Saturday, January 29, 2011


I don't know about y'all, but I don't have lots of money to burn. And honestly, if I did, I wouldn't. I was brought up to me mindful of what I spend and I try to pass on that same mindset to my children, as well as anyone who is willing to learn. Some of the things we do in our family may seem a bit odd to most but it allows us to be more at ease and less stressed than what I would consider most Americans are in today's society. God has given us blessings to be a blessing, not to be selfish with those blessings. Being consumers and materialistic has gotten this country in a lot of debt, and I presume the same for the majority of American families. Let's stop trying to "keep up with the Joneses" and be better stewards of the money God has seen fit to bless us with, huh?

In this post, and future posts, I will share tips on how to be cheap. Let me start by saying that anyone who wants to start this endeavor must be willing to completely change the way they think, eat, shop, live, etc. Get rid of any and all ideas you may have of 'cheap' people being poor and/or dirty. That is almost never the case. By looking at me and my family on any normal outing you would not think of us as being a 'cheap' family. Any family can do this, if they really want it. I choose to do this so that I can stay home for my children. This is a big deal for my husband and me, as we think that is the best way to raise our family. If I worked we would have more money, yes, but the chaos would far outweigh any money we would have. And what would we do with that money? ~eat out more, shop more, be home even less? No thanks, I will pass. Having said that, here are what I consider to be my top five tips when beginning a 'cheap,' or frugal, lifestyle. Please leave any comments or questions you would like. Just remember, if you don't have something nice to say choose to say nothing at all.:) This way of life has worked for thousands of families in generations past and has worked quite well for my family for three years. It's a choice, and a necessary one for some. Be blessed!

1~MEAL PLAN: In my family of 8 I plan every meal down to the snacks according to what I have on hand and what is on sale at my local grocery store. I rarely use coupons, although I have, because I tend to shop for more fresh items and less prepackaged foods. The kids know that the kitchen is not open 24 hours a day. We have three set meals and occasional snacks. That's it~no sodas, premade cookies or cakes. I make 2-3 desserts a week, sometimes. There are some weeks when I make none. My monthly budget for a family of 8, with no coupons, averages $400-$450. That includes pet food, soap, cleaning items, paper products, etc. I also only shop at the store closest to my home. The prices may seem higher to some but when you calculate the price of gas and wear & tear on the car to get to another store it makes better sense to stay close to home. When shopping ask yourself, "Can I reuse this packaging?" If the answer is "no" you should think twice about buying it. In my opinion we throw too much stuff in the landfill. Buy things in glass jars, or other type reusable packaging. Just put more thought into it, that's all.

2~NO ADDED EXTRAS: We have very little unnecessary things around our home. No cable, no new car, no fancy clothes or expensive video games. We do have video games, but they were very cheaply bought in good working condition. We do subscribe to an online monthly movie rental and we do occasionally go out to eat and even to the movies...but VERY rarely. If both parents are working just so the family can have these things the parents should really reevaluate the situation. Cable or HDTV or a new, fancy car or big, nice house isn't necessary, having parental guidance for the children is. Downsize...your stress level will drop and you will be able to rest.

3~BUY USED 90% OF THE TIME: We buy used as much as possible for most things. Why? Because it's just plain cheaper. There is nothing wrong with Goodwill clothes or dishes. When we can't find what we need at Goodwill or another thrift store or at yard sales, we go to reduced-price stores like Ross or TJ Maxx. I also happen to love any store with "dollar" in the name! Those stores just make me happy! When it comes to shopping unnecessarily follow this rule "If you don't go in a store, you won't buy anything." Simple, huh? Only go shopping when you need something-end of story.

4~LEARN HOW TO MAKE THINGS FROM SCRATCH: I make lots of things myself, food wise and otherwise. I bake bread, but I still buy loaf bread from the store because the kids like it better(you can't win 'em all), laundry detergent, fabric softener, automatic dish detergent, most cleaning supplies, deodorant(although I'm the only one who will use it-lol), my own face cleansing oil, etc. I also make most of our meals from scratch. I do, however, prefer boxed brownie mix. I'm not a complete naturalist! Anyway, what I am getting at here is that you can make anything you can buy in the store. I have just learned how to make soap using lye and oil or fat. Pretty cool, I thought! The sky's the limit. Don't be intimidated. If I can do it, anybody can.

5~REDUCE UTILITIES: Simply, in the summer keep your thermostat up (75) & just tough it out and in the winter keep it down (68) & wear layers in the house. It won't kill you or your kids, trust me. Also, turn the lights off when you're not in a room! I used to get so irritated with my dad for saying that to me at least 100 times a day but I get it now. TURN THEM OFF!!!!!! Did you know that things continue to use electricity while plugged into an outlet, even when they're turned off. Unplug anything that you can when not is use. Obviously, you cannot unplug the refrigerator, but you can unplug the TV, hair dryers, etc. Get in the habit and watch your electric bill go down. Get a clothes line to use when weather permits or indoor drying racks to use when the weather does not. Drying clothes indoors in the winter also helps with the problem of dry air. I sometimes put the rack over the heat vents at night and the clothes are dry by morning. Where water in concerned, just use less. You've all heard it, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, but it's true. Take shorter showers or baths with less water. Only wash full loads of dishes and clothes. Just use your brain. Conserve a little bit here and there at a time and build on it each month. It's doable. My children and I also only take baths every other day. It saves water and it's better for your skin and hair and isn't gross at all. Trust me.

So, there you have it. I have many other tips that will be harder for a newbie to swallow but these are the basics. If anyone wants any of the above recipes just let me know! I am eager to share things I have learned with anyone who wants to learn them.