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!