Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In The Name of Frugality

I went grocery shopping today, and I gotta tell ya, every time I go it gets more and more discouraging. Prices are up, and with a lot of hungry mouths to feed, more and more of our budget is heading the way of the grocery store. Well, that and the gas station. Once upon a time I could consistently pay for a tank of gas on 1 hours wage, not anymore.

All this got me thinking about how far I will go for the sake of frugality. I will read a blog about someone saving money on something, and I will think, "but consider the time! Not worth it". Other things sound like good options. So without further ado, here is the start of my list:

GIVE BIRTH AT HOME: not going to happen. I like hospitals. I like (some) doctors. I have no need/interest in pursuing a home birth. I realize people never used to give birth in hospitals, but mortality rates were higher than as well. This is something I will spend money on.

MAKE MY OWN LAUNDRY SOAP: I see this one tossed around a lot. I estimate that I do about 8-10 loads of laundry a week. I use a little less than the recommended amount of detergent, therefore I think I use a 32-load bottle a month. Using coupons and watching sales, I can get that for between $4-5 a month. Over the course of the year, that is only about $60. I can afford that- making my own is not worth my time.

DIY HAIRCUTS- We do this. I use a clippers on Noah and the boys and my mom cuts there hair with a scissors if necessary. My mom really likes to cut hair, and sometimes it is hard to get her to stop. I will occasionally go somewhere to get mine done, but she will often cut it for me as well. Right now I just haven't had it cut, which I don't necessarily recommend. Bottom line, we are already saving as much as we can on haircuts.

CLOTH: I used cloth diapers when Berean was younger, but I have fallen out of the habit since I got pregnant again. I don't buy papertowels very often- instead using washcloths for spills etc. I draw the line with toilet paper, however. We don't use corn cobs or old Sears Roebuck Catalogs- really, we don't.

CLOTHES LINE: This is something that I would do more if I had a good clothesline and if I hadn't been permanently scarred by our ex- neighbor in regard to clothesline protocol (It is a long story). Anyway, I don't currently have a great place for one, but I do dry the sheets and blankets on the deck railing. Tacky, I know, but it makes them so fresh! I also hang Noah's shirts to dry.

TV: We don't pay for TV- we just get basic channels. This has the side benefit of us not watching as much TV. We do have high speed internet, but we only have one cell phone and it is on a plan combined with extended family. So I guess in our book, TV is not worth paying for, but internet definitely is.

HOME COOKING: I just finished freezing applesauce made from a couple hundred pounds of apples. I would like to get back into making my own yogurt. I try to do some freezer meals and bulk cooking as time allows. We do like to eat out as a family and as a couple and so we won't completely eliminate that. Oh, and we will never eliminate pizza either.

FUEL: One big idea for saving money is being a one car family and combining errands etc to save on gas. We do spend a lot of money on gas, but I don't have many solutions to this problem that I am willing to try. Noah and I both have long commutes, and that is just the way it is. I could work 12 hour shifts, and not have to go in as often, but that really gets in the way of family life. I could group errands and excursions more than I do, but the kids get tired after 1-2 stops (who am I kidding, they are usually tired of it before we start!) and so I am not willing to do that either. I think we will just continue to spend a lot of our money on fuel, for the time being.

REDUCE HOUSING COSTS: We don't live in a big house now, we have a lot of kids and we will not be downsizing anytime soon. Our mortgage payment is pretty low as it is, and we do appreciate not trying to manage a huge monthly payment.

GYM MEMBERSHIP: We have had a YMCA membership for 6 years now, and I love it. It is one of the few "non-necessities" in our budget that I (not Noah) insist on keeping.

VICES: We choose not to drink (this decision, is, of course, not all related to cost) but not having alcohol on the restaurant tab and a liquor store receipt does help the budget. We also don't smoke and Noah has given up pop for the most part as well.

PETS: Every time I cut coupons I am thankful we don't have a pet. I have zero interest in paying for vet bills and dog food. Zero.

I could go on, but I think I will stop here for now. Where do you draw the line on frugalness? Have you heard of any other frugal activities I should try? Let me know in the comments!


Karla said...

no good ideas to add...but I think yours are great!

Rachel said...

This is great Julie - I fully understand the growing costs of things and I do many of the things on your list. We do not have an entertainment budget and everything else is minimal compared to the rest of the world. We probably spend a lot more on food, considering we try to do organic as much as possible. Even with chickens for laying, we still struggle to make it pay for itself or at least be a little cheaper than the grocery store, but unless we do it large scale, it's about the same. LIving in the country helps because we can buy and trade from others nearby and grow many things ourselves and yet the money just disappears. And this with our children not be huge eaters yet. One big thing that "saves" us money is buying bulk meat direct from the farmer - it's grass-fed that way and we pay the same per pound price for ground beef as we do for steak. BUT, it's a huge chunk of change when we have to shell out the money at pick-up time. Have you tried "Subscribe and Save" on amazon? I get diapers, wipes, tuna, cake mixes, coconut oil, stevia mac and cheese, etc. for 15% less (30% for diapers and wipes)than advertised on amazon and their regular prices are usually cheaper than the store. That's my two cents! Great blog post - but then again even if I don't comment, I ALWAYS read your posts. You have a great writing style.

Rachel said...

Oh and we do use credit cards and pay them off every month. Discover basically pays us to use their card with the cashback bonus.

Foster said...

I make my own laundry soap, and it doesn't take long, and lasts for almost a year for only about $10. I am working on the transition to cloth diapers, but the initial cost is overwhelming. I also use coupons. I don't go overboard, but clip and use for what I usually buy. It takes about 1-2 hours a week. Washing dishes by hand instead of the dishwasher saves electricity, but takes more time. I haven't made that jump.

The Three 22nds said...

Thanks for the comments! I do coupon moderately, and we don't buy organic. It is just too expensive and I am not convinced it is worth the cost for us at this point. Noah wants to buy bulk meat- but we will probably have to buy a second big freezer- the one we have is packed with applesauce, green beans, frozen meals and other things we stock up on during sales.

I forgot to mention Noah's foray into cost saving- he made peanut butter! We go through a lot of P. Butter and I buy the expensive- needs to be kept cold kind. We probably spend $28-$30 a month on peanut butter...It turned out ok, but the kids didn't like it.

gma pam said...

Don't forget your garage sale clothes shopping! And trading or sharing clothes for kids.

Jackie said...

Maybe I'll ask your Mom for a haircut lesson when Caleb is ready for it. I do the girls' haircuts and that goes fine (apart from their complaints that it takes sooo long) but I don't think I'll know how to do the little guy. Jonathan's hair requires serious skill because he has so much of it and if you do it wrong he looks like a Chia pet, so I leave him to his barber. My own haircuts are something I refuse to give up--they're 45 minutes of relaxation.