Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On The Path To Frugality

I really don't like the word 'frugal'. It sounds so ungenerous and purse-lipped. It is a word that is used a lot these days though, and I hope that the negative associations are starting to diminish, both of the word and what it represents.

So many blogs I read lately, so many conversations I have, are around the themes of reducing spending, tightening the belt, lowering the grocery bill, and being able to afford electricity and other essentials, let alone luxuries like holidays. People are thinking more about the little changes they can make to slow the flow of money out of their hands.

A couple of years ago, Nath and I decided to go a year without buying anything new (except, of course, groceries and other consumables). We made this decision for environmental reasons, rather than financial ones, to try to reduce our personal use of the Earth's resources. So often, though, I find that the things we do that are good for the Earth are also good for our wallets. It could be coincidence, but I suspect that living simply and spending less play a key part in an environmentally friendly lifestyle!

We have decided to return to buying only secondhand, or finding things on Freecycle, or doing without. Since the last time we 'officially' did this, it has pretty much become our lifestyle, but I have noticed a few careless purchases slipping into our spending ( I have a bit of a thing for new CDs!). So we are making it 'official' again. We will buy nothing new, except food, toiletries, underwear, anything required for medical reasons, or car parts if we are unable to source them secondhand and our car needs repairs.

I plan to start making some simple clothes, particularly for the kids, but I'd also like to attempt a dress or two for me. I also plan to start making soap. We currently buy Miessence body wash, which costs me $18 for a small bottle. Homemade soap will be far more cost effective.

I am no expert in living frugally. I still get tempted by shiny new things occasionally. However, I know that since the last time we did this, my skills have developed considerably. I am a far better sewer than I was, and getting pretty handy with basic tools, too. Nath has built a few things around here and is very good at repurposing things to meet a need.

We have a few holidays booked this year, including family trips to Melbourne and Bali, so living as frugally as we can is a pretty high priority at the moment. I'm thankful that we have the opportunity to make some changes to our spending habits so that we can more easily afford to do these trips while the kids are still young. So many people are having to tighten the purse strings simply so they can put food on the table, or pay the mortgage. Everyday life is definitely becoming more expensive, and I would love to hear your ideas on how to reduce spending. Who knows, it may just make the world of difference to someone when they need it most!


  1. nice :) at the moment i am trying to re-assess what we have in our home, do we need it, do we love it, can someone else use it, and can i do something else with it. i am going to focus on shopping 'at home' for gifts and items we feel we need/want. e.g. valentines day gift will include a personalised and decorated plate- porcelain paint pen (in craft stash from xmas gift making) and white dinner plate (from a set given to us forever-ago). and some yummy home-made treats- currently searching for home-made wagon wheel recipes :)

    1. Gifts throughout the year can really, really add up. Love your idea of the plate!! Hope everything is well with you guys.

  2. I follow this philosophy as well--pretty much. My vices were always books and CDs, however now try to make do with the library and radio. Second hand, op-shop or vintage as pretty much the norm for our family (both clothes, furniture and even toys if they are in good condition) except for underwear and shoes. New shoes are paramount issue for both myself and hubby as we both have problems with our feet and knees due to hand-me -down/second hand shoes as kids. Gladly we can afford new shoes for our kids and ourselves (not all families can), but it is one priority for our finances.
    But on the topic of reducing spending--the one thing we do that others dont often mention is; I try and urban forage as much as possible. Most of our veges come from our (rented house)garden, however I go around the neighbourhood and collect fruit from people with a glut (and often return with jam or similar gift of thanks). We have enjoyed many kilos of free apricots, plums, lemons, nectarines and peaches this summer. In autumn I will collect quinces, pomegranates, wild nuts, pine/field mushrooms, and kilos of apples (much of this from rural feral trees).I also collect many 'weeds' for highly nutritious greens --some in our yard (marrow, dandelion and purslane) and around the neighbourhood where they are not sprayed.
    I also barter with friends and neighbours for eggs, and other fruit/veges.
    This has been a huge saving for our family in terms of the amount of fresh and organic produce--esp with my 2 incredibly hungry boys.
    I still need to learn more how to budget and look forward to more comments and posts to learn how to save more!

    1. Hi Robyn,
      That's a really good point, about the foraging. We are lucky enough to live in an area where there are lots of bush foods, most of which people don't even know about, so they tend to be pretty abundant.
      We also collect available fruit from people who have gluts.... and then, of course, there is roadside collecting for non-edible things!
      I'm impressed at the list of things you forage.... do you mind me asking where you live?

    2. Hi Nicole.
      Sorry it has taken a while to get back to you...I live in Melbourne, in an area blessed with lots of Italian and Greek migrant families, thus the plethora of fruit trees.
      However, my husband and I are both of regional Victoria, so when we take the kids off to see the grandparents we do a lot of foraging around these areas (esp mushrooms, fruit trees and nut trees).
      I would love to do more bush food foraging--not really possible in metro Melbourne though.


Feel free to pop in here and let me know you are reading along!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...