Learning Frugality Takes Practice

Learning Frugality Takes Practice

Whenever I write about women being keepers at home, I undoubtedly get a comment that this is no longer possible. Families NEED two incomes to survive, they proclaim. No, but it may take a lot of sacrifice and hard work to be able to make it on one income.

One young woman asked the women in the chat room this question: “How do you ladies who are stay at home wives/moms make it work with one income?”

Many women responded since many survive on one income but I especially liked Dolly’s answer:

From someone who knows: DO NOT take on any debt except your home. Whatever you have to do or live without. (I believe college debt is most likely the number one reason why most young women can’t stay home with their children.)

Buy the cheapest home you can get that is still in good shape and don’t worry about it being HGTV fixed up for at least the first ten years.

 Use wood for heat. It’s cheaper than any other source and does not increase in price over time as other sources of heat do (electric, oil, etc.).

Move outside of the city and avoid municipal water and lower property taxes.

Grow as much of your own food as you can and learn to can it.

 Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

Use one vehicle and do groceries one time per week or less.

Use as little power as possible by opening windows and unplugging things when not in use (toaster, etc.).

Switch to LED lights if you haven’t already.

Find enjoyment from frugal activities like making quilts from scraps and thrift shopping.

Make everything from scratch.

Serve all meals with lots of inexpensive sides to fill up on – carrots, potatoes, peas, simple salads, rice, beans. We call this rubber chicken … people will be filling up on sides so much they won’t even notice the chicken is actually rubber. lol ?

Frugality comes over time as you learn more and more. At first tips like “make coffee at home” and “pack lunches” felt too hard, and now I wouldn’t even stop to think about those things as frugal. Now I’m of the mindset that buying shredded cheese is for rich people! Hahah. I found reading books like The Tightwad Gazette and Miserly Moms really helped me come up with unique ideas to save money.

House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
Proverbs 19:14

26 thoughts on “Learning Frugality Takes Practice

  1. Absolutely!!! This society is materialistic and one of instant gratification! To be able to live without sometimes is a lost art, and many overspend, get in debt and do poor money management! Patience for a fruitful future is no longer being valued in our society! What a shame!

  2. When I first discovered The Tightwad Gazette, I felt like I’d uncovered a treasure chest. But, the more I read it, I realized that it was mostly common sense stuff that Depression Era housewives all knew!! I recognized my Grandma in so many things Amy D. wrote. I think a lot of that common sense got swept away with the myths that women HAD to work- for money, for satisfaction, etc. Thus, in came things like day care, fast food, two car families, etc. Those shortcuts end up costing a lot more money. No time to shop sales or compare. The wife had to buy things that were faster & easier to prepare. When one begins to add up all those little things, as I did, it’s easy to see how a paycheck can dwindle. My husband & I ditched a car, all the clothes I needed to work (I ended up using those clothes for church for YEARS), & when all was said and done, we gave ourselves a raise! Financially, yes. But also in our quality of life. I’m much happier at home in the morning doing my Bible study with a mug of home-brewed coffee than I ever was sitting on the 405 (Los Angeles fwy.) with a cappuccino from Starbucks!!

  3. Something that makes it look like a wife will HAVE to work (aside from college debt if she has any) is couples often start their marriage based on two incomes. The remedy to this from a pastor is to tell couples – even if the woman has a steady paycheck when they get engaged – is to base the family income on the man’s paycheck alone right from the very beginning. The Wise Woman will be happy to do all she can to stretch the money by gardening, shopping at thrift stores and yard sales, clipping coupons, etc. Wash laundry by hand. Breastfeeding (if she can) and cloth diapers will also save a lot of money.

  4. Hi Melissa, why wash the laundry by hand that takes more water and leaves less time to save money in other areas – like cooking from scratch.
    I know this because I did it for about 6 months.
    I hope you don’t mind me asking.
    Jilly. ???

  5. Hi Lori, thank you for this I have googled Tightwad Gazette and I am loving it; it is a treasure. I hope all is well with you and yours,
    God Bless.???

  6. I love this post I truly speaks to what my husband and I believe. I make just about everything from scratch I make our soap and lotion I breastfeed and cloth diaper and we use a wood stove to heat our house my family does not understand how we survive without cable or Internet. Best of all were not spending hundreds of dollars on daycare.

  7. We moved across the country to live in a more affordable area. I’ve learned how to cloth diaper my child, washing the day’s diapers every night, using cotton prefolds stuffed into pocket diapers. We use a wood stove. I cook most of our meals, eating out is a special treat. We have chickens for eggs. We rarely buy new clothes. I own one pair of jeans that I recently bought to replace two pairs that I’d been wearing for years and had holes in the knees. We usually wear our clothes until they need to be washed. Jeans may be worn four times and shirts twice, so we aren’t doing laundry all the time. I’m saving and organizing all of my child’s clothes to be worn by hopefully many more children. I redecorate my house by rearranging things we already have. I have bought very few toys for my child, most of the toys have been given to us. We haven’t paid for cable in almost 4 years and we don’t use Netflix either. We can rent movies for free from the library. We don’t have date nights but maybe once or twice each year. We shared a car for a year before buying a second, neither are new or have payments. I get haircuts a couple times each year and don’t color my hair or get my nails done. Baby doesn’t get a bath every day. I breastfeed. Baby eats real food, not pricey “baby food”. I bought 12 cheap kitchen cloths to clean baby after messy meals instead of using roll after roll of paper towels. Lots of tips out there, just have to start applying them here and there!

  8. It’s such a great way to work hard in our homes and homemade is SO much better for us! I just read that daycare is one of the fastest exploding businesses. This is tragic! Oh, how I pray mothers wake up and begin raising their own children.

  9. I love the topic of frugality. I’ve learned that if you separate “need” from “want” it will be easier to live a frugal life and manage on one income. We make meals from what is on sale and we shop to stock our freezer and pantry. I’m afraid I’m a terrible gardener! I don’t make menu plans based on what we “want” for dinner. We wear our clothes out. Use your local library! Ours had a toy library for our kids when they were little, we could borrow movies and even a telescope to look at the stars on summer nights. Libraries are such a treasure! We keep our appliances and cars until it would be more expensive to fix them than to replace them. The concept of “upgrading” to the latest style of anything is just ridiculous and is a big factor in people thinking that they can’t make it on one income. If you think in terms of need, you can absolutely make it on one income. It’s our wants that get us into trouble.

  10. This may work in the US, but not in Australia. Wood is very expensive, and we have the highest cost of electricity! We have to rent, we can’t afford a mortgage. But I do try to cook from scratch, never go out for meals, and movies a real treat!

  11. Hi there, Emma. I live in Australia too. I am in W.A. – we only have a wood fire for heating (pot belly) and we try very hard to pay as little as possible for wood. This year has been different from normal as Antony had 6 bypasses on his heart, so that changed a lot for us – we have had to buy quite a bit!
    But you are right; wood is very expensive here.

    However, all of that said, Antony and I go to a recycling yard and get the wood for free when we can. We save so much doing that and it is a lot of fun. The recycling yard throws out the wood they can’t sell, and if you can collect that, it is a great saving! We bought a trailer to help with that, and it has already paid for itself. You still have to cut the wood into usable lengths, but it is free. Ant has used a circular saw for that for years (wore one out doing it!) But we bought a ~$100 chain saw last year (I think), and it has made the cutting much easier.
    Renting is very expensive at the moment, and rentals are dreadfully hard to get – sadly.

    Here in W.A. we have Homes West. I don’t know where you live but I do know that if people are battling to afford a mortgage, they can buy a home with Homes West. Homes West puts up a percentage of the mortgage and charges the buyer a lower mortgage rate. (You have your mortgage with them. I don’t remember who provides the finance.) However, they claim first option at buying if you want to sell. We have not used it as we didn’t need too; but I know of others who have, and it has been their door into home ownership.

    I am also blessed as I am at home full time. I am a carer for our precious son and I am able to cook from scratch. I also knit, sew…; I have planted our food this year and I am so excited to learn how to snap freeze and can it (and occasionally dehydrate it – I love dehydrating food).
    Power and gas are very expensive here too; I think it is matter of being creative in how we stretch our dollars. Have you tried Simple Savings? There are other websites, too, like Miserly Mama.

    I love finding ways to save, it gives me a sense of achievement!
    Best wishes Emma, I hope this has helped!

    Lori, I hope you haven’t minded me answering this?!

  12. I know of some young housewives who didn’t have access to a washer and dryer, nor did they have family nearby whose washer and dryer they could use. I don’t know if water is amongst their expenses or not; apartment communities tend to be different. I suppose they just figured it was cheaper than trying to make transportation arrangements with their husbands and spending $3+ per load at the coin laundromat.

  13. I agree that a homemaker can save a lot of money for the family because she has the time and energy to hunt down the items the family needs at the best price. I have furnished our home with hand-me-down furniture and thrift store bargains. You may be picturing particle board junk and ratty old linens, but in actuality this means Ethan Allen, Baker Furniture, Nichols and Stone, Pennsylvania House, and other high quality, solid wood furniture. I have found beautiful linens and other lovely things for pennies at resale shops. I cook at home, invite friends and family for meals, coffee, and tea, and very much enjoy making my home peaceful, comfortable, and happy. A big part of contentment is realizing that the home you live in now is your “dream home” because the people you love are in it.

  14. Lori, I still read mine every January like a NY refresher course! That one & Frugal Luxuries. Since circumstances are always changing, I’m tickled that I find a new idea or more in them every time!

  15. Love it! My old college roommate used to do Christmas for 4 kids on $25. I remember her calling me after the kids were asleep and we talked while she washed garage sale Legos in the tub or adding pretty buttons to a garage sale blouse for her daughter. Her kids are in college now and they were shocked to find out how poor they were! They had no idea.

  16. Emma – I’m in New Zealand. Like you, our electricity is crazy expensive. So is petrol. Wood is also expensive – we’ve been paying $70/cubic metre and as we live in the coldest part of the country, so far we’ve burnt through 20 metres of wood. But summer is almost here so hopefully we will get a break! We have hooked up our fireplace to a wetback, so we heat most of our hot water with our fire, so that does make a huge saving for us. And we have one of those clothes drying racks suspended from the ceiling over the fire (our big old villa has 12 foot ceilings) so we don’t need to use the dryer very much, which saves on electricity. And of course in the summer we hang it outside to dry.

    But our biggest expense here is housing. We are lucky enough to own our own home mortgage-free (family helped us) but rent here is often an entire salary.

    Now that the weather is improving, although we have 2 cars (1 mainly for our business, 1 for us) we will be able to walk to and from school and that will save on petrol.

    We don’t pay for an TV service. Any shows we want to watch, we watch for free on the internet – which we need for our business. We still have a landline phone, which means we can have cheaper cell phone plans.

    I’ve been learning to bulk up meats with lentils etc. which makes it go a bit further.

    Just yesterday the supermarket had apples for $1.49/kg so I bought several kgs worth which I will stew and bottle, and use the cores to make apple cider vinegar. I’ve never made apple cider vinegar before but I’m looking forward to trying it! Our family uses a lot of vinegar so if this works, that will be a good saving, and has got to be better for us than bought vinegar that has been filtered and heat treated.

    We do have a vegetable garden but with our weather, not a lot grows. The strawberry patch is just starting to flower now, so we’re hoping for strawberries for the pavlova at Christmas 🙂

    Food is very expensive here, too, so no eating out for us, we cook everything from scratch and bake every second day for the children’s lunchboxes. Food is easily our biggest expense.

    Our youngest daughter is going to need braces on her teeth next year so I want all the frugal living tips! We’re going to need to find several thousand dollars each year, for the next several years, somehow! If you have savings tips – please send them to me!

  17. We keep our appliances and cars until they’re worn out, too. We don’t “upgrade”. We also don’t buy new, only secondhand. We’re able to get much better quality appliances/vehicles this way.

    Like you, we make our meals based on what is on special at the supermarket. With a few basic ingredients and the help of Google, different meals can be made from the one type of meat easily enough. Leftovers become lunch the next day.

  18. I understand that this may be more the purview of husbands, but learn some basic trades stuff, especially fixing the car and the HVAC system. Saves you hundreds of dollars a year easy

  19. Hi Lori, I noticed somewhere that you said you didn’t like led lighting I just wondered why??
    I hope you don’t mind me asking.???

  20. I understand Lori, over here we can get warm white or cool white; the warm light is a yellow kind of light (like the old fashion lights) the cool white is a very bright crisp light very artificial.
    LEDS are cheaper to run and they stay cool – they don’t heat up like the old globes did!

  21. I’m living proof that living on one income is possible. We did it when my husband was making hardly anything and when he had a decent job. One thing to get use to is disappointing your kids. They can’t always have everything they want. We keep life simple and use thrift shops a lot. Cooking from scratch! God blesses a family who trusts in him! Trust him for what you need, if he doesn’t provide learn to live without it ?

  22. Yes so true, my husband never took my small income into account when we first got married as he always saw himself as the sole provider so when I fell pregnant and needed to leave work he was not at all fazed by it and always encouraged me to stay home. Unlike his friends who couldn’t imagine living on one income as they had always had that second income to rely upon. I completely agree that it’s not a good way to start out with relying on 2 incomes.

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