Dedicated to Those That Are Not Ashamed of Economy

Monday, August 30, 2010

Frugal Hacks Giveaway

Frugal hacks is my favorite blog and they have a giveaway right now for the frugal bible The Tightwad Gazette! Go check it out at!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Favorite Frugal Resources

So I decided to make a list of some of my favorite books that encourage a frugal lifestyle.

Of course where would we be without The Tightwad Gazette? You can tell a true fellow tightwadder from the fact that they've read this book. The Dacyczyns' articles are truly diverse - everything from haircuts, to recipes, to home decorating, to gardening is covered. It's timelessness is noted in the fact that when I tried to reserve one of the three copies from the library, I was on a waiting list of close to 20!

Money Doesn't Grow On Trees: A Parent's Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children by Neale S. Godfrey, Carolina Edwards, and Tad Richards. I don't use all their suggestions but it is a good starting place to teaching children the value of money. I really like the games they suggest for helping young children learn about money.

Clean and Green: The Complete Guide to Non-Toxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping by Annie Berthold-Bond. I read this many years ago when I checked it out of the La Leche League lending library. While some people may be more interested in the "green" aspect, that is a secondary benefit for me (although it is nice knowing there are no hazardous chemicals in the house when you have small children running around). It got me started on making my own household cleaners and I spend only a few cents making a bottle of all-purpose cleaner.

The Little House on the Prairie Books. Why? Because they remind us that having just one corncob doll to play with can be a delight and that kids can spend hours playing "house" with a tree stump. When children get used to having "less" they use their imaginations more and appreciate their possessions more. These books inspired me to spend less on gift-giving occasions and spend next-to-nothing on toys and other entertainment the rest of the year.

How-to Manuals. My husband has saved us so much by using a bicycle maintenance manual and auto repair manuals. I have some gardening books and a massage book.

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. While not a how-to manual, it is inspiring to read that most millionaires have gotten where they are because of a moderate budget.

Suze Orman's books. Say what you will about Suze (she annoys my husband to no end), her books have solid advice with practical, concrete examples. Not only that, she helps you understand your own emotional connection with money and how that has helped/hindered your financial situation.

So that's my list for now. What are your favorite frugal resources?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Making Do

We haven't had family pictures taken since...2007??? SERIOUSLY has it been that long?? You know I'm frugal, but I truly wasn't trying to save a few bucks. Honest! ;) So anyway, I was trying to figure out what we could wear for the pictures that would match or at least would go together and figured that we probably all have a white shirt of some sort. Jeans and white shirts in an outdoor setting would be cute, right? Well, we did end up buying Cody a white polo at Costco but that is something that he can certainly get a lot of use out of. Wesley didn't have a white top either but we were easily able to borrow one but if we hadn't been able to borrow one I would have gotten something at a thrift store and turned it into his Sunday shirt for the next year.

We had our pictures taken at the same time as my sister-in-law's family and she took our idea and did white tops as well. She commented that if she hadn't used that idea, she would have spent a lot of time coming up with something and then shopping all over town for the right pieces. That just reminded me of how my trying to live frugally has paid off in so many ways. In the past few years my frugality has taught me resourcefulness and brought simplicity to my life. I have learned to make do with what I have. If I'm in the middle of making a cake and realize I only have 1 egg, I make do with 1 egg and no one notices the difference. If I'm out of bathroom cleaner I make do with dishsoap and everything still gets cleaned up nicely. If I wear out my sandals, I make do without them until next summer. And just today, I noticed we were out of handsoap. I only buy handsoap for pennies on the dollar when I can pair a sale with coupons and they haven't been on sale recently so we were totally out. We have lots of barsoaps but I prefer not to use those for handwashing. Then I remembered we have half a bottle of bodywash (free with coupons of course) sitting in the cupboard because it just wasn't my favorite. So that got poured into the empty dispenser and voila! I was able to make do and now we have liquid handsoap without having to run to the store.

Becoming "Provident Providers"

Here is the latest "Mormon Message"

Becoming Provident Providers

I remember hearing this at General Conference and really liked the message. In his message he mentions that one of the sweetest things to say is "we can't afford it." While I appreciate and understand his intent, I would like to propose a more useful phrase (in my opinion). "We can't afford it" has a negative ring to it and I prefer to say "we choose to spend our money differently." When saying you "can't afford it," it gives the connotation that not having enough money is a bad thing, while assuming that if you DID have enough money, you would buy it. I personally don't like either of those assumptions. Not having "enough" money is nothing to be ashamed of (what is "enough," anyway??) and even if I were wealthy, my children certainly do not need every new toy they ask for. Back when we were making just a few dollars over minimum wage we "chose" to buy food with our money because if we had spent it on something besides bills and food we would have gone hungry. Now, we "choose" to spend our money on building our savings account and food storage because that is more important to us than new furniture. So although I'm sure my family has heard me say "we can't afford it" too many times to count, I am trying to change my thinking and my family's thinking by saying "we are choosing to spend our money on something else."

What is Frugal?

My own thoughts and opinions on what constitutes frugality.

Being frugal is NOT:

*Being cheap or stingy. Please don't complain about the costs to attend your grandson's wedding. That's just plain stingy to me.

*Hoarding. Don't hold on to things "just in case." If you can't use it and don't love it, donate it or give it to someone who can use it. Although the verdict is still not out on whether or not we will have more children, I have given away all my baby clothes long ago. Holding on to them for years is not a good use of resources when others can benefit from their usability right now. To me, hoarding is the fear that you won't be able to provide for yourself in the future. Let go of the fear and have faith that you will have the necessary resources when the time comes.

*Being cheap at someone else's expense, or by being dishonest. Cheating on your taxes to save a few bucks is not ok. Taking food home from a buffet is not ok. I have a memory from my early teenage years when we were driving to a family reunion and stopped at a motel for the night. There are 7 in our family and were supposed to have 2 motel rooms but my mom didn't want to pay for that so we parked in the back where the office couldn't see us. Then in the morning we all left the room a couple people at a time so no one would get suspicious. I laugh about it now, but it also makes me think about what I am teaching my children by my example. I have to admit I can work on this one.

*Paying the lowest price on everything. I think the difference between being cheap and being frugal is that cheap people care about the cost of things, and frugal people care about the value.

Being Frugal IS:

*Being creative with your resources. If I am in need of something, I don't always run out to buy what I need, I ask myself what do I have that I can make do with? Lately, I've had to get creative with gifts because there never seems to be money in the budget for that.

*Valuing people and money before "things." I know there are a lot of opinions about Suze Orman, but my favorite quote of her's is "People first, then money, then things." It's a good rule to live by. Many times I feel like people place more value on their material possessions than on their money. I am surprised to hear friends admit that they have significant credit card debt or no savings but I notice they have a beautifully decorated home or expensive car.

*Taking care of the possessions you own. Some things may cost a little upfront cash and time, but in the long run it will help you take care of your purchases. Spending money on the upkeep of our vehicle helps us put off the purchase of a new one. Building a shed to keep our tools out of the elements helps keep our "investments" rust-free and usable for many years. Buying a filing cabinet at a yard sale helps by having a place to store receipts and file coupons.

*Being generous to those in need. Being miserly with your money once again comes back to fear. Fearing that you won't have enough yourself if you help others is not frugal, in my book. Being frugal is about being a responsible person. And being responsible involves recognizing that we are all in need of something, accepting the responsibility to help those who are less fortunate than us, and knowing that what goes around comes around. And in my own opinion, giving only as much as is comfortable to you, is not acceptable. Does it hurt a little when I pay my fast offerings, or am I comfortable with the amount? In my opinion, it should hurt. But again, that's my own opinion and a subject for another day.

*Planning ahead. This can take many forms, from preparing for emergencies and saving for retirement to saving up for a purchase so you're not putting it on a credit card.

*Having adequate insurance. Seems to be self-explanatory.

*Determining your personal "opportunity cost" on purchases and activities. For me, I enjoy scrimping on basic necessities so we can afford luxuries such as cruises. Others may prefer putting out the money for their favorite brand name groceries or eating out often but then spend their vacation time enjoying their own backyard. Both are frugal.

Well, that's it! What are your thoughts on frugality? What would you add to the list?

What's Your Hourly Wage??

Cody and I have had awful coughs and congestion last week and Cody's still getting over Bronchitis. So we had a lazy week last week sleeping in, watching movies, playing games, and letting the house go. Friday night (New Year's) both of us were still feeling poorly and oh no! what are we going to have for dinner? During the week we had used up any convenience foods we had and of course we hadn't been to the store. The frozen casseroles would take a couple hours to cook and wouldn't it be so much easier if we just went out to eat? Ah, the excuses started to add up. But I reminded myself that we'd been out to eat already that week and wouldn't it be nice to have that extra money to spend on something else, like my brother's wedding? So I put on my apron and made a turkey pot pie. 25 minutes preparing it, 35 minutes baking, and it was delicious. The great thing about the mind is that if you can talk yourself into something, you can also talk yourself back out of it!

My Couponsense instructor forwarded this youtube video on "A Penny Saved is About 1.5 Cents Earned." So after watching this I did this calculation:
$15 saved (money we would have spent on fast food) - $2 (generous estimate of cost of turkey pot pie) = $13. $13 x 1.5 (a penny saved is 1.5 cents earned...) = $19.50 earned (for one half hour of cooking time). $19.50 earned x 2 (half hours of cooking time) = $39 earned per hour. So sucking it up and enjoying a healthy, homemade meal was equal to nearly a $40/hour job! (did I do the math right? Seemed to make sense when I figured it...)

Gift Wrapping

A couple years ago I decided that as part of my frugal living I would not buy gift wrap, ribbons, bows, etc anymore. I would reuse what we had, reuse wrapping/bags given to us, or find creative ways to wrap gifts. So far my plan is still working. So many people give gift bags nowadays that I have more bags than I'll use in a year. I decided that I'm not a big fan of reusing wrapping paper although I will if it's a large piece.

Creative gift wrap:

*The classic way - Sunday comics (really cute tied up with yarn)
*blank newsprint that you use to pack boxes - you can paint your own design!
*those cheap plastic table cloths you use for parties
*fabric scraps
*tissue paper (need several layers)
*I've even used the paper off individually wrapped toilet tissue to wrap stocking stuffers
*paper grocery bags
*paper lunch bags
*not a "wrap," but putting the gift in a basket always seems classy
*plain (shoe?) box with a bright ribbon

Creative ribbons and bows:

*strips of fabric
*old hair bows
*old Christmas ribbons
*yarn (could even crochet a ribbon)
*string or twine
*paint one on!

Here's a pic of Eva's birthday gifts. One is wrapped in the funnies and they both have her old hair bows. I took off the metal hair clip and hot glued them on. Then after she opens them I'll reuse the bows.

Some creative ideas I haven't used yet:

*my local library has a section where they sell donated books. I noticed they also sell magazines and maps for cheap. Maps are .15 each and I think a map-wrapped gift would be so neat! Also, gifts wrapped in pages from a nature magazine or a calendar would be nice.
*I haven't had the need to make these yet, but if I ever run out of bags I will
Reusable Fabric Gift Bags
*My mom sent me a birthday present and it was wrapped in Christmas wrapping turned inside out so that it looked white. This is a great idea when you realize you don't have the "right" wrapping and you're leaving for the party in 5 minutes :)