To be or not to be Frugal: that is the question..

I'm linking to Essex Hebridean today, with her brilliantly thought-provoking post about just how far we will go to be 'Frugal'.

(Here's the original post:

Over the last six years, we've tried lots of Frugal ideas: some we adopted because we liked them; others we have rejected.
Like many others, we enjoy living 'differently' to the norm.
We don't see having the newest this or that to be pleasurable.  
We don't need to keep up with any particular 'set'.  
We don't have credit cards or take out finance.
We don't have a loan or a mortgage at the present time but prefer to live within our means.

We hate having to waste money on 'now' things when we can save up for fun things and look forward to treats.

For example: today we made a picnic lunch (sarnies for the grandchildren, veg porathas and a pot of mint raita for the adults), caught the bus (free for MW and the children, £2.50 for me: cheaper than using fuel and paying to park), walked where we wanted to go .. past shops selling food (we had our own) and drinks (own from home including a flask of tea) and enjoyed free entertainment for a few hours before walking back to the bus stop and home.  
There were families around us paying out for: burgers and other take-out food; rides  ( we walked and looked at things instead ); souvenirs ( we've got pictures on our phones and in our heads ) parking, etc.

However, over the years we have tried - and rejected - some frugal living ideas.

Like others, we don't buy 'value' toilet paper: I do buy whatever is on offer in a large pack of the branded ones, but draw the line at 'value' bog paper having tried it and decided it's not for us.
We also don't eat 'value' meat: we'd rather eat mostly veggy ( having lived as vegans too ) with the occasional organic meat, but mostly quorn or tvp.

The kids drink branded squash: again, they've tried shops' own and just don't like it, but are happy to drink whichever flavour is on offer that month.

However, as for fizzy drinks, we've found that shops' own sugar free is no different from the branded ones, and much, much cheaper!

I did a months shop today: thought you'd like to see what I bought.

Value onions 1kg x 3
Sweet potatoes 1.25 kg x 2
Value white potatoes 2.5 kg x 2
Soya spread x 2
Soya milk x 15
Bacon rashers 150g x 2
Multi seeded bread 800g x 4
Gluten free bread 550g x 4
Cup a soups x 4 packets (on offer and super for packed lunches)
Tinned chopped tomatoes x 12
Tinned new potatoes x 8
Green pesto x 3
Dried red split lentils 2kg
Chick peas x 5 tins
Quorn sausages x 2 packets of 12
Squash x 3 ( on offer )
Coffee for machine x 2
Loo rolls x 16 
Shops own brand dishwasher tablets x 30

Before I shop, I check through the store cupboard and freezer and plan our meals for the month.
These are flexible, and I plan or be able to cook for more people or more meals than I need.

As an example of an evening meal, tonight we had roasted veg with sweet potatoes and Quorn sausages.

Some things we've tried and rejected in being frugal?

. I no longer make my own soap.  Tried it, was fun and cheap, but we just don't get through enough to warrant making batches of soap.
. Candles.  Don't use them, don't need them, don't make them.
. Washing powder.  I'm still working full time and in my 'off' time I'd rather be with the family than be grating HM soap into flakes.  It works fine, it doesn't smell as good.  Nuff said.
. We say no to: value loo paper, shop's own brand coffee or tea bags.

And some things we do as a matter of course:

. Buy generic/ non-branded items where we've tried it and it's the same as the branded.  E.g., beans, flour, Ibuprofen!
. I don't buy new unless I have to.  That goes for clothes, shoes and household items.  It's how I was raised and it feels right.
. Re-using.  I've currently got two jumpers from when I was v big that are waiting to be unravelled and re-knitted.  
. Repairing.  Replacing buttons, sewing a patch, getting shoes re-heeled.
. Planning meals.  We don't even own a takeout menu, let alone waste money calling for expensive food that we can make ourselves.  Fancy a pizza? I can make one and get it in the table in 15 minutes from what I have in the cupboard and fridge.  Curry? Several HM in the freezer, I'll just put some rice on to cook, be ready in 12 minutes.  
. Bags for life rather than carrier bags.  I'm looking forward to the ban on carrier bags in the Uk.  

What about you?
What have you tried and do as a matter of course: what have you tried and rejected?


  1. Good Morning :-)
    I honestly seem to going in cycles of spending and not spending! I love charity shop shopping. But lately I've been online shopping in the sales. I always go through Quidco and I always pay at the time of order or pay it all off when the statement comes. I definitely think I was more frugal when the kids were little. Necessity rather than choice. Vouchers off days out. Train rides to the seaside for next to nowt with a railcard. Always always took a picnic. If I can save money, I will. But if I want to spend...I will! Great post x

  2. Good post, just off the top of my head we don't buy value bog paper, coffee or tea either. I'll have to have a think about the rest. Ah, just thought - I buy value tinned chopped tomatoes as they're going in something, like a chilli.....but I buy a branded variety of tinned whole tomatoes (whichever one happens to be on offer) as we're going to eat them as they are. I save the juice from them and freeze it.

  3. Like you, not frugal loo roll. I do get cheap deodorant at ALdi and it's just as good as the more expensive ones, ditto for hair shampoo (I use baby shampoo) and conditioner. I get savers beans and tomatoes, Tea I hardly ever have and I look for better coffee (decaff) on offer and buy several when it is.
    For me, the most frugal thing is to make it from scratch!
    J x

    1. Aldi instant decaffeinated is fine ,I have found!

  4. I'm a bit slow discovering you are back in the world of blog. Duh.Until a friend was saying she had read your new blog I had no idea of all the hassles you had had. Anyway, good to read you again. As to value stuff, we use quite a lot but a dangerous taste warning should be put on T****s value blue cheese!

    1. Is it really bad? I like blue cheese but it has to be tasty!
      J x

  5. Excellent post m'dear with some sage advice to boot. Definitely no to cheap loo roll, it's just like John Wayne.... doesn't take shit of Indians.
    I guess a lot of what I or anyone else purchase's when keeping an eye on the pennies comes down to whether the quality, taste etc is worth it to the individual. Also willpower has a lot to answer for, especially when, like myself, you have bugger all at times.

  6. Great post. We are carnivores (although I do enjoy veggie food to) but I only buy meat if it's on offer or yellow sticker then freeze it as soon as I get home. I used to make laundry soap by my other half hated it so I now buy shops own brand. I make from scratch too.

  7. Thanks for linking to me Tracey - glad my post provoked some thought for you! I bet your reasons and mine on the value loo roll are the same too....! ;-)

  8. My mum always used to say, "Waste not, want not", and I think with the way the economy is going at the moment, this is as true today as it was in the past. frugal living


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