Being frugal when life takes an unexpected turn, and throws a curve ball, can be difficult. I wanted to share a few things I have done to stay frugal even when things are going nuts.
From the length between posts, you can tell things are still unsettled around my house. My dad is still having therapy at home, and has good days and stubborn days. It’s a struggle for my mom, who just wants him to get up and walk already! LOL She has said it’s hard to see him not try as hard as she wants him to, and it is wearing her down in the process. I think we are all feeling a bit of a strain with the rearranging of our lives.
That leads into my post today. I’ve said before the whole premise of my blog was to share ways to make your own, or do things the old fashioned way, or recycle and upcycle. I still believe in ALL of that and want to do as much as possible. BUT – sometimes doing it all just is NOT possible.
Christmas brought this home to me yet again. Last year, I had time (even while working a job from home) to make food ahead, purchase gifts at sales, find inexpensive ways to wrap creatively and the like. This year, as I looked around my house, I was deeply thankful to my kiddos and my hubby.
The kiddos took it upon themselves to decorate. They took turns wrapping each others’ gifts from us to them. They took my recipes and helped bake. It make me proud! And it reminded me that asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness – it’s just another way to get things done frugally, even by other people!
So besides not being too proud to ask for help, what have I done to try to stay frugal? Here are a few ideas you might can try if you are in the middle of a barrel of monkeys wrecking your life!
9 WAYS TO BE FRUGAL AFTER A CURVE BALL
Find Inexpensive Places To Grocery Shop
Like you, I consider myself to have a black belt in bargain grocery shopping – or so I thought. Yet, I’ve found some places to buy groceries I would have never thought to look because I’ve been pushed outside my comfort zone – and they’ve helped me be more frugal! A local dollar store sells day old bread – name brands such as Arnold and Nature’s Own – for $1 a loaf. Although I love making bread, I’ve learned that, when I don’t have time, spending only a dollar a loaf, or getting hamburger and hot dog buns for a dollar is GREAT!
Some places also have snacks, cereal and other items for prices cheaper than the grocery store. Not always, but if you keep track and write down prices, you may find that your Froot Loops are cheaper at Dollar General than Food Lion and you can be even more frugal than you thought possible!
Look for “Scratch and Dent” or Salvage Grocery Stores
For years, I’ve visited a local Salvage Grocery store. I tried to go once a month, or sometimes more often, and usually loved what I found. Because it wasn’t “convenient” and I figured I could make my own, I didn’t explore it too much. But, it is on the way to my parents’ house, so I’ve stopped more often – and WOW! The deals are great . Everything is half price, with some items on clearance for less than half, or even $1. I’ve gotten snacks, cleaners, coffee and more at prices I can’t beat. They don’t have everything, but the selection has helped tremendously on what I need – laundry soap, pasta, sauce, juice and more, and helped keep me frugal when I can’t make everything.
The Crock Pot can be your best friend.
Okay – I know this is an oldie, but it is still a goodie. Because I was home, I had gotten out of the habit of using my crock pot. And now, with “instant” crock pots exploding on to the scene, there is no excuse for me – or anyone – not using them more. Drop your ingredients into your pot, hit “start” and when you get home, there’s supper, ready and waiting. Not only does it keep you from ordering out when it’s 6pm and everyone is hungry, but you can use less expensive cuts of meat and they are fork tender and delicious!
Streamline your housekeeping.
When I was growing up, my mom was a “stay at home mom” before the term was really cool! She did a LOT of things (ironing sheets, vacuuming daily, etc) I tried to emulate when I was married with my own home. Before my dad fell, I was sort of successful with that. However, after things went haywire, and I was gone for many days at a time, I realized some of that could be eliminated and the house wouldn’t fall apart. It’s okay if you don’t vacuum every day, or if you use “pre-made” items in cooking, or the laundry sits in the basket until the next day. Do the best you can, and make things easy on yourself.
Don’t think you have to make EVERYTHING.
I’ve shared about making homemade cleaner and laundry detergent. However, in the past few weeks, it feels like I’ve had just enough time to breathe and change clothes LOL. Making cleaner or detergent just hasn’t been on my list of things I have time to get done. I have had to give myself a break and realize that, in this season of my life, buying cleaner or detergent isn’t the end of the world. And if it means I have a few more minutes to spend with the family, all the better. Along those same lines……
Always look for deals on the things you’re buying instead of making.
Like I mentioned above, you can sometimes find great deals at unusual places, like the dollar store. When I go into any grocery store, or drive past a store I know has a bargain rack, I will run in and check for savings, if I have time. Recently, while at my local Food Lion grocery store, I found the large size bottles of Mr. Clean concentrated cleaner on the clearance rack for a little over $2 a bottle. I can use this cleaner diluted in my spray bottles around the house, as well as in my mop bucket. Even though I love making cleaner, this is an inexpensive way to have cleaner that will last a long time. And it just took a few minutes to check the bargains.
Clip coupons and try store brands.
I’m sure most of you do this anyway, but it bears repeating. I’ve found that coupons can help (especially if you have a store that doubles them), but there are times you don’t even have time to clip them. (Am I the only one who has had coupon packs expire before I even have a chance to go through them?!?) If you can use coupons, great! Use them and save some bucks. I have found deals on thinks like laundry soap and fabric softener (since I have little time to make my own). But if you can’t, always check the store brands. I’ve found their quality is just as good, and the prices are usually less expensive. If you can’t find what you need at the other places, always check the store brands first.
Combine errands to save time.
Driving back and forth to my parents house gives me a LOT of slack time. After a few drives, I realized I needed to find ways to make that time useful (and more frugal so I could save money!). So I started looking for ways to combine errands. I did grocery shopping on the way to my parents’ house, or on the way home. I explored thrift stores to find items my family needed, or that I could re-sell on eBay to help the family income. I found a “drive through” oil change business where I didn’t even need to leave my car to have the oil changed – and while I was waiting I made phone calls I had put off for a few days! I even made some of those calls while driving using a hands free device I received as a Christmas gift. All these things combined to not only save gas, but also time as I found ways to do errands I would have otherwise put off until “later.”
Cut yourself some slack.
I am my own worst critic. When the curve ball came my way, and my routines were shattered, I tried (at least for a few days) to do everything I was doing before. It didn’t take long before I realized that was a recipe for me to end up in the hospital right along with my dad! At first, I beat myself up – “If you were just the superwoman like in those magazines, you could be with your dad and still have homemade bread every other day!” – you know, normal stuff like that! Ah the joys of frugal thinking!
But, finally, I realized I needed to concentrate on what was IMPORTANT – my parents, my dad’s health , my own family – and let go of what wouldn’t matter in 20 years – homemade bread, daily vacuuming, freshly polished furniture. Once I took a step back and focused on the important things, the rest of it fell into place. And I realized – in 20 years (heck, in 20 MINUTES) not one single person would remember if I made my own cleaner with lemon essential oil. What they WOULD remember is if I was there to help my mom, or if I had time to sit with my family for a movie. Give yourself a break, do what’s important and BUY THE BREAD!! LOL
So there are just a few of my ideas for keeping it frugal when the curve ball comes your way. I bet y’all have tons of ways to save when things go haywire. What are some of your favorites? Share with me in the comments or come visit me at My Greener Way on Facebook!
I promise to post sooner next time – hopefully things are leveling out now!
Til next time