Frugal Made Easy: Part Two

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 Two: Frugal Household

Frugal Bath

  • Save  your toilet paper tubes!  Aside from art projects, easy baby rattles or cat toys, tp tubes can be stuffed with dryer lint and used as a fire starter.  Camping, or at home.  Dryer lint from synthetic fabrics stinks when lit ablaze… FYI 🙂  If that is a problem for you, save only your dryer lint from cotton laundry like whites and towels.  I have also read that greasing the tube may help, but I haven’t tried that method myself.  Be sure to not stuff your tube too tightly.  Good airflow makes a good fire.
  • Flatten your tp tubes to use less each time.  You know where I got that idea?  A pit toilet at a campground.  They install the tp tubes on a square bar to make it hard to fetch the tp; resulting in less tp used.  Same concept when you flatten your tubes.

TP tricks

  • Use the oil cleansing method to wash your face, or at least remove your make-up.  Aside from being a healthier facial product, you will save a ton of money not buying expensive facial care products.  Those things add up in a hurry.  I also moisturize with rosehip seed oil, which admittedly isn’t cheap, but I only use less than a dime size amount each time so a micro-amount is going a long way, and I can use the rosehip seed oil around the house for other applications.  I definitely am not smearing my spendy face lotion on anything around here, that’s for sure.
  • Invest in (at least) a few essential oils.  Yet another example of a miniscule amount going a looooooong way!  Essential oils have so many practical uses around your home, from body care, to aromatherapy, to cleaning, laundry, bath time, an on and on…  A little stash of them will ease you into replacing products you might be buying now, like air freshener and dryer sheets.  Small savings everywhere will begin to add up.  Don’t over look something because the savings at the time may not seem significant.  Over time, and applied to all areas of your life, you will see a savings, but also you will feel rewarded for your efforts in realizing your life has become much more simple.
  • Make your own body care products.  Stocking your herbal pantry might be a big expense at first, but the amount of products you can make from your stash really pays off.  In making things like shave cream, conditioning rinse, herbal shampoo, herbal body sprays, lotions, homemade soap, toothpaste, deodorant, bug sprays and sunscreen, you really get a bang for your buck year round.  Furthermore, the piece of mind I get in knowing exactly what is in the products I am using on myself and my family is worth a million dollars!  Don’t be discouraged that creating these products might be too hard; I promise it’s not.  I’m just as busy as you are, can’t bake to save my life– and am generally challenged at following recipes.  I manage.  So can you 🙂
  • Felt around your bar of soap.  It makes your soap last longer, eliminates buying body wash, and reduces a bit of laundry by not having to use a wash cloth.  Just give each family member a bar of soap and some felt, and you have a fun and frugal family activity!
  • Wash your hair less!  (Yes, I totally just ‘went there.’)  It’s not a secret anymore that healthier hair is achieved with less washings.  Your scalp makes natural oils that are intended to be kept on your scalp.  Not washed down the drain–with the money you spent on those hair care products.
  • Another shocker– I shower every other day.  I save water; which to me is the most important part of “the savings,” but I save a bit on my water bill too.  My water is served by the City and the cost of  it ain’t cheap!  And no, I am not gross.

Frugal Heating and Electricity

  • Turn your heat down a few degrees.  Not off.  Remember, we’re not suffering to save.  But by adding a layer while inside really helps cut the cost of the heating bill.  We have turned our heat up a bit since Sweet Baby was born and both DH and I have been sweltering all winter because we’re not used to the heat.  I never realized how much we truly saved until we weren’t saving it.
  • If you have a fireplace, evaluate how much wood would cost for the winter and see if it is cheaper than paying your heating bill.  In some areas of the country it is very likely you can cut costs in this area.
  • For those heating with wood, cruise Craigslist after storms and look for free wood.  Homeowners are desperate to clean up fallen timber, most offering it up for free if you cut and haul.
  • Contact your local electric provider and ask for an energy efficiency evaluation.  In my county, this a free service called “Homeprint” where an employee comes to your house and evaluates your energy usage.  They make suggestions of ways to save and also give you free compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Switch to all CFL bulbs if you haven’t already.  They use 75 percent less energy and last ten times longer.  A win-win.
  • Use “smart” strips.  They are surge protecting power strips that turn off when the appliance isn’t being used.  Things like TV’s, DVD players, lamps etc, that aren’t being used all the time still draw power when plugged in.  Smart Strips have an auto-switching technology that only provides you power when you want it.  How does it work?  Who knows?  I’m not a scientist 🙂
  • Weatherproof.  Weather-proofing can be as easy as rolling a towel up and placing it in the jam of a drafty door. Or inexpensive weather stripping or door sweeps can help seal up entry doors.  Fill, patch, and caulk holes connected to unheated spaces.  (Don’t forget to check in the closets too).  Insulating does wonders for sequestering heat, as well as sealing up entry ways to unheated spaces like upper and lower floors and attics.  We have 1 single pane window left to replace in each of the bedrooms, and DH got some shrink to fit plastic that he applied around the window frame to provide an extra layer until we can replace those windows.  It has eliminated the need for an extra heater this year in our bedroom, and the kit was 6 bucks!
  • Replace super old appliances.  I totally subscribe to the “If it ain’t broke…” motto, but, sometimes it is more wise to replace appliances that are a huge drain on the energy budget.  There are many rebates to be had when getting a newer, more efficient appliances, and estimates suggest older appliances can cost 100 dollars a year to power.  This mostly speaks to that old fridge you’ve got in the garage that you only sorta use…well, it’s sorta expensive.

Frugal Laundry

  • Make your own laundry soap!  There are tons of recipes available, most using easy ingredients like grated bar soap, super washing soda, and borax.  Making a five gallon bucket is worth your time when it washes a load of laundry for pennies every time!
  • Use white vinegar instead of fabric softener.  Way cheaper and waaaay healthier.  Just add it to the reservoir reserved for fabric softener or if your washer doesn’t have one, fill a downy ball with it.
  • Use wool dryer balls.  Be super frugal and make your own.  Wool dryer balls reduce static and reduce drying time.  Plus, they’re really cool!
  • Make your own herb sachets.  Re-use the felt from your felted soap after the soap has been used up.  Cut open the felt and pour in some dried herbs from your garden and stitch up. Or, if you don’t have an herb garden yet, a great source for  dried herbs is here.  I also make herb sachets (and catnip toys) from old socks.
  • Line dry your clothes whenever possible.  There is something magical about hanging your clothes out on the line to dry.  I can’t explain it.  DH rigged up a redneck clothes line for us, suspended from the fence in the elbow.  Works for me, and we already had all of the materials!
  • Use essential oils on an old cloth or sock in the dryer in lieu of dryer sheets.

Essential Oils for Housekeeping

  • Wear your clothes twice to reduce laundry.  Mama appreciates it!  Wash when soiled, which isn’t usually after one wear.  You aren’t  being “dirty”– you’re being “smart.”  Don’t try telling this to a teenage girl though.  I would have never heard a moment of that rubbish at that age 🙂

Frugal Cleaning

  • Make your own cleaners.  There are countless recipes available, for any type of cleaning you can dream up.  In keeping just a few simple ingredients on hand, you will never need to buy a commercially produced toxic cleaner again. Did you know 2 T of baking soda in 1 C of water can clean your microwave without scrubbing?  Add them to a bowl and boil in the microwave.  Wipe out your freshly steamed microwave with a rag, and for stubborn stains dip the rag in the baking soda solution to wipe. ( I am not advocating the use of a microwave, but they do exist in the world and need to be cleaned).  You can also make soft scrub, furniture polish, glass cleaner and an all purpose cleaner. The latter by steeping orange peels in white vinegar for a work-horse of a spray.

Frugal Miscellany

  • Save your junk mail.  I’m not kidding.  I save a lot of the barely written on paper sent to us for scratch paper, fire starters, and kiddo drawing paper.  I have had the same ream of paper for my printer since I-don’t-know-when.
  • Phone books.  Yikes.  If you have to have those archaic things delivered, at least save the free magnets that are glued atop of them.  I paste a picture or artwork on them with a glue stick and have a simple and easy  fridge magnet.  This is actually one project that I “invented” myself and have never seen on Pinterest.  Don’t steal my idea!  🙂  (I’m sure someone else got to it first, but a girl can dream…)  If you want to opt-out of receiving phone books to be more environmentally frugal, go here.  If you live in Seattle, WA, go here.  I signed up for the national one– haven’t seen a phone book in a while.  I’m not sure if it works, but it does in Seattle, and we should all follow their lead.
  • Save the water you steamed your veggies in to water your houseplants with.  They will thank you later 🙂
  • Save yogurt cups for tupperware, art projects, to donate to schools for their art projects, etc.  If you buy single-serve yogurt cups, first ask yourself is this very frugal and then, challenge yourself to find a use for them.  A miniature game of beer pong comes to mind…
  • Save gift bags and tissue.  Nobody wraps anything anymore.  It all comes in gift bags.  Gather a stash and don’t spend extra on the gift wrap.  What else can you make gift wrap from?
  • Save old t-shirts to upcycle into baby dresses, quilt squares, and rags.
  • As aforementioned, I suggest quitting paper towels. It’s liberating, and fun when guests come, to use cloth napkins. Use scraps of cloth, cut squares and hem, or follow a fancy tutorial on how to make un-paper towels.  Keep one roll on hand at a time (so you’re not tempted) for poopy, fishy, meaty, yucky cleanup.

There are many more ways to keep a frugal household, I’m sure.  These are just some tips I have gleaned in my 30 short years.  Do you have any frugal household tips to share?  Add them to the comments below.  I especially want to hear from the Grandma’s of the world.  I didn’t get enough time with my own grandma to get frugal house tips from her, so all other grandma’s, I’d love to hear yours!

{ This post is second in the series, “Frugal Made Easy.”  You can find Part One here}

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that provide a small commission to me when purchases are made through that link–-at no extra cost to you. I only affiliate with companies whose products I personally use and can whole-heartedly recommend. Thank you for supporting Sustain, Create and Flow.

Shared with:  Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Frugal Crafty Home, Your Green Resource, LHITS DIY Linky, Fat Tuesday, Make Your Own Monday, Adorned From Above Blog Hop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22 Comments

  1. Gift Bags/boxes: re-use that junk mail and any paper bag or box. Let the kids find interesting pictures or patterns on the junk mail, cut and paste into a collage on the bag or box. Fun, easy, and so many variations….for example, use pictures of babies and baby items for a shower gift, use a color theme, an animal theme, etc. You can also use cookie cutters to trace on the junk mail and cut out interesting patterns in animal shapes, holiday shapes, etc.

  2. I. Love. Everything about this post. Especially the teenage girl shout-out. I have one and she thinks I’m a total nut job for all this and swears all my natural hair and skin care doesn’t work for her. I also glue photos to magnets. 😉 Great ideas here.

    • I am glad you get me on the teenage-girl thing! I just remember being that age and being obsessed with the weirdest stuff and thinking everyone else was so dumb. Thank goodness we/they grow out of it 🙂

      • The teenage daughter who scoffed at my frugal ways (and swore I was ruining her forever) is now the mother of my two darling granddaughters…..and has passed on to me some NEW savings tips, especially those involving internet freebies and product review sites and My Points…..just an example that you are correct….they do grow out of it!

  3. Great list! Here are my thrifty tips. I use those phone-book magnets, too! I do also use the phone books. 🙂 When we used to have a pet rabbit, each time a new phone book came we would give him the old one to turn into a big pile of shreds for playing in–he loved it.

  4. Love your tips! Especially about the TP rolls…never would have thought to squish them! Makes sense though. 🙂
    Thanks!!

  5. I am LOVING this series! And was happy to see that I am doing at least one thing on your list…..I save all our old clothes to be turned into other things later – you know – when I have time. (Ha!) But you have inspired me to use our old T-shirts for unpapertowels/dinner napkins instead of making a quilt. I think it will be much cooler to see our old concert tee shirts on the table at dinner, and as a bonus, will promote great converstation with friends! 🙂 I will also now be making washable sandwich bags. While not specifically mentioned in THIS post (I think it was in Part I), I do hate throwing sandwich bags away. Thanks!!

  6. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back tomorrow when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂

  7. I make cloth napkins for the table, but to replace paper towels, I picked up a couple of those big packs of cheap washcloths you can get at Wal-Mart or Target (usually like 18 washcloths for around $5). They are kept in one accessible to _everyone_ location on each floor…and even my 1 year-old knows to get one if there’s a mess to clean! And he loves the chore of putting the clean ones away. 🙂 I don’t bother folding these–too much like work. Also my homemade cloth wipes work well as hankies for runny-nosed kids. Otherwise, with 3 little ones, we’d be buying stock in a tissue company!

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