This morning I was reading through the blogs I have earmarked on the right side of this page and came across Rural Revolution: Frugal Tips. Mrs. Lewis then challenged other blog writers to post their own list of frugal tips and ideas! I am incredibly excited to read what others have posted!
Here is what we do and what we plan to do:
1. I wash out and reuse plastic storage bags and containers. Most people treat them as disposable, but I find they can be used several times before they are not useful anymore!
2. We really have cut down on using disposable items, but the big two that have made a huge difference is paper towels and plastic wrap. We use rags and towels instead for paper towels. My last plastic wrap roll lasted me 7-8 years. When I ran out this time I didn't buy anymore. Instead, I bought a package of six "shower-cap looking" plastic food covers ($1 at Dollar General). These are washable and reusable for a very long time too!
3. We swap babysitting services whenever we can. This is a win-win for everyone!
4. We also like to carpool to away ball games when we can. As long as everyone takes turns, we all save gas money and have great conversations on the way!
5. I like to hang my laundry if possible. I have one huge drying rack that can hold a load of laundry in the basement that I use a lot. I don't like to use my dryer unless I am washing multiple loads in a weekend and the weather is not conducive to hanging clothes outside (in Iowa this happens!)
6. I make all my own bread and snacks for the household. If you see me buying a loaf of bread, you know how bad my week has gotten!
7. I get free books from Amazon for my Kindle. The free books are a wonderful God-send for my Kindle and ever-growing book addiction!
8. We buy a lot of our clothes from thrift shops and secondhand stores. If we have to buy from a retail store, we shop clearance racks and use coupons/gift cards.
9. We are trying to grow and preserve most of our own produce by gardening, farmers markets, and gleaning.
10. Buying in bulk is a huge money-saver for me. Just be careful to watch prices and to price items out by unit (ounces, packages, pounds).
11. We don't eat out unless we absolutely can not avoid it. This does happen on trips that plans go awry or I am super busy and did not plan ahead. Occasionally we do eat out as a treat or to celebrate, but not very often.
12. I make my own cleaners and laundry detergent. I usually save a ton of money because I have everything I need to make the cleaning items on hand. I also like the idea that they are not chemically loaded!
13. I take leftovers or brown bag for lunches at work. Eating out every lunch can and will cost me $5-7 each time. This is an expense I need to avoid!
14. I like to make a big batch of pancakes or french toast when I make them for supper so we can enjoy them for breakfast for a few days. They reheat so easy and are a great change from oatmeal, toast, and cereal.
15. In my home office and work office, we use the back of papers for scratch paper. We either tear them up into scratch pad size or use them in the printer.
16. Graciously except free stuff from family and friends! We have been so blessed over the years with free furniture, produce, clothes and toys. Be sure to return the favor in some way!
17. I like to make my own seasoning mixes, sauces, and mixes. I find making these things from scratch only costs pennies sometimes and they are a lot healthier for you too!
18. Barter goods and services! I find this a great way to be frugal and get something done too!
19. Say no to your kids and yourself! Kids do not need everything they think they do. By saying no to them now, I know as adults they will be able better discern needs and wants. We discuss what is a need and a want. We also discuss money and how we might not have the money for that item. I also encourage them (especially the teens!) to purchase their own things if they want them. I am surprised by what they decided to buy and not to buy. They are also thrift store shoppers which will help them in the long run! Remember, as adults we need to say no to ourselves too!
20. Introduce the kids to cheap entertainment. My kids all like to read and can read for hours if they want. They also like to play games, play outside, hang out together, have friends over to hang out, play with homemade play dough, paint, make things, bake, ride bikes, etc. The list is endless, but they can entertain themselves. We do have DVDs, a Netflix subscription, and a Wii that was given to us also, but they do these activities more than the watching the TV.
21. I can't say this one enough. Stockpile! I buy what we need and what we can afford as cheaply as possible. Stockpiling has seen our family through the leanest times and continues to be a mainstay for me.
22. We try to develop skills to be able to do things ourselves. Otherwise, find family members who can for you and learn from them! I learned how to hand mend clothes myself. This has saved me a ton of money and my kids go out the door looking like they have a home! On the other hand, I cannot patch jeans or alter clothes. My former MIL can and does patch the kids' pants for me. My mom can alter almost anything like Shali's prom dress last spring. My hope is to get a working sewing machine so I can learn these valuable skills as well as sew some of our own clothes.
23. I keep an eye out when I go to thrift shops and garage sales for excellent condition gifts for the kids. I have saved a ton of money doing this and am continually surprised by what I may find!
24. Something I am starting this fall is composting and making my own mulch for the garden. I spent a lot of money on mulch last spring when I could have made my own. The compost pile will be an excellent addition to getting nutrients into the garden.
25. Shop to always get the best deals. Also do not impulse shop! I usually have a grocery list with the sales I am interested in listed and what I need to buy. I shop using the loss leaders on the grocery store ad as well as use coupons if I have them. I like to shop stores like Aldis for the best deals. If I know I am going to be shopping at Target or Kohls, I look for coupons and discount codes to use at check-out. I also try not to be brand loyal, but to shop generic or for the best deal.
What I can't emphasize enough is this: Being frugal takes work. I am constantly reading, learning, researching, and working to stay frugal. You can not be afraid of working hard to save money. Eventually being frugal becomes easier, but you have to put in the work.
Thanks for reading,