Thursday, November 6, 2008
Frugal Friday -- frugal favorites
Frugality has been on my mind again lately and I can't help thinking about how far I have come in the last year and a half, when I was first alerted to Crystal's blog and began following Frugal Fridays.
My hands no longer shake when I approach the check out at CVS, wondering if it will really "work." Our grocery budget is over $100 a month less than it had been and we eat all our meals at home (we used to eat a few dinners a week for free in the dining hall). I do spend about an extra 30 minutes each week printing and clipping coupons and figuring out my shopping plan.
Lots of little changes have made such a difference.
So, I decided to do a post compiling my fifteen favorite frugal thoughts. Most of these I have seen in many places and have worked to put into practice in our own home. I broke them down into five frugal philosophies, five frugal habits, and my favorite five practical frugal tips.
1. Be content! I wrote about this the very first time I participated in Frugal Friday and I still think it holds the most importance. Not much else will matter if we don't find out contentment in God rather than things.
2. Minimize. Handprints on the Wall did a great series on this a while back with a challenge to minimize some area of our home each Monday. Also, reading George Muller's biography right now with my kids has continued to convict me in this area.
3. Enjoy home, and stay there more.
4. Live within your means. This is so simple, so profound, and is a necessary mindset for living frugally.
5. Give. Not necessarily frugal per se, but a Biblical part of financial stewardship and I think a critical part of my frugal motivation. We live on less to give more.
6. Plan! Keeping track of money spent, looking through sales, and making a list all help keep us from overspending.
7. CVS. This should probably top the list in terms of what has made the biggest dent in our budget. I do not consider myself an expert, and now shop there only once or twice a month, but learning how to work the deals at CVS has saved us probably about $50-75 most months.
8. Search out coupons. We only get one Sunday paper, but that has generally given us enough to work with. So many websites offer great coupons. Just to name a few: Cool Savings, Coupons.com, Red Plum, Smartsource. I don't actually spend much time searching out coupons unless someone has tipped me off to a great deal using them.
9. Stock up. Since much of what I seem to use on a weekly basis does not offer coupons, I look for sales and stock up when I find a great deal.
10. Reduce waste with the freezer. I have learned to use my freezer to save produce when it is nearing its last days, or bits of left overs that I know I can work into another meal, but not before it would spoil in the fridge. Of course, cooking bigger batches and freezing half saves time and money. I have learned to love my freezer.
Practical frugal tips:
11. Enjoy the million and one uses for baking soda and vinegar. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but these inexpensive little cleaners can do just about anything when used individually or in combination with each other. I use vinegar as a fabric softener in the wash and rinse aid in the dishwasher. I use baking soda as a carpet freshener and shoe deodorant. I use them together for scrubbing the bathroom. Here's 61 uses for baking soda, and 1001 uses for vinegar.
12. Cut milk consumption in half. In recipes I now use half milk and half water.
13. Drink water. We generally drink only water, but allow a small glass of milk with breakfast or other infrequent times. The kids may also have a small glass of juice up to once a day.
14. Reuse . . . my favorite kitchen item to reuse right now is cereal bags. These have most of the same uses that waxed paper would have, although it should not go in a hot oven. They are also great as bags for homemade bread or other goodies that need a bag of their own. We only get about one every couple weeks, and that fits our uses for waxed paper pretty well.
15. Get out the last drop. We have also saved quite a bit by simply using everything in the container. Scraping containers clean can get a few more servings out. Adding water to dish soap, shampoo, body soap, etc. helps you use less and get out every usable drop of cleaner available. Sometimes our shampoo can last a few more days by simply adding a little water when I thought it was time for the trash.
There you have it, 15 of my favorite frugal tips. Hope some of those were helpful, and please feel free to add your own few or even 15 more in the comments!