Living Frugally: Lessons from Mom

Aluminium Foil
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A guest article by Jocelyn Anne

I think I had maybe one of the best examples for frugal living during my childhood, and that was my mom. She was definitely working within a low income, and frugal to her core, everything she did to save money, cut back, and make more with less all seemed innate. Now that I’m off on my own and trying to make ends meet in my own home, I’m constantly trying to remember things she did that I could easily transfer to my lifestyle. I also happen to have a notoriously bad memory, so I recently asked her for a list of her top frugal tips. While a tiny bit of a bias,  I happen to think they’re wonderful and deserve to be shared with an audience wider than myself! If you’re looking for some easy, practical ways to make frugal living a part of your normal, daily routine, try these!

Wash and reuse plastic bags – and not just ziplock bags.

She does reuse every type of plastic bag (including sandwich bags, ziplock or not). This means bread bags, the produce bags that you put your fruit in, etc. She’s got a drawer entirely devoted to them, and has even made a hand-made plastic bag drying stand! She also makes her own homemade bread and puts them in her reused bags every time, because she’s just that amazing.

Buy store brands.

They’re often made from the same manufacturer anyway, just under a different guise. Huge saver.

Reuse aluminum foil if it’s clean.

She can make a roll of foil last forever! After use, she just refolds the foil it into a small square and saves until the next time she needs some.

Buy food in bulk and store it in containers you have saved and washed

Pretty straight forward. Buying in bulk should mean less cost per pound, and she always bought things in bulk whenever possible. Flour, sugar, baking ingredients, meat, cheese, canned items, etc.

Tea bags can be used more than once

Did you know this?! She uses one tea bag for about 3 different cups. She stores them in the refrigerator after she’s done and reuses the next morning!

Make your own salad dressings

Might sound harder than it is, but this is actually incredibly easy and cost-saving. You can find recipes with a mere 4 or 5 ingredients you probably already have on hand. (Plus, it’s generally healthier and you can avoid all the nasty ingredients you can’t pronounce and probably have no business eating anyway.)

Save paper towels for the really yucky messes.  Use your dish cloth for the rest, which can be washed and reused

She also always tore off only as much of one sheet as she needed whenever she did use them, to make them stretch as long as possible.

When you forget your own reusable bags at the grocery store, save and use their plastic bags for garbage instead of buying plastic garbage bags

I don’t think we ever did purchase garbage bags, and come to find out, those things aren’t cheap! Cuts waste all around.

Ladies, use your guy’s razors when he is finished with them.  There’s still lots of use left in them.

This one makes me smile every time. She’s always used my dad’s old razors and never had to buy her own!

Save paper that has only been printed on one side and use it for household print jobs

You can print on the other side or just use as your notepaper for things like grocery lists and paper for the kids to draw on.

Save a pretty card that you received.  Cut off the front part, glue it to a piece of cardstock folded in half, and voila – you have a card

I wish I had inherited more of her crafty/creative side. She makes gorgeous cards by  re-using cards she gets. This is especially handy around Christmas time. Save all the cards you get this year and turn them into your own next year!

There you have it, top tips from my amazing, frugalista mom! See how you can incorporate them into your life to make that low income budget go further every day. Enjoy!

Author Jocelyn Anne is a freelance writer from Montana, now living in sunny California. She is currently writing for Coffee Home Direct but enjoys encouraging others in the attempt to live a more frugal lifestyle whenever possible.

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4 thoughts on “Living Frugally: Lessons from Mom

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