Archive for the ‘ Ways to Save ’ Category

4 Tips to Begin Reducing Your Grocery Spending

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Mare left this comment yesterday here on my blog:

I just stumbled on to your article and I have to say your tips are so helpful! I have no clue how to shop for food on a budget and looking at my monthly food bill I spend about 800. 00 a month for two adults and a 15 year old daughter. The go without is my new motto.thank you ! I am planning this weeks breakfast lunch and dinner for the next 5 days which means I can only spend 40.00 !! ?? Is that really possible? I will check back in and let you know how I did. Pulling recipes and food list. Btw I live in CA where most people spend over 60 percent of their take home pay on housing!!!!!

I get this kind of comment/question frequently here at The Thrifty Frugal Mom and thought it might be helpful if I just replied to her comment in the form of a blog post so everyone could benefit.

First of all, I love Mare’s attitude!  She is determined to make a change and having a good attitude is at least half of what is going to make this successful.  I also like the way she is starting a menu plan.  While that is not absolutely necessary to trim your budget it is definitely incredibly helpful.  If you know what you need to buy to make the meals you want to make, it will help you keep from spending extra on things that you don’t really need.  Even better, if you can plan your meals around things that you already have on hand or on things that are on sale you’ll find yourself saving even more!

Here are 4 other tips that I’d recommend following if you want to successfully begin to reduce your grocery spending.

1.  Start Slow
It’s easy to get overly excited and want to try to cut your spending in half immediately.  While it’s good to be motivated, you have to remember that it takes time to implement a new way of thinking/spending.  If you try to reduce your grocery budget too fast, chances are you’ll run out of steam and become discouraged.  Give yourself time, start slow and you’ll have a better chance at being successful at changing your spending long term.

2.  Be Realistic
In order to not get discouraged, it is important that you set a realistic goal for how you can improve your grocery budget.  (And yes, you really do need to set a grocery budget in order to decrease your spending!)  If you are spending $800/mo. now, try to see if you can shave off $50 to $100 this month just by being mindful of what you purchase.  If that goes well, then next month you can try to reduce it some more and eventually you’ll get to the amount that works well for you.

Looking for some specific ways to shave that $50 to $100/mo. off your budget?  Check out these posts:

3.  Extend Grace to Yourself
As you are learning what works for you in trimming your grocery budget, you are bound to make mistakes.  You might even fail miserably and not save a dollar!  Extend grace to yourself.  It’s okay if you mess up- it’s part of the learning process!  And while it might be disappointing and even frustrating to not have your budget work out like you had hoped, it’s really not the end of the world.  Keep a good attitude.  Keep trying.  Don’t give up!  You can do this!

4.  Find a Coupon Match-ups Blog
A lot of people think that couponing isn’t worth their time, but I beg to differ!  The first 6 months of this year alone I saved over $800 with coupons!  Obviously I spend more than a couple of minutes a week focused on couponing to get that kind of savings, but with just a few minutes a week you can easily save at least several dollars.

I recommend finding a good blog that does coupon match-ups for the stores you shop at.  This will make it easy for you to find the best deals without spending a lot of time doing it.  To find a blog, simply Google something like “coupon match-ups and the store name”.  Then before you do your grocery shopping, check out the coupon match-ups to see what things you can get at rock bottom prices, print any coupons you want to use and then enjoy saving!

What have you found helpful in reducing your grocery spending?

And, for advice on cooking beef or poultry, use our free interactive Roasting Guide. Or search for delicious, healthy recipes for the whole family in our Recipe Finder.

How to Buy Baby Food on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Food on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Food on a Budget

Image Source: Shutterstock

Linking up at Living Well Spending Less and Practically Functional.

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Household Tip: Reuse Tortilla Bags

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

I was getting ready to throw a resealable tortilla bag in the trash one day several month ago when I suddenly had this epiphany:  Why not reuse it?  And honestly it was such a simple, obvious thing that I almost laughed at not thinking of it sooner.  But maybe I’m not alone and you never thought about it before either…

Tip:
Reuse the resealable plastic bags that you get tortillas in as you would Ziploc bags…for sandwiches, cookies, snacks, whatever!  (Just a note, I’ve not used them in the freezer and I doubt they’d work as well as freezer bags do since they are made of more lightweight plastic.  But for short term needs, they work wonderfully!)

Why I recommend it:
It’s an easy way to save a little bit of money and reduce waste too!  And if you are weird like me and feel guilty if you don’t wash Ziploc bags and reuse them, this will help ease your conscience too.  Since these are more lightweight and since I’d be throwing them out anyway, I don’t really feel bad just using them once.  :)

How much will it save me?:
Well, this quite obviously depends how often you use tortillas and how much you use Ziploc bags.  But I’m going to guess that the average person could save at least the cost of one box of Ziploc type bags a year.  No, the savings won’t make you rich, but then it’s the little things that add up, right?

Do you have a creative use for tortilla bags or other “trash”?  

Linking up at Feeding Big and Mostly Homemade Mom .

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6 Reasons I Shop at Aldi (and think you should too!)

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I love Aldi.  The other day as I was trying to take a nap my mind was racing.  I remembered that I needed to run to Aldi to get a few things and started thinking about all the reasons I love that place.  Suddenly, I realized that I needed to share with you all just why I think Aldi is so awesome!  :)

If you have an Aldi in your area, you really should check it out.  (Not sure if you do?  Use their store locator to find out.)

Here are 6 reasons that I love Aldi…and think you should shop their too.

1.  AWESOME Prices
Aldi’s prices pretty much always beat other store prices unless you always shop on sale and use lots of coupons.  Even then, I’ve found that many of their prices are better than what I’d pay otherwise.

Oh and don’t tell me you shop at Walmart, so you don’t need Aldi.  Because guess what?  Aldi has Walmart easily beat in their prices (and in many other ways too!).

Here’s an example of that.  I rarely shop at Walmart but needed to go there recently to use up a gift card.  I was totally out of potatoes and realized that I was going to need them before I got to Aldi again so I decided to grab some at Walmart.  At Aldi a 5 lb. bag of red potatoes costs me $2.49.  Want to know what a 5 lb. bag of red potatoes cost me at Walmart?  $4.97!  Yes, a whopping $2.48 more!  And I’ve seen this same thing when I’ve done other price comparisons between Aldi and Walmart.

Just to give you an idea of Aldi’s prices, here’s the current prices of some of the typical items I buy at Aldi:

* Canola Oil $2.69
* Chocolate Chips $1.79 12 oz.
* Whipping Cream $1.89 16 oz.
* Saltines $0.99
* Brown Sugar $1.29 2 lb.
* Parmesan Cheese $2.39 8 oz.
* Potato Chips $1.49 (and they’re really good!)

2.  Great Quality
Some people don’t want to shop at Aldi because they don’t carry name brand products and they are scared that the Aldi brands will taste cheap and “generic”.  Well, let me tell you that I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  At least I sure haven’t!

I can’t think of one Aldi product that I’ve tried that I’ve not liked, although there may have been one or two over the last 5 years that I have forgotten about.  On the contrary, I think many of their products taste just as good or are as good of quality as their name brand counterpart and a few of them I actually like better.  I personally prefer Aldi’s sour cream and saltines to other brands.  And we love their potato and corn chips and have frequently gotten comments about how good they are when we serve them to other people.  And if something doesn’t measure up?  No worries!  Because Aldi has a money back guarantee.

3.  Double Money Back Guarantee
Yup, that’s right.  Unlike any other store that I know Aldi has an amazing money back guarantee on their products.  If you are unsatisfied with any product for any reason they will not only refund you your money but also replace the product!

I’ve had Aldi honor this guarantee a handful of times for me.  Once I had bought a bag of spinach there, like I often do, and it started spoiling on me within the week….well before the “best by” date.  I returned it to the store and they happily stood by their guarantee.  More recently I had a bag of potatoes all go totally rotten on me in a little over a week!  The strange thing was that I had a few left from a bag that I had purchased several weeks before that and they were still fine.  I no longer had my receipt but I explained what happened to the manager and asked if they honor their guarantee on them.  (I was curious because the potatoes have no kind of date whatsoever on them.)  She said yes, they would honor their guarantee and though they wouldn’t refund my money since I didn’t have my receipt they would still give me another bag for free!  I was beyond impressed!

4.  Easy to Shop
Aldi stores are small but fresh and bright with wide aisles.  If they have displays out, they are located in such a way that it doesn’t typically hinder traffic flow.  I love not having to squeeze through tight aisles!  In our store at least there is plenty of room for two shopping carts to pass each other.

Also because they don’t have lots of different brands, shopping is simple.  No need to try to sort through 10 brands/varieties of peanut butter.  You’ll just find Aldi brand creamy or crunchy!  I find it refreshingly simple.

5.  Produce Specials
Not only does Aldi have great produce with decent everyday prices, they also have weekly produce specials that totally rock.  For example I recently got 8 oz. mushrooms and 1 lb. baby carrots for $0.69 each!  Bananas are regularly $0.44/lb.   And they even have started carrying some organic produce too!

6.  Fun Special Buys
One of my favorite aisles at Aldi is their special buys aisle.  You never know what you are going to find in this aisle and it changes every couple of weeks.  Sometimes they have small appliances, sometimes they have kid’s toys, sometimes they have home decor items.  Recently I got some really big cool sticker/activity books for $3.99 each.  They’ll be fun for my son to use when traveling and will make awesome additions to kid’s Christmas gifts.

Right now they have some really neat outdoor games like a 3 Hole Bean Bag toss for $17.99 or a Crane Washer Toss for $19.99.  I think that’s cheaper than my husband could make them!  They also have footballs and basketballs for $7.99.

If you are new to Aldi here are a couple of tips:

* Take a quarter.  One of the ways Aldi cuts costs is by making you “pay” a quarter to use a cart.  The good thing is, if you return the cart you’ll get your quarter back so it really doesn’t cost you anything!

* Take your own bags or use boxes from the store.  You’ll have to pay for bags at Aldi but you can take your own and save the cost.  Or you can simply find empty stock boxes on their shelves and use them to carry your items.  Again, this is a simple way that Aldi keeps their costs down.

* Bring cash or a debit card.  Aldi does not accept credit cards since it saves them money.  The good thing is that it also helps their consumers spend responsibly!

Do you shop at Aldi?  What do you love (or not love) about it?  If you don’t go there, why not?

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8 Tips for Saving Money on Coupon Printing

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I love using coupons to save money, but I don’t love blowing money on the costs associated with printing the coupons.  Here are 8 tips that I use to keep my coupon printing expenses very minimal.

(And by the way, if you think using coupons isn’t worth it, check out my Weekly Spending Summary posts where I show just what all I buy each week.  So far this year I’ve saved over $800 with coupons alone!)

1. Print in black and white
Black ink is much cheaper than colored so it only makes sense to skip using color when you are printing out your coupons.  I’ve always used black ink to print my coupons and have never once had any issued with a store not accepting them.

2. Use your printers ink saving option
A lot of printers have a “Quick Print, “Gray Scale” or “Draft Quality” option.  These settings use much less ink while still allowing your coupons (and other documents) to be very readable.

3. Reuse paper
A simple way to save is to print your coupons on the back side of already used paper.  I love using paper from junk mail for this- just make sure there is no personal information on the other side!

4. Skip the advertisement
When you print some coupons you’ll notice that an ink hogging advertisement will follow the coupon.  If you pay attention you can quickly stop the printing after the coupon prints and save the ink (and paper) that would be used on the advertisement.  (I find this harder to do now that I have a laser printer because it prints so fast, but my inkjet was great for doing this.)

5. Use as much of the paper as possible
Many coupons only take up 1/3 of the page.  When that is the case, I simply turn the paper around and print another coupon at the other end.  Make sure that it isn’t one that prints an advertisement though (as mentioned in #4)  or you’ll have your first coupon covered up with that!

6. Print only the coupons you will use
It’s tempting to go on a coupon printing binge and print any coupon that you have a remote chance of using.  But you need to remember that you are also wasting ink and paper when you do that.  I’d recommend sticking with printing coupons that you know you will use or that you have a 75% chance of using.  The longer you do use coupons, the more you’ll have an idea of what coupons you will use regularly to get a great deal.  However, if you do end up printing a couple of coupons that you don’t use, really, it’s okay.  Don’t be too hard on yourself!

7. Buy refilled or refill your own ink cartridges
I’ve had good experience with both Walgreens and Cartridge World for this.  When I had a ink jet printer I always got the cartridges refilled at Walgreens for just $12.99 plus tax, which was much cheaper than what a new cartridge cost!  Once I got a laser printer I started buying my toners at Cartridge World- much cheaper than other places that I’ve priced.

8. Never pay full price for paper
Seriously.  Staples has sales numerous times a year where you can get a pack of paper for free or for just $1 (after rebate). The rebates are super simple to submit- you can even do them online!  If you really don’t think you can handle the rebate thing, at least watch for a regular sale where you’ll still save at least a bit.

What are your tricks for saving money on printing?

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Household Tip: Save by Using Rechargeable Batteries

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Tip:
Replace your regular batteries with rechargeable ones.

Why I recommend it:
It’s an easy way to save money with a low initial expense plus it reduces waste too!   We don’t use a lot of things that take batteries but we love our rechargeables for our camera and in our son’s LeapPad.

How much will it save me?:
Clearly this will vary a lot but just for the two things that we use them for I’m guessing we easily save at least $20/year.  It always seems like cameras go through batteries so fast and I love knowing I’m saving money every time I change those batteries.  If you use batteries a lot, then you’ll obviously easily save much more.

Miscellaneous Info:
We have had an Energizer batter charger similar to this one for several years and I just recently got a newer Energizer version that shows you when the batteries are done charging.  Amazon also has this highly rated  Eneloop AA battery charger for just $18.21. Really, my guess is that all of them work pretty similarly so I’d go with whichever one strikes your fancy.

I recommend getting enough batteries that you always have a set of spare ones in the charger that way when your batteries die you can just quickly swap them out with the fresh ones and be good to go.

Do you use rechargeable batteries?  What do you love about them?

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