Here is Part 2 of the Frugal Family 101 Series. To see Part I, click here. Is your family new to the frugal lifestyle, and not quite sure where to start? Here are some simple ways to get everyone on board with cutting back and being more resourceful.
- Save Automatically — Open a high interest savings account. You can do this online at ING Direct. Once the account is open, and linked to an existing checking account, set up a specific amount to be directly deposited every week. It could be just $15. After one year, you will have $780 + interest in savings! Perfect for Christmas shopping.
- Do It Yourself Home Repair — If no one in your family is particularly handy around the house, now is the perfect time to hone on your skills. Mark learned how to replace tile and toilets, changed the oil in our cars, installed ceiling fans, and re-modeled an entire bathroom. Yes, it was a lot of work, but it saved our family thousands of dollars. If you are not sure where to start, ask a friend if he/she might be able to teach you some basic home repairs.
- Cultivate a Love of Simple Pleasures — This is my favorite part about living the frugal lifestyle. Once we cut back on spending, we started to appreciate good quality family time together. We went on more picnics and spent more time outdoors. We planned fun family game nights and got creative with how we spent our time.
- Cook and Bake from Scratch — Instead of using convenience foods, try cooking and baking from scratch. This is much healthier for your family, and since you won’t be spending money on all that extra packaging, it will save money too.
- Buy in Bulk — Sometimes this saves money, sometimes it doesn’t. The key here is to carefully evaluate the unit price of an item. In most cases, however, buying in bulk is less expensive. Our latest bulk purchase was a 4 pound tub of peanut butter. It was less than $1/pound!
- Start a Garden — Growing vegetables and herbs can be rewarding and can help instill a great sense of pride for your family. You don’t need a lot of land, even a sunny window sill can provide enough space for a productive container garden! For more information on this, see Save Money and Grow Your Own Herbs.
- Exercise More — Cut the expensive gym membership, and find ways to exercise for free. Trying jogging in the park, or lift weights at home. The kids might enjoy trying yoga with a video borrowed from the library. Your family will feel better and spend less money.
- Insulate Your Home — One of the biggest energy savers for our family was installing additional insulation in the attic. Check for drafts near windows and outlets and insulate appropriately.
- Reduce Energy Use — Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL’s, wash laundry in cold water, only run the dishwasher when it is completely full, and try unplugging all appliances when they are not being used. Lowering your energy bills can be a great help to your family’s budget. I discovered by line-drying the clothes instead of using the dryer, our family saved over $50/month in energy costs!
- Get Organized — Buying in bulk, and keeping a well-stocked pantry or freezer is of no use if you don’t know where things are or how much you already have. Keep detailed lists of what the freezer and pantry contains. Explain to your family how to update the list when an item is removed/added.
- Obtain a Large Chest Freezer — If you do not already own a large chest freezer, you may be able to find out for free by posting an ad on Craigslist or your localFreecycle group. Tell friends and family that you are interested in a chest freezer. Chances are you will be able to find one free or very low-cost.
- Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry — If you buy items at the lowest possible price, and keep a well-stocked pantry, you will be able to “go shopping” in your own pantry when you run out of an item instead of making another trip to the store. This helps reduce impulse buys and ensures you are getting the most for your money.
- Stay Motivated and Make it Fun — Keep track of your goals, and remember to reward yourself when you have accomplished them. Living frugally can bring your family closer together. What could be more motivating than that? For more motivation tips, see How to be motivated to stick to a budget.
Have another great tip for families just beginning with the frugal lifestyle? Leave a comment and tell us about it!