Friday, May 22, 2009

Thrifty and Frugal are my Chinese Middle Names

Kidding.  However, it is in my genes to be cheap and to try to spend as little as I can to get what I want; my parents were great inspirations to me of how to live frugally, and those are values I want to one day pass on to my progeny.

My friend Rain recently posted about living within her means, and when she solicited comments, of course opinionated little me had to chime in.  My name isn't Loquacious for nothing, so it's hardly a surprise that my comment ran long and I decided just to make a post out of it.

Rain was asking for other suggestions on ways to live economically and/or lessons learned along the way, and here (edited and extended) were some of my ideas:

1) Tithe first. When finances get tight, it is tempting to give God our last-fruits, not our first-fruits. As the month drags on, that tithe money that you've set aside looks larger and larger. Therefore, if it's not a direct withdrawal tithe, it should be done at the very beginning of the month or the moment that you're paid.  

2) Mix and match. If you mix and match between Dollar Store goodies and regular items, nobody is going to think you or your home looks ghetto; in fact, few will notice.  Some things are just as good at Dollarama as anywhere else, such as small kitchen items, school supplies, craft materials, organizational items, gift bags & wrap, and cleaning supplies.

3) They don't call 'em fillers for nothing.  Learn to add bread or oatmeal to ground beef when making burgers or meatloaf.  That way, you can get bigger and more moist burger patties and loaves for the pound of meat that you bought.  Ditto with adding stuff like celery and chives to tuna salad; increased volumes go a little farther.

4) Get grungy...sort of.  Don't wash your hair every day. It saves water and is better for your hair if you rinse every other day instead.  You'll be using half as much water as if you had to shampoo and condition.

5) Two are better than one.  If you can shower with your honey, all the better!  Half the time, half the water, and twice the fun. ;)

6) Collect points.  Then, take advantage of bonus deals or redemption freebies. I've banked enough Shoppers points to claim over $150 in goods there now; over the past year I've probably redeemed another $75, and all from buying my cosmetics and filling my prescriptions there.  Airmiles collectors can sometimes get 5x the points on certain purchases, or with a coupon; we always shop at the grocery store (Safeway) where we can most effectively collect points that are actually redeemable.  Even our credit card collects points for us; in our case, it gives us Avion points towards flights, and we now have enough on each of our cards to probably fly anywhere within Canada on a short-haul.

7) Become a swag junkie.  If you buy cosmetics during "Bonus Time," you can get some very lovely freebies that will last you another month or two, or even longer.  Things like mini-mascaras, make-up remover, lipsticks and eye shadows, lotions and cosmetic brushes are great for traveling and for those times between when you run out of your regular stuff and another promotion comes up!  All of my current lipsticks are from freebies or gift cards, as are all of my eyeshadows.  My current primer, eye cream, and face cream are also freebies.  In cosmetics, a little goes a long way!

8) Curb your inner boozehound.  Try not to drink alcohol when dining out. That sets you back quite a few dollars, especially with alcohol taxes and such.  Our bills in the past have literally doubled from having just a drink or two each.  If you really need some booze in your system, have a glass before you go out for dinner.  It will usually cost two people as much to have one drink apiece at a restaurant as it is to buy a bottle of decent wine that serves them each two drinks (or more)!

9) Look for free fun.  Creativity is key when you want recreation without having to pay up the wazoo.  However, it's not an impossible task to find ways to be entertained.  Go for walks at the park or go to the park and get on the swings!  Go for a drive around the city (especially the new development areas).  Have a picnic.  Find a firepit and make some smores, or make smores at home! :)  Catch a free movie at the park (they show these in Edmonton during the summer).  Watch TV together with some buttery microwave popcorn.  Borrow a DVD from a friend for a movie night.  You get my drift, right?

10) Walk.  Walk instead of drive if you can.  Park for free further away and walk the remainder to your destination.   Gas isn't that cheap and we know meters are crazy expensive, so why pay when you can help it?

11) Support the locals.  We try to grab our produce from the local market; it's half the cost of produce at Safeway.  We find the fresh seafood from the market is also a little more cost-effective than buying the stale stuff at the grocery store.

12) Need and Want aren't synonymous terms.  The ability to differentiate between the two is huge.  I want new sandals but my survival, my happiness, my health and my safety aren't dependent on having them.  However, I need food to live, and without food my health is put in jeopardy.  Needs always come before wants, and knowing is half the battle to saving money.

13) Freeze and cool it!  Sometimes we freeze stuff we can't consume, like black bananas (for banana bread).  Other times, we stick our food in the fridge; it keeps a lot longer, and well past expiration dates (bread is good in the fridge for like 2 weeks beyond the expiry).  

14) Shop patiently.  One reason why people buy regular priced items is that they do not have the patience to wait for stuff to go on sale.  If you're willing to let time do its work, sometimes you're able to score the things you need at ridiculously reduced prices.  For instance, buying sandals in the fall vs. the spring means you will be able to get them at huge discounts.  For non-essential items like throw pillows or decorative wall art, if you are patient you can wait until you come across an amazing deal on that perfect item before you buy it.

15) Freecycle. No, I didn't make that word up.  It's an email group (there's one in every city) that you can join for free and list items you either want or want to get rid of, also for free.  We got rid of our old TV that way, and when something awesome comes along, we'll be emailing to take advantage of these giveaways.

16) BYO Bottled water?! Evian, Dasani, and all those other brands of bottled water - not necessary.  Bring your own water bottle and save many dollars.  One should never have to pay that much for water, and $1.00 for less than a litre is truly much too much.

Those are just a few ways that we've been thrifty and frugal in the last little while.  Sure, we're big spenders (ask my siblings, they think we're loaded..ha!) when it comes to others, but often when it comes to ourselves, we try to find ways to be economical and shrewd with our dollars and cents.  We aren't experts in the world of savings (not by any stretch of the imagination), but at least we're making the attempt.  

In this day and age when retirement funds and old age pensions are being eaten up by bankrupt major corporations and bail-out government spending, it's never too early to start saving up!


~Rain``` said...

Great ideas! I like your shower idea! ;)

Linda said...

haha we only think you're loaded because of the wall to wall windows ;) It's pretty swank :)

Mrs. Loquacious said...

@Rain - Me too! ;)

@Linda -'s my landlord who's rich, not me! ;) BTW - we found a new dessert place that I think you and Rich will love. We'll go the next time you're in town!

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