Monday, July 12, 2010

Thrifty.

(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!

11 comments:

A Nerd and A Free Spirit said...

Okay first of all, I am with ya on so many levels. Okay except we just got back from vacation and spent some money. But whatever. Okay, we do envelopes and so far i really like them.

Also, as far as cleaning supplies, it's SO EASY and they work SO WELL. I use 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, and a little essential oil to make it smell good and it is such a fabulous cleaner. I also hydrogen peroxide, some sometimes baking soda (not together - ha), and it disinfects, cleans, and is so cheap. You can buy a huge thing of vinegar for hardly anything. So you should totally do that.

Other things, I buy pretty much all of my clothes at Plato's closet - consignment. Enough that I get 20% off coupons. So last night for instance, we got mark two pairs of nice khaki shorts, and I got two dresses and a pair of shoes, and I also got a shirt from Fossil. And we spent $45.00. Kind of a lot, but a good deal. So we do that... what else....

I try to be creative... i dog sit sometimes, do random stuff.... judge cheer regionals, get paid for opera chorus, we both work 4 hours a week for Blue, and that money is for extra stuff... there's always somethind unexpected that happens, and that's what we use that for - or vacations/clothes.

OH! And, hopefully this week i am going to be opening a new bank account (checking) That yields 4% interest for balances up to $30,000. Since we just started saving for a house, this is fabulous!

Okay this is ridiculously long. We listened to 11 Dave Ramsey podcasts on our way to DC. ha.

~Kathryn

The Busters said...

Love this post! I am always trying to think of ways to be more thrifty and will need to do so even more in the future! We are big into cutting coupons at our house and try to find coupons online too. I think you mentioned this before but we have found that making a list of meals for the week really helps with the grocery budget. Have you heard of groupon.com? They have one for Tulsa and they often have restaurants that post coupons so then when we do treat ourselves and go out we still have a coupon. :) I LOVE the idea of cutting back a little on the suggested amounts for laundry and dish detergent. I am going to start that pronto! I am excited to read the other responses!

@nnie said...

wish i had more to share. but i will say this. i am inspired to tear my dryer sheets in half. and other stuff. i will let you know how it goes.

Rhonda said...

Great post. I'm really (REALLY) bad with money. If not for Jarad, we'd probably have huge amounts of debt! He keeps me under control, mostly. Recently, I have improved some (I think it's my I-wanna-kid-someday thing FINALLY kicking in). Other than skipping shopping all together, the only "thrifty" thing I do is order water and share meals when we do eat out (fast food doesn't count here). There is always SO much food, I never leave a restaurant hungry, even though Jarad and I almost ALWAYS share. It's a special occasion when we do get separate meals. Yay for thrifty!

Jason & Kizzy said...

So impressive, Valerie! Especially abuot the clothes shopping-- that is my weakness! I am challenged to make a 90-day commitment, too. But, don't tell Jason. I don't want to be tied down to it, or anything --he,he!

dobco said...

Congrats on all your thrifty savings. It is hard to do in this throw away society we live in. Keep up the good work.

Lisa said...

thinking that being thrifty is a lesson in counting your blessings (name them one by one). it's hard to tame the consumer beast for sure. I garden and we only shop once every two weeks unlike you...but we eat everything we buy so there's some creativity in the last few days! clothes lines are awesome too! Im right there on the laundry/dish soap. I also dilute any juice we buy.

Heather said...

Girl, you so thrifty! I'm trying to make some changes too. Although I wish my closet was 75% anthro, hahaha! you know that's one of the first places I'm heading to in AZ ;)

I make 98% of all our meals....and I'm trying to use quality food items when I do make them so that we reduce the chemicals/fake stuff/ fat in a lot of processed foods. I figure every little bit helps! The problem with many of these foodie blogs I've found though is that they use 5,686 ingredients and everyone has a food processor and 3 hours to spend making one meal. I love food but not that much, haha. I'm getting into simplicity!

I've started getting out our weekly house/grocery budget in cash once a week so that (visual person that I am) I can see what I'm spending and when I need to hold back or when I have room to spend a little extra. Its worked really great with keeping me on budget. All those little "oh, its just ONE magazine..." really adds up!~

Happy thrifting! I'll see you at Tulsa Anthro opening day though, right? hehehe....

Farmgirl Paints said...

You go girl. I know a lot of people on that Dave Ramsey plan. I should give it a try. There's something about cash only that really does make you stop and think first.

You would have been proud of me. My new trash can had a big dent in it, so I asked for a discount and when she only came down a smidge...I didn't say anything right away and she came down more. So bargain:) Got my chandie reduced because I asked too! I thought we were alone in our trash canless world;)

Lisa said...

Great post! And some great ideas I hadn't thought of - I'm going to have to start cutting back on my laundry soap and dryer sheets! :) We are also huge Dave Ramsey fans - and although we haven't done the envelope method religiously, we have our own variation. I have a budget that I follow to the letter each month, and refuse to deviate from. We only travel when we've saved up enough airline miles to do so for free. :) I have a strict grocery budget, and I've been known to throw together random meals from leftovers in the fridge (PJ's not a huge fan of that). I love, LOVE the couponing tricks Lauren taught me last year and make it a game each week to see how much I can save! Love the ideas you mentioned - clothes are my weakness!

Rebekah said...

I'm a big Dave Ramsey fan too. We've been making our own cleaning supplies (windex: http://chewy-mama.blogspot.com/2007/05/windex-recipe.html), vinegar for weed spray in the driveway, and castille soap and water for ant killer inside.


Giving the grocery game a try is also useful. It uses a lot of packaged food so it didn't really work for us in the long run, but we did get lots of cheap stuff at CVS and the grocery store.