March 11, 2010

Frugality = Saying No To

A couple of years ago, I felt a tugging on my heart for a life of peace & simplicity.As part of that, I began to work at being more frugal. In recent months, I've kicked my efforts up a notch (or three). I've learned that many things are conveniences we can do without. I know there are many bloggers out there who are far more frugal than I. In fact, you may think what I've given up isn't a sacrifice at all. But for this mom who has a full-time job outside of the house, these are big (albeit good) changes.

I'm no longer buying:

~Paper Towels. Microfiber cloths work great, and are easily thrown in the washing machine.

~Paper Napkins. Cloth napkins add a touch of elegance, and they too are easily washed. My one concession in this area is cute cheap napkins for CJ's lunch box. Of course she needs a napkin & I'm afraid I'd never see my cloth ones again if I sent them.

~Laundry Detergent. I finally decided I can make laundry detergent. But I'm not giving up Tide Stain Release tabs. Truly a miracle worker. I only buy them on sale & with a coupon, and I use them sparingly. (I've found a recipe for fabric softener, too...we'll see how it goes!)

~Books. Honestly, I don't think I've purchased 5 books (other than Bible studies) in over two years, unless I had a gift card.  I have an Amazon wish list a mile long, so I'll still use gift cards when I get them. But I've found that my local library is more than willing to purchase any fiction book I request.

~Floor cleaner. I don't know how many half-empty containers of different floor cleaners I've got in my cleaning closet...too many! I've never found anything for my laminate floors that wowed me.  But I'm loving the steam mop I got with a Christmas gift card. It requires only water, and does a great job.

We rarely eat out. We've also said goodbye to our gym membership, and are this close to cutting the land line (your thoughts?).

Life is different, but it's also very good. Just as we're saying no to some things, we're saying yes to others. More to come on that next time.


Sandi said...

I know a lot of people who are cutting loose their land lines, well, where we live (out in the middle of nowhere) when there is no power, it is our only connection to the outside world. Our cells eventually run out of juice and we have to rely on the "old-timey" phones. That's why we keep ours. To each his own.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

CUT the land line! We did it a year ago and I've been very pleased with that decision.

I haven't bought paper towels/paper plates in years, though I do buy paper napkins. I have cloth ones as well, but it's nice to use paper ones (like you said) in lunch boxes, for quick clean ups, etc.

One of my favorite frugal tips is to cut your dryer sheets (if you use them) in half. Your box will last SO much longer. I have to use some kind of fabric softener here because it's so dry and static is a big issue.

Carrie said...

I enjoyed finding out some of the ways you've cut costs!

We have a landline for business purpose but got the basic, basic package (can't call long distance, etc.) because we really don't use it. We both have cell phones and prefer them so we just eliminated the unnecessaries on the land line.

That said, one of the reason I wanted a landline (while parenting children) was in case of emergency. That's kind of my sole motivating factor. A landline is easier to locate and use. Hence, we have it still.

Lisa writes... said...

I'm wanting a steam mop!

Alana said...

I am completely in the same boat and am finding the same thing to be true. Many things we can live without and not such a big deal. Landline is definitely one of them. We got rid of ours in the fall and have not missed it one bit. Honest.

love ya!

jenmom said...

We didn't have a land line phone for forever! With the cell packages we had that included free mobile to mobile and free nights and weekends, we didn't need it. We used the cells and the land line never rang anyway. The only reason we have it now is because we have an awesome bundle deal that includes our internet service, phone, and T.V.

Would you mind sending me your detergent and softner recipes? I've really been wanting to try homemade laundry stuff.

kittyhox said...

I've been meaning to try to cut out paper towels, cold turkey, but haven't gotten up the nerve yet. I do use them a lot more sparingly than I used to. After reading your post, I think I might give it it a try.

We cut our cable down to the basic package, switched to slower internet, and cut our land line. The internet thing is mildly annoying, but having fewer channels has been surprisingly great. We have discovered new programs and have been watching things we never ever would have watched before when we had dozens of DVR programs at the ready. Sometimes we'll watch the most random thing on PBS or public access and have such great discussions.

My cell phone is now a "go phone" because I rarely use it. We stopped using baggies in my son's preschool lunchbox and use refillable containers. I've stopped using dryer sheets and put a little vinegar in fabric softener container in my washing machine. (I've read that dryer sheets are really bad for the environment, too.)

Probably the single biggest money-saving thing that I now do is use my library to bring home books for my kids - whereas I used to order dozens of books a month from Amazon. I just make a big wishlist and can put up to 25 books at a time on hold at my library - which pulls titles from all the area libraries. Then I stop by a couple of times a week and swap. We always have tons of new books to read at bedtime and I feel stupid for not doing this sooner! Seriously, the library is the greatest invention ever.

This might sound counterintuitive, but being more conservative, financially, means we've also been giving more to our favorite charities. I think just taking more control over our money and curbing excesses has helped get our priorities in line and when we have met our monthly giving and saving goals it's so fun to decide together where we'd like the leftover to go, based on articles or newstories we've read, something compelling we heard of through our church, etc.

It's unfortunate that the economy is wreaking havock on so many lives, but good that we are all focusing on being better stewards of what God has given us. Let's hope these frugal habits continue even when times are rosier, financially!

Emie Kay said...

We have been missionaries in profession (but truly any believer is a missionary) and that is when Jesus started teaching me how to live frugally. Over the last year, my husband had a full time job and I added some of the extras back into our life for convenience! Now we're back to leaping into "missionary" status and I'm back to giving up the conveniences. Every time, I'm always amazed at what I don't really need!! It can be a stretch but I always end up loving the simplicity. Praying with you in your journey of frugality and simplicity.

Jillian, Inc said...

Great list. We went for a long time without a land line and we were fine but we do have one now for my husband's business. {And I've been home sick 2 days and that thing rings constantly - ha!} I have to admit I'm a papertowel bad girl. I use way too many. But we don't use paper napkins. You can also completely cut out using dryer sheets by soaking a washcloth in diluted fabric softener and throw it in with the load you are drying. Works great! Hugs to you!

jen said...

Love all of your thoughts on being frugal. I have made my own laundry soap from time to time when I have the gumption.

As for the land line, we did not have one for quite a while but when the boys became old enough to leave home alone but not old enough to have their own cell phone, we decided to get a land line for safety. Also, hubby's uncle does dispatch for local police. He says it's faster for them to find you if you can't communicate if you're using a land line. The can find you with a cell phone, it just takes longer. So, our land line is solely for safety. We still use my cell number for the "home" number and don't give out our land line #.

Just our thoughts. Every area and family situation is different.

2cats said...

You have made some amazing cuts.
I tried to make my own laundry soap, but didn't like the way it cleaned my whites. I tried making my own dish soap but is didn't cut the grease very well and left a funny residue. What I do like is the homemade dishwasher soap. That works like a dream.
I am afraid to do without paper towels. I might have withdrawls. I am gradually getting away from paper mapkins, but my husband is going through withdrawl.
We live in the back of beyond and don't have cell reception here so a land line is a must. I have cell reception if I stand in the middle of the yard and am facing south.

Alana said...

Melissa, could you give me your recipe for laundry detergent? I am looking online and there are so many to choose from. I want to use one that has worked for someone I know already. Thanks!!