I sort of think we are living a frugal life, and yet I would see these frugal suggestion challenges on blogs I read and follow,“how do you save money”, and I couldn't think of anything! Hubby says – can't spend what we don't have! OK that's true, but we used to spend a lot more (we had more) what is it we have cut out, I don't feel at all deprived! So I started thinking about this and trying to pay attention to what I was doing with an eye to what I used to do.
The first thing I realized is that we hardly eat any processed foods any more, this was less of a frugal decision than a health decision, but the end result has been to save money. The decision to try and cut down on processed food came after hubby and I both had health issues and needed to take control of our diets. Processed foods for the most part went by the wayside - he still eats vienna sausages now and then (ugh!) and I occasionally need a Krusteaz blueberry pancake! (I can't explain it) In the main though we are pretty good with buying ingredients and fixing at home. It is mostly cheaper to make it yourself from ingredients you buy in bulk, but you have to be vigilant, some things are cheaper ready made. One of they ways I am more frugal is that I take the time to shop and compare to get the best deal.
We found that you could set up an online account at our local library and look up to see if they have a movie and if they do you can put in a request for it, just like books. Some of the newer movies take awhile to get since you are not the only one there but you can't beat the price! FREE! I know some libraries have a deposit of a dollar or two, it is worth checking out. This is a good way to see those HBO and Showtime series that we won't subscribe to! (currently 'Game of Thrones' for us!) Hubby loves to watch movies and I love to read so the library does save us money – he used to belong to blockbuster and I have book ownership issues. (I own many, many books.) If I find a book I think I need to own I go to the used book store, where I have an account and use credits and small amounts of cash. Thrift stores are another source of cheap book finds.
I am not a big fan of coupons as they are usually for processed foods we no longer eat, here and there is a good deal on something I would buy anyway (razors, toilet paper etc.) or will stick in the emergency kit in the car. (granola bars, wipes) However as much as I am irritated by tracking done by stores using their 'rewards' cards, I do belong to certain ones. Joann’s is one of my favorite fabric and supply stores and I am on the mailing list and e-mail list, I do not use all the offers but every 2 or three months they have a '50% off your entire order' coupon and that is worth the effort! Last summer when I was doing all of the new curtains I had one of these and $100 worth of fabric and thread became $50 plus tax – how cool is that? Same thing when I was doing handmade Christmas gifts – yarn and fabric at 40% off – yippee! I also try to keep at least one of their coupons in my purse all the time even if it is a little one just in case I have a zipper, thread etc, emergency - I never pay full price!
Multi-purposing the stuff we have, I refinished the dining room table using the stain I had bought for the floors last year. The left over white paint from the walls is still good and is doing touch ups this summer. I went through my old clothes boxes and cut up things that I would not wear again and have not bought any quilting fabric for two years, just doing scrappy quilts stretches my imagination, is fun to work with, and the fabric all has memories!
We are fortunate that Hubby has skills – he can look at things and figure out how they work – then he can fix them! DIY is a big part of our lifestyle and that is not new. We are in the process of cutting down trees that need to be removed, we hired the guys to do the one that was just too big and we are doing the ones we think we can handle. I am hoping to lay new bathroom flooring this week, we do our own painting.
I review our insurance for the home and the cars every year, I have kept my insurance license current and even though I no longer actively work in the business I know what I need and I know how the system works, I watch for increases that are computer added and in our current economic times are just not based in actual values. I watch for changes to coverages and make sure we are getting a good deal and I do my homework on which companies pay claims in a timely manner and do not mess with the fly by night cheap guys but go with quality and value, some things are too important to cheap out on, and lots of companies have good rates if you are a good driver and have not had a homeowners claim.
We haunt the thrift stores with our lists of things we would like to eventually have but don't need immediately, we check store ads to see what's on sale that we need, we garden and can and freeze.
OK I am feeling better. I think maybe our lifestyle has become so 'normal' to us it no longer seems frugal!