Feeling Frugal

I know that I live rather frugally compared to others. My daughter, Lynn, took my Tightwad Gazette book and hid it for well over a year because she was tired of the great ideas I was getting from it…ideas that she didn’t think were too great, such as washing out ziploc bags and using them over again.

We seldom eat out because we can’t walk out of a restaurant without dropping 100.00 for a meal that I could have made for maybe $10.00. Did I like that meal 10 times as much as if I had made it myself? That is what I tell myself when I want to go to out to dinner. I try to save eating out for birthday celebrations and budget accordingly.

Don’t get the impression that we are a rice and beans or casserole family, however. When I cook, I like to eat well. Lots of Chinese stir-fry, Mexican food, etc., are often found on our dining room table. No, we’re not vegetarian, and yes, meat can be expensive.

I was surprised, however, to find out in this month’s issue of Debt Proof Living, that the average family of four with a moderate food budget spends $904.00 per month at the grocery store. I used to budget $600.00/month for 7 of us at home, and when Taylor left on his mission, decided to see if we could bring that even lower. I currently budget $500.00/month, but often go over a bit. Yes, that includes my laundry soap, cleaners, etc., not just food, and I not only buy what I need for the week, but stock up on low priced items as well.

Sometimes people are shocked and ask how I do it. First of all, I consider my grocery money my stewardship. I feel if God has given us the money, it’s my duty to spend it wisely. I buy loss leaders. I don’t buy boneless chicken breasts unless they are $1.88/lb or less. I never pay more than 1.99 for a gallon of milk, and before milk prices went up, my goal was never to pay more than 1.39 for a gallon of milk. If I buy it when it is on sale and freeze it, I can always have sufficient milk until I see it on sale again. The same is true for other sale items.

Potatoes this week are 99 cents for a five lb bag at one of our markets. Not as good as last year when I found ten lb. bags for the same price, but still a decent deal. I buy as many as I think we can store without them going bad. I keep the bags in my closet. You might think it’s strange to have 50 lbs of potatoes in my closet, but not having a root cellar, my closet is the coolest, darkest place where I can store them. Not only that, 50 lbs of potatoes in my house–the way my boys eat–doesn’t last all that long.

Another way that I have saved considerable money is by watching the deals from a blog called Money Saving Mom. From her website, I have found coupon deals that allow me to often purchase items for merely cents on the dollar or even free. I didn’t used to use many coupons because I found that I could find the store brand for less than the name brand with a coupon. What I wasn’t doing well, however, was waiting to match up coupons with store brands that were hugely discounted that week. For example, last week Kroger had Cheerios, and a few other General Mills items such as granola bars and Fruit Roll ups at 4 for $4.00. I had 50 cent coupons for Cheerios and 60 cent coupons for Nature Valley granola bars. My store doubles them even if they say “do not double” on them. So, I ended up getting each item for free. They limited their sale to one purchase of 4 for $4.00 per transaction, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go back to the store the next day and the next. I ended up with 16 boxes of a variety of granola bars and cereal for free. Much, much cheaper than the store brand.

Walgreens this week has a brand of deodorant I use on sale for 1.00. I have a dollar off coupon, so it will be free, saving me the 3 to 4 dollar price I would have to spend if I waited until I needed it and it wasn’t on sale.

If you are interested in couponing seriously to save money, check out the above website. It’s one I check every single day for deals and freebies. She has many links to other frugal websites as well.

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