Wow. I gotta say this is a tough topic for me. I was going to skip it entirely, but thought it the chicken's way out.
I don't think of myself as a big spender. I'm pretty conservative in my purchasing habits. My husband tells me I make up excuses for NOT buying things. Is that a nice way of saying I'm a tight wad? Hmmm. But I'm not sure I'd call myself frugal either. I rarely buy clothes that aren't on sale, but I don't do the thrift store thing either. I remember my mom scanning the grocery ads for what was on sale and planning meals accordingly. I regret to say I didn't inherit her skill and tenacity in that either.
But my family has known what it is to scrimp and be careful with our money. So I'll take a crack at it and share some things that have helped us.. Here's my random list of tips for frugal living.
(Drum roll, please.)
10. Plan meals ahead of time.
9. Buy groceries once a week.
8. Ask yourself before buying something, "Is this a need or a want?"
7. When we road trip to activities for our children, we save TONS of money by packing a lunch to eat on the way. Our kids think it's fun and much healthier too.
6. Make spending money a game. How many days can you go without buying anything?
5. Do home improvement work yourself and gain valuable skills at the same time. I've really enjoyed doing all the painting (learning some cool faux techniques) and even some drywall taping at our house.
4. Find cheap entertainment by visiting local art galleries, taking long walks or hitting the matinees at the movies.
3. Plan family nights at home with homemade pizza and videos.
2. Take advantage of grandparents' willingness to watch your kids. It's good for you and builds wonderful relationships that enhance your children's lives. (Our kids have the best grandparents on the face of the earth, willing to take them at a moment's notice. THANK YOU, Mom, and Mom and Dad! You have blessed us greatly! What would we do without you?!)
And my number one rule which may get me kicked out of the frugal living club:
1. Never, ever sacrifice people or relationships for the sake of pinching pennies. If this is extravagant, then I want to go down as loving others extravagantly. If faced with the choice of having lunch with a friend or saving money, I'll always opt for lunch. I'd rather spend my money on gas to see people than build up a savings account. People always come first.
Whew. I did it. Who knew I had it in me? I have to give a big thank you to e-Mom for stretching me today! For more tips on frugal living, visit her at Chrysalis.