Being Frugal Can Cost a Pretty Penny


I love the idea of being frugal. Getting rock bottom dollar prices on all your needs make so much sense. Why pay full price? And then there is the reusing and redoing until an item just wears out!

When one thinks of being frugal there a few places your mind may wander. To your food. To your clothing. And even to decorating your home.

My family is guilty of looking to save in all of these areas and even more. But one other thing we learned is that if you’re not careful, your aim to be frugal may end up costing you more.

The Top 3 Areas where I Tried to be frugal


I love gardening. It’s amazing. When things go right. This hobby is something I discovered back in my 20’s. At that time I lived at home and it was my college years. My mom got into it together and we had big dreams of having a self sufficient veggie and fruit garden. Even though we were growing together mom left me to my own devices as far as what we grew and where to get plants from. At the time I had a full time job along with school so I spent a ton of money on plant starts and gadgetry. No money on research and we had a so-so harvest that year. We moved to a new city the next year so there went that.

Years later after getting married my husband and I finally moved into a home where I could do a tiny bit of gardening. And I do mean tiny. I had to garden on a very small porch and it was a learning process. The first year we spent hundreds of dollars on pots, potting soil, organic seeds, and more. Of course I consider all that stuff an investment now but in the beginning I would have done well to find more frugal ways to do things.

Food from Scratch

When one thinks of being frugal of course making your own food from scratch ranks right up there. Making things such as breads and sweets from scratch is a great way to bless your family and loved ones while also keeping track of what is going into your body. But it’s not always the cheapest most frugal way to feed your family.

Since I’m allergic to soy there are many things I have needed to make myself over the years. In the last couple of years have I been able to purchase baked breads and cookies that are soy free so I don’t need to bake as much as in the past. I will admit to my weakness for them. When I do make my own things sometimes the costs can add up. Soy free chocolate, butter instead of margarine, olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Etc.

For example my family loves chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn’t? I can make them for a low cost for them but then I can enjoy them as well. So when I go to make soy-free chocolate chip cookies they cost quite a bit more to make. It’s actually a price I’m will to pay but since we are talking about frugal baking I’ll have to take soy-free homemade chocolate chip cookies off the table. Actually I have not ever seen soy-free store bought or bakery chocolate chip cookies so these are just occasional treats.

Bread is another story. That I can make frugally even when using more costly King Arthur flours. A loaf of soy-free bread in my neck of the woods is $2.99. When I can purchase Kind Arthur Flour on sale it’s the same price ($2.99). Depending upon the type of bread and the ingredients needed a loaf my own bread can be 1/3 to 1/4 of the price. Eh!

Frugality in Home Decor

There are a lot of books out there to help you decorate your home in a frugal way. Sometimes they require you to have a bit of a DIY bone in your body. I don’t think I have that DIY bone in my body.

When I was growing up my mother was very good with DIY home decor. We didn’t have a lot of money and she, being an artist,

More Frugal Ways of Sewing:

  • Stock up on rock bottom priced fabric. Of course not too much but think in advance and take advantage of deep discount sales.
  • Purchase notions at Estate Sales.
  • Learn to re-purpose outgrown and even worn out clothing.

Now I’m not saying all this to say that gardening, sewing, and making your foods from scratch are not part of frugal living. What I am saying is that my true idea of being frugal is being a good steward of the funds God has blessed us with.These three areas were all learning steps for me. I dove into each one thinking would immediately save money. But that wasn’t true. There are ways to doing these things more frugally and it’s been a learning process for me to get there. Some days the convenience outweighs the frugal or homemade factor but we still press on.

Real Ways to Save Money

These three ways of saving money may not have worked out the way we initially tried them but you can still save money in these three areas. Just with a different method and mindset.

I still love gardening and it can still be expensive. Some ways we save in our gardening are…

  • Swapping plants. I swap a lot of plants with neighbors and friends. Our yard is now almost too full. Some plants I’ve received which are thriving are blueberry bushes, black currant bush, fig tree, thornless blackberries, hostas, ferns, irises. Some plants I’ve shared are tomato plants, onion starts, strawberry plants, hostas, dahlias.
  • Growing things that come back year after year. Garlic, all the berries, my tomatoes and swiss chard come back because I let some go to seed and replant themselves. This will be the first year I don’t buy tomato plants. Wish me luck!Grow from seeds instead of purchasing starts.
  • Start seeds in recycled eggs cartons instead of my hefty price tag do dad (that I do love).
  • Use lasagna gardening methods in my pots over the winter (not sure if this would work but interested in trying it).
  • Use organic natural methods of pest control. I do now with neem oil, garlic spray, and pepper mixes. Hard to do much companion planting in a pot.

Baking can be very frugal.

  • Well since I’m partial to my flours key would be buying them on sale and stocking up. Same with the chocolate and coconut oils. If I can stock up when these items go on sale my costs can go down.
  • Keep bread recipes simple. It’s the extra ingredients that make a homemade bread loaf price rise.

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On Being Frugal

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  1. I found out the hard way that repainting dark book shelves to a lighter colour is not cheap. A good quality primer and then two generous coats of cream paint were not as frugal as I would have liked. I will think twice before doing that again but now I know I like the lighter colour better. 😉

    Best wishes,
    Jen in Oz

  2. The other expense with gardening is water. We live in town, and water’s really expensive. We did a tiny garden last year (4 tomato plants and 2 zucchini plants), and the water cost us way more than buying the produce would have.

    1. We were very worried when we started gardening about the water. But we used self watering pots and for some reason our water bill did not spike. But this was definitely a worry. I wish I knew exactly how we kept it down. Our water bill was less than a same sized family across the street that doesn’t garden. We’ll have to look into a rain barrel when we move.

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