Frugal Tips for Busy People

My life has changed a lot since I started writing BeingFrugal.net. At the time I started, my oldest child was in full day public school, and my youngest child was in preschool three mornings a week. My husband was at work from 8 to 5 each day, and I had a lot of free time on my hands.

Back then I made a lot of frugal suggestions like “clip coupons“, “bake your own bread,” and “don’t drive your car.”

How my life has changed in the last couple of years! Between homeschooling and running the kids to different activities, I barely find time to clean the house, much less employ some of my own frugal strategies. I’ll admit that at times I’ve been frustrated that I’m too busy to follow my own advice. While it’s true that frugality is often a time/money tradeoff, is it really impossible for busy people to be frugal?

I don’t think so. Busy people sometimes have to employ different strategies in their frugality, but it is possible to be busy and still be frugal. Here are a few changes I’ve made along the way.

Buy Simple Foods

The easiest place to save money is on groceries. Though clipping coupons is a great way to save money, you need some time to dedicate to coupon clipping. If you don’t have time to coupon clip, focus on buying from the perimeter of your grocery store: fresh vegetables, meat, dairy products, and simple grains.

Whole foods are cheaper than full priced processed foods, and they’re healthier, too! And if you glance through the sales flyer before you shop, you can make sure you’re getting the best price on the things you buy.

Use Your Crockpot

Many budgets are blown when there’s no time to cook dinner. McDonald’s on the way to soccer practice, pizza on the way home from choir practice, Chinese takeout after church…you get the picture.

To avoid this dilemma, make judicious use of your crockpot! It doesn’t take much time to throw a roast or ingredients for soup in the crockpot as you start your day. Then when you get home from bringing your child to choir practice, you have dinner ready to go…a dinner that’s less expensive and much healthier than McDonald’s.

Carpool

I used to plan a lot of “no drive” days during the week. Unfortunately those days are in the past. At the moment someone in the family has something going every single day of the week, so we spend a lot of time in the car.

If you absolutely have to drive a lot, try to find someone with whom you can share a ride. In our case, my children have friends in their various activities, and at times we moms will take turns driving the kids to karate or American Heritage Girls.

Besides saving gas, carpooling is a great way to keep tabs on who your children are hanging out with and what is going on in their lives. That’s a win-win situation in my book!

Though my life has changed a lot in the last couple of years, at the core, I’m still a frugal person. My methods may have changed, but my outlook on life has not.



Author

By , on Oct 10, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{9 Comments}

  1. Cindy:

    When I go to the grocery store, I try to go early in the morning when the various departments are marking things down that are either being discontinued or are approaching expiration. You can use coupons on these items in addition to them being marked off by 50 or 75%. Just use them right away, or freeze if possible. I have been able to cut my weekly grocery bill down from $100 to $75 by doing this and using coupons as well. I am a single mother with two teenagers and we eat and live very well on this strategy.

  2. Good tips. I don’t use eat sodium or any foods splashed with sodium. Hence I take a little more time getting some food items.
    One other area to save money is when buying things like cell phones (which we all seem to depend on). You get them much cheaper online, believe me. Check a-speedwireless dot com for instance. They have phones from all major carriers. The phones are new, and you only pay a fraction (sometimes free) of what you would pay in the store. You can also order through the phone after you’ve selected the cell phone you like. Shipping is blazing fast. Usually you get your phone within 2 days.

  3. Allison:

    I count myself as a busy person even though I don’t have kids. I work full time plus go to school plus have commitments at church (beyond being there on Sunday morning).

    My favorite time saver it to buy rotisserie chicken at a good price, and then use it for any recipe that requires cut up cooked chicken in addition to just having some already cooked chicken for one meal (for example, chicken noodle soup). I have found a grocery store that sells rotisserie chicken for $4.99 every day.

    Perhaps some people find it easier/cheaper to buy/prepare/cook/heat up the oven for at least an hour in the process of baking a whole chicken, but I do not.

  4. Heather:

    You can be frugal by buying items used online instead of new. Items like books, DVDs, CDs are good to buy used online. You can save over half on the list price. For books, I resell them online to the book buyback site http://www.mybookcart.com. They send me a check in the mail, and they provide free shipping.

  5. This post made me laugh. At first, you were saying is it possible for busy people to be frugal and I was thinking. Are you serious? Of course you can. Then you went into identifying the areas that I focus on. Especially, the perimeter of the grocery store. Also, I never have time to stay in the grocery store. So I’ll get my paper on Sunday see what’s on sale and go pick up those few items I use that are on sale that week on my way home from work. Then continue to pick things up along the way. I tend to never buy anything unless it’s on sale this way and only spend maybe 10-15 minutes in a grocery store in a week.

  6. stella:

    I always think that I can save $$$ with the coupons but the coupons do not match what I buy – they all seem to be heavily processed foods – and since I buy the store brand of mostly everything – there are not coupons for those items!

  7. A lot of money can be saved through the grocery. It can take a while to get into a habit, but planning your meals though the week really is the best way to save. Learn a few dishes at a time that are quick, simple, and use ‘real’ food. That way you can use ingredients for several dishes instead of letting them go bad. You can also prevent last minute runs, which may end up in purchasing more than you need (oh! Twix are on sale!), or buying ready-made deli items. I’ve became vegetarian a few months ago, and have noticed my bill has reduced a lot, plus I get to skip shopping in the meat section, which took a lot of time and hassle!

  8. Very good tips. I also find that the busier I am the less money I spend on random things. If I have to race through the grocery store I don’t have time to go up and down every aisle looking for deals. There is no time to browse the internet either. We were in a carpool this summer and it was awesome! I am trying to find another one so that my 6 trips to the gymnastics place 25 minutes away becomes 3. Now that would be nice!

  9. Great tips! I have been couponing, but for example, my last grocery trip, I saved $30 using coupons, but it took me 3+ hours to find them and clip or print them, after going to Dollar Tree to buy 3 extra papers. That is less than $10/hr and my time is worth more than that to me…

    I have been carpooling lately and it does save a lot of money. I just wrote a post about it actually.
    http://www.mominmanagement.com/857/carpool/

    And the crock pot is such a great resource. I just told myself I need to breakout the crock pot recipe book just this week! Soccer practice is interfering with dinner time…

    Great post! Thanks.

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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.

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