I have been kicking around the idea of doing periodic posts about my ideas on how to live more frugally, and even how to live with less clutter. That last part is really going to be a test of my skills since I am so tied into things because of what they represent. During 2017, I will be sharing some of my ideas and practices and life style not to mention the whole experiment of trying to live with less, live on less and how I plan to make at least my corner of the world just a little bit better. I am not a published or awarded expert on any of this, but I feel that living on this earth for just about 60 years and having spent much of that time in the presence of people far older than me, I have learned from many on how to get by when you need to, and how to enjoy what you have. Besides I am sick of reading posts and pins that tell me to toss out everything to have a less cluttered life, and some of the plans on frugal living go a little beyond what I see as good for the economy as a whole. So here goes.
Today I will share 5 areas that I feel we can all start to make our lives better financially and in terms of the space we occupy.
1) Let’s begin with Appreciation for what you have. You could start with a list of 10 items that you have or people/or pets that are around you that you appreciate. Yesterday the new Gov. of North Dakota started his first State of the State speech with a segment about gratitude. Maybe that is a good place to start. Put together a list of 10, 20 or more things for which you are grateful or things you appreciate. Just doing that might prevent you from chasing after something new and better and more elaborate. It might make you think less about getting your happiness from spending.
2) Shop at home first! I don’t mean in your hometown, though that is a good idea. I mean in your house or garage or yard. When it is time to make supper, check the panty, the fridge and the freezer before you go out to eat, call for take out or head to the grocery store. Before you run out to buy another bottle of shampoo or lotion or house hold cleaners check the back of the supply cabinet. Before you go shopping for a new night stand or plant holder or any small furniture, look in the garage a storage shed, your basement and see what you might have in another area that will work for what you want. I learned this lesson so well when we were living in another town for a short two year stint. I went back to our house (we didn’t sell it, we just didn’t live there full time for a bit) and shopped there before I spent any money. I was amazed at how many items I had stored in various cupboards. I think we went a whole year without needing to buy some items.
3) When you are shopping ask those questions: Do I really need this? Do I have one like it? How will I use it. I need to do a better job of this with my clothes. I am forever finding the “cutest” tops and when I get them home, I have only one item to pair with them on sometimes nothing at all. I will do more on clothes when I get a better handle of them. This is also a question I need to ask myself when I am shopping for kitchen items. I have many things there that I never use, but most of them came from purchasing a $1 or $2 box at an auction sale. Seems to me this is more of a clutter issue than a frugal issue.
4) Learn to do certain things for yourself. The number one thing that I am thankful to have learned as a teenager is how to operate a sewing machine. I have been able to sew things for myself and my family over the years even to the point of sewing the baptismal gown and hat and booties set that was used for my own daughters. Over the years I have sewed some clothing, but mostly I have been able to mend things when needed. I realize that I don’t do enough of this in big terms, but it has helped somewhat. Growing your own food and preserving it is also a good thing to learn. I am not sure how much this is a savings except when you are able to eat fresh from your garden rather than purchase it. I plan this summer to keep very close records to find out the truth on this one. For me the preserving is about knowing what is in your food more than having it be cheaper. (On the other hand, sometimes hiring someone to do things for you is a way to keep the economy in your area rolling, but that is a topic for another segment.)
5) Finally, I am an advocate of using cash or a cash mentality when spending. Of course I will never do totally cash because I love the idea of cash back cards. The thing with using a credit card that is a problem and a reason that many “exerts” advise against it is that too many people just run up the balance without regard to the bottom line. My husband and I started our first credit cards when we were married in 1982 under the idea that nothing could be charged that couldn’t be paid off with the next pay check. Of course in those days credit cards were charging 18 to 21 percent interest and there was no way you could afford to over charge on them. The other issue with the first card we looked at they were not really credit cards, but it was a plastic savings account. You didn’t get the card until you put $500 into the savings account with their bank. In other words you could only use as much as you had in the account, so you were in essence borrowing from yourself. I haven’t heard of cards like this lately, but you could still use the concept. Our current issue is to only use the card that issues a yearly cash back. We have stopped using the cards that offer a points reward because where we live most of the places that accept the points don’t exist. Because we purchased a television this year that we had saved up for, we earned lots of extra points and are expecting a nice bonus check in February.
Good grief, I never planned to ramble on quite this long on just a little philosophy type of started post. At any rate, even if no one sees a value in this, I will at least be reminding myself of some of my expectations for this year. I really seriously want to live with less and feel free to use the space that is in our home rather than tripping over all this extra junk that is everywhere. I know that I could just toss and scrap a few things, but I always consider what all the tossing does to the environment. The best way to recycle is not to buy it in the first place, so that is where I will start for now with my plans to be a little more frugal.