Homemaking the Frugal Way

I wanted to say a little something about frugal living, since I’ve been told I’m not a very frugal person. It’s true my husband and I do enjoy some things in life that are oh-so-not-frugal (our organic latex mattress comes to mind).

But that doesn’t mean we’re not frugal. I think we just have different priorities than other people. Well, most people. So we save money in areas where we can pinch pennies so that we can afford to spend lavishly in other areas if we want to. Here are some of the ways our family lives a frugal lifestyle:

  1. Andrew JacksonOpt for reusable items rather than disposable ones whenever possible. For the most part, we use cloth napkins instead of paper, rags instead of paper towels, cloth diapers instead of disposables, glass containers and cloth bags for storage rather than plastic bags. This not only helps our pocketbooks, it helps the Earth, too.
  2. Buy used instead of new. We buy used cars, used toys, used books and used clothes. Admittedly, because of where we live and the types of products we like, particularly when it comes to our son’s toys, buying used isn’t always practical, but we opt for used items when it makes sense. Once again, this packs a double punch — helping our planet and our pocketbooks.
  3. Do-it-yourself. Whether it’s installing a new appliance, replacing a bathroom faucet or making our own foods or household cleaners, when we can do it ourselves, we do.
  4. Find new uses for things we already have. I save a lot of things that I don’t have a particular purpose for in case I find something useful to do with them later, particularly when it comes to containers. That applesauce jar? Saving it. I’m sure I’ll find something to put in it eventually. That egg carton? Hello, new drawer organizer. And by keeping these items out of landfills, I’m also doing my part to reduce waste and protect the environment.
  5. Look for deals and freebies. I’m always on the lookout for ways to save money. When I shop online, I use sites like Ebates and ShopAtHome that let me earn cash back for my purchases and I search to see whether there are any coupons available. Before I head to a store (whether it’s the grocery store, a department store or an auto repair shop), I always check online for promotions and coupon deals.
  6. Know when to stock up. I keep tabs on the prices of things we buy regularly, so I’m able to snatch up a bargain when I see it. If something’s a really good price and it’s something we can store, I will buy a 6-month to 1-year supply of it. I buy in bulk regularly at Costco and Amazon.com.
  7. Save it. I try to get the most out of the things that we do buy. If I know some produce or meat we have in the fridge is about to go bad, I put it in the freezer before it does. I buy whole chickens, cut them up myself and then save the giblets and other parts I’m not using to make my own chicken stock. I also freeze items like guacamole, milk (coconut and almond milk, these days), herbs, canned pumpkin, etc. Whatever I can throw in the freezer, I do.

And finally, a word about coupons. When I first quit my job to stay home with our son, I turned to coupons as a way to help cut costs. I’ve seen the TV shows where couponers buy hundreds of dollars of items for a few dollars and while I knew most of the items they were buying wouldn’t fit into our lifestyle and diet choices, I wanted to give it a try.

Well, I learned a lot by couponing, but the biggest lesson was that it really wasn’t worth the time and effort I put into it. There just aren’t a lot of coupons out there for people like us who eat mostly whole foods like fruits, vegetables and meat and use natural household and cleaning products.

That’s not to say there aren’t any, and I do still use coupons when they’re available for products we use (like canned tomatoes, almond milk, nuts and eggs). Sometimes I’ll also buy mainstream cleaning or personal care products when there’s a really great deal or our funds are low, but for the most part I’ve given up on coupons. And I’ve actually found our spending habits haven’t changed that much since I did, but we’re buying less junk food and I have more time to do things I actually enjoy, like spend time with our kids.

What are your best money-saving tips?

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