(I know I have promised some "crafty" posts, and I think this counts... Crafting is creative, and being frugal is getting creative with money, so really, frugality is being crafting with money, yes??!! Sorry, I think I've had too much caffeine today!!)
I have been with my hubby for 8 years. In those 8 years, more often than not, only one of us has been employed. Sometimes, it's by choice, when one partner finds a lucrative position that allowed the other to stay home with our child, and sometimes, it's totally out of our control, like when everything hit the shitter in 2008! During this time, we have learned how, where, when and by how much to cut back.
Here's some of the things I have learned:
***Planting your own garden is invaluable. Not only did it give us time together as a family, teaching our daughter invaluable lessons, but we learned a thing or two as well. Last year was the first year we planted a garden, and I am shocked that it took us that long to get around to it! We saved SO much money, and a year later, I am still pulling peppers, tomatoes and zucchini out of my freezer.
***My hubby also built a chicken coop out of salvaged materials- mostly pallets that you can pick up for free from any industrial area. The wire was also free, and had we not found that, we probably never would have thought about raising chickens! I won't lie to you about the chickens though, they are NOT cheap to feed where I live. We alleviated some of the cost of buying bagged feed (chicken feed and oyster shell) by giving them LOTS of hand-picked greens/weeds and a lot of kitchen scraps. The total cost of a dozen eggs was about half of what the local farmers were charging for their farm eggs, and about 2x what the grocery was selling for.
***Then there's the budgeting portion, which would take me weeks to explain in detail, but essentially boils down to a few basic thoughts/processes that anyone can use:
1. Brand names are NOT always better. A LOT of products are made by one manufacturer, and then labelled for different "brands." Don't expect the store brand to be exactly the same, but sometimes it is quite comparable, and worth saving some cents on! This is true for everything from groceries to personal hygiene products.
2. LOOK for "sales" on commonly used items and STOCK UP. For example, my favourite brand of razor sometimes comes in "Bonus" packaging, were I get 14 for the price of 10. When this happens, I buy 2, 3 or even 4 packages (depending on my budget that week). This is not something that is advertised, hence the importance of LOOKING!!!
3. When there is a good SALE or DEAL, STOCK UP!!! If there is a limit "X per customer," both my husband and I will check out separately. We do this for things that don't expire, but we KNOW we will use. A funny example: After Xmas there was a "boxing day special" on laundry detergent, with no limit... when I went through the checkout with 10 jugs, the cashier shook his head, gave me the weirdest look and then asked "Um, you know these are all the same thing, right?" It took all of my willpower not to laugh!!!
4. Bigger is NOT always better. Are you a sucker and buy the "family" size because you think it's economical? This is certainly not the case 100% of the time, so CHECK when you shop, that you are getting the best price per unit: that's per egg, per 100g (or per oz for American readers!).
5a. SAVE in times of plenty. When we do end up employed at the same time, we stick a fair share of our money into savings or furthering our family goals. That could mean money being put into the savings account, or an increase in R.S.P. contributions.
5b. SPEND in times of plenty. When we have extra money, this is when we really focus on doing bulk shopping (see points 2 and 3), and purchase things we KNOW we will need in the future. For example, this is the time we might purchase anything that has been REALLY riding the need/want line (see below), stock up on our prescription medications and buy vehicle maintenance supplies like oil filters, oil, windshield wash, etc.
***The majority of it though, is a whole lot of DOING WITHOUT! Really take a step back, and appraise your life. Dig deep inside yourself, and decided whether you WANT an item, or if you really NEED it. Trust me, this sounds easy in theory, but it is probably the most difficult choice you will make in regards to frugal living.
None of this means you have to live in a mud shack like the one pictured above. It really is just a matter of being more conscious of spending! And, dear readers, that's how I get my frugal on!!!