Friday, May 02, 2008

Frugal Friday

in an effort to become more regular at blogging (yes, i know i've been a slacker), i've decided to try my own themed day, beginning today. every friday shall henceforth be known as Frugal Friday where i will bestow oodles of frugal ideas on my faithful readers in exchange for comments (or your own post if you'd like) giving your ideas on frugal living.

some people think that the word "frugal" sounds awful, but i have to admit that i quite like it. its much nicer than the nasty sounding "cheap" or pittying "poor". frugal people quite often are frugal by choice rather than necessity and this, i think, is the best sort of frugal. i, however, fall into the second category. our piggy bank is on a bit of a diet at the moment and, the way things are going with this whole recession, it looks as if it may get worse before it gets better. because neither josh nor i even want to consider ending my full time position as a stay at home mom, i've got to do my part and find little ways here and there to scrimp and save and stretch and just be smart about how i spend the money that josh works so hard to provide for us.

here are a few ways i've embraced the frugal life lately:

1. laundry. you may remember that a month ago my dad bought us a washline (or clothesline, as they say here in the USA) which my dear husband put up for me. i cannot begin to tell you the happiness and satisfaction i get from pinning my loved one's clean clothes up on the line and removing them, smelling of fresh breezes, an hour later. i've also just begun to really take a second look at the clothes i'm putting into the washing machine. are they dirty enough to be washed, or could they be used a second or third time? pajamas (especially tristan's) are throughly used before they are washed and many times his shirts are just spot-washed and worn the next day. i wash everything in cold water except for the REALLY dirty icky things, like dish cloths and bibs and socks.

2. phone bill. my mil gave me the idea of looking over our monthly phone bill to see what sort of services we are being charged extra for. is call waiting really a necessity when i have a perfectly good cell phone that someone could call if they needed to get ahold of me? how many long distance calls are we really making per month and are we paying for more of that time than we're using?

3. dinner. the best idea i've gotten so far is from aimee's blog. she suggests adding lentils to your ground meat the next time you make hamburgers! if you cook and mash red lentils, then add one part lentils to 2 parts meat, then season the meat as you normally would for burgers, you honestly can't even taste the lentils! not only is your meal now healthier, but you've just stretched your meat. i made hamburgers the other night and used the leftover lentil/beef mixture to make meatballs for spaghetti. tasty. my mil told me that she adds oatmeal to her burger patties as well as shredded carrots and onions.

4. thrift stores. okay, so i know they smell like stale cigarette smoke and sweat, and i know that there is a lot of trash in between the treasures, but when you do find those treasures, its amazing!! tristan and i make a weekly trip (walking, of course) to the local thrift store because its basically a new store every week with all the new arrivals! the other day my little wire wisk got bent out of shape (literally) and i had to get a new one. why pay $3.99 for a new one in the store when you can grab a perfectly good used one for only 25c? last month i bought a bumbo seat (which are around $30 new) for only $2.99 and am storing it for baby #2 (who, for the record, does not yet exist), and the month before that i scored on a lawn chair, complete with 2 cupholders, for only $1.99. children's clothes are also wonderful thrift store buys if you're not blessed with hand-me-down's like i am.

i've got plenty more ideas, but i'm going to save those for future friday posts. now its your turn: what have you been doing lately to save money?


mar_neufeld said...

Heidi, to your hamburger mix you can also grate a potato into it. Tastes really yummy. Thanks for all the tips. Look forward to more.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Heidi~You have access to the Master of Being Frugal. When it comes to pinching pennies your MIL is a pro.
For years you could hear Abraham Lincoln yelping in pain every time Chris came near. Scottish Thrift was her motto-and boy was she ever good at it. She used to just amaze me.

My tip on phone calls is from a dear friend: She ditched her long distance service, got basic service and bought phone cards to use, thereby locking in exactly how much long distance billing she would be using. Also had electric meters that were coin fed-no surprises at the end of the month.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

PS: I saw a safety alert out on those Bumbo chairs. Totally not might want to read up on it before taking a risk with it.

Lovella said...

Heidi, I think that Frugal Friday is a wonderful idea. I really admire your determination to do your part in the household finances. We also had decided that we could do with less to keep me at home full time. We never regretted this decision.
Your ideas today are great, and I've added oatmeal to my hamburger as my mom did for years.
The clothesline. . .i'm with you there too. I can't wait to see what other ideas you have. .

oh and the bumbo .. totally fabulous little chair down low.

Aimee said...

I love it Heidi!! I was just thinking about doing more frugal type posts on my blog because we're heading into a season of REALLY needing to be frugal, more than ever, so it occupies my mind a lot. Was a little unsure about if people would share the joy of my frugal triumphs, but you have encouraged me. I'll try to join you with frugal fridays.

Ginny said...

Heidi, Some things really are cheaper when bought in bulk. However, it costs more initially. But, if you have a friend or family member who wants to share the 20 pound bag of potatoes from Costco etc. you really can save money. Also, little things like grating your own cheese as well as planning your weekly meals around the current grocery ad can really help. When my children were little and we made the choice for me to be a fulltime-stay-at-home mom things were really tight. I have never regretted being "frugal" to make it work.

rachel joy said...

Great ideas, Heidi!

A Bumbo for 2.99?! I thought I got a deal at the swap meet last week when I got one for $35. New, here in Canada, they're close to $70!

corinne said...

Great tips Heidi. I love doing frugal things. My latest thing is making my own laundry soap. It works great and save loads of money. I also add oatmeal to my burgers and meatloaf and I love my clothes line.

Unkempt Mommy said...

Those are some great ideas. I really need to be a better steward of our money. This post has inspired me!

ateam99 said...

Honestly, these days I feel like I am an expert at being My my grandma I have made use of the 99 cent store and often you can find a lot of gems among a lot of crap! Like the chai I was telling you about. Also, I save all my coins in a jar and when I need a little treat at Starbucks, I cash my coins at coinstar (available at most of our grocery stores), and get the gift card. When I'm really broke I use the cash receipt and buy groceries. Also, when I lived at my apartment I only had the VERY basic phone service and for long distance in the U.S I used my cell, and for Canada believe it or not, I used 10-10-987, you just dial before the # and it's about 3 cents per minute. There's a service charge each month you use it, but none if you don't. I think you can check it out onlime.

Anneliese said...

I admire your decision to live frugally in order to stay be a stay at home mom and I don't think you'll ever regret it. One of the ways that we have tried to "be frugal" is with what we eat, and in doing that I have realized that you actually eat healthier. The first thing is to plan a few meals for the week and go shopping only once (no running for little things in between). Then you try to make meals that will double up for two. Examples are: when you make meatballs, freeze half of them and use the second half, making a mushroom sauce instead of a tomato sauce for variety. Make a big pot of soup. A lasagna can be divided up for several meals and a roasted chicken can be spread over two meals by using leaftover meat in a casserole or crepes get the idea, and the fun part is that you don't have to cook every day. Cereals are expensive and making your own healthy bread or porridge can save as well. Have a frozen pizza handy for emergencies, and it will cost less than picking up fast food. Being a stay at home mom gives you more time to plan and be prepared, and that's one way you save.
You're doing great!

Shannon said...

I was so excited about my bumbo. Brianna can sit in it. Bradley is too fat.

I tried the meat/bean thing too. I used chili beans when making tacos. only my husband noticed. I'm a sly cat.

Lee said...

I dont like the word frugal, it makes me nervous :)

I have switched back to my old blog. You will find me there, and I am sorry this is the last time I will switch!!
Love you.

heidi said...

wow, i am LOVING all of these ideas! thanks jill, for the warning about the bumbo, i'll be sure to check that out. and we're totally going to ditch our long distance now and switch to calling cards! corinne, i'd love to see that recipe for laundry soap, if you don't mind. my friend christy commented via facebook and i thought her ideas were too good not to share so here they are:

Frugal tips:

The drying cycle of the diswasher is the most expensive. Even though it seems strange, open it up (a crack) as soon as the drying cycle starts and just leave it. If you close it, everything will stay wet, opening it up will eventually dry it.

Look up the manufacture's specifications for washer's and diswasher's. I did, and was SHOCKED to know that I only need 2 TEASPOONS!!! of detergent for both. I hardly buy either anymore as it lasts forever.

I do agree with buying in bulk. It does cost more initially, but saves in the long run. I buy 1/4 - 1/2 of my stuff at Costco and split it with Kelly or my mom (or just keep it if it won't go bad - like tp).

Phone around for phone plans or bundle up with services you already have. Saves and amazing amount of $$.

Hope that helps!

Jenn & Wade said...

Hey Heidi, great post! I love finding new ways to save us money. I highly recommend checking out we get their magazine in the mail each month and I always devour it as soon as I get home!
Also, if you want recipes for making your own very inexpensive laundry soap, body wash, etc. you can check out my friend Jodi's blog, She has recently made several posts for these kinds of things! Enjoy being frugal!=)

Dena said...

First of all {{{{hugs}}}}. Then, I so loved reading all these comments, so much good stuff in there. I'm having to re-learn some stuff. My little tidbit of advice, have LOTS of dinners at your MIL's house. :o)

corinne said...

Hi Heidi. This is my recipe for homemade laundry soap: 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup arm and hammer washing soda, 1 bar grated ivory soap. Put these ingredients in a big pot with 16 cups of water. Heat on med. heat until soap is melted. Let cool a bit and then I pour it into a big liquid laundry detergent dispenser and add 16 more cups of cool water. Let sit for 24 hours and shake it up every now and then. I use about 3/4 cup per wash load and I shake it up before each load. Hope it works for you.