I’m currently trying to avoid extra expenses in order to save for my wife’s upcoming maternity leave (starting next May). So I’ve found myself doing all sorts of projects around the house by reusing what I already have to fix problems or reducing my costs in new ways.
For example, the daycare room needed more storage, since we had removed a set of shelves from the room for use in my son’s bed room. We were going to buy a new set of shelves, but then I had an idea. I have a coffee table with a storage area under it in my living room that wasn’t really being used that much. So I borrowed a few hinges from a friend and a piece of chain from the basement and turned the table into a toy chest with a lid (the chain is used to prevent the lid from hitting the wall behind it). It works great and it only took me about 15 minutes to do the modifications to it and best of all cost me $0.
Another little project I recently did involved borrowing a small under the counter light I wasn’t using all that much in my workshop and installing it in the dark corner of the kitchen. Now I can cook so much easier in that corner and it again cost me $0 and about 15 minutes of my time.
Another way to reduce costs I’ve been looking at is making more food from scratch. I recently learned how to make my own granola bars and I have also started baking some of my own bread and buns. The first try at the bread resulted in some heavier bread than the store bought, but with a bit of practice I think I could get it a bit lighter. If nothing else I almost had forgotten how great homemade bread tastes fresh from the oven and now I have three dozen buns and two loaves of bread in my freezer for a hour of work.
Generally a lot of these items are not huge amounts of savings. For example, the cost delta on making my own bread versus buying is fairly small at around 40 cents. Yet what these projects are also providing is a focus for my energy that doesn’t involve spending money. This provides a nice outlet for any excess energy I have and also forces me to examine my home and everything in it in a new context, which is helping me stimulate creative thought.
So next time you have a little project around the house don’t go buy any thing. First look at the problem and wander around your house. You might already have a solution disguised as something else. Get creative and remember to have fun. After all a frugal life shouldn’t be about being bored or feeling deprived, it should be about using what you have in either time, money or possessions to live the best quality of life you can.