Recently I have adopted a motto for our home. It's "Living Better". When I make decisions or purchases for my family, I try to think "is this going to make our lives better?" What I mean by that is, will this save me money, or will this improve my lifestyle/health - or, preferably, both?!
Here is an example. A few months ago we switched from paper napkins to cloth napkins (which we already had). This saves me money, as I am no longer buying disposable napkins. Plus it's better for the environment. And it really doesn't add any laundry, as the small napkins just get thrown in with the towels I'm already washing. To me, that's Living Better!
A lot of Living Better revolves around cooking from scratch. I've been baking bread in my bread machine like crazy lately. Each loaf costs me only pennies, plus I know exactly what's in it. No yucky preservatives or anything. I am also making pancake batter from scratch, instead of the just-add-water kind. My pancakes are way yummier, and of course much cheaper. And just last night I made amazing corn bread from scratch for only pennies, which was much cheaper than the $1+ box I used to buy.
Living Better sometimes just requires thinking outside-the-box. We have been on a few really nice vacations lately where we were able to get fantastic accommodations on the cheap. Remember the fantastic ski vacation we took over New Year's? With a little research on www.craigslist.org I was able to find the house that we stayed in. It usually rents for over $400 a night. But with a little negotiating and being willing to sit through a 1/2 hour presentation (at the house) we stayed there for three nights - for $200 total.
We spent Easter weekend in Spokane this year. We priced out hotel rooms that would accommodate our family. The cheapest we could find that wasn't completely scary was about $75 a night, and that would have been one room with two beds. But after a quick search on www.vrbo.com we found a three-bedroom plus rec-room townhouse for the same price. Not only did we have enough places for everyone to sleep, we had plenty of room to spread out and could cook our own meals. The savings was huge.
I am constantly trying to improve my family's quality of life, save money, have nice things on the cheap, and even help the environment out a little. Keep your eye out for "Living Better" tags on my posts as I will continue to share things that we do. And please send any ideas you have for Living Better!