Archives for January 2012

Frugal and Happy Living

Yes it’s true – I am frugal. You might say that I am very frugal in fact. Thankfully my husband is a bit of a tightwad as well, which makes life easier as we tend to agree on financial decisions. We are pretty good at pinching pennies and living on one full time salary, so I thought that I would share some of our strategies for stretching every dime so that I can stay home with our beautiful girls.

Frugal Living Tip 1.

Price matching: I can go to our discount grocery store and show them any other grocery store price, and they will beat it by 1 cent. This is awesome! (Although the people in line behind me don’t always think so.) Before this store came to town, I faithfully drove to all 3 grocery stores to buy sale items. I should note that when price matching, one may only buy two of the same item – this brings me to my next point…

Frugal Living Tip 2.

Stocking up on sale items: When an item is on sale that we use, I try to stock up so that it will last until the next sale. For example, if peanut butter is normally on sale every 3 weeks, I will buy a 3 week supply (This may mean driving to the store where the sale is on to purchase more than 2 of that item).

Frugal Living Tip 3.

Only buy meat when it is on sale: I only buy meat when it is half price. I buy enough to last me for about a month, bring it home and package it in meal sized portions and freeze it (First I wrap it in saran wrap and then put it in a ziploc bag).

Frugal Living Tip 4.

Cook with small amounts of meat or eat vegetarian dishes: We seldom will eat a meat and potatoes meal. Stir frys, crock pot concoctions or casseroles are much easier on the pocketbook. I fill our meals with lots of yummy vegetables, and whole grains and legumes on our vegetarian nights.

Frugal Living Tip 5.

Cook and bake from scratch: Being at home gives me the time I need to make homemade granola, muffins, and freshly baked bread. I also can try out new recipes and make my own sauces, coatings, soup broths and salad dressings which saves so much money!

Frugal Living Tip 6.

Reuse, reuse, reuse!: The only time that I buy ziploc bags is in the summer when I go berry picking. I buy one box of bags to freeze the fresh fruit that I’ve picked, and these bags last at least the entire year, if not more. I use them and wash them each time and dry them on a utensil in the drying rack. We also don’t use any paper towels or paper napkins. We use old sweatshirts and socks for rags, and cloth napkins. We’ve even started to use soft flannel hankies for the kids when they have runny noses – this cuts down on our tissue consumption a lot.

Frugal Living Tip 7.

We rarely buy new clothes: We are very thankful that we receive clothes from a couple of families in our community that have girls a couple of years older than ours. What we aren’t given, we can usually find second hand at a thrift store, or a Mom2Mom sale. For the past year some of my girlfriends and I have been having seasonal “clotheswap” parties, where we all bring clothes that we no longer wear, or that don’t fit quite right any more. This is a great way to update my wardrobe at no cost, and it even lets me try a style that is a bit different than my normal look.

Frugal Living Tip 8.

We rarely eat out: This one speaks for itself. The cost of eating one meal out is equal to many healthy meals at home, so this is a rare luxury that I am happy to do without.

Frugal Living Tip 9.

We do most of our house renos ourselves: We bought a fixer upper that was within our budget, and we have been fixing it up ourselves. We have waterproofed the basement, rewired the entire house (under the supervision of an electrician), and taken down the chimney that was no longer needed (a pro took it down from the roof to the attic, we took it down in the house). And of course lots of painting, light fixtures, a built in bookcase, wainscoting and other details.

Frugal Living Tip 10.

Canning: I have begun canning – this not only saves money, but it is not very time consuming and yields a delicious end result that is quite satisfying. To date I have done peaches, pears, tomatoes and blueberry jam, and am hoping to expand this quite a lot this summer.

Frugal Living Tip 11.

Grow a vegetable garden: This past summer we began growing our own vegetables. It costs very little to buy seeds, and takes only a bit of work each day when we’re out in the yard to weed and maintain the garden. This saves a lot of money and means that we can enjoy fresh, pesticide free produce!

Frugal Living Tip 12.

Buy (or find) second hand furniture: When we need a new piece of furniture like a dresser for one of the kids, we either find one at a thrift store or better yet, on the side of the road (gasp!). Very often, it just needs a little TLC to spiff it up. A couple coats of paint and some new knobs and it looks beautiful.

Frugal Living Tip 13.

Mend: I use my well used sewing machine to mend clothes, as well as to use clothes that won’t mend well for other purposes such as doll clothes, a small bag, patches for other clothes or a quilt. Get creative!

Frugal Living Tip 14.

Make gifts: Although this can be time consuming, making a gift can save a lot of money and is very special for those on the receiving end. If you think you can’t do this, I don’t believe you. Many types of crafts are very simple, and can be learned by almost anyone (I do know that some of you are craft-challenged, but you are very few and far between).

Well, there you have it! Now you know a few of our secrets for being a happy, frugal family.
I would love to hear some of your money saving strategies or your frugal living tips!

A Handmade Christmas

My family is quite crafty, and as it happened my siblings and I who are married happened to marry spouses who are quite crafty in one way or another as well. Last Christmas we were taking stock of all of the skills that we possess as a family: woodworking, welding, sewing, knitting, crocheting, graphic design, writing music, painting, stained glass making and more! So we decided that this year we would put those skills to work to make fun, meaningful handmade gifts for Christmas and boy was it a success!!!! Some of those gifts included a custom made bike rack, a wooden rocking horse, hand painted mugs, a sock monkey and a sock lamb, reusable produce bags, leather moccasins, Koala Pouch hats and balls, a super hero costume, felt food, some vintage purses, a custom designed poster and some beautiful Christmas tree ornaments. Cool right? Here are a some pictures showing just a few of the gifts that were exchanged.

Handmade Christmas balls

Our newest niece Taliah with her toy balls

Handmade Christmas Children's food

Just look at this amazing felt food – my favorite are the eggs in the carton!

Handmade Christmas hat1

Meghan looking lovely in her new hat

Handmade Christmas hat2

Susie looking stylish in her new hat

Handmade Christmas moccasins

The fantastic leather moccasins that I received!

Handmade Christmas ornaments

A small sampling of the super cute ornaments presented

Handmade Christmas purse

Sophia loving her new strawberry purse

Our Christmas was such a success that we are planning on doing it again next year!

If you have done a handmade gift exchange I would love to hear about it – please include descriptions of gifts given and even pictures. Or if you have had a Handmade Christmas let me know how it turned out for you.