how to adopt a frugal mindset

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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?

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Showing 20 comments
  • Joanna
    Reply

    Love this Jodi. We’re big envelope recyclers – having regular parcels arrive from family overseas helps to keep us in supply! And I don’t think I’ve bought new wrapping paper in years (the kids’ paintings and old drawings often get used as wrapping). I’m also mending more, drinking coffee at home rather than at cafes and making my own lunch to take to work (a batch of grains on a sunday lasts a few days with bits and pieces chucked in).
    Have you been watching the War on Waste? Frightening.
    http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/war-on-waste/DO1624H001S00

    • Jodi
      Reply

      Yes, I’ve been watching and I’m aghast! The recycling rules outlined last night were an eye opener, weren’t they! x

      • Ronnie
        Reply

        What were they, Jodi?

        • Jodi
          Reply

          …basically that every council has different rules re: what exactly can be recycled. And I had no idea that the lids of milk bottles, mineral water bottles etc need to be removed before the bottle can go in the recycling bin (the lids need to go in the garbage bin) x

  • Kate
    Reply

    Another great post. Thanks Jodie.
    I have made many small changes over the years, but feel as though I’ve slipped back in some areas and am feeling a bit worn down by the relentlessness of dragging my family along. I’ve been watching the war on waste too and it has been the kick I needed to get back to and even increase my Frugal and environmental habits.
    Cheers Kate

  • Filipa
    Reply

    Hi, Jodi. I’ve been following your journey for a long time and always love to read your down to earth insights. I’ve never commented before, because writing in English doesn’t come easy for me. Please bear with me. I live in Portugal with my two kids and I’m a slow, simple living enthusiast. I’ve even started blogging about it almost 2 years ago. Kind of a conversation with myself – recording and sharing steps towards a mindful life. Anyway, I’ve never thought of the word frugal, though I try to be smart in where and how I spend my resources and mindful about how my consumer habits impact nature and other people life. For that, I take inspiration mostly from my elders, my time with them, mostly when I was a child. These days, I meal plan according to my pantry stock (I shop for it once a month at a local bulk shop) and the produce delivery I get weekly from a small bio farmers coop. I also used to a fresh bun for my breakfast everyday and save the paper bag for picnic, but recently switched for a cloth napkin I always keep in my purse. I stopped buying kitchen paper, paper napkins and paper tissues too. There are many ways I can improve and a lot of times I fail. But that’s life. About adopting a greener mindset, I always keep in mind that no one can do it all, but we all can do something. xx

  • Lauretta
    Reply

    Hi Jodi,
    I’m currently on maternity leave and just adore your blog and philosophies on simple living! It’s such a calming place to come and learn about simple living amongst a world of ‘stuff’ and materialism. I’m trying to become more frugal although I have a long way to go and a lot to learn, I’m planning on attempting the month long meal plan this weekend… thank you for your inspiration.
    Lauretta

  • Kami
    Reply

    Hi Jodi,
    I too have been thinking with a more frugal mindset and reducing waste (also watching War on Waste). I also bought a whole chicken on sale, made a broth with it, gave half away to a sick friend and fed my 3 kids with the other half by adding mini tortellini. Then I have used the poached chicken for school sandwiches. I’ve been collecting all food scraps and taking them to my mother in law’s chickens twice a week and shopping without plastic bags, just loading 10 apples, bunch of bananas etc into my pram basket or trolley as is. Much to the dismay of retail assistants who ask “are you sure you don’t need a bag for that?” I’m always thinking “Kon Marie” mindset to reduce clutter in the house, ebaying and giving away items and ‘shopping’ out of the pantry and freezer.

  • Kat
    Reply

    For me, it is usually the lack of time that makes for the best frugal decisions. I find it easier and faster to rummage through my endless craft supplies than go out and make what I need than to get dressed, possibly dress the kids also (4 yo twins) and go to the store to buy whatever it is. Added bonus to making my own is that I always involve the kids in the process (if they are interested, and they always are!) so this way they too are learning valuable lessons in making things and a mindset of self-sufficiency. Triple win! One drawback to this approach, however, is that it doesn’t go well together with minimalist living – you need to keep things you ‘d otherwise have thrown out, so you can find a use for them in the future. I tend to keep odd things for a couple of months, and if I don’t find a use for them then I let them go. It is fun to always try and think creatively about new uses for things. Enjoy the process (and the benefits)!

    • Tania
      Reply

      Yes Kat that’s precisely what I was thinking – how to match a frugal mindset with a minimalist mindset – two such mindsets which I am currently exploring and finding great interest in. The balance of keeping the clutter at bay, but hanging onto things to possibly repurpose them…a work in progress for me for sure 🙂

  • Claire Guisebert
    Reply

    Hi Jodi. I’m a longtime reader who comes here to get a break from the hectic rest of the Internet. I’ve really enjoyed the privilege of watching your sweet family grow and your insights into life, and I have a big question for you. I’m struggling with the dilemma of whether to grow our family of four into a family of five, and my main concern is the planet’s capacity to cope with yet more people. I find that life with two kids is filled with everything BUT simplicity (for us it’s constant calculations and strategizing and busyness), but I can cope with that! I’m just not sure that Mother Earth can cope with us. The ultimate simple choice under the planet’s circumstances would seem to be to limit family size, so what are some of the rational thoughts that have allowed you to create a large family and not consider it an unfair strain on the planet’s resources? I’m struggling. I love babies! I want a big family!

    Thanks,
    Claire

    • Jodi
      Reply

      Ah yes, the decision to grow our family has been criticised by a few trolls (whom I promptly blocked) but I completely understand what you’re saying. The only thing I can say in response to your question is that if we raise our children with awareness and pass on skills, environmental consciousness and a desire to live well yet frugally, perhaps our children will be the answer…

      • Kate
        Reply

        I have 4 children and that has always been my sentiment too Jodi.
        Mine are young adults now and I see them being much better stewards of this planet than I was at their age.

      • Claire Guisebert
        Reply

        Sorry to hear that you got trolled over this. Actually hard to believe that you have trolls at all! I think it’s a discussion-worthy topic and a lot of people seem to be talking about it these days, but the decision is ultimately entirely personal (and usually very nuanced). No easy answers these days.

    • Amy
      Reply

      I personally chose to stop at 2 children for a million reasons including this one but I feel like I have to say that not having the number of children that you feel is right for your family is a really huge sacrifice. Everyone has things that they’re not willing to sacrifice for the sake of the planet and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for family size to be one of them. And who knows what a world where every single human in it is from a 1 or 2 kid family would really be like.

      I am very aware of how difficult this decision is, best of luck!

  • Cynthia
    Reply

    I keep my canvas tote bags in the car so I always have them for shopping. Here in Seattle, plastic bags are outlawed and there is a charge for paper. I haven’t bought paper towels or paper napkins in three decades and find dish towels, tea towels, and cotton napkins to work just fine. When my dish towels and tea towels get too dingy, they move to the rag bin for cleaning. I read 100+ books per year and 100% of them I order from the library. Ditto for movies. While these things are habit, I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head Jodi by seeking frugality in new ways on a daily basis. I find it fun and my husband and I often brag to each other about how we “got our F on” which is how we refer to a penny-pinching move. Frugality for the win!

  • Nicole
    Reply

    I love making envelopes. Lately I’ve made them from old calendars – pretty! For me, the process is two fold: I’m reusinganc upcycling paper, and I’m being crafty. With a four year old, two year old and five week old I have very few chances to create. Making four or so envelopes in a moment of calm helps me feel like I’ve done something just for me. And I think that’s important

  • Ronnie
    Reply

    Jodi, you inspired me to save the carcass from our roast chicken on Saturday and make chicken soup with it on Sunday following your recipe. DELICIOUS, and so satisfying to use the one chicken for two meals. Thank you for your constant inspiration, Jodi. Thinking of you and bubba.
    Ronnie xo

  • Helen L
    Reply

    Hi Jodi … so good to see you with this richer mind set …. I try to make everything from scratch ( and scratch includes lots of recycles … envelopes, ribbons, art and craft supplies, fabric etc. etc. ). I bake my own food, make my own bread at a fraction of the cost of ready bought. In my garden I let my parsley, rocket and beans etc. go to seed or collect the tastiest tomato seeds for next years growth …. so many seeds at no cost and I can also give them away! Worn towels eventually become cleaning cloths….
    Not only is a frugal life less expensive it also short circuits the costly preservative laden products that are not beneficial for our health. You are on a rich new journey … keep it up!
    Garnet Fleuri https://garnetfleuri.wordpress.com

  • Reply

    I set myself a “Pantry Challenge” and try to use only what’s left in the pantry, fridge and freezer, only buying fresh produce to add to it if I really need it. It saves money and reduces waste 🙂 I read somewhere that 1 out of 3 grocery bags from the average weekly shop goes to waste and that’s way too much if you ask me.

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