When it comes to frugality, it has always been in my blood stream. My parents have already been frugal and this frugal practice was passed down to me. My parents frugal practice were passed down by their parents. You see, both sets of my grandparents were farmers by profession. As farmers, they knew that food comes from hard work and one should not waste food. Because life was hard as farmers, both sets of my grandparents taught my parents that they should live frugally. Not surprisingly this frugal lifestyle was passed on to my brother and I. Although Mrs. T has a slightly different family background than me, her family is quite frugal as well. This makes us the perfect match.
When it comes to frugality, I truly believe that frugality is a lifestyle, not a fad. With fad you can only keep up the practice for a short time and eventually the craze fades away. I've encountered some people that practice frugality to an extreme. They talk about being frugal in order to save money. But frugality isn't a lifestyle for them. They're only doing it so they can save money to purchase a big item later. They plan to eventually go back to "regular" spending lifestyle just like the average Joneses. This kind of practice is not sustainable in the long run and it's simply the wrong reason to be frugal. One should enjoy frugality and be proud of it.
Here are some frugal practices that are considered as second nature.
Purchasing 2nd hand clothes
Purchasing 2nd hand clothes is just a fact of life. Growing up I've had my shares of 2nd hand clothes either from thrift stores or passed-down from friends or relatives. My parents recently stated that they haven't bought any new clothes for the last few years. All of the "new" clothes they own are 2nd hand clothes that they purchased from a thrift store which they volunteer at.
When we look at Baby T's outfits, about 95% of them are 2nd hand clothes purchased at the thrift store that my parents volunteer at or passed down from someone we know. We purchased cloth diapers from a Craigslist ad and saved about 80% from buying new. You can't tell the difference between a 2nd hand cloth diaper and a brand new cloth diaper after a couple of use, so why not save some money when we can?
When I look at my wardrobe, some of my clothes are 2nd hand as well.
Buying grocery at a local produce store
We usually buy our grocery at a local produce store instead of the big box names like Safeway and Save-On-Foods. The local produce store provides significant amount of savings when it comes to produce. For examples, we can buy bell peppers for $0.99 per pound instead of $3.49 per pound at Save-On-Foods; we can buy bananas for $0.49 per pound instead of $0.89 per pound at Save-On-Foods; we can buy apples for $0.49 per pound instead of $2.99 per pound at Safeway. Considering that we go through quite a bit of produce each week, these savings are quite significant once we add them all up.
Use paper on both sides
Instead of writing on one side of paper and just throw it away, we write on both sides. Sometimes I take it to the extreme and write in different colors so I can differentiate all the items. For general printing purposes, we print on both sides of paper as well. The only time that we print on one side of paper only is when we have to use it externally.
Stock up on essential items
This is something my parents do quite well that we can do better, especially now we live in a house and have a bit more storage room. My parents stock up on essential items like toilet paper, cans of tomatoes, and pasta. No they're not hoarding items but simply buying these items whenever they're on sale. A couple dollars here and there, the savings can add up pretty quickly.
Use old clothes as cleaning towels
Have old T-shirts with too many holes? The best way to utilize these old shirts is to cut them into smaller pieces and use them as cleaning towels. Why spend money to purchase special cleaning towels when you can make them yourself?
Have only one car
Growing up, it was challenging when I had a basketball practice and my brother had another commitment else where. Somehow, everything worked out with my parents only owning one car. There was never any thought about having multiple cars at home. Having only one car meant lower insurance and maintenance cost as well. Now Mrs. T and I have formed our own family, we only own one car too and have no plan to get another car any time soon. Because I need a car to commute to work, if we reach financial independence, we can probably forgo the car completely and ride bikes or use public transportation.
Drink water at home and when dine out
We don't drink pop at home. Water is what we drink. On the special occasions we may drink juice. We don't really drink alcohol at home so our spending on alcohol is very low. When dining out, we typically drink water instead of fancier drinks like wine, beer, or juice. Restaurant's markup on alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic beverages is huge. Stick to tap water to save money.
Dry clothes the old fashion way
Although we have a dryer at home, it is almost never used. We have multiple drying racks at home for drying clothes. This is something my parents and Mrs. T's parents do on a regular basis as well. In fact, Mrs. T's parents have never owned a dryer. Drying clothes can be done very quickly when it's sunny and hot outside. When it's raining outside, simply dry your clothes indoor by leaving the drying racks in a well-ventilated area.
Buy high quality items
Being frugal doesn't mean that we buy the cheapest items available. It makes sense to spend a little extra to get a higher quality item so it can last longer. For example, I have a good quality Seiko watch for over 15 years that's still running strong. The watch cost a bit more than a cheapo battery operated watch, but the average cost per year is certainly a lot lower over the course of 15 years. In our kitchen we have ultra-sharp Shun knives and Le Creuset pots that will last us a life time.
These are some of the frugal things that we do on a regular basis. All very simple and the savings really add up over time. Do you practice frugality as a lifestyle? Do you have any tips that you'd like to share?