Mary Beth Writes

A while back I posted an article about my friend Franc; I talked about how he has created a good life for himself even though he has rarely earned more than $15,000 in a year. (Right here)

This article was satisfying to write. I enjoyed spending time with Franc and asking nosy questions. Yes, it’s a challenge to interview folks and then write about their lives, but I did this often in my 12 years as a newspaper columnist and I like the adventure of it.

Here in the “Less Is More Gazette” part of my website I would like to interview more folks about how they find a balance between what they want and the limitations of their income.

Are you interested in being interviewed? Would you be willing to explore how you live your best values on a possibly wonky income? Do you know interesting people who might be interested in this? People you are related to, work with through your volunteer activities, who are your neighbors and friends?

I care about ordinary people who build good lives while living on ordinary (or inadequate) incomes.  People who had to re-figure how to live when a job was lost, or someone became ill, or a career dried up and blew away.  I’d like to talk with people who grew up in poverty and have had to figure out financial stability as an adult.  Families who are documented and undocumented immigrants.  Older couples and older single people who are figuring out how to have the good adventures on a constrained budget.  Artists and social workers, stay-at-home parents and passionate activists.

Please know that I ask way too many questions but I don’t/won’t publish ANYTHING until the person/people being interviewed are okay with it.  We will probably talk about the specific numbers of your income, budget items, and more – but specific private information doesn’t need to be in this public place.  I will want to tell people approximately where you live and post some photos (that you will take with your phone) from inside or outside your home – but we don’t have to be precise and you can choose what identifying information we will or won’t use.

As adults living in a complicated place and time - I think many of us are curious to learn how others are living the best they can manage, while upholding their values.

Some of you have your own blogs and will want to use this as a way to get more readers – that’s cool with me!  I can give you an idea of my modest readership if you contact me.

Interviews and conversation will happen face-to-face when possible. More likely, much of this will happen by phone.  In some instances we will Skype. 

Please be aware this website is created by just Len and me. We have no ads (someday I hope to sell some of those sidebar ads – but we are not there yet).  I will not pay you for this interview.

Are you interested?

Write to me via the contact page. I will not post your inquiry.

FYI: I will be mostly away from my computer until May 10th. Don’t expect a reply until after that.

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The Choosing Season

“Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price.”  (

The Arrows of Yore

I have a weird dark closet in the back of my soul. In it are critical things people have said to me in my life. I rarely consciously think about those old cuts and criticisms, but they are tucked in back there and sometimes I remember them uneasily.

Here are some of my particular arrows of yore:

“Can’t you do anything with her hair, Dorothy?” Dorothy was my mom. My dad liked his daughters’ hair to be curly and orderly, mine was straight and flyaway. I think I was in my 40’s before I realized OMG I do not have “problem hair”… whatever the hell that is.

Make Persimmon Cookies; Don’t make a Persimmon Life.

We are new subscribers to “Imperfect Produce” which is a service that delivers imperfect (duh) but safe and flavorful veggies and fruit to your house. This helps to keep “imperfect” produce from being wasted. (  I don’t get kickbacks from them.)

We are open-minded about trying new things to eat so when they included a pomegranate – cool. I enjoyed pomegranate, raisin, and walnut oatmeal I invented for myself.

Buy Angry

Frugality is a tool and a weapon. You can use it to be powerful.


Frugality and Privacy

 “If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.”

When one of our kids was 8-years old, Len thought it would be fun to let that kid drive his car. I swear - though I doubt you will believe me - no drinking was involved. Len just really believes in our kids and sometimes this turns into bigger adventures than one would expect.

Did I mention the car was in the garage so it needed to be backed out? Also, the child in question was too short to adequately reach the pedals.

Mindful Chickens – Up North Weekend Edition 9/24/18

Mindful Chickens are (for people who don’t know why I call them this) about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of little things like bugs and crumbs, dollars and daily choices.

Several years ago our son and his wife decided that they were going to set a goal to visit every state park in Wisconsin. There are 50 state parks and they only have a few more to go; what a cool way to claim where one lives.

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