The last few times I’ve been out shopping – whether it was for groceries or shampoo – I have bumped into people who know me as the Northern Cheapskate. Some of them are readers, some are friends, and they all want to know the same thing.
They want to know what I have in my cart and how much money I’m going to save.
Well, here’s the thing. I’m not one of those people who can get a cartload of stuff for $4. Sure, I know how to use coupons, and I am good at it when I put the effort into it, but I don’t always do it.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that my shopping lists look pretty similar to most people’s lists and that my savings are pretty comparable to the average moderate couponer.
Does that mean I’m not frugal? Nope. Does that mean I don’t practice what I preach? Nope.
It means that I am like most folks. I’m just trying to save money in a variety of ways. I am human.
When I first started this blog back in 2007, I had three kids under the age of 2 all in diapers. I was desperate to save a buck. I pinched pennies. I clipped every coupon. I requested every single free sample I could get my hands on.
And now that our kids are older, I still do some of those things, but there’s been a shift in my way of thinking.
I’m saving money by simply not buying things.
When I do buy things, I try harder to find them secondhand first.
I’m trying to buy less processed foods, grow my own food and am making more things from scratch, like homemade seasoning mixes.
I’m trying to use more natural cleaning products.
I’m paying attention to packaging and trying to avoid individual packets of things. I’m trying to break my dependence on plastic containers and bags. I’m trying to cut back my use of paper towels and napkins.
But I’m not perfect. I still haven’t been able to break my soda habit. My kids still thrive on Goldfish crackers. We eat more than our share of cold cereal in our house.
But we’re doing what works for our family at this stage in our lives. And that’s what you need to be doing, too.
There are many, many ways to save money. It’s okay if you’re not getting a cart full of groceries for $4. And it’s okay if you’re not making your own laundry soap.
Focus on what you can do to save money. Focus on what you want to do to save money. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
The savings will come.