52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Develop Contentment {Week 52}

Contentment

Every week for 52 weeks, I’m sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

Can you believe it? We’ve made it to the end of this 52-week series. It ended up taking me a few months longer than 52 weeks, but I’m just going to celebrate the fact that I followed through with writing all 52 weeks! :)

For our final installment of this series, I want to talk about contentment. Because truly, this is the heart of frugality.

I’m slowly reading through In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day (it’s so good!) and this section challenged me at a deep level:

Man’s Search for Meaning ranks as one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read. In it, Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl writes about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp.

Everything was taken away from the Jewish prisoners. They were stripped of their clothing, their pictures, and their personal belongings. The Nazi captors even took away their names and gave them numbers. Frankl was number 119, 104. But Frankl said there was one thing the Nazis couldn’t take away: ‘Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.’

The most important choice you make every day is your attitude. Your internal attitudes are far more important than your external circumstances. Joy is mind over matter.”

-In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, page 68

When you learn that stuff doesn’t buy happiness, your life suddenly becomes much richer. As I wrote about in this piece on contentment (stop right now and go read this post, if you haven’t already!), when we were first married and our budget was so tight, I quickly learned that contentment is a choice.

You can choose to be contentment — whether you are in the middle of a feast or a famine. Why? Because contentment isn’t about what model of car you drive, how big your house is, what brands of clothes you wear, what kinds of foods you eat, or how much money you make.

Contentment is first and foremost about your heart. It’s an attitude you can get up and choose to have (or not have) every single day.

Contentment

If you struggle with contentment, I encourage you to read my post on 16 Ways to Become More Content and 6 Things That Will Help You Have a More Positive Attitude.

Also, here’s a snippet from a guest post published in 2012 on How to Be Content With Less by Tessa who blogs at The Recreational Word Slinger:

3 Ways to Be Content With Less:

1. Expect less.

Stop expecting to buy something every time you run an errand. I was so guilty of this before we switched to using cash. I would think that I deserved a little treat for having to get out and grocery shop or run errands. Direct your thinking towards expecting less.

2. Ignore the urge for more, more, more.

This is easier said than done in today’s society. We are constantly bombarded with different advertisements telling us that we need more. We have to retrain how we listen to or pay attention to such ads. When you become immune to advertising, you might find that your desire for more decreases.

3. Look at what you do have.

This idea is by far the one that has helped me get over my obsession with stuff. One way to do this is by verbally thanking our Creator for what He has given us. When I am more mindful of the blessings that I have been given, then I find that I am less mindful of my humanistic desire for more.

Read the full post.

What practical suggestions and ideas have helped you become more content? I’d love to hear!

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Homemade Cough & Cold Syrup

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I tried my hand at making Homemade Cough & Cold Syrup last week.

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It was really easy to make (ignore the fact that I didn’t use raw honey or fresh lemons — I’m all about using what I have!)

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The end result was a little less syrup-y than I expected, but I warmed it up a bit and then it looked just perfect.

Overall, I was really happy with how the Homemade Cough & Cold Syrup turned out and am anxious to try using it the next time someone has a bad cough around here!

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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Stay Home More {Week 51}

Stay Home More

Every week for 52 weeks, I’m sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

My number one tip for keeping things simple and saving money is to stay home more. Staying home is one of the easiest ways to have more time, spend less money, accumulate less clutter, and well, to plain just live a less frantic lifestyle.

Staying Home = More Time

A lot of times I’m asked how I get so much done. Let me tell you, I’m no wonder woman, but I do know that one of my “secrets” to efficiency is that I stay home a lot.

I love quiet days at home and I find that we function best when we have at least a few days every week where we are home all day. It’s not always possible for this to happen every single week, but I do my best to make it a priority that we have at least 1-2 full days at home every single week.

I’ve purposely said “no” to a multitude of outside activities and opportunities because I know that running around with three children not only wears me out, it is a surefire way for me to spend more money (i.e. trips through the fast-food lane while we’re out, swinging by to check out a sale I see signs for when I don’t really need anything, or ordering carry out for dinner because I’m exhausted and didn’t have time to make anything for dinner) and get less done. It’s just not worth it, folks.

Now, am I saying you need to cut out every outside activity and commitment and never step foot outside your doorstep? No. What I am encouraging you to do is to carefully evaluate all outside commitments and see if there are some that are really necessities or if they are just cluttering up your life for no good reason.

Save Money By Staying Home More

Staying Home = Fewer Expenses

It’s pretty much always true that the less you shop, the less you buy. Stay out of the stores and you won’t be tempted to purchase things you didn’t know you needed in the first place!

Challenge yourself to stop spending money for a period of time — whether that’s a day, a week, a month, or longer. {Well, start small if this is a brand-new idea to you!} You’ll likely find that you begin to have a whole new appreciation for what you already have… and you’ll realize that you spend a lot more money than you need to.

When you think that you need to buy a replacement or just something new altogether, see how long you can make do without it. I’ve sometimes gone for years without replacing something that I once that was a must-have!

When you feel like you “don’t have anything to wear”, shop your closet before going shopping at the mall. See if you can come up with some new outfit combinations that you hadn’t put together before. It will feel like you went shopping — and you didn’t leave your house or spend any money.

Not only are you less tempted to spend money on things when you don’t go out shopping, but you’ll also spend less money on gas and have less wear and tear on your vehicle. It’s a win all around!

Staying Home = Less Clutter

One of the nice side effects of shopping so rarely is that we don’t have a lot of clutter. In fact, some would probably think our home looks really bare, but I’d much rather have only things we need, use, and love taking up residence in our home, than to have our rooms bulging with stuff we don’t need, haven’t used in a long time, and don’t like in the first place.

And when you have less clutter, you don’t need as much space and you will save money by being more organized.

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I want to end this post by sharing a post I wrote back in 2008 on how much I learned from our law school years when we didn’t have money to spend and I spent almost all day, every day at home:

A lot of you know that my husband and I spent the first three and half years of our marriage with him in law school and us living on a part-time income. We never went hungry and we always had a roof over our head and clothes to wear, but it was a very lean time.

During those years, we lived in a little basement apartment that only had four windows on one side. I could plug the vacuum cleaner into one outlet and vacuum the entire apartment without ever switching outlets.

We only had one old vehicle almost the entire law school tenure and Jesse usually used it for transportation from work and school. We knew hardly anyone in town we lived in–in spite of many efforts to try and make friends–and there were really not any safe places I could walk to from our apartment.

It would have been easy to have been swallowed up in despair and I won’t pretend there weren’t moments when I felt sorry for myself or wished we could be living in a little better circumstances. However, I decided, with God’s help, to try and make the most of what might seem like a less-than-ideal situation.

Maybe we didn’t have money to go out, but I challenged myself to think up creative ways we could still have fun without spending money. We’d check out a movie from the library and have homemade pizza. In the winter, we’d brew some coffee, pop some popcorn, and play a board game. Sometimes, we’d go to the park with a picnic or we’d browse the book selection at Barnes and Noble.

We didn’t have money to spend on decorating our home, but I still found ways to make it homey and inviting. For starters, I tried to always keep it clean and clutter-free–even if it wasn’t very pretty, at least it could smell nice and look clean! We tried to have music playing in the background and that always spruced up a rather bare home, too.

We couldn’t afford fancy foods or restaurant meals, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t eat well. I had fun trying new recipes, searching out good deals, and stretching our grocery budget as far as possible. I discovered AllRecipes.com and enjoyed using their ingredient search feature to come up with new recipes to use what I already had on hand.

Instead of going out and buying things, I’d go to the library and check out a stack of books. Sometimes we’d check out CD’s too, so we’d have new music to play in our home throughout the week.

It was also in this little basement apartment that I first began blogging and tinkering around with online entrepreneurial things. Had it not been for the free time and lack of friends, I would have never even considered pursuing blogging or had the time to learn about basic web design, online marketing, or producing an ebook or ecourse. Little did I dream that in a few years, those same skills would allow me to help supplement our family’s income by doing something I very much enjoy while keeping my priorities as a wife and mother first and foremost.

And guess what? It was holed up in this little basement apartment with sometimes only $20 to spare for groceries for the week that I was searching grocery deals online and came upon this store called CVS that everyone in a now-defunct savings forum was raving about. I could never have imagined what that simple search would uncover for me that day, nor how many thousands of other individuals I’d have the opportunity to introduce to CVS, as well!

Yes, living in that little basement apartment in an unfamiliar town barely squeaking by financially would never have been something I would have chosen for myself, but I’ll always be grateful God allowed me those three and half years of learning to be content, learning to love simplicity, and learning to make the most of what I had.  And I hope I never forget those lessons.

A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less-than-ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses which bloom in the midst of those thorns. Choose to bloom where you’re planted–even if it seems like it’s among thorns!

How does staying home more save you money? I’d love to hear!

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Is Frugality Really Worth It?

Recently, someone emailed in and asked if I died tomorrow would I regret the frugal choices I’ve made?

It was an excellent question and one that gave my husband and I pause — and produced a great discussion for us as a couple. Both of our answers were a resounding “No. We would absolutely not regret the frugal choices we’ve made.”

While we’ve made plenty of mistakes individually and as a family, we have zero regrets that we’ve chosen to live beneath our means, make sacrifices, delay purchases until we can pay cash for them, and live on a strict written budget.

To some people, not getting what you want right away or doing without might seem like a miserable existence. But truthfully, we’ve found it to be just the opposite: we live very fulfilled lives and we wake up excited about each day.

However, we both believe that the reason we feel fulfilled and passionate about life — even though we’ve made counter-cultural choices that some would balk at — is because frugality is a means to an end for us. If we were just frugal for being frugal’s sake, we’d likely quickly burn out or give up.

It’s not about saving money so we can continuously upgrade our lifestyle and always be buying bigger and better things. We want to live beneath our means so that we are able to give generously to others.

There’s a world of need around us. The more we steward our money well, the more abundance we will have to meet those needs. The more we save, the more we have to give.

Your efforts and my efforts might seem like a drop in the bucket when compared with all of the need that’s out there. But collectively, we can make a huge impact.

Let’s live simply so that others can simply live. Because truly, there is nothing more fulfilling than living a life with outstretched arms.

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reposted from the archives

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Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge: Day 5 (Clear Out the Clutter)

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Welcome to the 7-Day Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge. Each day this week, I’ll be blogging through the 7-Day Challenge. If you’ve not signed up yet, enter your name and email in the orange sign-up box at the top of the page here and you’ll get the daily emails and challenge in your inbox.

Clear Out the Clutter

As you probably already know, I’m not really into clutter. In fact, I’m positive that some people would come to my house and think it’s entirely too empty! But we love the uncluttered look. Here are four reasons we don’t have a lot of clutter:

1. It simplifies things because I have less to clean up. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to take care of.

2. It makes things easier to find. When you don’t have as much stuff, it’s easier to put things away.

3. It provides breathing room. I love wide open spaces — they allow my soul to breathe and make life feel calmer.

4. It saves money. The less you buy, the more you usually save. Plus, the less you have, the less you have to pay to maintain.

Here are some things that help me stay on top of clutter:

Ongoing Garage Sale Boxes

We have a designated spot in our home for garage sale boxes. In our current home, this is in the garage. As I find things we no longer need or use, I start filling up a box. When one box is full, I fill up another. And so on.

Instead of moving an item around from one room to the next when we aren’t using it anymore, I pitch it in the garage sale boxes and it’s out of our way. This method makes preparing for a garage sale quite simple since I already have a huge head start on collecting stuff to sell.

Thinking of having a garage sale? Check out my 10 tips for having a successful garage sale.

Clear Out the Clutter

Annual Clutter Elimination

Once or twice a year, I go through my home from top to bottom and am ruthless about eliminating clutter. Every nook and cranny is cleaned out and every item is evaluated.

By doing this on a regular basis, no area of our home ever becomes unmanageable. Rooms or closets might be messy or unkempt at times, but they never get so overwhelming that I can’t deal with them.

The No-Pile Rule

Except for my husband’s dresser and our laundry basket, we try to strictly adhere to a no-pile rule. I’ve found that a small pile quickly grows–without any effort. So if you don’t start a pile in the first place, you can avoid a lot of disorganization.

{Confession time: I have a few small piles in my closet right now… I’m tackling those as part of today’s project. :)}

In the Door, In Its Place

Instead of piles of paper around from place to place until you have time to deal with them, take care of them immediately. When the mail or other papers come into our home, I go through it right then and there and throw out everything that we don’t have to keep.

Bills go on my husband’s dresser, magazines go in the magazine basket, coupons go in my coupon box, and junk mail goes in the trash. Within just a few minutes, the mail is completely dealt with!

Avoid Clutter-Collecting Furniture

I’ve found my utilitarian nature helps avoid heaps of clutter. How? Because we don’t have a lot of furniture that tends to be clutter hot-spots for others. I’ve found that when there’s no place to collect piles, you are much less apt to make them.

Clear Out the Clutter

For more ideas and suggestions, check out these links:

Today’s Challenge

If you feel overwhelmed with clutter, don’t panic. Pick one space in your home to declutter as soon as you can today. This can be a drawer, cupboard, closet, medicine cabinet, your nightstand, or if you’re feeling overly ambitious, the pantry or refrigerator.

Ruthlessly clear out any and all clutter and unnecessary items you find. Consider passing on extra food and household items to friends or donating these to someone in need. Start with this one small space and I promise you will feel a sense of accomplishment right away.

Today’s Project

1. Read Day 5 of the 7-Day Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge (type in your name and email address in the orange box at the top of the page here if you haven’t signed up yet).

2. Leave a comment telling us what area of your home you are planning to tackle today for at least 15 minutes and clear out the unnecessary clutter. Remember, keep it simple and don’t bite off more than you can chew!

My project: I’m planning to tackle our bedroom closet. It seems to be the space in our home that can always use a little TLC and it has a few piles of mine in it that need to be dealt with. :)

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