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Five Frugal Living Tips

Dec 13th 2011, 12:42, by Swapsity

By Meka Jones
So, it’s mid-December now, smack in the middle of the year’s peak buying season. If you’re not in the shopping spirit, or even if you’re suffering from an excess of spending, these tips are for you.
This year I read all the books in the Toronto Public Library (plus some that aren’t) on saving money and frugal living. I learned many things.
First off, I learned that some folks practice frugal living by doing things that aren’t realistic or possible for most of us, like collecting junk mail to roll into fire logs and burn them in their woodstove or buying expired food because it’s cheaper.
I also learned that a realistic frugal lifestyle requires forethought and planning. In fact, if you’re experiencing a debt problem right now, chances are good that you haven’t been using enough of the long-term planning—but more on that later. Here are five of the best actually useful frugal living tips I encountered in my research. And yes, you can start doing them right now.
# 1: Drinks: Make your own coffee instead of buying it by the cup. Use frozen juices instead of juice cartons. Better yet, save all flavoured drinks for special occasions and just drink water. What helps: having sufficient good-quality water bottles to bring water along during the day and making this into a routine (same goes for coffee mugs).
# 2 Stuff: Maintain everything. Even little things last longer if you care for them. Think:

  • Cleaning & polishing your shoes (and waterproofing them, if they’re for wet/ snowy seasons);
  • Cleaning out small appliances (toaster, microwave, stovetop);
  • Oiling, sharpening and properly storing items that rust like hand or lawn tools, cast-iron cookware, and kitchen knives;
  • Mending clothes.

If you don’t know how to do this kind of maintenance (and believe me, my mom didn’t teach me, either), there are a wealth of good instructional videos on the internet. If you’re not an internet person, ask for help at your local library. Tell them I sent you.
# 3 Shopping: If you’re an impulse shopper, break the cycle! This is an addiction, and just like with cigarette smoking, you only need to break one part of the pattern to disrupt the whole cycle. For me, the easiest part to remove is actually going to the store—I just don’t! Other things that help: not carrying money or cards, working from a list, and having enough to eat and drink before shopping for food. 
# 4 Laundry: There are several degrees of change available. Try as many as you can!

  • Ditch the expensive liquid soaps. Powder works just as well, and you can make your own for VERY little cost. Check out DavidSuzuki.org for recipes;
  • Skip the dryer: hang outside during warm months, and inside during winter months (also helps humidify the air so you don’t have to buy/use a humidifier);    
    • A great choice for apartment dwellers: an over-the-door drying rack. By the way, clothes dryers are VERY hard on your clothes. Hang drying will extend their lifetime considerably.
  • Only wash what’s actually dirty;
  • Cold water washes. Even if it’s not your electricity bill, you’re saving the earth.

#5 Living space: Keep your home beautiful. Sometimes people engage in unhealthy habits (financial and otherwise) because they feel something is wrong or missing from their life. If your living space is clean and nurturing, you may feel less of an urge to throw money at it (or yourself). I’m just sayin’. Offer things you no longer use or love for barter here on Swapsity!


jdtroughton wrote on Dec 13th 2011, 19:38

I will definitely try 4, already a fan of 2 and 5.

LauriePB wrote on Dec 15th 2011, 22:27

I think #2 Maintaining "things" is the most important item. That way it makes sense to acquire quality appliances, quality shoes and clothing that will last for years. Then your cost per year goes down, and you actually save money.

Brook Jones wrote on Dec 16th 2011, 10:19

Great suggestions! Love the "drink water," "don't be hungry when you shop for food," air dry your laundry," and use alternative laundry cleaners (which help you avoid neurotoxic fragrances and irritants while you're at it) in particular. All are useful tips to incorporate in daily living. Thanks!!

Lindsay Coulter wrote on Dec 19th 2011, 14:51

So glad you like my Queen of Green laundry soap! I have many more DIY recipes at queenofgreen.ca or check out my Facebook page and @DavidSuzukiQoG

Nellie wrote on Jan 6th 2012, 05:02

It saddens me that you had to research what used to be common knowledge. (Thank god we have shared knowledge through libraries.)

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