August 15, 2013

Blowing the frugal bugle

Hi, folks,

How's your week going so far? I'm delighted to report glorious rain last night and this morning, so no complaints here.

This time of the year with school starting or about to start can be a pain in the pocketbook for many people, especially families. It seems like a good time to talk about saving money again.

1. Try to use what you buy. If you bring home shampoo that doesn't work for your hair, recycle it as bubble bath or to shave your legs. Keep an inventory of what's in your fridge, freezer and pantry and make every effort to not waste food. If there are  several small amounts of vegetables or other leftovers, see about incorporating them into a frittata or other dish. A good friend of mine used to regularly make "refrigerator soup" which was a favorite of her family.

2. Group errands so you go places close to each other on the same trips.

3. Pick up really good deals in multiples. Often there will be loss leader items at certain times of the year. If you can buy several nice art kits (often sold during the holidays) at once  you've got a few birthday gifts ready to go with no need to run out at the last minute and spend more. Conventional wisdom recommends making handmade  presents, but my kids absolutely hated to  give those. They wanted to offer something from a store, so finding great deals made life easier.

4. Think long term. If water is an issue in your area, go for xeriscaping or other methods that minimize the need to use a sprinkler. Native plants and perennials will thrive with less effort or $$ to maintain.

5. Use whatever aps or social media there is in your town to keep up with free or inexpensive events and activities. Do museums and zoos have certain free days where  you live? Take advantage of these opportunities.

6.  If you are short of time, as well as money, can you combine activities to make the most of both? Go with a friend you don't see often to grocery or thrift shop? Again, if you miss seeing other busy women, maybe you can set up a clothing swap one evening. Everyone can bring items they don't wear anymore and see if your trash is someone elses treasure. If a couple of people bring nibbles, the hostess provides tea and coffee and someone has an Ipod you've got a fun time for little effort and can clean out a closet or two as well.

7. When you shop and there is a problem, make a point to keep your receipt and return the item to get your money back. Don't just let it sit there, taking up space when you don't need or want it after all.

8. Of course, one tip that can bear repeating multiple times is to shop your house before buying anything new. It is amazing to me how often the perfect solution is already at hand.

9. If you're full up with sentimental handmedowns to the point that your house is cluttered, consider passing them on to the next generation. Maybe your grown offspring or those of your siblings would enjoy Grandma's ________ fill in the blank.
This is included because so many people have stuffed full storage units nowadays. If you don't have space to enjoy things that have family or nostalgic value still, that may mean it's time to pass them along.

10. The ultimate aid for saving money is honestly answering the question "Do I really love this?" because if it's just one more rooster or knickknack or string of beads it might be wise to leave it in the store. If you think "WOW! This is the coolest ____ I've ever seen!" and know you'll forever regret leaving it, you should probably go for it.

I hope these thoughts are of use to some of you.

Take care,

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