Tightwad Tips

Well, today is my last day as a full-time employee.   After my three months of maternity leave, I’ll return to work, but only part-time.  I want to spend as much time with our kid as possible!  I’m lucky to have a boss who puts family first and was supportive of our decision, and to have a mother-in-law and a BFF who are willing to babysit a couple of days a week, so we’re going for it.

I could tell you that I’m 100% comfortable with having my income slashed in half, but it scares the snot out of me.  We have come up with a very strict budget and I know we can make it work…but change is scary.  I guess this is where the whole “trusting the Lord with everything, including (or especially) your finances” thing comes in, because it would be so easy to worry myself to death over this topic.

We’re going to try to live as frugally as possible, which will take some adjusting for both of us.  Not as much eating out, less online shopping, no more QVC, etc.  I actually expect that we’ll save a ton of money on gas alone, since I won’t be driving the 60 mile round trip to work five days a week for three months.  Especially with gas prices being what they are. :/

I came across this quote from an article in the ol’ South Bend Tribune.  I love it what it says.  “Organization and frugality go hand in hand,” Amy Clark says. “Your bills are paid on time, you realize that you already have what you need in your home and you feel at peace in your surroundings.”  That’s going to be my mantra for the next few months.

So, in an effort to make this new budget work, here are some of the methods we’ll be using at our house to save a few pennies.  I’ve been doing some of these for a while now…others will be new to us.

Selling everything we can via garage sales, Ebay, and Etsy.

Junk and little (or extremely big) items can be sold at a garage sale.  Nicer items can be listed on Ebay, now that I’m not terrified of selling anymore.  Handmade items (tote bags, craft items, etc) and craft supplies/fabric can be sold on Etsy.  Voila!  Less stuff, more space, more cash.

Buying as much as I can at garage sales.

LOVE garage sale season…just have to be careful that the things I pick up are things that we need and not just more junk.

Cooking and baking from scratch.

I always have good intentions in the kitchen, but I’m not so good at following through.  Convenience wins out more often than not, and I find myself buying pre-packaged mixes and meals more than I want to admit.  If I can work on cooking and baking from scratch, we’ll eat healthier and save money, since those convenience foods are often full of preservatives (and who knows what else) and cost quite a bit.  I hope to do better at cooking/baking from scratch in the upcoming months…everything from pancake/waffle mix to biscuits and breads and pizzas and snacks and even cereal (by maybe using this yummy-looking recipe).  Sidenote:  frugalvillage.com is an awesome website with tons of tips on being (as the name implies) frugal.  I also found this recipe for making homemade sandwich bread on this site, and it looks fairly simple and straight forward.  Think it would be another one to use in my quest to bake from scratch!

Using cold water when doing laundry.

Have done this for quite a long time.

Hanging clothes outside to dry.

Have also done this for a while now.  Nothing better than clothes fresh off the line!

Planting that vegetable garden.

Will really save us money if I can stay on top of it and preserve foods before they go bad.  That’s always a struggle for me.   I’m not always on top of picking the goods as much as I should be.  Or, if I do get produce picked, it sits in the kitchen until it goes bad.  Hopefully working part time will mean more time for canning and freezing all that garden produce.

Making and freezing batches of baby food (using the amazing Baby Bullet, a wonderful baby shower gift from Tresia, Bev and Lori!).

Not only will I save money from not buying baby food – the savings here will be compounded, because I can use produce from the garden to make baby food, thus saving even more.  Love it!

Making my own household cleaners and laundry soap.

I’ve been enrolled in Melaleuca in the past, and LOVE their cleaning products.  They are super concentrated and last forever.  I stocked up before having to cancel my enrollment this month (to save pennies!), so we should be set for quite a while.  But when we finally do run out, I will be replacing them with homemade cleaners that work just as well.  I’ve tried a number of these in the past, thanks to a newspaper article that my mom sent me with homemade household cleaner “recipes.”  They include:

Furniture Polish Recipe

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle.  Shake well and apply a small amount to a flannel cleaning rag or cleaning cloth. Spread evenly over furniture surface. Turn cloth to a dry side and polish dry.

Laundry Soap (This soap even gets Jon’s greasy and sometimes manure-coated jeans clean…I love it!  I make huge batches at a time to make life  easier)

  • 2 cups Fels Naptha soap, grated/shredded (I picked up an old blender at a garage sale that is wholly devoted to shredding my Fels)
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in a sealed container.  Use 1-2 tablespoons per load, depending on how dirty your clothes are.

Tile and Grout Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1/3 cup of ammonia
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 7 cups of water

Combine all ingredients in a labeled spray bottle and shake well to mix.  Spray on then wipe off with a damp sponge.  Do not use with bleach.

All Purpose Cleaning Spray

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Combine in a spray bottle.  Spray and scrub.  You can add a few drops of essential oil if the vinegar odor bothers you; however, the vinegar smell will disappear as soon as it evaporates.

As we adjust our lifestyle and budget, it’s going to be tough at times, but the rewards will be more than worth it in the end.  Frugal living isn’t just about scrimping and saving pennies and never buying anything fun.  It’s about spending smartly and having the funds for the things that are really important to us.

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3 thoughts on “Tightwad Tips

  1. I admire you, Jen! I know you have given working part-time serious thought. You will never regret the time you spend with your little one and have awesome childcare for the days you do work! God bless you in your quest of saving. You have what it takes to succeed! Can’t wait to meet your precious bundle of joy. 🙂 Love ya, Janelle

  2. God really DOES make it all work. Eight years ago before we had Joey, I was making twice as much money as I do now, and was always saying, “If only I had money for…”
    Now with a kid and half the income, God is faithful to provide and we are faithful with our finances. Sure, we could go out to eat less, and try to garden but even so it feels like our finances are the least strained at this point in our lives.
    Bless you!

  3. Hey Jen! Was just thinking about you this morning and how you’ll be a momma tomorrow!

    Anyway, I just had to comment…I am wanting to plan a get together for canning like we did for freezer cooking, but I just don’t know who all cans/preserves out here! It’s much more fun to get together with other women to do some canning, and I think I would look forward to it more, rather than thinking of it as a chore. I am going kind of crazy in my garden this year, so I’m going to NEED to keep on top of it.

    Hope everything goes well tomorrow!

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