So, where do I start? In March 2013 my husband left the Army behind and our little family was thrown into civilian life without any assistance, aid, or guidance. You may think, You’re grown ass adults, figure it out on your own, but let me tell you something…switching from military to civilian life is HARD. No more BAH (housing allowance), no more Tricare (no copays with insurance), no more discounts (which truthfully helped out a lot…but this is minor). My husband went from defending this country to making $9 an hour working in a warehouse. We took about an $1800 pay cut per month and we no longer had insurance (because we couldn’t afford it!).
Long story short, we lost our house, our car, we had to stay with my dad for months, and my husband switched jobs 3 times until he found his current one. Even though I have TWO degrees, I was either too qualified or I didn’t have the right degree. I started watching kids in our home just to have money for food and gas…forget about the bills! Then we were saved by our awesome landlord. he helped my husband land his current job (as an RCA with the postal service) on August 11, 2014. It’s a day we will always remember because it’s the day our civilian life truly started.
Now that the back story is pretty much out of the way, let me explain what I mean by living a Semi-Frugal Life. Frugality, in general, means being economical or thrifty with food and money. This could mean using coupons, dining out less, and shopping at thrift stores or on resale pages. A semi-frugal life just means we are frugal in most things, but we still go out and we still pay full price for some items. We are in no way those families that only shop thrifty, never go out, and incessantly turn off lights and are downright cheap. Below, I break down main areas to save money and to live a little more frugal.
Coupons. Coupons are pretty self-explanatory. You can use online coupons, clip from newspapers, Smart Source, and Valpak. The key to using coupons is checking sales at different stores. For example, let’s say you have a coupon for $1 off the purchase of two boxes of cereal. That, in itself, is saving money. BUT, let’s say your local grocery store has a sale with that specific type of cereal as Buy 1 Get 1 Free. Now you are already getting the cereal half price, but add the coupon and you only pay a couple of bucks for two boxes of cereal (which typically averages $3.50 a box down South). Bam! You just partook in your first frugal purchase. Make sure to participate in the savings cards (like Bi-Lo’s Bonus Card, etc), sign up for emails with stores, and check those sales weekly! Between coupons and deals, you can save a ton! If you need additional assistance in couponing, check out Southern Savers because it is seriously the BEST resource for learning how to coupon, and linking coupons with specific deals at different stores!!!!
Here are some links to some more helpful pages:
SmartSource – Offers online printable coupons. Just enter your zipcode and start printing. (Can also use printed coupons in newspapers)
Valpak – You can sign up to have these coupons delivered right to your house! *Most of these coupons are for restaurants and businesses, like Old Navy and carpet cleaning companies.*
Coupons – And of course you have “old faithful.” Just enter your zipcode and start printing. (A lot of these coupons are similar to SmartSource, BUT they are different!)
Dining out Less. Again, pretty self-explanatory. If you have issues with dining out multiple times a week, this eats through your money FAST! Yes, it’s much easier to go out rather than cooking, and sometimes the food does taste better than your own…but GET OVER IT!!! You’ve already saved money by shopping sales and using coupons, so no use what you’ve bought! Don’t get me wrong, we tend to eat out 2-3 times a month, but be smart about it. For example, Groupon is a great resource for getting discounts on things. It may seem counterintuitive to purchase a “deal,” but if you pay a couple bucks for a deal (such as buy one entree get one free), you are still saving money in the long run. This allows you to plan when you eat out, and you are eating for less than what it would normally cost. All of this adds into being frugal!
Thrift Stores. Thrift, thrift, thrift!!!!! That is SO important in frugality.
“One person’s junk is another person’s treasure!”
You will be amazed at what you can find at thrift stores. Goodwill and consignment stores are the way to go. Here are some tips:
1) Check EVERYTHING. Whether it’s clothes, lamps, tables, toys, electronics…check out every square inch of it. Look for stains, rips, tears, gouges, and missing parts. Some things can easily be repaired, repainted, or refinished, but make sure it is in good enough condition to do something with it!
2) Learn to barter. Some consignment and thrift stores are more than willing to barter for the right price. Don’t go in with lowball offers, but offer a few dollars off what they want…Hey, it won’t hurt to ask!
For example, look at the picture above. Earlier this year I went to our local Goodwill and spent over an hour perusing the racks. This is what I came away with:
* 4 shirts & a pair of shorts for my son.
* 1 camp shirt (she went to her first camp this summer), 7 pairs of shorts, & 2 pairs of flip flops for my daughter.
* pair of water shoes for ME!!!
So for 16 items I paid $38. Most of the shorts were Old Navy or Children’s Place (which most parents know are pretty expensive brand new). Bam! Thrift shopping at it’s finest. Definitely not my best haul, but it gives you an idea of what you can save!
Resale Pages. If you haven’t joined any resale pages on Facebook, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’m only mentioning Facebook because that is the only site I have used (except for Craigslist, but use that at your own RISK). Resale pages are typically designated for the area you live in. In my particular area, we have 5-6 resale pages separated for different areas and different items. There are pages for children, women, cars, jobs, and general items.
What are resale pages? These are basically like Craigslist, but MUCH safer and easier to navigate. YOU can post things for sale or you can purchase items for sale from other members of the page. I have found toys, baby items, clothes, furniture, electronics…pretty much anything you can think of for MUCH cheaper on these resale pages.
Whew, this was a super long post. There is a TON of stuff I could have kept writing about, but that is for another day, another time, another hour.