Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ways to Save Money OR "How in the World Can You Afford Not to Work??"

I've been asked several times recently about how my family of five can live on just my husband's full-time ministry salary. So I thought I'd post a few things we do to save money in hopes that you, my fellow shop-savvy friends, will comment with some of your best money-saving tips!! Obviously the best way to save money on things is to never spend it in the first place, so a lot of what we have done is just completely eliminate unnecessary spending.  I am going to limit this post to saving on groceries and will address baby items, entertainment, etc... in later posts. And while I appreciate a frugal homemaker, as of yet, I do not make my own laundry detergent, farm my own food (though the fresh kind is the best kind!!), or sew my own clothes (well, I have made the girls a few skirts...). So I think everything we do as a family is pretty practical - at least by our standards.  Also, let me say, that none of my "tips" are anything new and special, but hopefully some of them can be an inspiration to try to save even more money. And so, well,  here goes:

Saving Money on Groceries:
1.  I do not generally buy processed foods.  On occasion, I will take advantage of a great sale stacked with coupons, but we prefer homemade for taste and nutritional value as well as a way to save money.

2.  Our meat consumption consists of chicken and turkey.  I have started substituting ground turkey for ground beef as well.  I only splurge on ground beef for grilling hamburgers because who wants to eat a turkey burger??!! I do buy beef roast when it is on sale because it is a fast meal for Sunday afternoons.  However, chicken and turkey are healthier options anyway.

3.  I do use coupons when I can, but at this season in my life, it usually requires more time than I have. I follow a few coupon blogs and generally only take advantage of the sales and deals that are posted as I don't take the time to figure them out for myself.  I could definitely do better in this area, though, I have stocked up on LOTS of freebies by playing the drugstore game! :) And it really is fun! And I sign up for a TON of samples...I use a separate email address so that my primary account doesn't get an overload of spam. As a stay-at-home-mom, I especially enjoy getting those treats in the mail! :)

4. I shop sales, stock up, and FREEZE food if necessary.  I do this mostly with meat, fruits, and vegetables, as well as staple non-perishable items. Most of my grocery shopping is stocking up on whatever is on sale...I then use what I have available at home from previous weeks to plan my menu. I usually only have to buy a few items to complete my meal plan.  Guess I could add here that one night we eat breakfast for supper which is super cheap, and one night a week we eat leftovers.  Another night I scavenge my pantry and fridge and get creative!! That's usually the night before grocery shopping! So that's three meals I don't have to plan!

5. Honestly, we just eat very simply.  I do not fix elaborate recipes that call for expensive ingredients.  I use recipes as a guide and for ideas, but rarely fix it exactly as stated. One day, I might. But for now, to save money, we have simplified our tastes.  I have changed my thinking when it comes to grocery shopping...I am not purchasing food items to fill our bellies, but rather I am purchasing NUTRITIONAL VALUE.  I do not just want to stuff my family full of junk, but rather the nutrition they need to make it through the day feeling good and healthy.  Which leads to my final tip...

6. My #1 money saver - I do not buy snacks. On a very rare occasion, I will take advantage of an ice cream sale, but I do not spend my grocery money on cookies and chips etc...  Sure, there are times when we wish we had junk food in the house to munch on, but those are also the times we are glad we don't!! We do snack on tortilla chips and salsa because that is something I will NEVER give up!! :) Titus snacks on fruit, peanut butter and crackers, and popcorn. And he eats old-fashioned oatmeal (with a little cinnamon thrown in) for breakfast nearly every morning - by his choice!! ")

So this is what works for us right now at this time in our lives.  I'm sure there are those who have more to spend and those who have less.  Regardless of one's budget, though, we ALL like to save money!! :0 So now I want to hear some of the ways you save on groceries!! Or maybe even a great "steal" you recently took advantage of!! I'm excited to try some of your great ideas!!

(Please comment on this blog post rather than facebook, so we can keep all the great ideas in the same place.)

12 comments:

  1. We have a lot in common! There's only 2 of us, but it's just as tough getting by on one salary when we were used to two and had never considered that I would be a homemaker until recently.

    I am definitely a savvy shopper, and Harris Teeter hates to see me coming during Super Double Coupon time! I also buy on sale--I'm a yellow sticker shopper. I rarely buy meat--usually just chicken and some turkey--or produce at more than 1.50 a pound, and I stock the deep freezer. I also garden and grow most of the veggies we use during the summer.

    Not buying convenience food or "junk food" is definitely a plus (for our wallets and our bodies).

    I do actually make my own laundry and dishwasher powder (mostly because we only use all natural products), although I am still working on a bulk supply of Seventh Generation that I bought on a good sale. I also make my own soap--the good old fashioned kind, and we love it. I make it in big batches, and it lasts us for about 6 months.

    I believe I could write a short book, but that's all I'll share for now.

    Happy Savings!

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  2. Akehia, I would LOVE to know how you make your own soap!! I have heard of many that do it, but it seems so time consuming. I have to confess, I splurge on laundry soap because I like the smell of clean laundry - though, I'm sure those dyes and perfumes are not good for our bodies. I HATE to do laundry and find that the clean smell motivates me. Hmmm... I definitely could improve in this area!

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  3. Karla,
    I have to admit that we just made our own laundry soap for the very first time. I was very shocked at how simple it was. I expected it to take up my whole evening but it really only took about 10-15 minutes! I got the recipe from the Duggar's website. I think I spelled their name right. She also has an idea for stretching your fabric softener. I haven't tried that one yet but I plan to soon. We used Ivory soap for a little scent in ours. I love the way it smells when you open the detergent. However it does not leave much a scent after washed. But when you add in softener and/or dryer sheets that adds. Several people I know add the scented oils to their's for fragrance, I will probably check into that on the next batch. It does seem to leave everyone's jeans and denim items very soft. I agree laundry is not my favorite task! Isn't amazing how such little people make sooo much laundry! I was shocked after each of our kids were born how much laundry it added! :0)Thanks for the tips!
    Stephanie Lung

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  4. Stephanie, I'm going to check out the Duggar's site now... I'm sure she has lots of good tips!!!

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  5. I am so proud of you!! You find so many ways to save $ and still eat healthy and you also save money on nice clothes,household furnishings and such.
    I can't think of everything I did to stretch my $25.00 grocery budget(80's & 90's) but one of my favorite menu items was the chicken and rice soup! It is still a family favorite and I might add, it kept us very healthy. I could get 2 meals for all six of us out of one whole chicken and 1/2 bag of rice. Many times, I would even save out enough chicken for a casserole too!
    Another menu favorite and time saver as well, was to cook up the ground beef the day I bought it and freeze in 1 cup bags for spaghetti, chili, etc. Then for dinner that night we would make hamburger gravy and toast with just a small amount of the ground beef. I'll try to think of some more tips and post later.
    Let me know how the laundry soap turns out. I have thought about it too, but here lately I have been getting All, small and mighty concentrate for $2 or $3 at Big Lots. It goes a long ways in my front loader.

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  6. I'm with you on the chips and salsa! However,you forgot to mention that you make the best homemade salsa in the world, so I thought I would share that little bit of news with everyone.

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  7. Mom, I still use your whole chicken idea...even though I HATE taking the meat off the bones. It does save a lot of money! And I likewise love having all my ground meat cooked ahead of time - makes for several fast, easy meals! I think I might posts the salsa recipe, now that you mention it... :)

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  8. Well, I do make my own laundry detergent and I LOVE IT! I also bought the Bounce thing that you put into the dryer instead of sheets, or liquid. It lasts four months and they have 2 different scents. I did try to make my own dishwashing powder and it did not work for us.

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  9. Amy, what recipe do you use?? Is it powdered or liquid? Think I'm gonna try this... :)

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  10. I also used the Duggar recipe for detergent. I loved it, but now I had to go back to buying detergent. My husband bought me a new wash machine a couple of weeks ago, and I can only use HE detergents in the new machine. One thing I try to do to stretch my meat is casseroles, soups, etc. Things that I can add more pasta or veggies to cover for there not being as much meet as the recipe calls for. My family doesn't even notice.

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  11. I don't make my own detergent, but I definately would like to try it. I do have a 7 month old, so I try to make my own baby food so that saves $. We eat very simple too. My husbands not picky, so we usually either eat a pasta dish, casserole, or chicken & one side. This cuts out money as well as the clean up! Love the tips!

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  12. Karla,
    I loved reading this, and some of those who commented about homemade laundry detergent inspired me to finally bite the bullet and make my own. I have a top-loading high efficiency washer, so I wasn't sure if it would work for me. I found a recipe online for homemade powdered detergent, so I decided to try it. I made it Wednesday evening and did a load of laundry yesterday. I'm hooked - it was so easy and will be much cheaper than the HE detergent I was buying. Plus, it will create much less trash which is important since we have chosen to forgo paying for a trash service. So, thank you to all of you who advocated making your own detergent. The point of this post, though, was saving money on groceries so let me add a couple of things to that. I make most of our bread products from scratch. I make scratch biscuits, pancakes, pizza dough, and bagels. By doing this I save money and am able to add whole wheat flour, wheat germ, flaxseed, and other grains so that we eat healthier products. We also eat seasonally - I buy whatever fruit is in season because it's the cheapest (one of the best parts of winter is that oranges are so cheap!). I also add beans to taco meat to stretch it a little bit. This post was great, Karla - I can't wait to see your other posts!
    Emily Lynch

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