Small Town Simple

The Simplicity Adventures of a Mother and Daughter

Frugal is a Positive Word

Because of an article appearing in Parade magazine in the early 1990’s, I, along with thousands of others, was introduced to Amy Dacyczyn.  A young wife and mother living in Leeds, Maine, she was determined to be a stay-at-home mom at a time when the 2 income family that wanted  stuff was becoming the norm.  Her story began with a newsletter but it rapidly morphed to a book, The Tightwad Gazette.  Then, 2 more books followed, The Tightwad Gazette II and III.  Needless to say, I own all 3 books.  Mrs. Dacyczyn was always promoting frugality.  And that it is a good thing!  She was not promoting a life of deprivation, a world of constantly saying no.  She was looking for alternative ways to accomplish what she wanted.  In one of her books she makes the comment that someone told her and others close by that she is so creative.  Her reply was that she wasn’t more creative than others, she just thought about it more.  And there it is.  To truly live a life that is mindful, that we separate need from want, that we don’t fall prey to all the flashy advertising and cheap products, we must think about it.  And the end result is frugality or a life that is characterized by or reflecting in the use of resources.  And that is such a positive thing.  So I want to take a moment to share 5 ways I’ve practiced a more frugal lifestyle.

  1. Make a grocery list.  Shop your list, not the aisles of the store.
  2. Replace one boxed food with a nutritious, whole food.  Work that one recipe into your schedule and menu.  Once you’ve mastered the time for that one recipe, add a second one.  The move is gradual but it will work.  (I learned that from The Tightwad Gazette!)
  3. Limit the magazines that are mailed or downloaded.  It is all money.  Choose the best 2 or 3 that you and your family truly enjoy and subscribe at their lowest rate.  Many magazines off the shelf now cost, at a minimum $4.99.  That is $59.88 per year if one is tossed into the shopping basket monthly.  If this is done with 3 different magazines on a monthly basis then $179.64 was spent.  And what happens to all those magazines when we are finished reading them?
  4. This one is always listed among ways for saving money but it is so true.   Replace one meal out per week with a home cooked meal.  A meal for a family of 4 can average $30 to $50 for a sit-down meal at a restaurant.  Assuming the $30, money spent over a month is $120.  Over a year the cost for those meals is $1,440.  Just for the convenience of eating out.
  5. Stretch those dry cleaning dollars.  I had a number of clothes that required dry cleaning while in my teaching career.  My bill averaged around $40 per month.  I realize that is still small in comparison to others but it was still $40 out of my monthly budget.  My goal was to cut that in half.  I discovered that several things could have one more wear if I hung it up immediately upon arriving home or used a light steam to free up the wrinkles.  And it worked.

The bottom line is if we think about how we spend our money, we actually end up thinking about how we spend our time and our resources.  “To be successful and happy in the frugal lifestyle, we have to be proud and confident in our choices.”  Well said, Amy.  Well said.

xo, Carolyn

2 Replies

  1. I definitely should work on eating better and being frugal about it. I’m young, I go to school, I work full time, and I have a social life in between. Most times, I’m not even at home and making a meal?! Forget about it. I know I need to take the time to eat better and spend my money in this department of my life better… definitely something to work on. Thank you for this read.

  2. You have a busy life! I learned this from reading Amy’s books back in the 90’s when things in my life were extremely busy. Just tackle one area, such as food. Even if it is fast food, many places now offer healthier choices. Once I started improving in the one area I felt so empowered. That rolled over to the next area. A few months down the road I realized I really was creating good changes. Life is a process, isn’t it?!

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