I've been ignoring this blog quite a bit. Mostly because I'm focused on my baby, my body & our home purchase which is all captured in youreyesmynose.blogspot.com.
I however have been thinking about how much or a financial investment our recent life changes will be. Marriage, relocation & job changes aside... in the same summer we'll be home owners and parents! That's nuts!
As a way to prepare for this we chose to live in a nice but reasonably priced apartment both in NY and Boston allowing us to save. We also chose to purchase 1 car instead of 2 when replacing my older car. We purchased much of our furniture used or from discount stores and have made great use of them. But how are we going to continue to live a frugal lifestyle moving forward while still remaining practical?
1) We've minimized our use of paper products in the home. We use family cloth for #2 and kitchen towels for all clean ups in the kitchen. We use microfiber cloths for dusting and cleaning. Washable cloth items have become our friends. I also use a hanky instead of a tissue when out of the house. I need to purchase a few more so that I can bring this habit into the home as well. This change is not just excellent for our pockets but has been great for the environment as well.
2) Meal planning. I don't plan ahead however I do plan to cook what is available in our home. We eat left overs and we try and bring our lunch... we don't always succeed but that is what we strive to do. This saves us a significant amount of money and cuts down on our waste. We also eat almost all our dinners in the home.
3) Travel less... We traveled quite a bit during our pre baby pre home years. We took trips out west and vacationed when possible. I still think the family time is important, but the trips don't need to be as far from home or as costly. A few more camping trips with a few more days at the beach or a trip to the mountains of the NE will do us well. We also travel a lot to NY. I don't think this will be avoidable as our families and support systems are located there, but with baby in tow, it may create less of an opportunity while drawing family to us a bit more (the house and extra room help as well).
4) Frugal Soaps! We make our own laundry detergent using a mix of baking soda, washing soda & grated ivory soap. We've eliminated the borax with Baby on the way. We also use white vinegar purchased in bulk as a fabric softener. We purchase an eco friendly dish soap that we buy in bulk and use sparingly for hand washed items. We haven't found a good dishwasher recipe and have reverted back to using store bought dishwashing soap. We currently use Cascade Complete. We only run our washer when absolutely full. In the bathroom we use Kirk's Castile Soap. It is all natural and vegetable based just like Dr. Bronner's Soaps but it's a bit cheaper. We opted to purchase a box of fragrance free so that it'd be gentle enough on baby. It's nice how you can swipe your hand accross the top and that small little touch of soap lathers and lathers and lathers. We also use Dr. Bronners Tea Tree liquid soap. On our hair we try to use a tea tree based shampoo and conditioner and sometimes head and shoulders (I have dandruff). I began washing my hair only once a week years ago so shampoo generally lasts us a long time. Our general household cleaners focus mostly on vinegar & baking soda.
5) Hand Me Downs - we love them! When we don't have an item and someone offers it to us used, we take it with gratitude. Towels, dining tables, co-sleepers, clothing... sure! It's free, it's useful, and it keeps the items from the landfill!
6) Live Simply - Fancy things cost more than simple things. If we chose to live simply and still be happy than we automatically save money. So yes, we eat simple foods much of the time and only indulge on occassion. We also try not to over complicate our lives.
7) DIY or Not - I think something we'll have to find the balance of in home ownership is knowing when to DIY and when to... well hire a professional.
8) Don't buy into trends - we dress in classic traditional clothing. We don't purchase based on trends which allows us to keep our clothing in rotation for a very long time. We also began rotating our closets by season which I've found to both reduce our hoarding of clothing we don't like, don't fit, or don't wear and creates a surprise excitement each season when we remember a piece of clothing we forgot we had.
9) Repurpose especially for storage. We hold onto almost all glass jars that come through our kitchen and reuse them for leftovers, cheese, dried goods, etc... We repurpose old sheets and clothes to clean with. We mend clothing. We try to be creative!
I'm sure that we'll learn other tricks along the way. By living simply, we've been able to contribute more to our retirement plans, save enough to purchase our dream home at a great interest rate, put money away for the babies needs, travel regularly to NYC, be generous with charitable contributions, go on vacations, and go on date nights. We hope to continue to live frugally yet practically. The minute these tips become impractical for our lifestyle, we will need to evaluate their worth.
Do you have any frugal or simple living tips?