Being frugal is like a light switch that goes on in your brain. Once you’ve realised how much we’re controlled by consumer culture, and the amount of money we waste on things we think are necessary, you just can’t go back to the way you were before. It seems so silly! Turns out there’s also benefits to health and wellbeing that go way beyond your hip pocket.
I was chatting with a friend the other day who was rhapsodising about her upcoming trip to Sephora and all the makeup she was planning on buying. She’d be reading reviews and lusting after different products and couldn’t wait to snap some up. It made me wonder if I was lusting after anything. I’m a minimalist, and I’m frugal, but I still have a wish list. At the moment, there are two things I’m seriously planning on purchasing: black socks and a bamboo toothbrush. I’ve wanted these things for a while too. I’m not rushing out to buy them though – they’re not urgent purchases, and I can live happily without them. Sticking to a budget has taught me the new skill of not spending unless you really need to. I’m sure I will eventually get the things on my wish list, but in the meantime I’ll use what I have, and wear out what I already own.
2. Natural beauty products
I bought a large jar of coconut oil as moisturiser, and since then I haven’t look back. I use coconut oil every night before bed, and I use a tremendous homemade deodorant twice a day (it’s so good, I even made a bottle for my mum!). If I want to do a face mask, I mix bicarb soda and water into a paste. I’ve also started using bicarb as a laundry powder when I wash my clothes (it doesn’t leave any of that crumbly build up like conventional products can). I’m so excited to carry on experimenting with making my own beauty products. The more I learned about the nasties in commercial beauty products, the more I’m determined to whip them up myself.
3. Making meal plans and having cooking days
I hate hate hate spending money on fast food and sugary snacks. Out of necessity, I occasionally splurge, and always end up regretting it. Being involved in Plastic Free July has given me extra motivation to not pick up that packet of chips, and instead make sure I plan ahead and bring my own meals and snacks. This month is the first month I planned all four weeks’ meals in advance, with different lunches, dinners and snacks every week. It means once a week I do a grocery shop for the ingredients needed for that week’s meals, and I set aside one day to do all the cooking for that week. It’s been tremendous. I don’t have to come home from a busy day and cook – all my meals are ready made for me to heat up, but unlike buying pre-made meals, they’re all nutritious, completely vegan, and not full of nasties. I’ve also learned a lot about my eating habits and things I should have on hand, like always making sure I’ve got some extra bread for when I feel a bit nibbly and want to make some toast! I’ve had some really long days where I’ve been out of the house for lunch and dinner, and I make sure I plan meals that are easily transportable and don’t need to be refrigerated, and I’m proud to say I have not once broken my rules and bough fast food. Hooray!
4. No more single use plastic
I started this habit once I stumbled upon to some zero waste blogs, and I really thought it would be impossible. But now I have not only cut out maybe 80% of my single use plastic, I’m saving money: I don’t need to buy cling wrap or sandwich bags. Instead I’ve been using my cloth shopping bags, lining bins with newspaper, reusing single use plastic (I buy my sliced bread and pop it into a canvas bag, then transfer it to a plastic bread bag I’ve been reusing when I get home), and I’ve completely forgone plastic produce bags at the supermarket. In fact, if I can’t buy something without plastic, I’ll go to a different supermarket. This week I was at Aldi buying groceries and they didn’t have any loose brown onions – only bundles in those stretchy plastic nets. So I went to my local Coles where I knew I could get loose onions, and as a plus, that meant I only bought the two I needed, not a kilo, meaning no food waste and lower cost! As for coffee cups, I never get coffee in a disposable cup, and if I don’t have my reusable cup with me (and I usually don’t) I just don’t get coffee.
5. Saying no
This is really hard. I wanted to write, ‘As a twenty-something, this is really hard’, but I actually think that as a human that is wired to always want and covet, this is just generally hard! I do have the luxury of not having a partner or dependents (apart from my cat), but there is a lot of expectations as a young person to be constantly socialising, going out for drinks, going out for brunches, going to the movies, going shopping, meeting your friends for dinner. While I do say yes to things I want to do – frugality is not about deprivation! – there are heaps of things I say no to. Sometimes it’s hard, because I have to roll up my sleeves and cook a meal instead of just splurging and meeting my friends. But often it’s brilliant, and I embrace not FOMO but JOMO, the joy of missing out. I stay in at home with tea and delicious food that I chose every ingredient for, watching movies on my laptop in my pyjamas instead of freezing my behind off going out to a bar. It’s a brilliant, albeit a little old-fashioned life!
What frugal habits have you made that you won’t be abandoning any time soon?
Featured image: Jeff Sheldon