When Danielle Wagasky’s husband got out of the military a few years ago, the economy had hit bottom and he needed to go back to school. The family was living on $14,000 a year.
She realized her shopping habits had to change and she started researching and finding ways to save money. Then she realized she wasn’t the only one in that boat and she started a blog to share what she had learned with others.
Her blog, Blissful Domestic, offers ideas for saving money on a regular basis – mostly gleaned from hands-on experience. And her cumulative knowledge has resulted in a book, “Living a Beautiful Life on Less,” from Cedar Fort Press.
The Henderson, Nevada, family has learned to live on a lot less than they used to. For example, they put up a clothesline and stopped using the electric dryer – for an instant savings of $30 a month. The use a swamp cooler instead of central air, which serves them quite well even in the height of the Nevada summer, she says. She also has found recipes for making her own environmentally friendly cleaning supplies. And she’s a frugal but creative cook.
“The first area, where you can save immediately, is on your groceries. It’s the one bill we can change right now – you’re not locked into a set bill, like your phone. You can make decisions that affect that expenditure. Her blog shares recipes and meal planning ideas.
“We all want immediate gratification, and we want to know the effort we’re making is really paying off,” she says.
You also can quickly realize savings by examining your monthly bills. Your cell phone, for example.
“Your cell phone is not your boyfriend. You don’t have to be loyal to it,” she said. “Look for the company that meets your current needs rather than paying for stuff you don’t need.” She needed more minutes and the ability to text and her company was expensive, she discovered. She now pays less and still gets everything she wants. And that’s just one example.
“Shop around for insurance every six months or so,” she advises. “Things are always changing.”
Her philosophy, in a nutshell: “Why pay more if you don’t have to? We can all create a beautiful life for less. You just have to think outside the box. You can get more for less.”
“Simplifying our lives … our homes and our things, we can find beauty in the simple things, like spending time with family, working on our relationships, and not worrying so much about the material things.”
Has this all paid off?
“For us, it’s been a huge thing,“ she says. “The baby steps can add up to make a major change in your life.”
Her best advice?
“The No. 1 thing is to decide today how you want to live your life. “
She not only gives advice, but often gets it, too. Not all of it good.
“People kept telling me, ‘You should be a gardener. It’s such a great way to save money. It’s so easy.’ But it’s not. I don’t enjoy it. I’m giving myself permission not to be a gardener. For me, that is not easy. It’s OK that I don’t do that.
“There are other ways to save on produce.”