Already there have been some great comments and links to the Tightwad on Tuesday post.Apparently we’re not the only ones who have made changes after all, contrary to what my informal local survey revealed.Nor are we the only ones who have been more on the tightwad end of the spectrum for some time. We’ve always been pretty cheap thrifty, but I can see right away that many of you are far more frugal than we are, in some cases because you’ve had no choice but to simplify.Overall, it seems that everyone must find his or her own way. Sometimes those extreme experiments (buy nothing for a month, the Compact, etc.) can be good to kick off long-term changes. But both The Belgian Wonder and I happen to be pretty frugal by nature, so we haven’t needed a big wake-up call. We did, however, decide to simplify even more.So for those who are curious, here are some practical things we’re currently doing and planning to do:
- DIYWe’ve reverted back to doing home improvement projects ourselves. This summer we actually hired some friends to help us get some pretty big issues resolved in our house, but now we’re back to The Belgian Wonder trying to figure out stuff by himself on evenings and weekends, checking a few things off the list at a time. It’s slow-going, that’s for sure, but it’s thrifty.
- Reduce Gas ConsumptionThe gas crisis, which preceded the financial mess, already inspired us to reduce auto-outings. To get to work, The Belgian Wonder started taking a bus from our suburban area to the city center as often as possible. The kids and I started to ride our bikes to piano lessons, weather permitting. We’re continuing to look for ideas to combine errands or pick things up by bike.
- Freeze on Discretionary SpendingI knew I should have bought those decorative, coordinating pillows for my bedroom when I first saw them a few months ago. They would have provided a nice finishing touch, but now they fall into the “totally not necessary” category of the budget. This is a technical term we toss around to sound like professional budget analysts. “Honey, do you think I could go ahead and get those pillows?” “Sorry, babe, but wouldn’t you agree that those are ‘totally not necessary’?” And it’s true. There’s so little we actually need.
- Continue Shopping SecondhandWe’re continuing to shop first at secondhand resources before heading to retail stores in search of clothes. The children seem to appreciate this decision more than ever. We never officially signed up to “compact” (buying almost nothing new), but we tend to lean that way naturally. However, even at Goodwill, we must be careful not to load up on things that are “totally not necessary.”
- Frugal Friendship-OutingsSeveral of my friends like to meet for coffee, but I proposed to one of these ladies that we go for a walk instead, both to get a little exercise and also to keep costs down. We had just as nice a conversation as we would have while drinking a $3 Starbucks latte. The only down side was that we couldn’t look each other in the eye.
- Frugal Date NightsSimilar to the creative alternatives I’m trying out with friends, The Belgian Wonder and I are trying to preserve chunks of time together on dates without spending big wads of money. In nicer weather, we, too, went for walks together by a lake. The other day we ate a meal in the dining room, enjoying an uninterrupted conversation while the kids had their meal in the kitchen with two of their friends who stayed for dinner.
- Electricity-MisersWe’re hanging our clothes to dry, washing with cold water, keeping the thermostat low (we have a heat pump), turning off lights, etc., in an effort to conserve electricity. The savings is probably negligent, but maybe this falls into the category of “every little bit helps” and “small efforts add up over time.”
Things we want to implement:
- Dig for DealsWe’d like to do more to dig up deals. We could use coupons more effectively and pay more attention to flyers and sales for the things we’ve already decided to purchase. We’re ready to be more diligent with this.
- Food SavingsWe don’t eat out very much, so we automatically save a bundle by eating at home. But we could save more on our in-house meals by utilizing coupons, shopping at Aldi’s, stocking up on oft-used ingredients (like ground beef or macaroni) on sale, and planning out each week’s menu. I need to inventory our freezer and organize what’s there to make the most of what we’ve got. I’m not sure if we’ll save dramatically, but it’s worth a try. Thankfully, we all like simple foods.
- Scaled Back ChristmasChristmas is going to be more about experiences and togetherness than stuff. Even among extended family, there’s talk of keeping things simple. I asked the kids the other day what were some of the things they enjoyed at Christmastime, and they listed lots of things they would enjoy that had nothing to do with gifts. They listed making cookies with friends, decorating the tree, eating on Christmas plates, listening to holiday music, Advent activities, the occasional party. Sure sounds good to me.
- More VegetarianThe day after I made a pot of lentils and rice, we stopped at the grocery to pick up some ground beef to add to our spaghetti sauce for dinner. What a difference in price! I made an enormous pot of healthy and delicious brown rice and lentils seasoned with vegetable bouillon for a fraction of the cost of a small pack of ground beef. I’d like to eat more plant-based meals for health and savings. Ramona and others talked in the comments about this and other ways to save on food.
- Look for InspirationIf you’re just tuning in, click back to the comments and Mr. Linky on the previous post to see what others are doing to adapt to the economic roller-coaster ride. I’m going to go back and study their suggestions for inspiration. I also intend to cruise the Internet and incorporate some of the super-frugal ideas floating around out there.
It’s nice to know we’re not alone.Regardless of our frugal choices, we’re trying to learn contentment. Whether in plenty or in want, we want to keep our focus on Christ Jesus.This gives perspective so that we don’t obsess or fret about frugality and savings, nor do we get cavalier with spending as if the money is ours to do with as we please.Because in the end, it all belongs to Him.