Monday, January 26, 2009

Frugal Principle #5: Creativity

The last frugal principle that I want to discuss is creativity. This is really one of the most necessary and also the most fun and rewarding parts of being frugal. The frugal life involves a lot of figuring out ways to get or make what you need cheaply, or better yet, making do with what you have. I always find that I am amazed at what a little thinking outside of the box can do for me!

Over the past few years, I have definitely learned a lot of creative ways to get what I need for less. For instance, when my older daughter was four months old, I was convinced she needed an exersaucer, so we went to Target and spent $50 on one! Now that I am a (slightly!) more experienced mom, I know so many resources that I could have used to get one for less. These include online coupons, Craig's List, secondhand stores, children's consignment sales, freecycle, or even borrowing one from a friend.

Now, if I had gotten one from these alternative sources, the toy might have not been new or quite as nice, but within months my daughter was cruising anyway and didn't want to be confined in it! Plus, to me a large plastic toy is a good item to get used -- just rub with a little of my favorite Clorox Anywhere spray.

As regards making do with what I have, one of the areas in which I often need to be creative is meal preparation. We have only one car, which my husband usually takes to work, so I am not able to run to the store for a missing ingredient for dinner. Not surprisingly, I have become the queen of the substitution! If I can't think of anything to substitute, I often leave an ingredient out, usually with no ill effect to the recipe. (Just don't try this with baking powder or something!)

This Christmas I also tried to work with what I had to decorate for the holiday. It was our first Christmas in our house and I really wanted to make it special, but we didn't have the money to buy a lot of decorations. These pictures show our mantelpiece decorated almost exclusively with items I found around the house or got for free (the branches). The only items I bought were the mini wire Christmas trees and the balls in the jar, all of which I got at the dollar store. The finished display wasn't fancy, but I think it looked festive.

I think that using your money and possessions creatively is so empowering. Not to sound trite, but you really discover that the most important resources you have are within yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. I love to hear your feedback!