A few weeks ago I was lamenting about the high prices on everything lately. Recession or not, it’s getting harder to afford the increased cost of living. I asked Being Frugal readers for help, and the readers came through in a big way!
This post is a compilation of comments and emails I received when I asked my readers how they deal with high prices and what things they do to make their money stretch further.
I’ve separated the tips into categories to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. I’ve credited each reader once throughout the article, though many submitted ideas in multiple categories.
Please consider visiting the websites of those who contributed to this project! They gave great advice here, and I’m sure they each have a lot more to offer on their individual blogs!
Now…what you’ve been waiting for. How to save money on just about everything.
Save Money Grocery Shopping
Including tips from Diana, Emily, FrugalWannabe, LJ, Allison, JenMarie, and several more.
- Shop for produce at a local farm stand.
- Never buy coffee, soda, or other drinks or snacks out.
- Always grocery shop with a list.
- Take advantage of sales on items that you would normally buy.
- Only shop once a month.
- Keep a price book and track prices by unit cost.
- Stockpile staples when prices are low.
- Buy generic items.
- Use the Grocery Game.
- Plan meals according to what is on sale that week.
- Take advantage of rainchecks if the store doesn’t have a sale item that you need.
- Take advantage of rebates at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid…but only if you’ll use the item and will follow through on the rebate.
- Buy enough of a sale item to last 12 weeks. That’s about how long sales take to cycle.
- Shop at discount marts: Grocery Outlet, The Dollar Store, etc.
- Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Many stores offer a small discount per bag.
- Take advantage of stores that double coupons.
- Watch out for deals on things that your friends need, and have them do the same for you.
Save Money on Cooking and Eating
Including tips from Bellen, Lisa, David, Paidtwice, Boomeyers, Jackie Star, Georgia Hawkins, Lisa K, fathersez, MoneyBlogga, Sarah, and several more.
- Eat less meat.
- Become a vegetarian.
- Eat leftovers.
- Cook large amounts and freeze extra for busy nights.
- Scrape out food jars to use the last little bit.
- Cook from scratch.
- Never eat out.
- Eat from your stocked pantry.
- Bring lunch from home (it’s worth it to invest in proper containers).
- Eat less. The average American eats too much.
- Don’t use the vending machines at work.
- Always have a meal plan. Always.
- Use the Once a Month Cooking system.
- Keep soup starter jars in the freezer. A little leftover this, a little leftover that. Nothing is wasted.
- Get creative with leftovers. Concoct new recipes, so nothing is wasted.
- Base most of your meals on rice or beans to cut down on meat consumption.
- Look for events that entertain and feed you at the same time. Church socials, shopping at Sam’s (think about those free samples)…
- Don’t drink soda. Drink water!
- Make your own jello cups (or applesauce cups, or pudding cups) for lunches and snacks.
- If your kids complain about generic cereal, put the generic in a name-brand box. They’ll never know the difference!
- Rear your own chickens.
- Join a freezer club. Get together with like-minded people to exchange meals for your freezers. It’s cheaper to prepare a lot of one meal and split it up, than to prepare a bunch of different meals.
- Make your own baby food.
- Always take a snack and bottle of water wherever you go. You won’t be tempted to stop for expensive fast food or drinks.
- Grow your own produce. No room? Try a square foot garden! Or use pots on the patio.
- Freeze, can, or dehydrate your produce.
- Cook with the crockpot to avoid using the oven, which warms up the house.
- Use a convection oven to accomplish the same purpose.
Save Money on Cars and Gas
Including tips from Alicia, Heather, Bibi, Working Rachel, Christian PF, Rob Madrid, Mark, and several more.
- Run errands once a week and use the most efficient route.
- Walk as much as you can.
- Stay home as often as possible.
- Keep tires filled to their proper pressure.
- Don’t suddenly stop or accelerate.
- Bum a ride with friends and chip in for gas.
- Ride your bike.
- Use a diesel car if you have one.
- Coast when you see a red light ahead, instead of hitting the brakes.
- Use public transportation.
- Try to get by with one car if you have two.
- If you have one car that you only drive a couple of times a week, consider getting rid of it and using cabs.
- Drive your car until it’s old. This works really well when you buy a car that will run for 200,000 miles.
- Keep up on your car’s maintenance.
- Turn your car off at lights.
- Coast when you can.
- Limit city driving.
- Turn off the engine and coast to a stop. (Only do this if you know your car and know what you’re doing. It could be unsafe, depending on the car)
- On a long trip, keep a steady foot.
- Make it a challenge to see how far you can go on a tank of gas.
- Use a discount card to buy gas. (Many grocery stores offer them, as well as Costco).
- Fill up early in the morning when the air is cool, and the gas is dense. You’ll get more gas and less air.
- Fill up when your tank is half empty.
- Shop around for insurance. The rates can vary a lot!
- Use gasbuddy.com to find the lowest price on gas.
Here’s a simple but effective way to control your grocery spending and also avoid unpleasant surprises at the check out line. Decide a limit of how much you are going to spend on groceries each week. On your grocery list, put the expected price of each item. Add them up before you leave the house. If the total exceeds your limit, cross out some items and don’t buy them. This also clarifies what are needs and what are wants.
Overall, these were very good time tested suggestions. However, chickens have been cheaper when purchased at the grocery store in bulk frozen sacks than raising your own in the back yard since 1954. My father stopped having a cow around 1942 for that reason. Stopped raising chickens when it cost him money to do so. He continued having 3 gardens a year until he could not even give the produce away unless he shelled the peas and beans and shucked the corn first. Also, could not give the fish he caught away unless he had cleaned them. Also, today’s woman likely does not know how to cook dried beans or use a pressure cooker. Maybe her mother does not know how either.
Ok, here are some things I didn’t see:
Buy whole chicken instead of pieces and then after you use the meat, make your own chicken stock. Great for soups, dumplings, casseroles, etc.
Only do laundry and dishes when there’s a full load. You waste water by doing partial loads, and soap too.
Have a capsule wardrobe. You don’t need so many clothes that your closet is bursting at the seams.
Combine all your errands into one trip, starting with the farthest away.
Learn how to use coupons with sales, and shopper rewards, all at the same time.
Reinvent leftovers : roasted chicken becomes chicken nachos, leftover chili tops hot dogs, mashed potatoes become potato cakes, etc.
If you don’t need it (need vs want) don’t buy it.
Fix it instead of buying a new one.
Shop for food that’s in season. It’s generally cheaper than out of season foods.
Turning you car off at a stop light to save gas only works if the car has a carburetor and if the light is going to be really long. This wont save you gas if you have a fuel injected car. When you turn it off and then back on the ecu floods more gas into the cylinders on initial start up then if you were to leave it running.
Go to auctions to buy lawn mowers or even cars…. Also if u smoke…invest in a cigarette machine …you’ll pay about 60 cents a pack that way. I drive a Cadillac that had under a 100,000 miles on it for $1200.
I just reupholstered two armless sofas with a couple of red twin bed sheets sets and a staple gun. They look great!
This article is amazing! After all, the typical ‘millionaire’ is the everyday person who is smart with his money, lives below his means and focuses on savings first!