Friday, March 20, 2009

Unashamed of My Frugality (revisited)

I am amazed at the number of women who keep blogs with themes similar to mine. Josh has been researching small-scale agricultural pursuits and has found the same thing. There happens to be a large population of women writing about hobby farming, frugal living, organization, simple living, gardening, couponing, and being a stay at home mom. Unlike me, most also include religion, home-schooling, and/or crafting in the mix.

I want to keep writing Ben updates, but I'm going to try to expand into other aforementioned topics because if I write about Ben's sleeping habits every day then this blog will become too boring for even my dearest loved ones to keep up with. Below is something I wrote and posted on Facebook in January. I need to look back over it to remind myself of the goals I made for myself prior to Ben's arrival. (I still included a Ben pic and update at the bottom.)

Unashamed of My Frugality (written January 28, 2009)

In the last week, I have had at least five conversations that discussed how my friends are trying to save and spend less in fear of the economic recession. I’ve been a huge proponent of frugal living (despite ridicule) for years, and while in the shower I thought of a few things Josh and I do to (or try to do), to save money. We don’t use credit cards or have car payments, and I’m sure there are dozens of other things we do that aren’t on this list, but I tried to think of a few that seemed really easy for people trying to do one or two little things during the economic crunch to save money.

1. Use conditioner to shave your legs. – I always have conditioner left over because I don’t go through it as fast as shampoo, and it works just as well as shaving cream.
2. Use generic baby shampoo to wash the dogs. – It doesn’t wash off their flea protection and it only costs $1 a bottle.
3. Make or buy cloth napkins. – For our initial investment of $10 at Dollar Tree, we have bought way, way fewer paper towels. I’m planning on making our next set of cloth napkins using the leftover tablecloths from our wedding.
4. Take clothes out of the dryer as soon as it buzzes. – If you fold and hang things immediately, then you don’t have to iron them (or in our case, wear wrinkled clothing).
5. Buy almost everything generic. – There are a few things that really aren’t the same generic, but if you experiment with generic items, especially soaps, paper products and food, there isn’t a difference between most things.
6. Block off heating / air vents in places you don’t use and turn down the heat at night and every time you leave.
7. Line dry your clothes. – I’ve done this all summer for several years now and I love how my clothes smell and how fresh everything is after being dried outside. In the winter, I haven’t yet devised the best system for air drying in this house.
8. Drink almost only water. – Tea’s a close second for not being too expensive but still being something to drink besides water.
9. Use the public library. – I haven’t bought a book in quite a while, and Josh is even getting a little better about reading a few things from the library instead of buying. You can also find many books for free to read online.
10. Sell everything you don’t need online. – We’ve had the best luck selling things on Craig’s List, and a few things on eBay, but it’s ran by Republicans, so we avoid it for the most part.
11. Buy concentrated cleaning products. I’ve been buying in bulk and diluting cleaning products for years, but as soon as I run out of the current batch, I’d like to try making my own. I am also so glad that highly condensed laundry detergent is becoming the standard now.
12. Only use fabric softener every few loads. I’m not even sure if it’s really the best idea to keep using it, but I’ve been buying the “free and clear” kind. However, it does stay in your clothes after you wash them (that’s the idea), so you only need to add it every few loads, and the rest of the time it will already be in the laundry while you’re washing.
13. Buy everything you can used. More than one of my family members have told me, “but you want your baby to have at least some new things, don’t you?” Nope. He really won’t know the difference, and a bunch of my yard sale finds and hand-me-downs are way better than what we would have bought new in the first place.
14. Conservative coupon-ing. I do cut, keep and use coupons, but only for things I absolutely know I would already buy. I’ve seen some un-named loved ones get a little carried away with coupons, and I’ve also seen some incredible deals, but I only keep and buy things I know I would have used anyway. This also cuts way down on the amount of paper clutter and organization that goes behind keeping coupons. *This has changed a bit since January, but I still only purchase things that will store and that we will use.

A few things we aren’t doing but should:
1. Unplug everything we aren’t using. We don’t have an excuse outside of laziness and not wanting to miss anything our DVR is set to record.
2. Put plastic over the windows. – I hate how it looks, but it really does work. It’s so late in the year now, that I’m using that as my excuse. Next year we’ll probably be back to plastic again.
3. Meal planning. If we could figure out what we were going to eat in advance, and go to the store less, then I’m sure we could save a ton on our impulse and snack purchases.
4. Gardening. It’s in our plan for the coming year, among other things…

Two quotes from my second favorite Ben:
“Be industrious and frugal, and you will be rich.”
“Beware of little expenses – a small leak will sink a great ship.”
- Ben Franklin

And here's the Ben pic of the day:

I love how his hair sticks up everywhere when he wakes up, just like Josh. I am so glad we spent a few days in Jefferson City this week. I think it's the best thing for all of us. Over the past month, watching Josh become a father has been the most incredible experience. Seeing him stare at Ben with such pride and adoration somehow makes me love them both even more, if that's possible.
Ok, enough of that...

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