10 Tips for Frugal Living
"The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it." Proverbs 10:22
This is a timely subject considering the current economy issues. I hope that people who weren't living frugally before will now read these posts and gain tips to help them turn their spending around. Praise God, I married a very frugal man. Trust me...I don't feel that way everyday...but I do see it as God's blessing. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that I needed a husband who'd track my spending and keep me accountable. The awesome thing is...that He also helped me embrace frugality and truly enjoy saving. He's placed friends in my path to give me tips and encouragement.
So, here are my 10 Tips...
1. Keep track and keep organized. Know where your money is going. We were extreme when we started this...saved receipts...but now we know and don't have to be so intense. I was encouraged to see where the money I was saving was going, etc. It's no fun to be frugal if you don't feel it's helping.
2. It may surprise some of my friends to learn that I shop at thrift stores but...IT IS SO AWESOME. I wear name brands (Claiborne, Hilfiger, Abercrombie, Gap, etc.) and never go outside the thrift store. Some of them still have their tags on them ya'll! I buy shoes and bags the same way. It is so stinkin' cool to me to carry Italian leather bags I'd never get away with buying full price (Darren'd kill me) but get for $2.99 at Goodwill. Same with shoes. I've become so accustomed to shopping this way that it really bothers me to have to pay full price for something.
3. Price matching. I am a huge price matcher at Walmart. You can take an ad from anywhere and if they don't beat the ad price they'll give you the competitor's price for the item. I make out like a bandit when Kroger does 10 for 10. I love this for a number of reasons. I don't have to shop all over the city at multiple stores with two toddlers. Even when I can't beat Walmart's price with an ad...I know I got the lowest price. FYI--this doesn't apply to BOGO deals. Don't ask me why. I'm a big generic fan...especially when I can read that the ingredients are I.D..denticle!
4. Use coupons ONLY FOR THE ITEMS ON YOUR LIST. I know there are some awesome couponers out there. I'm not talking about Dealies with CVS and Walgreens, etc. cuz that's a whole other method in and of itself. If you have the time and energy...go for it...it's worked wonders for tons of my friends. I'm talking about getting sucked into the coupons selling you stuff you didn't need to begin with. So, if you find a coupon for something on your list...use it but don't just use coupons to try stuff out...'cuz usually you're losing money.
5. Plan menus. This keeps you from eating out and helps you keep your shelves and freezer organized. My method is to create the weeks menu on top of my grocery list. Keep your calendar handy...so you plan appropriate meals for the day's activities. Then I walk around the kitchen assessing what I need to complete that menu. I then sit down and look at ads to find price matches and coupon matches to the created list. According to my calculations this has saved me about $40 some weeks.
6. Make your own fun. We don't buy the kids toys. We save all wrappings, bottles, etc. and create our own fun. I make my own playdoh, soap paints, etc. Our kids aren't deprived...they do have toys from grandmas and grandpas, etc. We feel this is not only frugal but also will hopefully ward off "little consumerism." We don't want them thinking they are owed toys...and we want them to develop good imaginations.
7. Darren and I make our birthday and Christmas gifts for each other. We usually write letters or poetry. We talked about it...and knew we wanted to pay debt off, etc...and missed those early courting notes anyway! It works out great. For example, just to brag on my man....for my birthday Friday he created a scavenger hunt for me...each verse of a poem took me around the house...until I found my gift. My gift was a bunch of "coupons" for special lovey things. He did sort of cheat this birthday though...and brought home a bag of Dove chocolates...my favorite. I guess, we'll go easy on him! We've decided to celebrate Advent with the kids at Christmas. We really want to emphasize Christ's birth...so each child will get only one gift. We will talk about the ONE BIG GIFT of Jesus', have Jesus' birthday party, etc.
8. One date night a month. Wait, this is money out...how is that frugal? Well, it's an investment. I heard a funny quip once, "Pay for dates now, or pay for counseling later."
9. I've made all Caleb's baby food (exception of Rice Cereal) mostly due to his allergies. I was calculating though...and that's saved us a lot of money. There are all sorts of great baby food making tips out there. I love my book, "Super Baby Food."
10. Bless others. I love doing meals for new babies, getting hot cocoa for the Salvation Army bell ringers, etc. I truly believe that if we give as we are able...God blesses this. "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you." Duet. 16:17 Don't hold onto the money so hard it screams. It doesn't belong to you. Be wise...but remember it needs to be used for Jesus' as we tell our quarter hoarding three year old. All those quarters you "found" on Daddy's dresser are going to Jesus' on Sunday!