Keeping fit and warm and advice for someone new to this!

Hello Dear Reader,

We get pallets for free. Where ever we see them, we’re really cheeky and ask for them. I can often be found driving home, hitching up my trailer and going back to where I have some pallets ‘saved’ for me. It takes work, but we break them down into kindling wood. If you’ve ever bought kindling wood then you’ll know it is expensive. First of all, Dearly Beloved uses a crow bar and a lump hammer and breaks the pallet into its component parts. He then uses a claw hammer to remove all the nails – we re use the good ones.

I then join in with production line and saw them into lengths that will fit into our stove. It makes my arms ache which must be good for the bingo wings.

I then chop them into kindling to light the stove with. It may not sound like much, but if I bought it, it would cost about £2.50 a week in kindling if we didn’t get the pallets for free and chop them up ourselves. It saves us around £50 over the winter.

Finally, here’s all the wood indoors and ready to keep us warm, to dry the washing and keep the house aired. We’re lighting it most nights, but, you’ll know what I mean if you have a stove, we keep it clamped down so it burns slowly and makes the wood last. The Netto bag is full of small branches of a garnered wood, which I have sawn down. We’re not using any gas, we use our solar powered lighting as much as possible and we’re doing everything we can to stave off the huge expense that winter can bring. We’re all fighting the best fight we can in tough economical times.

Someone wrote to me yesterday, their income has been drastically reduced, she is the sole carer of children, she has huge heating costs (Northern America – deep deep winters there). I was asked for advice. I thought of all the American blogs that I read and would like to her to take a look at CT Mom on a budget, Home joys  just to start with to see some very good shopping advice and home joys for simple but affordable cooking and remembering your blessings when you are at home with children as a full time job. She told me that her chimneys have been blocked with concrete – well other than appealing to someone like Ty Pennington to come round and make over her chimneys, she’s in a difficult position. I’ve got a very very long distance request to all my American readers, if you were in that mum’s position and all this frugal living is new to her, what advice can you give her. How is she going to access affordable health care and dental care for her children? How can she budget for heating oil? How can she go about looking for a reputable builder to unblock her chimney? How to go about finding thrift stores for home wares and clothing? How to access advice – is there a TV show or channel that is interesting or informative. I’m sure she’ll read this today and enjoy any help you can give her in the comments.

I’ve asked for help before and you’ve rallied to my support, today – I’m asking for someone else.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx


24 thoughts on “Keeping fit and warm and advice for someone new to this!

  1. I do hope that you get some replies to your request for American info. Also, I think that you save more than you think on the kindling. Here it is about £3/bag and we could easily use a couple of bags a week if we did not supplement it with found wood. Thanks for another great post.


  2. Obviously being a Brit i dont know if the things im going to suggest are even possible,
    If she belongs to a church im sure a member of the congregation if a builder would be more than willing to help with advice on the chimney.
    Couponing is a big thing in the USA even on a small scale coupons are more readily available and friends and neighbours could save them for her.This could save her money that she could then use on something else.


  3. Will try my best to answer what I can. Even with her hubby working if their income has been decreased the children can have medicaid which will give them free medical, dental, and one free eye exam and glasses each year. It would be cheaper to tear down the chimney and replace with metal stove pipe that has hooks to hook going up the side of the house. The hooks stick out far enough to keep heat away from siding. Also has wires to anchor it at edge of roof for wind protection. She can go to this site to find a thrift store near her:
    Put plastic over the windows to keep cold drafts out and use sheets or blankets behind curtains for insulation to keep heat inside. I use the canvas painter cloths with curtain rings attached on curtain rods behind my curtains. I can slide them open when the sun is shining and close them rest of the time to keep heat in. Here is a site that gives shopping list, menus,etc to eat frugal. Its for 3 meals a day. Cook from scratch but easy yummy recipes and ideas. If her children are 5 and under she can apply at her local health dept. for Wic. They give vouchers for milk, cereal, beans, peanut butter, juice, etc. You get 3 months worth but each voucher is for one weeks worth. You can go to your grocery store but just have to get certain brands. If she would like to contact me I would love to tell her many more sites and things she can do.


  4. Dear Froogs,

    With pallets, we are mor quick and dirty. They are very tricky totake to bits, especially if you want the planks to make things, like raised beds and there are lots of tips on the Internet.

    For kindling, we just use our trusty mawl and they fly apart. We don't have nice bundles like you – but they get a fire going just the same. For fire raising, we find cardboard is great and gets a blaze going in no time.



  5. She should immediatly go to her local welfare/state assistance office. At the least she can cover her kids for insurance and maybe even her and her husband. they also have assistance for heating/cooling and such depending on the state.

    Many churchs run food pantries and depending where she is some help with other costs also.

    I also use draft dodgers under the doors, thermal curtains and such. Feel free to have her email me or check my blog, the people there are always willing to help



  6. Froogs, it would be eaesier if I had a bit more info. Please ask your person seeking ideas to drop me a line off of my blog. I can respond directly. Meanwhile, some general thoughts:
    1-make a budget of all expenses, to the penny
    2-review the above, elimate wants and keep needs
    3-review needs: seeks alternative sources, no more yourself, etc (see my blog for examples)
    4-depending upon your state, and the age of the children, they may* be eligible to join a state run medical program for insurance
    5-contact your town/city social worker for resources, as well as your priest/reverand. There are many programs available this time of year: fuel and electric assistance, clothing vouchers at thrift stores, Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets, food pantries, etc



  7. Put aside money monthly all year long, or have the utility company do a 12 month budget payment for heating fuel-we can do that in Canada. Put plastic on all the windows, and check the weather stripping around the doors-it is a cheap fix. Make a draft stopper from an old scrap of fabric and sand or rice (I don't use food in these, it can attract bugs).Some spots have cheaper electricity than heating fuel, maybe that means by a couple of electric heaters to supplement the furnace.
    Good luck. We have been having winter for about a month- I already have snow!


  8. -Plastic on the windows,
    -Check the doors for drafts-replace the weatherstripping. It is self stick and cheap.
    -Budget for the full year for heating and spread out the cost. Some utility companies will do this for you.
    -Shop at thrift stores for extra bedding, but wash and dry thoroughly-don't get bed bugs.
    -We have snow here already. All cozy with the wood stove and furnace.
    Barb from Canada


  9. What skills does your reader have? Can she cook, clean, sew, mend, chop wood, garden, etc. She can barter with other people for services or items. Most communities have free or low cost dental care and free immunization clinics. What about her church? Become self-taught in an area that you know little about. Most of my adult life has been a series of life lessons, from cannning, to animal husbandry to gardening. Go to the library and get books to learn a craft. Call the electric company and propane or oil company and get on a level payment plan so payments are the same every month. Some places offer energy assistance. Use coupons and shop sales. Stock up on basics. Say no to eating out, movies, coffees, new clothes, etc. Cook at home with planned leftovers. Talk to friends and don't be afraid to ask for help.


  10. We've always used pallet wood too – even the blocks on the corners burn well! Do make sure you keep your chimney swept, though, because the extra residue they create can cause all kinds of problems apart from the disaster of fire if it is allowed to build up too much. We always had our chimney done annually when we lived in the UK. We have a wood burning stove here in Crete, rather than an open fire, so can take the chimney to bits & DIO (do it ourselves), but proper chimneys need a professional, and it is definitely a false economy not to do it!


  11. we too are lovers of the free pallet but unlike you we leave the nails in as unless you want to re use them they do no harm in the fire and it saves the effort.

    When I clean the ash out of the bottom which sadly seems to be a girl job I use a garden sieve if I'm going to use the ash on the garden otherwise it all gets chucked out.

    My husband uses a Black and Decker electric saw which makes light work of pallet deconstruction.


  12. I am in the snowbelt in Canada. We get wicked winters here. I know here in Canada there are government programs to help low income families with heating costs. Not sure if that exists in the U.S, but she could look into it. Also, it is more economical when on a budget to have equal billing. That way she will pay the same amount year round, rather than having sky high bills in the colder months. Usually gas and hydro(electricity) companies offer this.

    I know nothing of American healthcare, however I think low income families qualify for medicare or medicaid. She should look into these.


  13. Hi ! from Connecticut USA.The phone book is a great source of imformation for all the phone numbers of the state agencys,that can help her.Not every town has social workers, she may have to go to a big city. WIC is a supplimental food program for women who are pregnant and their children to age five,or chidren to age five. You don' t have to be poor to use it. SNAP is the new name for food stamps. all the help she can get is base on number people in the household and in come coming in . rent or mortgage, can own a car , this also applys to health insurance .Even if she isn't a church member , she can call around and some have programs for repairs, they also have sign ups for food baskets/ gifts/ toys for the Holidays She should shop for food in stores where lower income people shop. School age children can get free lunch at school, you have to apply, some have breakfast programs.Church thrift stores are cheaper than the Good will. the Good will is a National fund raiser for the handicap, a good cause, but not cheap any more. Check Craig's list for free items or put in a wanted advertisement, Join freecycle, network with friends for clothing exchanges and services. Try not to afraid to do this a lot of people are in the same boat.Read Frugal blogs. I grow a garden on a small lot, I do this for next to nothing ,and have a spare freezer full of veggies.You don' have to go to a major chain store to spend alot of money to have a garden I got rid of cable , but kept the phone and the internet. You can get a converter box and antenae for about eighty dollars,depends where you live as to how many free channels you see,a out door antenae will let you see more.STop using the cloths dryer ,hang a line for now in the basement or hang clothes on hangers off the shower rod,then when almost dry throw them in dyrer to soften.Read Ct.Mom's blog for saving bits of food , it adds up.Make you own laundry detergent{ run a cup of white vinegar first threw the empty washer so the clothes don't gray], and cleaning supplies , food stamps don.t pay for these things .I know this is mostly preaching to the Choir. Good luck Roxy


  14. When we were little and lived in very cold and draughty houses, my mum used to fill one of her laddered stockings (or one leg off a pair of tights) with crumpled newspaper, lay it on the floor,then drawing pin/tack to the bottom of the door. Very light and it leaves the door free to open.


  15. I suggest she check the local collage, ours has a dental school and they do dental work at reduced prices or free. She should check with local food banks, Salvation Army. Medicaid or local state medical programs will cover her children and if her income is low enough the whole family. Food stamps are available as are WIC (women, infants and children) coupons for food.
    Local utilities will work with you to reduce costs and local, county and city, have programs to help pay utilities. Hope this helps.


  16. Hello groove wonderful posts of late.please ask your reader who asked you for help to mail me.and I will send her some links and info I can be found at please ask them to put somthing in the subject line so I don't edge them by accident. Many thanks again so good to see you back. Rachel Plymouth devon


  17. I'd recommend she reads websites like the Motley Fool ( link is to their Living Below Your Means board, and the Dollar Stretcher ( Both are American and US-centric. Both offer oodles of good advice for relative newbies.

    If she has a library nearby, then she should try to borrow a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn for inspiration and information (although some will be out of date now, the book was published in the mid-1990's). I call it my frugallista bible.

    – Pam


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s