Five ways to be frugal

I thought that this week instead of just giving you examples of how I have been frugal I would provide some ideas for how you could start to think about being more frugal. About how to make it part of your everyday thinking. Here are five questions to ask yourself:

Do you really need these or is it that you just want them?

Do I need it?

The best advice I can give you before you buy anything is to question whether you need it. I wrote recently about making saving automatic, but I think that instead of having that good habit we have a tendency to spend automatically. Something is looking a bit worn and we just buy another one. We fancy something to read on the train so we buy a magazine – nowadays that can cost us £5. Before you put your hand in your pocket or wave your card at that machine, stop and think, will this really make me happier, will it really enhance my life, could I do without it and either spend the money on something I value more or save it towards one of my goals.

Can I find something else cheaper that would do the job just as well?

A few months ago, at the beginning of this frugal journey, I went to clean my glasses using the bottle of spray on my dressing table and wondered to myself whether I could find a recipe on the internet for making my own spray. How stupid did I feel later on when I read that the alternative to using spray is to clean spectacles with soap and water. In fact, I used to do this years ago and for some reason was persuaded that that instead I should spend £6 a time on a bottle of spray to do it. Now I just wash them under the tap with a bit of liquid soap, dry them on a towel and polish them with a microfibre cloth.

How can I make sure that I don’t waste anything?

One example of this is making sure that you get every last scrap out of a bottle of say a suntan lotion or a tube of cream. You may want to cut open tubes of cream and scrape out what’s left. Stand bottles of shower gel upside down so you can squeeze out the last drop. Try not to waste food. We had a few bananas going very brown on the windowsill this week. I cut them up and put them in the freezer to keep for smoothie making.

Can I make it last longer?

This means looking after things. I am not always brilliant at this. Mr Simple is much better. Earlier today he was removing all of my long hair from of the vacuum head brush. Other examples are having your car serviced regularly, which will save money in the long run. Look out for wear and tear when you clean so that any problems can be nipped in the bud before they develop into expensive bills

Learning to mend things can save you a lot of money

Can I mend it?

The other morning Mr Simple told me that the sheet had ripped. It seems that it has worn thin. I’ve had it for about 15 years so it’s probably not surprising. My first thought was not, ‘I need to buy a new sheet’, but ‘How could I mend it?’ I am not great at sewing. I did cookery at school. It was my sister who did needlework. My mum is also good at sewing, but lives 160 miles away so I’m not going to be able to get her to do it. I googled it and discovered that you can buy iron on patches for repair. I’m yet to try this, but I’m thinking about it. It is probably cheaper than a new sheet.

So there we are, my principles for frugality. It’s just about trying to change your thinking in a world where nothing is built to last and we all too easily throw something away and buy a new one.

What are your frugal rules? I’d love to know. Don’t forget to check out the other posts by Cass, Emma and Becky.

Another Frugal Friday

Another week over and so here’s five more frugal things I’ve done this week…

Ate broccoli stems

This is what you might call ‘nose-to-tail’ eating, but for vegetables instead of meat. For some reason in this country we have a tendency to just cut off the florets and then throw the rest in the bin, whereas the broccoli stems are completely edible. I usually peel them and chop them into thin strips. They taste just like the florets. The stem is probably the heaviest part of the plant so by throwing it away we are putting the most expensive part of our purchase in the bin.

Washing in cold water in summer isn’t so bad

Washed my face in cold water

I used to run the tap until the water became hot and then put in the plug and fill the sink. Now I just run the tap and immediately put the plug in, so it just fills with cold water. With the weather having finally warmed up, the cold water on my face is quite pleasant after a warm night, but I am not sure if I will be able to keep this up when it gets cold again.

Turned the lamp off in the lounge as I wasn’t in there

We have a light on a timer in the lounge. I think Mr Simple believes that it deters burglars when we aren’t here. He was away and I wasn’t using the room, so I turned it off. Simple, but it’s the little things that can make a big difference.

I love poached eggs for breakfast

Used vinegar from pickled onions in poached egg water

This was Mr Simple’s idea. I frequently eat poached eggs for breakfast and have a bottle of vinegar in the cupboard to put in the water. Mr Simple is a lover of pickled onions, although not for breakfast, obviously. When the jar is empty of onions and only vinegar remains, I use it for my poached eggs. It’s like getting two different types of groceries in one jar.

Bought second hand books

Mostly I try to get books out of the library, but they don’t always stock what I want. After reading David Bach’s ‘The Latte Factor’ and ‘The Automatic Millionaire’, I then wanted to read ‘Start Late, Finish Rich’, which at my time of life seems more relevant. Although I ended up buying a copy I only spent just over £3 on the book and delivery, which didn’t seem too indulgent.

Let me know your frugal activities from this week and don’t forget to check out the other posts by Cass, Emma and Becky.

Frugal Friday

Well it’s Friday again so here’s yet five more frugal things I’ve done this week. I’m not sure that I am going to be able to come up with five every week, but it’s week three and I am still going, so here we are:

Used butter tubs to freeze leftovers instead of freezer bags

Now this is something that my mother does – you get to 50 and you start turning into your mother. Inevitable I suppose. The plastic tubs are easy to stack in the freezer. I put labels on them so I know what they contain. You always think you’ll recognise what’s in it, but I have found out that that isn’t always true. I only have a limited number of butter tubs, so I still use freezer bags, which I of course wash out. It can be a bit fiddly, but it seems such a waste to throw them away after one use.

Turn radiators off in rooms that you don’t use

Turned the heating down in the spare bedroom once my sister had left

For most of the time we haven’t had the heating on recently, even though summer is only visiting sporadically. With my sister visiting though I thought I had better turn up the heating, well turn it on really. When she left, although I turned the thermostat down back to 19C I also turned the radiator in the spare bedroom off so even if it gets very cold the radiator won’t come on at all.

Ate leftovers from the freezer when Mr Simple was away

You may have seen that June was an expensive month for food, but I did spend one week eating out of the freezer. This was because Mr Simple goes away to work, usually for a day or two, but this time it was for a week, so I made the most of the opportunity to keep food simple and ate leftovers that I had shoved in the freezer. I am less fussy than Mr Simple and happy to live on chilli and rice.

Walked into town

We live just a mile from a small town, but despite that I am often tempted to drive in if the weather is bad. Last Saturday it was lovely and warm so I walked there. I had to carry some heavy hardbacked library books, which wasn’t ideal, but on the way back I only had one small paperback.

Exchanged plants with a friend

This was not something instigated by me, but by my friend, who I know through work. She very kindly offered me two everlasting sweet peas and in exchange I gave her some lemon basil. This is such a good way to get free plants. We have foxgloves in our garden that seed themselves every year. I always pot some seedlings up for the annual village plant sale and this year I also gave some to a friend in the village.

Let me know your frugal activities from this week and don’t forget to check out the other posts by Cass, Emma and Becky.

Five More Frugal Things

I decided to link up with up with Cass, Emma and Becky again in their weekly ‘Frugal Friday’ linky. Here are my five frugal things:

Ate frozen pizza when we needed something quickly instead of getting a takeaway. This idea comes from Liz Willard-Thames aka Mrs Frugalwoods. On Wednesday I go to a pilates class and Mr Simple was meant to be cooking dinner, but as the weather was dry he wanted to try to finish pointing the garage wall. Instead of spending money on a takeaway we had a frozen pizza and salad. I always keep a few pizzas in the freezer. At three pizzas for £4 you can’t go wrong and to be honest, they’re okay.

Used a Tesco voucher which was for spend £70 and get £7 off. I painstakingly went around the supermarket with my calculator adding up my groceries until I got to £70, buying toilet rolls to take me over the line, as this is usually more than I spend in a week.

Not everyone will want to do this, but not flushing the toilet will save you money

Didn’t flush the toilet. You may say ugh!, but when there’s only me and Mr Simple looking at each other’s wee isn’t that big a deal. Solids do get flushed though you’ll be glad to know.

Made pesto with basil from the garden. I went a bit overboard a little while ago with sowing some lemon basil seeds. They were out of date and so I thought that they were unlikely to germinate – how wrong I was. Despite having sold two pots (making a grand total of £3) and given some away, we still had loads left, which was starting to flower, so I made some pesto. We had it with some spaghetti, spiralised courgette (to get some extra veg into Mr Simple) and a green salad – delicious.

Make a notepad by reusing the backs of old letters

Cut up letters I received in the post which were blank on one side and used them for note paper. I usually cut the A4 sheets into four pieces and hold them together with a large bulldog clip. Despite many things being electronic now we still get quite a bit of snail mail and so I think that I am unlikely to run out of notepaper anytime soon.

How has your week been? Have you managed to make any savings?

Five Frugal Things

This week I decided to link up with up with Cass, Emma and Becky in their weekly ‘Frugal Friday’ linky. Here are my five frugal things:

Discovered my mysupermarket on moneysavingexpert and signed up for alerts so I know when the groceries that I buy regularly are on sale. I have been having a serious look at our food budget and trying to think of ways of saving money without reducing the quality of the food. I am also trying to save time, so am considering a monthly delivery of non-perishable items and then shopping weekly for the rest. Hopefully that will make the task less arduous and I won’t be lugging so many bags of shopping around every week.

Took my lunch to work with me every day. This is probably easier for me than some people as I work at home a couple of days a week. Therefore I can just walk into the kitchen at lunchtime to make something rather than having to prepare it in the morning or even the night before.

We all need to wrap up in this lovely summer we are having

Put a blanket on the bed over the duvet instead  of putting the heating on. I always have this on over the winter as I feel the cold more than Mr Simple, but like in most parts of the country summer has not arrived. I am trying to resist putting the heating on in June therefore we are sitting with blankets over us or at the weekend lighting the wood burner, which at present is fuelled by trees that we cut down from garden i.e. cost = £0.

Hung clothes up to air after wearing once instead of putting them in the laundry. I always used to sling things on the chair next to my bed and if they stayed there for more than one day, by the time I wanted to wear them next they were so creased I couldn’t go out in public in them. Now I make an effort to put t-shirts and blouses on hangers and leave them hanging on the wardrobe door to remind me that I have worn them before. Trousers and skirts just go back in the wardrobe and only get washed when I have worn them several times – so far, no one has told me that I smell.

Collected rainwater in the butts in the garden to use to water the plants instead of using the hosepipe. Mr Simple installed two water butts next to the greenhouse a few months ago and with all of the rain that we’re having they are full. We could have done with this rain last year when we had the lawn laid and had to spend a fortune on watering it to keep it alive in the heatwave. I am hoping to greatly reduce our water consumption this year.

So how have you saved money this week? Let me know in the comments below and please have a look at the other posts as well.