Frugal-Not-By-Choice

Making your own Soap

Being Frugal-not-by choice

My Inspiration for This Post

This week on Twitter I let off a little rant. (I hope you are following me!)

I saw that there were some personal finance bloggers making fun of a frugal tip: a video showing how to make your own dish washing soap to save costs.

The point that they were making: Its stupid to spend time trying to save a few dollars on dish washing soap. The return on these types of hacks is small and negligible.

In a way, they are right. Making your own dish washing soap will not save you more than a few dollars. Those few dollars will not make you rich. It won’t let you retire earlier (which has slowly become the ultimate goal for many bloggers). It gives you very little return for your efforts.

Would you make your own dishwashing soap to save money?

This is all true but missing a very key point. There are some people who actively choose to live frugally. They are frugal-by-choice. But there are very many people out there who aren’t lucky enough to have a choice. They are being frugal-not-by-choice. The difference between the two is vast.

Frugal-by-choice versus Frugal-not-by-choice

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No More Meal Planning!

Using Building Blocks Instead of Meal Planning

A Twist on Meal Planning

So I seem to use the word “twist” a lot:) probably because there are so many great ideas and concepts out there that ALMOST work for me and my family but not quite. And it’s the not quite part that makes it hard to implement or basically pointless to do. I am talking about meal planning, of course (the clue was in the title). It doesn’t quite work for me.

I have talked before about going grocery shopping BEFORE planning for the week because it easier to stay in budget when you are shopping for sales, not shopping for specific items. Then you can plan your meals around what you bought. The problem is that I never get around to the actual planning of the meals part. Or the remembering to prepare it part. Even when I do plan it by the time I finish work I am usually exhausted and my kids are home and need FULL ATTENTION so its not really the time to start cooking dinner with all my healthy ingredients that I purchased. I could plan and defrost the night before but that rarely happens because, you know, life.

Meal Planning

Enter BUILDING BLOCKS

Its basically meal prep for the week. But not. I don’t make a week’s worth of dinners for my family or lunches for me in advance. What I do is I take a few hours and create the building blocks of a few meals. I don’t need to decided in advance what dishes I will be making- I just prepare ingredients. Than I can decide every day what I am in the mood of and what works for me time-wise.

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Remember the WHY

The problem of buying things you need is that you can’t buy things that you want.

It seems that I want a lot of things.

That is the dilemma that I am facing as my stove saga drags on. Basically, my stove broke and we thought that we would be able to fix it. However, after a visit from a stove guy and a guy from the gas company, we are facing the realization that it may not be worth it to fix the 10-year old stove and instead we may have to replace it.

Yes, we have a “Life Happens” Fund.

We are lucky enough to have the money to pay for a new stove without having to put it on the credit card but that means that the money will have to come out of another fund- money that is earmarked for something else. It doesn’t really matter what the money is earmarked for; we have money put aside for clothes, maternity leave, baby stuff or our 3-6-month emergency fund. Once we are past the amount set aside for “Life Happens” then tough choices have to be made.

Making the Deep Cuts.

The problem with living on such a tight budget is that there is not much in the budget to cut out. I have been very open before about our low-income and tight budget. Honestly, I am more frugal than I even usually let on here. You know that we have only taken a vacation once in the past 7 years but did you know our entertainment budget is approximately $4 a month? I buy myself books from the 25 cent rack of the local bookstore and my kids occasionally are allowed to puck something out from the dollar store. We also get a drink from the gas station every few months- that is the extent of our “Eating Out” budget. As I once joked on Instagram, my whole life is a no-spend diet. I am saying this not to get pity or sympathy but to explain why “cutting something out” is not really an option and when I have to cut something- it’s a deep cut that hurts. Really hurts.

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