How To Save Money Without Annoying the Family (too much)
I like to think of myself as a fairly frugal person…my friend Essie knows that clothes have to be on super clearance for me to buy them. I have shoes older than half of my kids. I wear a mom uniform because it is simpler and easier. So, I like to spend less money than we have to all of the time, rather than buckling down when things get tighter.
However, I don’t want my kids memories to be “Mom said no to everything” when they grow up. I want them to have rich childhood memories! So the key for me is to cut our budget without annoying the family.
I remember reading over The Complete Tightwad Gazette years ago with Essie. While some of the advice made perfect sense, I also knew there were some things that were just not going to happen in our home. I knew I would never cut a pair of panty hose in half and use the “good legs” of two different pairs. I’d rather go bare legged (and I do). While I may wrap the occasional gift in the Sunday newspaper, I’d prefer to buy some really good wrapping paper on clearance.
So, what do I do to save some cash?
We cut out our cable and land phone line.
This was a seriously scary step and you can read about what we use instead here. It has been close to three months now and we have absolutely no regrets! Yes, the no cable thing was a bit awkward at first…and our TV is just old enough that we don’t even pull in a digital signal for our local channels, but we have adjusted to a different way of watching TV. I’d love to say that we watch less, but that would be a lie. However, we are much more intentional about our viewing now, which is a huge plus. As for the lack of land line, our dinner time is much quieter now without the telemarketers finding us. We have to make sure we leave one of our three mobile phones with the older sibling babysitter if we are gone, but it works great. The downside is that we dropped the phone line after the school directories came out, so we have had to spend some time informing friends of the numbers that they can reach the boys at. Bottom line: $100/mo savings.
I’ve ramped up our meal planning.
I had gotten a bit lax about our meal plans. I had gone to a looser, but thematic meal plan for a while, and it was working for us. But then things started to get busy in the family again. When things get crazy, I don’t feel like making last minute meals and I lean on take out. Take out foods for a family of 8 is very expensive. I decided to go back to having the pros design my meal plans. Let’s face it. I love variety. I love cooking new foods every day. BUT, if you set me in front of some food magazines and cookbooks, you’ve lost me for a full week. Then I have to figure out side dishes for the four meals I selected, then come up with three more meals to round out the week. Then, I get to the grocery store and find out that everything I want to make is out of season. So I’ve gone back to my old stand by…eMeals. There are several meal plans to choose from, designed for smaller families or big ones like mine. You can even choose a meal plan according to where you like to shop. I am currently cooking from the Natural and Organic meal plan, which utilizes mostly whole foods. I love that I am preparing healthier foods, in the right quantities and I have an easy to follow shopping list. I end up shopping for 7 days at a time, and have everything ready to go…which reduces my take out temptation. And the best part is that we are eating better, on the same amount of money I have always budgeted for our family meals, with no extra trips to the store! I also utilize coupons (of course!) from the newspaper or sources like coupons.answers.com.
I’ve gone greener with my cleaning.
The past month or so I’ve been a member of the Clorox Greenworks community. In that time I’ve gotten to sample several of their cleaners (I love them). Because of this I’ve been able to simplify the products I use around my house. I use the Greenworks All Purpose Cleaner pretty much on everything, instead of some of the harsher cleaners I’ve been using around the house. I’m learning that I don’t need so many chemicals and have even begun using just vinegar and water to clean things. Right now I have some orange peels soaking in vinegar to make my own citrus cleaner…thank you Pinterest! I’ve even taken the dive into making my own laundry soap. I’ve tried this before with less than stellar results, but my new small batch powder recipe seems to work like a charm. It may not be the pennies a load that the liquid recipe claims, but it is still about $1 a week for laundry soap for this family of 8! Considering what I was paying for good name brand stuff, this is a good deal! (plus I only make small batches so if I get sick of it…no loss!)
I’ve made it a point to use what we have.
A well stocked pantry does you no good if you just continue to stock it and stock it and stock it. Dakotapastor and I saw that our shelves were brimming with food, but I kept running to the store for more. We spent close to a month being mindful of using a lot of that stuff. No matter how you look at it those stockpiles are inventory, and they are your money tied up. Using up all of that stuff actually saved us money! Some of the meals we had were not my favorite, but that will teach me to buy stuff just because it is on sale, not because we like to eat it!
We still reward ourselves.
Even if you are cutting back on spending does not mean that you have to dress in burlap. Sometimes during these times, it feels really good to say “yes” to something, even if it is a little thing. So when is see a good deal on a book, or a game or a special dessert…I treat the kids. We still go out to eat occasionally, but it is a planned event that we can enjoy rather than “having” to go out because I failed to plan and don’t feel like cooking.
Chime in! What have you done to cut spending? What has your family thought. Can frugality still be fun? I’d love to hear from you!