Monday, January 25, 2010

Frugal Ways...

I have wanted to start a weekly post on frugal tips, but where to start that hasn’t already been covered by many great frugalistas and frugalites before me?

I grew up with in a frugal family.  My mother was a child of the depression and often told us stories about having dresses and panties made from flour sacks.  My Aunt’s family did not give gifts for birthdays.  You got out of the chores that day and a birthday cake was baked to be shared with the family after dinner.  An Uncle tells of times being hard that when you bought a bag of 1 cent gum and chewed it till there was nothing left then offered it to your brother!  Ok, maybe he’s embellish a bit on that, but you get the ideas.

Reminding myself that I came from a long, long line of frugal ancestors I decided to share some of the frugal things I do to keep costs down. 

  1. We rarely eat out.  Maybe three times a year.  If I eat out, it is an occasional lunch and I find I enjoy the experience more without the dinner rush. Luncheon specials allow me to try restaurants that I normally would avoid for dinner due to the cost of entrees.
  2. I grocery shop twice a month.  I would love to cut back to once a month but just haven’t mastered that yet.  I do make a weekly trip for milk or cherry picker ad items that are nearly free with coupons.
  3. I do clip coupons, but only the items I use.  I know there are several people out there that coupon and save loads of money.  I eat mostly fresh veggies and fruits and eat little processed foods, which seem to be what the coupon flyers offer.
  4. Bringing my own reusable bags saves me .05 on each bag I use.  I save about .50 which doesn't seem like much but it averages out to 15.00 a year.   If I forget to take my bags in, I charge myself an extra .05 cents a bag.  Funny how I rarely forget now!
  5. I joined a co-op for my fruits and vegetables.  I have the option of ordering weekly or bi-monthly.  As a smaller sized family I find twice a month to work out great.  
  6. Joining Angel Food Ministries and The Treasure Box has helped lower my food cost and helped me plan my meals.
  7. Not being a MENU planning person, I do try to plot out a tentative menu for the week and not make trips to the store.  (this use to be a very costly habit for me)  I use what I have on hand and if I am missing an ingredient I improvise which gets those creative juices flowing.
  8. I cut cable from our home, thus saving $70.00 a month.  We do have local channels and if anyone misses it, there is always Hulu and You Tube.
  9. I haven’t been to a mall in two years. 
  10. Hunt for the mark down stickers on the bagged salads, dairy and meat aisles to purchase items to be used immediately or frozen if applicable.  Saturday I found brie at .99 a pound!  I freeze it, and then make a Stuffed Chicken Breast with Brie filling or Apple, Smoked Ham and Brie Quesadilla.  Yummo!
  11. I make our breakfast and lunches to take to work.  Fly guy loves breakfast burritos, I make a bunch to last a week or two and freeze them.  I take oatmeal, muffin or yogurt and fruit.  Lunches are either left overs from the night before or sandwiches I have made over the weekend and frozen.
  12. I love bottled water and use to buy two or three a day.  Now I reuse the bottles several times and fill them from the gallon jugs I fill at the water machine.  One bottle cost me less than four cents, instead of $1.29 or more!
  13. The Reluctant Teenager and I fill our ten  one gallon water jugs weekly.  Usually Saturday or Sunday Mornings at 7:00 am when everyone else is still waking up.
  14.  I buy all my bread at the Holsum Bakery Outlet.  Unless there is a serious sale with a coupon attached and I can get the bread for less than a dollar.
  15. We have internet phone service that costs $40.00 a year instead of the $40.00 a month I was paying Qwest for basic phone service with caller id and voice messaging.
  16. I am changing my data plan Black Berry to a regular cell phone saving us over $60.00 month.  My IPOD does everything my Blackberry does and it doesn’t cost $70.00 a month.  Will go to a regular cell phone instead.
  17. I save my dish water when I hand wash dishes and water the outside plants with it.  I figure I’ve paid for it, why should I let it go down the drain?
  18. I save left over veggies in a plastic container in the freezer and twice a month I make a big batch or “Freezer Soup”.  I actually got this great idea from the Frugal Zealot herself Amy Dacyczyn. 
  19. I have two crock pots and use them both on the weekends to cook two “week day” meals so I have more time. (To Blog!)
  20. I have both Costco and Sam’s Club Cards, however I only purchase certain items there because warehouse shopping is not always the most cost effective method.
  21. When I am shopping Target (My favorite Store of ALL TIME) I put a timer of 15 minutes on my phone so that I know I have to get what I came in for and not “shop” the aisle.  Once a month I allow myself an extra 20 minutes of shopping time to “browse” and use my “mad money” if I am tempted to purchase something.  
  22. Shop primarily thrift, consignment, garage or rummage sales for 90 % of my clothing and home decor.  I also take my measurements and those of my family members with me when I shop.  This allows me to gauge the sizing better and make less mistakes and few returns. 
  23. When a store runs a huge loss leader in their ad, I will purchase the maximum of the limit and return to buy more in order to stock up.  Last week one store had canned tomatoes 3 for $1.00.  I bought a case of 24 cans.  $8.00 for what would have cost $1.19 a can regularly.  
  24. I purchase my flour, rice, sugar, beans in bulk, usually 25 pound bags.  I also buy the industrial sizes of Ketchup, Ranch Dressing, BBQ Sauce and Pickles.  These are the main condiments The Reluctant Teenager requires to keep his world on it's axis.
  25. Shop at International food stores to save money on produce, noodles and specialty items.  If you can get past the strong fish odor, you will find a mecca of new items to try, Indian, Asian, Polish, Ukrainian.

                                                               Photo by El Nico
    Just a few of my tried and true tips, things that work for me.  I will try to add more each week and encourage anyone that has a helpful or frugal hint, tip or idea to add in.  Maybe we will do a linky on it.  

    Ta-Ta- For Now....



    Mimi said...

    Those are some excellent tips you have listed, Audra. I would love to pay only $40 a year for internet, but not to be, here in the middle of nowhere, unfortunately. Have a great week!

    Melissa Miller said...

    ~WOW! Really great tips you have here. :)

    Anonymous said...

    You are the queen of frugal! I also came from a very frugal family and most of those habits stayed with me. I do have my splurges, though :) Great post and love the new frugal tips.

    All My Yesterdays said...

    You are so ambitious! I need to take note....

    Gwen said...

    Some of these tips are totally new to me and I consider myself frugal, so thank you.

    I keep trying to talk my mom into joining a veggie coop with me. They don't offer smaller increments, but I think that if we split it between the 2 houses, it could work.

    The only thing that I can add is to make the people that work at your grocery stores your buddies. They are the ones that will tell you when things are going to be marked down, can point out sales that aren't advertised, etc. My guy is a manager of one, so I have a leg up. He brings all of the good deals home!

    Mimi said...

    I admire you and respect you for doing what you do, I think you would be far more prepared for hard times then most!!!!I need to re-evaluate our spending and try to be more efficient at that!!!!
    Great ideas, I need to do a few of those!!!!

    Designs on 47th Street said...

    GREAT tips! You really put a lot of thought into this. We are really frugal as well, but we do eat out maybe once a week.

    You have a nice blog!

    Ben said...

    Just found your blog. Great stuff... can you explain more about $40 a year for internet?