The other evening I was catching up on my blog reading and so very much enjoyed reading the second post Laura wrote about frugality. It made me think hard, especially as I got up to go throw a frozen pizza in the oven for the kids for lunch - oops! It is so easy to do the easy thing - anywhere in life! I make a budget on paper monthly, I keep track of receipts, I try to stay in budget, but I know there is more I could do to live more simply and more frugally. So many of the ways Laura lives the simple life are great inspiration for me - an inspiration for me to be a better steward of all I have been given. I may not do all the things she does, but I can choose from the many available options out there to cut back and simplify. I am already pretty ruthless when it come sot cleaning out, organizing and eliminating excess "stuff," but I could use to limit the use of convenience products and make more from scratch. I checked out a few books from the library and I look forward to educating myself and making a plan for putting some things in to practice. But slowly! I am the kind of person that jumps in wholeheartedly and then I often get overwhelmed because I try to do it ALL at one time. If I start small, I think it will be more lasting.
The whole thing also got me to thinking of ways I already live frugally. So, like Laura, here is my list.
* I do use disposable diapers (I am not ready for cloth yet, maybe never) even though they are almost always the store brand. But I have always made my own baby wipes. Before Jacob was born, I saw the recipe for wipes on Oprah, then read about it in a book and then knew someone who did it. It is not hard and it is a real money saver. I actually prefer my wipes to the store bought kind. I think because they are wetter and thinner, I can use fewer to change a diaper. I am sure others know how to do this but here is how I do it.
1 Roll Bounty, cut in half to make 2 short rolls (I have tried others and these are still the best. I buy the jumbo 12 pack of the Select-A-Size type at Sam's Club)
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. Baby Oil
2 Tbsp. Head to Toe Baby Wash (store brand)
After you cut the roll in half, put it in a plastic container that has a tight lid. I have some clear Rubbermaid round containers that have off-white lids. I am not sure they make them anymore and so I am hoarding 4 of them. I am sure there are other containers though. Some recipes on the Internet say to pull out the cardboard core first, but they way I first learned it, you leave it in until the end. Mix the oil and baby wash in the water and pour over paper towels in the container. Put the lid on. After about five minutes or the next time you go to use them, the cardboard core will pull right up out of the center and then you pull the first wipe up out of the center. So easy and very frugal!
* I make an effort to store most left overs in plastic containers. Brian is even better about that than I am . Since I read Laura's post, I am think about it even more as I go to put something away.
* We have always saved the plastic drink cups and lids the kids get when we go out to eat. These are the cups that the kids use at most meals. They would be thrown away at the restaurant and we use then and throw them in the dishwasher over and over and over again! All you need are cheap straws. In a similar fashion, I save plastic yogurt cups to use as small snack cups for the kids, as well as refrigerator storage for small things.
* We drive used cars and will most likely drive them until we outgrow them, they die or it becomes too expensive to fix them anymore. I love my van!
* We take any and all hand me downs and anything that we cannot use, we pass on.
* Brian and I give haircuts here at home. I am the only one who gets to go out for a haircut. Of the five people I live with, I am not sure I trust any of them with my hair! But I wear my hair in a longer, straight style so that I do not need to have it cut very often.
* Like Laura, we have always used real napkins and dishes for our meals. Occasionally we will use plastic for parties or a treat for mom, but not often.
* We rarely rent or buy videos. We are library junkies. We do give DVDs to each other and the kids for gifts, but most of the time we can get anything we want from the library. Sometimes we have to be on the waiting list for the newer releases, but that has never been a problem. We get it for at least a week and pay nothing. If we do rent a DVD, we usually go to the dollar kiosk at the grocery store and then try to take it back in a day or two. This way we also avoid seeing all the awful movie covers in the video rental meccas!
* Almost every Friday night, we make homemade pizzas with my friends pizza dough recipe (yum) and this saves so much in ordering pizza. We love pizza and a family movie.
It is not much, but we try!
I know I would like to do a better job using far fewer convenience food products. Most of what we buy is store brand, but even then, it is still a convenience food. It is nice to have the frozen pizza in the freezer as an emergency, but make that the exception or treat, not a lazy choice. Another thing I would like to do is begin making a few cleaning products. I tried it once or maybe I almost tried it. Either way it doesn't matter, but I think I will try the vinegar solution once I finish some of my others.
Thanks Laura for the post. I would love to hear more and hopefully I can share more as I read and ponder and implement!