The Frugal Domestic (Or, How To Spend To Save)

One of the many benefits to living a frugal life is that when a good deal comes around I am able to take advantage of it. Because we didn’t over-indulge for the holiday season I was able to purchase a few necessary items of outerwear at a fraction of the regular price recently.

Stretch Your Dollars By Tracking Expenses
I think every homemaker needs a domestic economy notebook–literally meaning the economy of the household. It should contain a sampling of easy, inexpensive recipes for basics like bread and beans. It also needs to contain a list of staples with the usual prices listed so you will know when a sale is really a sale and not just a gimmick.

Take white flour, for example. I have notes in my book about the regular price, the sale price at the supermarket and the price for a 50-pound bag at the bulk food store. Now I can make an educated decision to purchase flour when it hits my target price per pound. I couldn’t do that if I didn’t have the cash reserve to take advantage of a good sale. Being frugal makes that possible.

Non-electric and electric food dehydrators are available at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Non-electric and electric food dehydrators are available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

I also list the times and people I am likely to need a gift for. Often, I give hand-made gifts but I do give special gifts too. I was able to give my daughter-in-law a dehydrator this year because I kept track of the prices and when one showed up on CraigsList, still in the box and never used I was able to pick it up at a big discount. I knew it was a deal because I knew the regular price. It was an indulgence to be sure, but one that will ultimately save her considerable money. That makes it not a spend but an investment.

Lists like CraigsList, Freecycle and Kijiji–and even your local thrift stores–are great places to look for new-in-box bargains to stretch your dollar.

Take Advantage of Seasonal Sales
It’s an easy matter to go on-line and get a list of what goes on sale each month of the year. For instance, now, January, is white sale time. If you need sheets or towels, wait until January to get them. It’s also a good time to get outerwear and holiday decorations.

January is however, a terrible to buy a swimsuit. If you can find one it will be in cruise wear and very, VERY expensive. You may find it hard to believe but I don’t buy a lot of cruise wear. If I want a bathing suit I will buy one in August. The selection won’t be as good but the price will be rock-bottom.

Online and Catalog Sale Season Is NOW!
Right now, my sale catalogs are coming in. It is sorely tempting to buy something just because the sale is so good but I don’t do that. I will look over the offerings and see if there is something there I would buy in any case. Lehman’s, a place I catalog shop (and web shop!) regularly, has had several nice bargains that I’m jumping on.

Be ready for next Christmas with cookies just like you remember! On sale now at lehmans.com.

Be ready for next Christmas with cookies just like you remember! On sale now at lehmans.com.

The first is a set of Grandma’s Cookie Cutters. My mother and mother-in-law both had this exact set. My children remember them so fondly and I think all will appreciate receiving these.

Everybody who sees my popcorn popper loves it so finding the gift set on sale means I will have a birthday gift at the ready.

The 6 in 1 Polar Fleece Hood is a family favorite and my kids are always swiping mine. That’s on sale too, and another handy gift.

When I was a child my mother always said that it was expensive to be poor. I didn’t understand that then but I do now. A good domestic economy enables a frugal home maker to take advantage of bargains by exercising restraint the rest of the time.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.