Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sacrificing to Spend Less

NewLessLogoI have a special treat for you today--a guest post from Joana, from Starving Student Survivor. She is sharing with us today about living on less, another installment of The Less Project!

Several years ago I saw an episode of a home renovation TV show featuring a man who was flipping a house. He said home improvement projects had three desirables elements: the work should be fast, high quality, and inexpensive. However, it was impossible to achieve all three. He could only choose one or two components, and since he had money, he chose to spend more for good quality repairs done as quickly as possible.

To some extent, the same is true in homemaking. But as the wife of a full-time graduate student and SAHM, I need to keep all costs as low as possible. Here are some time and quality sacrifices I make.

Shopping. I do a lot of research and price comparing online for larger purchases. It takes time to make sure I’m getting the best price for the quality I need.

Entertainment. My family spends virtually nothing on media. We wait for our library to carry the books or DVDs we want. If there’s a TV show we like (it’s been a while) we watch it online. My husband earns gift cards from taking online surveys to pay for video games, along with trading in games he doesn’t play anymore. The only quality sacrifice is borrowing DVDs that seem to have been used as a cat’s scratching post.

Food. Food is interesting because anything that makes it more convenient often means a higher financial cost and a lower-quality product. Time and energy are required not only to cook food, but also to plan menus, make grocery lists, and reinvent leftovers. But with practice, the quality actually increases as the food becomes healthier (and tastier!).

Cleaning. I make my own cleaning products. (Does putting vinegar and water in a spray bottle count as “making”?) They take longer to use because of the extra elbow grease needed. In that light, some quality is lost. From an environmental perspective the quality is improved with fewer toxic chemicals and less packaging.

Personal care. I’ve replaced my shampoo with a baking soda/water solution and my antiperspirant with baking soda and cornstarch. After several months I can say that I'm used to them, but honestly the quality isn't the same as their traditional counterparts.

Laundry. This is my big time-consumer. With no laundry facilities in my apartment, I wash my family’s clothes in our bathtub. It’s nice to know it’s easier on our clothes, which come out as clean as from a washing machine. Other than a few wrinkles from line drying, the quality is fine.

Spending less requires giving something up. What do you sacrifice in order to save?


Since Joanna graduated from college in 2005, she's been learning how to care for a home, be a mother to two hilarious little boys, and support her amazing husband while he completes his university degrees. She enjoys taking her kids to the library, playing the piano, watching girly movies and doing counted cross-stitch embroidery. Joanna blogs at Starving Student Survivor.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, and Frugal Friday.



  1. We're currently looking to reduce our expenses even further, so this post came at a good time. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Also, I'm not sure if it would work out in our individualistic society, but perhaps someone (from church?) would let you come over and use their washing machine on a semi-regular basis. Especially if they did not have kids at home and/or worked all day?

  2. Joana, thanks again for guest posting today!

    Julia, I have always been curious what the cost comparison is when you count energy costs for running a home washer/dryer. We spend $20/month to do our laundry in the apartment facility and have a very low utility bill (always under $100) in our tiny apartment. Does anyone have any idea who much it costs them to run the washer/dryer in their home?

  3. Bless her heart for doing that laundry in the tub. I spend around $80 a month, sometimes more on our laundry. It's $2.50/load for the washer and $2.00 per load for dryer. Ridiculous, isn't it? I would estimate a home washer/dryer roughly $20-$30 a month for water and gas and electric.

    Alicia--one of your comments made it into my spam catcher and I deleted my folder by accident, so I am sorry, I didn't get to read it or comment back! So if it's not showing up, that is why! So sorry about that!

  4. I'd heard of all the other "sacrifices", but I haven't heard anybody talk about hand-washing their laundry! That's got to be a HUGE money saver for you, especially with no W/D in your apartment.

  5. This is a great post and is inspiring a post within my head right now. I'll have to mull over it a bit and write something you have inspired!

    Thanks for a great post and a glimpse into how you're saving!

  6. Alicia, thanks again for inviting me to post!

  7. I think it is a great idea to go through all areas of household expenses and try to find a way to cut them! We have done this in the past (I think it's time to do it again!) and have cut $100-200 off !

  8. you are so right the internet is a great place to find sales , tips and coupons

  9. I have a washing machine but line-dry the laundry, and I think it actually has fewer wrinkles than when I used the dryer, except for those rare times when I remembered to fold the clothes immediately after they finished drying. Also, there's no static cling!

    I save by not having a cell phone and by reusing all sorts of stuff and by eating less meat.

    In the personal care department, I save lots of money by using a reusable menstrual cup, but that's not a sacrifice because it is a fabulous invention that is far more convenient than any disposable product!!!

    Thanks for the nice guest post!


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