Make frugality work for you
photo by sa_ku_ra
Frugality should be peaceful. But there are times when frugal living might cause you to be unhappy or stressed. It’s usually when you take on too much or when you try strategies that work well for some families but are a bad match for yours. You have to sort out what works best for you. Often, frugal tips simply need your personal touch to be successful. But sometimes they aren’t solutions that fit your life at all.
Here are a few suggestions.
COOKING FROM SCRATCH: Some home-cooked meals have too many ingredients. If you work, coming home and cooking meals that require a lot of prep time is going to stress you out. Add the stack of dishes and cleanup, let alone anything else, and you’re setting yourself up for failure. Of course, takeout is going to be appealing if you take on too much extra work. And you’re supposed to be baking homemade bread and clipping coupons, too?
ADAPTATION: The idea is to eat out less often. This is for your wallet and your health. While scratch cooking is ideal, it’s not the best solution for busy schedules. Save the more in-depth recipes for weekends. Two well-planned meals on the weekend can become two additional shortcut meals for the upcoming week. With the onset of summer, you can use a slow cooker one night, grill another night and do lighter fare, such as salad, wraps and sandwiches, pasta or stir-fry, on the remaining days. Semi-homemade meals are still a step above takeout or dining out, too. And if you do eat out, try going out for lunch versus dinner, just for dessert and coffee, or when you have restaurant coupons or gift cards. And the homemade bread? If you don’t have time or the desire, don’t feel you’re not frugal enough. Consider using a bread machine or shopping the bread outlets and stocking up when there’s a sale.
HANGING CLOTHES TO DRY: This is one of many frugal solutions that people either love or hate. It can help you save a good amount of money. But maybe you don’t have time to hang them on a line, can’t because of community restrictions, or you don’t like how the clothes feel when line-dried.
ADAPTATION: Hang some laundry on an indoor drying rack or retractable clothesline some of the time. Even air-drying one load per week will help your budget. If you want to save a bit more, you can use the dryer less often. If your laundry feels stiff, toss it into your dryer for a few minutes on tumble dry to soften it. Using vinegar as a fabric softener, hanging on a windy day and giving clothes a good snap help with the stiffness. Your clothes will last longer, too.
FRUGAL HELPERS: Many kitchen gadgets, small appliances and machines, such as stand mixers, juicers, dehydrators, sewing machines, carpet cleaners, quality knives and food processors, are wonderful frugal tools and investments. It’s easy to get sucked into buying many of these items to save money. Then lo and behold, they collect dust.
ADAPTATION: When you see an item you think will help you save money, put it on a wish list for a while. Delay your purchase to see whether it’s merely an impulsive decision. Do some research, read reviews, watch demonstrations, or even borrow an item from friends or family to test it out before buying it. Consider your time and knowledge constraints and whether you can justify making these expensive purchases. You might have always wanted to dehydrate your own food, but do you have an inexpensive food source? How often will you use it? Do you have room for it? You might discover there’s a cheaper alternative, you can buy it secondhand, or you can live without it after all.