Friday, September 21, 2012

Frugal Friday

Not a great bargain
I haven't written about this much since last year but I think it's worth revisiting. We run really hard over the summer but now that it's fall, I start thinking the most about being frugal. I believe it's because I have more time on my hands to think about such things. The following are just a few of the things I've done in the last year to attempt to remain a bit frugal. While I'm not perfect at any of these, my goal is always to do better.
Pack my own lunch
Since I've been working at this temp job for a year now, I have really learned to enjoy packing my own lunch. I've watched the women at work find creative ways to change up their boxed lunches. I'm still not all that creative but I receive a lot of comments on my colorful salads and for the most part I really enjoy my lunches. That's not to say I don't still love going out for lunch but with only a 30-minute break, it's not practical. Not only does this make my pocketbook stay healthy, I feel better when I eat better.
Wear what I have.
I'm not a real clothes hound, although I do love to get new things once in awhile. Right now, I have enough clothing for the kind of work I'm doing that I have no need whatsoever to buy new stuff. I still find things when we go 'thrifting' but even then I'm kind of picky about what I bring home. It just gets hard to manage when I have too much stuff. Whenever I start to think maybe I should go shopping, I think about what I have. For example, I took a recent trip to visit my son in the midwest. I had been thinking all summer that maybe I should buy a couple of new outfits for the trip and then my frugal senses took over. Why buy new stuff for a 3 day trip when I have perfectly nice things to wear in my closet?
Eat leftovers.
I've improved in this area but there is still room for more improvement. I've been inspired by a new blog I've been following, CSA-Mom,  written by an attorney I used to work for. I love how she just puts everything together with such confidence, even when she doesn't have all the ingredients listed in a recipe. She improvises. I think I'm going to coin that phrase as I get closer to the new year. What do I have that I can add in to make my meals more interesting?
I realize that much of my frugal ways have to do with food. I started eating oatmeal everyday over a year ago. It literally costs me less than a handful of pennies for breakfast and it's so good for me. If there is a better value for your money than oatmeal, I wish someone would tell me. I spend $50 or less a week on groceries for two people. I can do a lot of improvising with my oatmeal!

Greeting cards.
I still make my own greeting cards. About 3 times a year, I stop into my local WalGreens when they are having a photo print sale (10 cents or less) and print 100 photos. Many of them are duplicates and some of them are personalized. I try not to send the same ones twice but I'm sure it happens. Who cares? In the end, the most I spend on a card is 20 cents, plus the 44 cent stamp. I mail lots of cards so this has been a big savings for me, not to mention I have so much fun making them.
This last year, I started collecting gift items and placing them in a plastic tub. I can't tell you how many times it has saved my bacon to reach in the tub and pull out a quick gift as I'm heading out the door to a birthday party or maybe coffee with a new friend. Ideas for gift items is expanding but I started with 5 bars of beautiful homemade soap I bought from an acquaintenance who is trying to break into the soap making business. I added a couple of magnetic note pads I picked up at the dollar store and candles. I have another tub with an assortment of gift bags and tissue. Add a homemade card and I'm out the door.
 Use What I Have.
This year I have been vigilant about using up products I already have on-hand. I have cleaning products that I've owned for over 10 years now. It's time to use 'em up instead of buying new ones. Amway may be a dirty word to some but they make some great concentrated products that seem to last forever.
Think Twice. I spend a lot of time walking around with an item in my hands or cart and often times end up putting it back after thinking twice.
Make lists.
When I keep a good running list of things I need to do and buy, I am more likely to stay on track. One of those magnetic note pads from the dollar store comes in very handy on the fridge.
Barter/Trade Services.
I have a friend who is a dog groomer. She needs a notebook/portfolio put together for when she has a table at dog shows or other events. I am putting it together for her in exchange from some dog grooming services. She trades grooming for lattes with a local coffee grinder. Small businesses do it all the time. Why shouldn't I?
Make One Thing.
We attend a lot of potlucks and get-togethers with friends. This year I made an effort to stick to one or two items that I can make consistently to take to such things. This year it has been baked beans and brownies. It's easy to keep those two items stocked in my pantry and it saves me time and headaches for trying to think of what to take. Am I sick of making them? You betcha. Got any new ideas for me?

I love new ideas. If you have a frugal way of doing things, I hope you'll share it with me. 

love, susan


  1. Susan, Thanks for the plug for "Improvise" is such a nice word for my haphazard approach to getting meals on the table.

    Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast too. The best part to me is that a "heart healthy" serving keeps me full until lunch time - cutting out the 10:30 am snack hunt.

    1. So, do you eat your oatmeal plain or do you mix fun stuff in it? Do tell!

  2. I took a little time to think, but still couldn't come up with any additional frugal ways to add, except the simple act of scraping containers with a spatula to get the last drops. For years I neglected to do that since it seemed a waste of effort for what appeared a little smidgeon of say, peanut butter or yogurt. But then I realized it actually yields a lot more than I thought! I can get enough peanut butter for one more sandwich just by scraping the jar clean.

    Also... that's a fantastic idea of sending your wonderful photos for greeting cards!! I might just steal that idea from you. :-) But then, I have to take some decent photos. I better get practicing.

    1. Your comment reminds me of when my son was about 8 or 9. He kept throwing the toothpaste tube in the trash long before it was empty. One day I took a hand full of pennies and threw them in the trash. I think he made the connection. :-)


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