Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Notes of Being Frugal

,I'm big on being frugal. Not that I'm a miser or refuse to spend a dime. But frugal in the sense of wisely choosing how to spend the money that I have. I think any working family homestead absolutely needs to be frugal to some degree in order to be successful. I've discovered that there are plenty of ways to be frugal, and the biggest saver for me by far is not buying stuff in the first place. Number 2 is not buying stuff that eventually gets wasted. 

I try not to fall for sales and deals, unless it was something I intend to buy anyway. Just how many hose nozzles do I need to have in reserve sitting on the shelf? How many pens need to stored in the desk drawer? While I do believe in having reserves on hand, I'm guilty in the past of over doing it. It's been 10 years since I bought those 3 packs of hose washers that were on 50% off sale, and I still have 2 full packs that are rather old and cracking by now. Thus I wasted my money buying the extra 2. That's just one example that I'm willing to admit to. Yes, there are others sitting around here. 
(We changed our mind and never used these. Still sitting on the closet shelf.)

Bargains are only good if you actually use the stuff. Before moving here I bought several pair of shoes that were on a great sale. I was saving tons of dollars, so I believed. But once I started living in Hawaii, I never wore regular shoes again. I ended up giving those shoes away to the thrift store. 

Making poor plans while building our house has also waged war with my frugality campaign. We've purchased way too many light fixtures that we ended up giving away. Yes, we didn't change our plans until it was too late to return them to the store. I refuse the throw good things away, so we had to find someone who could use them. 

Sometimes buying a bargain leads me to spend money I normally wouldn't, thus totally negating the bargain. I once purchased some cream cheese at a super price. But then had to buy the rest of the ingredients to make the cheesecake I had in mind - graham cracker crumbs, cream, fruit topping, etc. Not that we didn't enjoy the cheesecake, but it surely isn't an example of being frugal. 

Stocking up sometimes can kill all frugality. How? Stocking up should save you money.  I mean, bulk buying is often cheaper. Or buying bulk when the item is on sale it usually a wise money saver. And I should save money and time by not having to repeatedly go out and buy the stuff, right? But what happens when we change our habits, lifestyle, or diet? Then stuff goes unused. What, you don't anticipate changing? Whoa, that's not us. We've changed a lot over that past few years........
...When I learned that I should no longer eat anything with sugar in it (for over one whole year, zero sugar), I had lots of foods stockpiled that contained sugar -- baked beans, corn, peas, soups, chicken broth, etc. None of that food got wasted (it went to needy seniors), but it was an economic disaster from a frugality viewpoint. 
...when hubby decided the compact fluorescent bulbs were the only thing he'd have in the house, all the regular light bulbs became defunct stock. Luckily my mother had no objections to using them. 
...I moved to Hawaii with a nice collection of new queen sized sheets, but then Hubby decided we would upgrade to a king. I totally agreed on the king size beds so I was just as guilty as he was. 

If I practice the art of being frugal, then I have money to spend on other things. But sometimes I end up shooting myself in the foot. Goes to show that I have plenty of room for improvement. And my flops keep me from getting a swelled head......I'm not as good at this homesteading thing that I sometimes think I am! 


  1. On balance, you are still net positive financially, because you frame purchases in terms of reasonable items at an acceptable or better price, with adjustments to accommodate changes that occur, such as going to king beds, not a foreseeable decision when you bought the queen sheets. The donated items gave you an intangible benefit as well, making others' lives better by your generosity. I am guilty of many such expenditures, some of which were really total wastes of money and time, but we learn much by our mistakes.
    Oh, hey, watch out for "edible aloe" unless there's serious constipatory isues - it was "banned" by the FDA about 2002 as an off-the-shelf laxative. We used it to treat sunburn, rashes, and da kine, but always had to be careful not to get any of that oozing sap near our mouths. Easy to grow, though.

  2. Thanks for the heads up on the edible aloe. The volunteers are growing it as a medicinal, I believe. A treatment for itchy skin rashes and burns. I'll be sure to let them know about the less-than-happy intestinal effects.