Monday, October 6, 2008

10 Tips for Frugal Living

This month's challenge for Marriage Monday is to share 10 Tips for Frugal Living. With the way the economy has been headed lately, I thought that was especially timely so I wanted to share some tips that work for us.

To be honest, I almost forgot that Marriage Monday was this week, so rather than spending a lot of time deliberating over what would be the top 10 things I could recommend for frugal living, I offer you the first 10 that popped into my head! Don't you feel special?

In no particular order:
  1. Make menu plans. It is cheaper to cook from scratch, but that's hard to do if you don't plan ahead. It takes discipline to sit down and do this once a week, but I have found that it really does pay off in both the grocery budget and saving time.
  2. Use your crockpot. I shared about this last week. This ties in with menu planning, but it also saves money because slow cooking is ideal for cheap foods like dried beans, and cheaper cuts of meat: chicken, round steak, pork roast, hamburger.
  3. Buy staples in bulk, but be sure to check to make sure it really is cheaper. I found oatmeal in the bulk bins in the health-food department of our grocery store for 69 cents a pound. That comes out cheaper than buying a box of oatmeal, even of the off-brand. We just bought a 50-pound bag of rice at Costco for $20 which comes out to 40 cents a pound. My experience has been, though, that not everything is cheaper this way. And, of course, it depends on if you have a place to keep all that rice (or whatever)!
  4. Buy off-brands. That one's pretty obvious, but I've been surprised at friends sometimes who are stuck on a particular brand and don't realize that the store brand is often just as good, or at least acceptable.
  5. Check thrift stores and garage sales before you buy new. This past weekend my husband was building a computer from spare parts he had lying around. (Yes, he's a geek!) He needed a DVD-drive and was headed to Best Buy to get one. I decided to ride along, and managed to convince him to stop at the thrift stores to see if he could find what he needed before going to Best Buy. He was very impressed to find a whole computer (sold "as-is") for $20 at St. Vincent's. It had the DVD-drive he needed! Then when he went to check out he found out it was 50% off day so he got the computer for $10! That was a savings of $40-50, plus it gave him parts to spare! (Just what he needed!)
  6. Subscribe to Free Cycle in your area on Yahoo Groups. I have been amazed at what people give away for free! It's also a great way to pass along items you no longer have a use for, but they are too good to throw away.
  7. Check out Craig's List for larger items. We have bought some pieces of furniture we needed for bargain prices this way. Also, they have a free section, as well.
  8. Use your public library. I have been a big fan of the library since I was a little girl! All those wonderful books you can take home to read at your leisure. Not to mention a wonderful selection of audio books, and movies you can check out for free! I have also been known to take my laptop and ask for a study room when I need a quiet getaway.
  9. Cut back on travel expenses. My family loves to travel, and while we find we do need to stay home more than we would like these days, it is possible to save money when you travel. One of my earliest blog posts back in 2002 was on Road Trips on a Budget!
  10. Switch to cell phones. It may not be cheaper (or practical) for everyone, but we found we actually save money on our phone bill by dropping our home phone and only using our cells.
What tips can you add to my list? I'd love to know!

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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Amber (Bringing Good Home) said...

GREAT list! You're right about the cooking from scratch. My latest success: homemade flour tortillas. Very easy. WAY yummy. 3$ for a bag of tortilla mix, I've used a little less than half the bag, I've made at least 3 dozen out of that (can't remember if there was a 4th dozen or not.) Definitely frugal.

Another tip: pay attention to the weather and on fair days - turn of the a/c or heater and open the windows. I hear the same applies to the car - no a/c improves gas mileage?

Also, we spent the summer without DISH network (no tv reception where I am, either.) I'm thinking about leaving it off permanently since most shows are available online now and we're already paying for internet.

Anonymous said...

Excellent list! And yes, "off the top of your head" does make me feel really special. (LOL)

My husband (and son) love to build computers from scratch too. We've saved a bundle as DIY-ers in many other areas as well.

We're trying to switch to cell phones exclusively too... hard to do completely since we run a home-based business.

Thanks for joining us for Marriage Monday today, Karla. Sorry I didn't give any advance reminders this time. I've been ill for a few days.

e-Mom :~D

MiPa said...

Great list! Thanks for sharing "off the top of your head." Really useful things here.

Emily said...

This is a great list! I was happy to see I do some of that too - especially menu plan - This helps in the long run so much and saves us lots of money too.

Have a beautiful day!

Carrie said...

Your list has great suggestions...I use some of them already, but need to do more.

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

Great advice Karla! Thanks for sharing. A very timely reminder!

Cookie Sunshine said...

I just found you at Charlotte's blog. This is a wonderful list. What is "free cycle"? I've never heard of it.

Denise said...

Enjoyed your wonderful tips.

MuseSwings said...

Wonderful list! I actually do some of them, but learned even more from your 10 Tips. The only one that got me - at first - was Buy Staples in Bulk. I'm thinking to myself staples? I only staple about 10 things a year maybe 25 if you count tax time... And then I read on....

Janeen said...

I use my crockpot a lot! Just made stew in it the other day and I'll be doing a roast this weekend! I love the fall/winter weather too because the recipes are perfect for comfort foods! Great ideas, thanks for sharing!