The Frugal Family Blog

Can you have a family, pay off a house, grow your net worth and still find room for extras? Follow my frugal and tightwad approach to squeezing the most from our dollars and cents.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Inspirational Stories

Dawn at Frugal for Life recently linked to some stories at Thrifty Fun which highlighted how some people started down the frugal pathway.

To me being frugal has a sense of rightness.  I believe in the economical use of all precious resources, and I think we can all agree that money is certainly a hard to come by resource.  Not that I mean that in a coveting sense, money sure does help things along, and it is easy to be blase when you have enough to feed and house the family. I would rather shop wisely and donate something to charity than blithely spend at the supermarket fattening corporate pockets

Some of my favourites are listed below, and I guess they reflect my own values about thriftiness. 

Lessons learned at the farmers markets

Finding Small Luxuries

You Don't Need A Financial Windfall To Start Saving Money

Tips From A Save-o-holic

Reflecting On The Lean Years

Here's To Thrifty Living

I Longed for A Simpler Lifestyle

Decluttering Started Me Down the Road Towards Frugality

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Hate Waste!

Tonight is bin night which is the night I clean out the fridge.  I hate tossing food it represents two things I hate - bad management and wasting money.

Renovations have begun so we were a little disorganise with a lot of running around before and after work.  That meant we weren't as vigilant as usual about taking leftovers to work or using them in easy meals through the week.

All in all we didn't do too badly.  I tossed about 200g of vanilla yoghurt, 1/4 of a lamington, two chicken legs that had been Chicken Chasseur , a limp bit of lettuce and the end of a block loaf of bread (which I save for my 101 adventure below).

This gave me cause to ponder on all the good things that can be salvaged which might otherwise go straight in the trash.

Determined to cement the  "Reduce, Reuse, Recyle" concept into our food management I began compiling a list of uses for stale bread - can I make it to 101 (Darling Girl's favourite number)?

101 Uses for Stale Bread - Part 1

  1. Feed the ducks - a doubly great option as you get a virtually free outing with the kids
  2. Toasted sandwiches
  3. The standard - make breadcrumbs. Soft breadcrumbs can be used in meatloaves and rissoles
  4. Dry breadcrumbs can be used for coating or stuffings
  5. French Toast
  6. Croutons - homemade as so superior to storebought which taste of staleness and rancid oil. Cube some bread without crusts, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and bake in a moderate oven 10-20 minutes. Watch after 10 minutes or else you'll be left with burnt toast. You can really liven these up with flavourings to suit what they'll be used in . Try garlic, oregano, french mustard - whatever
  7. Garlic bread - no need to have a french stick on hand, simply rub sliced bread with a cut clove of garlic and grill
  8. Thickening soups and stews
  9. Toasted crumbs for "poor mans Parmesan"
  10. Milk and Bread - this comes from an old 60's cookbook and I plan to try it for breakfast.  Warm some milk, add sugar to taste and pour over cubed bread.  I thought I could perk it up a little with cinnamon and sultanas.

One persons Trash is anothers Treasure

I have been putting good use to our food scraps of late.  My sister recently got chooks which have started laying.  By donating our food rubbish we gain roughly a dozen eggs a week.

Since I like to buy antibiotic free, free range eggs, this can save me anything from $2.20 (from the local weekly Trash n Treasure Markets), or around $6 from Coles. 

I think its a good trade.

Yearly saving around $100

Friday, October 13, 2006

Save Now, Pay Later Hurts Home Owners

Zero Fees End Up Costing Home Buyers
The Australian --- Page: 31 : 7 October 2006 Original article by Anna Fenech

The Australian highlighted a startling ignorance in new home loan borrowers. The mistake they make could make around $A18,000 difference over the life of a $A500,000 loan

A recent survey by Infochoice of Australians who had just bought a house or had plans to do so revealed a lack of financial literacy which will cost them dearly in the years to come.

Of the 830 Australians surveyed only 15% preferred the cheapest loan structure, involving a $A1,500 application fee and a lower interest rate. Meanwhile, 30% chose the most expensive deal, with a zero application fee and a higher interest rate.

InfoChoice general manager Dennis Orrock says financial institutions are well aware of, and capitalise on, this consumer tendency to opt for short-term benefits.

So, if you are considering a new mortgage, it is money in the bank to research, research, research!!! One of the handiest calculators I came across allowed for direct comparison of two loans with options for ongoing monthly mortgage account fees. Check it out at eChoice (nb I am in no way affiliated with eChoice, I don't even have a loan through them)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Frugal Finds and What We Wasted

I don’t buy bread with Preservative 282 in it (check out the food nasties at Sue Dengates site Fed Up With Food Additives )

That can make buying bread quite expensive. Luckily we have a baker who has a “Happy Hour” where bread, pies and other baked goodies are reduced to $1.10.

I nabbed five loaves of bread to freeze for $5.50 – saving us around $8.50. I also stopped in to a suburban supermarket which was on my way back to work from a lunch with Dad. I was able to get two 3 litre cartons of milk for $5.00. Coles price is $3.52 each , so another saving of $2.05

So, today’s smart shopping savings $10.55.

However, we have promised the kids fish and chips in the park for dinner. Takeaway is not my favourite thing, and certainly not the best way to get ahead financially!

Dinner and drinks cost us $26.05. Adding the drinks and tomato sauce that we could have picked up with a small detour to home cost us $10.50 of this.

Frugal Wins $10.55
Silly Splurges $10.50
Nett savings $0.05

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Just How Many Clothes Do Kids Need

My inaugral post is about something I've always struggled with. Just how much is enough clothing for a child in one season?

Even before I fell pregnant I had savvy family members passing on baby clothing to me. They, more experienced than I, realised the phenomenal rate at which babies grow and how quickly that can chew up any clothing allowance you have set. I went mad with Darling Girl and shopped new for cute little outfits which she outgrew at a strapping rate. My baby wasn't going to wear second hand stuff! But reality bit her well dressed behind - clothing children can be a huge ongoing cost.

I switched to more frugal alternatives. Op shops provided sporadic finds once they grew out of baby clothes. Ebay prooved intermitantly successful, but postage often turned a bargain price into something I wouldn't pay at retail. Garage sales provided a richer harvest and if I lucked onto the right venue, I might easily walk away with bags and bags of good-as-new outfits for one or two dollara a-piece.

So from hand-me-downs and frugal purchases I gradually accumulate quite a bit of clothing for each season. I store them in labelled suitcases and when seasons begin to change I sort through them looking for gaps I need to fill.

You don't even want to know how much Darling Girl has! We have a neice not too many sizes bigger so we have tonnes of stuff from there, and girls clothes just seem to crop up more often at secondhand sources. I think maybe they are not as tough on them so they come through untorn, unstained and unmarked.

This season Little Man needed T shirts to fill out the shorts, singlets and pants we had aquired. I went on a day trip last Sunday with Dad to another nearby town popular for its Sunday Markets. Here I found a great second hand clothes store where I bought 9 T shirts and 2 pairs of shorts for a total of $30. If I had shopped retail at the low end of the market, I might typically have paid $9 for shorts and $11 for shorts. So my near new looking finds at retail would have cost $103. The brands I did buy were mainly Pumpkin Patch and licensed Ts like Bob the Builder and Spiderman.

That leaves Little Man with 15 Ts for summer and 7 pairs of shorts. I will still need to source one pair of good pants to go with two hand-me-down collared shirts and he has all but grown out of his runners.

But here is the question - did I buy too many clothes simply because of the price? Would I have still bought 9 T-shirs if I had been buying retail, or would I have rationalised a four year old boys clothing needs down to a lesser number. I can justify the quantity by the low purchase price.

I wonder if I over buy to satisfy some deeper urge to "have". Do I feel richer when I open the drawers and they are bursting with clothes? Maybe.

This need to aquire must be dampened lest I create a rod for my own back. There may come a time when Darling Girl and Little Man are no longer satisfied with my frugal finds. Perhaps, accustomed to the bulging drawers they will plead for an equal quantity of new "Brand X" or whatever the raging teen trend is at the time.

My new strategy will be based on numbers rather than dollars. While I will maintain my frugal shopping, I will tame it with a budget set on quantity.