Category Archives: Frugal Living

How to Improve Your Life with a Frugal Lifestyle

Sometimes frugal living is a choice and sometimes it isn’t (or at least not our first choice). Maybe you’ve started a family and want to be able to stay home with your children but have always relied on two incomes. Families have been struggling through economic hard times over the last few years and during that time, many people found themselves unemployed or underemployed.  It can be scary. The time to adopt the frugal lifestyle is when it is still a choice.  It gives you the opportunity to decide what’s important to you and what isn’t.

So the next question is, how do I do this? The first thing that you need to understand is that frugal living, at least for me, is the ability to be more reliant on myself and live a simpler lifestyle.  A side benefit of that is that it takes less money to do that. It’s not about going without the things you love. It’s about finding the best way to have or do the things you love.

Let me give you an example. I love cooking with fresh herbs. Fresh herbs can be pricy. My solution was to grow my own.. I didn’t do this because I can’t afford to buy them.  I did it because I don’t see the value in buying them. Not only was it a quick, easy and inexpensive project but it added a decorative element to my deck in the warmer months. I started my herb garden with plants from my local greenhouse but I could have very easily started from seed at a lower cost with the same results. Now, I have all the fresh herbs that I need and it doesn’t cost  me anything more than a little time to take care of them. Let’s take this one step further. I can grow more plants with clippings from my current plants. Now I have some lovely gifts to give. I have friends and family who love to cook and would be appreciative of this type of gift.  It makes a great hostess gift when visiting friends. The possibilities are endless. Did this change make my life better? Yes it did.  Was it a major lifestyle change. No it wasn’t. I didn’t have to give up something I loved. I just found a better way to do it.

When I decided to live a more frugal lifestyle the first thing I did was take an inventory.  What was I spending my money and my time on.  Time is just as valuable a commodity when choosing a simpler lifestyle.  The next step was to see where I could make better choices.

Start with the incidentals. Do you stop and buy coffee every morning on your way to work? Look at why. Do I stop and get that coffee because it’s my favorite part of the day or do I stop and get coffee because I don’t have time to make my own? If it’s because I don’t have time to make my own then look at why. Am I trying to get too much done in the morning? Maybe the easiest thing to cut out of the routine is making coffee to bring to work. See if there is something that you can move to the night before. If it’s the best part of your day and it’s something that you love then continue to buy your coffee on your way to work. Remember that it’s all about making choices and not about doing without. If you’re not sure which it is then why not try making your coffee every day for a week instead of stopping to buy a cup. Maybe you’ll enjoy your coffee more because you’ve made it exactly the way you like it.  Now you have one less stop to make in the morning. Think about how many times you’ve stopped for coffee and the order wasn’t right. You know exactly what you like so your coffee will be “as ordered” every day. Pick up a good quality travel mug that you can use every day. HERE  is a favorite mug of mine. You can buy the travel mug with the money you saved over that “homemade” coffee week. If you enjoy your coffee that week then continue to make it at home and throw that $10 (or whatever it is that you spend buying coffee) into your emergency fund. You’ve just grown your emergency fund by $500 a year (for other easy ways to fund your emergency fund, click HERE.) without taking anything away.

After you look at your incidentals, take a look at your regular monthly expenses. Television costs continue to rise and also continue to be a bit of a hot button. Broadcasters charge more and more so that your cable company has the ability to retransmit their programming to you. There are lots of options our there to explore. Again, you need to decide what is important to you and then find the best options our there.  Our friends at HowtoShopforFREE.net have put together some great alternatives. You can check out their finds HERE.

There are so many ways that you can make your life better through frugal living.  There are lots of other options that we can explore. These are just a couple ways to living better and being Simply Frugal.

 

 

 

 

10 Money Saving Tips that Will Reduce Your Food Waste

It is estimated that in this country we throw away anywhere from 20% – 40% of our food supply.  Food is one of the largest components of solid waste in our landfills. The good news is that with a few simple changes to the way we do things and think about food, we can significantly reduce the amount of food waste in our own homes.

    1. First In, First Out – Make sure that when you bring your groceries home and put them away that you are rotating your stock.  Put the new items in the back. If you put your newest items at the front of the pantry, you run the risk of the food in the back expiring before you can use it.
    2. Eat leftovers – If you’re going to make it, you’re going to eat it.  If you don’t like leftovers then adjust your recipes so that you are making just enough for the meals.  However, learn which leftovers you do like and then make enough for a second meal or to bring for lunch the next day.  Not only is this a money saver, but it’s also a time saver.
    3. Take Inventory – Before you go to the store, make sure you know what you’ve got.  I’ve been guilty of picking up a gallon of milk because I couldn’t remember how much I had left.  We don’t use a whole lot of milk in my house so if I already have a gallon one of them will surely go to waste.
    4. Store Properly – My grocery store does some amazing meat markdowns when they are getting close to the sell by date.  I get my meats for next to nothing by shopping the “manager specials”.  The key to it being a great deal though is proper storage.  Once I get home, I portion the meat out into meals and use a Food Saver to ensure that my food is properly sealed and portioned. Probably one of the biggest areas for waste is freezer burned food.
    5. Use it All – You can eat the skin on foods like potatoes and cucumbers. They are delicious and nutrient rich.
    6. Find New Uses – Maybe your bananas got a little brown. That would make an awesome banana bread.  Maybe your fruit is a little soft.  That would make a great smoothie.  Think outside the box before you toss something out.
    7. Start Canning – Did you go the Simply Frugal route and have a garden this year?  Did you end up with more fruit and vegetables than you can possible eat or share?  Can those goodies and have a taste of the garden all winter long.
    8. Donate – Periodically go through your pantry and find the items that you won’t use or are nearing their expiration date.  Food Pantries are almost always looking for donations, especially this time of year.  People always think to donate to the Food Pantry around the holidays but people are hungry all year round.
    9. Know when an Expiration Date Isn’t Really an Expiration Date – Most foods have a sell by date.  That is rarely the date that the food is no longer safe to eat.  Foods like dry pasta and canned goods are actually good for a couple years after the sell by date when stored properly.
    10. Be Conscious of What You Throw Out – Before you throw something out, write it down. At the end of the month add up what you’ve thrown out and figure out why it went to waste.  Knowledge is power. When you figure out why you threw something out you can avoid that situation in the future.

These are some very simple ways that you can reduce the food waste in your own home.  I’m sure you can come up with more if you take a few minutes and think about it.

Now that you’ve made an effort to reduce the food waste in your home, you are one step closer to Being Simply Frugal!

How to Make an Awesome Herb Garden in 10 Minutes

How to Make an Awesome Herb Garden in 10 Minutes

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Container gardening is a quick and easy way to experiment with your green thumb. I love my bright, colorful flowers as a decorative element.  I also think container gardens can be functional.  An Herb Garden is a great fit. Once I had my supplies, it took less than 10 minutes to put my Herb Garden together.

Pick Your Container

Just about any type of container will work as long as it drains well. Be creative with your container choice so that it fits with your style. Terra-cotta pots are a popular choice because have a natural wicking ability. Anything will work well if it has enough holes and it drains well.

Choose the right size container.  A container that is too small will cause your plants to get root bound. A container that is too big will cause the plants to spend all their time on root production. Start with the right size container and remember as the plants grow, you wIll be using the herbs. If the herbs start to outgrow the container, you can create additional Herb Gardens with the growth or transplant the Herbs to a larger container. Continue reading How to Make an Awesome Herb Garden in 10 Minutes

4 Simple Thoughts When Setting up Your First Garden

4 Simple Thoughts When Setting up Your First Garden

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Growing up I remember my grandfather’s garden. There always seemed to be plenty of fresh, delicious vegetables. Enough for us and enough to share. My grandfather was extremely proud of his garden and regularly gave visitors a tour. Gardening wasn’t just a hobby for my grandfather but also a way to provide for his family.

Have you ever thought about starting a garden but didn’t know where to start? Have you wondered if it would be worth the cost? Are you concerned that you won’t have time to maintain your garden? Are you concerned about pesticides and other chemicals in the produce you buy ? Here are some tips for starting your garden and moving you closer to that simple lifestyle you desire. Continue reading 4 Simple Thoughts When Setting up Your First Garden