Simple Frugal Living Tips
There are times when we just kill it in the frugality department. We spend less, save more, and have no expensive surprises. High five and pat your frugal self on the back. Then the following month, your house needs a new water heater, your car needs new tires, and your kid needs new shoes. That’s probably the month you blow the grocery budget, too. Hang head and kick your good intentions to the curb.
The frugal life definitely has its ups and downs. Some months are better than others, but it’s a constant learning process. Here are 5 simple tips that have been tumbling around in my brain lately. These are no Chinese proverbs, just areas I have personally been working on to get my frugality back on track.
Just because you want something doesn’t mean you need it.
I get these four letter words confused all the time, forgetting that I have relatively few true needs beyond food, clothing, shelter, and
coffee water. I have no problem with interests, hobbies, or indulgences, but I never want to pretend that the quality of my life depends on the brand of my cell phone.
Need? Want? Call it what it is, and then evaluate whether you can afford it or not.
Just because you need/want something doesn’t mean it has to be new.
The frugal life is satisfying, but it requires patience. I struggle in this department, but I have found that thrifting makes a huge difference. The desire for instant gratification is replaced by the thrill of the hunt.
In the last few months, I have purchased 3-ring binders, footy pajamas, snow boots, bulletin boards, long-sleeve shirts, and mixing bowls from local thrift stores. My husband found a cable modem for our computer, an adapter hose for our car, and an impedence matching transformer for our homemade tv antennae (don’t ask).
They were all gently used but perfectly fine. We were planning to buy all of these items but saved a significant amount of money by waiting until we could track them down at secondhand stores.
Just because you don’t feel like doing something doesn’t mean you can’t.
Take eating out, for example. I crave a Little Big Burger with a side of truffle fries on a weekly basis. Every single Thursday night I want to eat at a restaurant, followed by Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. The thought of someone else cooking and cleaning for us is way more appealing than anything sitting in my fridge. Some nights I feel paralyzed by my complete lack of desire to cook dinner.
Then I remember that I can create a wholesome dinner for a fraction of the cost and calories of a restaurant meal. I don’t feel like making dinner. I don’t feel like loading the dishwasher. Yet I find that if I just start busting through the moves of getting dinner on the table, I feel capable and satisfied. Oh, and proud. I feel proud of myself for pushing through the temptation of whipping out my debit card instead of my cookbook.
I’m not knocking eating out, I absolutely enjoy it. But I definitely find that I enjoy it more when it’s planned and within the budget (sometimes with a coupon or discount) versus last minute because I don’t FEEL like cooking. When you’re budget-conscious and frugal most of the time, not planning can actually feel frustrating.
Just because clothes have been worn doesn’t mean they are dirty.
I have young kids so I know dirty laundry piles up quickly. My daughter thinks her shirt sleeve is an attached napkin, and my son attracts dirt like any respectable boy. However, a couple of weeks ago it hit me. Why do I automatically throw all of their clothes in the hamper after one use? Much of their clothing can stand a second or third wearing before washing.
By paying more attention and only washing clothes that are actually dirty, I have cut my weekly laundry load by 1-2 full loads of clothes. Crazy! Even our high-efficiency washer and dryer costs around 80 cents of electrical energy per load. If I cut out 2 loads per week over the course of a year, that could be a savings of $83. Line drying clothes obviously adds up to an even greater savings. Little Big Burger, here I come.
Now if I can just train my kids.
Related: Laundry hacks for big families
Just because you have never done something doesn’t mean you can’t learn.
You can learn to save early for Christmas or change your car’s oil or bake a loaf of bread or cut your son’s hair or make your own iced latte at home. Challenge yourself to learn one new skill every month. Write it down and make it happen.
This year I want to learn how to make crackers and pasta. There is a never ending list of home and garden projects I plan to tackle. I am sloooowly teaching myself how to use Photoshop. All of these involve new skill sets that often help our budget and ultimately enrich my life.
Would you add anything to this list?
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