Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Simple Guidelines to Spending Less

We are in a time when we all want to spend less and still live a good life.  Some prices are rising, and we all need ideas on ways to stretch those budgets.
Many times we need to take a deep breath, stand back at look at things in a realistic light, and then move forward SLOWLY.  Don't panic, don't rush, don't make rash decisions - think, breathe and save.

** Don't confuse being frugal with being cheap or doing without.  You can watch you pennies and live a complete an frugal life.  I find that many frugal people are the most generous to others.  They have saved, got deals and bargains and share to help others.  (I know many wealthy people who are downright stingy).  You can still be classy.  You know the difference between wants  and needs.  You know how to SAVE for a special something instead of going into debt.  You have figured out exactly WHAT is important!

** Don't waste your money.  It is so easy to do.  Fast food, those coffee shops, late fees, super high cable/phone bills (you CAN renegotiate), smoking, impulse buys, shopping for entertainment, etc.
Make it your goal for a few months to track absolutely every dime spent - you will be amazed!  So much of the money we spend is just not necessary.  Track those purchases and see exactly where you are spending it.  Take steps to remove those wasteful items.  A penny saved is one you don't have to earn AGAIN.

** Track you grocery costs.  KNOW who has the best deals and best prices.  That is especially important today.  Some stores just have better prices.  Watch the sale ads.  Buy sales!!!!!!!  Stock up on sale items and clearance items when you can.  That is money in the bank!!!!!!!  Use coupons if you can for items that you WILL use - not just to be using them.  Stock up on good deals and always be prepared.  Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Learn how to improvise.  Use what you have.  If you run out - substitute - no running out for a thing or two.
Buying sales, markdowns and clearance - is ALWAYS another way to stock up and SAVE

**Shop more than one store.  NO one store has all the best prices.  I realize right at this moment many can not or will not do this - but as a general rule, use more than one store.  Dollar stores often have the best prices for health and beauty or cleaning products.  Watch for the best deals and sales.  Make it your mission to get the best deals.  If needing to go to more than one store - remember to make it your goal to have a route to follow to minimize fuel usage.
Look at Aldi (if you have them), dollar stores, farm markets, roadside stands, grocery outlets, bulk stores, ethnic stores (generally cheaper on many items), etc.

** Buy bulk if you can.  NO you don't want to have so much that you waste food and goods.  You can always go in with family or friends to split costs and product.  You want to get the best prices.
Repackage goods - get yourself a vacuum sealer (best  utensil you can have), use large glass jars, canning jars, repurpose any other packaging that you can.  Freeze, can (re-can), dehydrate, etc.

** Make you own.    So many people believe that you HAVE to buy everything you need.  In the past - people MADE everything they needed.  Get cookbooks on "mixes".  Learn how to cook and bake.  Make your own breakfast foods and coffee - instead of going out.  Make waffles and pancakes to freeze for those rushed days.  Make hearty muffins, breakfast burritos, etc.
Make snack goods - popcorn, ice cream, popsicles, chips, cookies and brownies, etc.
Use leftovers for lunches.
There are cookbooks and recipes on-line for 'restaurant' favorites that you can make at home.
Grow a garden or some veggies.  Use less.  Shop seasonal.
Get creative.

** Eliminate convenience foods.  DON'T buy precut  - salads, veggies, fruit - it costs at least twice as much if not more than buying a whole item and cutting yourself.    Prepackaged mixes cost more than making from scratch.  A restaurant meal can cost 10 times more than homemade.
Buy whole chickens or loins and cut your own - so much cheaper.  Learn to de-skin or de-bone chicken yourself - there are You Tube videos out there.

** LESS MEAT usage!!!!!  Now more than ever this can be critical.  We (for the most part) do NOT need meat to survive, at least not every day!!!!!  Make meatless nights at least a couple times a week.  Use smaller quantities - there is no need to eat a huge steak - cut it and let more than 2/3 people eat from it.  Make soups and casseroles - you can load it up with veggies and beans, pasta, or rice and use way less meat.  Look for protein substitutes - there are many.  Think beans, nuts, dairy and even tofu. Remember meat is just a side dish as are veggies - it should not be the MAIN event!!!!!!

** Waste NOTHING.  Find new uses for everything.  Leftovers for lunch or recreate into new meals.  Jars and bottles for storage.    Squirt bottles from condiments can be great for homemade dressings or used for icing (for decorating).  Ends of bread or stale bread or crackers - crush and use for coatings.  Any food containers can be used for storage or leftovers (taking lunch to work or school).  Extra fruit - turn into smoothies or frozen sweets or sweet breads.  Use cardboard containers to make fun toys for the littles (drums or storage containers or building blocks).  Use TP tubes (or paper towels tubes) for plant starter pots (plant-able as well).  Old clothes can be remade into new clothing or quilts.  Old t-shirts or towels make great washable rags.  The list goes on and on!!!!!!!

** Less traditional meals!!!!!  Have soup nights once or twice a week - sure does stretch ingredients.  You can make bean soup, cream of soups, potato soup, leftover (whatever you got left) soup.   Have baked potato night - super filling and you can top with any type of leftovers.  Have breakfast - pancakes, waffles, biscuits and gravy, eggs and sausage.  Make big old roll-ups with tortillas - use minimal meat, cheese, lots of veggies and dressings or sauces.
Remember there is nothing wrong with sandwich night as well!  OR salad night!  Use what you have and get creative with it.

**  If you have the room and the ingredients make foods ahead and freeze some meals for when you are in a hurry or tired or broke!  Make more than one lasagna or casserole.  Make more than one loaf of bread or batch of rolls.  Save leftover soups and casseroles and freeze.  I often freeze individual containers of soup or casserole for those nights I just don't feel like cooking or to go with a sandwich.
You will always have a variety of food on hand - and it could really help your family out if finances are running low.

Potato flats with whatever topping you have.  Could be a great side - could be a filling quick meal
Any type of grilled sandwich.  Cheeses of any sort, meat, tuna, pattie melts, I have even made grilled mac n cheese sandwiches (yum by the way)

Look at things differently - open your eyes to how many wonderful ways there are to be frugal!!!!!
You can live a beautiful life and not really sacrifice a thing.  In fact I think you actually gain and live better by being frugal.  You can still have class.  You can still have dignity.  You can stretch those dollars.  You can save a little more.  You can help others a little more.  You can have a great life and feel safe and confident for your family.

Life is just BETTER when you are frugal.


  1. I was just thinking about this last night. I have a good stockpile, but have a tendency to let the abundance lead to waste. With projected meat shortages and rising prices, we have vowed to use what we do have wisely and with as close to zero waste as possible. Thank you, once again, for such good, common sense advice.

    1. It is just the sensible thing to do. Use it up or do without!
      I like being a good steward of what I have - it truly can save money.
      Thank you!

  2. Great topic. With everything going on you can't be picky about brands. Normally I shop sales and clearance but right now, as I am only going to 1 store every 2-3 weeks, I really don't have choices. Thankfully I have a well stocked pantry.

    Funny you mentioned it. We are doing a baked potato bar for dinner tonight. I have one serving of chili that we will share. I have a few slices of cooked bacon that we can use. I have leftover broccoli too. We always have cheese, corn and sour cream on hand. Everyone will get 2 potatoes so we can have some of each.

    I am always amazed at how many people don't boil their bones after a meal. I have brought turkey carcasses and ham bones home from many different houses. So many people also don't eat leftovers. I love leftovers. They are usually my lunch.

    Hopefully people that are having money issues right now will pick up a few of your habits and keep them when things get better.

    1. Your potato bar sounds yummy = everything you mentioned. I love baked potatoes - it can be such a filling meal and uses up everything.
      I have never understood not making broth with the carcasses either. I was going through the freezer this week and came across some bags I wasn't sure of - turned them over and they were marked turkey broth and ham broth. It is so tasty and saves money.
      I hope we all can help someone as well. That is why we are all here.

  3. Difficult to be frugal at the moment as on Lockdown and high risk due to asthma so have to shop in the one store - we normally shop around and are very careful, but the shopping bill seems huge as we can only get a C&C spot every 3 weeks. Still, no waste at home, and we've doubled the size of our vegetable and soft fruit gardens, so in season, will save money that way.

    1. Exactly! You are still saving - just in a different way than 'normal'. I totally understand only shopping one place right now - but in time hopefully things will change.

      Any small savings we can come up with is great. Again, it doesn't have to just be food - but utilities, insurances, cable, phones - ect. Get new quotes, turn things off, just save a little at a time helps!

  4. THE most important thing is differentiating between wants and needs. Strictly speaking, needs are only those things necessary to sustain life: water, food, and shelter (roof over the head and clothing). I would also add medicines necessary for life. Everything after that is a want. It may be a very compelling want, but it is a want nonetheless.

    There is also the matter of choices we make. For example, I own a car because I choose to live in a semi-rural area with no other transportation options. I CHOOSE to live there, therefore I CHOOSE to own a car. Some of my neighbors choose not to drive and rely on others to haul them around. I personally prefer not to use other people like that, but that is their choice. If I wanted to not have the expense of owning a car, I could CHOOSE to live in the city where I could walk or use public transit. A car is a want, not a need.

    I know people who go on vacation every year but also say they can't pay their utility bills and CHOOSE to let others (charities, govt. programs) pay their utilities. In my opinion, that's not frugal, that's gaming the system. I CHOOSE to pay my utilities. I also CHOOSE to be happy with my life so that I don't feel a need for a vacation.

    Please don't misunderstand, I'm not condemning people who take vacations or make other choices that I would not in their position. I'm just saying that we all have to live with the consequences of the choices we make. Taking a good hard look at those choices is the very first step toward greater frugality.

    1. Great thinking and logic. I get it. Wants and needs are definitely different things and wants can sure break the budget.
      Choices is another thing - you make a wonderful point. I don't need cable - but I choose to have it, just because I want it - but it would be the first thing to go in a crisis.
      I choose to drive an older vehicle - keeps insurance, plates and taxes down.

      I agree 100%. We do NEED basics and we want more. Choices in life can be fun - but can break the bank.
      You preaching to the choir here girl!!!!!

  5. Sorry, C&C = Click and Collect from the store's outside area where they hold your on-line grocery order.

    1. I was trying to figure that out - I figured it was just a store name!

  6. I am big into not wasting and that's easy for me because I eat all plants. So mostly everything gets used up and what doesn't goes back into the Mamma Earth. I grew up with a grandma who wasted nothing and I'm grateful for what she taught me.

    Keep up the good posts and stay safe, have fun and Happy Cooking.

    1. I love plant based foods as well. I could NOT eat meat if I had to - however I hope I can keep it in the diet for now! Yes, either the animals eat things I don't/can't or it goes to compost. My folks taught me that at an early age.

      Thanks - have a great one!

  7. I just pulled a huge ham from the freezer that I was able to get free with points. Now I am figuring how many meals I can get from this. I love a good ham it is such a frugal way to eat.

    1. Oh yum. So many choices - beans, sandwiches, quiche, soups, casseroles, Mmmmmmmmm. I love a good ham too.
      Enjoy your many wonderful meals!

  8. I will say that the quarantine has made us much more creative! I've tried my hand at new recipes, enjoyed shared produce from neighbors, shared things we've made with others. . . it's been such a lovely experience (other parts are of course less lovely) to see everyone coming together to help out.

    1. I think actually a lot of good things have come from this. Like you said - not everything. But people are kinder and smiling. People are being creative and giving. I truly hope some things DON'T go back to normal!!!!!

  9. This is the best post I have read in a long,long time!

    1. My goodness - what a kind thing to say.
      THANK YOU soooooo much!