How Planning Ahead Saves Us Serious Money

A winter sunset I caught on our walk the other evening

Perhaps the single greatest tactic a frugal weirdo can employ in the campaign to save money is… drum roll… planning ahead. Yep, planning. Not fancy apps or bizarre investing schemes or diets consisting solely of tuna fish. Planning ahead.

There are different categories of planning ahead and different ways to apply this deceptively simple strategy to your own life. It’s true that I’m a girl scout and Mr. Tikhvinskoe is a boy scout, so you could say that “be prepared” is something of a family motto.

Foreseeable Future “Emergencies”: Zero Cost Planning Ahead

This is the first category of planning ahead and it is by far the easiest to master. After finding myself in the McDonald’s drive-through angling for a strawberry banana smoothie due to near-death-by-thirst last summer, I realized this was nothing more than a failure to plan ahead. Thanks to this (and my many multitudes of failures to plan ahead) I’ve finally internalized the process by which I can effectively avoid spending money on a daily basis. Huzzah!

Babywoods chowing down on the snack I brought for her during our grocery trip last week

Planning ahead in this respect entails knowing yourself, knowing your routines, and preventing avoidable and predictable outlays of cash. Think through your typical week and identify every instance where you spent money because you didn’t plan ahead. Don’t berate yourself–this isn’t a time to criticize–rather, it’s a time to identify new opportunities for savings. I did this exercise with a typical weekday a while back and shared my results here.

Planning ahead can be as simple as making your own lunch and coffee everyday instead of eating out. It can be as easy as packing snacks for yourself and your kids when you’ll be running errands all afternoon (and a thermos of coffee for momma if you’re anything like me… ).

Planning ahead might be cooking all your dinners for the coming week on Sunday afternoon so that you don’t have to race home from work to prepare a meal every night. Planning ahead–as I posited in my mega frugal food post–might entail stocking your freezer with pre-made meals to ensure you won’t fall victim to take-out during hectic weeknights

The crux of planning ahead is accepting and acknowledging the stage of life you’re in–not necessarily the stage you’d like to be in–but the stage you’re in. Internalize the universal truth that in order to save money, you need to plan more than a day in advance. You need to know what you’re going to need and what the constraints on your time will be.

Planning ahead for predictable events also makes it much easier to manage unforeseen circumstances. For example, when our daughter was unexpectedly in the NICU for a week after birth–something we hadn’t planned for–we had the ease of a freezer stocked with meals we could pull out and warm up. This was doubly important since we were simultaneously buying our homestead.

Babywoods and me in the NICU

While those compounding factors made our lives challenging that week, we didn’t spend money because we’d pre-paid for our birth and hospital stay, we’d lined up a dear friend to watch Frugal Hound, and we’d cooked all of our food. By doing these seemingly simple things ahead of time, it meant that one of the most difficult weeks of our lives didn’t cost us any money. Control what you can and the rest becomes less stressful to navigate.

These are not earth-shattering realizations, but it’s astounding the number of convenience tools and services that await us if we’ve failed to plan ahead. Our modern economy is practically designed around the idea that we inferior consumers won’t plan ahead. There are car services if we didn’t allow enough time to walk or take the bus, endless food delivery options for every single meal we’ve failed to plan to cook, and more. Our failure to plan is quite lucrative for businesses and marketers.

I love this first category of planning ahead because it’s largely a zero cost proposition. If, for example, you don’t eat the snacks you took to work today, you can simply eat them another time. There’s essentially nothing to lose by implementing this style of planning ahead in your daily life.

Plan Ahead With Free (Or Cheap) Second-hand Stuff

I’m a devotee of, and advocate for, finding free and cheap stuff: through Craigslist, garage sales, thrift stores, the side of the road, the Buy Nothing Project, and my very favorite: hand-me-downs. But, you cry, I don’t have time for this, Mrs. FW! I need a dress for my sister’s wedding next week!!! Aha, fear not, frugal friends, for it’s possible to plan ahead even with your used acquisitions.

I rarely enter a thrift store or garage sale with an urgent need to find a specific item–that’s a surefire route to frustration and failure. Rather, I go with my eyes peeled for stellar deals on items we’re going to need in the coming months and years. Now I will caution that this is not a blank Tikhvinskoe check to go all supermarket sweeps and buy everything in sight. It’s a careful balance of strategically spending when you find excellent prices on things you’re certain to need.

Me wearing the J Crew thrift dress in question

Here are a few instances where I’ve purchased cheap, used items before we needed them:

  • I bought a beautiful taffeta J Crew dress for $15 from a thrift store years ago without a clear idea of when I’d wear it. I just knew it was gorgeous, fit perfectly, and was ultra cheap. I’ve now worn this dress to countless weddings (4 maybe?) and will likely wear it long into the future. If you invite me to your wedding, I’ll probably wear this dress. If you know you’ll need a specific item of clothing (snowsuit, dress, boots) in the near future, buy it cheap when you find it. Waiting until the last minute almost guarantees you’ll have to buy it new and spend a fortune.
  • There were some excellent blocks in a little wagon on sale for $1 at a garage sale last summer, which I scooped up for Babywoods. At the time, she was way too young to play with them, but they’re quality toys that I know she’ll enjoy in the future.
  • We found several pairs of snowshoes for $5 each at a yard sale last summer and bought them for use by our wintertime guests. I’m not sure exactly who’ll wear these or when, but when the time comes, we’ll be so glad to have them. Since new snowshoes are circa $150+ and since you need snowshoes to hike our trails in the wintertime, these’ll come in handy for future guests.

I also like to plan ahead with free hand-me-downs and am a proponent of collecting items when they’re offered to me, even if my need for them is a few months (or even years) away. A few examples:

  • Babywoods’ nursery of hand-me-downs, items from my Buy Nothing group, and trash finds!

    Several years ago when my friend mentioned she needed to get rid of her children’s crib and changing table in order to make room for big kid beds, I asked if I could take them off her hands. I wasn’t even pregnant yet, but we hoped to be soon and I knew we’d need this furniture. She and her husband were delighted since they didn’t want to disassemble and carry the furniture out of their house. We happily took it and Babywoods uses it to this day.

  • After we closed on our homestead last January, we knew we’d be moving in May. And so, I began collecting free moving boxes and supplies that friends, neighbors, and my Buy Nothing group were offering. I had to store them in our basement for several months before we moved, but I didn’t have to buy a single box or roll of bubble wrap for our entire move. On the day we moved, I had a stack of leftover boxes and bubble wrap, which I offered to my Buy Nothing group and someone gladly came to take them for his upcoming move.
  • Babywoods sporting hand-me-downs from two different families and $1 shoes from a garage sale

    Since I know Babywoods will need bigger clothes as she ages, I collect hand-me-down kids’ clothes in larger sizes as they come my way and store them in boxes labeled by size in the basement. I also keep an empty box (labeled by size) in her closet and put all the clothes she outgrows into it. Anything we don’t use, I put into a separate box to give away. Thanks to this system, at 14 months old, we have yet to need to buy a single item of new clothing for her. This also creates a pipeline of baby clothing for me to pass along to other parents.

The worst that happens in any of these scenarios is that you don’t use what you’ve collected and you pass it along to someone else who can use it. I keep several give-away boxes in our basement at all times and put unneeded items in there. I’m an advocate for the circle of giving: I take free hand-me-downs and I pass along items we no longer need. There’s a misconception that frugal people don’t donate or pass along their hand-me-downs but that’s patently false. Some of my greatest hand-me-downs are from fellow frugal weirdos. Everyone has something to give.

Since I do stockpile for the future, I frequently lend out items I don’t need yet. For example, a friend gave us a hand-me-down toddler carseat for Babywoods, but Babywoods is still too small for it. And so, I’ve lent it to no less than two other families to use until we need it for Babywoods. Similarly, since I’m not currently pregnant, I lent a bunch of my second-hand maternity clothes to a pregnant friend.

Mid and Long Range Planning Ahead

While the first category applies to our more quotidian, daily needs and the second relates to the used market, it’s also frugally advantageous to plan ahead for long range goals. The first two tenets of planning ahead are typically cheap or free propositions; conversely, there can be spending involved in longer term planning.

Porch icicles!

An example in this category: we replaced the main water valve in our rental house before we moved out. This is not something we had to replace at the time, but the valve wasn’t working well and we posited it would likely break in the future.

Since we were moving out and turning the house over to tenants, we figured this was a prudent preemptive repair. We hope that if something terrible happens with the plumbing in the future, having a working main water valve will be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major renovation project.

This category of planning primarily entails spending on repairs or tools or supplies that you anticipate will save you money in the long run. Preemptive repairs to stave off more costly renovations down the line, or other preventative measures where an influx of spending now will save a ton of spending later, are wise.

Beware of Justifying Spending In The Name Of Planning Ahead

On the heels of this water valve example, I’m compelled to point out that there lurks a danger of justifying spending in the name of planning ahead. I’ve heard countless stories where people spent massive amounts of money in service of the planning ahead god. It’s a judgment call, and it’s a call only you can make. However, there are some guidelines you can apply to determine if you’re addressing a valid planning ahead instance or a fallacy.

Do not spend on “planning ahead” if:

  • You’ll be going into debt in order to do so
  • You’ll be spending more than something is worth
  • You feel pressured–by society, by your friends, by family–into the purchase

It’s a balance to determine when to spend in the name of planning ahead, but by following the above guidelines, you’re likely to cut out a great deal of unwise spending.

Our winter wonderland driveway (well, one section of it anyway)

One of the epitomizing examples of improperly justifying spending in the name of planning ahead is a car loan. There’s a trope touted by our consumer culture that we need brand-new, shiny cars in order to ward against future car repairs and, crucially, to cart our families around safely. This, my friends, is nothing more than an epic myth peddled by car dealers. Justifying the purchase of a new car as “planning ahead” for safety and reliability is a fallacy of profound proportions since you can obtain the same result (reliable, safe transportation) for vastly less via the used market.

And now, please enjoy an example of where our failure to plan ahead ended up costing us more money:

Since we live in a winter wonderland, we need snow tires on our vehicles during the snowy months. However, snow tires reduce gas mileage and wear out. In light of this, we wanted to wait as long as possible before putting them on our cars this year. However, we waited too long… We had an early snowfall and couldn’t get out of our driveway in our regular tires. And so, Mr. FW set about putting the snow tires on himself.

However, we don’t have a garage and there were four inches of snow on the ground. Shockingly enough, the optimum time to put snow tires on is not when there are already four inches of snow on the ground… But Mr. FW wasn’t deterred. He gamely got out there in the snow and tried to take off the regular times. He quickly realized that he didn’t have a breaker bar with enough leverage to get the tires off. And so, we glumly had to pay a mechanic to do it for us. Lesson learned, money spent, and a failure to plan for our record books.

Save Money Now, Reap Rewards Later

We love our homestead dearly

The final instance of frugal planning ahead is purely financial in nature and is very much the heart of frugality: save money now so that you can afford both the opportunities and also the hurdles that life will inevitably throw your way.

While we often discuss the merits of building an emergency fund to cover our expenses in case of an emergency job loss, health crisis, or other unforeseen tragedy, there’s also a great deal of joy in saving to buy things you want!

I’ll tell you what, Mr. FW and I DID NOT expect to find our dream homestead while we were 9 months pregnant and we DID NOT think we’d be buying a homestead the week our daughter was born and we DID NOT think we’d close on our house in the middle of winter and then move there with a bitty baby. But, that’s what was in our cards. And our frugality allowed us to seize this opportunity in advance of our original timeline and with quite a few unexpected factors (baby, winter) in our path. Frugality doesn’t just stave off emergencies–it also allows you to pursue your dreams.

And the summertime view

Mr. Tikhvinskoe and I planned ahead for our homestead for years. We mapped out a savings plan and how much money we’d need in the bank, we researched locations, we visited properties, and we read about life in the country. This long-term planning helped keep us motivated in our frugality. Everyday we were reminded of what we really want out of life, which made it all the easier to avoid short-term treats that would derail our savings rate. Thanks to this long-term planning, we were confident and decisive when we saw our dream property last October. We knew it was “the one” and we were financially and emotionally ready to take the plunge.

Speaking from personal experience, there’s nothing more liberating than realizing you want to pursue an unusual dream and simultaneously realizing you’re able to afford it. But getting to that place takes planning. If you want a granular, easy way to begin working towards this type of financial freedom, start tracking your expenses today (I recommend Personal Capital, which is free and easy to use). You can also sign-up to join the over 9,900 people taking my Uber Frugal Month Challenge–you’ll start on Day 1 so you won’t miss a thing.

You Can’t Plan For Everything, But You Can Make Your Life Easier

While it’s impossible to plan for everything in life, I like planning ahead for the things I can predict–and, as it turns out, there are plenty of these things! Planning for these easily-anticipated occasions makes it all the easier to weather the unanticipated emergencies that invariably crop up in life. Frugality and planning ahead reduce the number of variables you have to grapple with at any one time. As you probably already know, planning ahead isn’t just a way to save money, it’s a way to live a simpler, happier, less stressful life. And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

How do you plan ahead? How does this impact your frugality?

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86 Responses

  1. Lluviata says:

    Mrs. FW, thank you so much for writing these blog posts. I love the amount of detail you go into – for example, when you are talking about examples of zero cost planning, I’m able to see better the way this plays out in my own life – and I love how your advice is always so easy to put to use!
    I was marveling to myself as I was reading this about how good it was so I just wanted to let you know.
    Thanks for writing this blog. It really is an awesome resource.

    PS – I’ve been reading for more than a year, and I think you’ve really come into your own as a writer. Kudos to you!

    • Christine says:

      I agree! I especially enjoy reading material that is full-length, uses a variety of language, and regularly includes complex concepts (not to mention taking the time to explain with details).
      Mrs FW seems to love words, and *I* love reading work that hasn’t been brought down to the lowest common denominator… people are smart, and I think the internet world so often assumes that we aren’t. No wonder this is such a positive, resourceful, and aware community of blog followers.
      Cheers,
      Christine

      • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

        Thank you so much! You are correct, I DO love words and I agree that people are much smarter than the internet typically gives us credit for. So happy to have you both in this community :).

  2. This is very true. This week has been a little off for me because I didn’t have my normal weekend to get ready and plan for the week. My wife and I were in Arizona for a long weekend trip and got back Monday night. I had a lunch meeting on Wednesday, but on Tuesday and Thursday I ate out as I didn’t have anything prepared for lunch.

    Planning ahead makes such a big difference. I’ve started writing down my to do list for the following day before I leave work every day. I’m a lot more productive now that I have a plan already set up at the beginning of the day and I know what the most important task I need to accomplish is.

  3. I make a list in the spring of items I’d like to find at garage sales. It’s amazing how successful I’ve been with finding the exact items, and I don’t even stop at that many sales. I’ve also been called the “queen of hand-me-downs” for helping circulate used baby stuff to those who need it. I’ve benefited from so many hand-me-downs for my kids, I have to share the love. And preventative maintenance on the house and cars is important, although you can’t avoid all emergencies as you said.

    I appreciate the encouragement to store what you know you’ll use soon enough, when you come by it for free or inexpensively. The minimalist trend of ditching things you won’t use in 6 months seems short-sighted, especially if you have little ones. And it’s great that you lend those items out in the meantime.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      I totally agree! It doesn’t make sense to get rid of things you’ll use in the future! Of course there’s a balance to strike, but especially with kid stuff–which they cycle through so quickly–it makes life much less stressful knowing I have the next size up right there in the basement.

    • katscratch says:

      Katie making a garage sale list is brilliant! I love that idea.

      • katscratch says:

        ack, sorry Kalie, I didn’t catch that autocorrect.

        • Rebecca says:

          Keeping a list for yard sales is SO helpful. I keep the list in the note function on my phone. I also have separate notes for each of my children. I keep a running list of what they have by size. 2 jeans, 3 long sleeve shirts, 0 short sleeve. I scan those lists prior to a yard sale and add the want items to the list.

          When in the thick of birthday party years, I picked up craft kits when I found them on clearance. I then always have a small stash for the kids to select a gift for a friend. If an item sits too long, it then gets donated to a holiday toy program.

    • Dawn says:

      I have found it also helps to let family and friends know what you are looking for so they can be on the look-out, too. My mother and mother-in-law are especially helpful and look for things for our boys at yard sales and thrift shops. They have been particularly good at finding specialty things like snow bibs, jackets, and boots which are so expensive when purchased new. And, we, in turn look for things for them on our treasure hunts. Share the search and you can double or triple your reach resulting in a much greater chance you’ll find the things you need for little (or no, thanks to generous Grandmothers) cost.

  4. Lots of truth to this. In fact, my wife just found a great deal on two summer dresses that she won’t wear for months, but when summer finally comes, they would probably cost three times as much. If you can just put them in the closet for a little while, you’ll have great quality stuff at a much lower price.

  5. Ohh yea!! 🙂
    Living in Switzerland for 10 year have tough us to plan in advance. For mayor expenses we plan one season per year in advance. For example now that Christmas has passed we know what we will need to buy next year so, in this January sell-offs we are getting it at “zero” or really for free.
    Some people just like to change things every year and give away the “old” ones so, there we are 🙂 getting new things for free.
    Thanks for the derailed post! as always keep it up!!
    Cheers
    Erik

  6. katscratch says:

    One of the biggest game changers for me in terms of frivolously spending money was learning to bring snacks. Keeping a bag of raw almonds in my car prevented mindless stops at Target which never resulted in purchasing only a granola bar 😉

    It’s funny, too, in changing my mindset where it’s just not an option to stop at a store, I now realize that I’m not going to starve to death on my commute home and yeah I have to wait an extra 15 minutes once home to heat up my dinner, but it’s a minor inconvenience to my grumbly tummy. Before – OMG I’M SO HUNGRY was a running mantra in the back of my head 😉

    You’ve written quite a bit about how frugality opens up so many options and makes life simpler, but it really does help tune out the unnecessary feedback loops so many of us have internally.

  7. Justin says:

    Since we plan and budget for the unexpected and take advantage of opportunities as they pop up, we find we rarely have “emergencies” that require large expenditures. For example, we’ve been planning on a roof replacement for a while and I know those things cost about $4000 to $8000 here. Same with a new hot water heater installation (we’ll have to upgrade to tankless due to retrofitting in a crawl space in our older house) – $2000-3000. Might happen this year or might be in five years but the old one will definitely die at some point.

  8. Planning saves both time and money. Since I’ve quit my job I’ve started noticing even small time sucks more and more. One place where I was spending extra money and time was grocery shopping. It used to be easy to stop after work on a regular basis, but that was a waste of time and gas even though it was convenient. Now I have it planned out so we only need to stop once a week.

    Nice score on the snowshoes! I usually have a short list of items I keep an eye out for. It took us months to find our $5k Prius. And now I’ve got my eyes peeled for some ice skates for pond skating 🙂

  9. Madeline D says:

    I’m so glad you outlined your thrift store/garage sale advice. I’ve been feeling frugally torn since we only shop at thrift stores for non-consumables ( we enjoy it and the quality of old stuff is generally better), and that requires a different mindset than perfect planning ahead allows. I may not need it right now, but I will use/need it in the future and I am unlikely to find it later for the same price.

  10. I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of paying for something while thinking that I was “planning ahead.” I’ve gotten to know myself a little better and I realize I’m actually TOO good at planning.

    I would buy shoes that I “needed” for some future event, but the event wouldn’t pan out and I’d be left having bought a superfluous shoe pair!

  11. Another great post. We have recently started doing a weekly menu plan, as well as making a quinoa, beans and sweet potato salad on Sunday afternoon for our work lunch for the week. It’s definitely worth planning ahead in these instances!

  12. Laura says:

    Mrs FW thank you so much for taking the time to write these informative posts. I no longer have small children, indeed only one of five is still at home. As a teenager she is hard to find things for, but we still start off any search with charity shops. When the children were small they loved the excitement of a bag of hand me downs arriving, it was birthday and Christmas rolled into one. We bought almost nothing in those years, which is just as well as we had no disposable income at all.

  13. Laura says:

    Wonderful post. I know I have said this before on your blog, but frugality has been the saving grace of our life. Our son also did a stint in the NICU as well – a hair raising experience and I am so very happy yours had a happy ending. However we went home from the NICU knowing that our son had suffered catastrophic brain damage during birth and our lives would never be the same again. He is 18 and frugality allowed me to not only quit my job to care for him (and our other two kids), but also to afford the staggering costs of raising a complicated kid who requires lots of expensive stuff (drugs, equipment). Frugality allowed us to renovate our house to make it wheelchair accessible. Frugality ensures we have been able to afford his drugs that ALWAYS seemed to exceed our deductible. Frugality has allowed us to afford extra care when we needed some respite. Frugality also encouraged us to think outside the box to come up with win-win, low-cost solutions. For example we live near two universities and a community college. We offered a nursing student free room and board in exchange for five hours a week of care for our son. She would put him to bed one evening and complete his evening care so I could get out of the house for a few hours. She lived with us for almost three years and graduated without debt. I had help, and she remains a good friend of the family to this day. Win all ways!

    What I most appreciate about our journey with frugality, as you have noted on this blog, is that it asks one to be very clear about priorities. I know that our family would have likely lived in chronic crisis mode if worrying about money was also part of our journey of parenting a child with complex disabilities.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Laura: I am so very sorry to hear about your son. But, I am so happy to hear that frugality has made your life easier–that’s a wonderful gift you’ve given yourself. And, what a wonderful trade with the nursing student!

    • Barbara Barry says:

      This is a bit off topic but frugality is also about obtaining more income or benefits as well. A friend with a genetically disabled child at age 24 now found out that when her daughter turned 18, Social Security would PAY the mom an income to care for her adult daughter. A WinWinWin: daughter gets the best care, Mother gets an income, Mother gets Social Security credits on that income so she will be able to receive an SS retirement income and the cost of care is FAR less than any other place than home. I guess that’s four wins…SS also pays for 8 hours of a caregiver a day now, too, but not sure why. A good thing for you to explore? The rules are complicated and that’s why I have learned so much from the Tikhvinskoe’ Planning and Research philosophy. However (on topic) I stopped buying shoes ahead because I often don’t wear them…Good luck to you!

  14. When I had snow tires on my former car I tended to have a second pair of cheap aftermarket knock off wheels with snow tires on them. The added bonus is most cars these day come with large rims which lead to expensive tires. We could down size the rim and buy cheaper snow tires with a larger sidewall. Look around on ebay or for a junkyard. Often smaller diameter takeoffs from wrecked cars or someone replacing their wheels with better aftermarket ones are very cheap to almost free.

  15. Iris says:

    One other thing about hand-me-downs. If someone offers you a bag of clothing, unless it is wildly off the mark (size 22s for your size 2 girl – just as an example), take it and worry about sorting through it later. Our niece often wore things as a teen that I thought mildly inappropriate, but I always accepted the bags offered by my sister-in-law. What I or our daughter deemed unsuitable was passed along to Goodwill. I’d let her go through the pile. If she wouldn’t wear it, then it went off, but there was still plenty that she wore. And beware of gender categories. A friend of ours had a son a couple of years younger, and up through elementary school, he got all of our daughter’s little kid turtlenecks that weren’t pink, along with socks and jeans and t-shirts. He towers over all of us now, but back then he didn’t.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Great point! Yes, I happily accept bags of any size or gender and then we sort through, categorize by size and make a stack of items to give away.

  16. Jill says:

    I’ve now gone through your entire blog (so worth it! Every post was great) and I’m loving using the tips and advice you and Mr. Tikhvinskoe (and Frugal Hound, obvs) have given. I’m in my first-ever ‘buy nothing’ month – three months, actually, is the plan – and it’s been amazing. Other than feeling really foolish once I realized how much money I’d been spending on stuff, stuff, and stuff. We’re also doing meal planning and prepping, which makes our evenings more enjoyable, and I am fully on board with Friday night pizza, which the kids especially love. My husband and I have always enjoyed decluttering and donating things, but we’re now super mindful about not bringing anything else into the house. It’s a lot easier to clean with less clutter around, and even little things like the $8 bunch of tulips at the grocery store – so pretty and a welcome sight mid-January – would be nice, but would also be one more thing we don’t really need. We’re way more intentional with making sure we’re using stuff we already have, and fully enjoying it, instead of thinking “what else should we *get*…” Anyway – I could go on and on (no, more than I already have, I mean) about how much the whole family is loving our tidy, pared-down lifestyle, but to sum it up, THANK YOU. I can’t stop telling people about your site, and I look forward to and enjoy each new post! 🙂

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      That’s so great, Jill! I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying your new frugal life :). And, so happy to have you here! Very, very true about the lack of clutter–we don’t have much furniture or stuff in general, which I greatly prefer.

  17. Laurel says:

    I cook ahead all the time. By Sunday night I have either most or all of our lunches packed for the week. I also make a HUGE salad on Sunday that lasts all week. I never have to wonder what veg I will serve for dinner because we love the salad and *bonus* my folate levels are really pleasing my doctor. The salad is composed of 3 hearts of romaine, 3 colorful sweet peppers, a cup or two of shredded red cabbage and shredded carrots. It’s a beautiful thing. We toss it with oil & vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder and feta cheese. It ticks all the boxes: simple delicious cheap healthy.

  18. Holly says:

    I too accept all hand me downs and see what works. When my youngest was approachning 2 I found my totes of clothes rather lacking in his size. I was able to modify his older brothers t-shirts into rompers, complete with salvaged snaps from my sewing remnants. Worked really well and was free.

  19. Ilene Anna says:

    As our neighborhood grew more congested with new and bigger dorms (we live practically on campus) my sister and I began a life of careful and rewarding frugality. Now we have enough cash to buy a small “homestead” of our own. We couldn’t do it as quickly or on as large a scale as your folks but within our own means we have been blessed with a dream. Now we have the fun part of finding our country place. Frugality benefits so much with a dream and a plan!

  20. Trilby says:

    I love everything about this post — especially the pictures of your homestead! 🙂 Seriously though, so much great advice in here. I’m currently working on getting our family finances in order and getting our spending under control so I have learned firsthand that planning IS everything. The key for me is to plan time to plan, meaning I set aside specific times to plan my day, week or month, and to discuss our longer term plans/goals with my husband. Planning has to be a priority, but as you’ve shown, the payoff is huge! Thanks again for the great read. I look forward to more.

  21. It’s funny because “planning ahead” sounds like a boring way to save money to most people—but it works!

    I make cold-brew coffee each night for the next morning, freeze several breakfast options, pack dinner leftovers for lunch, and have dinner defrosted by the time I get home. That routine alone saves me probably $50 a day!

    I do need to be better about checking out thrift shops and garage sales regularly. It really is a good way to score nice things to be prepared.

  22. Kristen Messenger says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts! Through reading them, I have realized I am a frugal hound as well! I have always had a major aversion to spending money unnecessarily! I too purchased a baby crib at a garage sale (5$) way before we needed it! My husband grumbled about moving it 3 times before we had kids! Most of my furniture is 2nd hand that we have refinished. I am astounded when you see how much people spend on furniture and how often they replace it. I have often felt embarrassed of our second hand nature, but am realizing it has put us in the financial position we are in. Which is a good one. I stash my own tea bags or instant coffee packets in my pockets when we go skiing in order to avoid the 4$ per cup charge! I think it’s crazy that more people don’t do this! The hot water is free! It all adds up. I have 2 tweens and am trying to instill a bit of frugalism in them. They do tend to be enamored with “things”, but I try to keep it in perspective and we spend our money and time on activities. Next year I think I will see if I can work part time at our local ski hill and get free family passes for the season. I cook almost every night of the week, and my kids and husband take lunches to school most days. It’s really not that hard to be frugal. I have to say I get a kick out of adding up our retirement and savings each month to see our progress. Our goal in the next year is to downsize and hopefully have my husband be able to retire early. Thanks for the voice you provide on another way of living besides the consumer culture society has become. When ever my kids go on about someone being “Rich” because they have fancy clothes, new phones, big house….etc. I redirect them and say all it means is they have fancy clothes, new phones, and a big house…. They may have no money at all!!! They are slowly getting it. (I hope:)0

  23. Cindi says:

    We knew three years before we moved to our current home that we wanted to build a house, retire early and move to that house. As soon as we bought the lot, I started saving moving boxes (I knew from previous moves that you can never have too many and we had room in our basement to store them flat) and keeping an eye out for things we could use in our new home. Thus, when we sat down with our builder I was able to tell him that we already had the brick for our hearth (Free from a work site where my husband was working) a mop sink for the laundry room, a kitchen faucet, and all the lighting for the house (purchased when a lighting store was going out of business.) Before we moved we also collected miscellaneous furniture, lamps, etc. for the house from various garage sales and thrift stores. Buying these things for pennies, a little at a time over a span of three years saved us lots of money and some stress. And yes on packing lunches and snacks. Like you, we live in the boonies, so any shopping trip is a several hours long expedition. We used to spend so much on eating out until we starting taking lunch with us — even if we thought we would get back to the house in time to eat. Because truthfully, that seldom happens. Now if I could only find a dress deal like yours for my niece’s wedding this spring!

  24. Jackie says:

    I will be doing a DIY remodel of our floors and kitchen this year. I’m already scanning Craigslist for used stainless appliance. Evidently a lot of people are changing from stainless side-by-side refrigerators to french door stainless. There are even top freezer stainless out there. Probably will be able to pick on up for around $400 versus a new one at Lowe’s for $2,000! If you are willing to stay with white, even more of a bargain!

  25. great posts! in addition to trading useful items with friends and saving others for later needs, let me recommend taking better items to consignment stores for cash and/or credit. if one is careful, it’s possible to get good money for good quality items, but don’t be goaded into accepting less than an item is worth. it’s a really good way to make a bit of cash/credit for later purchases. another thing to watch for that has been a great boon for me is a coupon a local department store here send out every few months…$10 off a purchase of $10 or more. Yes, the purpose is to get consumers into the store with the idea that you will spend more than $10, us frugal shoppers know we can spend just the $10 and come out ahead. I always stock up on socks or stocking stuffers when these little $10 gifts come my way….and never spend over $10.

  26. Lynn says:

    Meals are the most important thing for me to plan ahead, because in DC (where I work) everything is expensive. Lunch is $10 at a minimum, which means $200 a month if it happens every day. I make my lunches for the week on Sunday night and stick them in the freezer so I can just grab one and go.

  27. Rebecca says:

    I have an accidental plan ahead success story that happened last night. My husband is out of town for work all week, so the kids and I have made a game of eating all the left overs and random things in the pantry. My husband is very flexible and would do this too, but it serves more of a distraction to make dinner silly and fun, while having his empty seat at the table. Earlier this week I cooked up some left over sausage, added a bunch of eggs and cheese and baked it. I then had it cut into squares and put it in glass contains like the FW family uses. Last night a 1 hour eye appointment turned into a 2 hour one and we were going to be late for my daughter’s ballet class. For a nano second I had visions of fast food drive through, but quickly realized this was not frugal and actually would take too long. As my daughter quickly changed at home, I microwaved the egg squares. Within 5 minutes we were all back in the car with our dinners on our laps. Well as super safe mommy, I quickly ate mine before leaving. The kids got a kick out of the whole thing and I felt really good about not spending money, saving time, and continuing our quest to clean out the fridge!

  28. JD says:

    My late mother-in-law was a good home seamstress and made most of her clothes. She also had itty-bitty feet. Whenever she discovered those elusive size 4 or 4.5 dressy pumps that she needed for church and special occasions, she bought them, regardless of color, and then made outfits of coordinating fabric to go with them. Her motto was “get the shoes when you can, worry about the dresses/suits/skirts later.” I call that planning ahead, and I find it humorous at the same time.
    I’m saving ahead now for our water heater — it’s 17 years old and it’s going to die at some point, obviously. I’d like to have the cash on hand to replace it when it does. All of this depends on having extra cash to set aside, which we didn’t have for a few years after my husband could no longer work. We are slowly getting back on our feet, though, and this post reminds me to stretch my vision and see what else down the road I need to be saving for. Thanks!

  29. Sandy says:

    I have a very minor example of how frugality and planning ahead are working for us. My husband and I are attending the Women’s March in Austin, where approximately 25,000 people are expected. Pre-frugality, we would have just called a car service and spent about $80-$120 round trip. Now, we have explored various options based on where we live, and our plan is to drive ourselves to a shopping mall relatively close to downtown and then call for transportation. We anticipate round trip will cost under $40. Easy-peasy way to save $40-80! Also, instead of going out for lunch, we will eat a big breakfast at home and then take snacks to get us through the march; another $40 savings! So we still get to do something that is important to us, and it will cost us under $40 instead of $120-160.

  30. The Frugal Pirate says:

    “The crux of planning ahead is accepting and acknowledging the stage of life you’re in–not necessarily the stage you’d like to be in–but the stage you’re in.” SO MUCH THIS.

    I really appreciate your mindfulness sort of approach to frugality. As soon as I started accepting this, planning ahead – and achieving personal and financial goals – became so much easier. As someone who struggles with perfectionism, I have often set myself up for failure by planning elaborate goals that are nearly impossible to achieve (of course I can do yoga every morning, work a full day, go to the gym in the evening, build furniture, have a perfectly clean house AND have an Instagram-worthy dinner on the table every night!… NOT) I am happier now that I have accepted that freezer chili and veggies for dinner and fitting in exercise whenever I can is perfectly ok. ☺

  31. Mrs. COD says:

    So much awesome advice in here! We also have stored boxes upon boxes of kids’ clothes and bring items out as they grow into them. We have needed to buy very little for them and are so grateful for in-laws and friends who have passed on countless baby stuff to us. It’s an awesome cycle of sharing.
    I also like that you pointed out the need for balance, not using planning ahead as an excuse to stockpile tons of things you won’t ever need.
    On another note, I wish I had planned ahead better right out of college, when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have kids. I could have lived much more frugally and saved enough to stay home with my kids right away. However, thankfully, we got our act together and now I get to be a SAHM to my 3- and 1-year-olds.

  32. Dorothy says:

    Super post!

    So many financial writers talk about “emergency funds” then illustrate using them for wholly-predictable expenses like car insurance. Hello! An every-six-months car insurance bill isn’t an emergency. A repair to an older car should be planned-for.

  33. Great post!

    I do the same by accepting “hand-me-ups” on clothes from my little brother as he purchases plenty and rarely uses them all.

    To save money, I plan for the year the necessary expenses like license renewals, insurance payments, and other maintenance fees, then I try to stick to that baseline and going from there.

  34. Alison says:

    These are great tips, but please be careful about buying big baby things like cribs in advance… you never know when something will be recalled or even expire (i.e. car seats). So many baby items (anyone remember those drop-sided cribs??) wind up being recalled as major safety risks. At a minimum once you get around to using be sure to check to see if it was ever recalled and needs a modification kit or is simply unsafe to use.

  35. Planning ahead for growing kids a great idea and an easy way to find deals and ave money. They sure grow like weeds! Timing is important to find deals. We wanted to upgrade our Christmas tree so we shopped for deals right after Christmas one year. Got a great deal!

  36. Lisa says:

    It’s amazing how many freebies are up for grabs (if someone will just haul it away). I was perusing the “Free” category for my local Craigslist last night and you could easily furnish most of a house with what’s being given away in my city (200,000+ pop). We’re going to be finishing an unfinished space in our home fairly soon and I will keep this in mind …

  37. Sylvia says:

    Hi Mrs. FW! I am a young student almost graduated from post-secondary in Canada. I have been following your posts for quite some time now, and they are the best part of my day! I love your humor mixed with realistic planning that we should all implement. My boyfriend and I currently live together and share household expenses by: (you got this grocery run? or I got this utility bill) type of arrangement. I have been wanting to take all my expenses to a spreadsheet and budget properly but its a hard transition when you’ve been so used to just mentally keeping track of how much you have and where its going. I used to think I was not a frivolous spender, but after reading the majority of your posts, I realize I spend wayyyy more than I need to. It actually makes me cry a little inside thinking of all the money I could have saved last year. I guess my question is, do you have any fellow frugal Canadians that follow you? I tried to sign up for Personal Capital, but it looks like its American only. Correct me if I am wrong? Is there a program or app that you may know of that may help my boyfriend and I track our expenses and develop a plan? You and Mr. FW actually mirror pretty much exactly how I want to live eventually. Currently, our finances are separate; but surely that still means we can start individually putting money away to combine later? What are the best way to slowly eat away at student loans and credit card debts? Larger lump sum deposits or minimum payments?

    I really appreciate all you guys do, I look forward to hearing from you 😀 Thank you!!

  38. Laurie says:

    “An every-six-months car insurance bill isn’t an emergency. A repair to an older car should be planned-for.”
    YES! It’s a sore point in many articles about EF’s for me, too.

    I’m also glad that the point about stockpiling came up. I have relatives that do that, thinking they are being clever and frugal, but the sad fact is, it’s just hoarding.
    Hoarding is as bad for the person themselves as for those around them….they sit on a pile of stuff that they aren’t/can’t/don’t use (“Just in case”), effectively removing it from circulation for those who may very well be in true need.

  39. Lisa says:

    Probably the best thing you can do to plan ahead for a future expense is this: read to your kids (and read books yourself!); value knowledge, education, creativity, athletics and character. It will pay massive dividends in reducing your kids’ college tuition as well as make for a much happier, more productive child and emerging adult. Some of these things are free or cheap, and some can be a fairly large expense, but boy,down the line they are worth every penny.

  40. Karen says:

    My husband and I fortunately have always lived below our means. We are debt adverse and always pay for things with cash —that absolutely requires planning on a very detailed level. My mom’s generation used the envelope system, I still have memories of her purse with all of those envelopes of cash!

    Thanks for starting the Uber Frugal Month– Day 20!!. It has absolutely tightened up my planning in order to control impulse spending, I’m proud to say that I am still at 0 $$ except for gas and small grocery bill. I think right now, I will extend the challenge into the next month–oh yeah I am on month 6 of no clothing purchases and plan on this for a full year! Love your forum!

  41. There’s a LOT of truth to this post. I’ve always been a planner, so planning ahead has always been second nature to me.

    But planning ahead isn’t without it’s flaws. Sometimes, I end up planning for things that never happen…essentially overbuying for something that I believe with 100% certainty was going to happen. Yeah, I’m not perfect and I do occasionally waste money on planning ahead.

    But I keep telling myself the alternative is far more costly.

  42. Elizabeth says:

    Boy, that strawberry banana smoothie is still bothering you…😉

  43. Denise B says:

    Probably the biggest payoff by preplanning we’ve had yet was investing in a Texas Tomorrow Fund 20 years ago for our son. We paid $131.00/month for ten years to get prepaid tuition to a 4-year state college/university. Our son is now a junior, at a fairly expensive state university, and last semester’s bill was a little over $300.00. We bought a house near his school and his roommates’ rent covers the mortgage, utilities, etc. He will graduate with no debt, and we will have a house to sell, and hopefully make a profit off of, or we will keep it as a rental. I am thankful that we planned for this, as we still have to pay for books, and general cost of living.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Fabulous! What a great system for you and your son!

    • Christine K says:

      We chose to live in FL in large part because of Florida Prepaid (like Texas Tomorrow Fund). We paid for their plans in full as soon as they were born because the plans were cheap (under 20K each for 4 years of tuition, 4 year fee plans, and one year of dorm).

      Love your idea of buying the house off campus! We might have to look into that when the time comes. Florida also has something called “Bright Futures” that covers tuition for the students who earn it. It doesn’t seem to be terribly difficult to earn. If the kids get that, they’ll get their Florida Prepaid $$ refunded back to them for the tuition amount! I tell them that they can keep that money to set them up for a great start in life…that’s incentive to earn and keep Bright Futures 🙂 In theory they could graduate with tens of thousands in the bank if they do 🙂

  44. Zandria says:

    I wish you guys hadn’t switched to a partial feed. I used to be able to read your blog from work in Feedly; now I have to save the articles and click on them later (I don’t like for a bunch of blogs to show up in my work browser search history). I tend to blame this on bloggers wanting more page views. I understand, but it still sucks. I’ve been a blogger for 14.5 years and I’ve never had a partial feed.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Yeah, it wasn’t an intentional change on our part. We migrated hosts and unfortunately it messed up our Feedly. We are working to fix the problem as we agree it’s nice to read blogs in Feedly :).

      • katscratch says:

        I know you’ve gotten a fair number of these comments lately – I too often skip reading posts that aren’t in their entirety on feedly, but your blog is one of a very few that I always read on your website. It’s more visually appealing to me than feedly, which is not the case for all blogs in my feed 🙂

        • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

          Aww thanks! Yes, we want to fix that Feedly problem–it happened accidentally when we migrated hosts and we just haven’t been able to get it to work correctly yet. Since we’re a team of 2 (me and Mr. FW, but mostly just me), these kinds of fixes don’t happen as quickly as one might hope :).

  45. Melonie K. says:

    Hand-me-down clothes got me through my first pregnancy and clothed two of my kids for well past their first year. I lucked out and had friends who had babies a year and 6 months prior to my two, respectively. The friend whose baby was born the year before mine loaned me almost all of the maternity clothes I wore with my daughter. Another friend even passed along multiple boxes of disposable diapers she had stocked up on before convincing her husband to invest in cloth diapers – that had us covered for almost 6 months with the youngest!

  46. Sandra & the 2 Spaniels says:

    I am always in awe of your ideas for every day savings! Planning ahead is a huge thing.
    I am having knee replacement surgery in June. I watched the videos of do’s & dont’s, and…….of course!….. I had to get a chair that is non reclining, non swivel, etc. You basically need a firm seat and the chair that stays put-with arms to help yourself up. Well, of course! I have soft leather recliners…..I went ot Craigslist and found a practically new wing chair for $70. I liked it and asked if she would take$50-bam! the deal was done. By having time to shop & haggle, I saved cash on getting something that I “have to” own.
    I can now pass Starbucks and forego the $8 of latte & vanilla scones. I can pass up the “take out” lunches. I never leave the house without water, coffee thermos, and some snacks or sandwich. When I think of the money I spent while working……..sad!! I still visit thrift stores, garage sales, etc. But now that I have more control over my money…….I THINK before I jump at something. You have taught me the art of being able to review my options:
    Do I have something that I already own that can do the same job?
    Is it really a bargain?
    How important is this, really?
    Keep up the great work. So many of us are paying attention-and embracing frugality!!

  47. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for this article. Doing your Uber Frugal January has really made me realize that failure to plan ahead has our biggest enemy. In conjunction with UFJ, my husband and I are both walking to to/from work/kids school everyday to FINALLY see if we could go down to 1 car. The walks have been amazing mentally & physically but we gotta plan for walking (because, uh, it takes slightly more time to walk). I have few financial emergencies in our life, because most things are kind of a known. Snacks for kids are key (life saver, actually). I never go anywhere (whether walking or driving) without water for kids and snacks. It keeps us out of drive thru!

    Doing UFJ also has shown me so much contentment and how quickly I used to pull trigger to buy something. I love being creative to find uses for stuff I own. Life changing, eye opening stuff. Thank you, thank you!

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      That is wonderful! I am so happy to hear this! I love that you’re testing out how life would be with one car–very smart :).

  48. Agree so much – I love going through thrift stores to find things that we’re going to need in the future. It’s almost like a treasure hunt, and when you find something nice you can pounce on it! My one frugal regret is around not saving baby things – we thought we were done with our family so sold/gave away all our baby things about five years ago. Then we decided to have one more son who was born two years ago. Although we’ve been able to frugally restock on baby things (and we know what babies need & don’t), I still often wish we had our basement stash of clothes and toys!

  49. Christine K says:

    This is such a great post, because planning ahead might be the main thing that truly frugal people have in common. How many times have you seen people go somewhere and drop a huge chunk on change on some immediate need when they could have just planned ahead a little and saved big bucks? So many times I’ve watched my broke friends do things like that. It’s as if there is a disconnect there between the state of their finances and their ability to think ahead to what they might need that day.

    Planning ahead for food seems to be the biggest thing, for us anyways. I keep granola bars and bottled water in the car. That has saved us many a trip through the Chick Fil A drive thru. We travel a lot on the cheap by trading timeshares, and I’ve mastered the art of hotel room cooking. It saves a ton of money and time (and really, who wants to eat out in a restaurant with little kids day after day on vacation?!). I even cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner for 7 in a hotel room this year, and everyone liked it. That took some major planning ahead and creativity, but with the hotel buffet being $80 a person there was quite the payoff for the DIY approach.

    When in thrift stores I keep a lookout for things we may need in the next year or so. With kids that saves a ton! I’m an avid dumpster diver and I often find things that we can use in the near future to save $$, but I’m only just now getting comfortable with yard sales. The few that I’ve been to have netted some great money-saving finds though! I like the idea of keeping a yard sale list.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Fabulous!! I am in awe of your Thanksgiving dinner prowess! Amazing.

      • Christine K says:

        Only FW readers will appreciate this. There was no microwave in the room and heating everything up in a crockpot would have taken way too long. The method I devised was to put every course into an individual Ziploc bag and then to put hot water in the sink and submerge the sealed bags. It totally worked. No way was lack of a microwave going to force us into that ridiculously overpriced buffet Thanksgiving at the hotel! Where there’s a will, there’s a way 😉 Oh, and we made a “kids table” out of the cooler lol. The kids loved it and the entire thing was way more memorable than some boring buffet. Creative frugality can be entertaining in addition to the financial benefits 😉

        • Christine K says:

          I should add that I pre-cooked everything and bagged it up so it was all safe. I wasn’t actually cooking turkey in a sink, just heating it up 😉

  50. kay says:

    I am so far behind on your posts! I hope to catch up, one day at a time. You always have great ideas that I can utilize immediately. Loved the pics ~ the house is gorgeous and Babywood is a DOLL! Best wishes Frugalwood Family! God bless! 🙂

  51. Carol says:

    Good one for sure! Simple planning goes a long way. I love having food in my freezer…money in the bank. I hope sweet Babywoods has a good hat! That precious bald head…love it! She is a Bundle of Sweetness!! Enjoy these precious days…

  52. Louisa says:

    Absolutely agree on the planning ahead. Having appropriate, organized storage is key.

    Laurie above mentioned hoarding, which gets at keeping the balance of what to buy, take, store, and what to leave or share. Planning ahead on perishables means respecting the word “perishable.” (I read so long ago I’ve forgotten where of an over-frugal elderly couple who had filled their house with things bought on sale, including stock-piling toilet paper packages in the attic. When the family cleaned out the house after their deaths, the toilet paper all fluff-exploded when they picked it up because it was so old).

    Planning ahead on craft supplies is also a challenge. Enough but not too much!

  53. Cari says:

    Planning ahead has helped and will continue to help me when it comes to not spending. After reading your recent post on how you eat frugally (and quite well), I decided that I want to make the same whole wheat bread recipe that you do via King Arthur Flour, I decided that I’d look on Craigslist for a bread machine rather than purchasing a new one which also combined the “wait 72 hours” before you purchase something rule and then after a conversation with my mother got her machine for FREE that she no longer uses! This was planning for me whereas before, I’d head to the store and just buy a new one.

    I also run errands or head out on day/road trips with my own water, coffee and snacks rather than stopping for expensive and non-healthy foods.

    I’ve really gotten into menu planning, careful, organized grocery lists and I do believe it’s saving money!

  54. James says:

    I plan to be ready and to avoid any unexpected expenses. I think it’s about planning that makes budgeting and others work.

  55. Chris says:

    Shout out to Mrs. F for using the word “quotidian”!! Love your writing style, love being a Frugal Weirdo and love having found a community that appreciates this fun lifestyle.
    I’m in a different season of life than you are, Mrs. F. I’m getting ready to send my youngest off to college next year and will downsize within a few years of that. I have been going through my house room by room and keeping only that which I love and is or will be useful in my future, smaller home. It’s freeing to jettison the extra weight of items my boys and I don’t wish to keep.
    Happy frugaling to all

  56. moneycorgi says:

    Great post

    planning ahead with food saves me so much money, its 10x easier to resist a takeaway if you know there’s already premade food in the fridge waiting for you.

  57. Laura says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post! Not only are the financial benefits of planning ahead incredible and saves time in the long run, but its also extremely beneficial for my mental health and helps save the environment.

    Last weekend I went on vacation to Vegas and brought an umbrella (even though who needs an umbrella in the desert?!?!). What do you know it rained a full day on Sunday. I saved $8 and I didn’t purchase another cheap umbrella that I didn’t need.

  58. Liana says:

    What Buy Nothing Group are you a part of?? This is such an amazing idea but I don’t see ANY in Vermont (which boggles my mind)? The only way I can justify this is that Vermont is so full of people who already do this, why form a group? 🙂

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Since moving to VT, my free hand-me-downs are sourced through friends, my local parents’ group on Facebook, the side of the road, free boxes at garage sales, and our community email listserve. I think you’re exactly right–most Vermonters do this already, so no need for a BN group :)!

    • Eva says:

      The Buy Nothing project is an ever-growing entity. If you don’t see a local group on this list:
      https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/
      Consider starting one! All it takes is a volunteer or two to earn the in’s and out’s and then oversee the group to make sure it keeps in line with the mission of the project. I was a volunteer admin for my own local group, and all of the groups in my state for awhile. Even if you know a friend or neighbor who might like to start it up, share this link with them and someone from the project will get in touch
      https://buynothingproject.org/start-a-group/

      Another thing our community has done is organize a “buy nothing” event. These are particularly popular in the springtime when people start their spring cleaning. We’ve had people fill their trunks with all the stuff they want to give away that they would otherwise donate to a thrift store and then we all meet at a local park or high school parking lot on the weekend. Then everyone pops their trunks and goes “shopping”. We’ve done the same on a smaller scale where we have a park potluck and everyone brings a small bag or two of items. We have one table of food, one table of free stuff and a bunch of tables of people getting to know one another. These were all organized on our local community page on Facebook.

  59. Eva says:

    I love this post!
    My husband and I have just started to really sit down and have the “frugal” discussion. We’re tired of living in an apartment, but mostly, we’re tired of having to move every 2-3 years, especially now that we have kids. Being able to plan ahead is a new skill we are learning as a whole family. We’ve always been pretty good at planning ahead when it comes to the kids, but are terrible in a long-term sense.
    This post really gives us something to think about and add to our discussion.
    Also, I love when you mention Buy Nothing. I was an admin of my local group until I had my second peanut and my time was needed elsewhere. But I still utilize my group as much as possible. I haven’t had to buy any clothes for my son since he was born, and the only purchase for my daughter in the past year was her vest for Girl Scouts. I even planned ahead and asked for an iron from BN for ironing on patches. No one had one, but someone did have a straightening iron which works JUST as well and doubles as a styling tool 😛
    I’m still perusing all the blog posts and writing down all the key points that apply to my family. I’m learning so much, thank you!

  60. Eks says:

    I love reading your blog. Its after following folks like you, MMM, Root of Good, Mr & Mrs 1500 that we’ve started having discussions around FIRE. I will be needing a car in few months. I know you’ve mentioned on several occasions that you start researching months ahead before you buy the things you want. What are some of the resources I could look at to buy a car? I will be buying a used car. How do you determine what’s a good deal vs. not? Thank you.

  61. When I’m struggling to get organised (like a Sunday evening where I don’t want to get off the sofa and make my lunch for the following day) so I tell myself to this little favour for future me who will be really grateful. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it works most of the time. And on the times it doesn’t, it serves as an extra motivator the next time I tell myself to do my future self a little favour 🙂

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