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Put the fun in your frugality

By on August 28, 2009

bag sash
photo by reconstructionist

Frugal living can be a lot of fun. It’s empowering and can bring happiness to your life. It often becomes a game you can play as you challenge yourself to waste less and save more money. Fellow frugalista, Sue H. in Michigan, shares: “I love to sit in the backyard with my family around our yard-sale fire pit, burning free sticks from the yard and eating sale food cooked outside while sitting on garage-sale chairs. My son plays his guitar and banjo purchased at the flea market, which he learned to play free on the Internet. If it’s not too dark, we like to read our library books by the light of our parking-lot-sale lanterns on our estate-sale picnic table. If we get cold, we put on our Salvation Army sweaters and drink hot chocolate out of our dollar-store mugs. If it gets too buggy, we go in our Big Lots screen house and play cards from the ‘free box’ at the yard sale. When we get bored, we read the paper the neighbor put in our box every week in exchange for Christmas baked goods and laugh at all the retail sale prices in the paper before we clip out all the coupons with the scissors we got from curbside shopping.” Beating that would be tough.

What is the most frugal and fun thing you do?

Here are three suggestions.

DESIGNER CLOTHING ON A DIME: Sure, some fashionista out there knows it’s not this season’s fashion, but for the 99 percent of the people you encounter who don’t follow the fashion, they simply assume you bought it new. And sometimes it is brand-new with tags when you find it at a thrift store. It has become the perfect way to supplement your wardrobe or give your clothing budget a boost. Find frugal accessories, too. Some shoe-repair stores repair belts and purses. Make some calls to inquire if one in your area does. Then, if you come across a quality bag that needs minor repair, don’t be afraid to buy it. You can refashion many secondhand clothes and create your own designs, too. Visit refashion Web sites such as for inspiration.

If you have reconstructed clothes, tell or show me what you’ve created.

HOME SPA: Pamper yourself at home. One example: Make your own bath salts.

2 cups Epsom salt
1 cup sea salt
18 drops of lavender essential oil

In a large bowl, mix salts and add essential oil slowly. Store in glass jar. To use, add 1/2 cup to bathwater.
Enjoy a bubble bath with candles, relaxing music and a good book. Or look for a secondhand paraffin spa. You can find them pretty cheap because it has been more than seven years since it was a hot trend. The auction site eBay has multiple listings between $5 and $20. One reader, D.J. in Massachusetts, shares her home-salon fun time spent with her daughter: “Picture a 6-year-old with nail polish. Yup. My daughter loves to give me a ‘fancy smancy’ hand massage with lotion and then paints my nails.”

LOW-COST COMMUNITY FUN: Many local activities are free or fairly cheap, such as the library, nature center, fishing, petting farm, festivals, community concerts, fruit picking, matinees, farmers’ market, bike paths and parks. Check library bulletin boards or your local newspaper or city’s Web site. You’ll often find coupons or free passes for local events at your grocery store, too.


  1. tracy

    8/28/2009 at 5:35 pm

    I think I do a preety good job at being frugal. I use “personal cloths” for t.p unless its messy. I made my own period pads and it may sound gross, no where near what it was like with cloth diapers! At least its my mess, not theirs. I reuse and recycle everthing I can, if I cant, I recycle. I live alone, so I break down the bulk meat I buy. I save my toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls…its not much, for seedlinglings for next years garden. I make my own cleaners…thank you Lord for baking soda and vinegar! I spend about 600.00 a month for my home and expensences including cleaners and dog food, I have 2 big and hungry dogs. If I could better, I would. Solar is something I am considering, Im not sure I can afford it though. I learned alot from my Nana who died in 1984. If it wasn’t for her, I would be lost!

  2. Momk

    8/30/2009 at 12:18 pm

    We have a $1 dollar theater in our town, and sometimes the kids and I catch a matinee there.

    We live in Arkansas where there’s an abundance of nature, state parks, city parks, and of course our own backyard to enjoy. I check the paper and websites for free things to do at our state parks…there’s always something going on!

    The library has children’s programs year-round, but my children are getting too big, and too busy for those.

    We love just having potluck with friends and family at our house or theirs.

    Instead of a day at the mall, my mom and I will go to local flea markets and thrift stores. Sometimes we find lots of bargains, and sometimes not. We always have fun!

  3. C.E.O.

    10/19/2009 at 11:47 pm

    the fashion part I have read pretty cool I might say but Im trying to redo a pair of jean maybe get the paints out and do a rose bud at the hem or just needle point it in I think cros stitch may have to do this time.

  4. Bonnie

    10/18/2010 at 9:48 pm

    I love to garden, but my apartment patio doesn’t leave me very much room to experiment. I do have a 4×4 raised bed for growing vegetables. every season we like to visit the Arboretum at the local community college. We get to see fun arrangements and take plenty of pictures. We even took prom pictures there. Visiting state parks is another way we can get close to nature.

    I did splurge on a new hammock this year and grill, but those will be able to be enjoyed for years to come. we can grill zucchini just feet from where they are growing.

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