When I first started on my frugal journey, I was not sure of how much money I could save since I rented an apartment.
Most of the blogs I read, websites I visited where written by home owners. I really wondered could I get my utilities bills down, my laundry bill down, and most of all could I stockpile just like some of the home owners did.
I thought about it and tired some different things and so found out, yes I can do some of the same things home owners do to save money. I learned how to shop wisely, save money on laundry and start a stockpile.
I want to share with you some of the things that I did and exactly how it saved me money.
My journey started in 2005, when I was laid off of my job. I was collecting $1425 in unemployment which did cover most of my bills. I was also getting food stamps every month for my son and I. I was lucky enough to find a cleaning job which paid me roughly $65.00 a week.
We had money coming in but yet I still had a lot of money going out. So I needed to find ways to save money quickly before we were in a tight bind. I began reading on the Internet about living a frugal lifestyle. Something that was very new to me, as I had not been raised with this type of thinking. The more I read the more I wondered could I do some of these things and save money.
I started with the laundry since I was paying roughly $46.00 a month just to wash and dry our clothes. Every website and blog I read mentioned hanging your wash and how much it saved you money.
Since I was paying a dollar for every load I washed and another dollar for every load I dried. I thought why not give it a shot and if it does not work, then I go back to the dryer. I purchased two sturdy dryer racks for around $50.00.
I began by hanging all our clothes after I washed them, on these racks and on the shower rod using hangers. For one month I kept track of what I was saving by not using the dryer.
I saved twenty dollars just by hanging all of our clothes. I even hung the towels, sure they were a little rough but we were exfoliated as an extra bonus. Once I saw saved twenty dollars a month, I was hooked. Those dryer racks were paid for in two and half months of hanging clothes. Laundry soap was next on my list.
I was not ready to even think about making my own soap, so I tired other things. I would only buy soap that was on sale and I had coupons for. I also used less. It is possible to have clean clothes without filling up the cap. In fact 2 or 3 Tablespoons would clean our clothes just fine.
So I started marking the bottles of when I bought them, to see how long they would last. I could easily have a bottle last 4 months or more. Now I was saving money in every possible way with laundry it was time to move on to my next big expense food.
Growing boys eat a ton, and even more so when they are playing sports which my son was. Feeding him was expensive. I was getting a decent amount of food stamps that would easily feed us for the month, if I shopped right. I had learned about freecycle on the Internet. So I listed that I wanted a deep freezer. Nothing big and nothing fancy. I figured if someone had one to give, then I would happily take it.
Many of the blogs and message boards I was reading mentioned OAMC (Once a month cooking) and cooking from scratch. In an apartment the freezer space is not big enough for all that, however a deep freezer would work. I was blessed and given a freezer. Since my kitchen was small I had to put the freezer in my bedroom.
Yes, I had a deep freezer in my bedroom. Now it was time to fill that freezer. In my neighborhood a local butcher offers a great meat deal for $20.09. The price changes each year by 1 penny. The deal changes every month but it was a great way to start filling my freezer. I no longer bought processed foods, since I was out of work I had all the time to cook. Every day my son had a home cooked meal.
Cooking from scratch became my new passion. I learned to make pizza crust, homemade cakes, crock-pot meals. My food stamps were used very wisely. In fact when there was a mistake made and I was not given food stamps for two months we were able to eat out of our freezer. The only thing we went to the store for was milk and fruit. By that time I was even making our own bread.
Most people including myself, think there is no place to start a stockpile in an apartment. Wrong, there is room but it takes some creative thinking. Our apartment was small but we had a huge closet that worked perfectly for stockpiling. I began watching sales at the grocery store, Walgreens and CVS.
When I would find a good deal on items we used, I always bought a few extras. Many health and beauty items I was able to get for free or dirt cheap. We stocked up on laundry soap, deodorant, shampoo, toilet paper and canned goods. I even stocked piled in my freezer. In my kitchen I had some cupboards that were too high for every day use, so I would stock canned goods, noodles, drink mixes and other items we did not need on a daily basis.
Closet shelves are another great place to keep a stockpile. Since there were only two of us, we did not need a huge stockpile, just enough for a few months. In fact, I was so good at stockpiling one year for Mother’s Day. I made my mom’s gift out of my stockpile.
I gave her a nice box full of stuff she would have to spend her money on, leaving her with money to do something else with. One day when my son’s friend came over, mentioned he had to go buy sunblock, he was led to the closet to pick out what he needed.
In the beginning of my journey, I had a lot to learn. Money was tight and I needed to make ends meet. I was not working anymore so I had time to devote to learning how to become frugal. It saved us, we did not lose our apartment and my son still got do participate in sports. Those beginning lessons, still help me as I continue on my frugal journey. At times I look back on those days and wonder why I did not find these ideas even earlier.