In this post I’m going to share the ways in which my husband and I save money. This saving money thing has never been a strong point for me, personally. Thankfully I married someone who is much better at it than me! I’ve taught my husband that it’s ok to splurge sometimes and he’s taught me that I don’t need the things I sometimes want. Learning to live frugally and simply has been an adventure for us. At this point in our marriage, we enjoy finding new ways to be frugal. We love to think of ways we can be self-sufficient.
Limiting Eating Out: We don’t eat out often and we enjoy it so much more when we do go out for dinner or order a pizza. It’s special! This leaves us more to spend on groceries. Think about this, that the average cost for two people to eat dinner out is around $50. If you are buying lunch every day during the work week that is easily $50. This all adds up fast! When we were both bringing in an income, I bought lunch multiple times a week and we ate dinner out frequently. We actually saw a savings in this area when I quit my job outside the home. It goes to show how much more food you get for your money when you eat at home. It’s not easy and ask my husband, I LOVE TO EAT OUT. But we see savings when we practice frugality in this area.
Growing A Garden: We fell in love with growing our own produce the first year of our marriage. Both of my husband’s grandfathers were farmers. It’s in his blood and he is so dang good at growing things. I like to organize what we will grow but he does most of the gardening. We’ve had a garden 2 years out of the 3 we’ve been married. It’s so easy to do and having fresh produce is so wonderful. Our growing season isn’t very long here so we take advantage of it. We see most of our savings with this in the summer and fall because of harvest.
Canning: This goes along with gardening! We bought this pressure canner and we love it.We haven’t actually used the pressure function of it yet but instead we use it to water bath can pickles, relish, jams, peppers, tomato sauce and salsa! My husband is just as efficient if not more than me, with canning. He’s very methodical and thorough. Last summer he canned some mean dill pickles and tomatillo salsa!
When I was waiting for my residency and work permit in 2014-2015, I had a lotof free time. I would go over to my husband’s grandparents home where I learned the skill of canning from his grandfather. In fact, I learned a lot of cooking skills from my grandfather-in law!
Dehydrating: We bought this dehydrator last summer and are still learning how to make different things. Dried fruit is SO expensive here. Jerky is also really expensive. You can also dry herbs, spices, and even make grain free crackers. So far I’ve had great success with apple chips, banana chips, and fruit roll ups! I know this will be cost-effective when baby boy can start snacking on foods. I will be able to make most of them! *A tip for dehydrating produce-shop the discount veggies and fruits. You will get so much more for your money.
Buying Bulk: I love Costco but not everything is worth buying there. Right now the things that we find are most cost-effective to buy from Costco are diapers (they last forever since we are only using them at night), formula (it’s just as good as the fancy stuff in stores) toilet paper, paper towels and my husbands shampoo/body wash.
Sticking To The Grocery List and Limiting Grocery Store Trips: I’m not always good at this but when I manage to only get what I put on my list, I stay on budget. I’ve also found that multiple little trips to the grocery store add up quickly. Sometimes that means going without something until our next planned trip. This can be a great way to save. What we spend on groceries fluctuates but considering how little we eat out now, I’m not as overly concerned in this area. I don’t buy organic either. It just isn’t something I have figured out yet. But a great tip for clean produce is soaking them in vinegar and water to get any gross stuff off. We are fortunate that we don’t have any food allergies so there isn’t anything we have to avoid.
Having A Depression Era Pantry: I’m still working on this and it’s a fun project! During the depression many mamas were able to still feed their family nutritious, filling meals with very simple ingredients. I’m trying to stock my pantry (which is my cold room also) with simple staples such as rice, flour, oats, dried beans and basic canned goods. Then I try to challenge myself to make simple meals using simple ingredients. This often leads to healthier eating!
I LOVE DIY ALL THE THINGS.
I make most of the products I use on baby boy. Right now the only thing I don’t make is his baby wash. I do this to save money but also because I can control the chemicals I’m exposing him to. I’m finding a balance with making my own beauty products. I love experimenting with making face oils, under eye creams, husbands after-shave, body butters, lip balms and more! But sometimes it makes more sense to buy certain things already made. My essential oils have been an investment of the past few years and one I plan to continue building-especially as I look to become a certified Aromatherapist.
We make most of the decor in our home and we keep it simple. A year or so ago, I went a little crazy at Michael’s craft store, setting up my craft supply. I try to make cards because already made cards are stupid expensive. I love Home Sense with all the beautiful decorations but I can’t justify paying their prices when I know we could probably make it ourselves. Thrift stores are great places to find jars, old picture frames and other items to repurpose. We use mason jars for everything in our home and I’ve found many of them at second-hand stores. My husband is really good at making things. He’s currently working on some artwork for our son’s nursery as well as a rustic wood piece to go on top of the change table. He’s built us many useful and beautiful things throughout our home. He’s really great at making wood cookies. They are those beautiful wooden platters that are basically just the sawed off end of a tree. He sands, stains and seals them. While we would love to sell the things we make, we would have to make a lot more than we are able to, right now. Maybe one day!
Other ways we save is having one car. This is doable for us right now. It’s getting harder now that we have our son. For now, we make it work. I stay home during the day, most of the week. If I need to be somewhere, I take my husband to work and pick him up. If he’s working late and I can’t go get him because baby boy is already in bed, he buses home. We losta lot of money during our first year of marriage because of the car I brought with me from California. Canada refused to import my car because it had recalls on it that the manufacturer had no remedies for. My paid in full car sat in a dealership parking lot for 2 years. We had to drain what little savings we had to buy a junker car. That junker didn’t last us long. More money down the drain. A friend lent us their car for a season which was such a blessing! Eventually we made the decision to lease our now car. Some will say that leasing is a waste. There is no money to be made in owning a car so leasing works great for us. We chose a basic model and it gets great gas mileage!
When it comes to spending money on little things like getting coffee with a friend, meeting someone for lunch, birthday gifts etc. spending can get out of hand. But it’s not realistic to say, “Don’t spend any money at all this month.” So, we set a limit for these things by using cash envelopes. When that cash is gone, it’s gone. Until next month! We did Secret Santa with our family this past year and had a set limit. If people wanted to spend more than that limit, that was their decision. But it was a great way to be mindful of spending during the most expensive time of the year. We don’tgo on fancy vacations. All of our vacations have been within driving distance and we’ve been able to see some great parts of Canada! PEI is the most beautiful place I’ve seen yet! We do have smartphones but they are nowhere near the newest or even newer generations. I have a feeling Apple is eventually going to phase out phones we have. We have very basic cable and we are able to save by sharing that cable/internet plan with our neighbours!
As you read this you might be thinking, “These people are really sad. How can they enjoy life?” Well my friend, we enjoy it just fine! Have a disposable income or living like you do does not ensure happiness. Living within your means can bring a lot of peace. You also might be thinking, “This is ridiculous. I can’t DIY, can, or garden. I don’t have the time for all that work. Or I don’t want to do all that.” You don’t have to do any of these things, I’m just sharing ways we havebuilt a simple life. Practicing frugality is actually very easy once you establish good habits! But it takes hard work to live a simple life in today’s materialistic world. We want convenience but you know what is inconvenient? Debt! That is not wise or healthy living. You can’t buy simplicity, isn’t that funny? It really is. We don’t have it all figured out and it’s not always fun to say no to things we want. But it is worth it to be responsible to our financial obligations and build good monetary habits. It’s also brought an openness in our marriage and we spend more quality time together.
Whatever your situation, don’t be afraid to try new things! Do you enjoy finding ways to save money? What are some things you do to practice frugal living? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below! I’ve also linked a few products mentioned in this post.