You know what? I’ve been hearing this word frugal being bandied about lately (I use it quite a lot myself), and it got me thinking that perhaps there are lots of people who don’t have a clue what it means. Just try saying the word over and over again in your mind (or aloud if you dare). It sounds strange, doesn’t it? So I thought I might take this opportunity to simplify things for you by letting you know some of the practical things we do in our household because we are frugal.
I know I could give you a scholastic sounding definition from a dictionary or even a thesaurus but no. By the time you have finished reading this post, you will get it. You will see what we do, why we do it and what are the advantages to us and of course, it’s then up to you to decide if it something you might want to consider for your family.
Both my sister and I (we are twins) worked for years as teachers both in the UK and two other countries in the Caribbean. We lived well, paid for any and everything that our family wanted and lived virtually debt-free (except for mortgage of course). We went on holidays overseas every year and took local holidays as well.
We had, what others looking on might see as a ‘good life’ but we were stressed most of the time and we wanted out. So we made a plan to reduce our level of stress as it was doing our health no good. We would both reduce our hours at work which meant that we would have to manage to live on less money. It worked! For a time at least!
We then both decided to give up our stressful jobs altogether and focus on living a more fulfilled life. We looked into what we could do to make the change and a big part of it involved living well on less or simply put, living the frugal lifestyle. So that is what we do now.
Yes, we still want to be debt-free and for the most part, we still are, except for the mortgages. We still want to spend quality time with our families and we do get to do that a lot now. We do still go away on holidays but not as often as we used to before. We can truly say that now we are living ‘the good’ life. Read on and you will see some of the things we do.
See what frugal living looks like- Meal Planning
There is a lot of wastage of food in many families due to poor planning, preparation, and storage of food. So in our family, we plan our meals for at least a week, do our shopping list based on the meal plans and then carry out the cooking of the meals. We also do batch cooking which is where we prepare a number of meals, cool them, package them in suitable containers and refrigerate or freeze them for later. This saves us a lot of money and helps to reduce food waste.
We even sometimes check our store cupboards and put off food shopping until we have used up the majority of what we have! The best meals are sometimes made when the cupboard is bare.
We even showed how to do this on the Channel Five show Shop Smart Save Money.
Compare and Switch
Too many people pay much more than they should for most of their bills. Period.
In our household, we make a note of when certain contracts are due to be renewed, whether it be car or home insurance and we always call the providers before they become due. This is where we argue our case with them and ask to pay less or at least the same as we paid the previous year. You will almost certainly never get a renewal letter which says ‘great news! Your renewal amount will be less than you paid the previous year’. Generally speaking, the amount is increased, sometimes significantly too. It’s your right to argue with them. We do. If they don’t budge, we switch.
We are also good at complaining to get money off or get money back.
Use Your Skills Wisely
We are grateful that we have a number of skills which we use to our advantage. We bake, and sell crotchet and sell, design t-shirts and sell, do craft and sell tutor students and write for online blogs. With the extra money, we are able to do things (wisely) like paying more on our mortgage or taking a holiday or saving for the future. We decide and you can too. Whilst we do use our skills to offer gifts to family and friends, it is not enough to give it all away when you can gain financial rewards for your skill.
Give up Subscription services
We do not have any subscription service. Yes, we did have before when money was flowing freely, but that stream has dried up so now we don’t have a gym membership. There are parks near home and we are pleased that one of them even has an outdoor gym area freely available to use in the fresh air. Cooking subscription boxes? No. We can cook. If you can’t, learn how to. Do you have delivery services or television services that you could do without? Check and be sure that you NEED and not just want them.
Check to see where Money is Leaking from
We try not to let money leak from our house by:
- Keeping windows closed when the heating is on.
- Keeping the temperature in the home cozy not toasty
- We don’t use the dryer if the sun is out and washing needs drying
- We don’t have restaurant meals or takeaways too often. We have them more as a treat rather than as the norm.
- Lights are off if rooms are unoccupied. We have one light on the stairs overnight and that is as a safety measure. It is a solar light which charges during the day and then is used at night.
- Everyone is responsible to ensure taps are not left running.
- The oven is used conservatively. If we are baking for an occasion, then we make some meals in the oven at the same time that can be cooled and saved for later.
Grow Some of What you Eat: this is what frugal living looks like
Some of our meals are supplemented by things we grow ourselves. You don’t have to be a big-time farmer to do this. Some things can grow easily on your window sill even. We grow some of our own vegetables, fruits, and some herbs. Check online for some that are easy to grow in your area. We take comfort in knowing that there are no nasties in the food we grow ourselves. We have even discovered that some foods that we would previously put in the bin can regrow, some even in just water.
We hope you now have a clearer understanding of what frugal living entails and are deciding to become a frugal warrior. Check back periodically and you will see some of the things we get up to and also feel free to share with us some of the things you do in your household to spend money more wisely.