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 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
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.