Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pinch My Penny

It seems like all we hear about is how our economy is in the toilet and things are only going to get worse. The message is that we should be tightening our belts, but I don't see rampant consumerism lessening any time soon. A few weeks ago Terri at Life + Kids asked me to write something for her Frugal Week. It's a very timely subject, considering that in 2006 Americans' savings rate was negative and we continue to spend with abandon. Let's remove any negative connotations for the word "frugal" while we're at it, too.

There are a few ways I manage to live a good life with spending as little money as possible. My tips certainly aren't earth-shaking or revolutionary, but if used consistently, they really work.

  • Buy in bulk. We don't have Costco here and I am not a fan of Sam's Club....but I love the bulk bins at our health food store. The other benefit of buying from bulk bins is reduced packaging.
  • Use your library! Our wonderful Fayetteville Public Library, for instance, has a huge selection of DVDs, CDs and, of course, books all free to check out for two weeks at a time. They also offer free computer usage and internet time to patrons.
  • Use less of things. You only need to use a small amount of detergent to wash a load of clothes, for instance.
  • Have clothing swaps with your friends. Everyone brings good quality clothes that, for whatever reason, they don't wear anymore. Then everyone leaves with new clothes and without spending a dime.
  • As often as possible, make whatever you can from scratch. It is so much cheaper to buy a big ol' can of whole tomatoes, some garlic, onions, and basil then to buy pre-made tomato sauce. The same goes for dried beans (soooo cheap and so easy to make delicious).
  • This goes without saying (I hope), but cook at home as often as possible.
  • Combine errands so you're not running all over the place.
  • Use cloth napkins and rags instead of paper products.
  • Make your own cleaning supplies with ammonia, white vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. They're not only more affordable, but nontoxic as well.
  • Only buy new clothes if they're on sale. Because they will all eventually be on sale.
See? These tips aren't painful or embarrassing or too hard. But they will make a difference.


Anonymous said...

But when I try to clothes swap my friends tell me my clothes don't fit them! But I am now getting hand me downs from my nieces. Fantastic!

Also, I notice your laundry tip but I am surprised that you didn't mention mine that I have posted about before under my A to Z post. It was the one under F for frugal....remember? Hand soap also makes a great laundry detergent (double duty here folks). 15 pumps for a large load and never mind if the person you love calls you GHET-TO for it.

Alannah said...

Oh yeah, I meant to mention that when having a clothing swap, invite friends of all ages and sizes. That makes for a more fun party anyway.

Dude. I keep forgetting about the hand soap tip. And that's such a good one!

rebecca said...

Is hand soap really cheaper than laundry soap? I'm too lazy to calculate it myself, but I'd be surprised.
Thanks for the reminder about the bulk bins, though! I love to frequent the bulk bins at ONF. Then visit the farmers' market, and you will have the things you need for that economical home cooking.