August 31, 2010

A Review in Frugality

Now that the boys are back to school, I think life will slow down a little bit... at least during the day! And I am reviewing some things, like how am I doing with our money? Am I still practicing what I have preached?

As I look through different things and start cleaning out other things, I remember a few items and thought it may be helpful if I list them out. Not only for you, but for me!

Here are a few ways to be frugal:

  • This one is obvious to ME, and what we are currently working the hardest at... Growing our own food! Some people may argue that gardening and putting up your food can be just as expensive as buying it from the store. Well, you are right. It CAN be. But mine hasn't been. You may have an initial investment of jars and what not, but if you start plants from your own seed (pennies!) and grow the plant yourself, then stick the plant in the ground, you will be able to harvest fruits and veggies for next to nothing. Especially when you realize you don't need fancy equipment. Example: We just canned grape jelly. We had to buy more jars. So even with our invested jars, we spent about $1.50 per pint jar of jelly. You cannot find organic grape jelly for that price! Take away the cost of the jars, we will only have pennies in the whole cost next year! So consider a garden/ herb garden/orchard...
  • Get some animals! A very cost effective animal is a chicken. They can produce eggs for you, you can sell your extras (to make back some or pay for all of your feed money) and have organic or at least natural, free range eggs. Then in a few years when your hens get too old to produce, you can have some meat. You don't need expensive feeds, you need free range! More animals that would be beneficial: cow (pasture raised), goats (pasture raised- meat/ milk), turkeys, and more. If you cannot pasture raise animals, it will end up being more expensive, and not as healthy.
  • Turn off your lights! This is one we constantly struggle with. When it starts to get dark, my boys think they need every light on in the house. A way to help with this is to remove some light bulbs! We have done this in our upstairs hallway, and basement. Another way to make sure every light isn't on, walk the house. As a mom or dad, it's just a fact that kids will leave lights on. Walk the house and turn them off. I have even gone as far as taking the bulb away from my son's room because he kept forgetting to turn off the light when he went to school. When he finally got his bulb back, he thought about it a lot better!
  • To go along with the last one, use a clothes line! Your electric or gas dryer sucks up the money. Last year, I remember we saved about $200 during the summer months by using the clothes line. That is a big savings!
  • Don't buy a lot of disposable. This means disposable plates, cups, napkins, paper towels, etc. Sometimes it IS just easier, but don't make it a habit, and you can save money.
  • Don't buy single serving items. The costs of single serving puddings, chips, crackers, granola bars, oatmeal, etc is a rip off! Don't do it! Buy a large bag or container and split up the items yourself. You can also make your own and split it up. You can also use reusable containers instead of having individual packaging for each thing. Plus making your own is healthier! :)

  • Bake! Healthy. Delicious. Cheap. 'Nuf said.
  • Make grocery lists. Buy ONLY what you have on your list, UNLESS you see a SPECTACULAR deal that you just cannot pass up.
  • Make a menu plan. Make it a week in advance, and stick to it. This will make it easy to shop, and less trips to the grocery store.
  • Don't make a bunch of trips to the store! We live about 15 minutes away from the town where I grocery shop. So making a few trips a week would waste a LOT of gas! I only plan on ONE trip into town a week.
  • Figure up how much money you want to spend at the store, and DON'T overspend! This can EASILY happen. For years, I went into a MEGA grocery store, and had a list of a few items. I would come out of there having spent 4 times what I should have. Stores do this! Don't fall prey!
  • Keep your home and vehicle clean and in good condition. OK, I'm not talking about daily living here. I DO live in a house with 4 boys, I KNOW the reality. BUT (stay with me here), I have also been in homes that when trash is left to sit, it leaves a stain. When the stain sits, it causes bugs, you can have bacteria, and much more. If a chair leg breaks, fix it right away, don't just leave it for someone to get hurt on or to cause worse damage to the chair and have to get a new one. When you don't make sure the oil gets changed in a timely manner in your vehicle, it can cause worse problems that paying $20 (or less if your handy!) for the original oil change! Don't leave things outside to rot. Especially during wet months or during the Winter. Bring them inside, cover them, etc. Take care of what you have, and it will last you a LONG time.
  • Don't be afraid of coupons! For a few years now I have used coupons, not just in a casual manner, but so much so that I was saving LOADS of money on my grocery bills. Right now, I don't use the "processed food" like I did before, so I don't have as much need for coupons. So I don't buy the paper. BUT, I DO check for PRINTABLE coupons. They still are beneficial, and I still save about $5-10. a week with my printable coupons. You can see one source I use on the right hand side of this page (scroll down a little). You can usually print 2 of those by hitting the "back" button.
  • Don't be afraid to STOCK UP! I love going to "bulk" stores. I usually buy 50 lbs of white flour, 25 lbs of wheat, bulk sugar, bulk cocoa, flax, (whole)seasonings, regular oats and more. This way the "per pound" price can be cheaper! And if you go through a lot of ingredients (baking for a family) then it is VERY cost effective, plus chances are you will have ingredients on hand to make most anything you want!
  • Wear your clothes more than once. BEAR WITH ME HERE! Clothes I wear to church on Sunday goes on a clean body to sit in a clean church. I come home, and there is NO reason to throw them in the laundry! Sometimes I wear jeans for 2-3 days in a row. If I am around the house, and not doing any "dirty work", no one knows any different! I usually wear my staple "white tank top" all of the time. To "mix it up" a bit, I wear shirts OVER the white tank. These shirts usually can be worn again also. The less laundry I have to wash, the better!
Of course this is just a basic list (there is so much more!), but hopefully helpful and thought provoking!

People actually assume that we are "normal" people, until they come to the farm! Our pastor's wife told me one time that she thought my hubby and I were kind of preppy people. Then she got to know us, visit our home, and find out what we REALLY DO, and she says she was so glad to find out how down to earth we were!

Frugal doesn't mean "poor" looking, sending your children to school in rages and eating beans and rice for meals. Frugal is all in how you want to spend your time and money.

Now that I have reviewed my own list, I need to keep plugging away and improving! What have YOU found is a great way to save money?


Jennifer said...

I will charge my kids for leaving lights on around the house. Having to pay me AND stop what they are doing to go turn the light off makes an impact. Great list.

andrewodom said...

Man, what haven't we done to save money in the past two years?

I have to say we have been mostly inspired by our desire to live debt free. And with only 9 months left before that dream is a reality, there have been many a night when we chose NOT to go to the movies or rent a movie or eat out or something in favor of having one less month of credit card payment. HOLD ON. I am not saying we would use our credit cards to eat out on. What I am saying is that for every $100 purchase you actually pay $112 to the credit card company. That means I am paying $12 out of my budget for the privilege of having what I want, when I want it. Not a good way to save money. We are cash on the barrel now.

We have switched to eEditions of the local newspaper and a couple of magazine. Oftentimes the subscription rate is cheaper for the online version. It is a great eco-friendly option as well.

We have also begun "card clubs" with our family members/some friends. In other words, we buy a birthday card. In it we write a little note asking them to resend it to us on our occasion. We will then resend it to them on the next occasion. Both parties save money and it is neat to see a timeline of sentiment in one card.

Jenn said...

Hi,Sarah I have been reading your blog since you were featured in the Evening Star (Auburn). You have inspired me so much! My husband works at the steel mill here and in the past year I have become an absolute cutthroat at saving money. Everything you said, menu planning, couponing, waiting to buy until things are on sell, shop garage sales, reuse things until they die. And to me the most important, learning to use what we already have and learning to be content in that. God has brought such peace. I think if people would learn to be content with what they have, they can get out of debt. It makes me sick how materialistic our country is. Sometimes my husband thinks I'm ridiculous and it's a big joke between us, He'll say "you act like we're poor". I just laugh and say even though we aren't we need to live like we are! Anyways, keep up the good work!

Sarah said...

Jennifer- I have threatened that I will have my boys pay for their own lights! They know it could happen! That's funny! :)

Drew- We are also on our way to paying off all debt. It's tough, BUT can be done! It just takes time, DISCIPLINE, and patience!

Great ideas too!

Jenn- You have blessed me today! You are right about being content with what you have, Matthew 5:4-6 says (in the Message Bible) "You're blessed when you are content with just who you are- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves owners of everything that can't be bought."

It is good to take care in doing things that are helpful financially, etc, but it is even better when you are content with where you are in life. The best things in life, our family, love, GOD can't be bought! The best thing in life was already paid for! We just have to be content with the rest. Not envying the models on the cover of magazines, or those picture-perfect homes... Because not all things are what they may seem...

Thanks again!

The Apple Pie Gal said...

You are right, the initial investment for putting up your own food can be a bit at first...but once you get a few years in, you will find that your store trips are less and less! Which is more and more Rewarding! Not to mention you know what is in your food! Great post!!

Meagan said...

good tips, I am surprised how much you saved by not using the dryer. I am going to try that. We are stationed in Vegas now and our electric bill is sickening.