The Frugal Way Making Do – The Art of the Pivot

There is nothing we frugal folk do better than making do and pivoting when necessary. This is an art we frugal few have elevated beyond a simple habit or craft. In fact, we thrive on it. It wasn’t too long ago that basic toilet paper was in short supply. The great TP shortage of 2020 is not soon forgotten by those of us who know how to pivot when something isn’t readily available. And while I personally did not hoard TP, I also never missed an opportunity to pick up an extra pack when it was available.

Toilet paper, sugar, flour, they are all readily available right now but I keep finding small things that are not. As I went to refurbish my herb garden nowhere and I do mean nowhere, could I find oregano herb plants. No. Where. I found everything from Lemon Balm to borage, pineapple sage to tarragon but curiously, no oregano. Let me preface this by saying we use more oregano in our meals than salt and pepper. Undeterred, I bought a packet of seeds and planted, prepared to wait. I am patient if nothing else and fresh oregano is definitely worth the wait.

I find with the pandemic that there are more and more moments I require patience and making do and I am fine with that new reality.

When I was renovating my backyard and the waterfall structure refused to entirely give up the ghost even after weeks of jack hammering, we quickly decided that a simple rock feature would be the ticket. It took advantage of the rocks I already had and now accents the backyard beautifully now, giving me a location to place decorative yard plants and décor that I was loathe to give up. A rock feature was not in remotely the plans but pivoting and creating one saved me a lot of money in the long run and ended up looking great. I was also loathe to get rid of three box planters that I had and when the new vegetable planters arrived the solution came to me. There was a shelf below each new planter where each box planter fitted beautifully and enabled me to plant even more seeds. I just hung on to them for a week or two until the new planters arrived and a solution came to me. I first emptied them of old, nutrient poor dirt and spray painted them in gray. I already had the cans of spray paint of course and soon they looked brand new, ready to bring forth new beans and peas and swiss chard and everything else I planted.

I always found my daughter’s front lawn area a bit sad. It had a nice semi circle edged with nice scalloped brick under the front window but in that semi circle there was nothing in there but a few straggling weeds. I had a pile of leftover sculptures and garden décor and of course, most of the beloved river rock from my parents old residence in Tahoe that all needed a new home. When I arrived with the rock and sculptures all the kids came out of help haul it the short distance from the car to the front. The girls soon stood back and admired the new look. “It’s not lonely anymore, it’s happy,” one of them observed. And she was right, it looked so much better and the cost was free. I no longer had a yard that accommodated that look and my daughter was in need of a bit of a landscaping pick me up. Perfect frugal moment to pivot again. And everybody was happy. The rest we are keeping to edge a little flower bed for her to grow flowers.

I had also kept the nicer ceramic planters and when my partner lamented that they didn’t match I whipped out another can of spray paint and soon I had a cluster on the newly streamlined front porch planters that did indeed match. Spray paint is a frugal person’s favorite tool for quickly updating everything from furniture to planters, picture frames to wicker baskets. The only thing I am holding on to from the yard renovation is a flotilla of miniature rubber duckies that graced a water feature. I am loathe to give up my rubber ducks so I will come up with a whimsical use for them sooner than later. I consider it a challenge now.

Now that my yard projects are coming to an end, I am happy to report that I was able to recycle, repurpose and reuse nearly everything. Giving away decorative rock and gently used landscaping materials was a great way to keep materials out of landfill, something that was very important to me.

To point is, making do and/or creating something new from something you already have is part and parcel to being frugal. It’s innate to our frugal nature and helps perfect the art of the pivot.

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