3 Family Friendly Ways to be Frugal
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Money, Money, Money!
Some say that money is the root of all evil. Well, actually the Bible says that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) This simply means that money should not be our idol. It does not mean that we should never think about money or should never have money. In fact, the Bible encourages wisdom when handling our assets, and even talks about wealth as a good thing. It is wise to save money and even to invest it.
Invest? Are You Crazy? I’m in Debt and Living Paycheck to Paycheck!
Ok, so maybe you have some steps in between now and investing. That’s ok. The important thing is to get started! The most important aspect in my opinion is to GET OUT AND STAY OUT of debt. It is the black hole of a healthy financial lifestyle. Also, BUDGET. As Dave Ramsey says, “Every dollar has a name.” I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU). Not only does it outline simple steps for how to handle your money, but it is a great way for you and your spouse to get on board the same train…the mental train of thought that is!
Healthy Financial Habits are Good for Your Family
You may have heard that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Did you know that a high percentage of those divorces end due primarily to fights over money? Being unified as husband and wife (or Daddy and Mommy, as your kids see you) is so very important for the health of your family. Kids are smart and they see what you argue about. They worry about what you worry about. This Lil’ Dino Mommy tries really hard not to argue or fight with Lil’ Dino Daddy in front of our son…even if he is just a year old. You may be thinking, “Surely, at such a young age, he won’t know.” or “He won’t remember.” Perhaps not, and I hope you’re right about that because I’ve already failed in not losing my temper with my husband in front of him. But there are two reasons why I really want to keep working towards the “Don’t fight in front of your kids” rule.
- Perfect Practice Makes Perfect. The behaviors and words we are used to doing and saying on a day to day basis are going to be what our kids see. It’s not like we can flip a switch and suddenly be a different person. Besides, in those moments of anger, we are told not to sin. Feeling angry in and of itself isn’t sinful. It’s how we handle that anger that makes a difference. I want to practice right now, today, the self-control I will need in the future. If my husband and I are in the habit of speaking kindly to one another and dealing with arguments at another time or place, then when push comes to shove (metaphorically, of course!), we will be able to do the same in the future. Besides, we should be dealing with one another kindly whether or not there are little eyes watching. Which brings me to…
- Monkey See. Monkey Do. Who hasn’t heard this phrase? I’ll do you one better, who wasn’t told as a kid by some adult, (maybe not your parents, well…maybe them too), “Do as I say, not as I do”? And who, if you were a teenager, didn’t think, “Yeah right!” We are supposed to model for our children the correct ways to behave and to speak. A perfect example of this in my own life was a couple months ago. I was talking to my husband, frustrated about something, but not at him, and I threw down a pair of pants I was folding as I exclaimed about it. My son, 10 months old, said, “Argh!” and threw down his toy. Oh…hold up there Lil’ Dino Mommy, get it together because your BABY boy is watching you oh, so closely. Another example of this is eating healthy. I really want my children to have healthy eating habits. It is something I have really struggled with all my life and I don’t want them to struggle the same way. The BEST way for me to ensure this is to give them the knowledge on what healthy eating looks like AND model that knowledge in our day to day lives. Eating healthy has to be a lifestyle, not merely a New Year’s Resolution or a fad.
Getting to the Point
So, we all need to practice and model good habits for our kiddos. This includes how we handle our money! So here are # Family Friendly Ways to be Frugal! If you can’t do them all right away, don’t worry. Maybe just work on adding one to start. Whether you are in debt and trying to pinch pennies to get out, or trying to reallocate some funds into your current investments, these are all ways to rename some of those dollars. This was definitely a process for Lil’ Dino Daddy and me. I will share the crazy things we do even though some of you may think they are just TOO crazy. Some may not work for everyone, but maybe they all will work for someone.
3 Family Friendly Ways to be Frugal
- Limit Eating Out. Cook More. This one is so tough for me, which is why it is first on the list. Feeding our family is mainly my responsibility. I want to do a good job for both the health of my family and the health of our bank account. Being a “Drive-Thru Sue” is so very easy for me to fall into. I do enjoy cooking, but let’s face it, it takes time, not to mention the clean up can seem like more work than it’s worth to prepare the meal. Now that I have a one year old toddler in tow, it is all the more difficult to find time to do what it takes to cook. However, this is the most frugal thing I can do. Since eating is something I can easily let get out of control, it is the first thing I have to address. So, for me, taking care of this has to come before a clean house, to include laundry. Here’s how I accomplish this…most weeks.
- Meal Planning. Every week I sit down and write up a meal plan. This is a habit I learned from my mother-in-law after I was married and it has really helped us save money on food. How? Well, before I meal plan, I take a peek at what’s in my fridge, freezer, and pantry, and try to build meals around things I already have. Then I sit down and peruse my cookbooks if I’m feeling adventurous, or jot down a few meals that are staples in our home. As I make my meals, I make my…
- Grocery List. This seems simple enough, but a well planned grocery list keeps me from buying things that aren’t ON the list. When I go to the store without a list, I end up buying more than I need, and usually waste more…because the two of us (plus little dino) simply can’t get through it all. If this is a pain point for you, I have a few friends that swear by the curbside pick up or grocery delivery options at our local grocery stores. Some stores do charge for this service, but if you find yourself spending less using this option than if you would have gone in, it’s definitely worth a try.
- Prepare Meals Ahead. When I am cooking certain meals, I will sometimes double the recipe and save half in the freezer. Some good candidates for freezer meals are soups, chili, and casseroles, such as shepherd’s pie. I also tend to make more spaghetti sauce in relation to pasta or spaghetti squash, so I freeze half of this as well. (Bonus tip: For those who aren’t good at eating through all the produce in the fridge before it wilts or spoils, wash it and chop it when you buy it, and throw it in the freezer for another day! I do this with carrots, spinach, celery, peppers, and berries. I also buy bulk onions and garlic and just throw the whole bag in the freezer for when I need it.)
- Eat Leftovers. I’m always shocked when I hear people say they don’t eat leftovers. I truly can’t imagine just throwing food away. Ok, so maybe some people are good at preparing just enough for that one meal. To that I say: I truly can’t imagine having to cook every night. Hahaha! But if you can, power to you. That’s awesome! If that is you, you are clearly way more organized than me and probably LOVE cooking way more than me as well.
- Make Eating Out Special. If you are like me, eating out or ordering in, even at fast food places, can feel like a vacation from the kitchen. I enjoy not having to cook that night. I enjoy letting someone else feed me for a change, for goodness sake! My husband and I try to plan once a month to go somewhere we really enjoy and make a date out of it. (I must note that this last one is not recommended for those who are in debt. When my husband and I had debt, we did not eat out. Ever. We basically lived on rice, beans, and eggs, and at times, the kindness of others who might have us over for dinner.)
- Old School House Rules. Take a look at that budget. Work on taking steps to lower your household expenses. What can you do to lower your electricity bill? Your water bill?
- Turn off the lights and switch to LED. I used to get in such trouble as a child for keeping the lights on in a room I was no longer occupying. I still shudder in fear at the remembrance of the sound of my first and middle name being yelled by my mother if she found a vacant room with a light burning brightly. In fact, this habit has stuck so severely, that I have (more than once) turned the light off as I leave a room my husband is still occupying! Whoops! Sorry honey.
- Another energy saving method we have employed is using a drying rack to dry our clothes instead of the dryer. The average person spends about $50/month by using the dryer. Drying racks or clothes lines are not only cheaper as it relates to electricity, but it also keeps your clothes from wearing out as quickly. We use drying racks because our subdivision’s HOA would not allow the use of a clothes line in the backyard. (Ridiculous! We will never buy a house under an HOA again!) However, since we moved to our apartment, the drying racks have allowed us to continue to dry clothes both inside and outside on the patio. (Thank goodness the complex doesn’t mind
- If you own your own home and plan to live there for a while, look into things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. We had solar screens fitted to our windows and there was a significant difference in the amount of heat coming into our home during the summer. Living in South Texas, the heat can be brutal! We also had our insulation double checked and a radiant barrier installed. Once we have found our forever home, we will look into Solar panels.
- Saving on the water bill doesn’t take too much imagination, but doesn’t take some discipline if you really want to make a dent. Turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth, pay attention to how long your shower is running. If you are watering your grass or garden, make it count by watering early in the morning or late in the evening. Think dawn and/or dusk.
- Replace Consumable Products with Reusable Products. This one was tough for our family in the beginning, but now it’s not a big deal at all. The most difficult thing to let go of was paper towels. We used them for everything from cleaning to napkins. So here’s what I did: I started cleaning the table and counters with my dish towels. I also bought a set of 12 cloth napkins – the kind you see at a nice-ish restaurant, and we use these at meal times rather than tearing off pre-perforated paper towels and passing them around the table like we used to do. I have also recently discovered a self-cleaning microfiber cloth which I really like. This has eliminated my need for chemical cleaners, so although the transition is slow-going, my home is on its way to chemical-free cleaning with these cloths and essential oil blends like Thieves.
This idea can be applied to other things as well. Consider the consumable products you use. What reusable products might you be able to replace them with? Here are a few more ideas: cloth diapers instead of disposable (do I dare mention the wipes?), maybe use reusable containers rather than plastic baggies when packing your lunch, and go ahead and use your flatware instead of buying paper plates. What’s a little more laundry and a few more dishes? – we all have to do them anyway!
There are so many ways to tweak lifestyle and habits alike in order to save money. For more ideas, visit this website. Now here’s a family dedicated to frugality. I love Mrs. Frugalwoods’ idea to put a slip of paper in your wallet to remind you of your bigger goals and dreams. If you’re us, when you go to spend money you see it and say, “Would I rather have pizza delivered or for my family to be closer to our goal of owning a farm?”