In normal times (what are those??) I would spend my Fridays reflecting on the ways our family had saved money that week.
2020 did not leave me a lot of time to do that!
Which is funny, because it DID give us all more time at home.
But here, that time was spent schooling 5 kids. And then when the fall came, I chose to keep 3 of them home to do traditional homeschooling.
Which has taken up a ton of time. (But so worth it!)
So in place of those 5 Ways We’ve Saved Money This Week Fridays, I give you…
Our Family’s Most Frugal Moves of 2020
Are you a fan of frugal tips? Then you’ll love this…
We might be weird, but I don’t love handing my kids a cell phone with unfettered access to the internet.
We found the perfect solution with the Gabb phone. It looks just like a smart phone. And you get unlimited talk and text for just $20 per month.
Now my kids can communicate with me, and with their friends, without worry that they’ll get themselves in trouble on the internet.
With all the shortages this year, we made it a point to plant our raised beds.
It didn’t give us a ton of produce, but we definitely had plenty of tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers.
I remembered how much I enjoy gardening. And next year, the baby will be 2 and I might be able to put a little more time into it.
We also raised meat chickens for the first time ever. We learned a LOT, but managed to fill two freezers with chickens! Hopefully I’ll be able to write up a post about this soon with more details.
We added a teen driver to our insurance this year.
I was nervous as can be, because I’d heard nightmare stories from other parents. They said they doubled (or more!) the cost of their monthly payments when they added their kid to the policy.
Luckily, my brother-in-law gave me the name of a good insurance broker. He shopped around and found us an awesome policy. The price hardly changed!
While I, and the rest of the world, was eating my feelings over the stress of 2020, my husband decided the time was right to lose weight.
Here’s the trick to weight loss…eat less, move more.
You don’t have to spend a bunch of money or consult expensive experts to make it work.
He stopped drinking calories of any sort. (By the way, you can get 24 La Croixs at Sam’s Club for $7! That becomes a nice treat when you don’t drink anything with flavor anymore.)
No more nighttime snacks. The candy habit was gone. He’d set a timer and get up and go for a walk out our road and back several times per day.
For a while, I made him separate meals with lots of brown rice, veggies, tuna or canned salmon, chick peas, etc. Most of these things I got at Aldi for super cheap.
Now that he established the weight loss, he eats what the family eats. Just at manageable portions.
He does eat trail mix, nuts, and dried fruits. Those were a little more pricey, but you can still get them at Aldi. And when you aren’t buying bags of chips and junk food anymore, the price seems to even out.
He lost 90 pounds this year and was able to quit some of the expensive meds he had been on. And you can’t put a price on how good that feels!
(Incidentally, I tried some of his methods and was able to lose 8 pounds myself, so I know they work for women, too.)
Enjoyed the Freebies
There were so many great freebies this year.
My daughter and I painted the Grinch via a free Facebook Live event for just the price of a couple of canvases. (We totally could have done it on the cardstock I had here, but I wanted to make it special for her.)
The library increased the number of renewals from 2 to 10! That was awesome.
Hubby and I are taking more dates these days. We have a pile of teenagers around to watch the younger kids now. So why not?
More often than not, we eat dinner at home so we can leave closer to the baby’s bed time. Then we go out and just grab dessert.
Or just drinks at our favorite Mexican restaurant (with free chips and salsa!).
We also have found several gift cards we’ve been given over the years but never used. So those make for great dates!
Before 2020, we had been doing breakfast bar dates while the kids were at Sunday School. Ah, normal times…
This has definitely had a lot of cost to it. But with all the fees and “extras” you pay for public school, I’m not sure it was that much more.
Catholic Heritage Curricula is what I use for many subjects for my fifth grader and somewhat for my eighth grader.
I also found a ton of cheap and free resources that I love to use.
I regularly print out freebies from Teachers Pay Teachers.
Catholic Icing has been a wonderful resource for teaching the faith to all of my kids. We’ve loved going through the liturgical year and learning more about different saints.
We generally have 100 books checked out from our library at a time. Which my husband says is “living dangerously”, but that’s how I roll… haha
There are TONS of resources you can use for free, if you just look.
At the end of 2019, our appliances started dying.
First it was the toaster. (That was doable.)
But then it was the fridge. After that, the dishwasher. And I was trying hard not to make the stove upset.
But alas, we began 2020 with a broken stove.
Since then, the washer and dryer have given out.
So I used my favorite trick first…”Anybody got a stove lying around I could buy?” And found out my brother had one to give away. (Whoop!)
Then a friend helped us find a used dryer for $50. (Yay!)
And the washer? Hubby has been piecing it back together as parts break.
But I know the washer and (used) dryer probably won’t hold out much longer. So I’m beginning research to find the best model.
And I’ll “patiently” wait 😉 for the best sale on them. And then… they’d better last me a good 10 years.
(Remind me in 2030 to start shopping for another all new round of appliances…)
Work From Home
There’s a “gift” that a LOT of people got for 2020.
My husband used to talk about getting a work from home job. And I would say, “That’s fine, dear. Just make sure it pays enough for the divorce attorney.”
(That was a joke…)
Anyway, along comes March 2020 and suddenly the quiet days of just me and the baby at home become a whirlwind of 5 more kids at home trying to learn on our one laptop… and my husband hiding out in the basement, working.
That was crazy.
But strangely, it worked.
Right away we noticed that we were saving a TON of money from him being at home. No gas (the car hardly ever moved). No extra meals out. The hat wasn’t constantly going around the office for this celebration or that.
We came to enjoy the extra time together. So when my Hubby received the perfect job offer (a work from home position), we knew it would work out great.
In fact, the timing was perfect, because we had just removed two giant 1,000 gallon water tanks from our basement…
But suffice it to say that a water cistern was a HUGE upgrade from the water set up we had been living on for 12 years.
We had dreamed of putting in a cistern for as long as we’ve lived here. And in 2020, we were able to make it come true.
So far we aren’t catching rain water…when we do that we should save a lot more money than we are now.
The cistern is allowing us to take fewer hauls of water, and when the truck comes we are finally able to hold the entire load of water he brings.
Woohoo! This might have been our biggest win of 2020.
Those are our top 10 frugal tricks that saved us the most in 2020.
Some of them took a little more work, but it’s all worth it in the end. We are proud of the way we spent this year!
Want more helpful ideas? Check out these top 10 posts from some of my smart blogging friends!