Being a frugal homemaker is a huge responsibility. You (and in best case with assistance) are the CEO of the family. By making wise decisions you will be able to enjoy life more fully, and enjoy a healthy, happy family life. Without our health (physical and mental) we are not able to be as happy and balanced as we can be. By creatively cutting back in small ways that don’t matter as much (or may not even be missed at all) to your family and spending family resources (both time and finances) in those ways that matter the most so no one is left feelings deprived.
There are no two people who will want to make reductions and use resources in the same ways. We all have different priorities in our lives and need to know what is really important (identify our priorities) to us before we can make wise decisions for ourselves and our families. One person may have their highest spending priority as a rather expensive hobby, travel, or opening a business; and in order to do this need to make cuts in places others would not be willing to. I have friends that enjoy luxurious cruises a few times a year, but they are more than willing to make cuts on dining out (sharing an appetizer and a meal) and carefully shop for things they need (by looking for deals and often purchasing remanufactured items). They have found a mix that allows them to be happy and enjoy life to the fullest. By making day-to-day household reductions, you will be able to enjoy the larger expenditures that your family desires (vacations, furniture, entertainment, etc.).
- Save Energy – As the price of energy rises, we need to make reductions in our energy usage just to keep our same bill amount. There are many small and easy ways to use less. Some of them will cost nothing and others will be good investments for the future.
- Reduce Clutter – Reducing clutter in your home will help in many ways. You will be able to find what you need, so repurchasing items you already have is not necessary. Purchasing additional storage is also not needed. There are many options for ridding your home from unneeded items by reselling and giving to charity. Either way, you will be both helping out yourself and others.
- Frugal & Natural Cleaning – High priced cleaning supplies are some of the highest priced items we purchase on a regular basis. Many of these products can be made with inexpensive ingredients to both help out your grocery bill and reduce toxic chemicals in your home and environment.
- Frugal Cooking – By doing small things differently when grocery shopping and preparing food, you will be able to greatly benefit your bottom line.
- Working Together – Just a few generations ago, communities worked together and everyone benefited. By building a network of friends, you will be able to trade / barter chores and obtain the benefits our great-grandparents took for granite.
One of the best ways to have a happy and fulfilled life, is to maintain our health. We all know that eating right and exercise are important aspects, but dealing with our stressful lives is just as critical to our health and happiness. We are taught some of the basics of eating well in schools, with the food pyramid. But, with the typical American diet this has not been adequate. We not only have to educate ourselves about the benefits of more recently discovered findings (like fish oil, etc.), but also need to relearn the basics and try to break some bad habits. Exercise and fitness are also touched on in school. Although kickball isn’t something that most adults keep up with over the years, it is good for kids to get outdoors and have some physical activity. With today’s financial cutbacks, schools are cutting back on recess and PE that we always took for granite. This lack of physical activity in school and after school has led to unhealthy and actually obese children in our society. Not only do we need to teach our children to enjoy an active lifestyle and eat right (both great habits to have and more easily taught at an early age), we need to often discover for ourselves physical activity(s) that we enjoy and can stick with for life.
Frugal & Healthy Eating
With emphasis on healthy eating, most American’s need to concentrate on including high quality protein and adding more fruits and vegetables to their diets. Fast food, processed, and instant foods are all aspects of the typical American diet. The are all unhealthy (as seen in the movie “Fast Food Nation”) and not cost effective. There are many tips on how to attain this goal of a healthy and frugal diet. As with any balanced lifestyle, along with saving money in one area, there are some items we need to splurge on for our health and overall well-being.
First ask yourself if you really need that gym membership. Many people who join gyms join as part of a New Years resolution to lose those extra pounds quit going around February. The facilities count on the fact that most people who start out with those good intentions in January lose interest shortly thereafter, thus they are able to sell that same space over and over. If that gym environment is for you, you are one that enjoys the variety of equipment or services available, and you are able to stick with it, please do.
Any form of exercise that we can enjoy and be consistent with, is greatly important to our health, longevity, and quality of life. There are three aspects of fitness that are equally important to our overall health, aerobic training, strength training, and flexibility.
Most DIY concentrates on home repairs, but think of what was done in years past, making it yourself not only saves money, but give you more control over what products you use in your daily life
Make it yourself – when in high school many years ago, I wanted designer clothes. You may remember the late 70’s and early 80’s years of Dallas where everyone dressed up. I was able to achieve these same designer styles by sewing my own clothes with designer patterns and shopping for sales. This skill also came in very handy years later when I was an Army wife and needed a wardrobe of formal dresses. I was able to fit this need within my budget.
Think of the skills you have (or would like to have). These skills can be learned or further enhanced through resources available to us on the internet. We don’t have to rely on the skills our parents had, we can learn what we can from them and then reach out to discover other skills we may enjoy having. The possibilities are endless.
- Jewelry Making
- Picture Framing
- Soap Making
- Make your own makeup
Being a parent can be as expensive as it is rewarding. There are many ways to be frugal, and also teach the frugal lifestyle to your young one. Below are some tips to make your resources go farther. Just remember your time, encouragement, and being a good example for your children is invaluable to them. Material possessions are not as important by far.
Since children grow out of their clothes so fast, second hand clothing is often the best way to save. You will be surprised how many times consignment and thrift stores have children’s clothes brand new with the tags still on them.
- Thrift Shops (GoodWill, Salvation Army, etc)
- Garage Sales
- FreeCycling – (large bags and boxes of baby’s and children’s clothing are often given away)
Care needs to be taken when obtaining second hand toys, due to the frequent recalls. Since children often lose their interest in toys quickly, second hand toys are often a good deal and like new toys can easily be found.
- Consignment Stores – more expensive toys will often be taken to a consignment store where parents are looking to recoup some of their cost
- Thrift Shops (GoodWill, Salvation Army, etc) – not always a large source, but a good place to look
- Garage Sales – often one of the best sources for like new toys
- FreeCycling – it’s easy to ask for that toy you’re looking for before purchasing it
Toys can also be rented at RentBabyToys.com. For a variety of safe toys delivered to your door this may be the right solution for you.
- Toys are delivered to your doorstep for a monthly rental fee (currently $20 per month for 4 toys)
- Toys are sanitized and meet US safety standards
- Your child gets to try a variety of toys
Your wedding should be one of the most wonderful and memorable days of your life. In saying this that doesn’t have to mean the day has to be costly or materialistic. There are a number of major spending categories to consider when you’re planning your wedding. Some will mean more to one couple than another. By prioritizing what is important to the special couple (and not always the families), you can stay within your budget and have the wedding of your dreams.
First, decide on a budget. What can you both really afford? What is your family able to contribute to the big day? Also, think if there is special talent in your group of friends and family. For example, if you know of someone who is a photographer, this will help out greatly.
Next, prioritize the major expenses. What means the most to you? Formality or location of the ceremony? Size of the reception? Food? Flowers? Music? Dancing? Think about this as a couple and decide together. Write down your budget and priorities, then search for a solution to achieve each priority at the best cost. Flowers through a grocery store instead of a florist can be a good choice. I have a friend that wanted irises for her wedding and this is the only way they could afford them. It was a beautiful touch to their day. The dress is typically an expensive item, but by shopping in a small town nearby, I was able to get the dress of my dreams for a fraction of the price. There is usually a way to achieve the look and feel that you desire, you just may have to think creatively to get there.
Photo Credit: Mateusz Atroszko via stock.xchng