Frugality is defined as being characterized by economy in the use of resources. The Great Depression spurred everyone on with the motto “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Another way to think of frugality is being able to tell the differences between wants and needs.
People who are economizing may choose to do so in only one aspect of their life, or they may apply the principals of frugality across the board. Individuals and families can track the numbers related to their savings and challenge themselves to do better.
Let’s start with being frugal at home; here are some categories to explore:
- utilities such as gas, electric and water
- food expenses
- major home appliance purchases
There are standard steps we all know to save on utilities, but we do not always make the effort to follow them. Track your progress for motivation. Utility companies put usage statistics in their monthly bills.
Begin by saving water. If there is a water leak in your home get it fixed. Monitor your water bill for unusual surges in cost. Those may indicate underground leaks. It never is a savings to ignore needed repairs. Suggested ways to save water:
1. Take shorter showers. Get your entire body and hair wet, and then turn off the water while you lather up. Turn the water back on to rinse. Use the same principle when brushing your teeth. Get the brush wet; get a cup of water to rinse. Turn off the water, and brush. 2. Wash full loads of dishes and clothes. If you do not have a dishwasher, wash by hand and do not let the water run while you wash and rinse. Wash some dishes, then rinse a sink full and put them out to drain.
3. Get low flow shower heads and toilets.
4. Get a rain barrel for watering gardens and plants.
5. Water your lawn deeply, to the roots and do it less often. A bonus here is mowing less often.
You will also want to save gas and electricity.
1. Drying clothes can be a big energy hog. Use cooler temperatures, and do not dry bone dry. Hang the clothes while they are slightly damp to minimize wrinkles. Ironing clothes consumes a lot of energy. Your clothing will also last longer.
2. Save even more and hang laundry to dry, either outdoors on a line or on racks in your home.
3. Cook with your microwave or other small appliances. Use your outdoor grill. They save utilities and if the weather is hot, your home also stays cooler.
4. Clean the coils on the refrigerator. Clean the dryer vents. Clean the filters on your heating and cooling systems. This results in immediate savings and it also makes those big ticket items last longer.
5. Set the thermostat cooler in winter and wear a sweater.
Cut food expenses by being frugal. The best advice is to eat out less often, stop for fewer beverages and snacks at convenience stores. You will be healthier as well if you make those changes.
When you shop, avoid processed foods as much as possible. Do not buy something just because it is considered to be healthy. Watch sales circulars for especially good deals, Use loyalty cards and digital coupons for things you use often. Be willing to buy “manager’s specials” which are often marked down as much as 40%. Plan to use them if you buy them. Freeze what you cannot use immediately. Make menus and lists and shop less often.
Plant a garden or check out the local Farmer’s Market for good buys on fresh local foods.
Entertainment can offer a good savings. Do you need 100 or 200 stations to watch 24 hours daily? If not, cut the cable. Look for streaming services that provide your favorite content, select “on demand” shows for the things you must have. Use group leverage to purchase entertainment in your community. Read books, play board games, do creative projects take a walk. Some libraries offer the opportunity to borrow passes to local attractions, for free.
Major home appliances cost less if distressed. That is, if you can live with a small dent you may save hundreds of dollars. Scratch and dent appliances often come with full warranties. So do last year’s models or floor models. Score some savings in that way.
Wardrobe is a good place to save. If you are required to dress a certain way for your job purchase quality clothes, and take care of them. Be willing to look at “seconds” if you can sew on a button or mend a small seam you can save money. Buy classic pieces that mix and match, then change them up with accessories. For children, patronize consignment shops and yard sales. Children often grow fast and used clothes can have plenty of wear left for the next person. Sell your own gently used items and reinvest the money in new things.