I’m a Penny Pincher, I Admit It

There is a joke in my mom’s family that they are so tight {with money} that they squeak.  I must have inherited those genes as well because if there is a corner to be cut, I’m there.

You don’t believe me, eh?  Here’s a list in no particular order of things I do to save us money:

  1. No car payments.  No way, no how. (That’s a big one right there.)  Our last cars before we traded them had 110,000 and 160,000 miles on them.
  2. No credit cards.  We pay as we go.
  3. We keep the heat on 58 when we’re not home in the winter.  In the summer it’s 82.
  4. We close off 3 rooms of the house in winter.
  5. Great Value brand {Walmart} is all we use.  Very rarely will you find anything name brand in our home.  Charmin Toilet Paper.  Bounty Paper Towels.  Duke’s Mayonnaise.  That’s about it.
  6. We wash all our clothes in cold water.  In the warm months they are hung on the line to dry.
  7. I do a load of dishes once a week.  On the ‘light’ cycle.  I can pack a dishwasher like no other–it’s definitely an art form!
  8. We have no caller ID/no call waiting/no long distance.
  9. I made my own baby food.
  10. I grow almost all the produce we eat (minus lettuce and bananas).
  11. We don’t buy eggs {Thank you, chickens!}.
  12. I make my own laundry detergent.  Click here for the tutorial.
  13. I buy antiques.  Which I know doesn’t sound cheap, but I have an eye for bargains.  Our English nineteenth-century hand-carved buffet we use for our TV cost all of $300.  It would be ten times that it if it was new.
  14. We don’t rent movies.  We don’t go to movies.  If it isn’t on TV we don’t watch it.
  15. I carry coupons wherever we go.  Click here for a simple coupon holder tutorial.
  16. We buy {and sell} off Craigslist.  Our appliances (minus washer/dryer + dishwasher) are used.
  17. I shop 10+ consignment sales each spring and fall.  Most–at least 75%–of MM’s clothes and toys come from there.  $60 Gymboree outfits for $5?  $80 smocked dresses for $7.50?  Sign me up!

Now, don’t get me wrong, we splurge.  I love doing home improvement on this old house of ours (I know, shocking, right?!).  I love getting professional pictures done of Mary Margaret.  I am an Etsy-aholic.  I get my house cleaned once a month.

That being said, I think it’s important to have a balance–to save and to spend.  If you make saving money a priority, when you do spend it on something fun it makes it more special.  At least I think so anyway.

15 Responses to I’m a Penny Pincher, I Admit It

  1. Susan D. April 29, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    I love that Duke’s mayo made your name brand list. Nothing better than a tomato sandwich with a little Duke’s!

  2. Natalie April 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    susan, haha! i’m a true southerner at heart, what can i say? 🙂

  3. Katie Clements April 29, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    I just found your blog… thanks for sharing your wonderful secrets!! I LOVE your values!!!!

  4. Rachel April 29, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    We follow many of these money saving tips, too. I’m hoping to get a garden going in the next year, which should significantly reduce our grocery bills.
    Thanks for the ideas!

  5. Jamie April 29, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    Great tips on how to save money. I definitely like the garden tip the best. It’s something everyone can try! Sounds like you have a really green thumb! Thanks for the tips.

  6. Amy April 30, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    I cracked up at #5…I love store brands too. I told my husband when we got married though that we would always have Charmin and Bounty in our house no matter what else we have to give up! I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  7. Krisa April 30, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    I envy your dishwasher discernment! I run ours every night just because I’m too lazy to wash all the sippy cups – ha!

  8. Naomi April 30, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Hey Natalie,

    This is completely unrelated, but I think I remember reading that your family sells at a local farmers’ market. Which one? And is there a Buford Farmers’ Market? I can’t find anything online about one, but it seems like they should have one. Thanks!

    Naomi

  9. Beth April 30, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    Your list truely motivates me! I just printed it off! You might be my new hero!! Love your blog by the way!!

  10. Natalie April 30, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Naomi,
    It’s the one your parents go to…the Suwanee’s Farmers Market. It begins tomorrow, but we’re not starting until next week…our garden just isn’t taking off yet.
    Unfortunately, no farmers market in Buford. There’s also one in Lawrenceville (I think) and Norcross and Gainesville.

  11. Tera April 30, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Sounds like we do a lot of the same things. Definitely the no car payments and no credit cards makes a HUGE difference. My hubby is a CPA who works as a financial advisor…perfect help for being frugal! 🙂

  12. C April 30, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    girl, you are hardcore!

  13. Tina April 30, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    You are a kindred spirit! You have written the 17 Commandments of Thriftiness. It’s nice to know there are other frugaloholics out there!

  14. Chris Howard May 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Well washing the clothes in cold water just makes good sense. Consumer Reports says that most detergents can clean just as well in cold water, and it helps your clothes last longer by not leaching as much dye from the colors. The only time I ever use hot water is when I’m trying to bleach whites, and I only do it every couple of months or so.

    How do those farm fresh eggs taste? I bet they are so much better than what us city folk have to eat.

  15. Jenny May 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Great tips! I do wash our towels in warm water though, cold water just doesn’t kill germs and it freaks me out thinking about it.

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