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-   -   extreme frugality to get back on track (http://www.mothering.com/forum/312-frugality-finances/1427033-extreme-frugality-get-back-track.html)

EmsMom 06-27-2014 04:28 PM

extreme frugality to get back on track
 
I am austerity mode! Anyone else in the same place?

successes:
I realized that EVERYone in my office throws away recyclable water and soda containers worth a nickel apiece. I was last in the office, So I grabbed them all up and got myself 1.45 (.40 two days ago). To make my life easier I am going to set up a bag for them. If I could actually get 1.45 a day x 20 work days? that is $29 a month! And they won't even think it that weird because they all know I am weird already - I am the one that brings milk with my lunch in a little mason jar...

I love to stop by Dunkin donuts and get a large iced tea on hot and humid mornings. But I started making refrigerator tea every night and put a plastic cup with lid and straw for $3. Now my tea costs about 10 cents in the morning.

I also brought some healthy, cheap snacks to leave in the office kitchen (no one else will eat them because almost everyone else is kosher and in fact we are all very nice and respectful of each other). I was already keeping a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of red wine vinegar at work becasue it is easier than trying to remember to take my own (home-made) salad dressing every day.

I sold one book for Amazon credit since it wasn't selling for me. WIth my credit I have bought 5 lbs of pink himalayan sea salt which sounds odd but I really prefer the stuff and 5 lbs shoudl last for years (salt can't go bad!!)

by eating out of my pantry and freezer and just being extremely mindful, I spent only $160 this month on food. I have been cooking constantly though! lol!

I asked for a cash discount twice this month and saved $60 just by doing then (and then actually stopping and getting the cash!)

justmama 06-27-2014 05:34 PM

some great ideas!


I've taken my lunch every.single.day. for the last 4 weeks to school so that I don't go out every day with the other students. Big money saver there.

Likewise, I've been taking my coffee to school in a travel cup instead of stopping by Dunkin Donuts for a coffee. I only did it occasionally but it's not cheap so those once a week or once every 2 weeks luxury was too much.

We just made another batch of laundry detergent from a free bar of soap that a friend was going to just throw away because she only uses body wash.

spiderdust 06-27-2014 10:46 PM

:lurk

I don't have good suggestions to add yet, but need a refresher course and some inspiration -- in the last year, our household has doubled in size without much increase in income. :bigeyes

EmsMom 06-28-2014 08:12 AM

This morning I hung my two loads of laundry (but I always hang laundry - I don't have a dryer). I also made a batch of curry with chick peas and cooked some tempeh that was hanging around in the refrigerator. I forced my dd to make up a batch of blondies for the freezer so no one will be asking to buy cookies. Oh, and I washed lots and lots of dishes from breakfast and cooking. Can't wait to get into my new house where I actually have a dishwasher.

Being out of prepared mustard I looked up how to make my own from mustard seeds I have on hand. Totally doable and will certainly taste better than the really cheap stuff.

Heading out for some yard sale shopping shortly where I will keep my eye out for cheapo stocking stuffers for christmas and other events as well as things I am likely to need in the new house.

Odd thing is my kids end up happier when we are living like this becasue they are busy and learning new skills and eating homemade cooking : )

Ruthiegirl 06-29-2014 12:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EmsMom (Post 17737466)
Odd thing is my kids end up happier when we are living like this becasue they are busy and learning new skills and eating homemade cooking : )

My kids love it when we are in austerity mode. They don't know when we are saving cash, they just know that I am cooking and taking them to the park and going for walks and swims. I get optimistic and energetic when I our money is tight. Funny that.

We are not in austerity mode right now, but I am keeping things tight. Lots of meals at home, lots of time together and very little cash out of pocket.

My big money savings this month has been dropping cell coverage. My monthly plan is now costing me $12.12 rather than $32. It like getting a $20 raise. I don't have the data coverage that I was used to, but it has not been a big deal. I just use my phone as a phone and skip checking email when I am out.

I also used up some chick peas that have been lingering in my pantry. I marinated them for some tasty salad toppings.

justmama 06-29-2014 01:19 PM

We are eating out of the pantry and free*er lately. I'm buying VERY few groceries at the store. Tonight is a simple pad thai: http://vegweb.com/recipes/easy-pad-thai We've had it before and it's DELICIOUS. This morning was peach muffins from a "magic muffin" recipe on pinterest with peaches I canned last summer. We had enough to eat and enough to free*e for another morning this week.

EmsMom 06-29-2014 06:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by justmama (Post 17740306)
We are eating out of the pantry and free*er lately. I'm buying VERY few groceries at the store. Tonight is a simple pad thai: http://vegweb.com/recipes/easy-pad-thai We've had it before and it's DELICIOUS. This morning was peach muffins from a "magic muffin" recipe on pinterest with peaches I canned last summer. We had enough to eat and enough to free*e for another morning this week.

That is a good idea about the muffins. I have some peaches I canned last year but I am the only one thst likes them. But in muffins they would be very popular!

EmsMom 06-29-2014 06:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruthiegirl (Post 17740178)
My kids love it when we are in austerity mode. They don't know when we are saving cash, they just know that I am cooking and taking them to the park and going for walks and swims. I get optimistic and energetic when I our money is tight. Funny that.
.

I get the same way.

blueridgewoman 06-29-2014 07:26 PM

Hey guys, hope you don't mind if I join in. :)

I took a few bars of Burt's Bees soap that I got for nearly free with coupons combined with a sale and I got a neighbor to teach me how to felt them. You basically cover them in wool pieces (she had them already, so it was free) and then felt the wool around the soap. When you wash, you lather yourself up through the wool, so the soap lasts FOREVER (I've been working on a bar for like five months now and it's maybe half gone!) and you get a nice scrub too. So much cheaper than body wash or even plain bar soap.

I made my own laundry soap yesterday and I dried some herbs that I planted in the garden for medicine etc. I also went to the farmer's market right before they closed and got a TON of produce for about half price because the woman wanted to get rid of it. Thankfully, my daughter won't mind eating cucumbers in her lunch every day this week. :)

AND, my parents are building a house next door to us right now, and they're doing drywall, so I asked the drywall contractors to save me the buckets. I've got about six five gallon drywall buckets out front now and I think I'm going to keep chicken and cat food in them once I clean them out, which will be great. Not frugal necessarily, but super helpful to have the feed out of bags and I know the cats will appreciate non-stale food. :)

mamarhu 06-30-2014 07:50 AM

I haven't been doing so well in the austerity department these days (really went over budget at the supermarket yesterday), but I am subbing here to get back in the groove.

Oh, yeah, I did do one fairly frugal thing yesterday: The store-barbequed chickens were marked down to $3 each, so I bought 3. That is about 1/2 the price of raw, whole chickens. We had one for supper, I cut off enough leftover meat for today's sandwiches for lunch, and used the carcass for about 2 gallons of stock for the free*er. The 2 other chickens are in the free*er for future meals and stock.

Oh, and another good find was herb plants marked WAY down. I love cooking with fresh herbs - makes even the plainest meal better - but it doesn't work for me to buy the stupid packages in the produce department for $2 each. DD found a bunch of assorted containers around, drilled holes for drainage, and repotted them. We will have fresh herbs the rest of the year!

A&A 07-01-2014 09:22 AM

We garden, make our own yogurt and bread, and line-dry outside when the weather makes it feasible. The small things add up!

happyhats 07-01-2014 12:39 PM

Im collecting all yr thoughts ladies! Currently Im line drying everything(Im seriously considering selling my dryer), cooking from scratch, and watching our food waste. We are using the library as our source of entertainment and taking up once a month shopping. I wash almost everything on cold and use homemade detergent (my parents make huge batches) and vinegar as fabric softener. Im trying to get better at couponing but Im not there yet. I use the library for homeschooling along with free printables, though to be fair my daughter is only in k currently.

happyhats 07-01-2014 02:17 PM

Another thing Ive personally had to do was tell myself no, lol. Today alone there have been two opportunities for me to buy used books inexpensively. But I know I can get the same or similar free at the library so Im staying strong!

EmsMom 07-02-2014 05:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by happyhats (Post 17746122)
Another thing Ive personally had to do was tell myself no, lol. Today alone there have been two opportunities for me to buy used books inexpensively. But I know I can get the same or similar free at the library so Im staying strong!

yeah, I can relate to that. I was so wanting to buy some sushi yesterday because I really did have a crazy day, but said NO to myself and that was that.

I decided to drop my data plan and switch my cell back to my flip phone to save $30 a month. In two weeks I am going to buy a phone with REpublic wireless and try their $10 a month plan to use as my home phone. I have been keeping a landline because it was cheaper than giving my son his own phone. A cell can serve both functions, especially since the Republic plan can use wifi only without paying for data. f I am happy with the republic phone, I will pay to terminate my own plan and all of that together will save us $140 a month. Pretty good deal. Even if you count in the initial cost of the new phones and the termination fee, I will break even in only 4 months. And I will hopefully be FREE forever of expensive cell cost!

Now if i could only break free of internet... Actually I could with no issue as there will be a hotspot very close to my new house and I have a great computer at work if I went in a little early or stayed late no one would mind me using it for personal stuff, but the kids need it for homework and sending them to the library every night would get old fast.

pumabearclan 07-02-2014 08:59 AM

We eat every single blessed thing we buy, never waste anything. Grow our own food as much as possible. Never use the dryer. DO NOT buy anything that is intended to be thrown away, like ziploc bags, garbage bags, dryer sheets. Cut back on laundry soap & add baking soda instead. No AC (planted shade trees years ago). Rain barrel for garden. Buy good quality used clothing, learn to mend, wear until it's worn out. Read library books for entertainment. Cut our own hair. No cosmetics, make our own soap. High-fat low-carb paleoesque-CRON saves us an enormous amount of $. No pets. Excercise & eat well as good health = low medical costs. No landline, TV, eating out, Netflix, or amusements. Maintain & clean appliances, fans, car, tools, & use aprons & work clothing & shoes to prevent having to replace items. Sell everything you can that you don't use. Cultivate true happiness from being present in the beauty of now. Consider spending money as the very last resort.

pumabearclan 07-02-2014 09:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by happyhats (Post 17746122)
Another thing Ive personally had to do was tell myself no, lol. Today alone there have been two opportunities for me to buy used books inexpensively. But I know I can get the same or similar free at the library so Im staying strong!

If you really liked reading them you ask for them (or give them to yourself) for a birthday or Christmas. Then you can own (and store) only the books you really love.

allirue 07-02-2014 11:30 AM

Hello all, hope you don't mind if I join in! I'm also trying to figure out how to post because I joined recently so please bare with me. :-) Anyway, so many great ideas! I don't have much to add right now but loved reading all the replies and definitely need to work on many of these things. Especially regarding food...sometimes I'm great at using things up and cooking from scratch other times not so much. I definitely need to spend less on groceries though and I know eating out of the pantry will help immensely. So thank you for the inspiration!!

happyhats 07-02-2014 05:31 PM

Today I went through the house and unplugged some appliances. Kcup machine, spare tv, and kids desktop. I also turned off the breaker to the washer and dryer.

EmsMom 07-02-2014 05:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by allirue (Post 17749058)
Hello all, hope you don't mind if I join in! I'm also trying to figure out how to post because I joined recently so please bare with me. :-) Anyway, so many great ideas! I don't have much to add right now but loved reading all the replies and definitely need to work on many of these things. Especially regarding food...sometimes I'm great at using things up and cooking from scratch other times not so much. I definitely need to spend less on groceries though and I know eating out of the pantry will help immensely. So thank you for the inspiration!!

Sometimes it is very hard to eat what is there because it is there and needs to be eaten rather than getting to eat what you "want". Very hard. But it does get easier. For dinner I cooked some broccoli, made a half of a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk. Not exciting, but still rather tasty.

justmama 07-03-2014 05:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EmsMom (Post 17750098)
Sometimes it is very hard to eat what is there because it is there and needs to be eaten rather than getting to eat what you "want". Very hard. But it does get easier. For dinner I cooked some broccoli, made a half of a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk. Not exciting, but still rather tasty.

Exactly. My dinner was the leftover bits of romaine lettuce, half a cucumber, some scraps of wilty broccoli, hummus, a hardboiled egg, and a homemade dressing from dijon mustard, honey, and a splash of water. It was delicious surprisingly enough. I say this all the time but try making yourself or your kids a "snack plate" for a meal once a week or so. Clean out the fridge and pantry of all the little bits of things that you will otherwise chuck and plate them for a meal. My kids LOVE it. It's their favorite meal. It's always leftover bits of fruits and veggies that are starting to turn, sometimes dried fruit or nuts, a cheesestick cut three ways(three kids), a single hardboiled egg, a few slices of bread with jelly or cream cheese or pb, etc. Sometimes it's a ramekin-si*ed portion of soup. :grin: Maybe it's a handful of crackers or that last scoop of homemade mac and cheese. But it's GREAT for having no food waste and starting the fridge from scratch.

EmsMom 07-03-2014 06:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by justmama (Post 17752466)
Exactly. My dinner was the leftover bits of romaine lettuce, half a cucumber, some scraps of wilty broccoli, hummus, a hardboiled egg, and a homemade dressing from dijon mustard, honey, and a splash of water. It was delicious surprisingly enough. I say this all the time but try making yourself or your kids a "snack plate" for a meal once a week or so. Clean out the fridge and pantry of all the little bits of things that you will otherwise chuck and plate them for a meal. My kids LOVE it. It's their favorite meal. It's always leftover bits of fruits and veggies that are starting to turn, sometimes dried fruit or nuts, a cheesestick cut three ways(three kids), a single hardboiled egg, a few slices of bread with jelly or cream cheese or pb, etc. Sometimes it's a ramekin-si*ed portion of soup. :grin: Maybe it's a handful of crackers or that last scoop of homemade mac and cheese. But it's GREAT for having no food waste and starting the fridge from scratch.

this is a great idea!

allirue 07-03-2014 06:39 PM

It's really true that your mindset makes all the difference. I find that I always feel better about myself when I eat what's at home and it's much easier on the wallet plus I really hate to waste food. It's just that sometimes the days get busy and time is an issue since my kids are small and I get tired and unmotivated. So this thread is great for motivation and there is always room for me to improve! I'm fairly frugal in many areas but food is definitely my biggest struggle. Groceries are always what throws off my budget. I really need to get a handle on it though because the budget is rather tight as we are mostly surviving on one income...I work very part time and my husband works full time. I really like the idea of the snack plate to clear out the fridge. My daughter who is 4 yo is a selective eater but I could always just put a variety of things out that she likes. My son who is 2 is a bit more adventurous. At any rate, I'm going to try the snack plate! Thank you! Any other frugal ideas in the food dept?? I so appreciate the input as I have been struggling to get a handle on this for some time.

pumabearclan 07-04-2014 03:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by allirue (Post 17752698)
Any other frugal ideas in the food dept?

You may be able to get better food cheaper if you buy from a farmer or at farmer's markets. You will also only buy what is truly healthy (unprocessed, fresh meats, cheese/dairy, vegetables, and fruits) and not be funneled into browsing for (what I consider to be) psuedo-food like snacks, cereals, and processed items. We only shop at the grocery store about once a month and it's for mostly non-food items.

If you get a chest freezer you can buy meat in bulk & save.

Although the US gov't and mainstream opinion doesn't agree with me, I do not think that people need to eat the quantities of vegetables and fruits that are recommended (and very little grain foods as well). Mass-produced produce is insanely expensive and a socio-ecological disaster for North America in terms of massive pollution and water use, human exploitation within the US, and virtual economic colonization of Latin America.

I've tracked our diet on various nutritional sites over the years and we meet or exceed our nutritional requirements eating mostly meat and fat/dairy with a few small servings of vegetables and one serving of fruit each day with some "supplements" like raw dried algae & seaweed.

I also think that too much vegetable is bad for the colon and too much fruit bad for blood sugar.

You save alot by gardening. I can grow about 8 months worth of vegetables in one gardening season, and if you grow herbs such as parsley they are superior in nutrition to just about any produce you could buy. You don't need a big garden if you eat only modest amounts of produce.

I calculated my "per plate" cost for the meals we were eating and adjusted the servings to meet my goal. I add a few hard boiled eggs to my tuna salad, for example, and serve 2/3 of a bratwurst with some chicken fat or a piece of cheese instead of serving the whole bratwurst - that meets my calorie & protein benchmark per meal as well as my cost per plate benchmark. It was a tedious process at first but if you are serious about your grocery budget it's worth it. Eventually you learn to assess your meals without all this research.

Check your portion sizes and don't make & serve more than you actually need for good nutrition.

Don't be afraid to spend for something that's a good value, such as good ghee and butter, seaweed, mineral salt, fresh eggs from a farm, and nutritious meats. Food should make you feel good, so healthy body = healthy attitude & healthy budget!

I hope this helps.

EmsMom 07-04-2014 05:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by allirue (Post 17752698)
It's really true that your mindset makes all the difference. I find that I always feel better about myself when I eat what's at home and it's much easier on the wallet plus I really hate to waste food. It's just that sometimes the days get busy and time is an issue since my kids are small and I get tired and unmotivated. So this thread is great for motivation and there is always room for me to improve! I'm fairly frugal in many areas but food is definitely my biggest struggle. Groceries are always what throws off my budget. I really need to get a handle on it though because the budget is rather tight as we are mostly surviving on one income...I work very part time and my husband works full time. I really like the idea of the snack plate to clear out the fridge. My daughter who is 4 yo is a selective eater but I could always just put a variety of things out that she likes. My son who is 2 is a bit more adventurous. At any rate, I'm going to try the snack plate! Thank you! Any other frugal ideas in the food dept?? I so appreciate the input as I have been struggling to get a handle on this for some time.

It is very helpful to keep a mental or physical list of decent cheap meals that can be put together very quickly. Especially when my kids were little, having that physical list of cheap meals on taped to a cabinet in the kitchen saved me many times. Right now, my go to cheap meals (that I always have ingredients for) would be a grilled cheese sandwich (whole wheat bread, cheddar or jack cheese purchased when it goes on sale really cheap) or maybe just a cheese sandwich with mustard. Sometimes a throwback to my youth would be a fried egg sandwich. Literally just one or two eggs cooked in a small amount of butter with some whole wheat bread. My son will eat a quesidilla any day - one whole wheat tortilla with a bit of cut up cheese (same cheap cheddar cheese, lol) with salsa. Our favorite whole wheat tortillas and favorite salsa are staples items I always keep in stock. We don't really eat that much cheese - I am not making these quick meals every day. I usually also have a few cans of decent baked beans around and cans of black beans cooked up with some onion, and cumin are tasty as well. Any of these dishes get served with veggies. I cook up vegetables - broccoli or cauliflower needs only 10 minutes or so to steam. I always keep some frozen vegetables on hand as well. On weekends I usually cook at least one basic dish - curry, baked ziti, chili, etc. Freeze in family portions and take them out of the freezer at night so they are ready for the next day. The cook for a month thing always sounds horrible to me, but making one or sometimes two dishes on a sunday morning before anyone else is even up doesn't really take that long. Basically I aim for a every meal of the day to provide: 1 protein serving, 1 whole grain, 2 or 3 vegetable servings, one fruit. I like vegetables cooked with an egg for breakfast, but my kids don't so they get more veg at other times. the protein will typically be a legume or some kind - pinto beans, black beans, etc., occasionally egg or cheese, i eat chicken and fish but my kids are vegetarian. Whole grains are whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal for the most part. Everybody is of normal weight and very healthy. Used to eat organic but just can't afford it for right now. Hopefully by this time next year we will be back to that and the free range eggs, etc. Snacks are toast, popcorn (air popper), vegetables or tortillas with hummus or plain, homemade cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, scones, biscuits, etc.

Meals such as curry, chili, etc. can be mastered and made with any ingredients (frozen or fresh) you have on hand. if you have some extra carrots, chop them up and throw them in or just about any other vegetable or bean for that matter. I have been cooking for my family for 15 years, so i learned a few tricks; it just takes a bit of time.

pumabearclan 07-04-2014 10:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EmsMom (Post 17753226)
It is very helpful to keep a mental or physical list of decent cheap meals that can be put together very quickly.

Yes, absolutely, that's basically what I did when I planned out my meals. Now I can tweak them (different meat, different fat, different veg) easily and I also know how much product to buy because I basically buy everything in bulk: 20 meals of a certain meat needs 20 portions of certain sides & 1 jar ghee, for example, so I don't end up with "spare" food that doesn't "go well" with other stuff, which is where I think a lot of waste or lack of satisfaction arises. We also eat a lot of cold plates (every morning for breakfast, in fact) but it's hard to scrape together something appealing if you just have odds & ends. I don't like to cook either so to avoid waste & eating out I got it down to a system as much as possible, and it was helpful when I was a tired mom with a little child too.

crazyms 07-04-2014 10:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blueridgewoman (Post 17740994)
Hey guys, hope you don't mind if I join in. :)

I took a few bars of Burt's Bees soap that I got for nearly free with coupons combined with a sale and I got a neighbor to teach me how to felt them. You basically cover them in wool pieces (she had them already, so it was free) and then felt the wool around the soap. When you wash, you lather yourself up through the wool, so the soap lasts FOREVER (I've been working on a bar for like five months now and it's maybe half gone!) and you get a nice scrub too. So much cheaper than body wash or even plain bar soap.

I made my own laundry soap yesterday and I dried some herbs that I planted in the garden for medicine etc. I also went to the farmer's market right before they closed and got a TON of produce for about half price because the woman wanted to get rid of it. Thankfully, my daughter won't mind eating cucumbers in her lunch every day this week. :)

AND, my parents are building a house next door to us right now, and they're doing drywall, so I asked the drywall contractors to save me the buckets. I've got about six five gallon drywall buckets out front now and I think I'm going to keep chicken and cat food in them once I clean them out, which will be great. Not frugal necessarily, but super helpful to have the feed out of bags and I know the cats will appreciate non-stale food. :)


Felted soap?! I've never thought of that. Save on soap AND get rid of the need for washcloths/loofahs for each person in the house? My frugal and minimalist sides are both singing to that one! Off to look up felted soap!

allirue 07-05-2014 06:42 AM

Thank you all so much for the thoughtful and detailed responses! I am feeling motivated to keep plugging away at reducing food costs and waste and your ideas really contributed. I'm very grateful for this online community!!

spiderdust 07-05-2014 09:13 PM

I believe I have some spare fleece lying around... I should get to felting some soap!

mamarhu 07-06-2014 10:24 AM

I love the idea of felted soap! As a knitter, I always have leftover remnants of yarn around, often will that will felt nicely. I am going to try knitting a little envelope for this. What fun!


I also have a sort of unpredictable solution for leftovers. I make Cream of Everything Soup. All the weird leftovers in the back of the fridge go in the pot, add veggie or chicken broth if everything else is too solid, and warm it up together. Then put it in the blender in batches, or use that vertical, hand-held blender thingy. Back on the stove, add milk to the preferred consistency, and warm through.


I have done this with stir-fried beef/broccoli, green beans, and potato casserole. Yes, all together. Or leftover mac 'n' cheese with pumpkin curry and Brussels sprouts. I know they sound awful, but sometimes the results are amazing!

EmsMom 07-08-2014 06:20 PM

I am still eating mostly out of pantry and only purchasing fresh food. I had a full pantry! Today I bought some greens and milk and fruit. Then I stopped at another market that sells reduced day old bread. Got a big bag of bagels and 3 nice loaves of sliced artisan style bread for $6. I can live without bread, but my kids like to have some most days, so this should keep us going for a quite a while. Certain stores in my area discount produce and others discount decent bread, so I try to hit them up when in the area. $115 so far this month on food. Should be set for at least a week now. (I am feeding myself, one teen and one 11 year old boy, but the kids are only here about 50% of the time). Stay strong, ladies!


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