Cloth diapering is definately the most frugal thing we do. We do use disposibles occasionally but only about 1 pack per month instead of 1 or more a week.
I second a lot of what the other mommas are saying here: cloth diapers, breastfeeding, making your own baby food, planting a garden. I do buy as much seasonal/sale produce as possible and if I cant get around to canning it, I freeze it.
We try to hit up at least one U-pick farm a month during the growing the season. Great way to get outdoors, connect munchkin with the food process, and fill the freezer and pantry. Plus, if you bring a picnic, it is a great family outing!
I would add keeping chickens to the list, but like any pet, they require a bit of start-up funds, maintenance and the cooperation or understanding of your neighbors and therefore aren't for everyone. Our chickens, however, have kept us from having to purchase lawn care machinery because they eat the grass and bugs and we can use the eggs to barter for the neighbor's mower when the front lawn needs a trim.
Might I also suggest, for people who live in warmer climates, hanging your diapers on the line and forgoing the dryer altogether? works wonders in the Texas summer sun!
Grow your own food! Having a garden can be as easy and simple as a window box herb garden or an entire lawn transformation (which would also save you from having to mow the lawn!) we have a garden every year and not only is it the best way to know where your food is coming from, but children love to be outside and learn about the plants as well. If the child helps to raise the plants and is around the vegetables, they learn how delicious they are fresh and eating healthy is so much easier!
My best frugal tip is to make a menu list, make a grocery list based off of that and stick to it while shopping. I usually save $200-300 per month doing this. It also cuts spending money on eating out because things are planned already and the money is already spent on REAL food.
My favorite frugal tip is mindfulness.
When you are mindful of what you truly need to feel happy, secure, calm and content, you realize that you don’t need as much as you think you do.
Mindfulness is making bread, enjoying the process, and savoring every bite.
Mindfulness is taking a walk outside.
Mindfulness is listening to someone speak and really hearing what they have to say.
Mindfulness is repairing an item before throwing it away, or finding a creative solution to your problems, or looking for fun, free ways to enjoy life as a family.
Mindfulness is remembering that often times if it's good for the environment it's good for the pocketbook.
Mindfulness is about abundance rather than deprivation and about the beauty of just enough, rather than too much.
Frugal Tip #1 - Buy Vintage! Why purchase cheaply made, expensive furniture that will be out of style and NEED replacing (due to quality) in five years, when you can seek out super-cool vintage items at your local 2nd hand store! Buy used - it's the best form of recycling out there :)
Here's a picture of some of my recycled items. Chair - free, Telefunken $100, clock $60 (all teak and been around longer than I have, so should be good for a few more decades).
Frugal Tip #2 - Definitely breastfeeding and clothing diapering my first two kids. I can only imagine the amount of $$ saved after 5 years total in cloth diapers. Unfortunately my newborn diapers are shot and will be needing a new set for baby #3.
Sorry, no picture of kiddos in the cloth (6 years ago - those pictures have been stored away).
Frugal Tip #3 - Enjoying what we have! Just because it's old, doesn't mean that you need to replace it.
A couple years ago we moved into a great old house and had big dreams for it - everything had to go, RENOVATE! Over time though, we've grown to love our 80's oak and rooster tiles, they are comfortable and make it home. There is nothing wrong with our home, it is just dated - but if we were to invest thousands, in ten years it'll just be dated again.
I like both pages and shared on Facebook - great contest!
My first frugal tip is actually a big money saver - buy used vehicles with cash and drive them as long as possible. The lack of car payment is financially advantageous, and keeping a car for a long time is also good for the environment. We have only owned 5 vehicles in our family (we've been together 20 years), and are still driving two of them. Two were donated to charity when it was no longer feasible to keep them, and one fell victim to our first teen driver :-)
I once read that "new car smell" is one of the most expensive smells you can buy!
Second frugal tip - don't waste food.
This sounds simple but statistics show that the average American family discards $2,275 in food annually.
We have started making a conscious effort to only buy what we need, and to cook smaller portions (because kids always complain about leftovers).
Also, because we keep chickens, all of the scraps and even spoiled things are fed to the hens - they aren't picky, they eat bugs!
They will even eat things that we previously did not consider edible, like the grease left after cooking ground beef.
We also grind up their egg shells and feed them back as a calcium supplement.
Here is a photo of my girl helping with the hens :-)
Frugal tip #3 :-)
Save money on vacations/travel by thinking outside the box!
We love to vacation, but like many families need to be mindful of our budget.
Over the past few years we have started to investigate alternatives to hotels.
We still use them, but have also found great deals on condos, houses, etc online, typically saving up to half the price of hotels. Staying someplace with a kitchen also allows us to eat most of our meals in, saving a bundle in restaurant costs. We still eat out on vacation, but only a couple of times.
Hostels are also a fantastic resource for vacationing with families - the rooms are typically spare, but usually there are cooking facilities, and we have enjoyed the added benefit of exposing the kids to people from many walks of life and cultures.
In 2008 my teenager was able to watch the US presidential debate with teens and young adults from all over the world while we were hostelling in Boston.
Our last trip took us to California, where we stayed at a lighthouse and I was able to practice my (rudimentary) French.
Here I am with our youngest posing at our last hostel spot - we stayed there with 4 of our kids and my daughter's best friend - we had a view of the ocean from our bunk beds!