Would you like to see some frugal living ideas that our family has developed?

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Answered by: Karen, An Expert in the Frugal Living Essentials Category
Our family of six has been through times of plenty and times of scarcity. During the lean times, we learned some frugal living ideas that I would like to share with you. We still use them today.

The first one is for you to prepare most of your meals at home. You will not only be able to provide better nutrition for your family, but you will save money if you read grocery ads and plan your meals around the foods that are on sale each week. I have also found that the store brands are usually as good as "name brand" food items, so you can save by buying them as well. If you have a freezer, you can stock up on sale-priced items for use at a later time.

When we do eat out, we have learned that we can be satisfied just as well by eating at inexpensive restaurants. We give the children a choice of a couple of inexpensive items, and we all enjoy our meals. (The kids are healthy and not overweight.)

Here are a few other frugal living ideas that might be helpful for your family. One big way that we save money is to take the time to go to yard sales. We have found really good buys on gently used items such as the following: home décor, clothing (especially children's), toys, small appliances, tools, pet products and even tires. We occasionally have our own yard sales, and that also brings in some extra money to help the budget. Our family also has a practice of turning off lights, radios, appliances, chargers--anything that uses electricity--when it is not actually being used.

Another way of being frugal for us is one that you might not like. We do not have a TV hookup. We don't have cable, antenna, or any other television connection. We do have a TV as a monitor, and we watch carefully selected videos and DVDs. We get our news from radio, Internet and newspapers. Not having TV available has motivated our children to become readers, which we think is a beneficial and enjoyable habit.

One more frugal practice we have adopted relates to vacations. We do not take traditional yearly vacations as many people do. Since our parents and siblings live away from us, we use our available "time off" to visit them. That helps keep family bonds strong, saves money and still allows us to see different parts of the country. When we do take rare vacations, we stay in inexpensive motels or do some camping along the way.

The last frugal family idea I would suggest is that you use the talents, abilities and skills you have, to stretch your salary. For example,

I make all of our note cards and greeting cards on computer. I know that sometimes homemade cards are poorly done, but we do pay for a basic Internet connection, and I have mastered the art of doing them well. I also make computer generated note cards by

featuring seasonal photos I take of our beautiful Indiana. They make useful and appreciated gifts as well as being available for occasional sales. And my husband and one son are interested in mechanics, which allows us to buy good used vehicles and save money when repairs are needed. That can add up to real savings!

I hope you can adapt some of these frugal ideas to help your family live within your means and have a bit saved for a rainy day.

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