I’ve recently been feeling some renewed motivation to save, SAVE, SAVE! And I notice that the more I focus on smaller expenses, the more likely I am to faithfully and enthusiastically pursue our family’s larger financial goals.
Hence today’s listicle: 5 Frugal Things.
All credit for this style of post goes to two of my favorite bloggers: The Frugal Girl and The Non-Consumer Advocate. I’ve been reading each of their blogs for years and they continue to inspire me with their commitment to frugal living in the name of lasting contentment, deliberate saving and spending, and challenging the societal norm of hyper-consumerism, among other things. If you enjoy reading about these topics, be sure to check them out!
I like this kind of list post, because it doesn’t typically include any ground-breaking money saving practices. On the contrary, it usually highlights the everyday, often mundane frugal actions that contribute to an overarching financial or lifestyle goal. In other words, a normal tip from a 5 Frugal Things post will probably not save anyone a hugely significant amount of money. Rather, it will reflect the many small financial choices one often makes throughout the day, week, month, etc.
The tips are often realistic and relatable, which I’m sure is the reason they inspire me so much. Nobody wants to look at a post that suggests things that are unattainable or irrelevant in their current financial situation. The beauty of a 5 Frugal Things post is that the tips are fundamentally accessible to any individual, regardless of their finances. Sure, the details may differ from person to person, but the principle behind each frugal action is universal and generalize-able.
So, here are 5 frugal things that I’ve done recently to save, spend, and live with intention:
1. I harvested a GIGANTIC chicken of the woods mushroom. We’ve been eating it for days and still haven’t finished it. (Universal tip: Can’t harvest a mushroom? Don’t live in a place where you can grow your own vegetables? You don’t have to do these things. Look for other creative ways to stretch your grocery bill or source cheap or free ingredients for your meals.)
2. I sewed a hole in my husband’s pants instead of buying him a new pair. (Universal tip: Try to fix it before you replace it.)
3. I made a bunch of fresh pasta and froze it in small batches to help use up a 50 pound bag of flour we bought at the beginning of the pandemic. (Universal tip: Don’t waste food. Use up what you have before buying more.)
It takes a long time to go through that much flour, so I started thinking of things I could make with it that I’d normally buy pre-made. Pasta is a staple for our family, so I happily took out my hand-me-down pasta maker and got to work (no, you don’t actually need a pasta machine to make pasta – a rolling pin and a knife will work in a pinch). Some quick YouTube research taught me how to make some different styles of pasta with only a few cheap ingredients that I typically have on hand. It was 1 part practicality, 1 part creativity, and 3 parts therapy.
4. We celebrated a recent financial milestone with a home-cooked surf and turf dinner. (Universal tip: You don’t have to break the bank to celebrate. Cook a special meal at home instead of eating out. After all, it’s not where you are but who you’re with that really matters.)
No, lobster and filet mignon are not the most frugal foods by any stretch, however they are far cheaper when you cook them yourself instead of eating them at a restaurant. If we weren’t in the midst of a global pandemic, we may have gone out to celebrate and spent way more money when all was said and done (Mama gets a little saucy when she doesn’t have to cook), so I’m counting this as a frugal win. Plus, I had the luxury of splashing lobster juice all over myself in the privacy of my own home rather than in the presence of judgmental strangers.
5. I am attempting to root my own basil and succulent cuttings. (Universal tip: When possible, wait patiently rather than buying impulsively.)
I have no idea if either of these will actually take off, however I chose to try my hand at basil propagation and succulent rooting rather than buying larger plants that are already established. My aunt gave me more basil than I knew what to do with, so after making a bunch of pesto, I reserved a few sprigs to try propagating them. Only one cutting actually sprouted roots, and time will tell if it grows into anything substantial. Either way, this was a no cost, limited labor project, and therefore a very low-risk undertaking.
As for the succulent cuttings, I actually purchased them online and they were delivered straight to my door. Larger succulents aren’t super expensive, but they are more expensive than buying a bunch of tiny cuttings. Rooting them is more of a time investment than simply purchasing established plants and re-potting them, but I was willing to be patient. Plus, it saved me a trip to Lowe’s, which is a 30 minute drive from my house aaaaand right across the way from Target… (*cough*).
Like I said, none of this stuff in and of itself is going to save me enough for a European vaca, but paying attention to small expenses on a regular basis helps me keep my larger financial goals in the forefront of my mind, rather than in a far off, “someday” place that seduces me into making impulsive rather than strategic purchases.
What’s something frugal you’ve done lately? I’d love to hear about it!