I'm a frugal, "on a budget" type of gal. Here are just a few ways I've managed to pinch pennies over the years.
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Step 1: I Learned How to Sew
I can't tell you what a valuable skill sewing has turned out to be.
I took a $60 beginner sewing class at my local fabric store more than 5 years ago, and it has paid for itself many, many times over.
I now save money by making my own:
--furniture slip covers
Step 2: I Buy Used Clothes
Not only is it great for the environment to buy used, it's also incredibly beneficial for one's bottom line.
Shopping retail on a tight budget can be painful. And let's face it, not every item on the sales rack is worthy fashion.
I was late to the eBay party, but now it is my "store" of choice.
Also great are the many online consignment shops (shoutout to Thredup.com) as well as fashion recycling brick-and-mortar stores (Crossroads Trading Company is only a mile from my apartment).
Some of my favorite brands--French Connection, Theory, Tracy Reese, etc.--can be had for up to 70% off the original price!
Step 3: I Sell My Unused Items
And speaking of eBay...
If stuff is just taking up space in your place, listing it for sale on eBay or Craigs List is a no-brainer.
I'm not a girl with a lot of possessions. I believe in simple living. Yet even I regularly list items on eBay to sell.
I even have a system in place to organize my selling operation--complete with used boxes and padded envelopes at the ready.
Step 4: I Create My Own Storage Containers
I love the idea of getting organized, but I'm not about to spend a lot of money to do so.
Old shoes boxes and oat containers can be covered with wrapping paper or colored construction paper. Plastic food storage containers can be put to good use in the bathroom, holding all my makeup in one place.
Old water glasses and coffee mugs are perfect for holding pony tails, hair clips, cotton swabs, and q-tips.
Step 5: I Apply Oils Instead of Lotions
Scented lotions used to be my favorite mall splurges. Walking into stores known for their scented body products immediately lifted my spirits.
But lotions really did little to hydrate and moisturize my skin. I used to apply globs to my arms and legs morning and night, but to little effect.
Switching to sesame, olive, and coconut oils has saved me both money and time.
A little goes a long way with oil. After showering but before toweling off, I place 1 tbsp. max of sesame or olive oil onto my loofa and give my whole body a once-over.
If I skip a day, my skin doesn't show it.
Once a month or so, I also liberally apply coconut oil all over for a deep moisturizing treatment.
If I ever long for "the scents of lotions past," I simply add a few drops of essential oil to the base oil.
Step 6: I Create My Own Art
Over the years I've learned to decorate my place with what I have lying around.
I created collages out of black-and-white calendar prints and magazine photos.
I covered up a poorly painted bathroom wall by taping some textured fabric to a wood frame.
And I created a floating mobile by weaving some clear fishing line through some TableTopic cards.
Step 7: I Decided Not to Renew My Gym Membership
I was never much of a gym rat, but for some reason I felt having a fitness club membership went hand-in-hand with being in shape.
For almost a decade now, I've gone without the gym membership.
I replaced a short run on the treadmill with long walks around my neighborhood (often incorporating errands if needed).
I purchased some hand weights and resistance bands for at-home strength training.
And if I ever need guidance, I'll YouTube a yoga workout or dance routine.
My weight and energy have more or less stayed the same, and since giving up on the gym, I've completed 6 half-marathons and a 1-week bike tour across Iowa.
Step 8: I Use As Little As Possible of Everything
Long gone are the days I trust brand-name companies to tell me how much and how often I need to use their products. And my wallet is the better for it.
I cut my dryer sheets in half, and they still work wonders on large loads.
I use a dime-size amount of shampoo and conditioner, and I only wash my hair when I feel it needs it (maybe twice a week). My hair is so much healthier and softer than when I washed it daily.
I experiment with how much laundry and dish washing soap to use, and I almost never feel I haven't used enough.
I even cut back slightly on the size of my meals and snacks. Better to eat a little bit more later than to overeat in the first place.
Step 9: I Use Instructables Religiously for Tips and Tricks
My favorite website helped me make a blackboard out of an old door from my grandma's house, sew a textured pillow case, cook a million yummy dinners and snacks, and so much more.
Thank you Instructables for helping me save and teaching me new skills!
Third Prize in the
On a Budget Contest