I have mentioned before that one of my favorite discussion boards is FrugalMom.net. I have been involved in a dialogue with Mandi, and some of her tips were so good, I decided to share some of her knowledge on this blog.

Mandi is a 27 year old mom of 3, (6, 4 and 3 months) and has her own blog, Earthly Living. She describes herself as a modern hippie who loves homeschooling her kids. She also sells items on Etsy at Stitchin Mama.

This first installment focuses on changes newcomers to the frugal way of life can adapt.

Q. Have you been frugal all your life, or is it a habit you acquired recently?
A. I grew up frugal but never realized just how frugal until I had my own family.

My husband and I never really considered ourselves any different than most in the way we did things. We figured you just do what is natural, and for us it included baking our own breads and growing our own vegetables and even sharing our bed with our children. It wasn’t until we began to talk with other parents that we realized how we live as a family isn’t so popular but very sadly looked upon. It was about three years ago that our life slowly changed into a more frugal, simple & green living way.

Our smallest yet biggest adjustment was getting rid of paper items. We began with napkins and paper towels. Once those were replaced with cloth everything else seemed to follow.

We have been making our laundry detergent for 3 years now and we don’t use any fabric softener, instead we use our homemade wool dryer balls. We started making homemade cleaners after we started making our own laundry detergent.

My husband’s current hobby is candle-making. My hobby used to be writing, but now they have expanded to gardening, sewing, crafting & re-crafting. It’s funny how things change over the years.

Q. What motivated you to become so frugal and sustain that way of living?
A. For me it was about exploring. My first attempts at removing paper items and replacing them with cloth and making all our own cleaners and detergents was all because of curiosity. We didn’t financially NEED to change, but I felt the eager curiosity to try it. And here we are today, proudly living frugally.

Sustaining this lifestyle isn’t easy at first because when you get overly tired or sick it’s so easy to fall back into old spendthrift ways. I just remind myself that I simply can’t afford to fall back that way and when I do hiccup a few times it hits the budget belt a lot harder. Keep a pattern, schedule and find support! If you begin a frugal lifestyle without a pattern, schedule, support and motivation it won’t last long!

Q. What can someone who is just attempting to conserve money do to improve their family’s financial situation? What is the first thing they should do?
A. First and foremost, budget. You need to evaluate where your money goes. We all have to budget our money otherwise we don’t know when or where it’s safe to cut back financially, and we tend to go into a panic. If you have it written down in front of you, you can go to it and see what’s not needed in the budget and conserve the money more efficiently. Manicures/Pedicures and Sunday ice cream outings aren’t a NEED, just for example. Purchase the manicure products and spend time together as a family having a spa day and make your own ice cream in a bag instead of spending more money and less time with your family.

Q. What is an easy thing one can do to make a difference in their family’s budget?
A. SCRATCH baking & cooking! It will cut back SO much on the grocery bill, which besides basic living bills is where we spend most of our income.

Q. What has been the biggest benefit of your more frugal lifestyle?
A. Spending less money & having more time with those that really matter. There is a learning curve to living frugally, but the knowledge you gain can easily be adapted to many situations and that is inspiring. That’s helped me continue to live frugally. I love nothing more than researching out information of how life used to be as opposed to how it is now. The information is overwhelming!

Thanks – for your advice!

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