We have covered a lot of topics in this series of articles. Whether it be food, medicine, household living, or buying local, every little bit helps in getting closer to living independently, frugally, and in the best possible health for yourself and family.
In this, our final part of the series, I want to share with you some of the wisdom we have learned on buying, spending, and saving your hard earned dollars.
- Bills. One main aspect of frugality involves your monthly expenditure, your bills. First of all, it is very important to live a minimal lifestyle. You don’t need three cars and a 3,400 square foot house for 2 people. You don’t need two cell phones, the mega cable package, and so on. Minimize in every area, and cast out the monthly bills that waste your extra dollars and are not beneficial. A good example is with cell phones: we dropped our two, pay-by-the-month cell phones, and exchanged it for one pre-paid phone. This took us from paying out $80 a month, down to around $8 a month. Instead of a landline phone, we invested in our own Skype phone number for both in and out calls using our computer, for a mere $7 a month. Instead of cable or satellite television, we have a subscription to Netflix. This way we can watch many movies and TV shows instantly, receive a few conveniently in the mail, and can control what is watched, without the commercials (which are not good themselves), all for less then $10 a month. Take a look at your monthly bills and lifestyle, and find a way to cut corners.
- Grocery and household supplies. The biggest area in our life where people are always in awe is our grocery and household supply budget. For our family of eight — with three of our six children who can put away more food then my husband and I combined — our average household budget for food and supplies (such as bathroom products), is an average of around $500 a month. That is extremely low, considering most of our items are organic. How do we do it? We cook almost exclusively from scratch, buy in bulk, use many reusable items (cloth diapers, unpaper towels, etc), and use coupons combined with deals to get items for free or almost free to stretch our dollars. There are even times I receive overage from coupons, where I walk out the door with the store having paid me to buy what I needed! You can find many how-to’s and great deals at Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.
- Buy second-hand whenever possible. Buying used is a great way to be thrifty. You can visit your local second-hand store, and find brand-new and like-new treasures for a mere fraction of the cost at retail. Children’s and adult clothing, books, toys, and other household goods are among the things that are best to buy used. Garage sales are in an amazing bargain category of their own. Last year, we spent a mere $14 total on Christmas gifts for all 6 of our children, yet the presents under the tree and stockings were overflowing with treasures that were adored — all because we Christmas shopped at garage sales and the thrift-store, and re-purposed hand-me-downs from friends and relatives. Another thing that is good to buy used is homeschooling curriculum. Homeschoolclassifieds.com has an abundance of every style, name, and grade level of schoolbooks out there, all being sold for just a few dollars by moms and dads just like you.
- Know when to spend the extra. As important as it is to be frugal and buy used whenever possible, it is just as valuable to know when spending the extra money on high quality is worth it.There are many products out there where spending the extra dollars initially will save you an abundance in the long run, as well as give you a much better quality item. An example was the purchase of our juicer. We could have very well bought a lower grade model for $100. It would have done its job, but after a lot of research, we discovered that they break quite frequently and need replaced often. So instead, we invested $350 and bought a high grade model, that is much more durable, has many extra bonus features, and has a fifteen-year warranty. We spend the extra outright, but will in the end save hundreds of dollars. Our wheat grinder is another example. For items like this, although there are much cheaper versions out there, it is wise to spend a larger amount initially to save the hassle and cost of something that breaks easily, doesn’t work as well, and will cause more frustration then good.
- Find an outsource for extra income. This is something I, as a housewife, am slowly learning. There are many ways I can contribute to my husband’s hard-earned paycheck, because every little bit helps. Whether it be starting a blog and doing reviews for companies to receive products that help stretch your household supply budget, writing articles for a website, completing paid surveys as you sit and nurse your baby, earning Swagbucks while you search the internet for free Amazon giftcards (where you can buy groceries and other needed items!), selling your craft items on Etsy, clearing out the clutter in your home to sell unneeded items on Craigslist, or even selling extra garden produce at a stand in front of your home, there is always a way to bring in a few extra dollars and help lighten the financial load. Be creative!
Being frugal is a large part of being independent. If you are relying on credit cards and loans to live, it is impossible to be independent. There are of course, circumstances in life which call for exceptions, and of course you don’t want to be so stingy that you are miserable. But if there are pennies you can pinch, and corners you can cut in your household, then it is vital to do so.
We hope we have instilled in you a bit of knowledge and desire to change and grow with this series of articles. Living a healthy, thrifty, and independent life is an important part of advancing God’s Kingdom and giving glory to Him. After all, if we are in the best place possible with our mind, body, and resources, it is much easier to do His will and be an example for others.
Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; take the best care of it possible. Our finances and spending showcase our responsibility with what God has given us. Be a good steward with these things. We are raising up the next generation to take our place in doing the Lord’s work; let’s guide them away from dependence on the world, and teach them how to be reliant on themselves, as brothers and sisters in Christ, dependent ultimately on God Himself. Health, thrift, and independence are more important than you think.