Spend Less and Enjoy More

Spend less and enjoy more from Go Gingham

After one of our meetings to review our household spending over the previous months, Brad and I always end the discussion with this burning question, “How can we reduce our spending, but still have fun?” It’s good that we’re on the same page about our spending – mostly. But we both agree that we want to have fun!

Spending less allows life to be more enjoyable because there’s more room in the budget. It allows for a splurge purchase, saving for retirement, travel or the dreaded emergency expenses that always crop up. By keeping spending in check, it reduces stress – especially when bills arrive.

Spend Less and Enjoy More

Here’s how we’re spending less and enjoying more this summer.

1. Food

We’ve made a real commitment to not buying bottled water. Each family member has their own water bottle and is responsible for bringing it when we go places. With younger kids, carry a larger bottle and then tuck a small cup into your purse or bag.

Frugal grocery shopping

There’s no food getting wasted – unless it drops on the floor. (With backyard chickens, we’ve got happy recipients of food that’s been dropped!) In the U.S., Americans waste $165 billion worth of food every year. “This can cost the average family between $1,365 to $2,275 annually,” writes Brad Plummer, for the Washington Post.

Combat the food waste problem at your home by meal planning, first, before you grocery shop. Review what’s in the freezer or pantry so you’re not buying food items you already have. Buying only the food that you and your family will eat for a week will keep your food costs lower, too.

We’re noticing a trend on our grocery lists – we’re buy more food from the bulk bins. Not to be confused with buying in bulk (meaning a lot, at once, to save on price), but simple, wholesome foods – in any quantity – from the bulk bins. Food in the bulk bins are generally name brands but without the packaging. Compare unit prices and buy only as much as you need.

2. Clothing

While I’m trying not to buy any new wardrobe pieces (after my closet clean out, I don’t need anything – seriously!), buying items second-hand is the way to go. As soon as you buy clothing and wear it, it’s used, so why not purchase it used and save the money, too? If possible, learn to mend. Replacing buttons or mending hems are good skills to have and these are essential to keeping your wardrobe in good shape. Don’t get rid of an item without trying to fix it. (Or try remaking an item – this dress became a top + skirt!)

Spend less and enjoy more from Go Gingham

Buying used clothing for kids is a big resource and money saver. (Find tips for buying items second-hand.) It’s also much easier to do when they’re young and don’t know the difference. Once kids are old enough to have an opinion about what brands they like, put them in charge of purchasing their own clothes. They’ll soon see the value in a used but practically brand new garment

3. Utilities

We only run our dryer through an entire cycle once-a-week now and hang our laundry. We dry our laundry 10-minutes in the dryer and then hang it. (Find out about our drying lines in the basement.) Not only does it save on our utility costs but clothes last longer, too. Dryers use on average about 6% of all residential power according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. If every household could reduce that amount, several power plants could be closed.

Install-laundry-line-with-coated-wire.jpg

We’re also putting the awnings up soon. Awnings block the sun coming into your home’s windows and can lower interior temperatures by as much as 20 degrees. (Find out how we made our own awnings.) I’ve come up with another outside window blocker, too. I’m not sure how it will turn out but I’ll keep you posted.

4. Travel

Try living like a local on your next vacation and home swap. Even though I had to convince Brad to home swap, after 12 home exchanges in 10-years, he’s a true believer! (Our first home exchange can be found here.) Not only do you stay for free but you can cook at home and save on restaurant dining. Vacations are much richer when you to experience life like another by staying in a non-tourist area, cooking at home, and eating local foods.

Picnic dinners from Go Gingham

Picnicking is another travel pleasure that easy to do whether you home swap or not while vacationing. (Try these tips for packing a picnic meal.) It’s inexpensive and the best way to eat, see, and experience the place you are visiting. With a backpack and a tablecloth, whether it’s in a park or town square, grabbing bread, cheese, and vegetables or fruit, it’s easy to make a spread to dine on while enjoying the sights. By keeping snacks and reusable drinking cups handy, when hunger or thirst strikes, a bubbling water fountain or dried fruit and a baguette can always satisfy while on the go.

That’s it. Easy ways to enjoy more and spend less – while living frugally. No one wants to be frugal and frumpy – or grumpy when the bills arrive. Spending less makes life more enjoyable because there’s more wiggle room in the budget. Avoid the stress and keep the spending in check.

What’s your favorite way to spend less and enjoy more in the summer?

Go Gingham related links:

Debt – you decide on the level you’re comfortable with
Living a frugal life by choice: strategic frugality
Viewing time as a luxury – it’s a precious commodity
How finances figure in frugality
The key to saving: frugal living is the key to saving

Sara

Sara, creator of Go Gingham, is passionate about cooking and feeding her family healthy, real food. She's a green enthusiast, too, who loves to grow food organically. Sara loves to travel - especially by trading houses. An avid runner, she can also be found chasing after her chickens in the backyard.

6 Comments


  1. You are the queen of frugal fun! 🙂

    I’ve always had a hard time with the purchase of bottled water, especially since ours from the tap tastes just fine. I think if you start the kids out at a young age with a refillable water bottle, they won’t even question it. I also have an aversion to sugary beverages so personal water bottles prevent a lot of unnecessary sugar consumption. As you mentioned, the same applies to clothing. My son starts middle school this fall so he may have more opinions then, but so far, so good. I live close to shopping areas so I have learned the sales cycles and scour the clearance items. Last year I stumbled on a dollar sales event at Penney’s–shorts and shirts for my kids and husband for under a dollar apiece. I stocked up on a few year’s worth at those prices!


    1. Way to go, Kris! We may need a run-off of who the real queen of frugal is! 🙂
      You are so right about starting kids on these habits….they really stick. It’s much harder to break a bad habit and easier to start with a good one.
      Thanks for writing in – love the score on items your family needs!


  2. These are great tips (as always). They are all things I know, but it’s nice to have reminders. This week I became engrossed in a project and meal planning went out the window. I felt it. Back on track for next week!
    Rita@thissortaoldlife recently posted..Like a girl


    1. Oh, Rita, it’s so easy to get off track when there’s a big project! Way to go on getting back to your routine.
      Hope you’re enjoying summer 🙂


  3. My husband and I just retired 6 months ago – a couple of years earlier than originally planned…and I am returning to my more frugal ways of living. I had gotten a bit lazy over the years when we both worked. Now, I’m reviewing how it was when we were newlyweds, had a small child, one job, student loans..etc!! Your blog is fun and inspirational!

    We never did bottled water. Trusty re-usable water bottle goes everywhere. Also carry an inflatable cooler with snacks everywhere! Apples, cantaloupe, granola bars – always handy!

    Make TIME OUT IN NATURE our first entertainment choice: Hiking,bicycling, picnicking, kayaking (I got a used inflatable kayak on craigslist,) walking, sitting out on our own deck and sketching the wildlife.

    I make all my own greeting cards and small collage art works for our gift giving. It’s a hobby I love and materials are relatively inexpensive.

    Happy hours are almost always AT HOME with Trader Joe’s wine and pot luck appetizers that friends bring to share.

    Game nights – Movie Nights! “GIRL MOVIE NIGHTS” (chick flicks) with the gal pals only.

    BIG MONEY SAVER: We moved to the town where we used to VACATION! We don’t feel the need to go away so often now! We bought a cabin in the woods and are enjoying meeting new friends, volunteering, taking free classes at the local Community College.

    Vegetarian eating, mostly, meat or fish maybe once a week. We eat a lot of lentils, beans, veggies,eggplant, grain dishes and soups with homemade bread.

    MANY ways to spend less and enjoy life more! You do it with style, I must say! BRAVO!!


    1. Madeline, you’re a Go Gingham Girl already! Very impressive.
      I love that you and your husband retired sooner than you had planned and moved to where you enjoyed vacationing. Very smart.
      Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful ways! So glad you stopped by 🙂

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