43 Steps To Be The Frugal Homemaker
The words frugal and homemaker probably make you want to run the other way.
Images of floor length dresses and standing barefoot in the kitchen rattle through your mind.
You recount stories of little old ladies living with only the bare necessities who pass away leaving millions stuffed under their mattresses.
And if you’re like me, you have memories of times spent with your depression era grandparents.
Everything was saved and repurposed. As a result, I spent my childhood winters with bread bag lined winter boots on the insistence of my grandma. Heaven forbid I ended up with wet socks!
You also begin to think about all the things you will have to give up as well as the extra time you will have to spend maintaining a frugal lifestyle.
You don’t mind paying extra for the modern conveniences and luxuries. But you also don’t like the overwhelming debt piling up.
Another reality to face is being considered the town Scrooge. Not exactly a label anyone seeks.
So how do you have it all without spending it all? Let’s explore some frugal tips to help you along your journey.
43 Steps To Frugal
1. Reduce Weekly Expenses
This may seem like a no-brainer but a lot of little expenses tend to get overlooked. I am sure you have been badgered about giving up your daily Starbucks habit more than once. But there is a good reason for that. It simply adds up. Maybe coffee isn’t your weakness but we all have that habit that seems to keep us from getting to our goals. My needless expense was diet soda. Adding it up I saved $60 a month by kicking the habit. I used the money to revamp my capsule wardrobe and once that was complete I invested the money into my health with supplements.
2. Decrease Heating & Cooling Cost
Heating the water you use for showers is one of the most costly expenses you can face as a homeowner. There are several ways to reduces this cost, however. One way would be to take cold showers. Yeah, that doesn’t seem too appealing but there are some health benefits to it. You could also turn down the thermostat on your water heater from 130 degrees to 115 degrees and save a couple hundred bucks a year. As for the other heating and cooling costs, you can take advantage of tax benefits by updating old windows and doors with energy rated products.
3. Save Water
As mentioned above taking a cold shower can help you reduce heating costs but they can also help you save water. Taking a cold shower will likely dramatically decrease the amount of time you spend in the shower. And the obvious benefit is less water usage. Still not convinced a cold shower is for you? Then try limiting your time in the shower to 5 minutes and consider showering less. Another water saving technique is to do less laundry. Wear your clothes a few times before throwing them in the wash. And all those jeans you have been washing can simply head back to the closet – they were never made to be washed in the first place.
4. Bargain Hunt For Clothes & Household Items
If you have little ones you understand the need for bargain clothes. They are either getting impossible stains on them or they are growing out of their clothes as fast as you buy them. As adults, we also need new clothes for a change in jobs or special occasions. Online places for gently used options and decent prices are Swap.com, PoshMark, or Thredup. If you live in a larger community you can check out stores like Once Upon a Child, Clothes Mentor, and thrift stores. Not a fan of used clothes? Check out outlet stores both online and in retail spaces.
5. Make Instead Of Buying
With the upswing of people becoming more aware of where their food comes from there isn’t a shortage a people willing to help you learn how to make staples to save a few bucks. This doesn’t stop at food. There are also people returning to the lost art of clothes making and home remedies. You can learn valuable lessons online.
6. Stay Organized
How many times have you misplaced something and then went out to repurchase the item? Unfortunately, this happens all too often if you keep places in your home unorganized. When was the last time you cleaned out the garage or basement? Even that junk drawer in the kitchen takes claim to numerous “lost” items. Save yourself some money by having a place for everything and keeping everything in its place. And when you do get around to cleaning out those trouble areas make yourself some money by selling the duplicate items you find.
7. Time Management
Most people overlook time management as a financial tool. But it can easily help you save tons of money. Remember that Netflix series that sucked you in on Sunday? Yeah, the one that prevented you from planning for the week ahead. Well, that lack of prioritizing your time could cost you in ways like being forced to eat out for lunch because meal prep didn’t happen.
Planning goes hand in hand with time management. Taking the time to plan out things like your week and your meals you are bound to save some dough. If you aren’t planning your meals you may want to consider it. Extra trips to the grocery store lead to overspending on food each month.
9. Swap & Share
You know those small appliances hiding in the back of your cupboards that you only use a couple times a year? Make arrangements with friends, family, or neighbors to declutter and share items. If you only use your crock pot once a month, offer to lend it out in return for the use of other items your friends may have. This may allow you to donate that clunky roasting pan in your oven drawer to a thrift store and borrow your neighbor’s on those rare occasions you need one. You could apply this principle to books, special occasion items, and tools.
10. Grow & Preserve Your Own Food
Growing your own food can save a ton of money. You won’t be paying anyone to farm or transport your produce. You will also be saving on the retail markup.
11. Automate Savings & Pay Bills Using 1/2 & 1/2 Method
You can set up an automatic draft to be taken out of your checking account monthly and have it deposited directly into a savings account. This will make it a little harder for you to spend it. Another technique to use when it comes to saving money is by using the half and half method. This is simply breaking down payments like your mortgage into two separate payments. This will save you tons of money on interest.
12. Preventative Medicine
Our society keeps barreling down the road of several health epidemics and preventative medicine can be a huge wallet saver. As Hippocrates said, ‘Let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food’. Eat your veggies, use essential oils, and save some dinero.
13. Energy Audit
Performing an energy audit on your home can help you find things that are draining your bank account. You may find your windows are more drafty that you had thought. Or you may find your ductwork may be inefficient.
14. Review Bills
Many of us blindly pay our bills and never ponder over the details. However, you may find some big surprises. A few years ago after reviewing our propane bill, I had discovered that the company was actually adding our payments to the balance owed instead of deducting it. Our bill was $600 more than it should have been. Turned out the new billing software had a glitch that could have been very costly for us had I not taken the time to check things over.
15. Know Average Cost Of Common Goods
Ever found yourself in need of something but didn’t know if you were over-paying? Take the time to do research and price out a few different stores. When I did this I discovered I could save 50% on toothpaste by simply buying it at a different store that I was already going to regularly.
16. Forget Your Computer
Today most of us carry a small computer in our pockets or purses by means of smartphones. This may eliminate the need to own desktop or laptop. Sell it and pocket the extra cash. If you feel you may miss the keyboard check out keyboards that can connect with smaller devices.
17. Try Supermarket Alternatives
Many urban areas have ethnic stores that can save you money. They can be a little harder to find but a quick Google search could reveal a gold mine of savings. Our family frequents an Asian market that allows us several shopping bags full for only $20!
18. Make Your Own Alcohol
In these days of craft beers, there isn’t a shortage of kits and advice to get you started. The same goes for making your own wine. Use Pinterest to research recipes and how-tos.
19. Cut Cable/Satellite
This seems like a scary notion to most people but I know first hand that it’s doable. We cut our satellite subscription 2 years ago and have no regrets. Our bill went from $160/mo for TV and internet to $57/mo for local unlimited internet and Netflix subscription. We accomplish this by using Roku. But you can also try the other brands on the market like Amazon Fire Stick.
20. Restore Or Build Your Own Furniture
Furniture can be a costly expense if you are looking to update your home. Building it yourself can save you money and provide you with a new skill. Check out these two sisters who have mastered the art of furniture making. You may never buy pieces from the store again!
21. Workout At Home
Still paying for that costly gym membership that you never use? Ditch it and work out from home. YouTube has a plethora of workouts for beginner to advanced. Here is a workout from one of my favorite channels.
22. Use Reward Credit Card Instead of Debit Card
This tip only gets you ahead if you pay off your balance every month otherwise the rewards will not outweigh the interest paid. When choosing a card pick one that matches up with your long-term goals as well as what you would like to earn with the rewards. Here are some options to consider.
23. Don’t Rent Your Internet Modem
Buying your internet modem outright can be very beneficial. If you pay the average of $5/mo rental fee you will start saving money within a year with a purchased modem.
24. Skip Microsoft Office
If you do a lot of record keeping for your family in Microsoft Office or need it for school projects you may want to consider switching to an open source option. Open source options are free and able to be accessed from anywhere. This convenience adds another benefit to using open source. Some to consider are Google Docs or FreeOffice.
25. Treat Yourself Sometimes
In order to make the long haul and maintain a frugal lifestyle, you need to treat yourself once in awhile. This will give you reassurance that you aren’t deprived of anything. Rather you are making a choice to plan your indulgences around your lifestyle and budget.
26. Buy Quality Clothes
To be frugal buying quality clothes may seem counteractive but it can actually be the opposite. Higher end clothes tend to be made with better structure and materials. You will be able to wear your clothes longer without having to replace them.
27. Practice Honesty
Let your friends and family in on your decision to change your lifestyle. Doing so will avoid awkward situations and you spending money you don’t want to be spending. Remember that Friends episode where Joey, Rachel, and Pheobe are stressing about going out to an expensive restaurant to celebrate Monica’s success? Don’t let that be you. Chances are everyone will understand and may decide to make some changes of their own.
28. Use Less – Everywhere
When using things around your home do you use an excess amount? Stop and think about the amount of shampoo or conditioner you use or how much toothpaste you are squeezing out. You could make adjustments to make your items last longer.
29. Plan Big Purchases
Need a new living room set? Start looking around in stores and online to find out how much what you want will cost you. Then take that amount and divide it the number of months you would be willing save for the big purchase. You can apply this same principle to save for down payment on a new car or a house.
30. Cheaper Transportation
Using public transportation may be a way for you to cut down on your transportation costs. If you live in a rural area this probably isn’t an option but you can be more conscious about purchasing vehicles with a higher fuel economy.
31. Never Pay Full Price
Everything that we need will either eventually go on sale, be clearanced, or have a coupon for it. Practice patience and wait for the right time to buy items.
32. Lower Thermostat
Just like lowering the thermostat on your water heater will save you cash so will lowering the thermostat on your furnace. If you live in a southern climate raise the setting on your air conditioning unit to experience some of the same savings.
33. Cheap But Good Food
Food is a huge part of our culture and many people don’t want to make cutbacks and sacrifice taste. But with a little digging, you can find quality alternatives. Check out this post that has allowed our family to cut our grocery bill by 50% each week.
34. Price Matching
Many big box stores will match prices on items in sales ads of other stores. All you have to do is ask and you may get what you need at a sale price without having to run to another store.
35. Use To The Last Drop
Next time you feel like your at the end of your toothpaste cut the tube open and you’ll find you have another week’s worth of paste to use. Make sure you practice this with other things like shampoo & conditioner.
36. Regrow Veggies From Scraps
A lot of vegetables can be regrown from the ends that are left after cutting off what you use for meals. Here is a list of 25 vegetables you can regrow at home.
37. Free Online Classes
Investing in yourself is an investment you will never have a bad return on. And the best part is you can learn almost anything online and for free. Sites to check out are Pinterest, Udemy, Craftsy, and Openculture.
38. Discounted Meds
If you need to resort to medications you can use sites like GoodRX.com to find them at a discounted rate. On the site you are able to compare prescription prices at many of your local pharmacies.
39. Ask For Returned Paint
Your dining room need an update? Consider taking advantage of paint that has been returned to your local hardware store. Customers either change their minds or find the paint wasn’t mixed to their liking. Upon the return, the stores discount it for a quick sale.
40. Get The House You Need Not The One You Want
Don’t spend your adult life being house poor just to keep up with the Jones. If all you need is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house don’t go over the top and buy a 6 bedroom, 4 bath house. You could find the extra space puts a lot of strain on your finances.
41. Try A ‘No Spend’ Month
A ‘No Spend’ month is a month where you only spend money on your bills and necessities and nothing else. Think that would be a little difficult? Here is some inspiration to consider.
42. Creatively Maintain Clothing
If your favorite knit top has a piling try taking a razor to it to shave it off and make it look new again. You could also redye faded items to revitalize them. Here are some tips for maintaining your wardrobe.
43. Drop Your Phone Contract
Phone contracts can be extremely costly. Just like Roku and Netflix are an alternative to cable or satellite, phone service providers like FreedomPop can replace your current phone plan and save you a bundle. Others to consider based on your location are Ting and Cricket.
Being a frugal homemaker doesn’t mean what it used to. It doesn’t mean frumpy clothes and depriving you of nice things. You can make small changes that result in a big impact. Take baby steps and try to implement a couple of the changes each month. Eventually, you will experience the compound effect as the changes and savings start to add up.
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