Money makes the world go ’round, and some think the more you have, the better off you are. There’s many families who have had to find alternate ways to save money, whether their expenses have gone up or their income has gone down. Frugal living isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that’s here to stay, even once the economy recovers. Being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap. In fact, it means being smart and resourceful. Here are 7 ways to become a more frugal family:
- Make energy efficient changes: When it’s just you, you can control how much energy you use in your house, but once you have a spouse and kids, things can get kind of tricky. Make some energy efficient changes in your home. Make sure your lighting is supplied by natural light or energy efficient light bulbs. Get a low flow toilet or shower. Buy energy efficient washers and dryers. Use solar energy when/if possible. Use your slow cooker instead of using the stove. Unplug your electronics when they’re not in use. Your energy bill will thank you, and so will your wallet.
- Make multiple meals with staple ingredients: Food can be one of the biggest expenses in a family’s budget. While eating out may seem cheaper initially, it’s expensive in the long run, both financially and health wise. When you’re going grocery shopping, buy ingredients that you can use for multiple dishes. Chicken can be used as a main dish, supplement your pasta or salad, or the base of soup. You can grill it, bake it, or saute it. Other things I like to buy that you can use for more than 1 dish include ground meat (lean of course), cream of mushroom soup, and even fruits.
- Entertain together: Entertainment is usually the first thing to go from a budget of a family who’s working on a more frugal lifestyle. That doesn’t have to happen if you just entertain differently. Find something the whole family enjoys and look for deals that discounts the price if you have a group of people. This can include vacations, museums, amusement parks, or even the movies. Ask if there’s a family or group discount, and you can save money and still have fun.
- DIY when you can: We’re so quick to call a professional or an expert when you need something done, when doing it yourself is not only easy, but fun and affordable. Try to landscape your backyard yourself with nice flowers and plants. Put down your own linoleum floor. Fix up your own bike. There’s so many resources online where there’s step by step tips to doing things on your own, that you can save a lot of money becoming your own handyman. If you’re intimidated by the task, you should still consult a professional.
- Make sacrifices: This is one that is clear to a lot of families. Being frugal can call for sacrifices from anyone in the family, not just the parents. Ask if your kids wouldn’t mind getting an anticipated toy or game at a later date. See if they’re willing to help cook instead of requesting pizza. For the parents, give up the things you know are excessive, whether that means opting not to go shopping with your latest paycheck or brown bagging it for a month. Everyone in the family can make sacrifices.
- Borrow, share and swap: Our culture is one of excessive consumption. The media hounds us to buy, buy, buy and sometimes even when we don’t have it, we convince ourselves we need it. If you absolutely need it, think about borrowing it from someone who has it, or even swapping. When you borrow, share, and swap with others, you get the same benefits of getting whatever it was you wanted, without having to spend the money.
- Go generic: A lot of people are slaves to name brands. Advertising does it job when people turn their nose up at the generic brand, when essentially, it’s the same thing in a less attractive packaging. Going generic can save you lots of money if you were getting name brand everything. We’ve bought generic cleaners, foods, and clothes and have been able to save a nice chunk of change without sacrificing quality.