My grandmother is a hoot. She’s the kind of woman who had breast cancer at 86 years old and never took a pain pill after her mastectomy. Crazy, right? She’s also the kind of woman who saves styrofoam egg contains just because you never know when you might need them. I have walked into her garage and seen stacks of these things but never really understood what she was saving them for. She’s from the Depression era, a time when families were struggling just to get a loaf of bread. Naturally, during this time people saved everything they owned because they never knew if they could find or buy it again. Storing things away seemed more logical than throwing it out and having to go buy it again.
As a frugal enthusiast, my grandmother is one of my favorite people to talk cheap. She gets it. I get it. So we both bask in our successes of bargain buying, thrifty tips, and our passion for living with what we have instead of feeling as if we have to buy more. Just a quick note, when I say bargain buying I don’t mean a 15% off at Macy’s buy 8 get one 50% off sale, I am talking about buying a good quality shirt at the thrift store for $0.25. I swear everyone else in the family rolls their eyes at the dinner table when she tells us about her newly found gems from the thrift store. I usually stare at her glowing with pride, thinking “okay Glenda, take notes!”.
So here is my list of frugal tips inspired by my loving grandmother.
Recycle Worn-Out Linens
We all have them – raggedy sheets, stained towels, and t-shirt with yellow armpits (not Kris’, mine! Gross I know but I have a sweat problem) Instead of throwing them in the trash or worse trying to give them away to a donation center – reuse them! I tend to cut mine into smaller pieces to use for cleaning the RV. For example, I don’t have an official mop because of the limited storage space, and why have another thing if you can multi-task. So I use old rags with my DIY vinegar cleaner and good old elbow grease to mop the floors. These rags are soft and washable for many times after I use them. I generally start throwing them away once holes and the frays get a little cray cray. (Gran, if you are reading this cray means crazy in this funny internet world) The t-shirts are great rags for my husband when he is working on the Jeep, and we immediately throw those away once oil or grease has hit them.
Make Soup More Often
Oh Soup, you are a lifesaver and way underrated. There are many reasons I love soup – it’s generally cheap to make and is incredibly filling. On average when I make a meaty or vegetarian soup, they are under $8-10 to make and lasts 2-3 meals for Kris and I. Plus I love to cook something great and not have to cook again for another few days. I am just not the type of person who enjoys or has the time to cook every darn day. I hope to be posting a few cheap Instapot recipes (that taste good) soon so stay tuned!
Use Some Elbow Grease
Elbow grease. It’s what our culture avoids like a plague with kitchen gadgets that do everything for you to using chemicals so foul you can die if you swallow it. But they are okay to breathe in a closed small bathroom. Trust me I don’t LOVE cleaning my bathroom but I LOVE having a clean bathroom. So I consider it exercise, if I am not sweating by the time I am finished with my cleaning, I wasn’t working hard enough. This way I get the satisfaction of using all natural products like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. And I get a bit of sweat in. Again it’s not my favorite thing to do in the world but if you turn on some great music, change your attitude about it completely, and just get to work. It’s not so bad.
Make Meat an Accent Part of the Meal
This one was a hard one for my carnivorous husband, so hear me out if your rolling eyes feel like skipping over this section. I started serving more vegetables on our plates so we wouldn’t feel as if we were missing something – visually and how filled our bellies are. And for those wondering, we still limit our carbs but have also relaxed a bit and eat more grains since our strict paleo days. A small portion of quinoa or rice will not make you a fatty blimp, just sayin. It’s all about calories in versus calories out. The other part of convincing my hubby of eating more vegetarian was finding amazing vegetarian meals. I took the time to look for easy vegetarian meals on Pinterest, tested a few, and found a few my husband loves. He even says he doesn’t actually miss the meat since the recipes are so good. Bam! That’s a winner for me. I’ll be sharing some of those in the future as well. Meat can be so expensive and have saved at least $50-$100 a month by going from 24 meals a week (that’s lunch and dinner, seven days a week) with meat to about 12 meals per week.
Learn Basic Sewing
If you get a hole in your sock or tear a seam, don’t toss the garment. Fix it. Picking up a few basic sewing techniques, such as how to hem pants or sew on a button, saves money in the long run. Teach yourself with YouTube tutorials, or convince a friend to take classes with you at a local crafts store.
Snaaaaaacks! Who doesn’t love a good snack? I get very hangry if I don’t have a snack with me at all times. We keep Lara Bars as our to-go snack in our car, my purse, our hiking gear, where ever! Also by having a bar within reach, we are less likely to buy overpriced junk at the gas station. Another perk to having Lara Bars in your car is you can give a homeless person a bar if you feel so inclined. We tend to stay within a little healthier snacks, so nuts, Lara Bars, apples and peanut butter, and hummus with veggies are our go to right now. We usually buy cheaper peanuts and maybe one fun expensive nut like cashews. We buy our Lara Bars on Amazon since buying the bulk boxes gives us bars around .75-.95 cents each. Unless the grocery store is having a nice sale, I tend to see them at the grocery store for about $1-$1.25.
Skip the Pre-Cut Produce
As an RVer who enjoys cooking for the health benefits and how cheap it is, I use pre-cut produce. BUT I usually buy my produce on reduced sale. I think I will do a video on how I do this soon. For those of you who are at home with big refrigerators and are working towards getting out of debt, skip the pre-cut produce. Yes, it’s super easy to pick up pre-cut broccoli florets but they tend to cost two to three times as much as whole foods. It’s all about choosing YOUR battles if you have the time to cut up produce, save some of that money to throw at your debt. When I had a standard size refrigerator, I used to cut up 2-3 servings of salads in one sitting so I didn’t have to chop them every day. Throw all of the topper veggies (carrots, red onion, broccoli, zucchini, celery, etc) in one bowl so when you are ready to make your salad grab your lettuce and top it with the topper veggies. Now that’s fast food!
Use Up the Odds and Ends
I love using what I have and I hate wasting if I don’t have to. Every holiday, there is usually a ham bone or a turkey carcass used. You can freeze both of these (because let’s face it after the holidays I am SICK of cooking!!) Take a breath, and come back to the carcass in a month or two to make a bone broth for one of your newly delicious frugal soups! I also do this every time we buy a rotisserie chicken. Veggies that are on their way out, I chop them and make a quiche, soup, or quick stir fry. Kris loves it, I love it and the veggies weren’t wasted. Finally, I give the scraps of vegetables like bell pepper toppers or the ends of celery to my dog, Forbes. My dog loves veggies so it’s easy to give him scraps! Side note – be smart about what you give your dog and google what dogs can and can’t eat.
Buy What You Need, Not What You Can Afford
Whatever your goals are (getting out of debt, saving for that trip to Bali, living simply, saving the planet, etc), “buy what you need, not what you can afford” needs to be tattooed on your forehead. Not really because that would be a waste of perfectly good money (I love tattoos but not on my forehead). When you start to see how easy it is to begin cutting down on the waste in your budget, you’ll love the feeling of cutting down even more. This applies when you get a bonus or unexpected money comes your way, shove that money to your goals, not to Amazon! Living within your means is the secret sauce to having the money you want so you can create the life you dream of.
Let me know in the comments how you save money like your grandparents. I’d really love to learn some new tips and tricks.