The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 20, 2013

Former Enid woman featured on ‘Cheapskates’

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Former Enid resident Melody Rose Gravitt will be featured on TLC’s program “Extreme Cheapskates” to show people some of her cost-saving tips.

Producers of the television show saw her blog titled “Countrified Hicks,” which is all about frugal living, farm tips and ways to save money. For example, Melody catches rainwater in a bucket for laundry and does the laundry in a washtub with a plunger. She make her own laundry detergent and fabric softener.

The program already has been taped and will air Nov. 6.

Gravitt said the crews came in August and it took three days to tape the segment at her family’s rural Talihina home.

Gravitt was born and raised in Enid and graduated high school in 1986.

“They came here and we didn’t know what to expect,” she said. The first day, they filmed for 15 hours, and the second day, for 13 hours.

“It’s amazing how long it took to do anything. It took 27 takes of spinning a quarter and slamming it down with my hand. They just kept shooting it over and over,” she said. There was 40 hours of filming for a 12-minute segment on the program. “We had to do a lot of different angles.”

The program filmed at the local library — which opened just for them — and at a local grocery store. They also brought a script for Gravitt and her family to follow.

She said 90 percent of the things they said are not true. One segment had them using newspaper for toilet paper, which they don’t do, she said.

She has talked with the producers since that time, and they told her that if it does well when it airs, she could get her own show. Her blog receives 100,000 hits per week on Facebook, Twitter and Pentra. Most of the hits come from Facebook.

Since she started the blog, Gravitt has been asked by national companies to review their products, and she is able to keep the products. For example, a poultry company sent her some baby chicks to raise and report how they tasted.

The family has lived on the farm near Talihina 41⁄2 years, and has lived in Talihina about eight years. They have two big gardens, where they raise their food and some livestock.

“Everything we get from the garden is what we live on. We’re a family of four, and we live on $1,400 a month. We make our own bread, crackers and tortilla, and we can everything,” she said. The family goes through 40 pounds of flour each month and makes their own biscuits and other food items. “We don’t buy anything in a box,” she said.

She has two children who live at home: Brandon, 15, and Ronnie, 9. Her oldest daughter, Brandy, lives in Stillwater.

Gravitt’s husband, Ron, is diabetic, and since they have been living on natural homemade foods, he uses less insulin and has had fewer problems, she said. They eliminated all of their processed foods. They trade eggs for milk twice a week with a local farmer, but plan to buy a goat so they will have more milk. “We only have two goats now, but they will have babies in February,” she said.

They have three children, but one daughter is grown and does not live at home. “We’ve been doing this for so long, it’s natural for us. We haven’t had TV for 11 years. We have a TV for the Internet,” she said.

Ron lost his job seven years ago, and about the same time, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. They began “putting things back.” He was without a job for an extended period, and they discovered they were getting by on what they were saving. They moved to the farm to see how well they could live.

People come to the family’s farm often to ask Melody to show them how to make soap and shampoo with baking soda and water and rinse with vinegar. They lived in tents for four months, before building a house on their property. They have water wells but no city water, and three of the wells do not have pumps, just a bucket at the end of a rope. They use those wells to get water for livestock or for their gardens.

The Gravitts live in a manufactured home with central heat and air. “We turn off the lights, and our electric bill is cheaper than most because we don’t have a TV running all the time,” she said. “We don’t buy potato chips and stuff, we make them. We cut out beef a while ago because the price got so high. Occasionally we do sausage, but mostly red beans and rice. Once or twice a week, we have breakfast for supper, and once a week, I make dessert,” she said.

Gravitt owns three pairs of black pants and one pair of shoes. All the thriftiness paid off, as the family took a cruise two years ago, she said. She said she cried when they prepared for the cruise, because she had to buy a dress for dinner.

“I cried. It took a week. It hurt to spend the money on myself,” she said.