One of the things I’d like to do this year is to live a little more frugally. After taking even the briefest look at our household finances it’s obvious that we have found ourselves in a situation where far too much money is being wasted on unimportant luxuries. Lockdown taught us to appreciate the simpler things in life, but are we ready to let go of the extras? I decided to make small but effective changes to my spending habits which will positively influence both my bank account and the environment, if done right. I’ve done a quick list of 11 small changes that I think will help me in the coming year. Why not see if you can implement one or two of your own?
1. Clothing Ban
I have a lot of clothes. Far more than I really need, including some that don’t fit. Some that have actually never fit! Just after Christmas I bought 4 tops from Asda in the sale but subsequently decided that I will be implementing a twelve month ban on clothes buying for myself from here on in. I can’t see it being a problem since I have so much in my wardrobe, but we’ll see. If it goes well, I might just extend the ban!
2. Make Do and Mend
I can be quite wasteful when things become unfit for purpose or break. Rather than try to get things fixed I am sometimes too quick to just throw them away. So from now on, if there’s a tear in the tablecloth I shall sew it, or when I find myself with an assortment of odd socks they will become sock puppets or put to other good use. Perhaps broken toys could be dismantled in the name of home education, or a run down piece of furniture could be upcycled or repaired.
3. Reduce Food Waste
We do waste a lot of food. This year I’m determined to make my own compost because we have an allotment and there’s really no reason I shouldn’t be composting already. So all the food waste that so lazily gets chucked into the bin now goes into our compostables bag. I’ve got a container on the way to make a cheap compost bin and I really hope I can make that work. With this approach, I will be able to reduce our food waste, and reduce spending on ready made compost too.
4. Reduce Spending on Convenience Food
Turns out we have a lot of takeaways in our house. But what is so good about them? Sure it’s less work, but since it takes about an hour for takeaway food to be delivered, shouldn’t I just chuck some pasta in a pan and be feeding the family within 20 minutes instead? Is it a real hardship to cook every night? Well actually sometimes yes, it does feel like a bit of a hardship! So with that in mind, I will endeavour to have some easy freezer meals ready for the oven for those days when time just runs away with me and I would usually reach for the takeaway menu.
5. Be Prepared
Another food based change. We spend a lot of money on quick-fix lunches and school dinners. If we made a packed lunch for each person in the house every day, not only would we save time and money but we may well eat a little healthier too. Subway or a McDonald’s is easy to grab when the kids are asking for it, but being prepared with snacks and a picnic lunch will make it easier to say no. A bag of chicken nuggets and frozen chips does the job just as well, and for little ones you can even make it into a role play game. They can take your order and serve your meal – but sadly for you, you’re probably still going to have to actually cook it!
6. Growing Our Own Food
We were given an allotment just one year ago and although we did grow a few items last year, we weren’t able to make the most of it really. This year I’m determined to maximise the little plot we have, as well as utilise next doors greenhouse since the neighbour has generously said we are free to share it with him. Of course, in return I shall share the meals we make!
7. Cut Down on Subscriptions
We have TV subscriptions to Netflix, Disney Plus, Now TV, Curiosity Stream and probably more that I’ve forgotten about. Oh, a subscription for EJ’s Kids Kindle and storage costs for Google, iCloud etc for almost everyone’s device. It’s quite ridiculous. These are going to need to be heavily streamlined. Some are pay monthly which I can cancel or downgrade, and some are annual subs which I can just not renew as the year passes by. Overall, this should save us a fair bit of cash.
8. Frugal Gifting
Christmas costs a fortune because we buy into the commercialisation. We’re not even followers of Christianity so it’s a bit crackers really. I love Christmas for the festive feels, for the sense of joy people emanateduring those few weeks, and for the joy on my children’s faces come 25th December. But what I don’t like is my compulsion to overspend, to keep up with the Jones’ and to feel the need to buy expensive gifts.
I love our large family, but large families can make Christmas costly. This year, all the adults we buy for will be receiving hand made gifts from us, and making this decision now gives us time to facilitate that – maybe even learn new skills! The same will apply to birthdays, and what’s more is that if someone has put in the time and effort to make something personal to you, it should carry that extra sentiment with it.
9. Reducing Energy Consumption
“It’s like Blackpool Illuminations in here!”
If you grew up Northern, you’ll have heard this many times. Small, mindful changes such as switching lights off when you leave a room or adding draught excludes to the bottoms of doors can reduce those energy bills here and there. Those small savings add up! That’s not to say you must live in candle lit rooms – be comfortable, not wasteful. And still do as you please! We don’t have a tumble dryer, but we do have a hot tub. It’s about choice.
10. Explore Cheaper Entertainment
Living a more frugal life doesn’t mean staying in and doing nothing. Nature has EVERYTHING you need to enjoy a day out. Dress appropriately, and go prepared, and you’ll never have a bad day out in nature. One membership we shall be keeping is our National Trust Family Membership. It works out at around £10 per month and even one day out each month means we can explore new places for next to nothing. Plus, we’ll be outdoors for much of that time which is precisely where we love to be.
11. Holiday for Less
We won’t be travelling abroad this year for a couple of reasons. One being that there are likely to be travel restrictions in place depending on how this and other countries are coping with Covid-19. The other reason is that we adopted a dog from Romania late last year and we are not ready to leave her to go on holiday. She’s had enough trauma in her short life so far so I’m sure we can afford her the time she needs to settle properly into our family. More on her later in the week! We have one UK holiday booked in Spring, and will hopefully be camping over the summer too, but the dogs can come with us. Camping is a far cheaper way to see our beautiful country than many other stay-cation options. Also, Brits are avid campers so there are plenty of campsites to choose from!
So those are 11 ways I’m hoping to save money during 2021 – do you have any suggestions as to what I could add to my list?