Frugal Living: Attitude Adjustments, Part I

Probably nothing is more important to saving money than our attitudes. Here are some of the mindsets and habits I'm trying to keep in the forefront of my brain. Writing them down has been an extra help to me, making it more difficult to head the other direction. Today, for example, I was ready to cave on #2 and ask my husband to stop at the store to pick up some items for snacks for the preschoolers and junior high youth group for our Wed. night program. I reconsidered and figured out snacks I can make for those classes from ingredients on hand. (Sigh. Picking up pretzles would have been easier.)

Money Saving Attitudes:


1. Be content with what you have!
See I Tim. 6:6, Pro. 15: 16, 16:8, Ps. 37:16

2. Use what you already have on hand.
This works well for food, crafts, and household repairs. Before purchasing something new, consider whether you might already have something at home that would work. Don't make extra trips to the store for a missing ingredient, but try a creative substitute.

3. Learn how to "repurpose" items. (This is exhilarating!)
Inspired by the gorgeous handbags and other items my friend, Barbara, makes from felted wool sweaters, I'm experimenting with this process. It promises to be great fun! Partially worn out blue jeans lend themselves to many new uses from aprons to picnic quilts to flunky skirts. Think creatively about your old items and see what you can come up with!

4. Before buying something, stop and think, "Do I really NEED this or do I only want it?"
A little discipline goes a long way toward helping you meet financial goals. I'm asking myself this question much more before purchasing books, one of my passions.

5. Ask yourself if you can do something yourself instead of paying someone else to do it. Examples - giving your husband and children haircuts, and changing the oil in your car.

6. Do the math.
It pays to calculate the cost per serving of food purchases, how much it actually costs you to throw a load of laundry in your dryer, and all kinds of other decisions you make every day. Sometimes it helps to figure out an "hourly wage" for your savings. Here's a recent example from my life:
If I make 1/2 gallon of yogurt from milk that cost $1.25 instead of buying 10 2/3 cartons (6 oz.) of yogurt cups for $.40/each ($4.27), i saved $3.02. If it took me 15 minutes of hands on time to do so, my hourly wage is #12.07, with no taxes due. Since I actually made my last batch with free milk Kristen brought home from Bloomingfoods (at expiration date, but still good), my hourly rate was $17.08.
Maybe you will want to calculate just how long your husband will have to work to pay for that new history curriculum before placing an order. Doing the math in many situations can help you make better decisions and can also serve as a motivator to continue looking for frugal options.

(To be continued.)
2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for these great ideas. Could you post your favorite stain removal ideas? I always seem to just shrink the kids' clothes and not succeed in getting the stain out.

    We love hand-me-downs, consignment shops, and grandparents (!) for kids' clothes, and buy as few things as we can. However, things seem to get stained or wear out (holes in the knees!) before the season ends and I'm having to buy more things. I guess I will turn those torn jeans into summer cut-offs.

    Thanks,

    Lydia Carter


  2. Anne Says:

    Hi Lydia -

    Here's a stain removal from The Tightwad Gazette. My sister-in-law, Terri, gave me this or a similar one years ago. It works quite well, esp. with food and grease stains, though it can remove color from dark clothes, so use it with care. But if something is already stained, I figure, what else do I have to lose?

    1 cup. Cascade powdered dishwasher detergent
    1 c. Clorox II(Non-chlorine bleach)
    5 gallons of very hot water

    Soak several pieces of clothing in this solution overnight, then wash as usual.

    ======
    For ordinary stains (grass stains, ink) I use a Shout gel stick.

    To remove gum, use peanut butter.

    Here's a stain remedy that I've just read about in several places online, but haven't tried yet:

    Mix equal parts liquid dish soap, clear ammonia, and water. Keep in a spray bottle and spray on stains before washing.