Frugal Made Easy: Part Four

Becoming more frugal can seem challenging for some.  It is definitely a lifestyle, a mindset, and an intention.  When a more frugal lifestyle is applied, however, it becomes involuntary and is highly rewarding.  It can even be liberating.

Our family’s path to frugality was born from a sheer hatred of our day jobs.  Let it be clearly understood that we are extremely thankful to have jobs, but that does not mean we have to like them.  Working everyday in a passionless pursuit makes punching a clock for “the man” heartbreaking at times.  But, we soldiered on…

Until one day…

We realized that we were indeed, very green and sustainable in a recycling kind of way, but we were sort of missing the “reduce and reuse” component of that circuit.

We took a HARD look at our lifestyle, which at the time we thought wasn’t all that compulsive; but indeed it was and there was a lot of room for change, growth, and efficiency.

So we set out to find frugality, wherever it was hiding, and we chased it all about our lives until we finally understood it, caught up with it, and became friends with it.

Friends with frugality.

Being frugal does not mean being cheap.  Being cheap is for jerks who are greedy and self-interested.  Being frugal does not always mean buying a lesser quality.  Sometimes it is frugal to buy the highest quality item with the knowledge that it will last 10 times longer than the inferior product.  Being frugal does not mean shivering all winter in your unheated house, eating only rice and beans and ramen.

Being frugal does mean making thoughtful and intentional purchases and making your own products when it is practical and prudent to do so.  It is reusing and re-purposing items before recycling them, creating a budget, and fine tuning your household to achieve more cost savings. Being frugal is being creative and making due with what you have, and sometimes it means intentionally going without. Being frugal can be gleaning, gardening, bartering and labor-trading. It can also be shopping around, saving up, and spending wisely.  Collectively, being frugal means celebrating all of your efforts because generally your time spent on frugality is less time spent ‘working for the man!’  Hooray for that.

I will ‘attempt’ to describe some frugal tips and tricks we have applied to our lifestyle over the years, and when I say ‘attempt’ I truly mean it, because it is hard to bottle up our whole life in a few blog posts.  We are not perfect, nor do we strive to be.  We have found a system that works for us, and if you are at a point in your life where you are interested in making a few small changes, some of these tips may be right for you.

I promise to do my very best if you promise to be patient…

I have put together a series on frugality with 5 installments. I hope you take away from them something you find helpful. If you are already solvent, perhaps you might share these tips with someone who isn’t?  That would be the frugal thing to do 🙂

Part Four: Frugal “Time”

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Our time on earth is short, and how I spend my time is very important to me.  I sometimes feel like I am always saving time to spend it, and at times, the cycle seems ridiculous. I have deemed it important though, because my time is valuable to me, is worth a lot, and often can’t be bought.  In evaluating how I would like to spend my time, I have looked for ways to save time doing chores.  Ugh.  I hate chores, and there are always so many of them!

I feel that in saving time where I can, I can spend more time with my family and friends, and more time on myself doing the things that I love.  Likewise, the ways I choose to spend my time (out of the home/garden) are usually free or low cost, because if they weren’t I’d spend more time working to pay for them.  To me, that makes no sense.

Each household operates differently, and it would be impossible to write a one-size-fits-all description of ways to save time around YOUR house, but I can tell you some ways I save time around mine.  In the time that I saved, when I am not out in the garden, I look for fun things to do around my town that are free or cheap, where we can hang out as a family.  (Or, if I am lucky, I can hang solo or with my girlfriends as a rare treat) 🙂

Save Time

  • De-Clutter!  It’s very important.  You can save a huge amount of time this way! I hate seeing clutter about and what I hate even more is picking it up, shuffling it around– and repeating.  If you can find a “home” for the things you use most, try to always put it back in it’s place once you’ve used it.  That way, you don’t have to spend and hour picking up the mess before you actually can clean.  The worst is wasting time looking for stuff!
  • Get Organized.  I hate wasting time spinning my wheels.  I (mentally) divide my chores up into daily maintenance and the bigger chores that only happen weekly or monthly.  Once I found a routine; it all went faster.   It doesn’t always work out of course, but I try to keep up.  That way I am not spending a whole entire day off doing the dreaded deeds.  I also try to stay organized with our bills, and I tend to them weekly and online.  (Save on stamps.  That must be why the post office is going broke).  Managing them this way makes them go quick, and that way I am not spending a few hours at once sorting them out.  I have organized them into a neat spread sheet so I know what I have paid and when, and can view the year at a glance.  This also helps me check for scandalous price increases (which my internet provider loves to do) and I don’t have to waste time looking up past invoices.  You get the idea…  There are also professionals out there who, if you can afford them, can come into your house and help you get organized.  It may be as simple as a filing cabinet, more shelving, cleaning out closets, a chore list, a spread sheet, etc.  Once simplified, your household chores become more manageable, allowing you more time for play!
  • Cook and Prep Food Ahead of Time.  This is a huge one for some people.  I personally do not subscribe to this one, but I totally get why people do it.  It can save a ton of time during the week and helps keep your family on a budget and eating healthy. One thing I do however, is get my breakfast ready the night before, so I can sleep later since I work very early in the morning.  I almost always have refrigerator oats, but I love to cook a quiche, oat cakes or a fritatta ahead of time too.   There are tons of food blogs that would love to help you implement menu planning, shopping lists and tips and tricks for weekly food prep.  A quick Google Blog search, (at Google’s home page click blogs and type your query into the search bar), will get you to the right place.  For me, I keep our family’s staples around and embellish them with different extras.  I try to have an idea for the next day or next few days.  I try to stick to a monthly budget an always try to make extra when I cook for left-overs.
  • Use Your Crock Pot More.  It is definitely my most under-utilized, yet most amazing kitchen resource when it comes to saving time cooking.  (I have just never been keen on following a recipe so I run out of ideas quickly for the gadget).  But how brilliant to huck it all in a pot and go, and when you return dinner’s ready.  Like some magical dinner fairy stopped by the house while you were out 🙂  (If you have awesome vegetarian or seafood crock pot ideas/recipes, PLEASE share them with me!)
  • Skip the ironing.  I thought ironing was a thing of the past until I met my coworker…  and my Mother-in-Law 🙂  I happen to hate ironing.  My tricks are to buy wrinkle-free clothing when possible, and to hang jeans and slacks by the bottom of the legs, so the waist band pulls the pants down, helping to keep them wrinkle free.  I also hang wrinkled clothes in the bathroom so when the shower is used, it helps to steam the wrinkles out. I have my dryer buzzer set to “super loud and annoying” and I try to fetch the clothes while they are still warm to prevent wrinkles and to also prevent having to wastefully run the dryer again to get the wrinkles out.  Usually, the clothes end up on my couch, but they are at least spread out and the wrinkle-prone items are folded or hung immediately.  (Everything else is a bed for my cat, according to her).  Thankfully, my job doesn’t require me to press my clothes, but my Husband’s does, so we try to avoid that time-consuming chore by buying wrinkle-free fabrics.  Clothes that have to be dry-cleaned are not allowed in our house 🙂
  • Use Time Saving Cleaning Techniques.  Things like making your own shower spray and using it after every time the shower is used will save you time by not having to deep clean the shower as often.  I also try to “clean as I go” when cooking, so there is less mess to clean up in the end.  When I am waiting for something to boil or cook on the stove, I am wiping a counter or doing a bit of dishes at the same time.  (Note:  whatever you do, DO NOT try to explain this concept to your Husband!)  🙂

 

Spend Time

Now for the fun part!  Once you have streamlined the things you have to get done, there is more time to spend having fun.  Except; “having fun” in today’s society usually equates to spending money.  Dear Husband and I try hard to find things to do for free or low-cost, so we can spend more time together and less time “at work.”  Years ago; bored with “dinner and a movie” and the costs incurred doing it, we sought other ways to have fun. Each city or area offers different activities, some hosting more free events than others.  The key is knowing where to look for these events.

  • Museums.  Many museums offer free admission, (or heavily discounted), once per month or more in some areas.  Check with your local museums for details.  These are often busy times at the museums, so plan accordingly.
  • Children’s Museums.  In addition, many Children’s Museums and other indoor play areas offer free admission once per month.  In my town, the event is called Free Friday Night, and is held the first Friday of the month.  I love that museums have these options, because museums are very special and everyone should get to experience them!
  • Get a Groupon or AmazonLocal deal.  These deals are great and are often for activities and steep discounts, often more than 50-75% are offered.  Bargains! Cool things we have usurped are: a half-priced wine tasting with free bottle of wine and hor d’oeuvres, half-priced bowling games with shoes, and a half-priced organic veggie delivery.  Groupons are awesome!
  • Get Familiar with Your Local Library!  A few months ago I suggested to my cousin that she go look for something in her local library and she said, “Huh? People still use libraries?”  I understand that in the information age, the internet has stolen a bit of the library’s thunder, but they are still a force to be reckoned with.  Libraries offer a multitude of free and fun things to do, and I am so VERY grateful for my library system.  Aside from borrowing books and DVD’s, they offer many services in the library itself that you can’t borrow; like access to genealogy research websites, tax prep help, “ask a librarian” service, and a free meeting room along with many other valuable services.  My favorite part of the library’s offerings is “Story Time,” where DH and I take our daughter to socialize, sing songs and do other fun baby activities.  Libraries offer many free classes, speakers and presentations, and DH have often made an “afternoon date” of attending them.  Spend some time exploring what your library has to offer.  You might be surprised.  Some libraries I have seen offer free passes to museums as well 🙂

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  • Parks and Recreation Classes.  My city’s Parks and Rec offers many free or low-cost classes and activities for children, adults and families.  It is a great way to try something new and network with your community’s resources.
  • Enjoy Your Local Parks.  Parks are great for a stroll, play time, to meet with friends, have a picnic, BBQ, play with the dogs, and just get fresh air.  Your taxes pay for them, so you might as well utilize them 🙂
  • Look for Free Concerts and Movies.  We are most fortunate in my city to have a free concert series every summer in a local park.  (This offering is dear to my heart, since it is the first “outing” DH and I took Sweet baby to).  In addition, another park hosts music and a free outdoor cinema series under the stars… like a drive-in, but with no cars.
  • Take a Hike.  Literally.  Hiking is a favorite pastime of ours.  When Sweet Baby was teeny-weeny, we took her on her very first hike through a wooded park here in town.  It was all we could muster at the time, and we loaded her in the Ergo and worked with what we had.  You can “hike” locally or outside of town, at any skill level for any duration of time.  It is free, rewarding and so very good for the mind, body and soul!
  • Join Meetup.com.One for every city and town, the website is a great way to meet people with similar interest and take part in free and low-cost activities.  A great way to make new friends, find supper clubs, hiking buddies, gaming buddies, etc.
  • Host a Game Night.  Who doesn’t love a good board game?  DH and I do, and we often need more players.
  •  Have a campfire.  One of my personal favorite past times, and those who know me well know that no campfire is complete without smores.  Yes, I indulge in the guilty pleasure of “white poison”  (white sugar, white flour), every so often.  I HAVE to have smores at a campfire.
  • Go Camping.  Even in Your Own Backyard.  If not well thought out, camping can definitely get expensive, and if funds and time are limited, there is always the backyard.  We plan to do this one soon, to do a practice run for Sweet Baby’s first camping trip.  “Practice camping?”  Ya.  That’s how we roll 🙂
  • Free Festivals.  Almost every community sets time aside to celebrate!  My community does it often and we love partaking in the festivities.  Next up for my family is Arts Walk, and the Procession of the Species Parade.  For us, it is a magical time where we dress up to celebrate and honor the season and nature.  This is Sweet Baby’s first time participating out of the womb, and she will make her debut as a ladybug 🙂  I will wear my butterfly wings I created a few years ago at the free art studio, (served by donations), that opens yearly to make Procession crafts.
  • Volunteer.  The ultimate free experience!  At a farm, a shelter, a food bank, a school, a nursing home.  This can be a great family/couples/solo activity that can be fun as well as a teachable moment.  There are millions of ways to make a lasting impact.  What will yours be?

Since every locale will be different, it can be hard to know where to look for ideas.  Bulletin boards, libraries, your local Chamber of Commerce and tourist information are great places to start to find the free community happenings.  The internet, and facebook especially, have great local pages with heaps of info about local happenings.  Once you get connected, the activities become so numerous you’ll have to pick and choose.

It is nice to get out and do something without having to worry about how much it costs; but sometimes, the best time spent is snuggling under a blanket with a special dinner and movie at home.  With a little creativity, the list of ways to save and spend time frugally grows quite long…

What are your time saving tips around the house?  In what ways do you spend your time, (besides gardening :)) that are free or cheap?  What amazing things does your town host for it’s citizens?  We would all love to know!

Please share your ideas with us in the comments below, or continue the conversation on my facebook page.

Note:  I will be pinning this to my Pinterest page so you can find it easily.

{This post is fourth in the series, “Frugal Made Easy.”  To read up on what other topics I’ve discussed and to start at the beginning, click here}

 

I Love Local! 

Shared with:  Frugal Crafty Home, Natural Living Monday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Wildcrafting Wednesday, LHITS DIY Linky

 

 

 

Sustain, Create and Flow

4 Comments

  1. I love that your frugal posts reflect a paradigm that many people are seeking and don’t know it: how to connect with themselves and their surroundings more deeply. Many people don’t even know why they feel unfulfilled and grasping, searching…I think these messages, while totally full of great tips simply for being more frugal, are also a pointer toward that realm of the thoughtful, reflective, and intuitive. It’s beautiful. <3

  2. Oh boy, did I so need to read this post! I am in desperate need of decluttering and organizing… I especially love the section on “spending time” in the most valuable ways. I am sure I will be re-visiting these wise words often!
    Thanks for another awesome poston NLM!!

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