants us to

  • place a high priority on serving our families.
  • place a high priority on keeping our homes.
  • be good stewards of the resources God has entrusted us with.

If a whole pile of Christian women believe these things, then it would stand to reason that you would see this in our blogging.

I suppose that may explain why so many Christian women blog about this stuff, but it doesn’t really address why we seem to own the majority of this market (assuming that is the case…correct William and me if we are wrong!). I don’t really know why that is, because I know there are non-Christians in this world that live frugally and blog about it, like my friend The NonConsumer Advocate. And conversely, there are plenty of Christians who spend their money unwisely.

If you have any thoughts/theories on this topic, feel free to share! Do you find that most frugal blogs are written by religious (though I loathe that word) moms? If you do, why do you think that is?

Leave a Comment

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Battra92 January 11, 2010 at 11:24 am

In regards to the Bread machine argument, I was actually reading my King Arthur cookbook the other night. It said that while the bread machine made the best dough over even hand kneading and a stand mixer, they recommended the stand mixer as it is a unitasker.

My girlfriend has a bread machine that actually makes fairly decent bread. She made a sourdough loaf was amazing so for some, I’m sure it’s worthwhile. I’ll stick with my KitchenAid, thank you. :-)

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2 Kristen January 11, 2010 at 11:57 am

I think you mean multitasker, right? lol

If I had a huge kitchen, I might be more prone to having some unitasker items, but as it is, I am unwilling to give up my counter space.

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3 Battra92 January 11, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Yeah, I meant multitasker. :-P Alton Brown says that the only unitasker allowed in the kitchen is the fire extinguisher. I would add garbage disposal and dishwasher to that list but I get his point.

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4 hiptobeme January 11, 2010 at 11:45 am

A kitchen aid is quite a hefty investment, though I am sure it is wonderful. A breadmaker, on the other hand, especially a used one, is a much cheaper option is a great way to segway into making bread at home. Since fooling around with mine, I have even begun, gasp, making it by hand. This has opened up a whole new world for me!

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5 Kristen January 11, 2010 at 11:55 am

That is true. Bread machines can be had at thrift stores for very little, whereas Kitchen Aids cannot. I just love how many different things my Kitchen Aid can do though…cookies, bread, frosting, cake, mashed potatoes, etc so for me it’s the best use of my space.

Like I said, though, I have no issues with bread machines in other people’s homes…I think they can be great. They’re just not for me.

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6 Lindsay January 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I write my home-ec blog from a non-religious perspective and I do sometimes feel like an exception to the rule. My love of home life and my interest in saving money are natural parts of who I am, but are not tied to religious beliefs. That said, I love having many diverse perspectives in my life and it is meaningful to me when people can find value in what I write even when our beliefs might be different. Likewise, I like to read writing by people who have different beliefs than my own because it broadens my understanding in general and actually makes me realize most of us are more alike than we are different. Thanks for addressing this.

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7 Kristen January 11, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Oh yes, I feel the same way about finding common ground. I think that’s one of the neat things about the internet….that you can find something in common with a person you’d probably never have met in real life due to having very different paths.

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8 Reese January 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm

It’s hard to say factually that many frugal bloggers are Christian. Some might say they are and some might not. Whatever the case, all frugal bloggers obviously share some of the same lifestyle choices (not spending frivolously is one!).

I’m not Christian, nor am I religious in any way. While Christians may share the viewpoint that God would appreciate them living in a certain way, I attribute my frugality and awareness of spending and making my own things to my upbringing. I’m sure other non-christians might say they learned some other way, or were brought up this way too.

I think many bloggers link to others who share similar beliefs and lifestyle choices as them. So if you click through many sites and notice similiarities in religion… it’s rightly so! But I do think its unfair to make an assumption that most frugal bloggers are Christian.

I agree with the comment a few above… it’s great hearing different viewpoints because we all do things in a different way. I’ve definitely learned a lot from Kristen!

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9 Kristen January 11, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Oh yeah…I don’t have any scientific proof that most frugal mom bloggers are Christians. William was just saying that this has been his experience.

In a similar way, I’d say that I’ve noticed that most green bloggers are not Christians, and I feel like I am somewhat in the minority for being a Christian AND being concerned about the environment (although more and more Christians are getting on board with the idea of being good stewards of the earth, which is great!). Of course, I don’t have any scientific data to prove that green bloggers tend not to be Christians, but it’s just been my experience. It’s just anecdotal sort of evidence. lol

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10 Sophia January 12, 2010 at 12:36 am

I would agree that a lot of the frugal blogs I’ve come across have been by Christian mothers who work in the home, easily over half, and probably the majority. It was enough for me to notice as well. I think I agree with Kristen’s reasons. A lot of the Christian women I know put a very high priority on staying home with their children, homeschooling, etc., and they may willingly go without one income when other couples, less convicted by religious belief, would say they couldn’t afford to do so. Therefore, you have this huge group of Christian women that are dedicated to doing everything they can to live on one income, even though by mainstream standards a lot of people would think that they couldn’t, so they get into “radical frugality” to make it work- and it works well, and inspires lots of people, as Kristen’s blog does for me :)

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11 Christine January 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I would love to hear more about you grinding the wheat! I will have to google that!

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12 Emily January 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm

On breadmachines: The crust is one of the main reasons I quit using my breadmachine. Even on the lightest crust setting, my crust was still darker and thicker than I liked. And I couldn’t get a loaf as light and fluffy as a storebought loaf, either. Now that I’m using my Kitchen Aid instead (I’ve had it for about 2 years now, and relegated my breadmachine to the garage around the same time), I’m getting closer to the light & fluffy bread I want. Kristen’s bread recipes are helping too!

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13 thriftygal January 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

We got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer at a black friday sale last year, and just started using it this year (after my husband made a bet about how long it would take me to take it out of the box!) I used it make bread – inspired by you of course! – when we were too snowed in to go to the store, and now it’s become quite an obsession for me! I find it to be a stress reliever and I’m quite content knowing that I can reduce the amount of preservatives going into my one-year-old! Last night we baked 2 loafs which we will be using for the entire week.

As for the religious point, I am of the view that faith, or a lack thereof is a personal matter and is independent of one’s frugality or the realm of personal finance. Therefore, I don’t intend to discuss it on my blog chasingprosperity. That being said, I have noticed a significant number of bloggers talking about their faith when the main focus of their blog is something else, although I don’t necessarity think they are in the majority. I believe to each his own as long as they don’t mind the possibility of turning off a section of readers who don’t share the same faith. Just my 2 cents.

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14 Kristen January 11, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Yay for your Kitchen Aid and bread baking! :)

I’m curious what you think about how overwhelming the faith thing is on my blog (I mean that in a truly curious way, not a snarky curious way! lol). It is about frugality, of course, but it is impossible for me to talk about anything for very long without my faith being obvious. It’s not as though my faith is over in one corner and the rest of my life is in the other corner…my faith is soaked into everything I do. I give money away because I love God, I do laundry because I love God, I change diapers because I love God, and so on.

That said, I usually end up sharing the most about my faith when someone asks an off-topic question (like the question about mothering and wifing). It’s not like I throw a sermon into every Wednesday Baking post. lol I’m a Christian, and even I think that would be annoying. I’d rather let my life speak for me most of the time, both online and in real life.

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15 thriftygal January 11, 2010 at 2:51 pm

lol! Well Kristen, judging from my being an avid repeat-reader of your blog, you can rest assured that it’s not too overwhelming:) I”ll email you a humble explanation of what I meant within a couple of days when I get a moment.

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16 Kristen January 11, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I’ll look forward to your email. :) I’m glad that what I’ve shared about my faith has not been overwhelming, and do rest assured that I’m not planning on becoming a preachy blogger…what’s been here for the past year and a half is what will continue to be here in the future.

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17 WilliamB January 11, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I view your faith to be a constant background to your blog. You include it front and center in your “about” section (right up there with family), and mention it occasionally when talking about family and, of course, making bread for church. So to me, your attitude toward faith comes across like breathing: something so thoroughly integrated into your life that you don’t think to mention it most of the time.

Another county heard from, as my grandmother would say.

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18 Sophia January 12, 2010 at 12:45 am

I would agree- it isn’t overwhelming or preachy at all, it is natural and sincere. No worries at all on that front.

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19 surviving and thriving on pennies January 11, 2010 at 2:47 pm

The point of my blog is to help people live greener, save money and have a healthy family life. I am not religious in any way. I want people to come to my blog to save money, live greener and be a healthy decision maker. That’s it.
Yes there are lots of amazing blogs and yes some are religious. Just remember that they too are trying to help you save money. We are all here to help and that’s what you need to take away from us. Just like people, our blogs are all different. That’s what makes us great.
As for the bread topic, I have a bread machine. Yes it takes up a ton of space, luckily I have the space. This year I plan to learn how to make my own bread. I feed a family of 6 and bread goes fast. Making my own bread (and lots of it) is a must. But for now, my machine still helps and makes my life a little easier.

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20 Kristen January 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I’m not sure if you were directing this towards William or myself, but in case it was to William, I should point out that as far as I know, William is not religious (correct me if I’m wrong, WIlliam!). So, I don’t think he has anything against non-Christian frugal blogs. And for the record, I don’t either. In fact, I don’t think any of the blogs on my “Blogs I Love” blogroll are written by Christians! lol

A good frugal tip is a good frugal tip, no matter what. :)

I should also add that I didn’t start my blog as a way to proselytize my readers…the main purpose of it is to help inspire people to save their money (which is why I don’t preach sermons here!).

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21 WilliamB January 11, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Kristen is right, I’m not religious. Further information: I was raised in a non-religious family, went to parochial schools (one of which I would describe as religious, the other as a secular school run by an organized religion – but I learned far more Old Testament at the secular one), and my friends exhibit a wide variety of types and depth of religious feeling.

One of the things that made my question (and this response) so hard to write was figuring out how to phrase it without sounding negative about anyone’s beliefs or lack thereof.

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22 Stacey January 12, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I’d say that you did an excellent job phrasing it William. =)

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23 Ashley January 11, 2010 at 3:03 pm

For me you are an inspiration! It may sound odd because I have never met you but I am trying to return to God and to my faith. A few years ago I had a strong faith but for various reasons it slid. Now I am at a rebuilding point. Another way you have inspired me is when I am tired and my husband it hungry after a long day of work. I try to remember God and help my husband relax with something to eat. I don’t think your religious beliefs get in the way of the blog, I think they enhance it!
As for the breadmaker, my in-laws got one for me as a wedding gift. After a few tries I got the hang of it. It says it can also make jams and jellies so I will have to try that in the spring and summer! I am satisfied with the bread it makes but still like doing it by hand the best. I can get the loaf exactly as we like it by hand and it’s a stress reliever as mentioned in another post! I use the breadmaker as a time saver for busy days mostly. For just the two of us it’s fine but we’ll see what will happen when we start having children in a year or two!

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24 Frugal Liz January 11, 2010 at 3:09 pm

WilliamB,
Just so you know, I am definitely NOT a christian! I have also found that a lot of frugal living blogs are written by christan moms, though. I don’t have anything against christans, I just don’t pray to their God.

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25 WilliamB January 11, 2010 at 9:46 pm

I’d noticed that you hadn’t mentioned religion in your profile or blog, but since you’ve been writing for a short while I wasn’t sure of your outlook. BTW I caught up on your blog yesterday (before you posted here, believe it or not) and I agree that your posts have gotten more fluid as time as gone on. Very interesting to read.

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26 Jinger January 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I am not a Christian, but consider myself a very spiritual person who values life, family, and service to others. This sums up my philosophy.
MY SYMPHONY – by William Henry Channing
To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart;
to study hard;
to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never;
in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the commonplace — this is my symphony.

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27 BarbS January 12, 2010 at 10:25 am

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Thanks for sharing this, Jinger.

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28 Jeanine January 11, 2010 at 5:01 pm

That sonnet or poem or whatever it is above this, is absolutely beautiful.

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29 Magdalena January 11, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I’m a Christian blogger who talks about frugality a lot. It is part of our stewardship theology, as is the question of a sustainable ecology. Maybe the Christian/frugality connection comes out of the emphasis on the home, as Kristen says, and maybe it is part of the North American pioneer ethos based on the Congregationalist background of the United States. I think it is more of a sociological phenomenon than a religious one.

There’s a bread machine in the house, but I don’t use it. Like Kristen, I’ve baked for so many years that it is like scrambling eggs. To tie bread machines and Christianity together, we used to go to a church where the communion bread was made that morning in a bread machine, so the whole church smelled of fresh-baked bread through the service! Better than incense!

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30 Queen Lucia January 11, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I find this discussion about faith/frugality fascinating (and fabulous? fantastic? first rate?). When I started reading frugality and simplicity blogs a few years ago, I assumed that everyone who wrote them was a liberal, college-educated, progressive, like moi. It took a while for my brain to catch up to my prejudices and realize that many of the blogs I read were written by Christians who were living their religious beliefs, not their political ones. This was so eye-opening to me as I realized that maybe I had more in common with Christians than I assumed, and it gives me great comfort in a world that is so polarized, so much of the time. I don’t like to be preached at by anyone, about anything, but a simple statement of belief, especially backed up by a way of living that supports that, is A-OK with me. Kristen, you embody that perfectly!

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31 Kristin January 12, 2010 at 9:45 am

I think faith begets frugality. Believing that there is some larger force than the individual changes your priorities and conserving your resources becoem s a higher priority. That is not to say that agnostics and atheists *can’t* be thrifty, but rather that carefully considered spending seems to be part of faith, for many people.

I talk more about this in my blog. Here’s a link to the post: http://afunnythinghappenedontheway.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/why-god-wants-me-to-be-frugal/

Like Kristen, I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

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32 BarbS January 12, 2010 at 10:24 am

Oh my gosh! Such an interesting discussion.

My two cents: I completely agree with Queen Lucia — it also gives me great comfort, in a world that often seems so polarized, to interact in a respectful (and fun!) way with people of all stripes. Differences of age, religion, culture, location, race, and financial status can sometimes completely fall away as we discuss how to make bread (with or without a breadmaker) or the philosophy of frugality.

And Kristen, you do an amazing and remarkable job of discussing all kinds of topics without being “preachy” in any sense. You are not preachy about religion, and you are equally un-preachy (is that a word) about making yogurt from scratch, home-schooling, or any of the other topics of the blog.

From one non-Christian, non-homeschooling, non-married, faithful reader — my sincere thanks for the work you put into this blog. You inspire me in many ways.

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33 Kristen January 13, 2010 at 6:44 am

Oh yes. I love how we can find so much in common….and how doing so often shakes us out of our prejudices and other preconceived notions about others.

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34 surviving and thriving on pennies January 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Williamb-I too was having a hard time writing my comment without hurting peoples feelings. I think I erased 2 paragraphs before I thought it was okay. Although I do not believe in things others do, I still get inspiration from them. There are so many blogs now days. Some its just for saving money, some its for eating healthy, and some its about living greener. For its its all thee above. I love that we can speak whats on our mind and support each other.
Frugal Girl-What a great post you have. One of the best in a while I have found. I just love a post that gets people stirring about and talking. Kodos!

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35 Kristen January 13, 2010 at 6:38 am

Me too! lol I think I wrote my original response to William’s question about 5 different ways before I published it.

I totally get inspiration from other bloggers who are different than I am, like The Non Consumer Advocate, or Mrs. Green from My Zero Waste. Neither of them share my faith, but I still learn from them and count them as my friends.

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36 surviving and thriving on pennies January 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm

oh yeah forgot to mention. Thanks for talking about the grain grinder. Its all that I have on my mind now. My poor husband is happy about it too lol. I think he just rolled his eyes cause he knows I wont stop until I get one. lol

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37 Allie January 12, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I really don’t think the majority of frugal living bloggers are deeply religious. I know there’ve been several examples both in the post and in the comments of people who write frugal blogs (and I’ll include myself here, since my food blog specifically focuses on frugal recipes, as one might expect from a college student) who aren’t Christian.

What I think makes the religiousness of certain bloggers stand out is simply that they mention their faith, whereas more secular bloggers either have no faith to speak of, or simply don’t incorporate their religious beliefs into their day-to-day lives so much that it would come up in conversation (or writing).

That being said, I *don’t* think you are overbearing in your mentions of faith (to be honest, if you were, or if you seemed to me to be one of the “Sunday Christians” who’re so vocal and pushy, I wouldn’t read your blog, despite all the awesome tips I get from you). You remind me more of my “in-laws,” where Christ is simply part of every aspect of their lives, but not in a pushy or preachy kind of way. I kind of think of Christ as being like a blanket they wear all the time (though I think I’m wording that badly, but hopefully not offensively) to keep them warm, give them strength, patience, kindness, and purpose. So he comes up sometimes is all.

As for bread machines, I personally don’t use one. I feel like the bread lacks the discernible flavour of love, though I don’t look down on people who use them. I’d love to be able to do kneading and such w/ a standmixer, but I have a 1960s 4C, so it can’t handle bread. I mix my dough with a wooden spoon or with my hands, and knead it from there on the counter.

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38 Kristen January 13, 2010 at 6:42 am

That’s funny…my husband always says my cooking tastes good because I cook with love. lol

I’m glad you don’t find me to be overbearing when it comes to my faith. And your blanket analogy wasn’t offensive. I’d probably say my faith is more like my core than like a blanket, but I totally understand what you were getting at. :)

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39 Olathe Mom January 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Just found your blog and am loving looking around!

In this thread, have you read Crunchy Cons? It is an interesting study of a new movement of earth-conscious, simple living, homeschooling, organic food loving Christians. ;) It is a good one.

You are now one of my “Favorites.”

Blessings.

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40 Jackie January 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I think one of the reasons Christians tend to be concerned with frugality is several (not all, and by no means is this unique to Christians) have made a conscious decision to live below their means. This could be for several reasons: choosing a career in accordance to one’s call or vocation that doesn’t pay as highly as others might, being dedicated to supporting charities through their lives and not just their surplus, and/or being conscious of one’s lifestyle and its impact on the environment. Historically, voluntary simplicity or poverty has been part of several Christians’ practice.

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41 james January 13, 2010 at 8:43 pm

As a Bright non-Christian man, who actually does the frugal, homemaking thing, complete with canning, cooking, shopping for groceries, gardening, doing laundry, cleaning house with baking soda and vinegar (depending on the need), I think I can say that there are lots of good ideas to use, no matter your creed. It just so happens that people blog about what they are passionate about, and when someone is able to feed a family, and live a simple life by being frugal and thrifty, they wanna tell others how good they feel. And so the blogs grow. And another fact is there are lots of people who are devout in their faiths and share that too. I ignore the faith thing, and glean the tips, motivations and ideas where I can find them. And I don’t hold someone’s beliefs against them. ;-)

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42 Kathy April 4, 2011 at 10:56 am

I am enjoying your blog – which I was referred to by a Jewish blogger on frugality! They are becoming more popular by the day. I think that people of faith of various denominations have some core shared values.

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