Like many concepts in life, saving money comes with emotional stages. It is rarely fun for everyone all the time. By the same token, it is not always living in a state of frustration. Most people, however, take baby steps into this way of life.
Many people may start their frugal journey based in fear. I know many people that believe that the only reason anyone would be frugal is because they fear not having enough. Not enough money, food, or items of pleasure.
While this may be how many people start out on a frugal journey, this isn’t where most people stay when it comes to a frugal state of mind. The fear eventually gives way to another feeling.
As frugality works its magic, changing our financial situations, we eventually move on from a state of fear and worry and move on to a state of determination. We are determined to make what we have stretch further. We are determined never to worry about a financial low in our lives again. We prepare ourselves for what may or may not come along in our lives and learn to live on less.
Peace of Mind
As our determination begins to develop assets, such as savings both at the register and in the bank, we begin to relax a little. This doesn’t mean that we let our frugal ways go away. It just means that we worry less and less about the things that we can’t control in our lives. Loss of a job? We have some savings until we find another job. Pay cut? We can live off our food storage (created by extreme couponing or buying bulk) for a few months. Then we become excited.
We begin to wonder how we can push our frugal ways even further. Can we learn a craft or trade that reduces the cost of living? Are there ways to insulate our home so that we rely less on climate control in our homes? How can we grow our own food or where can we shop for even less cost, but still good value? All these thoughts lead to action. In time we aren’t just being frugal. We have mastered it.
I’ll be the first to say that some toys for children are grossly over priced. Crafting supplies can also be over priced. These ideas, however, are both a craft and a toy and are very inexpensive. In fact many of the supplies can be rescued from your recycling or trash bin.
I’m not a fan of the candy, but I am a fan of the dispensers. They make great already made hand puppets. They come in sets (so you have a full puppet cast to work with) and usually in a lunch box type container, so that is also a plus. You can use these containers as actual lunch boxes or to store Pez puppets or art supplies.
Cardboard Food Cans
I’m talking about infant formula cans or cardboard oatmeal canisters. These can be turned into rattles, drums, or flower pots for your coffee filter flowers. They can be used for sand box buckets or scoops.
Plastic Eggs and Egg Cartons
Decorate twelve plastic eggs with faces and hair. Craft the cartons to be public transportation. They can be school buses, airplanes, and even trains. Draw a road or track system on a few poster boards. Load up your plastic egg people into your new public transportation system and take them for a ride.
Paint each one brick red and let your toddler use them to build walls or brick houses. If you are extra crafty put white masking tape on the corners and edges of the boxes to make it look like they have cement on them.
If you use paper towels, gift wrap, or toilet paper you have a few tubes hanging around your house somewhere. You know that you can make swords and binoculars from such objects. With smaller tubes you can also paint them yellow and tape them together to make a honey comb. You can put them in a shoe box and pretend to be bee keepers, or you can hang them on the wall and pretend to be bees.
The longer tubes can be used to make a match box car race track. Tape three together then lean the opening against a table or couch. Set the car in the top and let gravity work its magic.
There are many ways to earn point rewards. There a click sites, sites to watch videos, and sites where you get rewarded to use a search engine. Most of them also have ways to help you spend your points before they become rewards, but that isn’t the point of point rewards when you are a Thrifty Diva. Here is how I avoid overspending my reward points.
Sweepstakes are a great way to gamble away all your points a little bit at a time. You start out spending a few points here or there to get 25,000 points. The only problem is unless you win you don’t get anything. The alternative is to keep saving up those points for a reward that you are certain to get.
The Best Offer For Use
When it comes to my Bing Rewards I used to get five dollar gift certificates for 475 points. I could have gotten fifteen dollar gift certificates, but they were for stores that I didn’t shop at. What I finally settled on was spending 420 reward points on a month free for Hulu Plus. That meant we could get rid of our Netflix Subscription, still have our television entertainment, and not have the price of it come out of our budget. Not only that, I spent less points on my reward enabling me to get more for my reward points.
Be Picky With Offers
I only choose the offers that are free, but my definition of free may be different from others. If an offer pays out at least an equivalent amount of points to the cost of an offer, that’s free to me. If it costs less it’s not free. If I need to pay shipping and handling it’s not free, but if the point rewards are more than shipping and handling charges, it’s free. In short, unless I’m breaking even or making a profit I won’t use an offer.
What are your favorite reward points sites?
Valentine’s Day is now less than a month away. If you haven’t already started, it’s time to start preparing something special for that special someone. Most of us want to show our significant other they mean everything to us. In most relationships, however, spending everything we have to prove it is not ideal. So here are a few ways to say I love you, without letting Cupid shoot a hole in your wallet.
The 12 Days Of Valentines
This is perfect for that person who wants to show their significant other that they were not just an afterthought on the way home from work on February fourteenth. Start giving little gifts to your spouse starting on Groundhog Day. These gifts can be something small. For example, on the first day you could give her a love letter stating your intent to make the next twelve days special with a gift. The next day you could bring them a favorite candy bar. The third day your gift could be a love letter, and so on. Your gifts can also be much hated chores that you offer to do without complaint. Make the fourteenth extra special by making a special dinner or having a movie night. Your Valentine’s Day plans in will be magnified by the effort you have made for the past two weeks.
Blow Up Their Mailbox
This is a fun way to show you care without spending a dime. Collect articles on good relationships and pictures of hearts, candles, kittens, flowers, and all things cute and save them to your computer. On the fourteenth post the pictures to their Facebook wall. In the chat box send them article links with a note about what you both succeed in doing in these articles. If you want to go the extra mile get a www.punchbowl.com account. Send them every free digital card you can to their email. One small word of advise, however. Only use this idea if you are already in a well established relationship.
Their are plenty of acceptable gifts made by your own hands, like a blanket or a new leather knife sheath. You may want to take a wedding picture as a model for a painting or sculpt a mug or vase for your special someone. The key is to start now in your endeavor. You don’t want to give your special someone your first burnt batch of caramel or sculpting attempt.
Little kids and babies are cute. They are absolutely adorable. They are also expensive. It is amazing how much more consideration a child adds to your budgeting sessions. From the beginning parents find themselves wondering how they can save a little money while caring for this tiny angel with many needs.
Potty Train Early
It’s not a big secret. If you have cloth diapers, you’re sick of washing them. If you use disposable diapers you are sick of buying them. Diapers are expensive. So sometimes a parent will try to potty train early in the hopes of removing diapers from their budget. It doesn’t work that well because often the training happens before the time that a child has bladder control. But once that magical time does occur, what a joy to the budget it is!
Make Their Own Baby Food
If you have a blender and some oatmeal, you may have tried to pulverize the oatmeal into a baby appropriate substance. Sometimes it works and other times you use a strainer to get the bigger pieces of oatmeal out of the baby food mix. You do this with bananas, apple, peas, and cooked spinach. Now your child can eat what you’re eating for dinner, age appropriateness pending.
Buy Big Clothing
Instead of buying your two year old a bunch of 2T or 24 month clothing, you buy clothes (and shoes) in the next size up. Your hope? That they will just look a little baggy. A toddler can get away with a little baggy clothing. It looks cute. If the pants are a little too big we roll up the legs a little and add a belt to the purchase. This will keep us from buying new clothes for our child quite as often. It works particularly well in the winter, adding more insulation. Besides, room to grow is much more comfortable for kids than too tight and two weeks to payday.
What do you do to save money with kids?
Nature is one of the best craft stores known to man. Most of the things in Nature’s craft store are free. There are seashells, petrified wood, drift wood, rocks and a variety of feathers and grasses that can be used to create decorations for your home.
Seashells are beautiful and come a large variety. There are sand dollars and clam shell. There are conch shells and the traditional scallop shaped shell. The can be added to a plaster to form a shell mosaic or put in glass vases on display. Some shells, such as the conch, can even be a stand alone piece.
Drift wood and petrified wood can make some great decorative pieces or crafting supplies. They can be carved into boat or fish like shapes. If the water is not your motif, try making a little wooden zoo. It can also be sanded down and polished to create some very beautiful decorative pieces.
Rocks aren’t always just gray elliptical pieces of mineral. They come in all sorts of shapes and colors. They can be found all over the place. There is coral, lava rocks, granite, and semi precious stones. A rock collections made of the right types of rock, stone or mineral can usually stand on its own when displayed for decoration.
I’m not just talking about pretty flowering plants or the cactus types of plants, although those are beautiful too. I’m talking about long grasses, such as heather or cattails. They can be used both inside and outside and look great in crafts.
For those frugal gals who are concerned with removing a part of an eco system, pictures are for you! Gone are the days when you have to develop film and keep track of negatives. Some of the best photography is nature photography, whether in back and white or in color. Instead of taking items from the woods or beach take pictures and start a nature photo gallery in your own home. You could display on walls or in scrapbooks alike.
What natural elements have you used for crafts in your house?
Sometimes us thrifty mamas end up with meltdowns and mutinies from our little minions. Or we may have bit off a bit more than we can chew when it comes to our schedule and routines. We don’t want to use time or money on an expensive massage and moms rarely get personal vacation time, but here are a few ways to combat the insanity.
Before I get to far into this paragraph let me just say I do not condone the use of earplugs to ignore your children. Believe it or not most children can be heard even when you are wearing ear plugs. Children can, in fact, scream at decibels that can damage your hearing. It doesn’t matter if it’s happy or angry shrieking. Your nerves can be easily frayed by that pitch. I use them during my bath time (when daddy is home to watch the kids), during really loud play times and when I have a bit of a headache. I never use them during their bath time or anytime we are out of the house.
A Safety Gate
The older models cost about ten dollars and are much easier to use than the newer models. The keep kids off stairs out of rooms and can provide a contained area for children to play when you are getting work done. It keeps them away from the mop bucket, cords, the toilet and the list goes on.
Hot chocolate and herbal teas are at the top of my list when it comes to sanity savers. First of all, it may be a small thing, but you have to physically do something for yourself. You need to boil the water and mix in your chocolate mix. For those who go with a tea instead you can take the two seconds needed to inhale the vapors. A warm drink won’t take up an imposing amount of time in your busy schedule, nor does it cost much, and will be relaxing, even if only for a moment.
What frugal things do you do to keep your sanity?
Most of us are searching for ways to improve ourselves in one way or another, but many of us also go way too far with that notion. We are too hard on ourselves, compare ourselves to others and will go to painful and stressful lengths to change. Some change is good, but taken to the extent some of us do it can be emotionally damaging. If that wasn’t reason enough to take a step back from our quest of instant perfection, here are a few financial ones.
Do you have every self help book known to man? Do you have self help systems endlessly downloading to your computer or blowing up your email? Do they tell you that all you have to do to be thinner, happier, have a more active brain and a great marriage is subscribe for this low price of ten dollars each? That’s forty dollars right there that you have lost.
Do these series and methods help or do they sit in a folder in your email or on your desktop. While some self improvement is a good thing in your life, an excess can be stressful and expensive. Also, while many people are genuine in their desire to help you improve, others are just making a buck off of your insecurities. Don’t let them.
Making Comparisons Without All The Facts
How we perceive others can be a big part of why we spend too much money. We look at others and see that perfect dress, state of the art make up and most advanced technology. We think to ourselves that we must not be making enough money and either drive ourselves crazy trying to earn that money, or go into to debt for it.
What we don’t know is that these people are looking at us seeing a big backyard, family trips or that sweet pool table in our game room. We all choose the things that are important to our family. We all decide what we can do without. No one should be attempting to have everything.
Deprivation Of The Fun Things In Life
While you are spending your money on self help and things you don’t want, but feel you should have, you aren’t spending money on those things that you do want and would actually make you happier. For example, you might feel that you may feel more fulfilled if you could acquire a certain crafting talent. That sense of accomplishment could erase negative feelings and you would be buying items that help create fun rather than tell you something is wrong with you.