Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lving Frugally - UPDATED

This post seems well timed considering that Thomas and I are making decisions everyday to live more frugally. There are several reasons why we are doing this. But most importantly I think its to assure that our family stays focused on the things in life that are most important. In addition, we are working hard to pay off debts so that one day, we will be debt free.

We have made small adjustments over the last year.

For instance, we are making all of our cleaning supplies. (That of course was spurred by Jasper's allergy to detergents) And since we bought our home we are gardening more and trying to grow more of our own food. We have looked for ways to cut our budget so that we are living on less. And it is really tricky.

To date, we have probably saved the most on groceries. Through couponing and just being very conscious about what I buy and why, we have cut our grocery bill down to about $350 a month. And I will striving to get that down even lower.

Our small adjustments are gradually turning into larger adjustments. This year the garden will be bigger than ever before. And, we have turn off our cable....completely. This will be my last post from the comfort of my own home. We don't watch much TV at all so that won't be the issue, but Thomas and I can be addicted to the computer at times. We check our email very often. We surf the news. We surf blogs. And honestly, not only does it take away time from our family, but it is expensive. It has a lot of perks to let it go - it will save us about $850 this year, and we will have more time with each other. And truthfully, we both have access to the internet during the week at work so we should be able to handle this change. But in some ways, I still feel like I'm cutting off my right hand.

In the future, anytime I update my blog or any website, it will probably be from some store that offers free access. So, there will definitely be fewer posts in the future.

A good friend this week asked for a list of suggestions to save money when grocery shopping. I thought I would share what I sent her.

I have harvested my idea from a million of sources: books, website, etc. But my favorite book for cost savings ideas and inexpensive recipes is Family Feast for $75 a week. A link to Mary's blog called Owl Haven is on this site.

... so maybe you all do these things, but below are some of the ways I have saved money.

  • Our dinners usually cost us about $4-5. Plus there is almost always leftovers for lunch the next day - so aim for this.

  • Make a price list – so that you can see the costs of goods and compare prices across stores. This will help you keep in check so that you don’t spend more than you should on an item – esp at bulk stores where things can be deceiving. To make a price list:

· Gather several of your last grocery receipts and circle your most expensive items to see where you are spending the bulk of your money - start with these

· Keep your receipts and add them to a spreadsheet/book when you get home – start with a few items and gradually add more

  • You usually save more by making things from scratch, rather than buying prepackaged foods.

  • Couponing - Remember some stores double, and others let you stack coupons so you can stack a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon, buy when items are buy 1 get 1 and use a coupon for both items

  • Don’t buy lunchmeat – it costs at least $5/lb – instead buy chicken breasts – I can get chicken breast with bone in for 99¢/lb or less on sale and then cut up for sandwich meat. Or make chicken salad out of it. So I end up paying about $5 for 4lbs of meat, rather than $5 for 1lb of meat. Even if you buy boneless chicken breast at Sams for $1.99 lb you are still saving a ton of money. Or buy tuna when it is B1G1 at Publix.

  • Buy beans, rice, oatmeal, popcorn, flours, and spices in bulk – you can cook beans ahead of time and freeze so that if you need on a moment’s notice they are already cooked and ready to go.

  • Make your own hummus with the beans you buy in bulk

  • Make 1 batch of muffins each week from scratch – the cost is very minimal – and it will be an easy breakfast item or snack through the week. I recommend Morning Glory muffins - they are fabulous and have vegetables in them.

  • Make 1 batch of cookies/brownies each week from scratch for treats

  • Only buy fruits and veggies that are on sale that week - we only eat grapes when they are 99¢ per lb (my only exception to this is that I buy bananas every week for the children)

  • Stock up on onions and peppers when they are on sale – cut them, sliced or diced and store in freezer until you need them for a recipe. I love it when I can find peppers for 50¢ each!

  • Stock up on meat when it is on sale – try to get enough to last until the next sale time – our meat sales repeat every 4 weeks for some items, every 8-12 weeks for others. I just can’t afford to buy organic meat – but I really have considered at buying half a cow – it is cheaper than buying organic at the store but still more expensive than buying sale priced regular meat. I really need some friends who would be willing to go into this with us. (Our best prices in town are $1.49 per lb for ground beef (20% fat, so I must drain and you can even rinse the meat to get off the fat), 69¢ lb for chicken leg quarters, 99¢ lb for split chicken breasts, $1.69 lb for boneless chick breast, $1 roll of sausage, $3.99 lb for ribeye or NY strip steaks)
  • Today I bought the following for $52: 2 lbs sausage, 3.5 lb beef roast, 5.5 lbs ribeyes (6 thick steaks), and 13 lbs of ground beef. It’s a lot to spend on just meat in one week – however – it will be enough red meat for this month plus probably some for next month. My most expensive meal with this will be the steaks – but once a week if we pay $9 for a steak dinner for the family it’s not that big of deal – esp. when you compare to what it would be if we ate out. The total before savings was $100.

  • I rarely buy anything special for a recipe – sometimes I just exclude an item – but most of the time I just avoid recipes with lots of little ingredients. I’m currently putting together a list of recipes that has items that I usually keep in stock – my plan is to sort them with an index by ingredient that is quick and easy for reference. Or buy the cookbook I recommended above, the recipes are really made from mostly those handy items you always keep around.

  • Make all breads and muffins and pie shells from scratch. I made 4 loaves of bread for $6 this past month – the bread had no hydrogenated oils, no white sugar, no white flour, and had additional benefits from things I added. It did take about 1 hour of my time.

  • I buy canned veggies when they are on a great price since they aren’t really that good for you – but the ease of them is wonderful. So I buy when they are about 35¢ a can. And then I stock up on our favorites, i.e. green beans and creamed corn for cornbread.

  • I almost always buy Publix brand organic milk in a gallon – it’s cheaper than any other varieties of organic milk here in town

  • Use cloth napkins and kitchen towels whenever you can – the only time I regularly use paper towels is for grease

  • Reuse Ziploc bags…unless you stored raw meat in them – I even reuse bread bags.
  • There is no reason to buy sour cream or buttermilk - unless you can get it super cheap - both are fairly easy to make from either milk or yogurt
  • Buy a freezer so you can stock pile effectively – the savings you create over 2 months will most likely pay for the freezer
  • Check ethnic stores and meat markets for better prices on items – for instance sesame oil & soy sauce you might could find cheaper at oriental market (I'm planning to check a meat market soon ... should be interesting!)

  • Grow fresh herbs – just a couple should be fairly easy if you have a good window – or you can put them in a flower bed outside – I would recommend parsley, basil and rosemary for starters(and any others you really like.)

  • Grow some of your veggies – you can do some in pots in a sunny spot. For container gardens consider tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, bush beans, and onions.

  • I spend a ton of money on organic milk, and eggs – I don’t have a solution for this – we’ve talked about getting chickens and a dairy goat. Obviously I can’t have a goat where we live– but we are allowed chickens (not roosters). I still have to do a price comparison on this - but we usually eat at least 6 eggs a day.
  • The Church for the Latter Day Saints encourages their members to save food for emergency purpose and even has stores across the county where you can buy in bulk - some are open to the public. Prices are outstanding. For instance, you can get $25lbs of oats for $7.


Anonymous said...

We will miss the regular blog postings, but it is for a worthy cause. We have discussed cutting our TV costs by turning off the satellite as well. Not because we want to save money, but because we watch too much of it and would like to have that time back. I think you are on the right track and I wish you luck.
Love you,

Hua said...

Those are some really good tips on saving money. I will definitely be using some of them to help me cut costs.

Director of Blogger Networks

Kelly said...

Great money saving ideas. I give you a pat on the back for cutting out cable. We've discussed that, but since I limit it for the kids and I have a great deal on it I can't just do that. Plus I have no outside access and no laptop so I'd be off the email/internet grid completely. Good luck though. I'm sure you guys will do fine without it.