Frugal Living, Saving the DIY Way

living a frugal life, diy saves moneySometimes I think it’s a struggle but for all the things we have “given up” I know we’ve gained lots more. I feel thankful I’ve been able to be with my kids full-time while they grow. My life is simple yet so very rewarding. Living frugally keeps me creative and humble. Making things from scratch and doing things ourselves is good for the ego and pocketbook.  But when prices keep going up we definitely feel the pinch.

Hubby and I have never lived on two full-time incomes. When we were first married he was attending law school I was working full-time. 7 months later I found out I was pregnant. When he graduated he watched the baby while studying to pass the Bar. When he passed we moved off to no-man’s land for his first “real job”. I then quit work and took care of the baby. Since then we’ve moved back to the valley and I have continued to watch the kids.

Here’s how we manage to squeak by:

  • We are very lucky in that Hubby has a good government job with excellent health care.
  • We follow simple grocery store guidelines. I usually shop in season and on sale. Most of the time I shop at Winco, an employee owned grocery store known for their bottom line. I usually don’t buy packaged foods (except crackers and the occasional Oreos (who can resist Oreos))? And rarely buy brand names.
  • We garden organically. I love to grow fresh produce and eat from the garden and the kids love it too.
  • We buy meat from a local rancher. Not only are the animals well feed and taken care of, but we save lots of money for fabulous meat.
  • We make it from scratch. We save lots of money doing so and the food tastes so much better when you cook it yourself.
  • We take care of our own dead cells. Yep, you heard me…that’s what I call fingernails and hair…dead cells. I once had a 10 minute facial as part of a MOMS Club activity and it was really enjoyable. But I can’t seem to lay down cash to do it again, at least not now. I cut everyone’s hair in my family including my own. People are shocked when I tell them (I’m sure it’s because I look so darn stylish, hah, hah) but we save so much money when I do it myself. When I cut my own hair I get it the way I want, and if not, it grows back quickly.
  • We don’t pay for services. We DIY. Yes, that’s my business name but it’s also how I live. If we want something done we usually do it ourselves. We just got a quote for a fence and I was shocked at the cost. A little bit of elbow grease and a can-do attitude keeps money in your pocket and adds an ego boost as well.
  • We put a limit on what activities our kids participate in. Classes and activities cost a lot and also are a big time investment for our family. We put a limit on them and instead spend lots of time together as a family.
  • We cut the cable. Well mostly…we have only basic channels. Hulu and Netflix is our saving grace. Surely we miss our digital recorder however we rarely watch television any longer and instead spend more time engaged as a family.
  • We buy affordable clothes. If I can’t find clothing on the clearance racks I visit thrift shops or garage sales. We like to give hand-me-downs as well as receive them and thankfully my kids are not too picky…yet.
  • We visit the library. Oh how I love our Salem Public Library! With fun cultural events, a fabulous staff and so many books, we practically live at our library.
  • Discount movie theaters. We frequent our discount movie theater often. $3 tickets make movie going affordable for our family of four. Thank you Northern Lights!
  • We are home bodies. We rarely hire a babysitter since hours add up quickly. So we have date nights at home and sometimes put the kids to bed early. Since the kids are still young, thankfully the strategy works well for now.

Surely there are things that need to be fix. Currently our 1920’s home has a leaking ceiling (which we thought was coming from the siding that we fixed and replaced this summer—no such luck). And it will need a new roof, fence, and water heater soon. Our 10 year old car is about to be kaput anytime soon. So it’s a constant battle to stay a-float. But we make it work.

We are so thankful we have a roof over our head, the luxury of cars that work and have full tummies (sometimes too full!). There is never as much money as we’d like however we are wealthy in ways money can’t buy.

How do you make your budget work for you in your family? I’d love to hear your tips and insight!

5 thoughts on “Frugal Living, Saving the DIY Way”

  • Hi Jess! James from the down the street here. Well, at least down the street when we were kids. Anywho, love your blog, just discovered it via FB. We have been having to get by on less and less over the last few years. We really should be cutting cable at this point which is our last “luxury”, but since we are going to be leaving soon, it is kind of a wash. What we do however, is bake. We make our own pretzels (real german style) breads, everything. A loaf of nice bread is like $4 at the store, so it is a big savings for a family of 5 that eats a loaf in 2 days, easy. We don’t have a good source of cheap meats anymore like you do, but we buy in bulk and cut it down ourselves. Saves a ton. One other thing we do is use a VOIP phone provider. $17 a month, if you pre-pay for a years service. We use Phonepower, but Vonage is equally good. Also helps offset the higher cost of a good internet connection, which is a job requirement for me.

    • Hey James! You threw me for a loop at first…Hope life have been treating you well. So where are you moving? Also I’d LOVE for you to share your pretzel recipe. I loved visiting Germany and their Brötchen is something that I will never forget. I will check into your phone tip. Great to hear from you!

  • Great tips Lex! How did you score such a great deal on internet and phone? Is it only a Chicago thing?
    Yes, I love Salem’s library too. And did you hear they now have a teen center!

  • Wow, I couldn’t relate to this post more! This year will be my first try at growing vegetables, Okay I tried tomatoes last year and failed, but I think I ‘get it’ now. LOL… but most of the other things you listed, I am proud to say we do too. Living on less has it’s own challenges, but it works, and the freedom to live simply that comes with it, is worth so much more than money can buy. ♥

    • Well put DancingMooney!
      Best of luck with growing your tomatoes this year! My main tip for tomatoes is to cover most of the plant when placing in the garden so it can develop a good root system. Nothing is more tasty than a fresh, sweet summer tomato! Thanks for you comment and three cheers for living a creative, simple life!

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