Friday, June 13, 2008

Frugal Principles: Make do

It's Frugal Friday again over at Biblical Womanhood. This is the next installment in my extremely sporadic series on the frugal axiom "Use it up, Use less, Make do, or Do Without.

Today I'm going to talk about making do, and how this frugal principle applies to my everyday life. To me, making do is the heart of creative frugality: it's finding a way to make what you have or what you can afford work in place of what you don't have or can't afford. You might use this tip to avoid buying an expensive tool (an electric sander? I can make do with this sand paper), a high end brand of coffee (make do with the store brand), or simply to avoid an extra trip to the store (make do with blueberries when you intended to make a peach cobbler). This is a step towards frugality that can seem difficult and tedious - having to forego all the "luxuries" - unless you find a way to use your creativity to make it into a game.

I'm not the most creative person in the world, so this is one I still struggle with, but here are some things I've come up with:

  • Instead of buying a new dress for the wedding you have to go to this summer, make do with one you bought last summer buy adding a snazzy accessory, cute cardigan, or even by adding some stitching or changing the hem length. Hey, if there's different people at this wedding, you don't need to change anything at all! :)

  • Instead of running to the store to buy buttermilk to make a certain recipe make do with the following substition: add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar to your cup of milk and wait a second for it to start to bubble. There's a great list of Cooking Substitutions on Tawra's website, Living on a Dime.

  • Instead of buying trash bags, make do with the plastic bags from the grocery store.

And since I'm fresh out of creativity right now, here's a creative frugality challenge for you:

I have a stack of newspapers, a cardboard box, and a ton of plastic grocery bags, plus assorted household odds and ends (some leftover ribbon, yarn, twine, plenty of tape...). How many different making do substitutions can you come up with?


Suzanne said...

Good tips! I have found that if before I start to throw something out, I think about how it could be reused or repurposed, it helps. But I don't have any suggestions for you--sorry! :) Well, you could use the newspapers to clean mirrors. Or use as packing if you were going to ship something. That's all I got! :)

K said...

I'd use a 40% off coupon at Joanne Fabrics to buy a chunk of indoor/outdoor canvas fabric... then I'd make some cute chair cushions with that and the random ribbon for my patio furniture (ok, the hacked-together collection of furniture I call my patio furniture). Then I'd stuff the cushions with the plastic sacks and pat myself on the back for being such a "creative designer" for tying together a mismatch of stuff with $3 worth of fabric instead of going with that boring matchy-matchy crap. hee-hee.

Then I'd use the cardboard box and newspaper to re-edge my flowerbeds and keep the grass out for the season. I usually just dig out a bit around the edges where the grass is creeping in, put down the cardboard, toss on a little dirt and some mulch and call it good. I would also consider using the newspaper to do some "lasagna gardening" to make a new strawberry bed.

Oh and about that electric sander... don't get between me and my orbital sander.... I LOVE that thing. (But not in a creepy way because that sounded really creepy....)

seattlegirluw said...

I love it!

As for the challenge: Well here in Washington it's good to save your bags since they're about to start charging 5 cents per bag. But bags are also great packing material (if you don't have ink cartridges to trade in at Staples for a store credit for bubble wrap).

The bags and newspapers make great canvas help for any home projects or while cooking. That way, you either have less to vacuum up (saving electricity) or less counter to wipe down (saving cleaning products/avoiding having to go buy some).

If you have kids, you can use the cardboard as a disposable drawing board. Or could use some tape and make cool inside hopskotch for rainy days. (My mom actually did this with just a roll of tape on the carpet when I was little and trapped indoors during AK winters.)

Of course, you can use the newspapers for fun crafts of paper mache.

Or you can collage the boxes with leftover magazines, then decoupage it to make it last longer. (Mix glue & water if you don't want to buy Hodge Podge.) Then you have a pretty (but disposable if necessary) holder for various objects. Or a cool gift box for the next bday that comes up (when you can put that ribbon to use, too!). Or a pretty flowerpot holder if you're worried about water leakage from the pots. (Put a towel on the bottom of the box, though.)