Thinking Outside the Wallet

by Beth · 10 comments

in Living Frugally,Money & Spending,Series

When my husband and I moved to France and sat down to plan our new family budget, it was a bit of a shock.   We were going from being a two-income family in the U.S. to a one-income family in France—which was a huge difference considering that my husband’s salary went down roughly a third in the process.   I couldn’t believe how little “wiggle room” we had, at least on paper.  Our income pretty much equaled our output, not an ideal situation for a family trying to save money for the future.

Things have since improved as I’m working now (at the time I was a stay-at-home mom), but we still have to be very deliberate about the purchases we make if we want to have anything left over at the end of the month.  I’ve learned that if I want to buy something, I need to first think “outside the wallet”—to consider how I can get what I need or want without having to spend money.

For me, inserting this step into my mental process before making a purchase has been a huge part of learning to live frugally.  And I’ve found that it works both ways—not only do I think before I buy, but I think before I toss.  How could someone else use what I no longer need?  How can I get the most use out of this item, both for myself and someone else?

In this series of posts, I’m going to be looking at areas of my budget where I am able to do this to the best advantage.  I’ll try and share ideas and links that I know of, and I’m hoping you will share some of your own as well.

So my question for you is: What topics would you like to see highlighted in this series?  In what areas of your budget are you looking to cut corners?


1 nopinkhere November 18, 2010

I would love to see some ideas on what to do with what I toss. My default is to dump everything at a Goodwill. But I’m sure there are better choices I could make. When I’m decluttering though, I just need it out of my house.

2 Beth November 18, 2010

I’m the same way, particularly as I live in a small apartment. I’ve been known to carry bags of giveaway things around in the trunk of my car for ages, waiting for the right opportunity.

3 Sandy November 18, 2010

I always have trouble with “disposable” products like plastic wrap and razors. I hate knowing that those things have to keep being bought.

4 Dmarie November 19, 2010

I hate spending on one-time-use products as well, which is why I reuse cereal box liners, butter wrappers, chocolate square paper wrappers and any other food packaging we buy. We wash out the ziplock bags that so many food products come in these days and reuse them as well. As for getting rid of items we no longer use, my favorite charity is the local Latin Center, where new immigrants/migrants can get free as many items as they need…even Goodwill’s prices are too high if you’re starting with nothing. Would love to hear more particulars about how you are thinking “outside the wallet” and making do, expat Beth!

5 Kelly November 20, 2010

My biggest problem right now with my budget is food! I’m not big on cooking, so I always end up going to pick up a pizza or going out to eat with friends. It really adds up quickly!

6 Shoestring November 22, 2010

I tend to think is ‘Do I have room for this?’ as much as anything else! I spend so much time trying to clear things out that I’ve become really twitchy about anything coming in to my home – it is too small to accomodate much more. No suggestions for your series but I look forward to reading what you come up with!

7 Beth November 23, 2010

I’m right there with you! We live in a tiny apartment with one closet, so we have to be really careful about what we buy (how big it is, and how often we will use it…) Good point.

8 rachella November 22, 2010

I also wash out ziplock bags. Also, freecycle is indispensable, both for passing on still useful stuff and for finding things you need.

9 Damita November 23, 2010

Looking forward to reading these, I would love to know how to budget better when I am stay at home mum

10 Cassie December 16, 2010

I’d love to hear more about how you manage to save while money is tight. I need to work on my impulsive spending habits, and focus more on the necessities.

I enjoyed your post on saving money when there’s nothing left over to save. I mentioned it on my blog so more readers can find it and commented on the issue of not being able to make extra debt payments in France.

Looking forward to reading more from you!

Previous post:

Next post: