Frugal Living: Doing more with less

A big part of frugal living is not only saving money, but finding ways to do more with what you already have. We are so used to running out and buying something new as the need arises. But how many of us will actually stop and think ‘what do I have that I could use instead of buying another…?’

It really is a shift in mindset. Especially when we are busy, it is easier to solve a problem with money, then to spend time trying to find a creative solution. When reorganizing my office this week, I realized that the small bookcase I bought at Canadian Tire 10 years ago had finally had it. I started automatically thinking about what I could replace it with, and how much it would cost.  As I put the books away, I started thinking ‘maybe I don’t really need to replace the bookcase – what would happen if I just moved a few things around?’

In the end, I decided not to replace it, and instead reduce some of the things I had that I didn’t need anymore to free up a bit of space.

Another area where we can ‘do with what we have’ is in the dinner department. How many times do we instinctively go to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner? There are lots of things that can be made on the fly (pasta with sauce, 15 minute veggie chili, and grilled cheese just to name a few) and you will rarely get out of the grocery store for under $30 for a single ‘dinner items’ trip.

We recently installed wood floors in a couple of the rooms in our home. On a recent trip to the store, I went looking at the mops to see if I could find one that would clean the dust off the new floors. I looked at the Swiffers. They were an initial investment of $15 for the mop (plus tax), then you have to buy a bunch of refills to go with it ($10 a box). So each time I dusted the floors, it would cost me $0.60 for the dusters (one for each room), and that’s not factoring in the cost of the mop to begin with.  I got thinking about how else I could keep these floors dust-free, and wondering why I couldn’t strap a regular cloth to my steam mop (not plugged in) and use that. I could wash the rags and re-use them again; I already had the steam mop, and I could lightly mist the rag to help the dust stick (damp mopping – a lost art since the introduction of the Swiffer and other gadgets). Problem solved – I left the store that day without buying anything.

Look at the piles of things that go into the charity pile at your house. How much money do these things represent, and at the time you purchased them, how many of them did you feel you couldn’t live without? Before you buy something, ask yourself if there is anything else that you could use instead. Kitchen items are a big one – I have bought a lot of gadgets over the years, and many of those I regret now. Not only did they take up space, but at the end of the day, I didn’t really need them. Think back to how your  Mother and your Grandmother cooked – they didn’t require rice cookers, pastry cutters, mushroom slicers, etc. A pot and  knife will accomplish most kitchen tasks.

Try thinking twice about all of your purchases for two weeks. Before something goes on the list, ask yourself if there is anything else that can do the same job as what you are about to buy. You will be surprised at how many things you CAN live without.

Hi – this is Alexander, from Alexander’s Corner. You should use what you have, instead of buying new things. This is information that can save dozens of dollars!