Getting my frugal on!

“The cost of living” has become part of the daily discussion in Australia.  Everyday items like petrol, insurance, utilities, rates and food seem to be at all-time highs. Thankfully the mortgage interest rates are low at the moment, but I do feel for renters – rent doesn’t appear to be letting up at all.

I’m always looking for ways to save money, but sometimes convenience, poor planning, lack of time and plain ignorance get the better of us.  When the baby gets here and we collapse down to one wage – all of that has got to change.  I’ve got to get more frugal, big time.

We already do a bunch of things to save money, and have installed stuff like solar hot water and improved the thermal insulation in the house to save on the cost of utilities.   We grow many things in the garden and preserve the excess, cook nearly all meals from scratch, we’ve started making home-made gifts, and pay extra on the mortgage to lower the interest.  So, what else can we do?


I recently borrowed “Possum Living” by Dolly Freed from the library.  She takes frugal living to the next level, and the level after that.   Dolly wrote this book when she was just 18, which contains practical advice stemming from her experiences as a teenager, living with her father on combined household income of about $1,500 a year (in 1978).  It was a fascinating read and I’m still sorting out which of the ideas I’ll take on board.

One of the things I’d like to do generally is expand on my skills.  Our car is coming up for its next service, and I’ve teed it up with my brother-in-law to teach me how to service the thing so I can file a divorce between myself and the service department at the car dealership.  My wife has also volunteered to start cutting my hair, which I really like the idea of, but I might wait until after I leave work – just in case the scissors slip.

Does anyone else have ideas that generally aren’t described in the standard lists of “25 ways to save money”?


12 thoughts on “Getting my frugal on!

  1. livingsimplyfree

    I am new to your blog so I’m not sure what all you have incorporated into your life as of yet. I would love to hear what you think of Possum Living as I thought to pick it up a few times, but there are so many negative comments I wonder if it’s worth reading.

    Here are probably the biggest household costs. Household chores are cheaper when you eliminate commercial cleaners and use vinegar and baking soda, and completely safe around a baby. Stop buying paper. Cut up old clothing and sheets to use for rags rather than paper towels. have you considered public transportation rather than your car for most trips that could save you plenty. Depending on your insurance company, if you drive less than a certain number of miles you can get a discount on your rate. It seems to me you have all the big items covered well. Good luck with the transition to one income.

  2. ethicalliving2013

    Be very careful not to buy too much for the baby. A lot of people buy so many unnecessary things such as bath and room thermometers (can’t they just stick their fingers in the bath and judge if its too hot?!), monitors (unless you live in a mansion you will hear the baby when it needs to be heard and you do not need to hear every single noise they make), toys (the world is NEW to them and they do not need any more stimulation than that and the parents) and the list goes on and on. I assume that you and your wife will think twice before you buy and buy pre-loved as much as you can but it’s easy to become victims of the baby hysteria that is imposed on new parents. Just saying 🙂

    1. dixiebelle

      Great comment! There used to be a great Baby & Kids market here in Canberra, I am not sure if it still running, always good bargains. Of course you’ll check the Allclassifieds, get hand me downs, try Freecycle or the Canberra Buy & Sell facebook page too.

    2. ethicalliving2013

      Oh, and you will save thousands by taking your own baby photos 🙂 Being so clever with the camera you should take photos for others too, maybe in exhange for products/produce or services?

    3. suburbandigs Post author

      My wife and I loved your comment on the baby stuff, we’re right with you – it’s just ridiculous. We went into one of the major baby franchise stores and were presented with a check list titled “new mum must haves!” that listed 134 different products with a little check box beside each item so you could tick them off as they went into the trolley. My favourite? – A nappy wipes warmer!

    4. Karen

      Can I just put in a justification for the baby monitor – we’ve found it really useful to have one so that while the toddler is asleep we can run outside and out of earshot to do gardening chores that would take foreeeeever with ‘help’. On the other hand, we appreciated getting one second-hand from neighbours, and when that broke, we replaced it with a basic sound monitor. Unless you’ve got medical issues to worry about, the video/vital signs/etc/etc ones seem to be a bit over the top.

  3. dixiebelle

    You need a turtle soup recipe? I watched a Youtube of Dolly & her Dad, they caught a turtle to make soup.

    I just cut my own hair, with the help of my husband, and my super sharp sewing scissors. Luckily for me, I wear it back in a short ponytail most of the time. You might want to invest in a funky beret, beanie or panama styled hat.

    I think the biggest thing for people who *need* to start being more frugal is they need to change their perspectives. Being frugal can be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring, or that they’ll miss out on things. It is just a matter of being resourceful, creative and WILLING!

    TOP 5 Tips to Become More Frugal

    Establish your budgeting system
    Change your perspective on needs/ wants
    Reduce, Reuse, Repair
    When buying, buy quality and make it last
    Always ask yourself “How can I do it more frugally? Do I really need this?”

    TOP 5 Tips to a More Frugal Household

    Grow your own & Make your own
    Reduce energy usage, such as heating, cooling & lighting
    Maintain & Repair appliances
    Clean with basics, like vinegar and bicarb, essential oils and rags
    Try ‘no name’ items

    TOP 5 Tips to Eat More Frugally

    Eat Less Meat & Have No-Meat meals
    Get creative with staples
    Buy from local markets and In Season Specials
    Have “Sunday night meals” twice a week (or more)
    Reduce bought convenience foods (cook more from scratch)

    Those probably all list on the standard 25 things to do to save money. 😉

  4. Melinda

    My favourite frugal tips are and I tell anyone who will listen are use powdered milk (I use skim because it is lower in fat and cheaper than full cream) for all your cooking and if you like for drinking. My husband never thought he would get used to it but he did. It is also very convienent and you don’t run out of milk as it can be in the cupboard long term. I also shop at my local ‘flea market’ every Sunday and get there early and check out all the second hand goods. You would be surprised what people sell often unused. Awhile ago someone was selling a well known brand of toothpaste still in box for a lot less than even the generic brands. I buy all my fruit and vegetables from them and often soft cheeses close to the use by date very cheaply and freeze them until needed. I also walk for excercise around the neighbourhood and you would be surprised what you find lying on the ground. I also keep my eyes out for money in the local aldis, fast food places and a nearby pub. Last year I would have found a hundred dollars. I also collect alumimum cans and you don’t get much but it keeps me out walking and excercising as well. Of course with babies breast feed if you can and use cloth nappies at least some of the time.
    Thanks regards
    Melinda (first time reader of your blog and will continue)

  5. Toby Hartley

    If you haven’t already read the Mr Money Mustache blog, you may enjoy it. Lots of change of perspective to live differently.


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