The last Monday of the school year (back in June), after I dropped the kids at their respective schools, I went to Target. I bought curtains. Now, for those who either know me in real life, or I’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that prior to blogging full-time, one of the jobs I had in the past was a historical costumer. So I know how to sew.
Why did I buy curtains? I’m frugal.
Let me explain. I got really nice curtains for each kid kids bedroom. They are 63 inches long, they are black-out curtains meaning that they are treated with white plastic that once the curtains are closed at no light filters through. Each curtain panel was $11. So for two sets of curtains, they cost after taxes about $46. Which is decent. I could not walk into a fabric store and buy all the supplies I need it for two sets of curtains for the same amount of money.
For $46, I saved myself about two hours’ worth of measuring, cutting, and sewing. Plus a trip to the fabric store. For those of you who have been to a fabric store lately, you know how dangerous it is once you get in there. So many new ideas, craft supplies, cool fabric. And I try to have willpower, but I do love to make things.
I could have in theory found cheap fabric either at the fabric store or at Walmart, or I could’ve even gone to a thrift store and look for fabric, or old sheets. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted something that looked nice I wanted something or I wouldn’t have to spend hours getting something done just to save a few bucks. And that’s the difference between being cheap, and being frugal.
Everyone’s heard the old adage “Time is money“. And it’s true. Even though I may work at home, it doesn’t mean that my time is not worth anything. When I do paying gigs, no matter what they are, I won’t take them if I feel that my time is not being compensated well enough. And for this, new curtain project, I felt that $46 was well spent.
Now I know not everyone has extra money lying around to do whatever project that is looming on your horizon. There are other ways you can flex your frugal muscles.
- If it’s a sewing project, you can go through your fabric stash if you have one, you can find coupons online for fabric if you wanna make your own project.
- Look online and see if there are discounts available or deals or sales on whatever your project item is.
- Check your local buy nothing group online.
- Hit up your local thrift store. I have gotten many good pairs of sheets sets, bedding, and even curtains at thrift stores. A lot of people change out their curtains every year and wash and donate their “old“ curtains to a thrift store. My bedroom curtains came from the Goodwill in my town. And I paid less than $10 for both of the curtains. And they’re beautiful and I love them.
Prior to hitting up Target, for the past month, I’d kept my eyes open anytime I went out to a thrift store, or when I was out shopping to see if there were curtains that were perfect for our needs. I was not successful. So instead of continuing the search even longer for something secondhand, I bit the bullet and spent $46. Because to me, getting a project done and checked off my to-do list for $46, was worth it. I didn’t need to keep going to thrift stores every week, trying to find the perfect set of curtains or the perfect fabric.
Frugality versus cheapness is something that goes beyond purchasing home goods. Let’s look at groceries. I know back in the heyday of couponing, a lot of people would go from store to store to store to stock up on deals and bargains. I will admit that back before I had kids I would do that. Because I had lots of free time. But now that I have two kids, my free time is limited.
And couponing is not what it used to be. So I shop at the same stores every week. Unless something is free, I tend not to deviate from my usual shopping. I shop at three stores. Which, seems like a lot, however, two of the stores are in the same shopping center, right next-door to each other. And I buy specific stuff at each store because it’s the only place to find what I want within my budget. So every week I head to $.99 only, Grocery Outlet, and usually Food 4 Less.
We get our CSA box every week for $25. And it’s an amazing deal. It saves me both time in that I don’t have to try to go to two or three grocery stores that have decent produce to find exactly what I want, and it saves me money. A $25 produce box has everything we need for the entire week. And I am able to use what is in that box to plan my weekly menu. We seldom have waste from our CSA box. And what we don’t eat by the end of the week just gets rolled over into the next week. In the past, I was spending half or more of a grocery budget each week on produce, and half the time it was too much, and it will go bad or I would have to stash it in the freezer. I still stash veggies and fruit in the freezer, but not to such a large extent.
Another thing that for me is frugal but not cheap is Dream Dinners. Granted, Dream Dinners can cost upwards of $250 plus a month for a minimum order. And that’s either 12 dinners that serve 2 to 3 people each or six large dinners that are for 4 to 6 people each. I like Dream Dinners because from the time you start cooking to the time dinner is on the table it’s 45 minutes or less in most cases.
And there are times when I’ve had a long day and it’s just been so crazy that I don’t want to cook. But instead of going through the drive-through, ordering a pizza, I can just pull out one of our dream dinners and have food that’s ready to eat in 45 minutes or less. There are no difficult directions, and the food is always delicious. And one order with 12 medium meals is enough for a month for us.
I tend to use them on nights where I know that I’m going to want something that’s quick, something that’s easy. Dream Dinners are cheaper than take out for our family. If I was to do take out 2 to 3 times a week every month that would be upwards of $600. That’s based on an average of what we usually order when we get takeout.
These are just a few examples of how I am frugal. Obviously, these may not be the ways that you save time vs. doing it the cheapest way. Everyone has ways that saves time and money, and I’d love to hear from you!