Frugality in general terms
I've been getting requests for more blog posts about frugality. I actually don't really have many new tips on this topic -- at least, none that seem worth sharing at the moment.
We're still living frugally, but it's not very glamorous at times. We're just plugging along, I guess. :)
I think one of the main things I've learned about being frugal or saving money is that it requires waiting. A lot of waiting. The longer you wait, you have a much greater chance of coming up with a creative way to meet your needs.
The more you wait, the more you grow accustomed to waiting... and the things you needed become less important -- at times -- unless it is a true NEED, and then as you wait, it becomes more important instead of less important, and you end up appreciating it even more! :)
If you want to find ways to save money, you first need to know where your money is going.
If everything you currently purchase seems like a need, then select something that you think you could live without for a week (or two). Do without it for that amount of time, and then ask yourself if you could go even longer without it. If another week (or two!) wouldn't be the end of the world, then hold off. I find it's best to try this with things that you have run out of.
For example, if you want to try doing without paper napkins, it's much easier to be completely out of them, because when a "need" for one arises, that need must be met in a different manner. In the case of paper napkins, I found some cloth napkins at a rummage sale. We used up our current package of paper napkins and didn't buy more. Since the cloth napkins were more bother to use (because of needing laundered), we found ourselves using them less frequently. Now, we only use napkins when we have guests. We don't feel like we "need" them anymore! But I can tell you that using cloth napkins for your guests will make them feel very special!! :)
I also don't buy garbage bags. We used to get large trash bags for free from a relative who "rescued" them from the trash bin at work. ;) However, when we no longer got large bags for free, I switched to using a smaller trash can in our kitchen, and now we use grocery bags in all of our trash cans. I have to empty the trash can more often, of course, but it's really not much more bother, and grocery bags are free (since I have someone who saves their bags for me, while I shop mostly at Aldi's and don't come home with bags from shopping!).
Before Ruth was born, Joshua and I bought a package of paper plates, paper bowls, paper napkins, and plastic cups. I could hardly believe how much it all came to -- along with the newborn disposable diapers we bought! And honestly, I didn't really even enjoy the disposable stuff like I thought I would. We have so many paper napkins left! That bag will probably last us a year or two! I guess we're just used to real things.
But anyway, I mentioned those things because sometimes it seems like a little purchase here and there doesn't add up to much. But when we bought that stuff all at once, I realized how expensive it really was!
Another personal example is using lotion. I used to need (and I do mean NEED!) lotion on my hands almost constantly. When I used the last of my lotion, I didn't buy more. I found a substitute (olive oil instead!) and then employed measures to reduce the need -- like wearing rubber gloves while washing the dishes. When once I couldn't go more than a couple of hours without lotion, I was eventually going all day with just a few drops of olive oil.
Along with finding items that I can completely eliminate (which, by the way, is a wonderful clutter-reducing way to save money!), I also look for ways to use less of the necessities.
For example, I used to wash my hair at least every other day. I gradually stretched that time and my hair adjusted (less oil production). Now I wash my hair every 4 days. This saves time and automatically cuts my shampoo and conditioner usage in half.
We also wear our clothes more than once before washing. Obviously, if an article of clothing is really soiled, I'll put on something clean. But the children usually wear their clothes for at least 2 days. (I use my nose to determine when a piece of clothing goes into the wash!) Less laundry = less work and less expense (soap, water, wear on the washer).
You'll have to try different things and see what works for you, but these are just a couple examples of how to find things you can cut back on.
Another great way to save money is to not go shopping (or at least, not as often, since groceries are a true necessity!) and stay home more.
I shop at second-hand stores or rummage sales a few times a year (I admit that I would go more frequently if it weren't for the challenge of taking little ones along!) and usually make it to some garage sales each summer (often walking to ones in our neighborhood, to save gas and get exercise!). I wear my clothes until they are worn out... and in the mean time, I look for replacements second-hand. I very rarely order anything online.
We also save gas by staying home more, and eliminate the temptation to eat out (since staying home allow more time to prepare meals!).
It's hard to remember all the things we're so accustomed to not doing.
We haven't rented a movie in ages. We eat out just a couple of times each year. We do all our own hair cuts.
I don't spend money on perfume, make-up, jewelry, or personal care items like lotions, shaving gel, disposable feminine products, or most any of the things sold in that section of the store -- I don't even know what all is out there. I don't get those items for free using coupons and such, though I think it's great when I hear of others getting good deals on those things. For me, not using these items is the simplest and easiest way to go. This is for various reasons such as allergies, health, and personal preference as well as frugality.
We don't go out for entertainment very often at all. I don't think zoos, museums, traveling, etc. are bad, and I loved taking Yehoshua and Eliyahu to the zoo last summer! But it was expensive. Forty dollars for admission and then the cost of gas to drive there... our budget just doesn't have room for a lot of this type of thing.
I also love to keep things simple, and have found that a lot of the things we "do without" free up time and space in our home.
And truly, I have always found nicer clothing and things second-hand than I could ever find or afford from a store.
Hopefully these general suggestions and ideas are even more helpful than my own tips. Our homes probably run a lot differently, but if you use these principles, you can find your own ways to cut back.
As always, take it slow. Don't switch to cloth everything and line-drying everything all in one week, unless you really are bored or something. ;) Change one thing at a time, and it'll be painless. :)
And on a personal note -- some of my frugal winter doings...
Since it's still winter time here, so almost all of our laundry has been getting dried on my wooden rack in the living room. I am looking forward to warm sunny days when I can hang clothes outdoors again! :)
I've also been using my new homemade cloth diapers for Ruth! I had been saving them for when my current cloth diapers wore out. Most of my cloth diapers were inexpensive (i.e. low quality) ones that were given to me when Yehoshua was born. After almost 4 years of use, they were really wearing out! Aside from the holes and such, the diapers were so thin that I had to use at least 2 just for a light daytime diaper.
When Ruth was born, I used all the old diapers one last time and then they became rags/trash (some were too worn out to be much use as rags). I've been enjoying the nice, thick, soft diapers.
We used disposable diapers for a couple of weeks after Ruth's birth, but I honestly did not like them in the least! I could never tell when they were wet (until they were saturated), they leaked, they stunk, they weren't soft or comfy, and they were expensive!! I guess I had forgotten just how much nicer cloth diapers are, and I was so thankful when we were back to using cloth! :)
I also switched to cloth pads for myself (though with being pregnant or nursing for all of the last 4+ years, I have been blessed with fewer times of need in this area). I have been really pleased with this change, and of course it was done frugally, utilizing some inexpensive wash cloths, at the suggestion and example of a creative friend of mine. :)
If you can sew, there is lots of info online about making cloth pads -- just use Google. :) I opted not to go the sewing route due to time as well as the expense of fabric, but all you more sophisticated ladies might prefer the "fancy" way of doing things. ;)
So... that's what I've been up to. I'd love to hear about your latest change towards more frugality! :)
Also, be sure to check out the other frugal posts linked over at Crystal's blog! :)