Let me begin by letting you know that there are a couple of things that we probably could cut back on . . . but we are willing to conscientiously budget (read - scrimp) to make it possible to enjoy these choices:
1) Catholic School tuition (note: we have decided to home school so this is no longer applicable!!)
You know those famous words of Erasmus? "When I get a little money, I buy books, and if any is left, I buy food and clothes." Well, I don't need any more clothes (as you will read about soon) We have watched our pennies
- out of necessity
- out of habit and
- to set a good example for our children.
"In being frugal or saving money, some important motives are to pay our bills, to take care of our families, to bless others, and, very importantly, to give to those who are in need. It's not to live selfishly."
OK -- here is our list. I'd love to hear your ideas on living more simply and frugally
1. We buy our cleaning supplies, personal care products, everyday consumable from Melaleuca. They are chemical free and priced below store brands. The company has an amazing grass roots kind of marketing. They only advertise through customers telling others. Since I was so impressed with the quality, price and integrity of this company I have passed the word along many times. The company rewards its loyal shoppers with thank you checks and free products. What is really cool is that it only works in your favor if you truly like the store. Other shoppers with Melaleuca have become friends of mine because we hold onto some of the same values:
quality fair pricing
integrity in management
concern for our family's health
concern for the environment
This saves a ton of money!
2. I have a basic, simple wardrobe. And I mean, SIMPLE.
Remember Garanimals? Mixing and matching sets of tops and bottoms? Well, my teaching job has a dress code (actually more of a uniform for me). This is great for my budget once all the basics are purchased.
Any "dress up" clothes are built around that basic "little black dress" concept.
3. I cook from scratch whenever possible.
4. We don't buy coffee-style drinks (frappa, rappa, tappa, mocha, or cappuccinos)
If you are buying from Starbucks you might want to read this, this and this. All in all, buying treats, drinks & coffee is extremely costly. I do stop in for a cup of freshly brewed coffee at Dunkin' Doughnuts or the local gas station when I need the caffeine in the car. I have concluded that giving up coffees & sodas is not only-money smart but health-smart.
5. We don't go to movies or arcade type places. Nor do we own a wii or playstation. Talk about money disappearing! And for what? Maybe some mind numbing, mindless "entertainment"?
We've always kept entertainment and activities simple.
Friends getting together to play is my first preference. Favorite activities include:
- playing outside
- a pick up game in the culd de sac (kickball and baseball have been most popular this summer)
- shooting hoops in the driveway
- playing "spy club" -- boys club and girls club are the opposing spy sides right now
- storytime Although this sounds like it might only be appealing to wee ones . . . . the age range is wider than you might guess. (5 to 11)
- swimming at the neighborhood pool
- riding bikes and scooters
- hide-and-go-seek in yards
- a game of catch (with friends or the dog!)
- football (Moms remind constantly -- no tackling!)
6. I don't go shopping for fun. This is actually very easy for me because I hate to shop, especially retail. I absolutely detest malls. I avoid stores that tempt me to buy things I don't need (like - Office Depot). If I find something I want to buy I try to make it a rule to w a i t.
If I put some time and space between that item and me it gives me a chance to decide if I really need it or just want it. On the other hand, I have a short list of things I am looking for and I won't settle for less that the quality and price I want.
Right now the list contains an ice cream maker and a nut grinder with a jar base.
"Fun shopping" exceptions to this are
- my ~about once-a-month stop at the Salvation Army (When preparing for a performance I have been known to visit The Salvation Army store once a week! The great finds for costumes and props are priceless. Then you can donate it right back to help someone else!)
- a quarterly visit to our neighborhood's used bookstore where you can trade books!
- the occasional garage sale
- recycling online
- a bit of eBay here and there
- the semi-annual Library book sales (especially the last day when you can hunt for finds at a whopping $1.00 a bag)
- Up north we had the coolest thrift shops. Honest! An amazing business woman actually wrote a book critiquing the various thrift stores. It became such a popular book that she then began running tours to the best ones - complete with fully planned excursions including quaint restaurants for lunch and tour buses and the works! Those kinds of thrift shops, with both the unusual and the quality items they contained, just do not exist here in this part of the south!
Recycle groups online
8. I buy VERY FEW disposable things like paper towels paper napkins, saran wrap, ziplock bags, paper plates or plastic cups, etc.
- We use cloth napkins. Everyone has a napkin ring and they re-use their napkins for a couple of days unless there is a stain, spill, etc. Most of the time they do get tossed in the laundry and we throw them in with the next wash.
- We use cloth rags for almost every kind of cleaning. These are made from old baby blankets, towels, t-shirts, etc.
- We use recycled glass jars for most storage - on shelves and in the frig.
- We wash and re-use plastic bags, aluminum foil, plastic cups, etc.
9. When we need a new major appliance or piece of furniture we look anywhere but retail first. Cases in point:
- Our refrigerator died about two years ago. We started our search (quickly) and replaced it with a used unit for $250.00
- Our stove/oven was ancient and quirky. The oven finally got STUCK closed on the "clean" mode. Not a good situation!! We had to turn off the power outside to Stop the silly thing. We bought a 3 year old unit from someone who was redecorating. The cost:
$175.00 plus some elbow grease to cut our counter a bit to make it fit.
- We needed a couch. I mean really needed a couch! The old one was from the 70s and not "antique material" -- just old and very worn out. It had been recovered once and, although we considered that option, it was a very expensive way to go! I found one (used, of course) for, after some negotiating, $135.00.
- We don't watch TV (no cable or hookup here, but we do have a TV we use for DVDs and one for VCRs)
- You'll find no big entertainment centers here with the latest and greatest new cool thing. We don't have a wii, Bose, Play Station, Xbox, etc. Although I would like a Bose.
- A neighbor handed down an old Nintendo unit and my youngest plays baseball and football video games with friends sometimes. The Nintendo is so old that it is "cool" again. Hahahaha!
- We DO have walkie talkies so that the kids are always in communication. Although our neighborhood is great we have lots of safety rules. Here are a few:
a supervising parent must be able to see you & be within earshot
you must stay with at least one buddy at all times
stay within the set boundaries
check in every 15 minutes (by walkie talkie) if I am not the supervising parent
These rules were not given all at one time. They started out when our kids first learned to walk. "Hold Mommy's hand when we are anywhere other than at home."
The rules have evolved giving more and more room for personal choices. As we access those choices the rules continue to evolve.
H/T to High Desert Home for the idea and outline for this post!