What Frugality (Currently) Looks Like to Me

The longer I work at living frugally, the more realizations I have about frugal living. It’s hard work to live frugally and some days, I just don’t want to do it anymore. I wrote a guest post at Living Well, Spending Less on this very topic, sharing my honest look at frugality. My most recent realization is this. My frugal life continues to change.

I have always lived frugally but how I lived frugally as a single person is different from how I lived as a newlywed. My frugality continued to change when we were expecting and changed some more when I began staying at home with our son. As my life changed, so did my frugality.

In some cases, I don’t have time for the same things as I did in the past. My shopping trips as a single teacher and a new Mom look very different! As coupon policies have changed, so has my shopping. In some other cases, I have intentionally decided to invest my time and energy into different things than I previously did.

I think it’s also important to remember that my method of frugal living may be different from yours. That’s okay! We all make different choices on how to save and spend our resources and time. Just because someone makes different frugal choices than you, doesn’t mean either of you are wrong. 

Here’s a glimpse into what my frugal life currently looks like.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to frugal living. Here's an inside look at what my frugal life looks like currently.
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My frugal living is clipping coupons and shopping at one or two different stores every week for the best deals. It’s maintaining a stockpile to save on our grocery bill. I actually don’t mind grocery shopping and like finding the good deals. It’s a fun challenge and a game to me!

Frugal living has become less of playing the drugstore game as the deals dwindled. I still shop at CVS and Walgreens on occasion, but I’m not rolling by ECBs weekly like I used to do.

My frugal life currently includes baking homemade bread and making my own yogurt. I am baking more from scratch but I still buy processed foods. We’re eating more fruits and vegetables but we don’t eat an organic diet.

I wash most of our laundry in cold water but I don’t hang my clothes out to dry. I make foaming hand soap but I buy name brand detergent (on sale with coupons).

Frugal living is staying at home, when I can, and combining errands when I’m out. It’s visiting the library regularly and taking walks around town for entertainment and exercise.

Our frugal life doesn’t involve cable but it does have Netflix. We rent free movies from Redbox and the library. We occasionally eat out with gift card gifts and coupons.

My frugality has me shopping at thrift stores and yard sales when I make it to one. I like to do so but time takes precedent. I’m shopping more and more for online deals at sites like Schoola, Twice and Thred-Up.

We use credit cards but we pay them off every month. We don’t use cash envelopes but we do have separate savings accounts for many items in our budget. We have a 30 year mortgage but we pay extra on the principal.

I’m sure there are some items on this list that you agree with (and practice) and others that you may differ on. That’s okay. Remember, my frugal life can look different from yours. Frugal living is a not a one-size-fits-all approach. Do what works for you, in this season of your life, to save your family money.

What does your frugal life look like currently? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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  1. I found making my own laundry detergent simple and cost effective. I use a large clean kitty litter container to make and store it in, pouring it into an old detergent bottle as needed. The recipe; 3/4 cup borax, 3/4 cup washing soda. Mix in quart container with boiling water until dissolved. Allow to cool and pour into large container. Fill with cold water, almost to the top. Add 3/4 cup blue Dawn dishwashing soap and fill almost to top with water. Put lid on tightly and roll ( do not shake!) to mix. A few minutes and you have a large quantity of laundry soap. I use about an 1/8 of a cup for most loads, 1/4 cup if something is really dirty.

  2. Kristen, I was just thinking about this today while at the grocery store! Sticking to a budget and using money wisely requires constant discipline. I was thinking that it is just like so many other areas of life. It all takes continued maintenance and commitment. I like that you said frugality is different for everyone. We choose to have cable. After trying Netflix and Amazon Prime for awhile, we realized that cable was worth the price for us. Great encouragement!

    1. Oh, Emily. I hear you! The constant discipline is wearing sometimes. There are days when I don’t want to live frugally anymore but, by the grace of God, we continue on for the sake of our families. I’m glad you heard my heart on this topic because I wanted to remind everyone that different choices don’t make us any less frugal. Thanks for the note of encouragement!

  3. I like your sentiment that frugality looks different in our various seasons of life!

    Right now, frugal to us means doing a stock up trip at Aldi once a month and weekly shopping at the regular grocery store. I would love to shop at Aldi weekly, but I find that their produce doesn’t keep as long as produce from Fareway (one of our regional grocery stores) and I just don’t have the energy to go to both stores every week.

    Frugal to us also means I’ve started shopping for baby clothes and items on Ebay. I could probably find better deals at thrift shops and garage sales, but I can shop on Ebay while nursing the baby. 🙂

    But we’re also not as frugal as I would like to be. My husband is in his first year of the ministry, we’re in the first year of parenthood, so sometimes I have to embrace the fact that we’re in survival mode and everything isn’t going to be perfect.

    1. Thanks, Katrina! I wanted everyone to realize that frugality can – and does – change! I well remember those times with a little one. You do what you can, on little sleep! And you know what? I’m not as frugal as I want to be sometimes either. I don’t think anyone ever is. Hang in there, dear! You will get out of first year survival mode eventually! 🙂

  4. I’ve definitely had to balance my time with trying to save money. If my choice is either to get school done for the children or make bread from scratch, then I choose school. If I have to look through sale ads or sleep, then sleep must win. I try to do as much frugally as possible, but sometimes sanity is priceless.

    1. Sleep often wins for me, too, Jody! It’s important to consider the weight of being frugal with our time as well as our money. I think that’s the beauty of living frugally. We make frugal choices in one area and splurge a bit in others.

  5. Well said, Kristen! My frugal life has definitely changed from one season to the next. When we made more money, I was much less inclined to try and save money. Living frugally has taught me how to appreciate the little things. Right now, we watch almost no TV, stay home as much as possible, and shop from our fridge and pantry to avoid spending too much on groceries. I bake bread, mostly because I enjoy it, and I cook almost everything from scratch. It can be a pain some days, but I also am amazed how much money it saves us each month. Thank you for your words and sharing your frugality.

    1. Thanks, Charlee. I agree that living frugally has taught me to appreciate the little things. I love baking bread, too. It tastes so much better than store bought and really is so simple. The savings – like in so many other things – makes the frugality worth it.

    1. Hi, Lee Ann. Thank you…and yes, you’re always welcome to share links to my articles on your blog! I greatly appreciate it when others share what I write.

  6. My frugal life is using less coupons and shopping more at Aldi. For a couple of years I had stopped shopping at Aldi and was just doing the Meijer/Kroger coupon thing. But last fall I started feeling like I was spending too much time trying to find deals and I just switched back to mostly Aldi. I am spending more money, but it is hopefully saving my sanity. 🙂

    1. I think frugality is always a balance, Julie! There are seasons for coupons and seasons for not. Aldi is a great store, and your saving your time (and sanity!) is very important.

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