Saturday, 7 August 2010

A Little Simple, Green & Frugal Game

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

I recently ran a series called 100 ways to save money on my blog, I did it because each day I receive emails asking where to start. The reality is there are so many ways to embrace a more simple, green & frugal life, but it can seem overwhelming, particularly if life is proving stressful. Part of what has helped me over the years, is learning from others about what works for them; while we all may be in different seasons in our lives, with different budgets, other's small tips have made the world of difference to me. So today, I thought we'd play a little game to encourage each other! The game is sharing what 1 tip you would recommend to be more frugal, what 1 tip you would recommend to be more green and what 1 tip you would recommend to live a more simple life! Here are my three....

To live a more frugal life my one recommendation to start would be....commit to no-spending days! Nominate two days each week where you don't spend anything, that means you don't buy newspapers, gum, groceries, lunch, buy your bus pass, pay to go to the gym etc. Obviously if you have memberships that's different as it isn't costing you anything on those days, but commit to two days a week where no money leaves your wallet, purse etc. This will really help you see how little purchases which are usually unplanned, effect your budget and will help you live a more frugal life by taming the temptation to spend!

To live a greener lifestyle my one recommendation to start would be...always try to buy everything (or as much as you can) second hand, that includes clothing, kitchenware, books, gifts, toys, garden ware etc. The reason this works for me, is it really stops me making as many unplanned purchases as it takes time to find what is needed and it is greener as you are reusing what has already been made/used and not adding to the "chain" of more things needing to be produced. I keep a small list on my refrigerator door with things it would be handy to find, that might be a book I love which I'd like to own or new canning jars. I allow myself time to find them and trust that I will. I have been waiting for a particular recipe book for over a year, and two weeks ago I found it for about $2 (instead of $20!).

To live a simpler lifestyle my one recommendation to start would be...commit to set evenings at home and one day (or most of one day) each weekend. I began doing this five years ago, committing to Monday evenings, Wednesday evenings and Friday evenings (after our "let's celebrate the weekend swim") as well as from about 1pm Sundays at home. Caring for four children, with busy school and extra-curricular activities was impacting on simplicity, a few small changes and prioritization helped. Knowing we had Sunday afternoons & evenings to draw, read, craft, go for a walk, listen to music and not go anywhere (I also limited errands in the home) was so restful, add to that three evenings a week where after the busyness of school & homework we could walk to the park, play board games, read stories etc well it just made life more simple and easier. I think we often feel that going to the movies, meeting up with friends, going out for dinner and the like, will make us feel better, and I think in the moment it does, but long term, coming up with a more restful and relaxed home life really does help you life a simpler life, where you have time to establish a good routine, keep up with the household and just rest.

So those are my three recommendations?
I'd love if you added what your three tips would be! I'm sure you'll teach me something I can implement to take another step on this journey!


Rachel B. said...

To live a more frugal life my one recommendation to start would be....repurpose something such as taking old canning jars and use them as vases. Give an old dresser a new look with some paint. Ect.
To live a greener lifestyle my one recommendation to start would be...don't buy books/CDs/DVDs but check them out at the library! Library systems these days are so extensive it's very rare they you wont get what you're looking for. Also ask around to see if your library praticipates in a inter library loan program.
To live a simpler lifestyle my one recommendation to start would be...instead of a vacation to Six Flags consider a vacation to a national park or a state park.

Tracey said...

I love this post, these are great tips. I especially love the last one, about setting aside time at home. I think there's a perception in modern western culture that home is intrinsically boring, and also that enjoyment requires consumption - eg. of things like movies, organised sports, restaurant meals etc. Not so!

My frugal tip: try to to separate want and need by delaying purchases a week , or whatever time period you find allows the acquisitive urge to subside. This definitely works for me.

A green lifestyle tip: try to eliminate processed and packaged foods from the family diet. This reduces waste from packaging and the energy costs associated with manufacturing (and also should save money in most cases). This is not that hard for me because where I live now I have access to a large fresh produce market that I shop at weekly, and I'm not fazed by cooking from scratch. It was harder when I lived in the US and there were few options beyond supermarkets.

My simpler lifestyle tip: is related to the green tip - discover the joy of making things instead of buying them, just simple things that you already use, like household condiments, soap, make a bookshelf to fit instead of buying one that's not quite what you want anyway. I found the olives I learned to cure at home are far more tasty that the ones I would buy at the deli (and the olives are free, from the trees that line our street). Soap-making is also easy and fun and extremely cheap if you don't get sucked into buying all manner of fancy oils and perfumes. I find learning a new skill tremendously satisfying, and reducing my reliance on the consumer culture equally uplifting.

Paula said...

Frugal- make pizza at home! learn to make fresh pasta- it is cheaper than buying it, and fun, too. Borrow movies from the library.

Green- use less plastic wrap for leftovers...instead of wrapping plastic over a bowl of something, put a plate over it, or instead of plastic wrapping a plate full of something, put a bowl over it. Come to think of it, that's frugal, too!

Simple- slow down. Prioritize waht you do by what you value, and how it will impact your life for the better, and not by what you think is expected of you. If you have to care for a loved one, then yes, prioritize that in, but for that time you have to trade something that's not so important. Balance responsibility with something you do for you. It could be to feel how good the sun and breezes feel on your face as you hang out your wash on the line instead of rushing it through the dryer so you can get to another chore. That's frugal, and green, and simple! The key is to slow down. Don't try to cram everything into your day. Prioritize by what is truly important to you.

Quatrefoil said...

Great tips!

Mine are:

Frugal - take your lunch to work - sandwiches, soup or leftovers.

Green - catch the bus to work one day a week instead of driving.

Simple - declutter one item per day - list it on freecyle, give it away or sell it.

Fran said...

Terrific tips! Mine are:

Frugal tip : Work out next week's meals before you go shopping and stick to what you actually need, not what you fancy.

Green tip : Grow your own. Even a windowsill can take lettuce, radish, herbs etc.

Simpler life tip : Get a bike and get out in the fresh air and enjoy the nature around you.

KC said...

My most frugal tip is keep what you have instead of upgrading. My husband and I bought a three bedroom "starter home" when we married 20 years ago. It's a bit crowded now with our four teenagers but the location is terrific. We can afford a larger house, however we are mortgage free and our children won't live with us forever. Our van is eight years old and we owe nothing on it. The cost of an occassional repair is much less than a bank payment on a new vehicle. We have all the electronic gadgets we need but none of them are the latest thing We don't buy trendy clothes because fashion changes too often. You get the idea.

My green tip is to avoid disposable items such as cleaning cloths, coffee cups, bottled water, plastic bags and food packaging. We used cloth diapers, make our own coffee, drink tap water, and I love my Diva Cup. We rarely buy individually packaged snack foods, we make our own instead.

As for keeping things simple...we do the usual cheap family activites for entertainment. Hikes, beach-combing, baking, crafts, boardgames. We try to leave the weekends free of commitments so we can go with the flow.

louisa @ The Really Good Life said...

A frugal tip: don't pay twice for something. Don't buy a cheaper, inferior product that'll need replacing sooner than a slightly more expensive, better quality item; or don't buy a cheaper version of something that isn't want you really want because you'll still keep wanting the other thing.

A green tip: Check your bin at the end of the week and see what you're sending to landfill. Pick one thing each week and think about how you could reduce, reuse or recycle that item. Changing one thing at a time is often more realistic & a sustainable goal than declaring that you're going zero waste or the like. (And if you need help reducing, reusing & recycling - ask the Recycle This ( community for suggestions!)

A simple tip: Observe and celebrate the small but beautiful moments of life rather than letting them rush past in a blur. Clare Grant's Three Beautiful Things ( project is a great model. I find writing my own, focusing on the positive elements of the day no matter how tiny, makes me feel better about everything.

Dea-chan said...

To live a more frugal life I would recommend:

-- Going out to eat less (my personal hurdle)

-- only buying actual FOOD not pre-made crap of any variety. (If you want potato chips, buy potatoes and oil and fry the damn things yourself! It's not hard, and it'll taste better.)

-- involve community. Have potluck Fridays, or Cards Night Thursdays. Get together for brunch on the weekend. It's no hassle to make a little more food, ensures that you eat well and at home, and is a social activity with a community of your choosing (I usually invite friends of all varieties).

Simply Authentic said...

Frugal---if you're thinking about buying something, calculate CPU (cost per usage)---how many uses will you get out of the thing and how will that impact overall cost......the less CPU but still high quality the better....

Green---my Klean Kanteen goes with me everywhere and cuts down on disposable coffee mugs, water bottles, etc. Still letting me have filtered water and transport drinks from home to the office.

Simple----Keep social outings to a minimum (1-2) per week and don't be afraid to entertain at home. A BBQ where everyone can show up in jeans and contribute is just as fun as a big dinner out. A girls night in with a bottle of wine and bitching can be more fulfilling than a night out. A Sat morning tea & brunch with other wives and kids can satisfy in more ways than a Saturday shopping outing....

Sandra Eckert said...

Frugal: re-use plastic bags and aluminum foil (that would be a green solution as well). Use cloth rags instead of papr towels.

Green: Buy fresh, local foods or grow your own to both support local farms and cut down on your carbon footprint from shipping.

Simpler: Volunteer at a farm or some other wholesome organization for your physical and mental well-being. I gave up my membership at the local Y and now help tend a goat herd. I'm healthier and happier than ever, and have madesome wonderful new friends.

Gina said...

Love this post and the comments!

My tip would be to COOK AT HOME!

It is frugal - saves tons of money from convenience foods or eating out.

It is green - less packaging, less waste and you have control of the ingredients.

It is simple - when I cook, I'm surrounded by my children, we are conversing and sharing our lives together. We aren't rushing to the next event in a hurried life.

Cook at home - you'll eat better, healthier, more delicious, and cheaper.

Start small, with something simple like homemade pizza. Challenge yourself to learn to make one new thing each week - or month. You'll never want to go back!

Stephanie Thomas Berry said...

It is interesting to me how we can all reach for sustainability in different ways. I live way out in the country, and my hubbie and I both work from home, so we don't get out much! So our number one green goal is to maximize our trips to town so we can get everything done in one feel swoop.

For simplicity, we use our community's free room a lot--dropping off clothes and picking out new ones, picking out books and toys, etc.

For frugality, we're building a cob oven! We're going to bake our own bread for the whole week on Sundays! Can't wait!

Theresa in Mèrida said...

My number one tip is learn to cook. A chicken breast can feed one person or five depending upon how you fix it.
We used to have pizza night once a week. Anyone was welcome to drop by and have a slice. We made a pesto pizza and a tomato one. My daughter even turned down a date once explaining that "it's pizza night at my parents, but I can go out afterwards". Pizza dough is really easy to make. We didn't over do the toppings either.

My number two tip is always have emergency food at hand, For instance, some nuts, water and maybe cookies in the car for when I discover that I am starving. A few almonds chewed slowly and a drink of water keeps the fast food away.

#3 Compost your scraps and have a garden. Even if the garden is just one bell pepper, tomato and a couple of basil plants for pizza night!

Okay, tip #4 maintain a healthy weight. You are less likely to need medical care if you are NOT over weight. And don't forget to floss and brush your teeth. Simple but very important


Bellen said...

Love all the tips. My tip for everything is to have a schedule. Not one so strict you feel guilty if you don't follow it, but a guideline.

For instance I have a simple schedule for dinners - Sunday beef, Mon chicken, Tues soup or casserole, Wed pasta, Thurs chicken, Fri fish & Sat pizza, tacos, burgers or leftovers. I know what we'll have, make sure it's defrosted and cook from scratch. It's frugal - no running to the store or grabbing take out; it's green because I use fresh local food bought weekly; it's simple because I don't do gourmet, just plain old fashioned slow home cooking using recipes I know will be liked.

I also schedule shopping, cleaning, laundry, bill paying, home repairs, etc. Usually keeps me from having to spend money unexpectedly, there are exceptions of course, as I am on top of what we need which makes it frugal; keeps me green because it makes me look at what I can reuse, repurpose, recycle; and keeps my life simple as very little comes as a surprise - even unexpected company will not throw me for a loop because the house will be clean and neat, there will be food in the pantry and I will not be frazzled.

David said...

I do kind of the inverse of the no spending days. I designate two days a week when I can buy things. One day is grocery shopping day which is Sunday evening. The other moves depending on what is happening during the week with one stop at Lowes for the home projects. On occasion the rule is broken for special events

April said...

#1 budget in your vices - it does no good to pretend to be someone you're not when planning your expenses. From a starting point in reality, you can start to address your habit...whatever it is. And, you are not constantly sabotaging yourself because you feel deprived.

#2 break down your food costs by serving. I was surprised to find that one of my favorite meals was actually only $.67 a serving. It is so rich and good, I had believed it to actually cost more than it does. On the other hand, I was chagrined to find that my protein fruit smoothies were costing me $1.80 a serving. Still better than going out for ice cream, but that adds up if you are serving three people multiple times a week.

#3 pay more attention to skin care than cosmetics. It is much cheaper in the long run to spend more money on a few quality skin care products (or make your own)that take care of your skin, than to spend money on products that hide it.

Well, that is my two-cents worth. Maybe I could save more if I only put in one-cents worth more often. Probably make my husband happier, too.