Friday, May 2, 2014

Eleven Ways To Be More Frugal

"And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
I Timothy 6:8

When God sent us Zachary after 12 1/2 years of infertility,
Kevin and I went from a two-income household to one income.
Along with that change came the necessity to cut corners and make adjustments,
because we were bound and determined, by God's grace, to make sure I was able to stay home full-time.
Every day that I live, I marvel at the miracles God has performed
in order to fulfill my lifelong dreams of being exactly where I am.
To me, staying home is worth whatever corners we have to cut.
It is just that precious and important to me.

In the process of scaling back, I have learned some valuable lessons in trusting God,
and it has truly been interesting to watch the creative ways
He has faithfully supplied our needs through the years.

Today, I wanted to share eleven practical, common-sense tips the Lord has taught me
concerning cutting costs and living more frugally.
In a nutshell, it is all of the little things that add up to make a big difference.  :)

#1. Only use coupons when it makes good sense.
Nobody loves a bargain more than I do, and nobody gets more excited over a great deal.
I am all for the use of long as it makes sense to use them.
Before you justify buying a name-brand laundry detergent, just because you have a coupon for it,
ask yourself if you could buy an equally-efficient and comparable-quality "off-brand" that works just as well.
I know people who rave about the enormous amount of money they save by using coupons,
who could save even more if they tossed the coupons aside to pay a lower net price
for a competitive off-brand.
While I realize there are times when just the name-brand will do,
there are many other times that a store brand will do just as well.
Be willing to compromise for the sake of common sense.

#2.  Eliminate unnecessary expenses.
Live as simply as possible.
What can you do without?
We don't have television in our home,
so we don't have a cable bill.
This saves a tremendous amount of money each month.
Ask yourself if it's worth what it costs.
Do you really want access to the smorgasbord of filth cable TV provides?
Do you want it available to the innocent eyes of the little ones entrusted by God to your keeping?
Does the good outweigh the bad?
We bundled our internet service with our monthly phone bill,
which is a considerable savings.
Other than Kevin's Blackberry provided by and for his job,
we don't have cell phones.
I love the peace!
We have one pay-as-you-go TracFone, so there is no set, demanded monthly fee.
We keep it in the car to be used for emergencies,
to contact each other when one of us is out without the other (which is rare, thankfully),
and for when we are traveling.
When we bought it, we made sure we bought the one that offered double-the-minutes-for-life.
We only buy minutes as we need them, which is infrequently,
and when we do, we get twice the minutes we pay for.
Pack your lunch, instead of eating out.
Walk, instead of drive, when possible and safe.
Buy machine washable clothing, to cut down on the price of dry cleaning.

#3.  Reduce electricity.
Open curtains/drapes to utilize and take advantage of natural light.
It's free!
If at all possible, invest in a clothes line.
Hang out your laundry, when you can.
It feels so good to get outside, and this is "a chore" children love to help with,
especially since it is outdoors.
Don't use heat and A/C unnecessarily.
Open your windows, and enjoy some fresh air, whenever possible, and you feel it is safe to do so.
Turn lights off in every room except the room you are in.
Turn off electronics, when not in use.
Limit the time they are in use.
Invest in lined curtains/drapes to insulate against cold and heat.
Several years ago, Aunt Joyce blessed us with several pairs that she was getting rid of.
I am convinced it saves on our electric bill each month.

#4.  Cook meals that provide leftovers.
If you have one pack of hamburger in the freezer, keep in mind that making spaghetti will go a lot farther
and last a lot longer than making cheeseburgers, which will only get you through one meal.
Cook in big enough quantities to provide for as many meals as possible.
Analyze before you start and figure out which angle would stretch your supplies the farthest.
We love leftovers at our house, and they seldom go to waste.
Many things taste even better the second...and third...and fourth time around.  :)
Be intentional in your meal planning, and make the most of what you have on hand,
without having to buy extra.

#5.  Shop at thrift stores and yard sales.
I know people who wouldn't dare wear a used piece of clothing.
I think this is the height of waste and foolish pride!
If you have doubts, you can always double or even triple-wash them in hot water when you get home.
We are blessed to have access to some very clean thrift and Goodwill stores
that I absolutely love to shop in.
I have found some of the most amazing deals and bargains on name-brand clothing and shoes.
Much of it is in like-new and very gently-used condition.
You just have to take your time and look.
This is especially practical and helpful while children are growing.
If you are operating on a tight budget, it is completely unwise to pay full dollar for brand-new clothes
that they will wear for only a couple of months, then outgrow.
Go with specific needs in mind and not to just spend money on things you don't really need,
no matter how inexpensive they are.

#6.  Learn to live with one vehicle.
Before you skim over this one, please hear me out.
I realize this is not always possible, but before you rule it completely out,
think about it. :)
Ask yourself why you have more than one vehicle.
Is it more for convenience, or is it a necessity?
If it is only because it makes life more luxurious,
maybe it would be worth the consideration to downsize.
I believe, in most cases, you can make this work, if you are willing to be creative.
Is there someone you can carpool with?
Could you drop each other off, if you left home a few minutes earlier?
What would it really take to make this plausible?
Having only one car cuts down on insurance costs,
personal property taxes (if applicable where you live),
maintenance and repairs,
gasoline costs,
and monthly car payments.

#7.  Do your homework...before you leave home.
Kevin is so diligent about this.
He gets all of our local grocery store newspaper ads,
and he sits down and compares prices.
He shops at more than one store, within close proximity,
in order to get the best deals on what we need.
He seldom buys anything that is not on sale.
I am very blessed that he loves to do our grocery shopping.
He does a great job, and it is always fun to go over the receipt together after he gets back home
and see how much he managed to save by preparing ahead of time.

#8.  Don't impulse buy.
This is an oldie-but-goodie tip that is usually adapted by those of us who have felt the sting of remorse.
Who among us hasn't beaten themselves up after returning home from making an unwise,
spur-of-the-moment, carelessly impulsive purchase?
Keep in mind that stores use strategically-planned marketing ploys to encourage this very thing.
You know you didn't go to Walmart for a box of Cheez-its,
but as you stood in their very slow-moving line,
(Ahem!  Could it be that this is intentional?  
Do they train their cashiers to move at a snail's pace to allow ample time to scour the candy bars, gum, snacks, and other things you decide you can't leave the store without?)
you spotted a lovely display of Cheez-its in your face.
The longer you stood there, the better they looked...and sounded,
so even though they weren't on your list, you finally caved, ate half the box on your way home,
gained two pounds, and hated yourself the next morning.
Refusing impulse-buying temptation is not for the faint of heart....or resolve.
Stay focused.
Buy only what you intended to buy when you entered the store.
Beat them at their own game, and you will walk out with your head held high....
and your money still in your wallet.  :)

#9.  Don't grocery shop on an empty stomach.
You are setting yourself up to go way off-budget, if you do.
It is a proven fact that you will spend more for food, if you shop while hungry.
Eat until you are stuffed...then go to the grocery store.
You won't want anything.
Nothing will appeal to you.
You will feel miserable from being so full,
so you will make a beeline and get out the door as quickly as possible.
Shopping for food while your gut is full will ensure that  you stick to your original list,
 and you won't be tempted to grab anything and everything within sight and reach.
It's a wonderful philosophy.
Mom knew what she was talking about, after all.  :)

#10. Use, re-use, re-cycle, and re-purpose.
Use it 'til it's used up.
Don't buy a new one, until the old one wears completely out.
Use what you have on hand.
Think outside the box.
Think like a pioneer.
They had to make do.
They had no choice.
Pretend you don't either...and see how innovative you become.  :)
Make pillow cases, pillow shams, or quilts out of leftover material scraps.
Make little girls' dresses, scarves, or pretty window curtains out of unneeded bed sheets and/or pillowcases.
Save empty butter/margarine bowls to send leftovers home with guests.
Wash and reuse yogurt containers as starter pots for plants, flowers, or herbs.
Wash sandwich and storage bags, after using, and use them least once.
Crochet dish cloths to use up yarn skein remnants.
Don't open a new bottle, can, or tube until the old one is completely empty.
Don't waste.
Instead of buying new furniture, buy slip-covers, or better yet,
watch an online tutorial and make them yourself out of sheets bought at a discount linen store.
Scrape out the residue of jar candles (the part that remains after the wick has completely burned),
and use the scented wax as tarts to melt in your tart warmer.

#11.  Do it yourself whenever possible.
If there's anything more satisfying and fulfilling than the feeling that comes from doing a hard day's work,
it's knowing you saved money while doing it.
If you are physically able and have the know-how, fix things yourself.
Instead of hiring someone to paint your living room, make getting the job done a family project.
Instead of having your carpets professionally cleaned, rent a cleaner and do it yourself.

Be a good steward over what God has placed in your hands,
and enjoy the journey!

(To read #1 in this series, entitled "Eleven Ways To Bless Your Husband", click here.
To read #2 in this series, entitled, "Eleven De-Cluttering & Organizing Tips", click here.
To read #3 in this series, entitled "Eleven Steps To A Stronger, Happier Marriage", click here.
To read #4 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Things To Remember During Infertility", click here.
To read #5 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Ways To Make Your Home More Peaceful", click here.)


  1. I have to work on #6 and 7, but the rest I put into action and agree that being a stay at home mom the first 15 years was the best decision I made. I loved it! Good advice for retirees too.


    1. Thank you so much, Mary! So happy you stopped by. I am praying for Amy and looking for the Lord to send her a baby of her own. I think of her often in prayer. May the Lord bless you and her in a special way. Love, Cheryl

  2. I love this Cheryl!!!! We are SUPER frugal so this post speaks straight to my heart ;) These are all such great ideas too!!! :) xoxo

    1. I appreciate it so much! So happy to hear from you today. Praying for you often and sending lots of love and hugs your way, sweet friend. :)

  3. This was a brilliant idea for a series. Love it, my dear friend. I have missed some of them, because of brain fog whenever I feel on overload. However, you know me, I am trusting in God for his direction and help in overcoming. Love, Deborah

    1. Thank you ever so much, dear friend! Praying for you and sending lots of love and hopes for healing your way. Love you!!

  4. I enjoy your blog! Per #8 on impulse buying, I wish to comment that as a Walmart cashier, I am encouraged to speed up, not to slow down. Our speed is constantly being recorded and made known to us. Thank you for an inspirational and encouraging blog. Lee Ann Samons

    1. So thankful to hear from you today, Lee Ann! Thank you for your sweet encouragement. I was actually half-kidding about them strategically having the cashiers slow down. Walmart is a great store and one of my favorite places to shop!!! One of my favorite things about them is that they aren't ashamed to support Christmas and call it by its real name. For this and many other reasons, they get the bulk of our business at Christmas and throughout the year. :) God bless you for stopping by today. Love to you, Cheryl

  5. Cheryl, I just loved these and am thankful to say that we do most of them. Being frugal is what allows me to be at home with my children. I SO wish that our neighborhood would let us have clotheslines. I love the fresh smell of clothes dried outdoors, but alas ... it's one of the drawbacks of living in a newer subdivision. But, there are many positives, so I'll just have to dry my clothes indoors! I was inspired by these words: "Think like a pioneer. They had to make do. They had no choice. Pretend you don't either...and see how innovative you become." Love it! I'm going to think like a pioneer this week and see what I come up with! :D

    1. Thank you ever so much, Tarissa! So sorry you aren't permitted to have the clothes line you long for, but what a blessing that you are so consciously frugal in so many other ways! To my fellow-pioneer-in-frugality...have a blessed day!

  6. These are wonderful tips! I'll definitely remember them for when we move down to a one income family this fall. :-D

    1. That's great, Susannah! I have been meaning to head over to your link-up! Hopefully, I'll make it there this week. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Excellent wisdom, Cheryl. Good advice and I love the pictures! Architectural pictures do something for me I can't explain, and it doesn't matter how ornate or simple. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much, Floyd! So thankful you stopped by. I love pictures like this, too...the more rustic and rugged they are, the better, in my opinion. I enjoyed reading and finding your blog through Hazel's link-up. God bless you and your family!

  8. Great list! I'm going to put this on Pinterest. Also, glad to meet another person without cable, and I envy you on the no cell phone, living more simply really is the way to go!

    1. Thank you so much, Jane! So grateful to have met you and thankful you stopped by! God bless you. :)

  9. Your advice on coupons is so wise. I have noticed lately they are for more than just one too. Don't buy multiples if the first will last a very long time. And don't buy items you are not already using. Coupons can be such a lure. Great post!

    1. You are so right. I have been noticing that, too. :) Thank you ever so much for stopping by today! God bless you!

  10. These are all great ideas! When I started paying more attention to making our food go farther (and when my husband got on board with actually wanting to eat leftovers for lunch instead of having himself a special lunch at work) I was very impressed at how much we saved. We live out in the boondocks and have two cars--I am glad that we have them for now, we've even found that we can bless others with our second car by letting family members borrow it, and it gives me the freedom to get errands done while the husband is at work--it's definitely convenient to have a 2nd car, but if it's too much of a financial burden, it's not worth it. We're planning to move to a large city in a couple months and we won't have any cars at all. Complete reliance on public transportation will be a new adventure for us!

    1. What a wonderful idea and way to bless others, Rachel! So happy you stopped by today, and I trust God will bless you as you adjust to big city life!

  11. Great common sense list! :) to this I would add garden as much as possible as space allows. Blessings!

    1. YES!! Wonderful point, Kaylene! LOVE it. :) Thanks for stopping by!!

  12. I have always been a pinch penny person, and I love your save money suggestions. At our home, the other person sometimes has a different idea, so to keep a happy home, I keep quiet if there is a pick up truck plus a van, and an occasional impulse purchase. ♥ Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    1. That is great, Hazel!! So encouraged by your visit tonight, and thank you for the link-up. You are such a blessing!

  13. Good Morning! I think these are all very good ideas and it can work to cutting our outgo! But sometimes we need to realize we can enjoy some of these things as we get older and have a larger income then when we had our children at home. But if any of these things would allow a women to stay home: do it....
    Blessings, Roxy

    1. What a wonderful point from a different perspective, Roxy! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your heart!

  14. As always, your gentle tone makes this practical post a rich blessing. Thank you, Cheryl, for joining us at Unforced Rhythms.

    1. Thank you ever so much, Kelli! It is always a dear blessing to see that you have stopped by here. Your words always cheer me on and give me courage to keep going. God bless you, sweet friend!

  15. Are you on Pinterest? This is great content that should be shared over there. Loved this one: Pack your lunch, instead of eating out.

    Picnics are way more fun. :)

    1. SO nice to see you stopped by today, Jennifer! I am just getting the hang of Pinterest, after living in the stone age for so long!! LOL! I just went on there and pinned it....I think! Hope it worked, anyway. I appreciate your vote of confidence and encouragement. :) God bless you.

  16. Cheryl ~

    We've been married 25 years next month and have never had cable or satellite. It's far better to have a video library which we can control and limits TV usage as well. You don't miss what you don't have and really, the only thing we are happy to miss is the crud. ;) A few other things we do that you listed are utilizing our clothesline...a family of 10 could cause the electricity bill to soar with all that dryer usage. Besides, it's a pretty sight to see clothes blowing in the breeze. ;) Unit price shopping is they way we do it, too, and couple that with buy one get one offers or coupons (only if it's an item we would use or falls less than the least costing item) is the way to go. And we are a big DIY (while training our children - equipping them with valuable skills) family...back labor makes the finished product all the sweeter, allowing money to be saved. Yah! Great additional ideas in your posts ~ thanks for sharing. Visiting from the link-up today.


    1. Hello, Jarnette! That is so wonderful. Such great ideas you use and implement to the betterment of your family. I am so happy you stopped by and so thankful to have met you today. I hope you will visit are always welcome here! God bless you and your family.

  17. What a delight to meet you here, Cheryl. I love your pictures and feel as though I've been welcomed into your world. Thank you for that! I am with you on all of your suggestion for living frugally, except living with one vehicle. I'm not sure I'm ready to do that one :)
    I'll be back to visit you again - hope the mac & cheese is warm!

    1. And what a delight to meet you, too, Pat! I so hope you will come back often for visits....and so thankful you felt welcome here. That means so much to me to know that! And, yes, I'll try to make sure there is something warm waiting for you. LOL!! :)

  18. Hi Cheryl,
    Wonderful list! I am glad to say that we embrace ALL of your ideas in our home :) Even 1 vehicle :) It is so encouraging to see a like-minded lifestyle. And so true about being innovative! The more we tighten-up, the more creative we become. Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I am sure others will be blessed by this list too! Please join us again next week~

    1. So thankful you stopped by, Jes! What a blessing to have found your has just meant so much to me. There is SO much on there that is so beneficial and edifying. YES, it is such a blessing to meet a kindred spirit. God is SO good to connect us like this. :) I am definitely planning, by God's grace, to link up every time I possibly can. Thank you so much! God bless you and your family.

  19. Cheryl...My family teases me that I cook for an army. Yet the next day when they are enjoying leftovers for lunch or dinner, it all makes sense, right? ;-) Number six would not work for us, unfortunately, but we still try to save money on gas and car expenses as best we can if we're going to have two vehicles. I am a huge fan of thrift stores and clearance items. I've even found new items! Thank you for sharing your tips at Monday's Musings. Blessings to you!

    1. Naomi, SO very thankful you stopped by today! I'm sure they enjoy those yummy leftovers. :) Sounds like we have a lot in common. So thankful to "know" you in this big, old "bloggy" world!! God bless you.

  20. This was a great post with a lot of helpful tips. Working on making ground beef go further is important because you are right hamburger patties only last us one maybe one and a half meals tops!

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! I am going to hop over to your place...the title really caught my eye!! I love to learn anything I can about being a better, more frugal steward. :) So happy you stopped by.

  21. These are really plain and simple and yet we often neglect these simple things... Thank you for the reminder! =D I'm on the right track. I'm doing some of the tips you shared. Esp #2. It's a team effort though. Your husband should be able to join you in frugal living. =D It's much easier! lol

    1. So happy you stopped by today, Viviene! Yes, it is surely a blessing if all of the family is on board!

  22. I love this list, Cheryl! We are a one-income family, too, and I appreciate the tips and encouragement.

    1. Thank you so much, Amanda! So thankful you stopped by. :) God bless you and your family!!

  23. I think that the thing that helped me most was to quit trying to live like the middle class!

    1. Amen, sister!! So happy you stopped by. ;)

  24. Hello Mrs Cheryl.
    hmm where did you find the photo of the coke sign photo?
    a town about 5 minutes from me has that exact one on a building.

    1. Where do you live? Maybe it is the same place! How neat!! :)

  25. What a great list of tips that I agree with. All but, 2 cars we must have do to our situation. Also we have tv, my husband wanted ( God gave us free) but we use the old fashion /whats free over the air tv/ no cable bill to watch tv! I try to do as many of these tips you mention as I can. I live in an apartment in the city and we can't hang clothes on our balcony but I still air dry on those folding racks in the house! I love left overs!

    1. Hi, Suzie!! I was just getting ready to email you!!! I got my sweet package today!!!! It made my whole fact, it brightened my husband's and son's day, too. :) Thank you SO much, and thank you for stopping by and leaving such sweet encouragement behind. I love your ideas and the points you shared. :) God bless you abundantly, sweet friend. :)