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Frugal Living & how it doesn’t have to be hard

Frugal Living or living Frugally (however you want to say it) is something I never thought I’d enjoy. In fact at one point in my early mom years, I use to hate I had to live frugally. Watch the budget. Count cost. It felt more like a burden than anything and I did not enjoy needing to living bound to a certain standard of living.

Now that I am in my 30’s. My oldest son is about to turn 13. I’ve moved 10 times. Lived life in 4 different states. Experienced life with a job and without. Living bound to a budget was an absolute must for us and while at times I didn’t like having to do this. I now enjoy it and consider myself a great steward of our money. I believe that we should always strive to live within our means and that the Lord will bless those who do & allow you to bless others as well.

So below are some things that we do to save money. Hopefully they are helpful.

1. GET NETFLIX OR HULU INSTEAD OF CABLE.

– We have always been anti-cable. However, when we moved to SC, in order to set up our internet here, we had to bundle our package. The cost was no different. However we have lived in places where Cable could cost as much as $60 a month! We have found a great alternative to cable are services like Hulu, Netflix & Amazon. All very affordable and a much better alternative to cable.

2. SHOP ALDI

– If you don’t have an Aldi, Im sorry. That stinks haha… but if you do have one local, shop at it. It isn’t the biggest of stores. It also can be a tad annoying to shop at if you aren’t use to the layout. However, I promise you, if you shop there for a number of visits, you will grow to love it. What I can buy at Aldi would cost almost double at Publix. While I adore Publix, and some times buy certain things there… it would cost us way to much to do all our grocery shopping there. I also use to love Trader Joes. However, the closest Trader Joes to us here is 40 minutes away. It just is not worth the drive over there & gas, when Aldi is just a few miles down the road. So Aldi it is. Just be sure to always keep a quarter in your car & a stash of reusable bags. :)

3. CUT THE CELL PHONE BILL DOWN!

– We have 3 cell phones in our home. Travis and I both have iPhones and we recently added a 3rd line on for when our oldest son baby sits. He also has begun to go on youth trips and so forth… so him having a phone is helpful. We have set up strict rules regarding his use but over all its worked out well for him to have a phone. We just recently switched our services over from VERIZON WIRELESS to CRICKET. CRICKET is a service I had heard about way back in the day when I was in high school actually. It was the phone service you got if you had no money and wanted crappy service. Thats what I was told any way. WELL, AT&T I recently learned BOUGHT OUT CRICKET. So now anyone who signs up with CRICKET gets great coverage using the AT&T Towers for a fraction of the cost. Our $230.00 bill with Verizon Wireless for 3 phones, is now $110.00 + $7 for insurance on my iPhone (If I didn’t let my 4 yr old play with my phone often, I probably wouldn’t get the insurance haha, but he uses it to much – better safe than sorry). So $117 flat cost for our 3 phones. We also get DOUBLE the Data with CRICKET. ALSO Caleb (our oldest) got to upgrade his phone and got a brand new Galaxy phone for $9.99 – no strings attached. CRICKET factors in taxes prior to your total cost too, so you never have to worry about extra cost being tacted onto your bill. They also will never charge ridiculous sur-charges if you go over your data usage. Verizon was charging almost $20 in charges in addition to our bill. Was pretty ridiculous. We have been very happy with Cricket so far and have had no issues with dropped calls or anything. CRICKET also has a great referral service too. IF YOU CLICK THIS LINK you will save $25 off your 2nd bill & I will get $25 off my next bill. Big thank you to my friend Laura for recommending Cricket to us. Cricket btw can transfer your phones (depending on what type you have) & your numbers.

4. SHOP END OF SEASON SALES & THRIFT STORES
– When you have 4 boys to buy clothes for, shopping end of season sales and thrift stores is a must. This does not mean your kids wont look stylish either… although as a home school mom “styling my kids” if I’m honest wasn’t super high on my list, but now that I have a 12 year old who cares about his style, this is more important. If you purchase your clothes at the end of the season you can get 50-75% off items. I’ve seen jeans right now for $7 at Kohls and other department stores. You can find gym pants and sweats for almost nothing at walmart right now… even socks right now go on sale. I purchased new socks for the boys just this week for $2.50 a pack. Thrift stores here in SC are hit and miss… Atlanta without a doubt has SC beat in the Thrift Store department. Still, on occasion I can find great deals at places like Once Upon a Child or consignment sale events. If going to thrift stores isn’t your thing, you can also shop used on websites like Thred Up. I’ve used them a few times before and liked what I got from them. Here is my referral code that will give you $10 off your 1st purchase.

5. ONLY HAVE ONE CAR PAYMENT IF YOU CAN HELP IT.

– We have always tried to keep our car payments to a minimum. Thankfully we had ZERO car payments for years… I drove a Chevy Corsica our 1st few years of marriage. That thing was ancient but it was paid for, good on gas and ran great. Once we had a few kids though we had to upgrade to a mini van. With that upgrade we acquired a car payment. However, we kept Travis’ old Nissan Altima 98′ until that thing couldn’t move – haha…. and to this day we only have 1 car payment. BUY used cars too. Carmax is our go to.

6. BUY LESS STUFF IN GENERAL
– There are times we all need retail therapy. It isn’t bad to go out and just shop. I sometimes will go to TJMaxx and literally just look and walk around. There is no harm in splurging on occasion… but just be mindful of what you are buying and ask yourself “Do I really need this? will it help me in any way?” – I find if I ask myself those questions while shopping, I tend to buy less. Again, no harm in buying something you don’t actually “NEED” – but just “WANT” – we can all do this from time to time…

7. BUY A KINDLE FIRE INSTEAD OF AN IPAD

– This is hard for me to say… because I love my Apple Desktop computer. I will NEVER EVER own another PC. I adore apple computers and I adore my iPhone. However, iPads are just so expensive! If I could get one for free, Id be thrilled. (Feel free to gift me haha) However, its not a must. As an alternative we use Kindle Fires. They aren’t fancy… They don’t have all the APPS am iPad offers you… but for the most part, they do what I need them to do and they cost so much less. They cost under $50 some times if you watch the sales going on.

8. AVOID EATING OUT & OR GO ON KIDS EAT FREE NIGHTS

– This is a no brainer :) – but lets face it, we all have our seasons where we eat out to much. We sure have. Eating out though will kill any budget. It cost us a fortune to eat out with 4 growing boys. I mean Chick-fila for example, if we go there it cost us $35-40 for our family to eat… It adds up! Try to find places that offer kids eat free nights… or kids eat for .99 cents. This way you can still treat the kids to a night out on the town without such a high cost.

9. WHEN YOU GO OUT TO EAT, DON’T BUY DRINKS, USE A DRINK MIXES INSTEAD for a treat.
– When we go out to eat, we try to not buy drinks. Sometimes we do as a splurge or special treat… but for the most part its always water. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you have to buy 4 kids drinks and each drink cost $1.49, that adds up quickly. What I would spend on drinks would cover the meal for one child. I have found that a really simple way to treat the kids while out to a “special drink” is to keep MIO, or a drink mix in my purse. So when you go out, you can add this to your childs drink as a treat. My boys love this and it helps with any whining we may get if “we get a drink” and they don’t.

10. USE YOUR TALENTS AND TRADE WITH THEM
– I cannot even count how many times I have used my talent of Photography to do Talent Trades. What this means is, if I need my hair done… and know a great stylist. I can offer her free portraits in exchange for photos. There are only so many photos I can do for one stylist though and honestly once I find a stylist I like, I wont switch. So I cant get free hair cuts from one set person forever, :) but even if its just a hair cut here or a color job there, it all adds up and saves. Or if a friend of mine makes really cute pallet art, I can offer her a discount off a session for a pallet piece of art. You get the idea… We may not all be photographers but I guarantee theres something you got that someone else will want or need. Even if its baby sitting! Got a friend who wants a date night out once a month? Do a baby sitting swap. You watch their kids one night, they watch yours another. Baby sitting is a huge expense… if you swap with a friend you can save up to $50 a date. Use those talents and don’t be afraid to barter with them. :)

11. DOWNLOAD DISCOUNT CODES FROM APPS.

– There are a TON of useful apps around to help you save. iBotta is a great one. All you have to do is scan your receipt and save. I’ve made over $20 using iBotta this year. Also if theres a store like Michaels you are going to. Or Lifeway Christian Book Store. Often times if you download the APP, you can save 40% off an item. Or 25%. The Cart Wheel app for Target always has great discounts. If I go into a store, before I go, I check their app. :) Every little bit counts.

12. USE WHAT YOU GOT AND DECORATE FOR LESS.

– I wrote a post a while back about this… and thought Id just link to it HERE. I have learned over the years that you can do a lot with what you got… and it does not take much to make a home cozy… You do not need expensive decorations to make a lovely space.

13. PLAN AHEAD RECIPES. MAKE A BINDER WITH YOUR FAVORITES.
– This is a must! I find that if I do not plan ahead what I am going to make, I will get lazy and want to eat out. One of the most helpful things I did was to start printing out my recipes and put them into a binder. Instead of using a ton of cook books- I find the binder with dividers in it is the most useful. It only contains recipes I love and my family will eat. Most of my recipes can also be found on my blog (printable and ready to go). So if I lose a recipe or spill something on my printer copy, I can always re-print it. I also love using Pinterest to find new recipes too.

14. DONT BUY NEW FURNITURE.
– This one kind of goes along with #12. While I am not against buying new furniture, buying less new furniture and buying used furniture IMO is wise. Especially during these years you have little ones. Kids are destructive…. When we moved to SC we almost purchased a brand new fancy sectional sofa… that sofa would have cost us almost $1,000. I did not have a peace about this even though we had the extra money at the time from the sale of our home… I just kept thinking “Im going to spend 1K on this sofa and my kids going to throw up on it or pee on it.” – Even with rules and discipline, you cant immune your furniture from a stomach flu haha…. or a tot potty training. Life with kids, is messy… and so why fork out $1,000’s on fancy furniture when it’ll probably get ruined any way. We have had a few items we splurged on. Like our Casper Mattress. UM WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY!!!! However, instead of putting that mattress onto an expensive bed frame. We got an inexpensive frame for $100 & a free head board. You’d be amazed at what you can find at Estate sales. Shop around. Find the beauty in older pieces of furniture and make things your own without spending a fortune. I find its way more unique and personal this way too. Anyone can go to a store a buy a cookie cutter piece of furniture. It makes life more interesting to mismatch and create. :)

15. PLAN VACATIONS AHEAD OF TIME & DURING OFF SEASON PEAKS.
– This is probably the hardest one for me. The one I dread some… and the one I wish we really didn’t have to do… however, we have to… and I am finding that it is okay to do this, the boys have just as good a time… and we are able to go without damaging our pockets or going into any debt. An example of this is we are going to the Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, NC real soon. I pre-booked this trip before Christmas… and the total cost of our hotel room & passes to the park for 2 days was just shy of $200 (this included taxes and everything!). THIS IS SO CHEAP for a family of 6. The room has a fridge too and so we can pack our own food and save on eating out this way. This may not be a 5 day trip to the Caribbean but its a memory and trip our boys will remember. ALSO, home schoolers, ask about discounts wherever you go! The Great Wolf Lodge for example gives home schoolers 15% off. Also if you book your trip for a school day & or a monday/tuesday, the cost is less as well. Off peak time rocks for avoiding crowds too.

I think that about sums it up. I could probably sit here and write 15 more… but that would make for a very very very long and boring post. :) I hope you all found some of these things helpful.

Do share and comment sharing some ways you save. Be sure to follow me on Instagram where I share tips occasionally on my feed there… and pin this post if you found it helpful.

Thanks so much <3

15 Tips from a mom of 4 on how to live Frugally & how it doesn't have to be hard.

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links.

3 Comments on “Frugal Living & how it doesn’t have to be hard

  1. Great post! I have been listening to Dave Ramsey a lot over the past several years so being frugal is ingrained in me. We will never have a car payment again, that’s for sure. We paid our van off years ago and have been saving for a newer one. I don’t have a data plan at all on my phone, which I also got for free from Keith’s boss. We don’t have anything like Ali here where I live so I just do my best to stick with our grocery budget. We do have cable, because SPORTS! Lol. Keith really wanted to be able to watch sports. But we got a great deal for basic cable. Less than $30 per month.

    I think also having the mindset of delayed gratification helps. If you want something, wait a while. Save up for bigger purchases. Sometimes waiting helps you find a better deal, and sometimes you find you don’t really want the items anymore.

  2. The drink idea is genius! We don’t eat out, we may hit the drive thru a few times when in a rush, but the boys always get water. It’d be nice to give them a little flavor every now and then. I’m going to try to finally start meal planning now that I have a little energy to do so.

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