Have you ever said, “When X happens, then I will begin to save money.” Or, “We don’t make enough money to be able to set anything aside for savings.” Or, have you said any version of those two statements?
Well, I recently read an article by Dave Ramsey, the get-out-of-debt and save-money guru about this subject. He wrote that the reason we don’t save money is that we haven’t made it an emotional priority. He gives the hypothetical example of parents being told that their child will not survive without a $15,000 surgery, which is not covered by insurance. He makes the case that those parents would turn into saving money machines in those months leading up to the surgery.
It got me thinking because we have made the statements at the top of this post. But, recently, because of a concern about a source of income being severely reduced or cut off, things shifted. We did start saving money. The circumstances changed, for the better, thankfully. However, the concern was real and deep enough that our mentality has shifted.
Here are just a few ways we are cutting even more corners than usual in order to set money aside.
1. Eating Out. We don’t do it much as it is. However, we order an occasional pizza. Not now. We’d rather set that $20 aside for a time we may really need it. I can make multiple meals at home with $20!
2. Drinks. We used to buy juice or tea to drink with our meals. Now, I purchase loose tea in bulk and make pitchers of tea for pennies compared to what we were spending on those bottles of juice.
3. Prepackaged Foods. Prepackaged foods cost more. We can make our own baked goods and treats. We can prepare our own vegetables and season our own meats, thank you very much…and save money, in the meanwhile.
4. Meal Portions. This helps with both saving money and watching weight. 😉 I realized that if I cooked more beef or chicken, my husband and I just ate more of it as part of our dinners. But, if I cooked the same amount and divided it in half before serving our dinner, we were very satisfied and still had plenty for the next day. This may be our biggest money-saving trick.
What do you do to save money?
One item that I am able to get a ton of with coupons is shampoo. I bet that is the item, other than toothpaste, that I can almost always get for free. At one point I think I had 6 bottles up in my stash. What does someone do with all that shampoo? It would take a while to use it and then you can keep getting it for free. Here are a few “other” uses for Shampoo that you may not know about. We use these tips all the time and they are great!
1. Shaving cream. Yep, shaving cream. Want an extra treat? Try using the conditioner too. Honestly you just need something that suds and it works just as well as shaving cream. Conditioner is really good because it conditions yours skin. Try it and feel the difference.
2. Body wash. Yep, if you can make suds, it can make you clean. I do this all the time. You don’t need to ever spend a lot on body wash especially when shampoo is on sale.
3. Sugar scrub. Just add some sugar or even salt and make yourself a body scrub.
4. Use it to mop your floor. I know sounds crazy! But all you need to do is add a cap full to a bucket of water and watch it work wonders on ceramic and linoleum floors.
5. Bubbles!!! Do your kids love bubbles? Mine do and they go through it very quickly. We could literally buy it once a week the way my kids go through it, but now add a cap full of shampoo to water and use that for bubbles. It totally works!
Low fat, no fat, high protein, low carbs, juicing, raw, vegan, whole grains, gluten free, grain free…It seems as though what it means to eat “healthy” is redefined every few years. Quite frankly, it makes me question the industries that stand to gain with the latest trends. However, I do believe that we each need to figure out what is best for our bodies to thrive. What does this have to do with saving money? Everything!
What are some of your most expensive bills? Medical bills are likely to rank high up there. There are medical bills that don’t have anything to do with our diet. My 3-year old recently fell and fractured her thumb. There is no diet that could have prevented that accident. However, by and large, what we put into our bodies has a significant impact on our health…and, therefore, our medical costs.
This is the reason that we as a family buy organic as much as we can. It’s also the reason we buy as much raw, fresh foods as possible. However, for our family, one of the recent fads has turned out to be good for us and for our bank account. We discovered that we were more sensitive to gluten than we had any idea. How did we find out? Well, we just tried going gluten free to see if we’d see or feel any difference. Even though some say it could take months to feel any significant difference, it has already saved us money.
My husband used to have allergic reactions all the time. We could never narrow down the source of the allergies. It seemed to be something in the yard some times; the carpet other times; something at work. It was always something…until now. We have only recently (in the last few months) gone gluten free. And, it has made a difference for my husband and me.
Here are some of the ways we have already saved money:
1. He is recovering from being sick more quickly and, as a result, not needing to go to the doctor (to pay for the co-pay) or get a prescription (and pay for antibiotics).
2. No allergies. In the past, the allergic reactions have been bad enough that they have required doctor and even hospital visits. So, this is saving money–not to mention all the physical and emotional strain!
3. I have discovered that I’m no longer having allergic reactions to bug bites (specifically mosquito bites). This one hasn’t saved me money but has saved quite a bit of hassle in my world. 😉
How has eating healthy saved you and your family money?
Recently, we realized that my husband may have a sensitivity to gluten. So, we have begun the process of removing gluten from our diet. And, if you haven’t done it, you may not realize that gluten is EVERYWHERE! However, there are a few things that, at this early stage, are carrying us through the bread-less, pasta-less lifestyle in a thrifty manner. Just to clarify, we can have bread and pasta that is gluten free. It’s just that it costs an arm and a leg. And, we haven’t yet begun to make our own gluten free bread (oh, that’s coming soon, though).
That said, my husband wanted spaghetti a few nights ago. Usually easy prep for me. However, I didn’t want to go to the grocery store and pledge next month’s income for 8 oz of pasta (okay, okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit!). In any case, I wondered what it might be like to make something Italian using the potatoes in my pantry. I looked online and realized that I was not the only one to have had that very same thought! Potato lasagna was an option, using potatoes instead of pasta!
I made a very simple–but very yummy–lasagna using potato slices (that I’d boiled until they were tender beforehand) in place of the pasta. I didn’t have ricotta. So, I just used what I did have.
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1/2 bunch of spinach
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4-1/2 cup chopped italian parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar of pasta sauce
1 cup of shredded mozarella cheese
4-5 potatoes (which I boiled for a few minutes before slicing)
1. Brown ground beef and add onion, garlic, parsley, spinach, additional seasonings and jar of sauce. Simmer.
2. Thinly slice potatoes and layer them into a 9×13 greased pan. Lightly salt and pepper potatoes.
3. Top potatoes with 1/3 of the sauce mixture and then with 1/3 of the cheese.
4. Repeat the layering of potatoes, sauce and cheese. Then, top this layer with remaining sauce and remaining cheese.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it begins to bubble.
Of course, you can transform almost any lasagna recipe inexpensively into a gluten free one by substituting potatoes for the pasta. But, you can also have a tasty dish by just using what you have (even without ricotta and eggs, etc). Keep in mind that you don’t have to be gluten free to enjoy this tasty variation on traditional lasagna! Enjoy!
I taught a couponing class at my local mom’s group this past week. Bless her heart, but there was one lady there that was just terrified of couponing. She said it was overwhelming and that she tried to start before and just couldn’t do it. It kind of made me sad because couponing doesn’t have to be scary and overwhelming. You don’t have to be like the people you see on some extreme couponing show. You can start simple and still save tons of money.
Does couponing overwhelm you? Do you find yourself looking at sites like Thrifty Divas and feeling like you just don’t get it? Here’s my quick start guide to couponing. If you are a person that is overwhelmed by all this coupon talk, start here.
1. Buy one paper a week. Either go to your local gas station and buy a paper or have it delivered. Most newspapers will cut you deal when you are just buying the Sunday paper, so it may be cheaper to have it delivered. This is where a lot of new couponers go wrong. They want to be like the extreme couponers and get stockpiles that take up their basement and get 10 copies of the Sunday paper. Don’t do that! Start small and just deal with one set of inserts.
2. Don’t clip and sort. When I first started, I didn’t do the whole binder thing. It was way too much for me. Instead, I bought one of those accordion file organizers and I simply wrote in black marker the date of the insert. Then when Thrifty Divas does your local store match ups, we will tell you the date the coupon was in the paper and what insert it was in and you’ll know exactly where to get it from. Just put them in date order in your folder and you can easily find them.
3. Only do store match ups. This is such an easy way to get started. Thrifty Divas will post match ups for you so all the work is done. Finding your own deals can be kind of daunting if you are new to this. However, we will do the work. Below is an example of a match up we did last week for Walgreens.
Johnson Dental Floss, 55 yd. $0.99
With in ad coupon, Limit 3
Use $1.00/1 Reach Floss from RP 3/4 (exp 5/31)
Final Price: Free
The first line is the price of the item. The second line tells you that there is an in store ad that makes the item $.99. My local Walgreens doesn’t require you to show them the ad, but some may. So just to be safe, clip the in store ad. This is an ad found in the Walgreens advertisement you get in the newspaper or when you walk in the door. The third line tells you about a coupon for that item. It says what the coupon is for, where it’s from (RP=Red Plum) and the date it was in the newspaper. Finally, the last line tells you the final price which in this case is FREE!
That’s pretty easy huh? If you are new to couponing, don’t try to get fancy. Just follow Thrifty Divas match ups and then you can move onto more complicated couponing when you are more comfortable.
Try the 3 easy steps above and save money!
We give a lot of Thrifty Tips about couponing and saving money. But, I think that some of us (that definitely includes me!) need to remember to implement healthy boundaries in our money-saving and couponing lifestyles. But, rather than just talking about those healthy boundaries, let’s take a look at what happens without healthy couponing boundaries.
What Not to Do
- If you want to burn out as a couponer, follow at least four couponing sites and make multiple stops to the same stores in one week…because you go as soon as you see the deal posted.
- If you want to burn out as a couponer, set aside things that help you get recharged (like reading, working out, family time) if they get in the way of finding deals, clipping, printing or organizing coupons or actually making your purchases.
- Buy things you don’t need simply because you can get such a great deal.
- Watch “Extreme Couponing” for comparison and tips, as opposed to sheer entertainment.
- Tell your friends and family about all the deals you’ve gotten, even when they show no interest.
- Don’t enjoy something for which you paid full price.
Okay, so some of the above listed items are a bit extreme but not by much! In reality, the above list reveals both the extreme and the balance. While saving money can enhance and enrich our lives in so many ways, if we are not careful, it can also rip us off of real life. And, that is no bargain at all!
We’d love to hear from you whether you’ve burned out, prevented burn out, or recovered from it! What did you do? Please share your story with us!
I used to think that being frugal and eating healthy were mutually exclusive lifestyles. After all, have you noticed the difference between organic and conventionally grown produce? However, over the years my husband and I both have read and seen enough that we feel committed to eating as organically as is possible. At the same time, we live on a fairly tight budget. So, I thought I’d offer just a few tips on merging frugality and healthy living.
First Things First
Part of the way our family is able to eat organically is by placing a priority on our food. We make cuts in a lot of other areas in order to be able to spend money on all natural and/or organic foods. So, I do not do very much shopping–at this point–for clothes or shoes, etc. My husband has a basic wardrobe that works for his job. Our children have plenty of toys and clothes (many of which are hand-me-downs in great condition and gifts from family).
Rarely will you find a coupon for produce. However, produce goes on sale seasonally. So, shop seasonally! I buy apples when they are on sale and pears when they are on sale. I check to see whether the spinach is less expensive than the kale on any given week.
I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for beef, chicken or turkey. We buy organic ground beef regularly. However, we know that our store marks down the price of meats the day before the “sell by” date. As such, we can buy organic beef and organic or all-natural chicken for half (sometimes even less than half) the price!
We buy all our oatmeal, rice and even popcorn kernels from the bulk section at our local grocery store. They carry both conventional and organic options. It’s another way to make it more reasonable to eat organically. By the way, every few months, our store has a 20% off everything in the bulk section. So, it’s always an opportunity to stock up.
What are some of the ways you save on buying all natural or organic for your family?
My husband and I care about making sure we and our children eat as healthy as possible. At the same time, I want to have healthy treats around, ones that taste good but don’t make us feel bad about having eaten them. My guess is that we are not alone! There are ways to hide veggies in food, make fruit fun and more available to eat. However, baking is a fun way to sneak in a few healthy, yummy ingredients for your family.
Here’s a recipe for cookies I make sure we have all the time in our home. My husband and daughter eat them as breakfast cookies as well as for a snack in between meals. It’s a fantastic way to get some good fat, fiber and even some protein into your family’s diet.
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup steel cut oats (soaked in about 1 cup of water)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
dash of salt
1 bag (10 oz) dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
Directions: Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then mix all the wet ingredients. It may be helpful to heat the steel cut oats for just long enough to allow the coconut oil to melt in the water with the oats. Mix all the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix. Add the sunflower seeds and chocolate chips.
Scoop batter into rounded tablespoons a greased cookie sheet. (Depending on thickness, you may need to press down on them lightly so that they aren’t completely round.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (longer if you prefer them to be more crunchy than soft).
Then, enjoy cookies that are actually good for you and your children! No guilt! That’s the way a cookie should be.
*We use organic ingredients that we buy in bulk. You can also add more sugar if you prefer it sweeter.