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Living a Frugal Life

Living a frugal life is a fitting way to describe our family. We’ve been frugal since the early days of our marriage.

In many ways we’ve mastered the art of frugal living.  Over the years I’ve couponed, shopped clearance racks, consignment sales, yard sales and thrift stores. I’ve rarely purchased boxed or convenience foods, preferring to cook from scratch, have made many of our own beauty products, our laundry detergent and use very few disposable products, preferring reusables (cloth napkins, rags, diapers, etc.)

We married young, lived in a small campus apartment and had a very modest income. We’ve lived simply and frugally our entire marriage but the reasons why we live the way we do have changed.

In our early days of marriage, we wanted to avoid debt. We were committed to living within the income we had. We saved quite a bit for a house downpayment but we also enjoyed consuming. Now, we weren’t able to go buy the latest and greatest or pay full retail for the things we wanted so we consumed frugally. (One of our favorite activities was browsing the local Goodwill.) We weren’t exactly consumeristic but we did enjoy shopping and bought things just because we liked them and not because they were needed.

Now, we’re still frugal. As a family of five living on one income while trying to pay our home off early, frugality is a necessity. We enjoy stretching our dollars as far as they’ll go. However, the focus of our frugality is not so we can consume as much as we possibly can on as little as we can. The focus of our frugality is to live contentedly on the income we have, focusing on our needs and not so much on our wants.

Many of the frugal things we do now are not simply to save money, we do them for environmental reasons. Saving money is just a bonus!

I try to buy as many things as possible used to avoid buying new products that require new resources to produce. I cook from scratch to avoid the excess packaging that comes with convenience foods. We have cloth diapered our babies because each diaper was used over and over (many of them on all 3 of our babies) and they are not sitting in a landfill after one single use like a disposable diaper. I have reusable menstrual products (DivaCup and cloth pantyliners/pads) to avoid single use disposables (and as a bonus they’re so much more comfortable!)

We live on a planet with finite resources. Many Americans give little thought to the fact that each thing they consume and each single use disposable item that gets ‘thrown away’ is using resources and destroying our planet.

We’ve been having conversations with our kids about landfills, how there is no ‘away’ when you throw things away and how cheaply constructed toys and items break quickly and are a waste of resources as well as money.

We’ve been working on reducing our waste by buying less, trying to avoid items with excess packaging (I saw single bell peppers at the grocery store wrapped in plastic!?!), recycling and reusing things we can.

We’ve been only buying things we need (we keep a running needs list) and we’re not shopping as a leisure activity (even when thrifting, I go with a list).

We’re focusing more on needs than wants and as a result, we’re living more frugally than ever.

Related post: 10 Ways to Change Consumption Habits

*Disclosure – There are affiliate links in this post.

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10 Ways to Change Consumption Habits

Simplifying, minimizing and decluttering seem to be popular buzz words these days.

Filling boxes and bags with trash, things to sell, give away to friends and donate feels great and leaves your home feeling a little less stressful and relaxing.

I’m a huge advocate of living with less.

However, if you don’t change your consumption habits, the clutter starts to creep back and soon your closets, drawers and storage spaces are once again filled.

So, how do you change consumption habits?

First, remember why you want your home to be clutter free. It really makes the atmosphere more relaxing, makes the things easy to find and makes your keeping your home tidy easier.

Then, take steps to really change your consumption habits.

10 Ways to Change Consumption Habits

  1. Stop shopping as a hobby. You’ll save time, money and reduce clutter by staying out of stores and shopping ‘just for fun.’
  2. Make a list and stick to it. Approach all shopping like grocery shopping. If you need to buy a new pair of jeans, when you go to the store, just find the pair of jeans and don’t browse for anything else – ignore the sales and clearance racks!
  3. Only accept the ‘cast-offs’ you’ll actually use. If you are given someone else’s ‘cast-offs’ (hand-me-downs, books, housewares etc.) go through and only keep the things that you need or really like. Pass the rest on to someone else or donate.
  4. Rent, borrow or purchase digitally.  Instead of buying every book and DVD that you want, trying renting, borrowing from the library, borrowing from a friend or buying digitally.
  5. Shop for clothing twice a year. Assess your wardrobes twice a year (spring/summer and fall/winter) and purchase the things you need for those seasons at the beginning of the season. Once your wardrobe for that season is complete, stop shopping for clothes!
  6. Stop buying stuff just because ‘it’s a good deal’. If you didn’t need or want it at full price, you probably don’t need it when it is 75% off.
  7. Know where you are most tempted to spend. There may be certain stores (both brick and mortar and online) that you can’t leave without buying something. Once you know where your ‘weakness’ is, you can be proactive and change your shopping habits.
  8. Stop buying toys all throughout the year.  If you’re a parent, you know that most children have a bunch of toys. They are slammed with even more at Christmas and their birthdays. It’s okay to buy your child a toy occasionally but don’t make it a regular habit or your home will be drowning in toy clutter. (Instead of buying them toys, buy experiences!)
  9. Treat gifts like flowers. Appreciate the gift, enjoy the thoughtfulness of the giver but don’t let guilt make you keep something you don’t need or want. You can take the gift back (if you know where it was purchased) for store credit or, depending on what the gift is, you can donate to a toy drive, homeless shelter or pregnancy center.
  10. Don’t over consume on holidays and special occasions. At Christmas, we know that our children will receive an overabundance of gifts from grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and extended family so we keep our family gift giving very simple. In the past, we have given them ‘something they need, something to wear and something to read’ as Christmas gifts. They receive 3 gifts from us and that’s it.

After working so hard to simplify your home, you don’t want to allow much clutter back in. Make an effort to change your consumption habits and keep the clutter out!

Have you changed your consumption habits in an effort to live with less? 

 

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Are you wanting to simplify? My new eBook, Declutter: A Workbook to Rid Your Life of Excess walks you through each area of your home and helps you to rid your home of clutter!