I’ve been trying to come up with a good working definition for efficiency to use with frugalness and this is what I finally settled on:
Striving to use time, effort, and materials in the best possible way to accomplish a task with a minimum amount of waste. Try to eliminate or minimize unnecessary effort, wasted time and wasted materials.
Everyone is going to have a different “best possible way.” We all have different lives, responsibilities, and expectations. What works for one will not necessarily work for another.
I think there is a careful balance between what you *DO* and how much you *SAVE*. There are some things I could make for myself, but the cost in time and effort makes it very inefficient.
For an obvious example; I could wash my clothes by hand and put them out on a line to dry. I would definitely save money on electricity to run my washer and dryer, and I wouldn’t have to pay for those large machines and costly repairs. However, the amount of time and effort to wash and dry by hand makes the benefits costly. Not to mention the ginormous mess I would probably make and then have to clean up.
My time and effort are important and they need to be examined when trying new strategies to save money.
That being said, I did come up with a few things I could do to be more efficient, and save money, around here:
- Freezer/Prep Cooking: Simply cooking once and eating several times. I do a little of this and love it. I’m planning on doing more. You can save so much time and money creating your own “processed” foods. This could be a whole series of blog posts in and of itself.
- Switching to CFL or LED lightbulbs: I need to do more research on these and start switching over. There have been several articles lately about what a huge difference this makes to your electricity bill. Do they print “how efficient are you compared to your neighbors” on your city bill? Yes, I need help.
- Planning Errands and Grocery Shopping Trips: We are getting some forced practice in this department. I don’t have a car most days so I really have to plan my errands better. The days when I do have a car end up being a little crazy as a result, but I know we’ve eliminated many extra trips. I’m learning that if I forget to buy something while I’m out I just have to make do with what we have.
- Switching our Checking Account to Interest Bearing: The Fishographer and I have been trying a new budgeting method and as a result we are carrying a larger balance in our checking account. Earning interest on that cash would eliminate some waste.
Look around and see what things you are doing that waste time, effort and materials. I think of my money in the materials category. So anything that you are spending money on, but not using, could fall into the waste category.