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Thursday, April 16, 2015

7 Highly Effective Habits of the Frugal Household

1. Shop at thrift stores. 
Yes, you can find cute, cheap clothes at places like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and those little hole-in-the-wall thrift stores. Depending on where you go, the shop may be unorganized or seem overwhelming. And certainly, you may have to look beyond those random, outlandish items you may find, such as leather Indian costumes, leg lamps, giant cow statues, and sweaters with life-size, furry cats on them. (I know from experience.) But the key is to go back regularly and to dig. Thrift stores add new items regularly, so there is always something new to see. Take the time to look through all those rows of shirts. Glance in every corner, just to be sure you didn't miss anything. You never know when you will snag an unexpected bargain. I wear thrift store clothes almost every day, and I could not even count the number of amazing deals my family and I have received at various thrift stores. Sweaters, shirts, skirts, dresses (usually ranging from $2.00 to $5.00 each), a packaged set of three Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals (for $1.50), an American Girl doll (for $7.99), stacks of books (ranging from $.10 to $1.00 a piece), and a brand new pair of 1940s-style high heels (for $4.00). These are only a few examples of our thrift store bounty. So go check it out! 
Note: Some thrift stores accept only cash, so be sure to have some with you. Happy shopping!

2. Make your own laundry detergent.  
Never again waste your money on a $6 bottle of laundry detergent that will last you two or three months. Use the recipe below, and like my mom has done for the past two years, pay only $3 - $6 PER YEAR for detergent. Plus, each batch you make lasts for approximately 6 months for a family of four (in our experience). What are you waiting for?!
1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

The initial investment involves a 5-gallon bucket with a lid (Try a food storage bucket from Lowe's). Grate the soap into a saucepan with 4 cups hot water. Stir over medium low heat until it dissolves. Fill the bucket halfway with hot water. Add the melted soap, washing soda, and Borax. Stir until dissolved. Finish filling with hot water. To use, reconstitute 1/2 soap mixture with 1/2 water. Use 5/8 cup per load. (For convenience, use an old liquid detergent bottle to refill.) This mixture even removes persistent stains that other detergents would not, and it smells great! Add a few drops of lavender oil if you want to make it even better. Happy washing!

3. Cut/trim your hair yourself. 
Scary? Yes. I know it can be. But by following an online tutorial (try Pinterest) of a haircut you like, and by taking it slowly and cautiously, you can do it. Now, if you're looking for a drastic change, I would suggest trying a salon, unless you're experienced in hairstyling. But for a simple trim or some shaping up or adding some layers? Do it at home. I recently mustered enough courage to cut my hair myself. I followed a video tutorial from youtube, went slowly, cutting a little at a time, and achieved the look I was going for without paying a cent! I used regular project scissors, too--no need for fancy equipment. Even easier than cutting my own hair is trimming my husband's for him. He showed me how to do it, and now I've gotten the hang of it. He adjusts the razor to the proper length for me, and I go slowly and carefully. This habit saves the cost of two haircuts per month. It may not be much, but every penny adds up! Here is a picture of my first self-haircut (I did not dye it; the light makes it appear lighter in the last picture). If I can do it, I'll bet you can, too.
4. Visit the Dollar Tree. 
No, buying cheap, lower-quality items is not always the answer. But some great deals can be found at the Dollar Tree--"where everything's a dollar." ;) Certain items can be bought here less expensively, such as hand soap, plastic storage bins, picture frames, party table cloths, gift bags and tissue paper, cards, and even steak knives. Yes, my husband and I use steak knives I got for $.25 each (a pack of four for $1.00). And they work great! Honestly, their quality is far better than we were expecting. I have also purchased oven mitts, hot pads, baking sheets, and bread pans there that work very well. Try it out! But beware, it is easy to fill a basket quickly at such a tempting place, and even $1-items add up ;)

5. Share.  
My husband and I wanted to take the best care possible of our teeth, but we did not want to ruin our budget in the process. Our solution? Share a toothbrush. Wait! Before you get completely disgusted, allow me to explain. ;) Through research, we learned that electric toothbrushes provide the best care for your teeth. But those are expensive. So, we purchased one electric toothbrush and several replacement heads. Every time I brush my teeth, I pop my brush head onto the toothbrush, and when I finish, I clean it off, pop it off, and let him pop his brush head on when he is ready to brush. No germs are shared between us; our mouths never touch the same brush. So you see? We're not disgusting, after all ;) The sharing concept is not limited to toothbrushes. Naturally, there are many items that you cannot share. But try to think of items around the house or that you've been considering purchasing that you may be able to share with your spouse or another family member.

6. Buy certain items in bulk.  
Some items can be bought less expensively when purchased in bulk. The initial cost may be a little more, but in the long run it saves money, because you do not have to buy the item again for a longer time than if you had bought the smaller portion. We have found certain food items to be this way, such as dried cranberries (one of our favorite snacks), frozen fish (such as tilapia or salmon), and some boxed cereals. Also, family-size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shave cream, and other grooming items tend to be cheaper when bought in larger quantities.

7. Take advantage of coupons. 
You may not have time to go through stacks of sales brochures and newspapers every week, clipping coupons. That's a great idea if you can, but more realistic options exist for those of us who don't possess the time or motivation for such dedicated couponing. Find out if the stores you visit regularly offer an app or website for coupons. Some businesses offer printable coupons, while many have apps that allow you to save money on certain items by letting the cashier scan your iPhone at the register. No ink and paper needed! The few minutes of research and installation are worth the money saved. Also, many restaurants offer coupons through email to those who join their eClubs. Check out the websites of your favorite restaurants and take a moment to fill in your name and email. Some offer free desserts or entrees simply for signing up, and after that, you will receive regular coupons of various types in your email. Try these simple tips, and if you have time, by all means buy the Sunday paper and snip away!


Rodney Holloman said...

Emily, this is just excellent. Thank you for sharing. So proud of you both.

Emily said...

Thank you, Mr. Holloman! I didn't know you had a website until I clicked your name! We're signed up for your email updates now :) Hope you and your family are doing well. God bless!

Michelle Moms Are Frugal said...

I do several of these on your list. Right now though I do go to get my haircut...it is my treat to myself. Then I go home and save the bread bags, make my own laundry and choose my clothes for the next day that I bought second hand.
Great post!

Jody said...

We definitely save in bulk when we buy oats and flours.

Emily said...

It's always important to treat yourself, Michelle! Great idea :)

A Bountiful Love said...

stopping by from Proverbs 31 wife linky up. Awesome tips! We do almost all of this. I did giggle on the Share part..with the toothbrush. You know nowadays, people are very quick to react.. love your post!

JES said...

Great tips! We also buy our clothing at thrift stores, cut our own hair and purchase in bulk. Thank you for sharing at the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week. We are glad to have you. I also love your bio! :) We are on Season 3 of the Andy Griffith show right now. My favorite episode so far was Aunt Bee as the warden ;) Have a lovely week!

Sarah Behan said...

I love shopping at thrift stores, we have done it so long we struggle to justify buying things at full price. This is a great post and was the most viewed at last week's Faithful at Home Fridays! I will be featuring you this week!

Emily said...

Yay! Thank you! So excited to be featured :) I love your uplifting blog!