12 Frugal Living Tips for Spring
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Spring is the perfect time to get back on track with your finances and start living frugally again after a long winter.
I don’t know about you, but despite our best efforts to live frugally in winter, it is by far the most expensive time of year. Between Christmas and other holidays, heating and electricity costs, higher food costs at the grocery store and spending to fight cabin-fever-induced boredom, we easily spend double, triple or even more in winter than we do at other times of the year.
Spring is always a welcome respite from winter for many obvious reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is because our bills and overall spending start to decrease and allow for a little breathing room. Heating costs go down, most of the expensive “holidays” like Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day are over for another year, and the better weather makes getting outdoors just to enjoy the fresh air an attractive pastime once again.
There are so many ways to cut spending and start living more frugally come springtime, and the best thing is, none of them make you feel like you’re being deprived or missing out on anything. So aside from the multitude of ways spring will save you money just by nature of not being winter, here are 12 more tips for living frugally this spring.
1. Spring Clean (with DIY Cleaners)
It really wouldn’t be spring without a little spring cleaning. Spring is the perfect time to open the windows, clear out the dust and deep clean your house after months spent indoors dirtying up the space.
Of course, you’ll want to steer clear of chemicals and store-bought cleaners if you are going to be as frugal (and safe and healthy) as possible. Luckily making your own all-natural cleaners couldn’t be easier. All you need is a spray bottle with a little white vinegar and a rag to clean most surfaces.
You can even infuse your vinegar with herbs, essential oils and citrus peels. For in-depth information on what you can clean (and what NOT to clean) with vinegar, check out this article from Good Housekeeping.
Baking soda also works really well alongside vinegar, especially as a bathroom cleaner as it works great for scrubbing toilets, sinks, showers and tubs. You can infuse it with all-natural oils and ingredients as well! Here is how I make my favourite All-Natural DIY Bathroom Cleaner.
Just as important as actually cleaning your home, organizing and purging is a great way to clear out clutter, while away an afternoon or two and even make a few bucks off of unwanted items. And nothing is as frugal as making extra money!
Chances are everyone in your house got more than they needed for Christmas, or at least got something that they haven’t used since Boxing Day. Why not pass those items onto someone else who will actually use and enjoy them and free up space in your home for the things that bring you the most joy?
If you can, see if you can make a few dollars by selling some of your unwanted stuff. Post on places like Craigslist, Kijiji and local Buy & Sell Facebook pages. Or have a garage sale if the weather’s nice enough and you have enough to sell.
Anything you can’t sell, donate. Don’t second-guess it. If it doesn’t bring you joy and you haven’t used it in months, just get rid of it. I know this is easier said than done, but it’s the truth. The space and peace of mind you’ll gain from decluttering will be well worth getting rid of some stuff that you may or may not use someday.
3. Start Seeds/Plant a Garden
Hands-down, one of the best, healthiest, most frugal things you can do is to start a garden and grow some of your own food. Whether you’re a seasoned homesteader or a total newbie, there’s no time like springtime to start some seeds and start growing some of your own food.
Even if you don’t have a lot of garden space, a balcony or even a window box is all you need to grow a little herb garden. And if you don’t even have that? You could even grow mushrooms in your closet! Or maybe find a community garden in your area and get involved.
Not only is gardening a fun and frugal activity (when you grow food from seeds anyway), but the savings on groceries and the return on investment when it comes time to harvest makes it literally feel like you’re growing your own money. And who in their right mind wouldn’t want that?
4. Swap Seeds
If you’ve been gardening and seed-saving for any length of time, find a local seed bank or seed savers exchange and swap some of your own seeds with other people for free (or cheaper) instead of having to buy new seed varieties. Or if you live in a community where many people have gardens, talk to your neighbours and organize your own seed swap.
You can swap seeds for free at a local level or you can buy them from other gardeners on The Seed Exchange website where you can also sell your own seeds and make a little profit off of the seeds you save.
If possible, I recommend getting your seeds locally (as they are best suited to your climate, soil conditions and gardening zone) and helping out your own community first, so if possible find or organize a seed exchange in your own community. But if you’re having trouble doing that or are looking for more selection, check out this Nation-wide Seed Savers Exchange. You can sign up for free and start buying, selling and swapping online right away!
5. Find Free Plants and Garden Materials
If you want to up your frugal garden game, look to your local community to find free cuttings, seedlings, plants and garden materials.
Often you can find free garden materials around this time of year on local buy, sell and swap sites and farm & garden groups (check Facebook for local groups) or under the “Garden” or “Free” section on Craigslist.
Sometimes people will offer up cuttings from plants they already have, extra seedlings, plants they have dug up and no longer want or any variety of other garden materials like plastic pots, compost or manure, soil, tarps or landscape fabric or even fencing materials for cheap or free if they have extra they don’t need.
We started our strawberries with free cuttings from someone else’s garden and also got free horse manure to mix in with our soil. We recently found a couple dozen plastic gardening pots left out for free in front of our community centre and often see neighbours with boxes full of plants and seedlings left out on the street and marked “FREE.” Help them out by taking it off their hands, keeping these things out of the landfill and adding to your garden for free! Literally no downside here.
6. Review Your Budget
Spring is a great time to review that budget you set for yourself in the New Year when you made all of those resolutions. Or to make a budget if you *ahem* didn’t get around to it in January.
Take a look at your monthly spending since the beginning of the year and review where your money has been going. Check to make sure you are spending within your means and staying on the budget you set for yourself. Look at where you can cut unnecessary spending and adjust your budget for the spring season.
7. Cancel Subscriptions
After you’ve reviewed your budget and figured out a few places where you can cut back on expenses, be ruthless and cancel some of those monthly subscriptions and unnecessary bills.
Maybe you have a gym membership you hardly use (time to get outside for a workout anyway!) or a magazine subscription that you could cancel (pick up free magazines at libraries and doctors offices or read online instead). Or maybe you’re ready to take the plunge and cancel cable, or maybe you have more than one streaming service that you don’t need.
Subscriptions can eat up a ton of cash each month, and can cost you even more if they charge your account when you’re low on cash and put you into your overdraft as that can incur extra fees. Be ruthless. Cut as many subscriptions and regular monthly payments as you can get away with and save yourself a good chunk of change.
8. Use Less Electricity
As the weather warms up, now’s the perfect time to use less electricity and utilities in general as you turn down the heat and get outside more.
Reset your thermostat to reflect spring weather. Maybe you only really need it on in the early mornings and late evenings if you live somewhere fairly warm. Maybe you can simply turn it down a couple degrees or even turn it off manually when you head out of the house (which will probably happen more and more as the weather gets nicer).
Likewise, save on energy use by turning lights off as the days get longer, turning the television off as you spend more time outdoors or line dry your clothes instead of running the dryer.
If you’re in a position to invest a little money, you could even replace old bulbs with LEDs or replace old appliances with more energy efficient ones. Or maybe even invest in solar panels, wind turbines or some other form of off-grid power. It all depends on what you want and what you’re able to invest up front. Of course, if you’re already completely off-grid, you might be able to skip this step altogether:)
9. Get Outside
While I’ve mentioned getting outside a few times already, it deserves a place of its own on this list. Not only does getting outside save you money on electricity costs for things you would be running if you were stuck indoors, it’s also a great way to have some frugal or even free fun as you can literally just go out and enjoy the fresh air without having to spend a penny.
There are so many free things to do outdoors this time of year. Garden, go for a walk or hike, take your kid(s) or dog(s) to the park, dine “al fresco,” have a fire or find a free outdoor event near you. When the sun is shining, the possibilities are endless!
10. Have a Picnic
Tired of eating at the same table day in and day out? Need a change of scenery but don’t want to fork over the money it costs to dine out? Why not go for a picnic instead?
The beauty of a picnic is that you can change up the scenery over and over again and never have to pay a dime for enjoying the atmosphere! And picnics are super simple to throw together.
Just grab a basket, a blanket and some portable dinnerware (if you don’t have these items, this gorgeous picnic basket set comes with everything you need for less than the cost of a cheap dinner out). Then, pack up a few easy-to-transport foods like sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes or just some cheese, charcuterie and condiments like pickles and spreads.
Don’t forget something to drink! Homemade Iced Tea is a great option. Or if you’re looking to make it into a date-night, add a bottle of wine and bring a candle. Who said frugal has to mean boring?
Spring is the start of foraging season, which is like a homesteader’s version of an Easter Egg hunt;) Not only is it a fun, free pastime, but you get free food out of the deal too! Can I get a “woot woot”?
Depending on where you live, you might be able to find all sorts of wild edibles to forage. Spring is the perfect time to forage for wild greens and weeds like stinging nettles, fiddleheads, chickweed and dandelions.
Morel mushrooms are a great edible mushroom variety to forage in spring too. Pine tree tips (the fresh, soft, bright green growth on the end of pine trees) are also an excellent springtime wild edible to forage. They’re packed with vitamin c and have a citrusy flavour, so they make a nice tea or you can turn them into a delicious Tree Tip Syrup.
And of course if you live buy the coast you might also be able to forage for seaweed and shellfish local to your area. Just be sure to check regulations and health warnings to make sure they are safe to forage and eat in your area at this time of year.
For a better idea and more comprehensive guide to foraging in your area, pick up a local field guide to wild edibles in your region.
12. Plan an Easter Potluck
While most of the expensive holidays have passed, there is one more annual celebration to be had, and that is Easter. Whether you celebrate for religious reasons, to honour spring or simply as a fun tradition, if you celebrate Easter you probably do so with a feast.
Of course, if you are the one hosting, this can cost you if you need to buy a fair amount of food from the grocery store to feed extended family and friends. So why not make it a potluck instead?
Have everybody be responsible for at least one dish and keep Easter low-key and simple this year. Bask in the company of good friends and family and enjoy what really matters most in life. After all, spending quality time with loved ones is the most enjoyable pastime of all, and it doesn’t cost a dime:)