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A Month of Frugal Living

frugalreportdone

(psssssssssst, if this is your first day, welcome, and click here for the beginning of this series.)

So what did I learn in my month-long frugal living experiment? Well, that it’s possible to live well on less. Sure, I could have cut back even more, lived off of ramen noodles, bought no clothing or anything for the house, BUT that really wasn’t what I was after.

I still wanted to live well, just on less.

For the first year of our 2.5 year-long marriage (HUGE, I know) I kind of figured I would have to wait to have the house I wanted; wait until we were debt free before I could really have the things in my home that I wanted. So I went without while secretly, and not so secretly, resenting it.

But it’s become more and more apparent to me that you can decorate well with little money. I know I’m no expert in any of this, but I’m inspired daily by the many great DIY bloggers out there that prove you can decorate well on less.

I truly believe in bringing the things you love into your home while living within and even beneath your means. No waiting; bringing them in today. Often that means being more creative or making a lot of things by hand, but in the end I think it makes a much more personalized space.

So here’s my  list of things I really learned:

Thrift store shopping is legit when it comes to clothing and household decorating. It means I can buy a lot more with less and with room to spare for some “fun” pieces that I’d really like. Personally, I like the idea of spending some of my money at thrift shops and the other part at bargain stores like TJ Maxx and Target.

I was surprised how easy it was. I’ve heard a lot of people say the main reason they don’t thrift shop is because of the amount of time it takes, but when I went, albeit only two times, it only took about an hour for some awesome finds.

Homemade snacks, like energy bars and granola bars, taste so much better and save a pretty penny. Oh, and they’re better for you, are super easy to make and very versatile.

It’s the little changes that save big money over time. Some coupons, homemade cooking, buying in bulk, homemade snacks all save a little bit of money for us on their own, and so much more when you add up the little savings. Here’s a cheat sheet I came up with for frugal grocery shopping that amounted to small changes but big savings.

Shopping my wardrobe first before I run out and buy more clothing helps me to save money and, frankly, maximizes the outfit potential in my wardrobe. Making creative use of layers can expand my wardrobe as well as the various fashion challenges copy cat closet inspires (mixing patterns, shorts and leggings, and bright pants have all helped me to shop my wardrobe and come up with new outfits).

Paying in cash makes me much more conscious of every dollar I spend and makes me less spendy in general. I know for sure this is true, because for the second half of the month I failed to take more money out from the bank. It’s not always convenient for me, especially since my bank is so far away, and I’m often too cheap to use an atm.

Excuses, excuses, I know. In any case, when I started paying with my card again, I noticed how it hurt less to spend so I ended up spending more.

Make-ahead and freeze recipes = money saver and time saver! I cannot begin to reiterate how amazing this book has been to my life. It makes dinner time a breeze, and so far all the recipes have been winners for the husband and baby.

If I knew just how easy it was, I would have started sooner. I’m not even kidding. I took two separate nights, about a half hour a piece, preparing 5 separate meals, for a total of 10 meals. Tonight’s dinner was a breeze and I’m hoping it will help us save from eating out so often.

Which brings me to my next point: we still ate out too much! I found out about the make-ahead and freeze book near the end of this month so I didn’t get to fully utilize its potential. I know we eat out for convenience and because we’re too hungry to take the time to make something from scratch, but with the new make-ahead plan I’m on I can have convenient food on hand that will make whipping up a meal take mere minutes.

Taking pictures of my outfits helps me identify the “holes” in my wardrobe. Since participating in WIWW, and copy cat closet, I’ve noticed I have an overwhelming amount of neutrals, and solid colors, and not a whole lot of patterns, florals, and spunk (yeah, I just wrote that). Maybe I could have figured that out by looking through my wardrobe, but for some reason it became painfully obvious upon capturing live pictures of the evidence.

Homemade laundry detergent is amazing, but tripling the recipe is an even better idea like I did here. The whole recipe is only a few dollars, and will last a long while. It works, and you can use any unscented soap you have on hand.

Handmade decorating leaves a little piece of you with every project and the quality and personal touch far beats the generic store-bought decorations from places like Pier 1. Not that there’s anything wrong with Pier 1, but if you can make something by hand, you can usually make it with better quality materials, and it impresses a piece of you on it. That’s pretty special.

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As with my 31 days series on no more procrastinating the important, non-urgent things in life, I don’t plan to stop this way of life, or quit learning. I realize I have much more to learn and have only touched the tip of the iceberg.

I’m sure I’ll keep on learning about cool little tricks to save money and still live well…I might even change my mind on some things I’ve written about in this series, but that’s okay too.

My creativity and resourcefulness have been stretched in this series, and I think that’s why I loved doing this so much. The fact that I found frugal living to be bountiful living was a plus.

Homemade, thrift shops, and resourcefulness all went hand in hand to living well on less.

I hope you might have found some tid-bit of encouragement that you can live well on less (although, I’m sure many of you do a mighty fine job of doing so!). I know I’m humbled daily by my amazingly thrifty, and resourceful friends (you ladies know who you are ;) ).

Amanda.

 

A friend of mine, and my baby Asher came with me the other day on our big, grand, $ 20.00 thrift store challenge hosted by Young House Love. Oh yeah.

I felt blessed by the experience. It was like all of a sudden I found a few items I had been keeping my eyes open for in one trip. It was awesome. I call the new pieces I found “love gifts” from God. Here are the “pinspiration” items I had been shopping for. The pieces I found aren’t exact replicas but still good enough for me :).

The Pinspiration:

Pinspiration

Sources: Tan bag, fern art, cowhide, antique mirror.

Here are my finds:

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Except for the fossil bag (which was 20 dollars…yep I cheated!), I spent just under 20 dollars. I couldn’t say no to the steal when I saw the bag. At frist I just thought it was a cute tan bag, and then upon further inspection I noticed the fossil stamp. Awesome! Thank you Lord!

To keep with the 20 dollar challenge put on by Young House Love, here’s a photo of myself and baby with a 20 dollar bill:

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Notice how I’m no longer wearing my white shirt? Baby had a little poop explosion, and I got a little bit of it on the top! Just part of being a Mom :).

Here’s a picture of something weird:

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Now that I’m a mom I see things much differently. As a Mom, I don’t want to overload my son with materialism, but I do want good gifts for him; nice clothing, nice toys, nice things. Not in a way where I’m trying to outdo others or keep up with the Joneses.

I just want to bless him, that’s all. It makes sense how God would want to bless His children too…even with material gifts every now and again. In any case, that’s how I feel. Blessed by little gifts He knew I’d love, and for a steal! All I did was asked to be blessed that day, and He certainly showed up.

I don’t see such a request as selfish anymore, because I know how much I want to bless Asher, so why wouldn’t my loving father in heaven not want to bless me?

Have you asked God to bless you?

Amanda.

p.s. you can click here for the beginning of my frugal experiment.

p.s.s here’s an inviation to know God more: you’re invited.

My husband gave me one saturday this month to just get out of the house and do some shopping. I took the opportunity to go thrift store shopping. I spent a total of $ 1.07 on a blazer and pokadot blouse. I probably shopped for an hour at the thrift store, but I am a new believer in them!

I should say I was expecting to spend about 8 dollars a piece but apparently there was an amazing sale on I had no prior knowledge of. Awesome!

thrift store outfit thrift store outfit2

Blazer: Talbots / Blouse: Liz Claiborne / Leggings: Old Navy / Boots: Landsend Canvas/ Belt: Target

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Today a friend of mine with my baby in tow,  will be partaking in a 20 dollar thrift store challenge hosted by young house love. I plan to post about it tomorrow. Fun, fun, fun!

Have a radiant day!

Amanda.

Click here for the beginning of my frugal experiment.

I’ll be linking up with the pleated poppy, Style Elixir and copy cat closet today. If this is your first day, feel free to click here for the beginning of my experiment in frugal living.

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Bright pants. Oh how I love thee. I have a wardrobe that’s loaded with neutrals, so usually I can find items that balance the brightness well.

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Headband: Target / Scarf: Wet Seal /  Shirt: Esprit / Pants: TJ Maxx / Boots: Landsend Canvas

These are all pieces I already had in my closest. Before this frugal experiment of mine I would regularly buy clothing once a month, on the cheap, but never really from a thrift store. This month I spent about a $1.07 at a thrift store for a blazer and button down shirt (will post about that this week)!

“Frugal lesson: When you save money, you have some to use on the deals and steals you find.”

With all the money I saved I was more inclined to buy “fun”  and less “classic/neutral” oriented items. This translated into a new pair of mint jeans from TJ Maxx, and a Carhartt jacket from a local sportsmen store. It was VERY cold out when we took these photos so I was actually wearing it on this day:

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I really didn’t want to buy the Carhartt jacket at first, but it was 30 percent off, and apparently they last forever. I guess I thought it wouldn’t go with my girlish wardrobe…but for some reason I actually like the combo! It even went with my cobalt jeans (I love tan with blue)!

Notice that my husband AND baby are sporting a carhartt jacket. The husband was very happy that I bought it:

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So that’s another trend I’ve been noticing in all this frugal living: as I save here and there with thrifting I have more money leftover over for fun things like bright pants, and a carhartt jacket (okay, so that’s still really practical)! In any case, the money was there when the good deal showed up, and that feels good :). There’s nothing like coming across a steal only to realize you already blew your clothing budget (that never happens to me…*shifts eyes back and forth*).

Here’s one last shot I took on one of our walks:

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I’m fascinated with light because of the message it speaks. Jesus told us to let our light shine, and I’ve been thinking it doesn’t really matter how large, or small it may be, just let it shine freely and iridescently. A small candle lights up a dark room quite powerfully when compared to the expanse of most rooms.

 It really is beautiful. The light that each of one of us carries brings forth a marvelous life, not a dull and dreary one.

Let your light shine brightly, because it’s never too small.

Amanda.

pleated poppy

the Grant life
STYLELIXIR Style Sessions

energybarrecipe

Time Saving Tips:

What I’ve learned:

  • when possible don’t bother to measure too carefully. It saves time and dishes. Plus granola bars are very forgiving.
  • Also, use what you have on hand, and don’t be afraid to try a recipe you don’t have all the ingredients for. Just substitute because like I said the recipes seem forgiving.

This is my version of this recipe that I didn’t have all the ingredients for:

Recipe

1 ripe banana, 1/4 cup of syrup, 2 tbs of coconut oil (melted), 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Mix into a liquid in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix 1.5 cup of oats, 1 cup of dates, 2 scoops of muscle milk, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, 4 tbs of ground flax seeds (or regular), a few pinches of cinnamon, one tsp of vanilla extract.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, place in square 8×8 pan layered in Saran and leave in the freezer for an hour. Slice into 12 bars, or however many you want, and store in the fridge.

An easy, easy switch for our health and wallet…another trend I’m seeing in this frugal living lifestyle, health and wealth.

Amanda.

Click here for the beginning of my crazy, but fun experiment in frugal living!

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