This is a new series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I’ll be posting weekly(ish) about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
Note: There are affiliate links to the books, products, and services mentioned in this post.
I took my daughter’s baptism portraits myself
I’ve gotta say, buying a nicer DSLR camera (I own this one, if you’re curious) and developing my photography ability over the years has been one of the skills that has paid off hugely over time. For awhile, it paid off in the form of extra income since I had a little part-time photography business gig there for awhile, but lately, it’s continued to pay off in saving us from needing to hire photographers for important events or pay for school pictures or get good pictures to build up our flower farm’s presence on social media.
Truly, one of the best frugal things you can ever do is simply learn new skills.
My daughter is choosing to get baptized in the next few weeks (in my faith, people must wait until the age of at least 8 years old to be baptized), and I wanted to get some nice portraits of her in her special baptismal dress to have for the occasion. It took a bit of planning and extra preparation on my part, but we got so many beautiful pictures of her that I’m going to treasure forever. I’m so happy we took the time to just do it. (If you want to read more about baptism and my faith, you can check out this article.)
I’m curious – what are some of the best frugal skills that you’ve acquired?
I accepted food storage items from my sister that she didn’t need/want
A large part of living the frugal lifestyle is learning to graciously accept offerings of things you need that other people no longer want. It’s easiest to start within your own family, but this is a great way to build community as well. The fact is, most people really like feeling useful, helping others, and knowing that something they’re getting rid of will serve someone else (especially because it might help to relieve some of their own guilt at maybe having bought something in the first place that they really didn’t need!). So even though the first couple times of accepting free offers can be hard if you’re not used to it, it really is a great way to not only save money but also build relationships.
And of course, the giving goes both ways. Since I don’t want to be just someone who takes, I also try and make a point of turning around and giving away things that I don’t need, too. This last week, I had several things that we were just going to drop off at a donation center, but that I decided to offer for free to my community first, including two full bins of baby boy clothes (which we now know we won’t need since our last baby is a girl). I was able to give them away to a very young mom who’s expecting her first next month and who didn’t have anything. That felt really good! We also gave away eggs from our chickens (since we’re drowning in them right now and can’t keep up), as well as a dress to my niece that I’m hoping she can use.
A bit of a caveat with accepting free offers is if you accept once, you WILL get more offers in the future. This can be a great thing, but if you just blindly start accepting ALL offers, you will quickly start to drown under the sheer amount of stuff that will start coming into your house. Since we’ve been trying to minimize our possessions for the last decade, I try to be much more selective about what I say “yes” to. If I don’t have an obvious use NOW (or in the immediate future) for the item, I’ll usually turn it down and trust that if I did happen to need that item later on, another opportunity will open itself up. It’s a balancing act for sure.
I used Rakuten and my cash back credit card to get 5% cash back on a new dishwasher
My husband and I finally bit the bullet and bought a new dishwasher (our old one broke back in December, and we were told by a local appliance repair company that it likely wasn’t worth putting up all the money that the repair would cost). We did NOT go with the cheapest option by a long shot, which was intentional. One piece of financial/life advice I’ve tried to keep in mind is that in order to maximize your daily satisfaction, comfort, and happiness, you should intentionally spend the most money you can afford on the things that will make the most difference on a DAILY basis (think: good mattress, comfortable everyday shoes, a dishwasher) and much less money on the things you only use once in awhile.
Having gone the last four months without a dishwasher, I can confidently say it’s something I’m willing to spend good money on because it will free up at least an hour every single day for me (not to mention reduce my stress by about a million percent right now). We ended up going with a mid-level Bosch model that has fabulous ratings, and since we had a Bosch dishwasher in our last house that we LOVED, we’re confident going in that direction again.
I did want to at least save some money if I could though, so I ended up ordering it online so that I could go through Rakuten for cash back, and I also ended up purposely using one of my rewards credit cards to pay for it so that I could take advantage of the extra cash back that that would also give me. Between those two things, I ended up saving about $50.
We’ve been enjoying our favorite show free through our Roku
The only streaming service we subscribe to is Disney Plus, which was paid for as a Christmas gift for our kids by my dad and stepmom, and everything else we want to watch we either watch through DVDs we own or we take advantage of all the free programming available on our Roku device.
One of our absolute favorite shows to watch (and one of the very, very few shows we actually watch with new seasons coming out, period) is Relative Race, which you can stream for free through the BYUTv app on your Roku. We have loved this show about four teams who are racing to find unknown family members across the country (many of whom were adopted and don’t know who their biological families were, or who were separated from family at a very young age for whatever reason), and we have watched every single one of the episodes thus far. The fact we can stream it for free is just icing on the cake 🙂
We arranged for Matt to do a Telehealth visit via phone rather than an in-office consult
My husband needed to have a medical consultation through a doctor’s office that’s an hour and a half away (in the nearest big city), but since he didn’t actually need to submit a blood sample or anything similar, we asked if he could just do the initial consultation via phone rather than him needing to do a three hour round trip for a 10-minute consult visit in the office. The doctor was willing to comply with that, and it actually meant we could get in sooner since he scheduled it super early in the morning (at 7 a.m.!) before his normal office hours even started.
Anytime we can save a trip in to “the big city,” we save ourselves AT LEAST $25-40 in gas, not to mention a ton of time.
Other Frugal Wins:
- We accepted offerings of leftovers from both of our family’s Easter celebrations to take home
- We made the two hour drive (each way) on Sunday to visit our families for the holiday, and at both houses, we were offered leftovers from the Easter feasts, which we gladly took because we got home super late that night, which meant I didn’t have time to prep any kind of lunch for my husband to take to work on Monday. The leftovers gave me a super easy lunch option the next day for all of us.
- We went to a free church event happening in the next town over
- There was a traveling replica of the ancient tabernacle mentioned in the Old Testament that was visiting the town next to ours, so we took our family to get a tour and see what it probably looked like. I learned a ton, and the kids seemed to enjoy it too.
- Our family attended our city’s annual (free) Easter Egg Hunt, where my older son ended up winning one of their larger gift baskets
- We accepted hand-me-down clothes for our boys
- I used the Ibotta app to get cash back on one of my grocery store purchases
- I went through the bin of newborn baby girl clothes I’d kept to make sure I had everything we’ll need (and saw we should be fine on clothes for this new baby, other than maybe getting an inexpensive pack or two of long and short-sleeve newborn onesies since many of the ones from before had gotten chucked because they were so stained)
- It’s kind of been a pain to store so many clothes for so long, but I will say that it has saved us a TON of money over the years. We almost never need to buy clothing for our kids, and when we do, I just use my favorite credit card hack to get them basically for free. (I did a post all about saving money on clothing–especially kids clothing–that you can find HERE.)
- We used some Easter candy Matt got from work for Easter baskets
- I did buy candy for their baskets, but it was nice having more variety, especially as I bought less than in years past.
- I did a price comparison over the phone with my mom of something I was looking for for my daughter’s birthday, and she was able to get it much cheaper at a store by her (and I just paid her for it and got it from her later)
What are your frugal wins for the last week? And what are the skills you’ve developed that have saved you the most money over time?