The very first step toward living a life of frugality is learning to use what you have on hand- and quit buying so much.
What do I mean? Well, living a life of frugality doesn’t just happen over night. We literally have to recondition ourselves. Somewhere along the way, we as humans decided we need a closet full of clothes and shoes, our children need rooms full of toys, and we have to eat a different (fancy) meal every night of the week. I’m here to tell you my friend, that that simply isn’t true. And once you experience the freedom of living a life of frugality, you’ll never go back.
Living with less is possible and very rewarding.
Now that you understand what I mean, let me tell you what I do not mean. Living a life of frugality does not mean living without. It doesn’t mean you dress yourself and your family in rags. Nor does it mean you eat tuna helper every night. We don’t eat tuna helper at all- ever. Actually, my family of 8 eats highly nutritious, organic foods for nearly every meal. And no, we don’t spend a fortune on groceries. I have a budget of $150/week with which to buy food and an extra $100 to buy non-food items. That’s it.
Using what you have on hand will save you money and help de-clutter your house a little at a time.
Buying less clothing
Have you ever stopped and thought about your clothing? Not where it came from or what it costs, but about why you have it? Literally the only real reason we have clothes is to cover our bodies. To keep from walking around naked, we put clothes on.
I don’t know about you, but if my choices are a $50 shirt or a $2 shirt, the latter will win every time. I buy all my family’s clothes, except unmentionables, at thrift stores.
Why thrift stores?
- I can get an item at Goodwill that came from The Gap, Kohl’s, or Banana Republic (or any other expensive box store), but for 95% off the retail price.
- My family is hard on clothes. We go outside to play or play on the floor in the house a lot. I have three growing boys- all of whom are especially hard on their clothes. Why would I spend a small fortune on something I know will inevitably be destroyed???
After some serious downsizing, the kids and I are down to 7 regular outfits, church clothes, and jammies- that’s it. At first I thought it would be hard with so little (compared to what we had), but in reality it’s the opposite! No clothes all over the kids’ bedroom floors! No Mt.Washmore! We have what we need and no more. It’s great.
When we outgrow or out-use our clothes, I re-purpose them. I turn them into baby wipes, cleaning cloths, headbands, bags for the girls, or anything else we can think of. If we have outgrown something and it’s still in good shape, I’ll find someone else to hand it down to or take it back to the thrift store.
I say all of this about clothing because the average American throws out about 82 pounds of textile waste per year. Can you believe that? If we, as Americans, can quit buying new clothing so often, we could significantly cut down on that waste.
Using what you have on hand in the kitchen
For many families, their biggest source of waste comes from the kitchen. We buy food with the intent to eat it, but lets face it, sometimes life happens and our meal plan gets thrown to the wind. A lot of those instances could be avoided if we simply didn’t buy so much food. Most families spend too much at the grocery.
We take a look at our pantry and declare, “there’s nothing to eat!”. But what we really mean is there’s nothing ready to eat. Our pantries hold a treasure trove of meals just waiting to be created.
Here’s a great post on using what you have already in the kitchen. I do pretty much the same thing as Tara. Reinvent! Re-purpose those leftovers! One of my frugal kitchen hacks (if I can really call it that) is to keep a list of frugal meal ideas in the kitchen. I hang it inside one of my kitchen cabinets.
The one I have in my kitchen is just a messy hand-written thing, but I created a pretty printable just for you!