Monday, July 11, 2011

Frugality and Convenience

Often, in the interest of saving money, we sacrifice convenience. Whether it be making our own foods from scratch rather than buying pre-made mixes, washing and chopping whole fruits and vegetables instead of buying pre-cut, or making our own homemade cleaners rather than grabbing something off the shelf at the store, we trade a bit of time for a bit of savings. Most of us don't mind. We know those savings can add up.

But sometimes, at different seasons of our lives, we may choose to pay a bit more for the convenience of having something ready-made. If we are frugal by nature, this might be difficult at first, but let's remember, it's just a choice to buy a benefit for a season. Another option is to come up with our own frugal version of the commercial product.

For example, right now, our kitchen mop is unwieldy for the boys. But the Swiffer Wet-Jet is just the right size for them. They'll mop the floor for me with the Swiffer. Yet, the refill pads are a bit more than I'd prefer to pay. It feels like a waste. Yet...would I take the trade-off: spend some money I wouldn't ordinarily spend to make it convenient for the boys to take over cleaning the floor? In this season, I think I will settle for that. (Update: I realized I could take some old wash rags or microfiber cleaning cloths--bought at the Dollar Tree--and use clothes pins to attach them to the Swiffer; a workable more frugal and environmentally friendly solution).

However, I'm going to skip buying the bottle of refill solution. Because the boys love to push the squirt button, too much solution ends up on the floor, and that is a waste. So I give them a squirt bottle with water mixed with Shaklee's Basic-H (or you could do water and vinegar, or another combination), have them squirt a small area, then wipe it with the Swiffer. (Update: Also at the Dollar Tree, I found a bottle of Mop and Shine. Just squirt it out and then wipe it up. This is another option).

When the baby comes, I may also spend a little money that normally I think is unnecessary to buy paper plates and some convenience foods that my husband or I can prepare quickly and easily. Hamburger Helper isn't my preferred dinner of choice, but if I can give the box to my husband and it gets me out of cooking dinner during the week or two post-baby, so be it. A trade off for a time.

What are some trade-offs you've chosen to make to save time right now, or vice versa--to save money? Or...what are some frugal ways you've found to substitute your own version of common convenience products, such as the Swiffer pads and solution?

(linked to Works for Me Wednesday)


  1. Someone once told me "you either pay with time or with money" true! For example, couponing saves money but takes time. Eating out saves times, but takes money...

  2. Great post! I am in that same season right now. I have 9 weeks before our baby arrives and so there will be disposable plates in our home in addition to Hamburger Helper and other conveniences that I don't normally splurge on. I am taking time while we are not doing school this summer to put some things in the freezer. Pizza dough, muffins and other meal components. I totally agree that using convenience items to better enable our families to help out more in these seasons is a must. We also have to realize our limitations (very hard for me).
    I love that we think so much alike! I always seems to find myself shaking my head in agreement while I read your posts. :-)

  3. Amanda B.July 12, 2011

    Thank you! So timely for me and my family as we're fast approaching the birth of our 3rd. Due Aug. 13th!
    I am planning on buying a lightweight vacuum with detachable handheld just for my kitchen. That way my 6 year old can help. I was just lugging my bigger one around and changing out the attachments by doing it myself but this way it can become a fun chore!
    Thanks again! ~Amanda

  4. I found it more frugal and time saving in the long run to teach my kids how to clean when they were young. You are doing a great job.