Monday, October 24, 2011

Off Topic :: How Are You Thrifty?

Okay - there is something extremely important about saving money and keeping within budget, for me at least. But I need to note, it definitely used to be easier to sock money away. I am not original in saying that with the price of fuel and health care and everything else going up, any saved money - or money spent wisely - feeds directly into those costs that don't seem to have a ceiling these days. It is rewarding, however, to figure out ways to be careful with money in ways that you can control.

Here are a few things I am doing to keep costs down.

1. I bought almost all of our fall and winter clothing at thrift stores. Except some shoes and leggings for Willa and a pair of jeans for me. This included winter coats and sweaters. Our local thrift stores are phenomenal. I'm finding seriously quality brand-name stuff hardly worn. (This might be one of the perks of college town living - oh, the disposable income of a 20 year old!)

2. Thrift store housewares are also hard to beat. Glass Pyrex bowls for a quarter each. Cool blue Ball mason jars for storage for $2 each. Wooden frames with original art for $2. A vintage luggage set that can be relined and then also used as a 'side' table for a total of $3 for two suitcases. Old flour sifters and sweet cereal bowls with flower prints. Enamel bowls and saucepans. An upholstered chair for the kitchen. Each piece has a bit of class and a lot of personality.

3. And, thrifting for Willa. Second hand costumes, wings, boas and costume jewelry that sell for $.25 - $.50 make for hours of dress-up. We have been loving gently-used puzzles and board games. And bags of beads. And hand-sewn smocked dresses for her baby dolls.

4. I have been making as much of our cleaning supplies as possible. From different combinations of baking soda, vinegar, Borax, castile soap and essentials oils. This includes kitchen cleaner, tub and tile scrub, all-purpose cleaners, window cleaner, laundry detergent, etc.

5. I have been making as much as I can in the beauty department, too. Baking soda shampoo, brown sugar-honey-almond oil facial scrub, deodorant and lip balm.

6. Most purchases get a lot of thought. Do I really need it? Will it last? Will I be throwing it out in a month? Just taking this pause and being really aware of purchasing has been huge.

7. From-home lunch to work every day - with the very occasional bought lunch . Coffee shop coffee and teas are also a treat and not a part of my workday routine. We are definitely limiting eating out as a family, too. Or, when we do, splitting entrees or going to inexpensive eating out options.

8. I've been getting to know my beans, lentils and grains. (They will fill you up for pennies.) Put these items together with a slow cooker and you have a huge pot of something to eat from for days. I next hope to verse myself in bread baking.

9. Library books and thrift store books, only. The no brand-new books rule is only broken for the occasional cook book.

10. When shopping out in the big world - sales, coupons, free shipping.

11. Our entire 'entertainment' portion of our budget is Netflix and its streaming option. When you live out in the country, with no cable, this is the most appealing thing to have (for us). I use my own freelance money for time out with girlfriends - movies, concerts, the occasional cocktail or dinner.

12. Technology - The inexpensive, basic, way-old cell phone works for me because, well, I really dislike cell phones (my weird thing). I am actually a part of Corey's work phone plan and he'll tell me that I used my phone for three minutes last month (and I'll think that is a lot while he is actually making fun of me). Our computer is old, my iPod is old - but I still feel really fortunate to even have this stuff. Our one indulgence is a nice TV - because we don't go out much and honestly just love being at home. (There, I said it. I love relaxing with the TV.)

13. Freelance work - I call it my ace-in-the-pocket. I can do it for an hour or two after Willa goes to bed. Or during my lunch hour and on weekends. Money earned this way used to be for treats, but as of late, it is mostly for savings (to ultimately cover the sneaky bills that have been surfacing all year for health care and house or car maintenance). Or for the occasional outing mentioned in #11.

14. A friend introduced me to I can buy many of our hippie drugstore needs through here at deep discounts.

15. If it can be patched, patch it. If it needs just a coat of paint, paint it. If it can be altered for a second life, do that, too.

16. Exercise - Running, walking and hiking are free. Being a university employee allows me to belong to the gym for an affordable rate. I also 'take' classes in my living room with favorite DVDs.

17. I just started canning. This past weekend was apple butter and applesauce. Over the summer it was pickles. I'm still not totally sure how much money this will save us - but it felt thrifty while I was doing it. Does that count?

I need more ideas! What do you do to keep within budget?


Becky said...

Alot of what you already do.

We've been thrift store wardrobe people for years. Only because Edie is currently at a hard to fit stage in her life does she get brand new clothes. And I do splurge on brand names, because they fit her best. I've gotten years out of some of her pants, so I find the price well worth it, although I do tend to stick to what's on sale. I am on a few mailing lists, so I can track them. Most of her clothes I have to purchase on line, so I am well versed in free shipping as well as returning what doesn't fit/we don't like to the store at the mall. I score as many hand me downs as possible from friends with older kids and cousins. Her soccer cleats this season were from a friend's cousin.

I've noticed kids books at some of the local thrifts here have gotten pricey ($3 for a Nancy Drew? Seriously?). When we head up to visit my family in PA, I scoop up kid's books at the thrift shops for 5 for $1. Yard sales are good for them too. Green Valley book fair was a great place for books before she got so into chapter books. These days, we are at the library regularly. It's built into our schedule.

If there is a free pile, I stop. I've gotten some sweet stuff from those things, including the new wingback chair in the den.

I do think you save money canning. Especially if you buy seconds, as I do. And I like to give gifts of pickles at the holidays. Definitely a budget saver at that time of year.

Our big splurge are concerts. An occasional grown up dinner out when Edie has a sleepover or other playdate that allows us to have alone time. Otherwise, this has been how we have rolled for years..... with the exception of my gym membership. That one, Pat always takes off the budget table. He calls it my sanity. I know it forces me to work out a few more times a week than I'm inclined and yes, it probably is my sanity.

Rohrerbot said...

Only the necessities!!! Canning is a great idea. Prepping your lunch for work is a lot cheaper than buying food from the cafeteria. Just have to remember to do it at night:) DVD's and CD's I wait until they are on sale for deals like 5 for 20 dollars. And we got rid of cable....Total. Waste. Of. Money.

kacey said...

Thrifting is way more fun than buying new. I always plan meals for the week and bring a list to the grocery store (you probably do too!). We allow ourselves one night a week to go out, which usually includes a moderately priced meal, drinks and a cab if we need one. Also occasional concerts and weekend trips. Sometimes you have to cut loose from the budget- it makes those nights of beans and movies at home all the more worth it!

Patience_Crabstick said...

I do some of what you do--now that I work in an office job I see the enormous expense of the lunches out (even in the UVA cafeteria) and the coffees. I almost always pack a lunch.

I try to be mindful of utility usage--unplug electricity "vampires" like chargers. Cumulatively, these items waste a lot of electricity.

With two kids in college--we're paying our mortgage plus rent on two student apartments-- it's a good month for us if we don't dip into the savings. Actually adding to them is a distant dream.

bopyoke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bopyoke said...

I have been lucky to marry a man who knows a good bit about cars. He's no mechanic, and doesn't pretend to be, but he can fix many things. Like recently we bought a car that had a fan that wasn't working correctly, so the car kept getting hot. He was able to buy a new fan, do a little research, talk to the guys at the Auto Parts store, and in the end fix it himself. I am sure that this saved us hundreds of dollars. I feel like many of us know nothing about our cars, even though they are one of the most important things we use. I know many people that can not change a tire, or even where the oil goes! Even if you can't fix something like a fan or a belt on the car, at least we should all be able to somewhat identify what is wrong by the signs the car is giving, so that when we take it to a mechanic we aren't swindled into thinking its a bigger problem then it is. My mother for example, had a car where the heat stopped working. She took it to someone, and they swindled over $1,000 out of her. When she took it home, its still wasn't fixed. my husband looked at it and said her coolant was low. He bought the $8 coolant filled it up, and the heat has worked everyday since! Get to know your cars! Take a class, work with a mechanic friend...anything! It's worth it!

Holly said...

I wandered in to your blog from??? It seems the whole changing of the season to fall/winter in one night brings on the need to prepare. A sort of settling in, making lists, taking stock. You seem to be doing the Same.....
Lists of things to do, so very much like my own. Cutting back on expenses since my husband has retired is a current theme. We all are tempted by so much stuff, it's hard to stay in the here and now, what we really need, compared to what we think we need.

So what books are on your 25 book list?

I all return to follow your blog, Thanks for the inspiration, holly

Mama Gone Green said...

Seems like you are doing a lot to be thrifty! We do many of those things as well. I also try to hand-make many presents for birthday parties that my son goes to, as well as birthday and holiday presents for my family. We also save money if I plan out meals for the entire week... that way I ma less likely to back out of cooking at the last minute because I am exhausted and sick of doing dishes!