[Sca-cooks] Frugality and the SCA

Sharon Gordon gordonse at one.net
Mon Nov 6 10:15:31 PST 2006

I wrote a private post to Wanda on this topicand the families she is working with, but it occurred to me that many people in the SCA have periods in their lives where they live on a shoestring and that much of the info would be useful to SCA members and to people who want to help them.  Some of what follows is useful in general, some is useful for SCA cooking, and some is useful for other aspects of SCA life.

Some ideas for improving the situation:

1) Can pregnant mom and some of the younger kids go on WIC too?  Can they get boxes from food banks to free up some other money for utilities, etc.?
2) Check with local freecycle group for baby furniture, infant and older children clothes, toys, etc.  The local SCA group may have a children's clothing swap or gold key.
3) Sign up for all area thanksgiving and christmas free food baskets and gifts for children.
4) Get  community gardens going (on base, at schools, in neighborhoods, at rental houses) for the local families with some help to till it from the stronger people.  Have some extra gardens going for people that get rotated in and have a way to switch gardens from family to family as rotations occur with durrent families planting for future families when necessary.  Have some extra volunteers who can help with the gardens
5) Have a benefit for the woman with the disabling pregnancy to help pay off her bills.  Do not give money to the woman, but straight to the bills.
6) Have everybody read The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn and Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.  If there is only enough money for one book or it needs to be borrowed from the library, have one good reader read sections of it to the rest of the group each week.  People can discuss what was read and swap tips for implementing suggestions.
7) Create some frugality support groups where people brainstorm and work out ways to be as frugal as possible.  People might also like to join/read
CreativeBudget-subscribe at yahoogroups.com or 
the frugality discussion forums at 
or read the archives at
RadicalFrugality-subscribe at yahoogroups.com (not much activity at present, but archives are good).
You could also have a rotating list of topical workshops such as frugal seasonal cooking, clothes mending, children's clothes swap, snowball strategies for paying off debt.
8) Use some reliable birthcontrol that their husbands can't interfere with like a long term implant.
9) Get the nonworking spouse into counseling, substance abuse treatment or whatever is needed if there is a problem there (if the nonworking spouse is not working for reasons other than to be at home with young children.  If several children are young, it is not always possible to make enough to cover the costs of working.)
10) Get schooling or job training for nonworking spouse plus daycare to help nonworking spouse get on feet.
11) Get a group GED tutoring going for spouses who stopped their schooling too soon with either day care or the student/parents providing most of the daycare on a rotating basis with a certified head teacher supervising.
12) Ask on freecycle and at area farms if a parents group or volunteers from the community can glean from area farms after the main harvest.  Split items among families.  If an SCA group does this, get permission for part of the harvest to be used for feasts to reduce feast costs.
13) People might want to ask on the CreativeBudget list or the SimpleLiving forums for ideas on how to avoid spending money other than for food, basic toiletries, rent, and minimal utilities.  In otherwords if they are about to spend money, the groups may be able to think up a way to avoid it.  That way more money can go to debt repayment and emergency fund building.
14) If a spouse with disappearing money doesn't have a substance abuse problem, the wife might want to check and see if the husband has a hidden second family that he is also trying to support.
15) Try to develop a culture of having fun without spending money.  Probably many people are of a mind that they deserve things at this point in life whether that is financially wise or not(many people are brought up to believe this).  But if you can get them thinking that they are outwitting the system by having fun without spending money, or avoiding buying something, and instead actually saving money once they get their debts paid off, people can create a new culture that helps their lives instead of worsening it.  It can take awhile, but eventually most people realize they can have a lot of fun doing something productive together, and that it is actually more fun than mindless partying or blowing money.
16) Create a club for people working to reduce debt and build up savings.  Have a focus of helping each other get the debt paid off as quickly as possible and getting savings built up as steadily as possible.  Have some accountant/financial speakers who understand all the ins and outs of finances for soldiers.
17) Create a tips board or booklet for your area so that what one family learns is passed along to future families that rotate through the area.  The group may want to create a collective price book for grocery stores.  The group may want to create a food coop or an informal errand coop where one person picks up a frugal food at a distant localtion for many others.  People may want to get food in large amounts directly from farmers to reduce costs and split the food.
18) Occasionally an SCA group will sponsor a contest to create frugal garb.  Consider having more of these and having a category where garb is created for a model/new member, preferably one who would really appreciate this sort of boost.
19) Have some events where you build into the budget some scholarship positions where people can work and get their event fees comped.
20) Encourage members to barter with each other to build up their SCA items in a frugal manner.  When money is available, try to hire within the SCA.
21) Most groups try to teach skills to help people create their SCA items in a frugal manner.  Consider your local resources and situation and whether it would be good to build more skills or have some focused workshops.
22) While writing this, it occurred to me that there is, to the best of my knowledge, no list devoted to frugality within the SCA.  Some of the previously mentioned books and email groups can help indirectly by freeing up some money for optional activities such as the SCA.  And occasionally a topical SCA group will have a thread on how to do something frugally such as how to keep feast food costs down, but there doesn't seem to be a list where the info is collected on many topics.    So I started one where information can be collected as a resource for new members.  To join send a message to
SCACreativeFrugality-subscribe at yahoogroups.com 

gordonse at one.net

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