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A 7-Step Frugal Homemaking Plan

It’s not all soccer practice and Starbucks runs. Homemaking is a real job that can save you the equivalent of a full-time salary. Here’s how.

open cabinet with white clothes on hanger

We’ve all heard jokes about housewives and how they spend all day shopping and getting their nails done. But it’s not like that. I mean, maybe it is for some people. But you desire to be home and help your family in every way possible. And when you’re living on one income, one thing you might need help with is saving money.

The good news is there’s so much you can do as a homemaker to save money.

First, tackle cooking at home and work your way down the list.

๐ŸŽ 1. Cook at home

Of all the things that save you money, this is number one for a reason. Feeding a family can feel like a full-time job. But it can also save you the equivalent of a full-time salary.

When you stay home, you can keep a well-stocked pantry, cook from scratch, use leftovers, and do all the million and one things required to keep a family fed on a budget.

If you have the time, you can experiment with making your own bread, salad dressings, bulk cooking, canning, and more.

But before you do all that, nail the basics. The basics of saving money in the kitchen are this:

  1. Make a meal plan and shopping list every week.
  2. Don’t throw out food.
  3. Cook from scratch whenever you can.

If you feel overwhelmed with money-saving tips and advice, just go back to those three. Keep working at them until you’ve mastered them. They will take you the furthest of all. Stick to these rules, and you will be ahead of the game.

๐Ÿงถ 2. Embrace homemade household items

fuzzy balls of yarn in pink blue and purple

This can get into tricky territory because homemade is not always a money saver. Making things at home, like soap and quilts, can be a hobby and an affordable way to give gifts. But it can also lead to unnecessary crafting supplies, wasted time, and frustration at making something that could have been purchased for less.

Here are some ways to make sure your homemade hobby is thrifty, not wasteful:

  • shop for supplies at discount stores or yard sales
  • only make things you know you’ll really use
  • give homemade items as gifts instead of store-bought (not in addition to!)
  • start with straightforward projects like crocheted dish cloths or homemade cleaning soap
  • set a budget for crafting supplies and get what you need over time
  • use baking soda and vinegar to make your own household cleaning supplies

But don’t discount the value of handmade items. They help you feel productive and busy in a good way and train you to see your role in the home as more than just a consumer. The satisfaction goes far beyond the dollar amount you save.

Related: is it worth making soap at home?

โญ๏ธ 3. Look for frugal alternatives

iced coffee on blue background

You have the gift of time when you don’t work outside the home. Yes, of course, you are busy, but you don’t have the demands of an employer, and you can manage your own day. This allows you to plan, research, and be flexible in ways many people can’t.

Here are some money-saving choices that you can make when you have the luxury of being home:

  • pack lunches for days of long errands rather than stopping for fast food
  • go to a free story hour at the library instead of paying for an educational app
  • look at resale markets or websites for something you need rather than buying new
  • join deals groups online to buy what you need at the lowest price (but don’t buy things just to buy them!)
  • decorate your home with natural and found items instead of whatever’s new at Target
  • go to the park or playground instead of a theme park

You can have a whole, fun life without spending much money. Promise.

๐Ÿ’ช 4. Embrace the hard way

Unfortunately, the easy way is often the most expensive. You’re paying for someone else’s work when you buy a shortcut, whether it be precut celery or grocery delivery.

Of course, only you can know when it makes sense to pay a little more vs. do something a little more challenging. But it’s essential to avoid always taking the easy, expensive way.

If you can embrace the idea of hard work being a part of life, you’ll find that you are happier and save more money.

Don’t expect your celery precut at every turn.

๐Ÿž 5. Use what you have

This is an attitude adjustment and lifestyle change, not just advice to use your leftovers. Try to get into the mindset of using what you have instead of wishing for more.

When planning your meals for the week, don’t just think to yourself, gosh, I’d love to eat tacos. First thing: what’s in the freezer you could use up? What’s ready in the garden?

When the kids seem bored, first think about what you can use that you already have: a sunny day, puddles to jump in, and a stack of construction paper.

When you are bored, remember what you have. A home to clean. Children to read to. A beautiful kitchen to bake cookies from scratch.

If you’re always looking for more and thinking about things you need, you’ll get stuck in a cycle of consumerism and unhappiness. To be a frugal homemaker, enjoy what you’ve already been given and use it wisely.

๐Ÿก 6. Stay at home

woman reading and drinking coffee

This can be challenging when you’re used to dashing out and running errands all day. And I get it. Sometimes our home can feel like a boring, stressful place to be.

But if you really want to embrace being a homemaker, you have to stay, you know… at home.

Going out is rarely free. But more importantly, it’s exhausting. A day of shopping, especially when dealing with kids in tow, will leave you too tired to cook, clean, or do anything else.

One of my favorite homemaking tips for the overwhelmed: stop going out so much. It’s incredible how much energy you’ll have and how much money you’ll save.

๐Ÿ’ต 7. make a budget (boring, i know)

Back to the realm of the practical.

Have you ever heard the saying “What gets measured, gets improved”? It’s true. If you aren’t keeping track of something, it can slowly get worse and worse. When you keep an eye on it, it gets better.

And a budget keeps an eye on household expenses. It has a magical way of saving you money, even if it feels like you aren’t changing anything.

As the homemaker, you can take charge of the “big” household budget (mortgage, utilities, etc.) or leave it to your husband. Choose whichever works best for your family.

But at the very least, set a grocery budget, kids expenses (clothes + activities), and personal budget you oversee. If you don’t, you can find yourself in a tight spot where your husband questions you every time you spend money, or you spend so freely you dig yourself into a hole.

It costs money to live and run a household. Get in front of this with a budget you agree on and have worked on as a team. Sit down with your husband to set this up. Pick a time when no one is upset about money. Do it before you’re forced to do it because things have gotten out of control.

Be realistic about what you need to provide for all of these categories. Try your best to stick to your budget, and be upfront and honest when you can’t. You’re in this together. Really.

๐ŸŒป 8. grow your own

We know that a significant element of frugal homemaking is the idea of making things yourself. Starting a garden takes this a step further.

You can grow some food items, even if your house doesn’t have space for a huge garden. Of course, you can’t grow everything, but you can save quite a bit of money by growing just herbs and tomatoes outside your back door.

You’ll find that starting a garden has benefits beyond saving you money at the grocery store. It helps you bond with your house and see it as a happy place where you produce things, not just an empty shell to be filled with consumer goods.

Start small, with containers of herbs and greens or a few 4 x 8 raised beds, which can hold quite a bit.

Pick things you know you’ll eat that you buy for your favorite recipes or enjoy as snacks. Your garden will be frugal, fun, and probably one of your favorite tasks to attend to as a homemaker.

More practical homemaking tips

๐Ÿ‚ 9. enjoy the journey

Being a frugal homemaker is fun to read about but harder to actually do. Making dinner can be tiresome for the 100th time. There will be days you just want to order something online you can’t afford, just for fun. And I can guarantee, on one busy day that you feel overwhelmed, you’ll be tempted by precut celery.

So if it helps, think of frugal living as a big adventure and a challenge. If you think of yourself as always struggling and having to give up all your favorite things, life will feel like a burden.

But at the heart of frugality is understanding that you are giving up little things in order to get bigger and better things. That might be a fun trip, the ability to stay home with your family, or getting out of debt.

I wish you the best of luck finding (and getting!) whatever those big things will be.

5 thoughts on “A 7-Step Frugal Homemaking Plan”

  1. This was such a sweet reminder to me, especially about using what you have and enjoying the challenge instead of allowing discontent to set in. A person with a cheerful spirit has a continual feast! (Proverbs 15:15)

    Reply
  2. This was the exact post that I needed to be reminded of this morning! Thank, once again, for all of the effort you put into sharing your wisdom with us!

    Reply
  3. Dear Katie, You are doing a great thing staying at home and providing all these nice things for your family. You are sacrificing somethings to gain other things because you know what is important to you. I share your views. Thanks for your posts.

    Reply

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