Five Days of Homemaking: Five Tips For Living Frugally

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This post is part of a Five Days of Homemaking series. You can find the beginning post and links to the other homemaking tips posts here. I’m excited to share in today’s post five tips for frugal living.

Living frugally has always been difficult for me. I grew up in a situation that did not require frugal living. And when I was first married, we didn’t have tons of money, but we did have two incomes and no children. Fast forward a few years when children started to be added to our family, but a job was taken away. I never went back to work after our first child was born. We always felt it was God’s will for us for me to stay home and eventually to homeschool our children. But living on that one income with (now) six people hasn’t been easy. There are some things that can help you live more frugally. Here are a few.

1. Learn about couponing. I know this doesn’t work for everyone. Some friends that I have hate to think of couponing. They never buy brand names and rarely buy convenience foods. But I do like to buy brands, and I do buy some convenience food even though we have three people eating gluten free, and I try to plan meals and snacks that are actually healthy.
Finding a site that can help you match coupons to store sales is a way to effectively use your coupons. Southern Savers and Surviving the Stores are two of my favorite sites. These sites both have information about how to coupon, and they bring in information about all kinds of sales and deals- not just coupons. And if you are leery of coupons, you can check out this book from a friend of mine- Cut It Out! How I Feed My Family of 10 For $500 a Month Without Coupons. She doesn’t use coupons either but still saves tons of money on food costs!

2. Plan ahead. I know that some people just don’t like to plan. I get it. I’m married to one. Even though I don’t understand the fascination of living “on the fly” I’ve come to accept it. But, friend, planning saves you money.
If you plan for your meals, you can buy on sale (and maybe use coupons) and plan your meals around those items. If you have planned for that birthday party your daughter was invited to, you can have some thought about the gift and find something not very expensive (instead of running out at the last minute on the way to the party and ending up buying the first thing you see no matter what it costs and also having to buy a gift bag and a card!) Ask me how I know this. If you have planned, you have pack ed some healthy snacks in the car so that when the soccer game is finished and everyone is starving you can munch on those instead of hitting McDonalds (which is so bad for you too!).
Planning may seem like it’s just not fun or it’s too difficult or too much bother. But planning can save you lots of money.

3. Save money for Christmas. Christmas is one of those “break the bank” times. You don’t want to be seen as a Scrouge, so you spend and spend and end up overspending. If you can plan (see planing works!) you can make Christmas more affordable.
Buy Christmas throughout the year instead of waiting until November. Look for ideas for homemade gifts you can make and then start making them early in the year. Take a set amount of money from each paycheck in cash and set it aside in an envelope to be used for Christmas.

4. Set a budget and stick to it. This seems obvious, and it’s certainly important. (Maybe I should have listed it first.) But this is so very important. Sit down with your spouse and set a budget. Then stick to your budget throughout the month. If the money for that budget item is gone, don’t spend more.
We like to use Goodbudget.
It’s free; it’s very easy to use; and there are apps for your android or iphone so that you can use it wherever you are. It’s a virtual envelope system. You set an amount for each envelope- budget item- and “fill” your envelopes each month when you are paid. Then you record any transactions in the proper envelope. If your envelope goes into the red, you better stop spending out of that category.

5. Keep the kids informed and on board. This depends on kids’ ages, of course, but as the kids get older and can understand, talk to them about your finances. Share the envelope system with them- or whatever budget method you use. Explain that when the money is gone in a category, we don’t need to spend more.
My kids love Sweet Frog- frozen yogurt. If we are out somewhere hanging out and they ask to stop by Sweet Frog on the way home, they know that I’m going to look in the miscellaneous envelope and if there isn’t money in the envelope, we won’t go.
When the kids are informed, it’s easier for them to understand why we can only do certain things. It’s also teaching them good budgeting habits.

.Stay tuned this week for more homemaking tips. If you have some frugal living tips, leave them for me in the comments!

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