Frugal Homemaking

My friend Sara came to my house the other day with a basketful of mending and  a plate of chocolate cookies.  I am fairly certain the cookies were meant to bribe me into doing the mending but instead I poured her a cup of tea and began teaching her how to sew on a button.

English: Vintage sewing buttons.

Image via Wikipedia

Sara is a busy, stay at home mother to three boys who can be really tough on clothes.  Her husband just got laid off from his job and the usual concerns about money were worrying her.  It was time to make clothes last and dollars needed to stretch further.  Here are the tips I gave her.

1.)  When sewing a four hole button sew two buttons and tie off then sew the other two holes and tie off.

2.)  Use dental floss to sew on buttons, it is a lot stronger.

3.)  Put a small dab of clear nail polish on center of button.  No one will notice and the button will stay secure.

4.)  Clothes that are beyond repair but still have the buttons.  Cut them off and save them.  Buttons are lost all the time and using a button you already have is better than paying for another one or putting another thing in a landfill.

Sara and I worked our way through the sewing, ate the cookies and drank our tea.   It’s funny how doing something pro active toward your finances and chocolate help  to calm the fear.  The friendship and laughter didn’t hurt either.

 


Doesn’t it seem that the healthier we try to eat the more money we seem to spend? We all know we need to eat better, but why is eating healthy more expensive? Well…not anymore. Here are a few tips to help you feed your family nutritious meals without breaking the bank.

Plan your meals around sales. Grocery stores often have buy one item, get one free so this would be a good time to stock up for the upcoming months. Watkins often has Monthly Specials on their Natural, Organic and Gourmet foods so you can feel good about what you feed your family while saving money. If you primarily purchase sale items you will have well stocked freezer and pantry and a smaller grocery bill. Stock up on all your Natural and Organic favorites.

Do not purchase boxed foods. These foods are full of preservatives and trans fats. If you like the convenience of boxed foods try these mixes for a healthy alternative: Watkins Dessert Mixes, Watkins Soup and Gravy Mix, Dips and Spreads and easy to prepare (but good for you) Watkins Bread Mix and Pizza Crust Mix. Enjoy the convenience while giving your family something good.

Use coupons. Many grocery stores now accept competitors coupons and many times will double their own coupons. But be careful to only purchase items you would normally use. Do not buy impulse items simply because you have a coupon as you might end up spending more. If the store brand is a better bargain than using a coupon for the name brand always buy the store brand. I find the quality to be just as good. Better yet, wait for an item to go on sale and then use the coupon. What a savings!

Buy produce when in season. It will taste better and typically the cost is less when in season. Try not to purchase produce already cut up. You will always pay more. Bring it home and cut, chop, dice, put in baggies and either refrigerate or freeze. This way you will always have a healthy snack ready to eat.

Make a grocery list and stick to it. Avoid temptation. We always go home with several items not on our list. Do we really need them? If it wasn’t on your list then probably not.

Shop when you are full. This might sound silly but when you are hungry and you go grocery shopping you will end up buying a lot more than if you shopped right after a good meal.

When purchasing meat think of recipes where you can get more than one meal out of it. Sprinkle your meat or chicken with Watkins Seasonings. These delicious flavors are a healthy alternative to oils and salts. Try them on chicken for dinner and save a little leftover for your salad the next day for lunch. Having these leftovers will make it easier to eat right without grabbing unhealthy foods.

Another great way to save money is to shop around. With the price of gas so high you won’t want to drive several miles just to save a couple of dollars but plan your route to be near a grocery store or discount store when some of your favorite healthy items go on sale. Always try to take advantage of great deals.

Remember you can eat healthy and save money. It might take a little planning but it’s worth it for you and your family.

For delicious recipes using some of Watkins Natural and Organic foods please visit www.VanillaGourmet.com and enjoy life…Naturally!


Most of us use baking soda for baking and to remove odors from our refrigerator, but we never think to use it for other things. Did you know that baking soda is a natural cleaner and deodorizer that’s cheap and effective?

Many cleaners use artificial scents and harsh chemicals to cover up odor. These scented chemical products can be really irritating to your skin and your respiratory system. Baking soda is a safer alternative. Instead of covering up odors, it absorbs them and locks them away. So you know it can get rid of odors in the fridge with baking soda, try putting some in your garbage cans, shoes, diaper pail, litter box, drains and garbage disposal. It is a great way to safely remove offensive odors from pretty much anywhere.

Watkins lemon all purpose cleaner

Watkins lemon all purpose cleaner

Baking soda is a great abrasive cleaner to remove dirt and anything else that might be stuck on surfaces. Just sprinkle it on a wet cloth and scrub away. You can even use baking soda to get stuck on grease off your floors, counters and even pots and pans. For more cleaning power mix baking soda with Watkins degreaser or Watkins natural all-purpose cleaner. Remember to rinse all your surfaces well after you clean them to remove any remaining residue.

While baking soda can be used for general cleaning, it’­s also a great to remove stubborn stains. Just mix with a small amount of water to turn the powder into a paste. You can then apply this to stains in your kitchen, bathroom, and even your clothes. Just let sit for a few minutes and then scrub. It will make your stainless steel sink shine. This paste is also great for cleaning your silver.

You can even use baking soda to disinfect laundry, toys and diapers or other items around your home that get handled often such as door handles, light switches, and telephones. Washable items can be soaked in baking soda and water for half an hour or so. For other things simply cover the area and let it sit for a minute before wiping it off.

These are just a few ideas for you on how to clean and deodorize with baking soda. It is such a versatile product, the possibilities are endless. So why not pull your baking soda out of the cupboard and give it a try all around your house? You may find yourself buying a lot more baking soda on your next shopping trip.


Oh my! I have just realized that some of my choices that I make for myself and family maybe placing the both of us in harms way. To clarify, what exactly do I mean by “harms way”, when I bundle up our sweaters, blouses or slacks to be sent to the dry cleaners; the cleaning process that is used to clean my items (percholorethlene) called perc for short is used by at least 85% of all cleaners.

This process is toxic in a many ways, the chemical pollutes the air, it is a probable human carcinogen and it can cause symptoms from headaches, nausea, and infertility in men and miscarriages in women and it is considered toxic waste.

Watkins lemon laundry detergent

Watkins lemon laundry detergent

My exposure and my families exposure to this chemical doesn’t stop when I bring the dry cleaning home. When, we go to put the garments on the chemicals can bleed thorough our skin into our systems

Just thinking about that made me want to find a solution today not next week, I had to stop the exposure to my family. What I found was a natural home care product that is plant based and non-toxic that was important to me. JR Watkins Lemon liquid laundry detergent concentrate, can be used in cold water and is easy on the budget. You only need 1 oz per load, that is about 2 tablespoons!

It is also great to use on your hand washables and baby clothes for it contains a soy-based fabric softener that leave your clothes soft and clean.


Do you dream of being a one income family with out having to worry about how you are going to pay your bills? It can be done, and if you have the chance to do some advanced planning it will be easier to achieve. Whether you are living on one income by choice or because of unexpected circumstances these ideas should help.

There are many reasons why families have to live on one income, a new baby, single parent, one spouse loses their job or simply because one of you wants to spend more time with your children. Whatever your situation is, living on one income can mean it’s time to cut back, or it can mean that now is the opportunity to reduce your spending, live a simpler and more frugal lifestyle with a few clever budget changes.

Determine You Income and Expenses

Start by looking at your monthly cash flow, what money is coming in and what money is going out. The first part should be easy, simply list all of your income that you receive on a regular basis every month. You might want to do this before you give up a second income to see if you can afford it. If you are currently living on a single income, now is a great time.

Next comes the more difficult task of listing everything that you are committed to spending every month, this includes your:

  • mortgage or rent
  • utilities – electricity, cable and water etc.
  • groceries
  • health care
  • vehicle payments
  • Fuel, repairs and maintenance
  • loans and credit card debt
  • other essentials – personal care, toilette paper
  • insurance – home, vehicle, life
  • child care
  • savings
  • home maintenance and repair


Make this a complete list of everything that you absolutely must pay for every month. These are your essential monthly expenses.

Now make a list of all the other non-essential purchases and expenses you make each month, this includes your:

  • clothing
  • entertainment
  • decorating
  • toys
  • gifts

These are your non-essential monthly expenses. Add your essential and non essential expenses together to get your total monthly expenses.

Then simply subtract your total monthly expenses from your monthly income. The difference between these two amounts is you disposable income or how much you have to spend on everything else. If this amount is a negative amount and often it is for many families, you may suddenly realize you can’t afford your current lifestyle.

But don’t worry because there are lots of things you can do to reduce your monthly expenses. The first place to start is on the list of items that you made for your non-essential monthly expenses.

We all usually have a long list of essential and nonessential monthly expenses so if you can reduce your non-essential expenses to zero and each essential expense by ten or twenty dollars it will soon add up to make a significant difference.

Making One Income Work

You’ve set your budget of monthly expenses, now it’s time to reduce those costs.

First, go through your list of nonessential expenses to which things you can cut out of your budget all together. Entertainment is usually one the first places people look to cut expenses. Do you have any monthly subscriptions or memberships that you don’t really use anymore? Do you spend money on services or products that you don’t need?

Next, go through your list of monthly bills and see how you can reduce each one. If one of you will be staying home with your children you can cut your child care expenses altogether. Quite often you can call credit card companies and get a reduced rate. You may be able to switch cell phone providers or find a lower rate.

Most people don’t take advantage of offers that come through the mail for cheaper monthly cable or a lower monthly telephone service. Also, one of the easiest fixed costs that you can lower is insurance. Call all the vehicle and home insurance companies and get them to beat each others offers. As long as you are realistically lowering your monthly costs then you are going in the right direction.

Then take a look at your existing credit. If you have a good credit rating then you are in an excellent position to shop around for a better rate for a vehicle loan or a better mortgage. If your credit rating isn’t great then log onto the three credit companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They will give you practical information on how to fix your credit rating so that you can get your monthly expenses down by either consolidating your debts or replacing them with loans over a longer lending period or with a better interest rate. Be careful so you don’t end up paying more.

Then have a look at all the things that can buy cheaper, like cheaper gas, less convenience and junk food. There are lots of ways to spend less on the things you buy on a regular basis by either finding sales, coupons or special offers or buying it somewhere else where it’s cheaper.

Once you have sorted all your expenses you should see if your monthly expenses both essential and non-essential are lower than your monthly income. If they are then this is great. You should pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

If they aren’t, and you have really tried to squeeze every last penny out of your expenses then you may have to reconsider your situation. You could either start cutting things out of the budget like using only one car, one cell phone, or go back to your income and find ways to increase what’s coming in by finding a better paid job or working part time from home.

Either way, try to be creative in thinking about the ways you could save money and be more frugal so that living on one income is a comfortable step and not a financial nightmare. With a little thought and planning ahead you may be able to get by easier than you think.


Do you sit down to pay the bills every month and wonder how in the world you are spending so much? You are not alone, this is a common scenario for many people from all walks of life. The good news is there are a few things you can do to cut your monthly bills down, and live more frugally without depriving yourself.

Frugal Tips to Reduce Your Utility Bills

Utility companies are in fierce competition with each other these days, so use it to your advantage by comparing prices for the best savings. You certainly don’t have to stick with a supplier you are not happy with so go with the one with the best rates you can find.

Dryers use a lot of electricity or gas which means higher bills for you. Try hanging your clothes to dry. Nothing smells like laundry that’s been line dried outdoors. You can put your clothes in the dryer when they are still slightly damp for 10 minutes or so to remove any wrinkles. This is not only more frugal but will help some of your clothes last longer as well.

Your parent’s were right, turning off the lights when you are not using them will save you electricity. When you’re just relaxing try lighting candles instead, this will save money and create a nice atmosphere. Choose soy wax candles for cleaner burning and follow all safety precautions.

Set your thermostats a couple of degrees lower in the winter and a couple of degrees higher in the summer for a big savings on your utility bills. If it’s cool in your house don’t just automatically turn the heat higher. You can easily put on an extra sweater, a pair of socks or use an extra blanket instead.

Purchase energy efficient appliances. When you need to replace your old refrigerator for example, models with the freezer on the bottom are the most frugal choice, followed by the freezer on top and lastly side by side models use the most electricity. A front loading washer uses less energy and water than a top loading model. New models are now more frugal than older models.

Frugal Tips to Reduce Your Water Bill

Reduce water use to lower your water bill. Try to take showers instead of baths. Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth. Collect rain water and use it to water your plants. Keep your faucets in good repair making sure they aren’t dripping. Use a bowl full of water when doing the dishes instead of leaving the tap running.

Don’t use your washing machine or dishwasher when it’s only half full. Also, try adjusting the temperature settings to see if a lower temperature will do the job just as well as the pricier higher one. Turn off the heat dry cycle on your dishwasher and let your dishes air dry.

Wash your laundry in cold water, in most cases your clothes will come just as clean. Look for a detergent that works in cold water to save on your utility bill. You don’t need the extra rinse for most laundry either.

Investing in a good water filtering system can save you money over buying expensive bottled water. It will also help you save money by making your appliances last longer due to lower lime scale buildup in hard water areas. You can even use less detergent when washing laundry or using the dishwasher.

More Frugal Living Tips

Don’t buy disposable products. Try to cut back on your shopping bills by not buying disposable items such as paper towels, use a clean dish cloth instead. Try to reuse your aluminum foil or sandwich bags or better yet buy reusable plastic containers that you can wash and use over and over again.

Serve home cooked meals. It’s more frugal to prepare meals at home than to eat out in a restaurant, or serve take out food. Pack a lunch from home rather than eat out, order take out or eat in the cafeteria and it can be healthier too. To go beverages and fancy gourmet coffees are expensive so filling your travel mug at home will save you money.

Plan your weekly menus around sale priced meats, staples and produce. Meat purchased on sale can be frozen for use later. Look for local vegetables and fruits in season as they are often lower priced.

When planning your menus think of meals that are both nutritious but frugal. Casseroles, stews and pasta dishes can be quite inexpensive and also easy to prepare. Live even more frugal by including one or two vegetarian meals in your weekly menu plan.

Leave your vehicle at home and save on gas. If possible try to walk, you can also consider taking the bus, riding a bike or carpooling. Keep your vehicle in good repair so it will run more efficiently. Check the tire pressure as it effects fuel economy. When filling up your vehicle, shop around for the most competitive prices.

By following these simple tips, you can make a significant dent on your monthly bills. The small things you do will really do add up, living frugal is a great habit to get into. Not only will you save money but you will also be contributing towards a healthier environment for your children and grandchildren to enjoy.


What does frugal mean to you? One definition of frugal is – practicing or marked by economy, as in the expenditure of money or the use of material resources. Frugal often gets a bad rap, I’m sure you’ve heard the terms… skin flint, cheapskate, scotch, stinting but don’t let those bother you! Living a frugal lifestyle really means you choose to be economical and avoid waste, and that’s a good thing!

Frugal Tid Bits

    Waste not want not!

  • Be creative in the way you use up your left overs, your family will never know.
  • Take care of your furnishings and appliances, they’ll last longer if you care for and maintain them.
  • Buy the Best Quality

  • If you are in the market to purchase a new item or product buy the highest quality you can afford. A high quality item will last longer and save you money in the long run which makes the initial investment a bargain.
  • Are you prone to rash purchases?

  • Use cash that way you’ll actually see the money you spend. Freeze those credit and debit card in a block of ice, by the time you thaw them out you will have had time to think about whether you really need the item.
  • Make a Game of Being Frugal!

  • Challenge yourself and your family to use frugal methods every day. Make it fun!