Tuesday, April 01, 2008

More Frugal Ideas

"Room to Breathe" by Susan Rios

As a follow-up to the previous article, here are a few more frugal tips that can really help you keep your money and keep it from going out the door.

The first thing to go when you are out of money, or trying not to spend money, are non-food items. The only paper product you must have is toilet paper. You can live without paper towels or even napkins. If you can get them for such a small price that it won't affect your income, do use them, but generally when times are tough, the first thing to eliminate is all the non-food products. In most places, the large trash bags are a necessary expense, but you can be careful to fill them more adequately and not let a bag go out to the curb unless you have emptied all the trash from the house into it. When you shop, look for foods that do not have a lot of packaging.

You can get containers with lids at the dollar store, or reject store, instead of spending money on plastic wraps and plastic bags, which you only throw away. If you have to pack lunches, containers contain the food much better and give you more use for the price.

Learn to look after all your belongings. Books that have been dropped or left on the floor will have broken bindings. Develop a sense of respect for everything from your chairs to your vacuum cleaner. Don't jerk things or bang them against things. Handle everything carefully and with grace. They will last much longer and you won't have to replace them. I have decided not to replace a lot of small appliances because it frees up space in my kitchen if I stir the batter with a wooden spoon and chop food myself with a chopping board, however, if I do have an appliance, I want to treat it carefully to get the most life out of it. Do not tug at bedding or pull clothing out of the closet. Pull out drawers and open cabinets more carefully. This is just good stewardship.

As in the previous article, eliminate complaining. Only build up and create ideas for living beautifully without spending.

For the most part, do not pay for things you cannot own. There are of course, some expenses you cannot "touch," which will be necessary, but many of the things we pay for are not real. There are high costs that give you very little in return, and in fact, will enslave you for a long time, trying to work to pay for them. I remember once being with some friends, who liked to drink. They were buying cases of beer and then laughing at one of the women with us because she bought a small coffee table she had always wanted. She looked straight at them and told them the cost of her table was exactly the cost of their combined cases of beer. "Where will your drinks be in 5 years?" she asked. They soon shut up. In 5 years, she still had the little table and had repainted it several times. People offerred to buy it from her at twice the price. I don't think you could do that with beer or cigarettes.

Sometimes newspaper subscriptions are a big drain on your budget but you do not see it right away. Where are those papers at the end of a year? Would you like to have a hundred dollars in your pocket instead of 365 days of newsprint sitting on your back porch? You can't re-sell them. The same goes for a lot of magazines. Just pick the ones you like and intend to keep in your library.

To some people, living with thrift is like challenging game. They enjoy it and are enriched by it. They gain more confidence in the future because they are securing their income and preventing it from flying away with the wind.

Another thing to eliminate is all junk food. Soda pop is not necessary, and neither are chips of any kind. Once you stop buying the cans and bottles of fizzy pop, you will have have more time, because you won't have to take those extra steps to recycle the containers. You will be in better health without the junk food, anyway.

You can get frames, trays, baskets, planters, and all kinds of hard-goods at your used stores, junk stores, Goodwills, etc. and paint them with ordinary craft paint. Make matching sets for your house and you will feel you are living rich. As long as things are clean and smell fresh, you do not need to appear to be in reduced circumstances. Read "The Wife" by Washington Irving, for inspiration, on the sidebar under "Theme Articles." The wife in this story, from the 1800's, is someone who found herself losing the lavish lifestyle she and her husband were accustomed to. Instead of finding her unresponsive and sullen, when the husband got home from work, she was happily making a cozy nest out of the run-down place they had removed to.

When things do get better, you'll have very good habits ingrained in you, and be able to use money to really help someone and to make your own future and the future of your loved ones secure.


Humble wife said...

I have enjoyed the post on living frugal!

Due to an accident my husband had 3 years ago, we have been blessed with the opportunity of seeing how one can be joyful and appreciative of our situation, no matter what. We now live on 2/3 less than we did 3 years ago! I am amazed at the tips such as you mentioned and many others that have saved us so very much in our home.

Thank you for taking the time to be such a light in the blog world.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for more great ideas. I have, over the years, worked to rid our income of draining expense, many you mention in this article. I don't miss them. In fact, each of our moves around the country has become progressively more difficult due to the amount of things we have accumulated.

Several times a year I reach my limit of clutter and go on a rampage of de-clutter. As I haul off bags and boxes of "stuff" I grieve that we spent all that money to begin with on stuff that has been in a box since whenever move and never seen the light of day since. (It is liberating to get rid of it and bless others with it --- and have the space back!)

Thank you for the encouragement!

*~Tamara~* said...

Very true, Lady Lydia, and thank you for these articles on frugality. I've been listening to people talk and also reading some blogs and it seems more and more people are tightening their purse strings, so to speak. It's a sign of the times, for sure. But I also think it is just common sense and maybe some of the frugal notions will "stick" when times aren't so lean.

Have a beautiful day!

~~Deby said...

Thank you for the wisdom that you write about.
I would add to that STAY HOME, shopping should not be your hobby, it is like putting a diabetic in a candy store.Our society has such a shop till you drop mentality whilst the home is falling apart and the credit cards balances are sky rocketing.
A wonderful post, once again.

Lydia said...

For the lady who wrote about cluttr on another post:

I grew up in a large family. My father had to have an uncluttered floor, so that he would not fall and get laid up. We would lose our breadwinner if he got injured on a toy or some other item. My mother would pick up things but as we got older she would confiscate them if they were left on the floor or lying around cluttering up areas that my parents needed. Sometimes things would get broken--personal belongings that were treasures to us, but we were not allowed to blame the one who stepped on it, took it, or used it. If we left it out, it was our fault, even if the other person did wrong. We learned very quickly to hide our own belongings. Mother would put them away and we might or might not see it again. Anything she had to pick up more than once went bye-bye in to the box she kept somewhere. It takes vigilance on part of the mother, if you mean business about the clutter. People have to pick up as they go and cannot just lay things here and there. Everything has to have a place when there are a lot of people in the home.
When my children were growing up I would stop my sewing every so often and do a clean sweep through the house with an eye for the aisles. The hallways and aisles had to be clear so that no one would get hurt on anything. Teaching children to care for things is not easy but it pays off much later. If you do not do so, by the time they are teens it becomes a huge problem. When they leave a room, there should not be any evidence they were there. Ask them to play detective: could they find proof that someone was in that room---the empty pop can, the pulled off socks, the toys, etc. are major clues as to who the culprit was. No one should be able to tell a child was in a room unless the room was made better. As my children grew older I noticed little neatening "touches"--a fluffed pillow, a stack of books arranged nicely, a cleaned off table, etc. that suggested someone had been there--but that is the kind of good crime you want in your house. You have to keep on to them until the battle is won. Yes they will get tired of hearing your voice, but if they don't want to hear it anymore, all they have to do is put their things away. All you have to do is take a look at what is going on. What is the worst clutter problem? Coats that cant reach the hangers Put lower hooks so they can be hung easily. Towels not hung up? Again, add lower hooks. Toys strewn about? Leave one toy and put the others away and don't get them out again. The mother controls the home if she will only do so. She has the power to determine what will or not be done there. She has the responsibility to guard the home against clutter and guide it into neatness and she must do so, for it will not do it by itself and I doubt the husband is going to take up the call.

Lydia said...

Deby, I'll add that comment to the main article.

The Proverbs Wife said...

You always share such great wisdom. I thought that you had taken a peak into my life.

I do just about everything that you've named. I am so much more at peace with the way that I live life now.

My husband and I will be done to our final debt in two months and even when we are totally debt free, I wouldn't go back to the way that we used to live.

I love the my simple life.

Anonymous said...

This is so timely for me. We're down to one income for the first time in years, and I'm homeschooling my children now. Never has frugality been so important in my life. These are terrific ideas, and I also thank you for the comment on children and clutter. We have a huge problem with it right now. With my working, we were not diligent about making them pick up, because we thought evenings needed to be down time. That was a mistake, and, now, I need to model this for them and teach them how to take care of their things.

Thanks for both of these frugality posts. Great information and inspiration!!

Mrs. V. said...

Amen Lady Lydia! Another rule that I raise my children by is that if you lose or break a toy, you do not get a new one! My daughter has learned this lesson well, but my son is still learning. When he does not take care of something he will still turn and say we can get a new one. Um....NO!!! If you don't take care of it and it doesn't mean enough to you for you to take care of it - you do not get another one!

Anonymous said...

Great! Very helpful. Thank you very much! :)


Lydia said...

regarding posts in the skin: these are rings and studs. The skin is pierced. That is entirely unnecessary, causes health roblems, and later on when a person matures, they can be left with scars and stretched areas of the skin particularly the ears. It is costly and the money could be spent on a real need. Tattoes are not necessary either. These expenses use up money that could be used for things for the home.

Anonymous said...

Cell phones were a huge drain on our budget until recently when we stopped using them. Talking about having nothing to show for your money!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you for your website. I check it almost daily because your articles always encourage and inspire me. I am not a skilled homemaker. Doing routine tasks that homekeeping requires is difficult for me. At the risk of sounding sexist: I tend to think like a man and see like a man. I overlook piles of clutter because my eyes quickly accustom to them. It is, however, my desire to change, and your wonderful insights have been a great help to me. I am still in the process of training my eyes to see the ugliness and disharmony of clutter and then act to change it.
Again, thank you for sharing.
Diane Austin

Anonymous said...

Another terrific post! To Diane who is in the process of training her eyes to see the "ugliness and disharmony of clutter"-Take pictures of the rooms in your house (as they are right now.) You'd be suprised at what you see through the impersonal eyes of a camera! I have done this in the past, and it provides not only a honest look at your house, but also a good perspective on how you may want your rooms to look.



Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

Very good post with a lot of wisdom to it. :)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to respond to your comment about the clutter in a home. You could not be more correct! We mothers DO control what happens, & we have no one but ourselves to blame for a messy home if children are not taught to put things away, clean up after themselves, & so forth. I have heard a few of my friends say, "I don't know why they (meaning the kids) don't pick up their clothes"...but they, themselves, don't look at their own habits. Where is the good example? I remember my mother saying that not instilling & fostering good habits in one's children was akin to child abuse, because it affected them adversely once they had grown up. I used to think to myself, "Isn't that a bit extreme?", but maybe she was on to something!

Wonderful grouping of posts these past couple of days...thank you!


Daisy said...

I'm a newcomer to your blog and I appreciate your insight.

I liked one of the comments about on the freedom that lack of clutter brings.

Also, in our ever changing economic times, being responsible and a good steward with what we have now will help as we weather the impending recession.

Anonymous said...

Your frugality posts are so wonderful AND practical! Thanks for taking the time to share this great information with us.


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I love this post. In some ways inflation and such is a time to take a close look at our lifestyle and the choices we make.

Just this morning I found myself going through the drive thru at McDonald's so my son could snarf down a sandwich in the two minutes we had left to get him to work.

I went away wondering why in the world I did that? I was out $5.00, the food was not enjoyable, and I was so tense from the FIFTEEN minute wait in the drive thru (there was some kind of problem, obviously).

All I had to do was get him up a little earlier and make breakfast at home. Next time I'm tempted with take out, I will remember this morning... and still have $5.00 in my pocket (that was McDonald's prices for one meal!).

MadeByAmanda said...

About not buying napkins - for $1, which is about the cost of a pack of napkins, you can buy a yard of fabric and make six or eight cloth napkins. It doesn't take long, and they can be tossed in the washer with whatever load of clothes is washing. They can also do all the "wiping up" jobs that paper towels do.

If you have an old cotton sheet or pillow case (or even clothing, I suppose), you don't even have to buy the fabric.

Lydia said...

This is such a good idea...I have done it before. One way to improve on it, though, would be to put the person's initial or name on the napkin, and leave it at their place for next time. They aren't always soiled enough to put in the laundry. If you have all three meals and more at home, they can last a day on the table.