Smart living

I don't like the word "frugal" living as it doesn't sound like a lot of fun.
 It sounds like drudgery to me. 

I much prefer to use  "smart living" instead, now that sounds like much more fun.

Smart living isn't just about making your money stretch further, but:
  • not wasting what you have
  • using what you already have
  • valuing what you have
  • thinking careful before adding to what you have. 
It doesn't mean you can't go out and spend (and have fun), it just means "think twice" and ask the question "do I really need it" (what is driving my decision - the heart or the head). In todays society were we replace items long before they need to be replaced, we don't repair or mend, we don't use what is in season, we don't make the best of what we already have, we spend out time lusting after what we don't have and we just go and buy more.  And if we don't have the money, we rely on credit, bank loans or buying that lottery ticket in hope that we will get some money. 

I am no expert at smart living, however I have a range of strategies that I use to help make the running of our house as efficient and as smart as possible. Here are a few of my tips and I would love to hear what you do. Mine are very common sense and are not rocket-science (and were common practices 50 years ago!). This list is not exhaustive and in no particular order. 
  • I avoid buying ready made food such as pasta sauces and stocks as these are expensive - these are all easy and quick to make at home and something that can be made in bulk and frozen.
  • I often make a large one pot meal and freeze for when I don't have the time to cook in the evening (or don't feel like cooking), it is far more economical to cook in bulk even when there is only two of you at home.
  • I have a well stocked pantry that contain all the basics - it means I don't need to dash to the shop every five minutes. I generally base my meals around what I have.
  • When I do my grocery shopping I stock up on one or two extra items such as tinned tomatoes, frozen peas, pasta or rice, coconut cream to maintain the pantry stock.
  • We eat fruit and vegetables that are in season - common sense really!  If I are planning to make jam or chutney later in the year, I buy the fruit (e.g. apricots) when in season and freeze for later use.
Grow vegetables from seeds rather than seedlings is far cheaper. When planning a vegetable garden think about the cost of the water in summer, it can add up.
  • I try hard to avoid throwing away food - use up what is in your fridge before buying the next lot. It may mean being creative with recipes but it does reduce the amount of waste which is the same as throwing away money.
  • From my mother I learnt how to "stretch" a meal by adding rice, pasta, bread, burlgur, barley rather than extra meat -  my mum was an expert with this one as she had very hungry boys to fed. 
  • I have a suit of cheap and cheery recipes that I make that really don't cost that much per serve. Choose recipes around the ingredients you have in the house. 
  • I don't buy my lunches, instead I take leftovers or make a salad. It is so much cheaper than buying a cup of coffee (or two or three) and lunch every day. 
  • We like to have take-aways but instead of buying it, I make it.  It is often far cheaper and much nicer to home cook than purchasing from the local take-away store (which can be very expensive for a family).  I have an excellent pizza base recipe that only takes 30 mins max to make and have in the oven (LINK). Not quite as fast as the shop, but 100% more tastier and healthy. I now also make my husbands favourite laksa rather than buying it and DH is impressed!
  • You can make your own cleaning products or if this isn't your area of expertise (I don't have the time at present) buy in bulk. 
  • I buy almost everything on sale. I tend to buy clothes at the end of season when some items have dropped by 75%. You rarely need to buy any clothes at full price. Nothing is more annoying than buying a dress for $70 to only find it reduce to $35, six weeks later. 
  • I find buying online can be much cheaper but do your homework and check out postage.
Making your own cakes, biscuits and muffins is the way to go.  These are also great to share or give as gifts.
  • I often find second hand stores and eBay are get places to find bargains (but be careful as you can be ripped off).
  • I borrow books, CDs and DVDs from my local library (usually via their online service and wait until I receive an email to come and collect). This creates a large saving if you are a big reader like me. I only buy if I think it is a book I will use over and over again, however most people only read a book once.  It is also a great way to "try-before-you-buy" such as with cookbooks that aren't cheap. My library buys all the new releases so there is rarely a book I want that I can't find.
  • Last year we reviewed phone plans, health, house and car insurances to make sure we were getting the best deals, worth doing each time they are up for renewal.
  • Before going out and buying something new, look around the house to see what you all ready have as you might have something that will do the job.
  • I learn to sew so I could make my own clothes - I buy fabric when on sale - it does make a big differences.  Learning to knit is another handy skill.
  • Share with others - I quite often share my DVDs with friends and vis vera. Works with books, cookbooks, patterns even an outfit for a special occasion. Great when it comes to baby clothes  and equipment too. 
  • As I posted the other day, simple pleasures don't need to be expensive to be enjoyable. 
  • Make homemade gifts rather than buying them.

Make your own pastry, it is often much nicer than the bought variety.

What are your tips for smart living?



  1. Hi Jo,

    I like your way of thinking. I think I would be able to enjoy "Smart Living" more if I had the extra time. Cooking more from scratch would be wonderful.

    1. I was talking to someone today about cooking from scratch - we both work full time - and said we have a suit of recipes that take no more than 15-20 mins to prepare - quick, easy and healthy. If I had to take much longer it would be a pain. I also make my one-pot meals (to freeze) on weekends when I can do other things at the same time (like doing the washing etc) and find they are quite quick to throw together and let cook for an hours.

      Have a lovely week ahead.

  2. I do practically all of the above. Unfortunately the cost of fuel in the UK relative to buying cheap biscuits makes baking your own more expensive, although I do this sometimes if I've used the oven for a meal. (Did you know that if you have an electric oven and you turn it off after you've used it, it retains enough heat to make biscuits?) I also cannot resist buying books and my other half now insists I do it on the kindle due to storage considerations :S (How can I argue when he makes no complaint about the rest of my stash?) In my defense I re-read books all the time :) Once in awhile we do have a chinese take-away but our argument is that it's much cheaper than going out for a meal and we make it a special occasion, candles and all :) So I guess we've been 'smart living' for years, and it has nothing to do with the fact he's scottish and I'm half ;)
    Lesley xxx

    1. No, I didn't know about cooking in the oven after you turned it off. Its a really good idea for those biscuits that only take 8-10 minutes. I must give it a go.

      One of the reasons for using my library network is the lack of space in my house for any more new books. I was buying far too many each year and simply running out of space. I do a cull every year and donate books to a local charity that does create some space for new books!!

      My mother was very good at smart living and she was a great teacher and yes, both her parents had Scottish genes!!

  3. Jo, this is a good post! I am linking to it from my blog on Tuesday. Already have it scheduled to go up, providing there are no glitches. :-)

    1. Glad you enjoyed the list - any other ideas to add?

  4. I reckon the grocery store is the number one place where people could save if they truly wanted to. I agree that basic cooking at home is not only enjoyable but so much more economical.
    We have recently reduced our phone usage and its so good to know we're making better budgeting choices.
    Here's another to add to the list: let your kids catch the bus instead of driving them to school - petrol sure adds up ;-)
    Am LOVING the library lately - esp since our little one is a keen reader.

    1. Completely agree with the grocery store one - I go in with a budget and don't over spend, I also have a shopping list and I avoid processed foods that cost a mint.

      Catching buses is cheaper, however in my town its not the worlds best so I still need to drive to work :(

      I also LOVE the library and rave about it to other people. I am yet to be disappointed. I also think its a habit you should teach your children.

  5. I forgot, I don't know if you have online grocery shopping there but we do here with a small delivery charge, I find this saves a fortune because you don't 'just pop that in the trolley' as you go past, you just get what you need and no more.
    Lesley xxx

    1. I use to do online grocery shopping (I am a huge fan of online shopping), but with just the two of us it really wasn't worth it as we don't buy that much from the supermarket anymore. Im also a but lazy and avoid the supermarket all week if i can and that is also a great way to save!!

  6. We employ lots of smart living ideas in our house/on our property... For example, save on cleaning products by keeping things clean to begin with - eg. wipe down the shower with plain old water and a scrubber every time it's used rather than waiting until scum builds up. Use cheap bi-carb soda and vinegar for most of your cleaning - it is a LOT cheaper than those chemicals that are also bad for you and the environment. Don't buy disposable things if you can buy reuseable things - washing dishes only takes a short time if you rinse or soak them properly and take care of them regularly (disposable kitchenware might seem cheap, but they add up after awhile, especially in a big family). Recycle curtains, bed sheets, towels etc for other uses (rags or some other re-purpose) rather than throwing them out if they get too thin or dis-coloured. Compost kitchen scraps if you don't have a chicken to feed them to - they make fantastic compost and save you buying fertilizer products. If you have a farm nearby, ask if you can have their cow manure or chicken poop to use for fertilizer, too - works just as well, if not better than chemical fertilizers! If you are suffering through a drought, put a bucket under the tap when you're waiting for the water to warm up (in the kitchen or bathroom) and throw the water on the garden or wherever else you might need it - it's perfectly good water to use!
    I'm sure there's lots I'm not remembering... There's loads of great ideas out there!! :)

    1. The only disposable kitchenware that I buy is the trays you use in the oven - if we have a roast on a Sunday evening and I know it will made my trays yuck to clean, I will use the disposable sort to make my life easier. But we don't use that many as we don't have roasts every Sunday.

      There is so many things one can do, some involve more effort that others but in the end it not only saves money, it helps with our environment and in some cases reduces the amount of chemicals we pump around - win win for all.

  7. I love the twist you put to frugal, Joluise.
    Beautiful pics too.
    Blessings :-)

    1. Thanks heaps - these should be fun it makes it far more enjoyable!

  8. Hello, Golly where has this last week gone? Bet you were wondering, now where did she go??
    Loved the Pooh quote :o)
    Your list of Smart Living are all really great ideas; and I agree that Frugal does sound like you are missing out.
    But, I must admit to you I just bought a want and not a need... I just got a new curio cabinet to display my pretty China cups and other things.
    But what the heck, I m always saving money in other ways, Does that sound reasonable Hahaaa
    Happy Valentine's Day to YOU...Roxy

    1. One should always spoilt ones self so I am all for these little gifts to self!! Your new curio cabinet sounds lovely :))) There is no point saving all this money if you don't use some of it on things you enjoy:))

      And happy valentines day to you too:)

  9. All fantastic tips! I really like your way of thinking. I'm gradually getting better at 'smart living', and I love it. I enjoy the challenge, and I love saving money!

    1. It is a challenge but I often find challenges exciting and fun and when you look at it that way it makes it much easier to do. I've done the "how little can I live on in a week" and have really surprised myself.


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