Living frugally does not mean you have to miss out on the things you really want. With a few changes in key areas of your lifestyle you will see an improvement in your savings and spare time.
Groceries consume a large amount of your weekly earnings, however by returning to basics you will see a growth in your savings. Basic meals are flavoursome and nutritious. For example, a simple bolognaise sauce made at home is much tastier and cheaper than one from a jar. As an added bonus home-cooking is a time saver if you make double the amount and freeze half. This way, on a night when you do not feel like cooking, you can defrost the extra sauce in the microwave while cooking up a batch of pasta to go with it.
Growing your own herbs and vegetables is also great way to cut back on your grocery bill. Best of all you don’t need a large garden; you can even grow them without a garden at all. Herbs and vegetables can be grown in pots, and these days pots come in different sizes to suit any situation. There are community gardens cropping up all over the place where you can secure a plot for free. Community gardens not only save you at the grocery store, but they are a great way to meet new people, and swap different crops and recipes.
If you do have a backyard, a couple of chickens are a great addition to the frugal household. They will turn your scraps into fertiliser, do some of your weeding for you and supply you with fresh eggs.
Keeping the house clean is another money and time waster. Money can be saved with small changes, such as using face-washers (or cut up old towels) as dishcloths. After a couple of uses, you just throw them in the washing machine and they are good to go again. Vinegar, bicarb soda and citrus fruit can all be used to clean the house. They are cheaper and healthier than most chemical cleaners you will find in your local shop.
The best way to get through the tedium of house work is to crank up the volume on your favourite songs. Moving to a beat not only makes it more fun, but you’re likely to be moving faster too. Another option is to do one household cleaning task a day which makes it less of a chore, it also seems to take less time. For example, if you allot ten minutes before you leave the house each day, to a cleaning task you will not be stuck cleaning on the weekend. What about the ironing? Rather than spending an hour in one go, why not iron the items you will be wearing that day and tomorrows too, that way you will always have ironed clothes to wear, without using all your spare time.
Electricity is another area that burns through the wallet. Turning everything (other than the fridge and phone) off at the wall will save a surprising amount of power. Turning off the heater and snuggling under a blanket to watch television or read in winter will dramatically cut the total of your bill. If you are using a heater, let it double as a clothes dryer. Having a lounge full of dying clothes might not be aesthetically pleasing, but it is pleasing to the bank balance. In summer use fans and spray bottles of water instead of the air-conditioner.
Finding a different use for spent household items is also a good way to save money. Old towels can be cut down and used as tea-towels or dishcloths. They can be used for pet bedding or rags in the garage. Clothes that are too worn or no longer fit can be filled with rice to make heat pads, or stuffed with other scraps to make door-snakes to keep out the cold. Perhaps a patch work bedspread, or curtain would be more up your alley. You can decorate milo and coffee tins and use them to hold any number of items like pens, toy soldiers, or loose change. Or you could punch holes through them to make outdoor lanterns. When it comes to re-using items the possibilities are endless.
You can be frugal and still have fun. Invite friends and family over for a games night, if everyone brings a dish and drink it will be a cheap fun night for everyone. Games that invite different skills, such as cranium, are a good option if you want to keep fighting to a minimum. Or perhaps a movie night is more your thing. Have your friends bring a plate of nibbles and a drink (supply some yourself as well). If possible have everyone go through their collections and give you a list of favourites, then before the night everyone can vote on the videos that will be watched, rather than trying to choose on the night. Daytime can be fun-time too, with beach barbecues, nature walks or park activities. This list of frugal activities wouldn’t be complete without mention of the library. Libraries have lots of activities for children of all ages, especially during the school holidays, which are usually free. There is also free Internet access, and of course books galore to browse through.
Frugal living gives you more free time for the fun things in life. It also frees up some of your hard-earned money so you can indulge in life’s little luxuries.