Being frugal is all the rage these days, or so the cool kids tell me. More and more people are resorting back to the “old days” when every scrap of food was stretched, hand-me-downs were the norm, and credit cards were non-existent. This movement is leading to more and more people aiming for sustainable living and financial freedom. I am personally so happy to be a part of this awesome frugal living and minimalist lifestyle movement. Amidst all of the fantastic frugal choices being made every day, however, there are some major mistakes being made. I know because I personally made them while striving to be more frugal. The thing is, there are actually times when you need to stop being frugal and start being realistic.
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I still consider myself to be a recovering shopaholic. Now instead of filling my cart with items on the clearance rack and taking home 2 bags full of clothes I got at a “good deal,” I fill my arms, try the clothes on and then leave them in the store. It’s quite the waste of time. But, it’s not a waste of money and that’s even more important!
Now-a-days I choose to have less clothes and spend as much on one single item as I used to on 12 new clearance shirts. Why? After living a more minimalist lifestyle, it has become clear to me what my style really is, and what I will get the most use out of. I choose to invest in clothing that I know will be worn consistently and that I won’t grow tired of. When shopping for these items, quality is my top priority. Gone are the days that the price tag told me everything I needed to know. Now I see frugal as being more about sustainable, long lasting purchases instead of what will save me the most money right away.
When I was at my biggest “crunchy” phase, I was washing my hair with baking soda and water. It definitely gave my hair a good clean and made it super soft. But, overtime my hair started drying out and getting brittle. So, instead I decided to opt for a more expensive, cleaner shampoo and conditioner set. Something that was still environmentally friendly but would help my hair get back to being healthy.
I continued to do this with my skin as well. Making homemade soap products (and not very well) and using coconut oil for lotion. These methods are great and sometimes they really work for people, but they didn’t work for me! My skin was drying out and really suffering. As usual, I just brushed it off as hormonal changes or “old age” AKA 30. Then one day my aunt surprised me with a professional facial. I had never had one before nor did I have any previous interest. Once my facial was finished I left that room feeling refreshed and in total awe of how beautiful my skin looked. Immediately I started researching skin products. I was overwhelmed by the high prices and the volume of products on the market and I didn’t even know where to being.
One day at Target, I stood in the “beauty” isle totally baffled about where to even begin. Then I saw a kit from a company I already had used before. It had soap, face exfoliator, lotion and a mask in it. I was sold. The best part was, it was not nearly as expensive as all the other products I had been seeing. Sure, $20 was more than the cost of homemade lotion and baking soda shampoo, but it has saved my skin in the long run!
In many areas, I am all for being totally frugal with detergents and cleaners. We have found a few, more frugal homemade detergents and household cleaners that work for us and our family. Things like Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap and baking soda and vinegar.
While I am all for these frugal DIY cleaners, what I’m talking about is buying the cheaper detergents and cleaners that are found in stores. Any time we decided to try new detergents because they came with a great, money saving coupon we found ourselves facing terrible rashes and breakouts. We learned the hard way that going frugal when it comes to our skin goes hand in hand when it comes to what we put on our skin as well. If you are looking for a great, source for natural and organic products that are safe for you and your family, check out The Green Life. The Green Life was started by real families who wanted to use the best products on their families but didn’t have access to high end, quality shops like Whole Foods. If you’re in the same boat, check them out and get free shipping on orders over $99.
If you are a gym goer, or an aspiring gym goer, make sure one thing you are investing in is high quality shoes and activewear. As a woman, let me tell you, there is a huge difference between $10 leggings and $50 workout pants. That $40 can make all the difference. I used to opt for the less expensive and found myself with holes in the knees, see through bottoms and all around discomfort. The first time I tried Fabletics, I was pleasantly surprised to see and feel the difference that a high quality activewear brand made. If you have never ordered before, you can sign up and get your first 2 pair of leggings for only $24! See, you can be frugal and still invest in quality gym wear!
Fabletics has also added shoes to their collection of fashionable workout clothes. Because I haven’t purchased a pair myself, I can’t speak for the comfort or quality. Personally, I have continued to remain a fan of Under Armor shoes. The best part is, you can still get their shoes at a discount through Kohls or by using a savings and rebate app like Ibotta. I was able to get 5% cash back from Ibotta after my last Under Armor purchase, not to mention they were on clearance in the kid’s section!
Opting for quality foot gear is highly important if you are a frequent gym goer, especially a runner. The wrong footwear can do damage to your knees and cause major discomfort during your workouts. If you are a frequent gym goer it’s also important to continue to update your shoes! This is one area I have learned to let go a little and stop being so frugal in. That doesn’t mean I have stopped shopping during the sale’s season though!
As a person who went ahead and got myself certified as a holistic nutritionist, you’d better believe that I believe in investing in quality food. My basic idea behind this is that the more you invest in good foods, the less you will invest in health care. I’m also someone who went way over-board when it came to buying the healthiest, hippest super foods. Buying food at a reasonable cost while still investing in high quality, healthy foods is totally doable. In fact, our family of 5 spends about $100 a week on groceries and we eat crazy healthy.
If meal planning and cooking are not your top qualities, check out the $5 Meal Plan. Created by a busy mother of 4, you can get customized meal plans and a shopping list to go with it!
Being frugal at the grocery store should never be shopping with coupons for all the latest highly processed foods. A basic rule of thumb for walking the grocery store isles is to stick to the outside. The edges around the isles are the places where you will find your healthiest foods. They are the healthiest and honestly some of the least expensive as well. You can also get additional savings by using your rebate apps wisely. In fact, you can even double them up to save more in some cases. See how here.
My favorite savings apps to use:
My husband, Tom is diligent when it comes to the upkeep of our home and cars. He is always on top of getting the oil changed for the cars, hitting up the car wash, and filling the gas tank before it gets to a quarter of a tank. I have learned from him how important all of these things are in maintaining a well powered, longer lasting vehicle.
I didn’t realize how terrible running on E was for your engine. As a teenager, my main focus was avoiding having to pay for gas money for as long as humanly possible. The same was true for car washes. Why spend money on one when it was just going to get dirty again? It all seemed so cosmetic and superficial. In reality, opting for a car wash once a month is a great way to help prevent rust and damage your paint. Especially if you live somewhere (like Minnesota) where you constantly have snow, ice and salt spitting up at your car all winter.
Don’t skimp on the small details when it comes to your home upkeep either. As I grow more frugal, like I said, I also keep long term goals in mind more often. Recently, I gave in and I rented a carpet cleaner for our carpets. They have had a few stains since we moved in. The stains weren’t anything we worried about because we have children after all. We knew some day we would be replacing them and until that time came, we decided we wouldn’t worry about it. Then, during a deep spring cleaning, I had an epiphany: if I took good care of these carpets…they might last longer! Genius. I know. This of course meant shelling out more dough to pay for the rental but let me tell you, it was well worth it! Old stains are now barely noticeable and our carpets look in better shape than ever!
Not only have I prolonged the need to buy new carpeting, but I also watch over this carpet better. By watch over I mean I yell at my kids to get off of it more often. They may last me another decade if I keep it up!
People always want to get a good deal when it comes to buying their home appliances. This makes perfect sense because appliances are a hefty expense to have to pay for. However, too often quality, again, is over-looked due to a good price tag. Before purchasing a less popular brand make sure to go online and read reviews. What have other customer’s said about this particular brand? There may be a reason it is marked so long in price!
Another frugal tactic to avoid is paying with a credit card. A lot of stores offer a percentage off your purchase if you open a credit card. This can be a very temping idea, but really it won’t save you a dime when it comes to the interest of it all! Avoid the credit card debt and save your money so you can pay in cash. The only time I would recommend purchasing with a credit card is if you have the funds to immediately pay it off! Otherwise you can find yourself deep in debt and no idea how to dig yourself out. Again, I speak from experience! Not sure what your credit score is looking like these days? Get a free report here.
Our current house came with the classic white appliances and we have always known we wanted to upgrade to stainless steel. When or microwave went out, we had the perfect excuse to upgrade all the appliances. But, we didn’t, we flipped the bill for the $200 microwave and are the proud owners of a mis-matched appliances kitchen.
Just like you don’t want to be super frugal with your fitness gear, sporting equipment is another area to make sure you’re spending wisely. A decade ago, before I knew any better, I chose to buy a “mountain bike” because it was pink, cute and inexpensive. Let me tell you, that has been one of the biggest regret of my life. As our children got older and we started biking more, I struggled to make it down the block without gasping for air. Partially because I was out of shape after having 2 children but mostly because the quality of the bike was lacking big time.
If you are a big outdoor family, there is nothing wrong with investing in your favorite outdoor hobbies. It’s better to go big the first time around rather than having to continually upgrade your gear.
My poor mom meant well when she bought her three children new laptops for Christmas. They were all on sale and she was so excited about her discounted price. Unfortunately, these laptops didn’t last very long. Quickly mine was consumed by viruses. It was slowing down and shutting down and breaking down. When I started graphic design school, I knew I didn’t want to skimp on the cost of a quality computer. I went all in with a $2,000 Apple desktop that had all the programs I would need for school on it. While there has been some dispute about Apple products over the years, I personally will never choose anything else. After having to get rid of multiple laptops in the past, I’m proud to say my desktop is still going strong.
Don’t stress on the cost of quality electronics. Often times, there are great deals out there, you just have to be smart about them! Last year I decided I wanted something more upgraded with Apple’s new technology and knew a laptop would be ideal for blogging. I researched the best ones and then bought a certified refurbished Apple laptop off Amazon for only $800. Electronics are something never to cut corners on, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try and be a little frugal!
Cut the cost more by selling your old electronics. See how to do it easily with Decluttr.
This is where I absolutely mean business! When it comes to your relationships, don’t let frugal get in the way. There were so many times I was so fearful of spending money that I didn’t pay for my mom’s meal or didn’t get my niece a Christmas gift. The idea of spending money had me in a vice grip and it was suffocating. No doubt it effected some of my relationships. Even though I held back from so much out of fear of not having enough funds, there was still a part of me that felt guilty about it too. I didn’t know how to find a healthy relationship with money.
When it comes to people, make sure they always feel valued. Let them know your love for them is bigger than your desire to have money. If you have a family, this is 10 times more important. Don’t ever let your children grow up feeling like they are second to your checkbook. Don’t let them feel like they run your checkbook either! It’s so important to get a smart budget started so that you can finally feel like you have freedom financially to live the life you want! If you don’t know where to start, try my Budget Bundle. Living frugal is supposed to be beneficial for all. Make sure you’re doing it right!When it comes to people, make sure they always feel valued. Let them know your love for them is bigger than your desire to have money.Click To Tweet
Renee is the blogger behind The Fun Sized Life. After downsizing with her family, she also took the time to get serious about he finances. Now she is sharing the wealth with all of her readers.