10 Things Frugal People Do (Part 2)

Frugal people do things differently. Plain and simple. And regardless of where you stand on the frugality scale, you can incorporate changes today to save you a lot of money (and even stress) in the future!

If you missed part 1, check it out here!

Cut the unnecessary. In our modern world, we are bound to fill up our lives with unnecessary expenses from time to time! Do you use your gym membership? You could easily run around the neighborhood for free or do an at-home fitness video. Do you need your cable TV if you also have Netflix? Do you read all the magazines you pay for, and do you eat all your produce before it goes bad? Think of the ways you can cut out the unnecessary; once you start thinking, you’re sure to come up with something.

Use everything you have. I recently wanted to do some crafting, but I didn’t want to spend any money on any part of the craft. I had some burlap my mom gave me and some cardboard from Aldi, so I made a cute, J-shaped door hanger. When you start thinking of using only what you have in your home, I bet you’ll surprise yourself with how creative and inventive you are. This is also how I stopped buying paper towels in exchange for other household items.

Find ways to make money. Recycle, do side work, sell unused and unwanted items online or locally, sell clothes online (I’ve used Poshmark and Mercari, and they’re both good for different reasons; here is more about that). I’ve taken my juicer to work, along with some produce, and set up shop on my lunch break, making juices for coworkers; of course I also set out a tip jar (just make sure you’re following your company’s protocol for this!). The possibilities are practically endless!

Take care of what you have. Clean your vacuum cleaner when it’s time, not waiting until the belt is broken from overload or the filter is irreplaceable. My husband’s expensive Colehaan shoes have to be resoled and polished regularly, and using a shoehorn is best because it helps absorb sweat and keep a good shape. Resoling and polishing and shoehorns all cost money, but those costs are better than a new pair of expensive shoes! Bottom line: If you need it or if it means something to you, take the time and money to take care of it. Usually the maintenance is cheaper than the replacement piece, and it’s almost always cheaper than replacing it altogether!

Don’t turn down help when it’s offered. It’s amazing to me how God has always given us wonderful friends who love to help us. We have a beautiful kitchen table, thanks to some very wonderful friends. We have a nice 6-foot Christmas tree, thanks to some other very wonderful friends. When you live in a way that is “unlavish,” often your friends or family notice without your saying a word. And they usually want you to enjoy nice things, especially if it’s in their power to help. So if they offer, let them! If they are asking if you want to take home left-overs from an event, say “yes!” (This does not mean to go around, sounding like an impoverished soul that needs some help, in hopes that someone will feel sorry enough for you to offer to have you over for dinner or something!). I can’t count the number of coupons I’ve received – coupons for free things! – because a friend knew I could use some help.

Do you consider yourself frugal? Is there a tip or two you can incorporate today? Do you have tips to add? Let me know what you think of the list! If you missed part 1, check it out here!

Photo credit: Ken Teegardin | Cropped

10 Things Frugal People Do (Part 1)

We can all agree that managing our finances is not always easy. Sometimes we need a little reminder of what direction we are supposed to be heading. Sometimes we need a challenge or an idea of how we can be saving more money for a better financial future.

I like to think I grew up learning frugality. I am frugal, regardless of how I arrived here. Not I have arrived and know it all; I certainly do not know it all! But for lack of a better term, I’ve arrived at being cheap. Plain and simple. Regardless of being frugal or needing to learn it, I hope some of these tips will help you toward your next financial goal.

Don’t buy anything at the store that you can make cheaper at home. Now the list of things you can make at home for cheap is seemingly limitless, so you have to know your personal limits. I work full time and have chosen a rather busy lifestyle, so there are some things I need to buckle down and learn…when I have time. However, with our loose “no spending rule,” I’ve learned how to make homemade spray starch for clothes (no chemicals and about 5% of the cost for store bought? YES!) for starters and am excited to learn more! What can you make instead of buying?

Borrow instead of buying when possible. We don’t buy movies, games, or tools. We borrow. We have enough friends that these conveniences are readily available in a wide variety. Not only do tools and toys cost money, there’s maintenance too!

Don’t eat out. This is similar to #1, but it’s so important that it has to be reiterated and in a category all its own. Eating out is such a money sucker! It’s literally a moment of pleasure for double or triple the cost if you had bought the ingredients and made it yourself. Don’t let convenience win out. Plan your meals ahead of time, so you don’t have to wonder about dinner when you’re already famished. For the occasional times your spouse is treating you, even if it’s an anniversary, check Retail Me Not for good deals and choose where to go based on coupons you find.

Look for the best price possible. Using Krazy Koupon Lady, the Sunday morning newspaper, and countless other tools, you can easily find the best deals. Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs has this awesome idea of keeping a “price book,” suggesting you take a journal shopping and make a list of the main grocery stores you shop, the main foods you buy, and their prices per units, then refer to that when you’re wondering where to buy what. Such a novel idea.

Never pay full price for retail items. Not paying full price would apply more to clothes, shoes, home goods, etc. After all, sometimes you have to pay full price for gasoline, but you can still be getting the best deal. I always shop the clearance racks and cannot remember the last time I paid full price for our clothes. We just don’t go there. And even with not paying full price, I still look for coupons. There are too many clearance items, great sales, and coupons out there to pay full price for anything.

Part 2 of 10 Things Frugal People Do will be continued next week, but if you can’t wait, you can check it out here :). Until then, let me know what you can implement this week!

Photo credit: Ken Teegardin | Cropped

7 Killer Tips for Getting out of Debt 

Regardless of the size of your debt or how you accumulated it, it has to go. If you’ve never been debt free before, you can’t imagine the emotional feeling of freedom you will experience! If you chose that reason alone to motivate you to get out of debt, it would be worth it. At any rate, I believe this post will be both inspirational and practical.

How can you begin to tackle that $5,000 medical bill and stay on top of your already tight budget? Or will you ever be able to afford making extra payments on your $50K student loan debt? It’s all possible, my friend! And here are some great tips to start tackling that debt today!

  1. Get serious. As Dave Ramsey would say, “Get gazelle-intense!” Half heartedness will not help you get out of debt any faster. If you are determined, the battle is yours!
  2. Control yourself. Yes, you need to control your spending, but usually it comes down to controlling yourself. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. Plain and simple.
  3. Devise a plan. Planning and thinking are some of the hardest tasks there are, which is probably why so few engage in them. Create a working budget and figure out how you can live under your means while you pay off this debt.
  4. Save $1,000 for emergencies…before you start trying to pay off your debts! It might sound crazy, but you NEED this $1K for inevitable emergencies. You should NOT go in to more debt trying to pay off your new set of tires, your new engine, or whatever it is that breaks while you’re knocking out your debt. And saving $1,000 feels pretty good, too! Just don’t touch it for anything other than emergencies.
  5. Throw every spare penny at your debt – every chance you get! This is probably where I get a little too crazy. I can bundle up with 5 layers of clothing to avoid running the heat, and I can wear my shoes to a pulp, and the list goes on. But when you’re trying to live a debt-free life, you will absolutely have to make some changes to your spending (if you didn’t have to make changes, you would probably already be out of debt, right?).
  6. Start with your smallest debt and only work on paying off that one debt. Dave Ramsey explains it so much better than I, hence why I included tip #7. You will gain so much momentum from paying off one single debt at a time and then working on each debt – one at a time, from smallest to largest – until they are all gone.
  7. Read Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover. I can’t say enough about this book. I know it has helped so many people get out of debt, including me and my husband. While some of the topics are long-term, it will help you get a great perspective on what financial stages you should be working on and in what order.

“The borrower is servant to the lender,” according to the Bible. Not only do I want to be a good steward of what God has given, but I don’t want to spend my life trying to pay people back, constantly trying to catch up.

Again, no matter your amount of debt, start today with baby steps like these so that you can be on your way to financial freedom!

20 Items to Remember to Budget!

Ever built a budget for the month and realized later that you forgot about something so obvious? Been there! If you’re like me, you had an extensive meeting with your spouse to make sure every detail was cared for, but yet something came up that you probably should’ve expected and should’ve discussed in that “extensive meeting” and just didn’t.

Well here’s a list of basic things to be sure to add to your budget so you can build your best budget possible. It works for our family of 2, but I think it will be a decent guideline for any size of family (food is still food and bills are still bills, right?). I’ll start with the obvious and move to the less common.

Side note 1: we use a free app called Every Dollar for our budget, and we love it!!

Side note 2: get out your calendar for the month so you have an idea of the extra items like birthdays you’ll be spending money on!

Side note 3: for extra tips on saving money on your bills, check this out!

Here we go! (and if you use Every Dollar, you can choose to have your budget copied from last month, create an entirely new one, or edit your last month’s budget for the coming month…so no need to remember these items each time!)

1. Mortgage/rent

2. Food – groceries and restaurants (will you be having company at all this month?)

3. Gasoline

4. Electricity/gas

5. Water/garbage

6. Phone bill

7. Car insurance

8. Car maintenance/savings for car maintenance

9. Clothing – dry cleaning or needed items

10. Entertainment (Don’t forget your friends asked you to go to that show with them!)

11. Gifts (Whose birthday or baby shower is coming up?)

12. Emergency fund (for a flat tire, sudden death in the family, etc; $1,000 is a good goal for this!)

13. Savings

  • Short term funds (for things like computers and vacations that need more than one month’s budget to purchase)
  • Long term savings (for a house, a new car, bigger emergencies; Dave Ramsey suggest saving 3-6 months worth of income for the bigger unexpected things)
  • Retirement (don’t rely only on the government, please!)

14. Life insurance

15. Health/health insurance

16. Travel

17. Home maintenance

18. Homeowners/Renters insurance

19. Education

20. Miscellaneous

Bet you didn’t think the list could be so long for “basics!” Let me know if I missed something!

Photo credit: Pictures of Money | Cropped

7 Tips for Saving Money in the Kitchen

I tend to spend a lot time in the kitchen, and that’s also where I get to do a lot of thinking. So I started thinking of ways I could be saving money in the kitchen. These are some random, money-saving tips for the kitchen: basic and unusual. 

1. Use washcloths instead of sponges. I get that some things just clean better with a sponge (or so we like to think), but if you’re trying to save money, use a washcloth that can be washed and reused, and if you think some items might need a sponge, soak them for a while.

2. Rinse all your dishes before washing, particularly if you don’t have a dishwasher. Having food and beverage residue stuck and dried onto your dishes will undoubtedly require more soap. And since water is cheaper than soap, rinse those babies! This also keeps away bugs if you’re not able to or choose not to wash them right away, and that saves you more than just money!

3. Meal plan. If you’ve never tried this before, you must try it! There are some great, free meal plans out there! If you’ve tried it and it didn’t work out as well as you’d hoped, I encourage you to give it another try. I’ve experienced personally the savings from this – savings of money and time and stress, simply by making a comprehensive grocery list for the next week or two. If it seems daunting, try doing just one week. You’ll be glad to not have to make more than one trip to the grocery store, and you’ll save money by having food on hand and not going out to eat or making impulse purchases during another trip to the grocery store.

4. Save resealable, plastic bags and containers. Unless you use the plastic bag for raw meat, why not wash and reuse? My husband taught me the easiest way to wash plastic quart or gallon sized bags: turn them completely inside out and then wash! Works magically. I’m only referring to quart and gallon sized bags, as sandwich bags are so flimsy and thin that it’s not worth the time and effort to me. But hey, if you can get another use out of it, why not?

5. Wash and reuse foil. I just recently started doing this, but so far I like it and appreciate not messing with tearing off the foil again!

6. Save paper bags from take out or other shopping and use them as lunch bags or whatever else you want to transport! I use these again and again for taking lunches or snacks to work.

7. Repurpose citrus peels to make an amazing aroma on the stove (that’s my favorite use for them – just add some cinnamon, clove, or rosemary and water!) or use the peel to make a zest to save for later (dry out before storing), or if nothing else, use it to freshen your disposal.

Have you tried any of these? How do you save money in the kitchen department? I’d love to know. Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit: Ginny | Cropped | No endorsements

15 Priceless Gifts from my Parents

Christmas presents under the tree

 

The more I’m around, the more I realize how truly wonderful my parents are. I can’t imagine how different my life would be or how different I personally would be if my parents had failed to instill any of these qualities.

If you’re a parent, and you love your kids, keep it up! You’re already doing great! If you give them love, affection, food, shelter, and clothing, you’re seriously awesome! 

I wanted to give you some encouragement this Christmas season: no matter what material gift you give your kids, regardless of what you can or can’t afford, every parent can give their child priceless gifts. One that doesn’t break down or fade with time. Instead these gifts increase in value as the years go by and become more precious with age.

And as a side note, if your parents aren’t in your life – for any reason – or if this is a sore subject because of past hurts or regrets, my heart goes out to you. Our Heavenly Father loves you unconditionally – more than anyone ever could – and He understands.

I consider this more of a thank you note to my parents than anything else. My childhood wasn’t perfect. Whose is? But still I’m indebted to my parents for so many reasons! Here are just a few (alphabetical because I couldn’t decide on an order of importance):

An example of work hard – hard work wins out in so many areas!

Contentment – if I never received another thing, I’d still have a full, satisfied life

Christianity – the most important gift of all: a relationship with our Creator God through the Savior, Jesus Christ

Christian education – I was given an incredible, loving environment in which to learn and develop

Consequences for actions – I don’t know if there’s a better lesson I could’ve learned. Every action – good or bad – has a consequence

Earning what you want – if it’s worth having, you’ll work to earn it

Gratitude – we were taught to be grateful for everything, whether we wanted it or not, and that lesson lives on

Honesty – I don’t remember questioning my parents’ honesty to us, their employers, or anyone for that matter.

Humility – we never lived our lives trying to make impressions or keep up with anyone, and my parents never tried to make a showcase out of us

Love – I never wondered if my parents loved me or wanted me around

Sacrifice – my parents sacrificed a great deal to keep their priorities in their correct places (family and Christian school are the two major priorities I think of)

Sense of humor – Life is hard; make it fun and funny when you can!

Support – Having three kids and working a full-time job an hour away, my parents still made every effort to come to all of our sports games and cheer us on

The importance of family memories and family time – I can’t tell you how many times a sweet memory came to mind and brought such joy on a long day

Time – Though my parents worked full time, I don’t remember ever lacking for their time or attention…and I still don’t!

I’m sure I’m missing things, but I think these are some of the “big ones.” How about you? What are some lessons you’re glad your parents taught you? What are you endeavoring to instill in your children? I hope you can take some time over the Christmas holidays to create some family memories and evaluate what priceless gifts you’re giving your children. You won’t regret it, and your children will be indebted!

Photo credit: Dreamer