Facet #4 – Helpful Tips for Finances and Frugal Living

Every homemaker is faced with the task of dealing with finances and frugal living. In order to keep control of their money, they have to find ways to make it stretch. The best way to make it stretch is finding frugal things to do that cost little to no money or having an income on the side. Think of finances and frugal living as different sides to the same coin.

green, red, and clear plastic piggy banks


The first step in gaining insight to your finances and frugal living goals is through your money. It goes without saying that in order to manage your money, you have to know how much you have coming in and how much you have going out. The best way to do that is through a budget and income and expense spreadsheet.

A budget is an estimate of how much you expect to earn and spend. For the most part, a budget is done on a yearly basis, and then broken down by month. Using a budget spreadsheet can do both jobs at once and can help you know what to expect both in January and in December.

An income and expense spreadsheet (IES) digs down even further and is more specific. Where you may budget $100 for electricity in January, when the bill comes in and is only $93.27, your IES keeps track of the exact numbers. When it is time to either see where you really stand each month, or you need to work on next year’s budget, this IES takes the guess work out of managing your finances. It is a source for both your finances and frugal living choices.

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With a farm, I have a budget and IES for the home and an IES for the farm. Each month, I am able to see where my money goes, and if the farm needs a loan (or some months, a downright ‘transfusion’) from the home.

It also helps me to see where the farm is making money, and where I may need to regroup on things that aren’t. That could be cutting back on expenses or finding ways that particular area can bring in more income.

Finances and frugal living need to be implemented on both sides – the home and the homestead. To do this, you need to get firm control over your money. To help you gain control, here are some posts that give you more detailed information:

Gain Control of Your Finances – Basic Finances for Homemakers

Helpful Financial Tools

9 Easy Tips to Save Money

Simple Budgeting Tips from the 30s

Frugal Living

green apple, glass of water, slices of artisan bread as a packed lunch

Living a frugal life is a combination of several things. First, we live frugally by scaling back to save money.  Next, we find ways to fill the gaps between not enough income and too many expenses. And third, we learn the difference between need vs want, and find ways to use what we have through repurposing. Here are a few tips and ideas you can use for all three:

stick of butter on a white butter dish, bowl of brown eggs, orange bowl filled with sugar

Finances and Frugal Living through ‘Butter & Egg’ Money

Whether you are a homemaker or a homesteader, it is always a blessing to have a little extra income.  One good way to help you with finances and frugal living is through ‘Butter and Egg’ money. This is an old phrase, used by homemakers whose homes had both butter and eggs in excess.  The homemakers would sell these items to neighbors, and sometimes to the local grocer. 

Today, the FDA will not allow us to sell our eggs and butter to grocery stores without becoming certified.  So instead, we sell to neighbors, and still look for other ways to bring in extra cash to help with our finances and frugal living goals.  The ways I have listed will work for homemakers, homesteaders and those who already have a job, but just need help in making ends meet.

‘Traditional’ Jobs (online services):

  1. Medical billing specialist
  2. Bookkeeping
  3. Virtual Assistant
  4. Graphic Artist/Writer/other ‘Gig’ Service through websites such as fiverr.com
  5. Web Designer


  • Eggs
  • Produce
  • Value-Added Products such as Jams, Jellies and other Canned Items
  • Crafts
  • Setting up an online store, such as Etsy

These are only a few ways you can earn ‘butter and egg’ money. Make a list of all the things you do – and do well – and search for ways you can turn those things into a part-time income.

Scaling Back

gold scale with a roll of dollar bills on one side and a red heart on the other

If we are looking for ways to scale back and balance our income and expenses, the first thing we need to do is to take a hard look at our budget and IES. It involves things you probably already know – finding ways to cut the electric bill, using coupons for groceries (or growing our own food), and running errands once a week instead of going somewhere every day.

There are other ways to scale back on your expenses:

  • Drop the gym membership and exercise at home
  • Check books out at the library, instead of buying more (access your online library app for easier access!)
  • Give up bad habits, such as smoking, drinking, and binge shopping
  • Reduce your waste – make frozen meals out of leftovers, or learn to use them in different ways
  • Do minor maintenance and repairs yourself, instead of hiring a handyman
  • Buy a Reel lawn mower (you won’t need a gym membership with this one, and it saves on gasoline!)
  • If coffee with friends is your thing, do it at home or go to a diner instead of and expensive coffee shop!
  • Learn to art of knowing what is a need, and what is simply a want

If you take a quick look at your spending habits, you can easily find a way to cut your expenses by a minimum of 5%. If you take a hard look, and are completely honest with yourself, you stand a chance of cutting those costs by 10% and more.


pink, blue and white quilt repurposed into heart shaped gift tags

This one is probably one of my favorite ways to save money. For me, it is a game I play with myself. I know what I need, but don’t have, and don’t want to spend the money necessary to have it. So, I start searching for something I already have to accomplish the same purpose.

One of my biggest budget busters comes in two forms: books and craft supplies – primarily fabric. So, instead of buying more books and magazines, I start with an online search first to see what I can find that will help. Next, I pay a visit to my local library, or Libby, which is an online library app. Usually, I can find everything I need for reading and research purposes in those two places.

As for craft supplies, I love going to thrift stores and garage sales. You would be amazed at what you can find that others are ready to get rid of. These are usually my go-to places for housewares, such as canning supplies, and fabric, yarn and other supplies.

vintage tablecloths hanging on a clothesline

Here are a few other ideas you can think about for repurposing items:


  • Take an item apart and make shirts, shorts or skirts for young children
  • Use old clothes and socks to make children’s toys or dresses and pinafores for dolls
  • If the garment is too far gone, try to salvage small pieces to make a quilt or throw
  • Strip the clothes to use for rag rugs
  • Use Dad’s old neckties to make a skirt (yes! It can be done and they turn out adorable!)
  • Make a clothespin bag

Other Helpful Hints

  • Use a tablecloth to make clothing, household items and more
  • Got an old faux fur coat? Use it to make pillows and/or tassels for pillows
  • Make cleaning rags
  • Tear pages out of old magazines to use for Decoupage projects
  • Use the cover of an old hardback book as a lid for a handmade box
  • Old glassware and vases can make cute birdbaths
  • Picture frames can be turned into a weaving loom
  • Old doors can become a table (or even a very large weaving loom)
  • Fabric strips from old clothing or pieces of fabric can be spun into bulky yarn
  • Learn to mend clothing, including the art of darning

The Death Grip on Finances and Frugal Living

two hands gripping the side of a rock

Some folks think that by having a death grip on their finances and frugal living goals means they can never spend money for things they want. That isn’t the case at all.  Instead, it is almost the opposite. By paying attention to your finances, and using frugal principles, you may just have enough money to do the things you really want to do.

Once you gain perspective on finances and frugal living, you soon find that not only are your bills paid, but there is room in the budget to splurge a little. It is okay to spend money. The trick is to not overdo.

If you want something, but don’t really need it, think about why you want it, and how it can be helpful. 10 pairs of blue shoes may be a bit excessive, but if you work in a corporate office, 10 pairs of shoes in neutral shades aren’t. Wearing different shoes every day can actually be better, as it gives each pair a chance to ‘air out’ and have a longer life span.

rack of assorted loafers, sandals, high heels and other shoes

But for someone like me who rarely dresses up, I don’t need 10 pair of dress shoes – I rarely go anywhere I need to wear them. If you looked in my closet, you would only find 3 pair – black, navy, and a super dressy pair in silver. However, you will find several pairs of tennis shoes, work boots and rain boots, due to all the work I do on the farm. And in truth, I really need another pair of tennis shoes!

Learn to balance between the Death Grip and Comfortable Control when it comes down to finances and frugal living. If you want it, and you can afford it, get it. If there just isn’t enough clothing that will work for your project, buy the fabric. Remember, sometimes it costs you a little bit to save even more down the line.

Finances and Frugal Living for Homemakers

tan colored teddy bear sitting beside a child-size tea set with a heart shaped cookie on the plate

When you really think about it, finances and frugal living should really fall under the creative category for most homemakers. When you begin looking at your money and figuring out ways to save, it takes some creative thinking outside the box to make it all work.

One of my favorite ways to do my heavy thinking is by taking some time away from chores, work and other responsibilities and sit down for an afternoon tea break. Just resting your mind for a bit will help you crawl out of your box and step into a whole new world of ideas for your finances and frugal living goals!

Ready for even more Facets on Homemaking?

Don’t miss these posts. They may just help you get a handle on your finances and frugal living goals, as well as assisting you to becoming a ‘Gem’ of a Homemaker!

8 Facets of Homemaking

Facet #1 – Clean your Home

Facet #2 – Planning Meals

Facet #3 – Have a User-Friendly Kitchen

Facet # 5 – Easily Extend Your Home to the Garden

Facet # 6 – 7 Smart Reasons to Can Your Own Food

Facet # 7 – Helpful Tips for General Home Maintenance & Repairs

And here are more posts for effective homemaking you don’t want to miss!

Plan Ahead for Canning Season

A Handmade Home

Baking as a Relationship

How to Have an Awesome Garden

Looking for a Product that can help you with your Homemaking skills?

Look no further. The Ultimate Manual for the Art of Homemaking offers all you need to get organized – as well as more finances and frugal living tips. It includes worksheets, tips, ideas, and record-keeping – all at your fingertips. Learn helpful tips for the home, kitchen and garden in one place!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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