Thursday, March 12, 2009

Frugal and Thrifty-

(I'm back- sorry for the long hiatus, and thank you Cassie for noticing. I feel loved! :-)
I will be posting photos soon: I have some good ones on the camera, waiting to be downloaded.)

I wanted to mention something I've been pondering the past couple of days. I'm boiling homemaker thriftiness down to two camps- stay with me here- and trying to decide where I fall. Times are tight right now for everybody, and we all need to tighten up our spending, right? Well, I think there are two ways to do that:
1. Make everything from scratch. Bake your own bread, make homemade laundry soap, and put juice or milk in thermoses for your kids' lunches. These frugal masters do NOT buy pre-packaged food, because you pay for the individual packaging. Also- this kind of living is healthier because you use less preservatives and chemicals in your food, and you control what is in your house cleaning products. (OK- I'm convincing myself as I write this...)
2. Work the system by following sales, clipping coupons and earning rebates. I have friends that do this and have reduced their monthly grocery bill down to ONE THIRD of what it was! It is amazing- and I am finding that it is not nearly as intimidating as I thought it was to clip coupons and find great deals.
So, here I am again- being all black and white, and bogged down in my perfectionism. I feel like I need to pick a "system" and do it all the way in order for it to work. Arg! Any advice?


Mary said...

I don't see why you can't do a little of both...I know my mom did a lot of sending juice in thermoses and buying in bulk to make lunches that had almost no individually wrapped things. But she was also a careful shopper... Really, we were never the family to make much of our own bread or soap... But I am pretty sure you can find a happy balance between both "camps". Why limit yourself to one? And what do you have the time and energy for? I, personally, would rather clip coupons than figure out how to make laundry detergent. What leaves you more time and energy to enjoy your family?

Melissa said...

Hi, Terri! Glad you're back.

If I have to pick a camp, I'm in trouble!

I'm a coupon-clipping, rebate-sending, clearance-shopping, Register-Rewards-redeeming, Catalina-collecting nut. ;) Sometimes my grocery receipt makes me downright giddy.

That being said, after sliding back & forth a bit along the scale, I've settled to where I only bother with the deals if they're really worth it. I don't buy junk just because it was "free/almost free after coupons." Yes, there's the occasional packaged item (like the $.80 Bagelfuls I got last night as a treat for my kids), but I really try not to buy anything I wouldn't normally purchase. I just keep an open mind to various stores and different brands so that I can take advantage of the deals.

I'm also a label reader and am pretty careful about additives & preservatives and artificial sweeteners. It takes some practice, but I've learned the trusted brands for different types of foods.

As far as cleaners, you can get safe ones if you watch for sales & coupons. For example, a recent newspaper insert had a $1 coupon for Nature's Source cleaners (plant-based, biodegradable), and Target currently has a printable coupon for the same thing. They'll let you combine the two for $2 off. The Valley Target has them on a clearance endcap, and they end up being $.37 each! I also use baking soda a lot.

Okay, that was probably the longest comment I've ever typed on someone's blog! All that to say I can completely relate to the black & white approach, but I really believe you can practice the best of both of these worlds without driving yourself too crazy! ;)

P.S. When I was previewing my comment, I saw Mary's. I totally agree with her statement about clipping coupons vs. making laundry detergent as well as her final question. Very wise!

Melissa Cummings said...

Yeah, I agree that you don't have to go 100% into either "camp". I know for myself and my personality, I do about 90% of the first camp and about 10% of the second camp.
We're definitely pinching pennies right now, and I find that I *have* to give up some of my preconceived perfectionistic ways. For instance, I have not bought bread in over a year, but got a coupon for a loaf of FREE bread at the new WinCo -- so I got it. And we've been eating it, even though I hate eating bread that I did not make myself. Haha.

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl said...

I do some of each, but I'm more in the first camp than in the second! lol I actually find life to be simpler this way. Instead of running about to every store on the planet and clipping a bazillion coupons, I can buy some basic ingredients at one or two stores, and feed my family healthy food.