Best Money Saving Advice

callie25January 17, 2013

What do you do that saves a lot of $$$? I know many make their own laundry detergent which I've considered, but I like the brand(s) I buy on sale (so making my own isn't a significant savings since I don't have a large family). If I didn't have a contract with my phone company, I would eliminate my land line (which would save a significant amount). I liked someone's idea of turning down the thermostat a little & heat only the room(s) you spend a lot of time in. This, I'm sure is an old topic (and I've read some posts from 2004), but some of those don't apply to 2013. I would love to hear your thoughts, what's worked for you, etc. Thanks.

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The biggest wastes of money in most households are processed foods and wasted food. Buy what you and your family will eat, avoid pre-made food, and eat what you fix.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 12:49PM
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Cook your own meals.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 1:34PM
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I have to smile a bit. I have a friend who is so far in debt it's unlikely she'll ever see black ink ever again, and she asked me about making homemade laundry soap to save a little money. I looked her in the eye, and as her lifetime friend kindly and gently said the price of laundry detergent wasn't her problem and mentioned the $500 per month (or more) she spends on her beloved pets (but at the age of 60 has never put any money into a retirement account even though she has a great job), unbridled shopping sprees for crap she doesn't need (as she digs through a couple hundred dollars worth of make-up in her purse she just put on a credit card, to find her Smart Phone she pays dearly for), and not having a serious budget to follow before trying to save a few bucks on laundry detergent. Just saying....

1. ANYWAY, homemade laundry soap seems like it saves money until you look at ALL the factors involved besides the cost of mixing up a batch.

-If you have hard water you may find an additional rinse is necessary to aid removing the hard water soap residue from the fabrics. It also works best in hot water (or the hottest the type of fabric can stand), so that's more cost.

-Hard water soap residue will make your clothes feel stiff and scratchy if you can't remove it from the clothes and the residue is like sandpaper in the fabric and your clothes will wear much faster because of it. These homemade mixtures actually may reduce the life of your clothing, as well as the life of your washing machine. So is that worth a few cents per load? You'll have to do the math.

-There are special formulations for the amount of suds produced in today's laundry detergents, especially when it comes to HE or front-loading washing machines. Using the homemade mixtures can void your warranty and gunk-up your washer drum, so be sure to check with the manufacturer about using it in your machine.

-Having personally used many of these homemade recipes over the years, they are not as effective for cleaning, and wet clothes do not equal clean clothes. The homemade mixtures are missing corrosion inhibitors, enzymes and chelating agents. Both washing soda and Borax have been sited as ingredients that can damage washing machines. Borax has also been shown to cause hormone disruption.

-Each time I used the homemade laundry mixtures I found myself adding all kinds of ingredients to help the cleaning performance, softeners to soften the stiff fabrics, and the price goes up exponentially with each ingredient or add-in. I wasn't saving any money at all. Now all I use is 1 T. of Charlie's Soap - no add-ins, no softener. I buy it by the bucket to save on the per-load price. The first bucket (5-gallons - approx. 1280 loads) I purchased in 2007 lasted 3-years. That's a lot of plastic bottles that didn't go into the recycling or landfill as well.

-You may also want to skip line-drying outdoors as a way to save. The sun and wind are yet one more way to shorten the life of clothes. When I switched to Charlie's Soap and started drying our clothes in the basement (instead of outdoors), hubby's pants lasted 5-years instead of the normal 2-3years, as did nearly everything else we wear.

2. I agree with shushipup and LuAnn in PA. I have a $125/month food budget for 2-adults, and that's the first way to save on groceries - have a budget. Buying whole foods and increasing the time spent in the kitchen, instead of the time spent at the store/deli/take-out, is a key to living on less for food expenses and improved nutrition and health.

Simple Food Savings Hints:
-Switch to kernel popcorn instead of microwave bags.
-Overeating anything is wasted money - learn what a serving size is.
-Don't buy cereal - it's the biggest rip-off in the store. Learn how to make your own with whole grains.
-Buy lettuce and cabbage by-the-head, not by-the-bag. For every pair of hands you pay to process your food for you, it will cost you more.
-Purchase cheese in the refrigerator case instead of the deli case. Shred your own from bulk amounts.
-Use frozen produce if you tend to waste fresh produce. When you need some fresh produce, buy it at the salad bar in the amounts you need, or will realistically use. The salad bar is a great place to get toppings for that homemade pizza without breaking the bank and having a load of produce dieing of loneliness in the refrigerator.
-Eliminate "convenience" foods and make them yourself from ingredients you have at home. I make my own baking (Bisquick-type) mix, Magic Mix, pudding mix, bread mixes, soup mixes...
-Unless you can buy canned beans for under 50-cents per can, you can probably save money by using dried beans. Learn how to "cook" them in a Thermos Bottle to reduce the total energy needed to cook them.
-Avoid buying single-serving or individual servings sizes of anything. As an example: buy a jar of applesauce and divide it into small containers and freeze it. To save even more I pick apples free, dehydrate them and use them to make applesauce, out-of-hand for snacks, cobbler, etc.
-Buy 100% frozen juice concentrate and add your own water.
-One banana is usually considered a "serving". You will get more servings per pound by buying small bananas.
-I love food that is around $1 per pound or less. Oats, eggs, kale, potatoes, apples, nuts/peanuts, bananas, garbanzo beans, broccoli, brown rice, beets, squash, whole grain pasta and whole grains, spinach, lentils, split peas, homemade yogurt or kefir.....

3. Will half-as-much do? As Mr. Heinz of the famous ketchup company said, "It's not the ketchup people use that makes me rich, it's the ketchup left on the plate. Use less sugar in baked goods. You can probably use half as much toothpaste on your toothbrush and get the same results. I fill my foam soap dispensers with half water and half soap. A recent addition to my lifestyle - other than groceries, I only shop every other month.

4. Eliminate disposable things as much as possible. Use cloth napkins, rags instead of paper towels, dishes instead of using paper plates, etc.

5. Eat lower on the food chain. I have home food storage and a large percentage of the foods in storage are what are called the "Seven Survival Foods" - grains, seeds for sprouting, legumes, salt, sweetener/s, fat (I use coconut oil), and powdered milk (which I purchase in bulk amounts). These are also some of the least expensive foods.

6. Eliminate magazine and newspaper subscriptions, memberships and dues....

7. We use a TracPhone and the total cost per YEAR for 2 of them is around $200. We've never used the minutes a 1-year card provides and they roll-over each year. This only works if you can control your phone use....

8. Set a budget for groceries and buy only food with that amount. Too many times the basket gets filled with things other than food.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 4:04PM
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Thanks all for your ideas....Grainlady, I appreciate you taking the time to outline all your tips. Some I do already; if I didn't need my cell phone for business I'd love to have only a $200/yr for that item. Dryers definitely consume a lot of electricity. Thanks much, it's the big money wasters I'm trying to refine such as those you've all named. And I think we're all guilty of wasting food and that eventually adds up to lots of $$. Keep the ideas coming.....

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 7:57AM
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1. Do an audit of all your insurance policies to see where there might be some savings.... Increase deductibles, put home and vehicles with one company for savings if they aren't together already. When you purchase a vehicle, keep in mind that some will cost more to insure than others - choose wisely. Switch to term insurance.

2. Reduce or eliminate cable TV or dish service. We have basic cable and added ROKU (about $50 - one-time expense) and added Netflix ($8.00/month). Our total savings - approx. $40/month and we are now able to watch things we actually enjoy (we love British mystery and comedy).

3. Take fewer baths/showers and take a "spit" bath between them. I have many water saving tips which include how we do dishes using a gallon of "saved" water (water that normally runs down the drain while the water gets hot). We run our dishwasher once a week, only to keep it from clogging from not being used. Otherwise, after meal clean-up and dishes we don't put in the dish washer are washed and rinsed using about 1-gallon of water. We do 5 loads of laundry each week. Don't be afraid to wear clothing more than one day before it goes into the laundry.

4. Check the temperature setting for your hot water tank. Keeping a tank full of hot water at a high setting 24/7 is just a waste of energy.

5. If your landline includes a long distance carrier, eliminate that. You will still be able to receive long distance calls, you just can't make them and will need to use your cell phone for long distance calls. We saved $45/month doing this and eliminating other unnecessary charges like call waiting, caller I.D., etc. Home security systems require a landline, but you don't normally need long distance and all the other stuff they tend to pile on.

Go through your cell phone to see if there are things you are paying extra for that you can do without.

6. If you have a stand alone freezer and/or an extra refrigerator/freezer, eliminate them. It's a great convenience and a wonderful place to stash those bargains, but additional energy needed to run them may quickly off-set the bargains. This is especially true if they are older models that tend to be energy inefficient, and also stored in a garage where it gets extremely hot.

7. Eliminate expensive habits and hobbies. Golf, smoking, drinking, hunting, professional sports events, fishing, camping, crafts, book of the month club...

8. How much money do you spend on Christmas? The first part to note about that is MONEY. Do you actually save money for gifts, or do you put it on a credit card and spend the next year paying it off at 28% interest?

I have a little Christmas/Emergency Savings Account that I feed by saving my $1 bills and putting them into this account once a month. I've always saved at least $500 using this method, and as much as $1,000. This works because we are cash people.

We have a $10 limit in our immediate family (two adult kids and one teenage granddaughter), and hubby and I get each other one gift at the Dollar Store. We spend more money on birthdays. At the end of the year I keep $100 in the account as "seed" money and donate the remaining money to a good cause. If you don't have an emergency fund, this is a simple way to fund it. Add any "found" money to this account as well. Collect aluminum cans, have a garage sale, pet and/or house sit, rebates, and any other money you can squeeze into the account.

9. Eliminate expensive personal care expenses - high-maintenance hair, nails, spas, etc. I cut my own hair and budget $20/month for my hair cut. I put that in the Christmas/Emergency Fund, so that adds another $240 each year to the account. If you don't actually budget and save the money, it just gets spent on something else. When hubby's barber retires (he's also a close friend), then I'll cut his hair as well.

10. If you have a dry cleaning bill (weekly/monthly), eliminate clothes that require it.

11. If you have children, how much money are they sucking out of the family budget?

12. If you do carry a balance on credit cards, how long has it been since you contacted the company to see if they will reduce the rate?

13. Entertainment. Free entertainment is still available. If it's been awhile since you've been to your local library, they are a great place to start for FREE! Don't go to stores or shopping centers for entertainment.

14. Clean out your closets/shed/garage and turn unwanted things into cash. Put that into the Emergency Fund. Put yourself on a spending diet so you don't repeat this pattern.

15. Make things last longer with the help of regular maintenance.

16. Down-size when possible, if it makes $$$ sense.

17. Go for reliability and fuel efficiency when buying a car.

18. Barter when possible.

19. Get out of debt, and stay out of debt.

20. Less is best....

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 11:20AM
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I am not at all against eating out, but....

Make it count. Go to a real restaurant, not fast food. Never go just because you don't want to cook. That's what soup and sandwiches are for. Avoid the common chains that are rarely consistently good. Figure out the good locally owned and operated restaurants. Make sure that you are treated well, and enjoy yourself. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 8:34PM
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I don't think anyone is saying not to eat out, only that in most cases, and when done to excess, eating out can be more expensive than at home. I know an evening at the Pizza Hut will cost a whole lot more than a homemade pizza and salad at home. We eat at a nice Mexican restaurant and they charge $3.95 for a taco I can make at home for chump change.

My "nothing-but-the-best" brother spends a King's ransom on food he eats at home - 5 times as much as I spend for two adults, so it's not the home VS away, necessarily, it's the how much you spend - the bottom line - within the context of income and debt obligations.

I can easily afford $1,250 a month for groceries and eating out, which is 10-times as much as I budget for groceries now ($125/month), so it's not even about what I can afford. We are debt free, including our home, and we got there by following a plan and a budget. I could buy income property for $1,250/month..... So there is some perspective.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 7:52AM
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It would cost me more to eat at home because I would be cooking for one. A head of lettuce will rot before I eat it all, to say nothing about what the goodies that make a salad so good would cost. I go to a pizza buffet and order a 2 slice meal with an excellent salad and water for $4.50. I don't like cold or reheated pizza, so this suits me. I eat out 4 or 5 days a week. I don't eat 3 meals a day, usually one, with a bowl of dry cereal or fruit in the evening if I get hungry. I eat a cheeseburger once a week, sometimes with fries but not every time. There is nothing wrong with a hamburger. If I took the meat, made it into a mini meatloaf, ate two slices of bread with a small salad, it would be consider a good meal.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 12:18PM
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modern life interiors


    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 2:03PM
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Emma, buy a head of Romaine, trim it all up and wash it, wrap in paper towel or dish towel and keep in a bag in the fridge. A handful makes a salad for one person, and it will last a week. Romaine is much more nutritious than iceberg, but this will work for any lettuce.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 5:50PM
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My personal plan:
1)we always lived on one income whether married or not
2)Whether single or not I kept my recurring monthly bills to 3 : rent/electric/phone (annual bills i.e life/home insurance not incl.)
I just got regional phone/internet combination which is not much higher than my previous basic phone plan.
My former boss asked me for my mobile number and when I told her that it's against my current 3 bill rule she was kinda confused for a moment LOL. I do think that mobile phones are very handy(it's hard to find a working pay phone) but I don't need one at the moment.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 10:18PM
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Don't eat out. Fast foods are expensive and bad for you- too much fat, salt, calories. Restaurant food can be healthy but it's expensive too. . Buy fresh, cook and eat at home. If you have a freezer, you can portion leftovers for easy reheatable meals.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:52AM
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We also cook most of our own food, and rarely used prepared items. It tastes better and is healthier, plus there is often enough for lunch at work the next day. We eat out about 3 times a month. I will additionally eat out for lunch once or twice, but honestly most of the fast food is just too salty to taste good to me now.

We have also decided that we would get the right tools to cook with to enable us to cook and enjoy it. We don't buy the most expensive stuff just to have it, but we will spend on quality items and features we will use, and expect them to last for a while.

I research major purchases to find the best products for our needs and budget (though it is a bit flexible so I can adjust based on my research), and where to get the best price.

I sign up for emails from stores I frequent for sale notification and coupons. If I'm in the market for something that is not an immediate need, I can usually find a way to buy it at a decently discounted price.

I buy a lot on Amazon, so I have a points credit card that I use and pay it off every month. I can use the points at checkout to reduce my purchase total. And I use the free shipping option.

We also make sure we save by spending. Meaning we keep up with car maintenance, furnace maintenance, needed home repairs, etc. The things that can prevent large, unexpected expenses. And also ensuring we have the tools to save. If we didnt have a functioning stove, a few good pans, and a few good knives, we wouldn't be able to cook as often, and it would be very frustrating. We consider those spending to save. (Granted, it's different if you decide you need 15 pans to cook with, but our quality 6-8 pan assortment fits any need we have).

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:08AM
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I didn't mean "Don't eat outever ", I meant "Don't eat fast foods" Whether they come from a drive through restaurant or from a grocery store. A meal at a sit-down restaurant once in a while is a wonderful treat.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:05AM
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Shushipup, I love the crunchy iceberg lettuce but it's not so good without the good stuff sprinkled on it. It's not important what I eat anymore and 2 doctors agreed. I don't believe in the health rules "someone" decided was good for us. When you are young yes, you are building a strong body and bones.....a balanced diet is the right thing to do. For me at 76, it's a pizza once or twice a week, 2 slices each time and a big salad. A cheeseburger at Freddie's at least once a week. The other days are more well balanced meals. My urologist said I had 2 small kidney stones, but if I watch my diet they won't be a problem. I looked at him and said, "diet, you've got to be kidding, if I can't die in my sleep I want to fall face first into a pizza". I thought he would never stop laughing. He said I like your attitude. I told him I like his attitude for accepting my attitude.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:56PM
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Thanks grainlady for such a beautiful and informative post. Simple, yet useful tips. We should practise these habits to save money as well as save environment.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:51AM
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I think another valuable resource is the supermarket salad bar--especially if you're cooking for 1 or 2. You can buy small amounts of cleaned and trimmed fresh veg (and sometimes fruit). Yes, it costs more per pound, but considering there's no waste, and you don't have to buy a big bag of something you'll never finish, I find it's more economical in the long run.

Eating out? Can be cheaper than eating at home, I find. Sign up for the rewards programs at the restaurants you like. We pretty much only eat out when we have a good coupon (buy one get one free, or a significant amount off). We eat our salad, but divide our main course in half--as we all know, restaurant portions are way too large. Then I'll generally use one set of leftovers for our dinner the next night--adding maybe a little rice or pasta; and the second set is used the night after--so often for the price of one meal out, we get 6 servings. That's cheaper than cooking from scratch, and the entertainment value of going out is worth something.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:35AM
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I find eating out much cheaper than cooking. I don't eat at high dollar restaurants every time. I eat what I am hungry for. I get tired of any place if I eat there to much. Also Marie Calendar steamed frozen dishes are very good. Sometimes I buy a very small turkey roast, open some veggies for a meal, then have some for sandwiches. Same with a small ham. Make a meal out of it and sandwiches later. I like Marie Calendar chicken pot pie, but 600 calories. I eat them anyway and cut calories somewhere else the rest of the day.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:31PM
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I think you have yourself convinced eating out is cheaper, but you don't actually have a food budget and some REAL numbers to back it. Why don't you track all food purchases for three months and get back with real numbers.

I have a $125.00/month food budget for 2 adults and that includes three meals and snacks per day. If I figure a 30-day month, that's $4.16 per day for two people. But that's only scratching the surface....

I also have enough of the "Seven Survival Foods" - grains, seeds for sprouting, legumes, salt, sweeteners, fat, powdered milk) for three years. There is enough pantry foods (foods I use to prepare daily meals) for 6-12-months, and I maintain 12-months worth of long-term emergency foods. All on a $125/month food budget.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:07AM
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Some foods are less costly to eat out than to make at home. My favorite example is oriental foods. If you start fresh with all of the ingrediants by the time you have all the spices, herbs, vegetables, meat, rice skins etc you have spent way more than what a dinner out would cost. If you already have the ingrediants you could save money but many dishes only use a very small amount. Then there is the cost and time of what do you do with the things that you did not use at the meal. Until recently Nappa cabbage was only available in my stores as a large head. I saw tonight where I could purchase a package of leaves for $4.98.

I look at kitchen things the way a friend who had a fire and had to make a list of what she had lost. She found out that for the quanity and quality of what she needed to replace underwear cost more than anything. If you already have the things fine but if you don't buying probably costs more than eating out. Along with what do you do with the rest if yours is a one or two person household.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:35PM
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Grain lady, I feel it is cheaper.

This post was edited by EmmaR on Tue, Feb 12, 13 at 14:49

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Good for you, Emma, to get out and take care of your own needs.

But your comments probably don't fit into a thread about Money Saving Advice.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:15PM
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Okay, sorry I can't remove at this late date.

I guess I could after all.

This post was edited by EmmaR on Tue, Feb 12, 13 at 14:51

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 2:48PM
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EmmaR -

Feelings can't be calculated.... I only work with real numbers.
I recently read this statistic:

"...American households spend about 42% of their total food budget on foods prepared outside the home, but the consumption is about 34%. The discrepancy is simple: Food prepared outside the home costs more."

Let's get back to facts for the benefit of people who want to save money on food.

I teach cooking and nutrition classes at our local Food Bank, Sr. Center, and other venues, to help show people how to plan and prepare meals, use commodities they receive from the government they often aren't accustomed to using, and save money by cooking at home.

Not only do they have more food and a wider variety of food to eat when they cook at home, they also see their health improve because they reduce food in their diet that is deep-fried, high in sodium, and reduce foods that are highly-processed carbohydrates (buns, white bread, chips, flour tortillas, etc.) and increase the amount of quality fruit and vegetables they normally lack.

Because eating out is so easy, it's easy to think you save money - when what you probably are saving is time. Eating out means there isn't a plan for eating at home, or lack of interest in cooking, or a real or perceived lack of time, so it's easy to take the path of least resistance.

-Food budget. That's the first way to save on food. Do you have a budget?

-Do you generally include highly-processed convenience foods like Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie, or frozen entrees for one when you do eat at home? American's are the most over-fed and under-nourished people in the world, and that is because of choices they make. Whole, nutrient-dense foods, tend to be budget friendly and much healthier choices.

-How many fruits and vegetables are included in your meals at home or eaten out? Do you get a minimum of five each day, in a variety of colors? If you normally eat out, fresh fruit isn't always available or chosen.

If you want to talk about convenience, then you can certainly make a strong point that it's more convenient for you to eat out and to use frozen entrees-for-one when you eat at home. But convenience costs and that's a provable fact.

Even when you purchase groceries "convenience" generally costs more. Shredded cheese usually costs more per ounce/pound than a bulk amount of cheese you shred yourself. Chocolate milk costs more than buying milk and adding your own chocolate (I save even more by using low-costing powdered milk I buy in bulk and make chocolate syrup with a few inexpensive ingredients from my pantry for pennies). Frozen 100% orange juice (add your own water) is less expensive per serving than ready-to-serve from the refrigerator case. The convenience of "single-servings" is nearly always more expensive when you figure unit cost (ounce for ounce). I make my own "cereal" (hot and cold varieties) and all our baked goods. I purchase 50-pounds of wheat for $20 and mill my own flour.

By making food and freezing it in user-friendly amounts you will save money and time. Cook once and use for many meals.... This is especially important when cooking for one or two becomes an excuse for not cooking.

-I only make mashed potatoes a few times a year and freeze them - usually when I find them priced buy one bag - get one free.

-Soup/chili/stew (often made with leftovers and meaty bones from other meals) is frozen in single-servings, as are spaghetti sauce, sloppy joe mixture, pre-cooked ground beef, pre-cooked bulk sausage, ground beef stroganoff (add the noodles or rice as needed). I also make all our breads and keep them in the freezer. For the ultimate "fast food", chili is quickly converted to a meal by using it to top a baked potato or top salad greens for a Taco Salad. So one food has many uses.

Since you specifically mentioned Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie, I checked the price at Wal-Mart Sunday when I was grocery shopping - $2.50 (16-oz.) and it makes 2, high-carbohydrate, high-sodium, low-fiber, servings.

By making a simple pot pie at home I can reduce the calories from 380 (1/2 of the pot pie) to 200, reduce the fat, reduce the sodium, and make 6-servings for less money. I make them in individual containers or in muffin tins and freeze the extra to use later. I make my own high-fiber baking mix (by-the-cup or in larger amounts as needed) and my own condensed soup mix to save even more money.

The general population is more likely to spend hours watching TV than 20-30 minutes preparing meals, even though what they eat has a much greater effect on their well being. But that's normal in today's world.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:40PM
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When you're thinking of buying something for which your need is somewhat marginal/(questionable) ...

... when you've decided what you want (or even before) - let the idea lie for a few days or a week, then rethink, to see whether you really need it.

We've been trained, largely by TV, to buy whatever on a whim ... stuff that maybe we'll hardly ever use.

You've heard their expression ... " ... because you deserve it!".

No kidding - I do, huh?! Sez who?

Get a book on personal money management from your local library (no cost - unless you're a slow reader [overdue fines]) and start training yourself on smart money management. "No one cares as much about your money as you", I told a number of clients/prospects when doing financial planning for years. And, later in the game, added, "... except someone who'd like to move some of it from your pocket into his/hers".

Learning how money works - an interesting hobby: that pays well!

If you don't boss your money ... there's good possibility that it'll boss you! And usually there's a time-frame involved: if you don't boss your money (now), there's a good possibility that it'll boss you (later). When you'd like to retire, maybe ... but can't afford it?

If you're in Canada, check out local libraries to find "Canadian MoneySaver" magazine ... which carries no ads, is mostly very helpful text, and there's a list of about three dozen places in Canada where subscribers get together to learn about effective money management: ours meets monthly, year round, with usually about 20 attendees; I've attended for something over 10 years.

ole joyful ... ole frugal joyfuelled, that is

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 5:48PM
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Hi, Southerngal

It's not for everyone, but we don't buy meat. We eat beans and fish instead. Lots of veggies and fruit. We never make dessert at home or buy it when we eat out.

Of course, as joyfulguy said, buying only what you truly need and not everything you want is a money saver. Not having any debt (interest payments) also saves a good deal of money.

We also share one car and keep it until the repair bills get too high.

Once you write down what you spend each month, you can figure out where your money is going and what you need to change.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 7:18PM
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Good for you. To be honest, it is hard for me to believe that you do not have a food budget or you do not know how to manage your money.

I agree, sometimes it could cost less to eat out especially if cook just for one.

I wish when I am at your age, I would have your kind of positive attitude, good health and live as carefree as you do.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 11:52PM
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Azmom thanks for your support. Had a rough year, but still better than a lot of people. Had a kidney removed and have serious problems with cataracts, but I am still up. I tried a budget when I was younger and living payday to payday, I hated it. So I went back to just knowing when we need to be careful.

This post was edited by EmmaR on Wed, Feb 20, 13 at 17:50

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 12:46PM
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As the income is fixed make a clear note of your expenses,don't go for luxuries and if we do household things ourselves we will be healthy too....
Now a days fast food is more and by these we are getting more health problems also.I suggest better not eat outside food by which we can save a lot of money and get good health also.
Having our own property and goods at initial stage costs more but later there will not be any expenses.
Retirement plans are more now a days better choose good one and save money.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 1:21AM
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Brad Edwards

I am a stay at home dad on a limited budget.

I don't think eating out saves time everytime. I garner about 1/2 of the people that eat out use drive throughs. You figure the extra 10 minutes, gas, and then waiting to get home. Sure, 3 double stacks and 3 fries for a family of 3 sounds like a good meal for the price and isn't bad, but you can make a ton of crock pot meals with real meat for about the same price.

I would say utilize the freezer even if single. If don't like to cook learn. So what if you make a pot full of fetuccini and brocolli, save enough for work lunch the next two days, then freeze the rest for another meal. For 3$ in parmigan, 1$ in pasta, and 1$ in frozen brocolli, you have 4-5 meals. You can't get a buck a meal anywhere.

I have an HE washer, I quit using HE and use regular laundry detergent but I use 1/2 regular 1/2 water. The clothes might not be as clean, but to me they smell as nice. It also allows me to get every drop out of the fabric softer and I dilute that out as well at the end and offset it by adding it to the diluted regular water. I have been doing this for years in the HE front loader. I have had it "suds" setting 4-5 times. I may be reducing the washer life by 4-5 years, but at 10 HE savings + double with dilution it saves around 20$ a month in just HE, throw in fabric softer and I am looking at about 25-30 savings a month. At 360 a year, I could buy a new HE washer in about 2-3 years with the money saved "have already saved enough". My laundry also smells really good at times, like when I have diluted lavender on top of lavender fabric softer etc.

We have a family of 6 so we purchased a 20" standard freezer. Its roughly 70$ to operate a year. You could offset that eating out twice at a decent restaurant.

Some cheap food items to me, Sams Bannanas, chicken boil the bones down for home made stock/broth "great for rice" Dumplings, hm chicken noodle", bulk cheese, eggs, sour cream, butter, celery, member mark diapers and I buy meat sometimes and bag/vacuum seal.

Then I use the local weekly flyers at albertsons/kroger and stock up on things like tuna, rice, beans, gator aid, canned vegtables "crock pot", etc. Just this past week Kroger had canned veg 30 cents a can limit 30, went back twice. For 1.50 5 cans and 3-4$ in sams meat I have veg stew.

Shopping for clothes, check out TJ max, marshals, thrift stores, or ebay. You'll never see me at the mall.

#1 tip I live by and more Americans should

Quality over Quantity
Specifically on things that can drastically increase life
Ex. a cheap vacumm that needs replacing every 2-3 years vs a dysson etc that will last 10+

Same with cars, buying used yet low mileage. I know quite a few people, myself included, that have bought 6-10 year old vehicles with under 80K miles that were roughly 75% off of the manufacture price. Just check out how much some of the Mercedes depreciate, its insane. That 80K 05 is now 25... with 60K miles... thats roughly a grand for every 1k miles.

Build your own and repurpose items. Need a sofa, 100$'s for a very comfortable good will find that looks like it came out of grandmas living "because it did" and a slip cover-
Use natural wood, headboards, footboards, even cool endtables can be made with 3/4 ply and some logs for 10-15$ and an hour.

With gas, water, and electric climbing, check out led and compact flourescents. You might have materials lying around to make your own wind turbine-

Grow your own, especially herbs if you cook a lot. Chives, garlic, onion, tomatoes, basil all grow pretty well in a vast majority of the country "or if used a lot buy in bulk from Sams".

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:05AM
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Brad Edwards

I'd also like to add that yall probably didn't factor drive time, gas cost, car milage/etc on the going out to eat. It may only be 3-4$ in gas for the average McDonalds drive through, but hey that adds up fast.

Color Krazy, I don't knock you for not eating meat. IT IS GETTING to be the darn hardest thing to buy and vastly overpriced vs nutritional value. The cheapest foods have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled sense I was in college 10 years ago. I used to do tuna sandwiches a couple of times a week 25C can of tuna, egg, and bread for probably 40C a sandwich, now a can of tuna is a buck+. Velveta shells and cheese used to be the same 50c all day long on sale, coupled with sale bacon/brocolli and it was a 1.50 meal for two with veggie/meat, with gas prices going up food is doing the same.

If you live in the country you could always get a couple of hens, they lay eggs weekly and make great fertilizer.

Reduce, reuse, recycle...

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:17AM
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If people figured the price of canned tuna by the pound, they would be surprised how much they are paying for it.

59-cents / 5-oz. = $1.89 (rounded up) per pound
89-cents / 5-oz. = $2.85 (rounded up) per pound
$1.29 / 5-oz. = $4.13 (rounded up) per pound

I budget $10 per week for meat (for 2 adults) and try to stick to $2 or less a pound as much as possible - although that's getting harder to find :-( I'll spend no more than $10 no matter how much per pound. If I don't find a "bargain" I'll set aside the $10 for when I do find stock-up prices.

We consume 2 servings of protein or meat substitute per day. One day (Monday) is a large cut of meat with many uses for multiple meals (casseroles, stir-fry, sandwiches, base for soup, leftovers for the freezer). One-two days are vegetarian, and the remaining days are a mix of a small amount of meat and low-costing meat substitutes.

Nutritionally, the only way to "stretch" meat and maintain a serving of protein is to mix it with a low-costing, high-protein, meat substitute. When you add more carbohydrates (rice, pasta, bread crumbs, etc.) you are getting less protein per serving and adding carbohydrates, which we tend to get too many of each day as it is.

Ways to stretch meat:

-Add a couple hard cooked eggs to a can of tuna for tuna salad to get more servings of protein at a lower price per serving. You can also add lentils or beans to tuna. Add a raw egg when making tuna patties. I also utilize bean flour or sprouted lentils or sprouted and dehydrated lentils.

-Mix homemade ground gluten (aka seitan or wheat meat) 50/50 with all ground meat as a high-protein meat extender.

-Mix meat with beans. I like to serve cannellini beans with chicken and use 1-1/2 oz. of chicken + beans for a serving. Ground beef + beans or refried beans for Mexican entrees. Ground turkey and sprouted lentils or beans in chili.

The next way I figure meat is by how many servings will it provide and how much per serving will it cost.

Boneless - figure 4 (3-oz.) servings per pound
Some bone - figure 3 (3-oz.) servings per pound
Much bone - figure 2 (3-oz.) servings per pound

Rib meat - figure 3/4-1-pound per person
Bone-in - figure 1/3-1/2 pound per person
Boneless - figure 1/4-1/3 pound per person

Chicken, whole: 1-2 servings per pound
Chicken, parts (bone-in): 2-3 servings per pound
Chicken breasts (boneless): 3-4 servings per pound
Cornish hens: 1-2 servings per pound
Turkey, whole: 12# or less - 1 serving per pound
Turkey, whole: 12# or more - 2 servings per pound
Turkey parts (bone-in): 2-3 servings per pound
Turkey breast (boneless): 3-4 servings per pound

Frugal protein sources:
-canned tuna (at the "right" price)
-whey protein powder
-peanut butter
-frozen chicken parts
-cottage cheese
-homemade yogurt or commercial Greek Yogurt


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:50AM
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I use coupons whenever I can and I've brought my kids up to always look for a coupon first. Crazy Coupon Lady has some great coupons and ideas. Coupons are not just for the supermarket. CVS member reward card is well worth the free membership. Kohls takes expired Kohls cash and if you sign up for some of your favorite dept stores on-line, they send you a coupon for signing up.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Cars are a major expense for americans - the purchase price, gas, insurance and maintenance. DH and I share one car, we live close to work so we can carpool and we bike and walk to many destinations. Public transit isn't always cheaper, but walking and biking are - and they replace a gym membership :)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 11:45PM
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I'm definitely in the quality vs quantity camp too! Spending where it counts will save in the long run. I research purchases when needed to make informed choices.

We also eat little meat for a healthier diet, with the bonus of less cost. But when we do crave a steak, for example, we cook it home. For less than one steak dinner out we can each have an actual serving size (not huge restaurant size) filet mignon with our favorite veggies and potatoes. We also recently started cooking some dark meet chicken, we can get it for under $2/lb regularly and it is fantastic in jerk rub!

DIY minor repairs are helpful too. I've learned how to change/repair standard toilet tank innards, change outlets/switches, replace a ceiling fan (which applies to lighting fixtures too), patch and paint walls/trim/ceiling, make small drywall repairs, install carpet in small rooms, replace a sump pump, replace a dishwasher, and probably others I can't think of. If I had the time I could DIY a good portion of our kitchen remodel, but it would take many months with my work schedule as I'm a novice with patience and good research skills. Plus I suspect some hidden damage I would want done professionally.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Almost forgot one!

We also keep the big picture in mind. For example, yes, it's more cost effective to make our own beans and freeze them. But that doesn't stop us from spending a little more on canned beans so we can cook at home, which more than balances the added cost of prepared beans. I also buy chips and pretzels in single serving packs. I rarely snack, they are generally for the few days I need lunch on the go, or for travel. By the time I used a bulk bag it would be rancid and mostly wasted money.

Don't feel like it's eat out or all from scratch. A few convenience items that enable you to cook at home may be well worth the added cost. Just be aware of what conveniences you are paying for. We all draw a line though, and I suspect even grainlady buys butter :-)

(Grainlady, that's not a dig, I wish I could get myself organized enough to do half what you do! But steps between "all" and "nothing" can be great stepping stones, so the more paths, the better)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:34PM
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There are a lot of ways to save money regarding our household needs. Just always remember to spend less on what you're earning. However, when you're concerned with a considerable amount of money such as retirement plan, tax preparations, etc., it's better to consult a financial advisor. They can help you with your financial dilemma.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:17AM
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Entertainment thank to your local library.
The libraries have pass to local venues for free or discounted admission and you can reserve them. They also have lots of free class and events going on. One just needs to check their website.

Hanging clothes outside. Even in cold weather your clothes will dry. I find I hang my clothes out before going to work and they are dry when I get home.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:32AM
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Hanging clothes outside, even though I did just that for years, isn't the money saver you think it is. The sun and wind damage fabrics at least as much as using a dryer does, if not more, so fabrics don't last as long.

Several years ago we placed 6-lines in an unfinished room in our basement (enough for 2 loads of laundry) to use during the winter. We added a ceiling fan to aid drying time, and now realize how much longer our clothes are lasting. We loved this set-up so much we use it all year long.

It's also more convenient to hang them in the basement because you aren't constrained by the weather, don't have to worry about a surprise insect in a sleeve or pants leg, bird poo bombs, pollen clinging to fabrics when you have hay fever, the sun fading colors and damaging elastic.... On one wall we have a 6-foot long clothes rod and on it we hang clothes we normally hang on a hanger to dry to free up space on the lines. They go directly from the basement to the closet.

So we save energy by not using our dryer, and as a secondary savings, our clothes last years longer than they ever did before.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 9:55AM
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There is nothing wrong with paying for convenience, as long as you know that is what you are doing. When our triplets were babies both time and money were in short supply, and we always had to weigh out which conveniences were worth the extra money. Disposable diapers were expensive, but when you took into account the cost in time those extra loads of laundry would take, considering how many loads of clothing, towels, and sheets I was already doing, they were worth it. On the other hand, it didn't take much more time to mix the concentrated formula with water and it was quite a savings if I remember correctly.
Every family has different needs, different finances, and different priorities. You also need to know yourself well enough to know what you are likely to stick to. I've often been tempted by that food saver thing, but I know that I would not want it kept on my counter, and therefore it would become inconvenient to use, and therefore it would probably become one more gizmo that I never use. I do better by not stocking up on food. I do buy the Club packs of chicken, ground beef and pork tenderloins because they are much less expensive, I split them up and freeze them, but I try not to have more than we will eat in a month. Too much stockpiling leads to waste in my house. I've found I'm better off planning my meals for the week and purchasing exactly what I need, including planning to use the leftovers. Of course we always make sure to have some canned soups, veggies, etc.on hand, but not tons. We live close enough to several grocery stores.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 7:48PM
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Lots of good advice here! As a dyed in the wool cheapskate, I can elaborate on a few of the topics . . .

I've been making homemade laundry detergents for years. Some recipes are more harsh than others, but the stuff I make now is top notch and is gentle on the clothes. Since each ingredient is safe for an HE washer, the final product is too. It costs about the same as the cheapest stuff on sale but is far superior in quality.

I always use my dryer . . . Not because of savings but because I despise hanging out clothes. The moral: you don't have to use every money saving technique available. Just don't use that excuse with too many tasks.

Unless you have a genuinely free gift card or buy-one-get-one free coupon, cooking at home is always cheaper. Be sure to compare the total cost of eating out: include your drinks, tax, tip, and gas. If you have a unique situation, you need to seek out then right techniques. For example, if you live alone, freezing individual portions could be a good answer.

Most people buy their food at the grocery store. Though convenient, this is the most expensive place to buy. Search out new sources. I buy from a warehouse store, the farmers' market, a beef co-op, a couple outlet stores, an expensive health food store that sells spices for super-cheap, and a salvage store. Oh, and the Internet. I've been doing this for so long that it takes no effort -- I have my habits down pat. For example, I only shop for spices about twice a year when I'm going to the far side of town towards that expensive health food store, but when I go, I make sure I have a list and buy everything I need for the months to come.

I add chopped apple to my tuna salad. Makes it taste like chicken salad.

Stockpiling in moderation is a good thing, but I do agree that excessive stockpiling can lead to waste. I'm remembering the time I bought a whole shelf of Mac-and-cheese because it was .10 per box. The last boxes went bad, and the powdered cheese would not dissolve. Keep records of how much you use so you can buy realistically.

Also keep records of when things go on sale so you know how much to buy. For example, chicken goes on sale about every other week -- no need to fill the freezer. Peanut butter -- the kind I buy -- rarely goes on sale, and my kids love it. So on the rare occasion that I have a coupon or see a sale, I make it a priority to buy a couple large containers.

Learn to can and preserve food so you can take advantage of sale items and stock up when appropriate.

In any little thing, seek out the lowest level that satisfies you. For example, cut down the amount of soap in your washing machine 'til you find the amount that's no longer acceptable . . . Then go back one step.

Perhaps the most important thing, however, is to spend consciously. Consider how and why you spend. This one tip will cut down on unnecessary spending significantly.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 10:00PM
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Dropped our AT&T landline and went with Ooma. That saved $30.00 per month.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 4:14PM
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I love this post as I work in a non- profit that helps people on budgeting and I am always looking for good advice to pass on.

Here are some of the good one's I ve heard over the years and use;

- make a 7 day menu and buy just what you need.

- have a small garden and freeze things like tomatoes (just through them into a pot add a little water, garlic, herbs, pass them into blender and freeze). & Yes, I grow my own garlic. If you can plant a tulip you can grow your own garlic. Sorry, I have a hang-up about all that China garlic in grocery stores....eurh...

- use frozen veg for soups or spagetti sauce

- buy local & join a local buying coop if you can.

- buy bananas that are on sale and freeze them to make muffins, loafs or smoothies.

- buy lemons on sale juice them and freeze into ice trays.

- go to the supermarket less frequently and decide what you are going to spend before you go?

- check you lifestyle habits example; Do you buy expresso daily? is a fast calculation of what it amounts to over a year: 2$ coffee per day x 5 days a week= 10$ per week, not so much you think, so what? 10$ per week x 52 weeks = 520$ per year.

- Never pay just the minimum on a credit card!

- Fix yourself short, med and long term goals.

- Before you spend think...what is the worst boss you've had? So how long would i have to spend with that idiot to be able to pay for this item?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2015 at 12:14PM
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I didn't read all the comments... but here's my 2 cents

My best advice to save money is to quite spending money! This only applies to some of course.. I'm one of them. I can't tell you how many times I looked at my finances and thought "oh yeah, make my own detergent, etc" to save money or other ways to cut corners but I realized I was my own problem - I simply needed to quit buying stuff (I didn't need). Making this change isn't easy either.

My husband and I don't eat out much and we take our lunches in - to be honest it's good quality food though and isn't cheap but I also realize that one nice meal out that cost $50 could be 3-4 just as nice dinners at home (less the dishes that come with home cooked food lol).

2014 Christmas - no presents under my tree last year and it was the first year. Usually I go all out but I told my husband and family no presents this year - and I didn't buy any. I probably saved $1000. No one needed anything and I didn't feel like buying anything...

Cute new clothes? Sure,,, but I probably have 400 pieces of clothing. Something in my closet will do. In fact I challenged myself around October last year after reading a blog not to buy anymore clothing the rest of the year. I didn't know if I could, I mean, I hadn't bought my new winter coat yet - but guess what - I survived.. lol

Then I thought maybe no clothes this year either - but guess what - Banana Republic sent me a $10 gift card - I had to use it. I ended up spending $56 and haven't wore either of those new shirts yet.. That was about a month ago.. Oh well, I try not to sweat the small things, life is too short. That's where you just have to find that "happy medium" ...

    Bookmark   February 6, 2015 at 4:29PM
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Along the lines of FeatherBee's post about Christmas, our adult family members just do Secret Santa for each other and buy gifts for the kiddos. $25 limit, and makes for a hilarious time as we each try to figure out who our secret giver is.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 3:33PM
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