This is What Frugal Looks Like is a series that highlights different ways that people can be frugal in their lives- after all, frugality doesn’t have to be drastic or just about clipping coupons. Frugality can be fun and easy. Each respondent answers the same four questions. Today’s interview is with Leah from La Vida Cheapo.
What does frugality mean to you?
To me, frugality means making sensible and practical decisions not just with money, but time, energy and resources as well. For me, it means that I get to stay at home with my son, be available to our adult daughter, and our family still lives well on a single income.
What is something that you do that is ‘typically’ frugally?
I shop sales with coupons (of course!). We stock pile items we know we are going to use when the price is right. My husband works for a local grocery chain so I have a good idea of what time of year certain items go on sale, and how long it will be before they do again, so we try to purchase enough of that particular item to get us through to the next sale period for it. Examples being…condiments, these usually go on sale in the summer, especially around the 4th of July, and then again on Labor Day in September. Baking supplies typically go on sale during the Holidays, so we try to buy all the flour, sugar, and powdered milk that we think we will need until the next Holiday season. Briskets around St. Patties day, Turkeys at Thanksgiving, Hams at Easter….
It seems like I am forever walking around this house and turning out the lights. It’s turning the heat down when we leave and at night, and drying clothes on the line when the weather allows. In just one year, I was able to reduce our monthly power bill from $227.00/month to $177.00/month by line drying just the towels and sheets! Course, my husband hates scratchy towels, but he’s learning to live with them.
We almost never eat out. I cannot see spending the money for just one meal when the same amount can feed us several meals over several days.
We buy new clothes in the “off” season (we are so last year chic!), and we buy clothes at Thrift stores.
We garden in the summer, as a matter of fact, we are still eating Green Beans and Squash that were grown last season.
We compost, even in the winter. It is amazing how much space those potato peels and egg shells take up in the trash can! We have reduced the amount of garbage we toss out by 1 full bag a week.
We go camping for our vacations. Our family is fortunate to be located in one of the most beautiful parts of the country (Inland Empire, Pacific Northwest) where we have access to countless state parks. Why spend $100.00 per night on one room in a hotel, when all 5 of us can go to a beautiful lake in the mountains for only $14.00 per night? My husband, father and son are avid fishermen so yes, we eat a good deal of fish! And, not spending the big $$ on it.
I also ask for samples of our medications when we are at the Doctors. My son has asthma, and his prescription is $60.00 a month!! I mentioned this to his Doctor and to date he has given us 7 months worth of my son’s medication, saving us $420.00 so far! I learned that your Doctor does not want you to suffer anymore then you want to suffer either, and most have supply closets full of stuff just waiting to be shared. It never hurts to ask 🙂
What is something frugal that you do that is unusual?
Well, here is one thing. Several years ago, even before the economy tanked, we decided to “bunch up” with my parents. At the time, they were traveling a lot and gone for most of the year so it was NOT practical for them to maintain a home that they were only living in for 4 months out of 12. So, we both sold our individual homes and went in on a “new to us” home that was large enough to accommodate all of us comfortably. We split the bills equally, and by doing this have been able to add between $100.00 to $300.00 per month extra to the principle, the goal being to have this house paid for within 15 years. We have made over 9 extra house payments in the last 3 years! The additional benefit is that my son is growing up in a multi-generational home, which was a traditional life style for most Americans up until the 1930’s or so, when the great depression forced so many families to scatter across the country looking for work. It seems like a weird concept now, but in fact, is still quite normal in a many places across the world. The real icing here is that we are able to live in a much nicer home, in a much nicer neighborhood, then either of us could afford if we maintained our own households. It works for us.
Another thing we do is save our Aluminum cans and recycle them ourselves. I know, this is sooo old school. My grampa was a junk man, made his money scraping metals. It just seems so pointless to me though to pay to have the cans recycled by the county. We put the money we get from doing this into our son’s savings account.
What are some of your longterm goals that being frugal will help you to accomplish?
As mentioned earlier, we want to own our home outright by the time my husband retires. We want to be able to retire comfortably in our home. We hope to send our son to a great college! Personally, I also want to make sure that my children learn how to make good decisions with their money, time and resources, and that they have the skills necessary for surviving what ever they might face in the future after we are gone.
I am a lucky SAHM in Spokane WA with our 5 year old son and we also have a 20 year old daughter. In addition to saving our money, I also like to work on our family tree in the winter and garden in the summer.