My monthly budget is $350. This includes food, medicine, clothing, cleaning supplies, etc. Everything for the care and keeping of my family comes out of that one pot of money. I use many frugal living strategies to stay under budget each month. Most people assume that being an "extreme couponer" is how I do it, but that's so far from the truth that it's laughable. I wish it were that easy!
This series of posts will help you learn how One Fabulous Mama rocks one fabulous budget for her family of five. In Part One of this series, I described how I use coupons and sales ad match ups to help keep my family under budget and living a fabulous life. In part two, I explored how I use gardening to supplement my family's meals all year long. In part three, I'll explain how frugal living and "deal" blogs inspire me (like I hope this one inspires you!), how to find them, how to tell the difference between crap and good advice, and I'll top it all off with a list of my favorites. How's that for fabulous?
Frugal living and deals- what's the difference?
Let's get this cleared up right now so there isn't any confusion later on that isn't created via too much cheap wine. I have some pretty strong views on the trustworthiness of frugal bloggers, so pardon me if I get my opinions all over you. There are two kinds of frugal-ness blogs out there- and I don't mean crap and fabulous. You have frugal living blogs that provide both original and found content which helps you live a more frugal life and you have deal blogs which post time sensitive information about shopping and consuming. Some blogs are hybrids of the two. One Fabulous Mama, for example, tried to be a hybrid, but found for many reasons that she wanted to focus on sharing and creating original content. You can read about that here.
I think the only reason why a person needs a deal blog is to access the coupon- sales ad match ups. If you are looking to consume, I'd say 95% of the deal blogs out there are just right for you. Tons of needless crap can be had if you're willing to sacrifice your time and energy and also cater to some unscrupulous bloggers, but I don't mean to judge. Okay, maybe just a little. A word about national deal blogs...You'll also find a handful of deal blogs out there whose audiences encompass the whole dang country. Follow them for the tips and such, but don't get sucked into a deal that isn't a deal and be mindful that their coupon- sales ad match ups might not work exactly with your local ad. Should you follow local or regional bloggers? Well, both if you need to do that. (I'll talk about how to pick a couple of trustworthy bloggers in a minute.) If you want to get a handle on what is happening in your area with thrift stores, events, and locally owned businesses, you need to follow a local blogger. If your local deal blogger provides good, quality, thorough coupon-sales ad match ups, then you're all set. If not, find a bigger, regional blogger to follow.
When a deal isn't a deal
One of the reasons why OFM stopped dishing out the daily deals was she saw all of the deception and money making schemes making the blog circuit and being touted as "deals" to you, the reader. You have to sort through a ton of crap to get to the "deals," friends. Just know that. I hope you'll take my advice and only use these deal blogs for the coupon-sales ad match ups.
Frugal living blogs are da bomb, yo.
Frugal living blogs like One Fabulous Mama are here to share information to help you save money. I lump gardening blogs, upcycling blogs, recipe blogs, and many more under frugal living because they all inspire me and inform me in my quest to live a frugal and fabulous lifestyle. Frugal living sites should have archived posts that you can reference as needed or wanted. I think of it all like this, friends. You know that old adage "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?" Deal blogs are giving you a fish and frugal living blogs are teaching you how to fish. I know I'd much rather know how to fish than feast for one day. Deal blogs are necessary, but just be careful. Frugal living blogs are where the REAL DEALS are.
Finding the blog that's right for you
There are a gajillion blogs out there, friends. Both the frugal living and the deal kind. Some frugal living sites might focus on having small children and some might focus on gardening. For example, if you are an OFM reader, you know I like my garden, I have three daughters, I like creatively shopping via thrift stores and found objects, and the Arts are pretty important to my family. I tend to focus on those things. I also promote local businesses, the public library, and cooking from scratch. I have a blog housed on my site where I curse like a sailor, explore being insane, and rant about crap that bugs me. If you like and/or can relate to any of those things, you might follow my blog. Some deal sites might focus on babies or pets. It all depends on the blogger.
How do you find a blog to follow?
Google it. Ask your friends. Ask on Facebook. You'll find them. Check out the list at the bottom of this post. They are out there!
How to find an honest blogger
With the frugal living blogs, you'll want to know the advice you are getting is solid. Look for comments on both the posts and on Facebook. Feedback from other people is a good gauge. Also, check out the blogger's ABOUT or HOME page. Does that gee haw with you? You'll get an idea of who they are and their writing style as well. Most importantly, check their last few posts. Are they pushing some random deal that looks suspiciously like they are going to make money if you buy in? A magazine subscription, a coupon, a deal that isn't really a deal, etc? If your gut tells you that they are full of crap, they probably are.
How to follow blogs (Stalking 101)
Used to be RSS Feed/ Readers was the way to follow a blog, but that's not the way I do things. I LIKE my favorite bloggers on Facebook. Facebook has totally replaced the need for RSS feed, in my opinion. For example, anything I post on The Frugal Blog will appear on Facebook, Twitter, and (many times) Pinterest. I share many items on Facebook from other bloggers that do not appear on The Frugal Blog. Almost everything makes it to the eNewsletter, but still, Facebook is the one place that gets every single thing I do. So Facebook and eNewsletters, that's the way to stalk your favorite bloggers.
One Fabulous Mama's Favorite Blogs
As I mentioned before, many deal sites try to get one over on their readers by promoting deals that are total crap. I can't, in good conscience, recommend any of these deal blogs. I am only recommending the one deal blog I use for coupon-sales ad match ups. If you want freebies, etc. I can't help you with that.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list.
That will be coming soon to the Frugal & Fabulous Living page.
Southern Savers- a regional blogger, the only deal blog listedhere; where OFM gets her coupon-sales ad match upsTipNut- I get inspired and learn a bunch here.Busy At Home- love the recipes, love the homeschooling advice even though I don't homeschool anymore
Being Frugal- Not updated as often as I'd like, but still a very useful siteHomestead Survival- good place for finding other online resources
Frugal Village- never fails to deliver useful info and ideasAlmost Frugal- good posts, useful informationThe Mother Load- a collection of three blogs actually, you'll find some quirky know how here and being frugal is all about being creativeSuzy Homefaker- creative, snarky, funThings I Found at the Thrift Store- Exactly what it says- love this siteThe Buck List- I like Buck. He has good ideas.Modern Homesteading- rural living, practical ideas
The Frugal Life News- practical, insightful
Happy Simple Living- Once The Urband Homesteader, not Happy Simple Living; a great source for info on scratch cooking and bieng happyThe UGA Cooperative Extension- a plethora of useful infoSquare Foot Gardening- YepPunk Domestics- love, love, love this smart modern blogCommon Sense Homesteading- Just what you think you'll find & more