(And I don't mean the car rental company.)
Over the last year or so, my husband and I have made some drastic changes to our lifestyle in order to become much, much smarter with our money.
We've done the cash envelope thing for at least a year now, a la Dave Ramsey -- I have this awesome plastic coupon organizer that holds my cash in all its categories. I cook so much more than I used to; actually I guess I can now say that I cook the majority of our meals. And you know what? McDonald's now tastes that much better when we get it every once in a while, as opposed to every couple of days like we used to. Our food budget has been drastically reduced while our health has dramatically improved due to the home-cooked meals we've been consuming. Not too shabby. We also grocery shop now like Europeans -- small amounts and more frequently. This way we've cut down on the food being wasted and thrown away. We also drink only water or milk about 95% of the time, and sometimes orange juice. No pop. I only drink pop on the rare occasion that I want some to go with either pizza or Mexican food.
The thrifty change I'm most proud of? I haven't bought a single item of clothing in at least 90 days. No joke. And remember, I am an Anthroholic -- utterly devoted to all things Anthropologie, of which my wardrobe is at least 75%. Take into consideration that I also received birthday money AND an Anthro gift card for my birthday back in May, and I am still holding out and haven't even spent it! I think one of the last items I bought was a dress from Anthropologie that I made myself salivate over for about a month before taking the plunge. No more spontaneous purchases here. That dress and a pair of jean capris and sandals from Target -- those are the last items I can even think of that I bought last and I'm pretty sure were purchased in March and April. I've been so thrifty that it's almost becoming a game to me -- I figure at this rate I can challenge myself to hold out on any more clothing purchases until the fall. But that's also where the good eating comes in to play. If I want to continue to wear my clothes without having to buy more, I can't exactly put on weight or they won't fit!
And in other areas I'm more thrifty as well: I rip my dryer sheets in half. I never use quite the recommended amount of anything anymore, at least cleaning-wise, as in laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, etc. I figure half of those recommendations are tied to marketing and making you buy more and more of it. If not, I could be wrong, but regardless, all of my clothes and dishes still seem to be getting just as clean as they used to.
Some areas I'd like to improve in are making my own cleaning supplies, sewing up enough cloth napkins so we don't use paper anymore, ditto for sewing up enough cloth rags so we don't use paper towels anymore, doing some freezer cooking (although not a lot since the only freezer I have is the bottom half of my fridge), and some more refashioning (making new clothing items out of ones in my closet or thrift shops), which I've only tried a couple of times so far. I'll never be a full-on thrifty mama like you read about in the blogs or full-on organic in my cooking, etc., but at least I've made some changes that make me feel like I'm giving it the ol' college try!
So, what about you guys? Any thrifty ideas out there that work for you and your family? I'd love to hear!