how to adopt a frugal mindset


Following on from my simple living post last week, I thought it best to tell you a little bit about my frugal mindset (which is, safe to say, an ever evolving, one-step-forward-two-steps-back kinda thing).

You see, this morning Daniel called me from work to ask me for something or another and while chatting I told him that I was sitting in a cafe after just visiting the post office. I had a few things to send off and instead of purchasing new plastic packaging at a hefty price I fashioned two envelopes out of a parcel we had received the week before and fastened them with a bit of tape from the craft cupboard. It wasn’t neat or particularly pretty but it did the job.

Why is this worth telling you? Well, because the tale of these two envelopes is a new one.

A few months ago I wouldn’t have kept the envelope from the parcel that had arrived on my doorstep. And I wouldn’t have had the desire or inclination to rifle through the laundry cupboard looking for old packages that Daniel had stashed away to be used “one day”. And I most definitely wouldn’t have carved out the time to look through the cupboard, get out the scissors and the tape, and make my very own envelopes knowing I was saving money and plastic.

But something has shifted in this head of mine and with it has emerged forethought. Forethought is a wonderful way to minimise consumption and an absolutely essential part of frugal living. But as with all types of thoughts it comes and goes and requires a little bit of time and energy to stay active. You need to keep forethought focussed otherwise it falls prey to the all-powerful convenience. And as we all know, convenience is never cheap and rarely frugal.

Personally, there’s been a few motivating factors that have helped to develop my frugal mind: the dire state of the earth, Australia’s ever-worsening waste issues, my bank balance, a desire to live simply and with less stuff, valuing resourcefulness and finding happiness in less work and slower days.

As a little reminder when interest or enthusiasm wanes, I’ve been keeping a little list of decisions I’ve made and things I’ve done that take me one step closer to a full-time frugal mindset (still a very long way off). This week the list includes the envelopes and:

  • chicken curry was on my meal plan but instead of buying chicken breasts I bought a whole chook (cheaper than the breasts), poached it in the slow cooker, removed the meat and added it to the curry pot, placed the carcass back in the slow cooker and proceeded to make broth overnight, using up the celery leaves and soft carrots in the process.
  • I opted to shop the seeds from my mum and dad’s garden rather than spent twenty (or so) dollars at the nursery on seedlings. Came home with pumpkin and rocket, too.
  • refused to replace my broken pepper mill and have been grinding peppercorns in my mortar + pestle instead. Rather satisfying.

See, they’re just little things! But…collectively they start to form a frugal mindset that does, without doubt, filter through to every aspect of my day.

How have you been frugal this week?