“Frugal” can be explained as stingy, penny-pinching, and tight. But for those with the conservative lifestyle, the word has an entirely different ring to it; thrifty, economical, and resourceful.
It could explain the type of person who likes freebies, when in fact nothing is actually free. Everything costs someone; labor, shipping, ideas, and just solid goods in general. But for most, “frugal” is a mentality of prioritizing, saving, and getting extra creative when you can’t have everything.
My family has learned the art of being frugal over a span of 6 years. In 2012 my husband and I were expecting our first baby, near the time of his second deployment. So I made the easy decision then, to quit work. As our family expanded, I continued to stay home. We always made it work, despite the occasional challenges. I feel strongly in being a part of our kids’ early childhood development and learning. And my husband’s been even more on-board after finding out what child care costs!
As a stay-at-home mom, I always felt like I wanted to contribute more. Finally 3 kids later, I’ve been able to take a couple of gigs that still allow me to be home 6-7 days a week. However, one of the best ways to contribute as a stay-at-home mom is to save a little cash. I wish I had stumbled upon an informative blog post then about frugal living.
I’m not a financial adviser, but here are some creative ways to help you save:
Tips for saving:
Monthly bills: Understand needs from wants
Needs: housing, electricity, propane, water, transportation/car(s), insurance, gas, phone(s), nutritional food, and medical services…
Don’t need: phone upgrades, apps, music, cable, fast food, alcohol, brand clothes, other luxury items…
- Think about switching your phone service to something month-to-month
- If you owe medical bills, ask if you can combine them for one payment or make lower payments
- If you feel you can’t go without cable or internet, try the lowest packages
- Hold off on stores that you get lost in (Wal-mart or Target, which pains me to say)
- Save going out to eat for special occasions or only a few times a year
- Don’t make any quick financial decisions; always take the time to research alternatives, think on it, & save
- Always ask for deals! (My marketing professor taught this and it’s worked)
- You can even get managers to mark down prices by offering cash today (This is one of Dave Ramsey’s fun little hacks which saved us $100 on our couch doing this)
At the grocery store: Understand marketing and don’t give in
- Meal plan, and stick to your list when grocery shopping. Stores are designed to get you to buy more (like candy being kept low at checkout aisles for kids to see)
- Look for simple recipes– extra seasonings/condiments can rack up the grocery bill
- Go to the store once a week to avoid temptations that you might have otherwise during extra stops
- Shop the same store every time so you don’t get lost and buy more
- Aldi isn’t just for poor people and elders, you get the best price without coupons
- Bring a calculator and cash only to help you stick to your budget
- Avoid buying junk food and freezer meals, which tend to cost more
- Bread, rice, noodles, and potatoes are affordable fillers for meals (you can atill opt. for healtheir versions like whole wheat)
- Eggs and peanut butter are affordable protein alternatives
- Buy healthy snacks apples, bananas, oranges, carrots, and other veggies. What would be more filling a $3-5 bag of chips or a $3-5 bag of apples?
- When meat at the grocery store goes on sale (and is worth the cost) stock up or buy meat in bulk from your local meat market
In the kitchen: Know how to make recipes from scratch
- Know how to make bread from scratch- Always have yeast and flour on hand
- Also, know how to make pizza dough, pancakes, and other similar recipes
- Keep tomato paste on hand for pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and tomato-based sauces/dips, sloppy joes…
- Know how to make other sauces- Alfredo sauce is so easy!
- Freeze broths from beef/pork roast, slow cooker chicken, or ham… (use in soup later)
- Boil the bones from your chicken, turkey, ham, etc. with water to make stock
- Refrigerate bacon grease drippings to substitute butter in savory dishes
- Divide those packs of chicken and freeze individually (use 1 breast per meal)
- Same for hamburger (I divide this into 1/2 lbs for when it’s just me and the kids)
- Meat is expensive, divide other roasts as well
- Grind up crusty bread to substitute panko or add to meatballs
- Freshen up leftovers by combining them to make a new dish
- Use browned fruits in smoothies, cooked oatmeal, or make a bread from it
Other areas to be frugal: How to get some help/support
- Gladly take hand-me down clothes, furniture, or appliances from a close friend or family member who doesn’t need them any more! My sister gives us all of the clothes my nephew’s grown out of. Thanks Sis! 😉
- Give your items that aren’t being used a new home. Or make some cash selling them for a low price online, or selling them at a second-hand shop.
- Instead of buying new books or movies, borrow from your local library
- Grow a garden in Spring (& share abundance with friends and family)
- Know about the free/low cost events/attractions near you including neat parks
- Know what other resources/benefits are available to you
That’s all for now!
There’s no shame in being resourceful or even asking for help from the right people. Just remember, that is their sacrifice to you. It’s a wonderful ability to reach out among humankind. I believe we were all made to lean on each other sooner or later.
Part of raising a family is sometimes needing to sacrifice. It’s hard because we can’t do it all. And even if we can afford it, we don’t have time for all of it.
Frugal living is just sacrificing for now. You’re just investing in yourself and your family.
For ideas of free summer activities see the bottom portion of 80+ Fun Summer Activities for the Family.
(Featured image from Pixabay user: Tumisu)