America's Thriftiest Family (On Oprah Today) - Page 3 - Mothering Forums
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#61 of 88 Old 10-10-2008, 05:04 PM
 
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ok there were a couple things that pissed me off about this family... but comments like these get to me too.



without sounding rude, not everyone who has the ability to shave off 2K a month is being materialistic - some people on a higher income are truely being creative and as frugal as they can. prime example: myself! we were able to shave off 2K every month because i made a vow to stick to a menu plan, we switched over loans and stopped paying $800 in interest alone and dh got a pay rise. they were the *only* changes that gave us the extra income. we didn't give up lattes (what lattes? we don't even drink coffee), we didn't reduce our clothes budget (i've actually never made a clothes budget - we buy 1-2 essential items every year and always on clearance), we drive used cars (one was paid for with cash) and dh does all the check ups and fixing himself, we mow our own lawns, we also cut our own hair (dh cuts mine), we don't go out to restaurants.. we get take away once a month, we live in a very, very small home (there is no downsizing for us - we are there already!).. etc. we do what most other frugal families do, we just have a higher income to start with and because we are now living well below our means it looks like we have alot to spare, but we don't if i don't meal plan and dh loses his pay rise - we basically go back to not being able to shave much. and, it's all relative to where you live too. we live in a high COL country and $600 for a months worth of healthy food is well and truely cheap and most everything needs to be bought in bulk and made from scratch every single time ($250 a month would render us literally starving, very sick and my dd's gut would be struggling). we don't even eat organic except the meat (which we bought in bulk from the farm and is sitting in the deep freeze) and milk for dd2's bottle. if we ate organic fruit and veg, the farms prices here are not anywhere cheaper than the farmer's markets prices, whose prices are also close to the supermarkets prices... there is no way of winning. you either buy organic and pay 2-3X that of conventional or you stick with conventional. that $600 mentioned above is just barely making it on conventional which only purchased from the market on saturdays.

whew... taking a breath...

please, come over to my house.. my clothes, my kids clothes and our furniture + the amount of prep that goes into all the food i make does not match our income.. and i kind of get offended when my frugalness counts for nothing just because we are on a higher income, as i'm sure some other mamas in a similar situation would be.

now... off to core 50 zuchinnis because i bought a 12kg box of them for $25 and have been using them for meals all week.

LDS, natural birthing,, , mom to 6 super fun crazy kids!
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#62 of 88 Old 10-10-2008, 07:26 PM
 
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ETA - I suppose we could do clippers at home for DH, but he's in a rather senior position and can't afford to look even slightly unprofessional. I tried doing it a few times back when we were college students and the results were not great. Maybe as my son gets older I'll have someone to practice on
We do clippers at home for DH, and I think he looks pretty good. We just use a #1 blade all over his head, and then use a small trimmer for touching up around his ears. I use a regular razor to create his hairline at the nape.

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and remembering: little turtle 5/23/2006 and poppyseed 7/15/2009
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#63 of 88 Old 10-10-2008, 10:14 PM
 
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I bought it at our local farmers market...do you think they ripped me off? lol...i woudln't know because it was our first time ever buying a whole chicken...


eta maybe they were not talking about organic, local, free range, just butchered that day type chicken which is what we bought...
I get free range, local, hormone free...etc...for around $10.
At our farmer's market you can get a whole cooked organic chicken for about the same.

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#64 of 88 Old 10-10-2008, 10:28 PM
 
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eta maybe they were not talking about organic, local, free range, just butchered that day type chicken which is what we bought...
Yeah, I'm betting that's the difference. Plus grocery store chickens are usually on the small side, whereas I bet yours wasn't.
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#65 of 88 Old 10-10-2008, 11:03 PM
 
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<snip>

The lady doing the unplugging......I don't believe her. I unplug EVERYTHING and since doing that I've seen a marginal drop in my rates- enough to be satisfied with, but not $200. I think that savings must have come from becoming conscious of energy use including heat/ac not just unplugging appliances. The phantom load isn't THAT great. Unless she had like a recording studio or 5 pc's on all the time. I just found her a little less than credible on that since I've actually done the whole unplugging thing. I mean I can't say for sure- it just seems kind of unbelievable.

<snip>

)
I don't believe it, either. She said her power bill went from $200 (ish) in March to $60 in May. Well, in my neck of the woods, it's pretty cold in March and most of us still have our furnaces going, but by the time May rolls around, it's warm enough that we don't have to turn on the heat.
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#66 of 88 Old 10-11-2008, 09:18 AM
 
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maybe i'm alone here, but i wish the coupon lady had shown what she got at the grocery store and what you could have actually done with it. maybe i'm dense, but without seeing exactly what she had, does it really matter what she saved? if for the month i shaved 350 off my grocery budget but i didn't have things i could used to make 90 meals, where would that leave me?
all i really saw or heard about were carrots, chicken, hamburger buns, shampoo, and toilet paper.
the stuff i routinely buy does not go on sale and does not generate a coupon - sugar, flour, dried beans, dairy products. i have NEVER seen a coupon for fresh carrots! and the reduced bakery stuff is always stuff laden with sugar - it's not bread we'd eat anyway.
i really wish some of you guys would have been on oprah!
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#67 of 88 Old 10-11-2008, 10:11 AM
 
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maybe i'm alone here, but i wish the coupon lady had shown what she got at the grocery store and what you could have actually done with it. maybe i'm dense, but without seeing exactly what she had, does it really matter what she saved? if for the month i shaved 350 off my grocery budget but i didn't have things i could used to make 90 meals, where would that leave me?
all i really saw or heard about were carrots, chicken, hamburger buns, shampoo, and toilet paper.
the stuff i routinely buy does not go on sale and does not generate a coupon - sugar, flour, dried beans, dairy products. i have NEVER seen a coupon for fresh carrots! and the reduced bakery stuff is always stuff laden with sugar - it's not bread we'd eat anyway.
i really wish some of you guys would have been on oprah!
I felt like some of what that coupon lady did was not ever happening in my world. lol For ex, she got day old bakery rolls and had a coupon for them? I've never seen a coupon remotely like that. Same with the baby carrots.

My experience with coupons is that it takes a couple of cycles before you are putting together normal meals iwth them, couponing involves some stocking up. I can't imagine going and getting everything to make 10 meals on sale AND coupons.

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#68 of 88 Old 10-11-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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Some things really do cost more in cities and other high cost-of-living areas.

For example, the cheapest whole chicken around here on sale is about $6. If we buy free-range, organic it's about $12-15. If we buy a organic chicken at the farmer's market that someone killed that morning, it does cost $20.

And take haircuts. We take our kids to the cheapest local place where no one even speaks English and we just point at what we want. This costs $30 for two. Men's and women's cuts at a good barber shop cost about $30 each. We spend over $600 a year on haircuts, and we really couldn't do it for less.

So what about clothes? Why is everyone so terribly offended by a clothing budget? Our family clothing budget is about $175 a month ($50 each for adults, $25 each for kids).

My husband works in an industry where it really does matter how he looks. He needs to wear reasonably fashionable clothes and have a good haircut. But he also makes an income that allows us to afford these things.

We are frugal. To me, this means we are wise stewards of our money. We save and give generously and we live within our means. We save money on everything we can. That, at least in part, how we got where we are. We live in a house that cost $700,000 but we didn't get here like fools. We have worked hard, saved money, made wise choices, invested, given to those who have less than us, figured out what our priorities are, etc.

Whether a family is living on $25,000 a year or $150,000 a year, they can be "frugal".
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#69 of 88 Old 10-11-2008, 03:07 PM
 
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I didn't see the show. And I'm only moderately frugal myself. But reading over the thread it seems to me that what's mostly pissing people on here off is not how much money people make (either on TV, MDC or IRL)--it's that a family that is certainly not doing anything more extreme than many folks on here and in fact might not be doing a lot less or have more resources is being awarded the title of "The Thriftiest Family in America". And that the "Family in Financial Crisis" has a lot of resources and has a lot of areas where they are spending very freely (like that much spent on clothing a month) that are obvious and easy places to cut back and save money. I don't know one middle class family that spends that much a month on clothing alone, anywhere in the country, so it's pretty obvious to me that whatever financial crisis they are in has some pretty basic remedies--it's not like they are going to have to take very drastic measures or pinch every penny, but just stop spending lavishly in certain categories that should be pretty obvious to them and are certainly obvious to anybody on this forum, most of whom are living with far fewer financial resources and less room for certain indulgences.

Also, it seems that anyone tuning in for practical tips was just totally disappointed--doesn't sound like anything they said was exactly an epiphany for anybody who is already tuned in to frugal living.

One final note on things like the price of chicken--it's so hard to really compare things like this because there is a matter of values and priorities (how exactly you decide what you want to eat/feed your family, if you are committed to organic/free range/local or not, and how much luxury you have to choose based on your budget). Also, cost of living can vary really widely depending on where you are living, especially housing costs, so what would get me a large house and a pretty cushy lifestyle where I live would have me living in a pretty small apartment or a not-so-great neighborhood or both in San Francisco or NYC.
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#70 of 88 Old 10-11-2008, 07:47 PM
 
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While I don't think that family deserves the title of "America's most frugal family" I did think that the opening of the show was refreshing.

Oprah basically said this has to be a wakeup call for America. Our greed got us into this mess and the only way we can get out is by cutting back and living within or below our means. I thought it was great to hear her say that since everything else I've been hearing is along the lines of "the market will be fine. Don't make any drastic changes and don't stop sending or more people will lose their jobs."

.
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#71 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 04:21 AM
 
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I think the show annoyed me more than anything else.

I'm already doing all the things the "most frugal family in America" is doing. I don't have any credit card debt at all but I am struggling under the yoke of a pricey mortgage and a car payment (bought when I thought I'd be working). I didn't learn one new thing.

Get DVDs at the library. Go prepaid on your cell. Duh.

My dh makes about what that family makes but where we live, everything costs so much more than it would where they live. I know that what DH makes now would go so much further even if we just lived in the city instead of right outside the city.

The show also made it seem like they have access to $70K in savings but it seems that this money is more like retirement money.

And the coupon lady.

If you want to eat nutritious, whole foods it is going to cost money and there are very few ways to cut corners. The only way to cut anything, it seems to me, is to never, ever eat out and to be very serious about meal planning and budgeting.

And something just ruffles my feathers when Oprah tells everyone "We are all learning a lesson about living within our means." Actually, some of us learned that lesson a long time ago. Some have been feeling the pinch for a while now.

Umm, Ms. Winfrey, will you be doing a "My Favorite Things" special this year?

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Nirvana is . . . the living happiness of a soul which is conscious of itself and conscious of having found its own abode in the heart of the Eternal. --Gandhi
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#72 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 04:46 AM
 
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And something just ruffles my feathers when Oprah tells everyone "We are all learning a lesson about living within our means." Actually, some of us learned that lesson a long time ago. Some have been feeling the pinch for a while now.

Umm, Ms. Winfrey, will you be doing a "My Favorite Things" special this year?
Yeah, her saying that can kind of rub the wrong way.
Even though, Oprah does live within her means. She's said on many occasions that her father taught her to save a large percent of her money even when she wasn't making much (like 50% of her salary). He told her that she should always prepare for hard times.

Still, when she makes that comment, it does come across with a condescending tone - as if she's saying "I can live like this..... but you can't, ha ha"
I absolutely think she has a right to spend her money as she wishes, but
I do feel she has long lost touch with what it's like to live on a modest income and .....
Assuming she continues to practice what her father taught her (plus she receives many free perks, I'm sure), she pushes a contrary message to her viewing audience by encouraging them to BUY all those luxuries presented in her "MFTs" shows.
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#73 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 05:01 AM
 
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Honestly, had Oprah done a show on more in depth ideas to save money, she would have lost some of her audience. Pay as you go, renting DVD's, etc. seems like a no brainer to some of us but apparently to some people it's something they've never even heard of.

Had she gone more in depth, it would have taken more than an hour to even talk about matching coupons to sales, to talk about winetags and how there are coupons for produce, co-ops, etc.

But still, the show annoyed me. :P
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#74 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 09:39 AM
 
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Honestly, had Oprah done a show on more in depth ideas to save money, she would have lost some of her audience. Pay as you go, renting DVD's, etc. seems like a no brainer to some of us but apparently to some people it's something they've never even heard of.

Had she gone more in depth, it would have taken more than an hour to even talk about matching coupons to sales, to talk about winetags and how there are coupons for produce, co-ops, etc.

But still, the show annoyed me. :P
Good point.

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#75 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 09:50 AM
 
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If you want to eat nutritious, whole foods it is going to cost money and there are very few ways to cut corners. The only way to cut anything, it seems to me, is to never, ever eat out and to be very serious about meal planning and budgeting.
No, there's more ways than that. Add eating in season, buying locally (though, true, it's not cheaper for EVERYONE but certainly worth consideration), and preserving the in-season harvest for the winter to that list.

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#76 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 10:10 AM
 
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No, there's more ways than that. Add eating in season, buying locally (though, true, it's not cheaper for EVERYONE but certainly worth consideration), and preserving the in-season harvest for the winter to that list.
Much easier said than done.

I cannot walk to any store where I could buy anything locally. I'd have to drive at least 15-20 mins. so you're right, not cheaper for everyone. And the condition of food that are not in season are really abysmal where I live so in season is just the common sense choice. Plus that's usually what is on sale.

And preserving is a good thing to know but what if you don't have any place to put it? And what if you try to center your diet on fresh fruits and vegetables?

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#77 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 10:20 AM
 
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Add eating in season, buying locally (though, true, it's not cheaper for EVERYONE but certainly worth consideration), and preserving the in-season harvest for the winter to that list.
totally agree. preserving fruits yourself in summer is way cheaper than buying a tub of fruit in syrup in winter from the supermarket. a box of peaches at thier peak will be about $5 at the markets and that's a 10kg box. 10kg of peaches preserved in syrup bought from the supermarket would be around $40. that's a $35 saving right there. it doesn't sound like much until you start to preserve nectarines, tomatoes and even jars of lemon juice (be sure to put a small layer of EVOO on top). we preserved our own olives this year. we paid $20 for the box but we probably have around $60-80 worth of olives in our cupboard.
the prohibitive cost to preserving though, is in the jars. unless you find them second hand, each 1lt jar will set me back about $3.50. but it pays for itself in the first year.
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#78 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 10:25 AM
 
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Much easier said than done.

I cannot walk to any store where I could buy anything locally. I'd have to drive at least 15-20 mins. so you're right, not cheaper for everyone. And the condition of food that are not in season are really abysmal where I live so in season is just the common sense choice. Plus that's usually what is on sale.

And preserving is a good thing to know but what if you don't have any place to put it? And what if you try to center your diet on fresh fruits and vegetables?
our markets are 15-20 minute drive away too - we go once a week.
you can put jars of preserved food in any dark and cool place. cupboard, cellar, garage etc.
our diet is nothing but fruits, vegetables and meats. we're only now starting to add some legumes. and i still believe that home preserved fruits are going to be just as healthy if not healthier than out of season produce that's travelled thousands of miles and sprayed many times to meet qaurantine regulations throughout it's journey.
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#79 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 10:30 AM
 
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I caught the part with the lady who was saving on her electric bill by religiously unplugging everything she wasn't using. Went from $200-something a month to $60-something a month on her electric bill. Tips like that, I can use (hey, DH, your phone is charged, UNPLUG IT)...
That's called Phantom power. pretty good idea!

Mama to 5 babies. UCer, too!
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#80 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 10:32 AM
 
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And preserving is a good thing to know but what if you don't have any place to put it? And what if you try to center your diet on fresh fruits and vegetables?
You'd be surprised the places you can find to keep canned food. I am part of the canning community, if you can call it that. My friends and I can just about anything. We grow gardens, some have fruit trees, etc. Some of my friends live in small apartments and they store their canned items in places like the bottom of closets, under beds, etc.

As for centering your diet of fresh fruits and veggies, unless you are getting them locally and eating them within hours of harvest, canned items are as and sometime more healthy than fresh. It's a common misconception. Most canned foods are canned within hours of being harvested. The food in your grocery has been leaching it's vitamins for days. Here's a good article from WebMD that talks about this.

If you are canning your foods at home, they are most definitely healthier than what you buy at the store.

Still, like you, we love "fresh" from the market. But we also eat a lot of home canned foods, too, because in the middle of winter, it's much healthier than anything you can get at the store.
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#81 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 10:44 AM
 
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Do you ever wonder if the reason these shows and magazine articles aren't tell you anything new is because there isn't anything new to tell? Maybe you're just already doing everything you reasonably can?
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#82 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 11:08 AM
 
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Much easier said than done.

I cannot walk to any store where I could buy anything locally. I'd have to drive at least 15-20 mins. so you're right, not cheaper for everyone. And the condition of food that are not in season are really abysmal where I live so in season is just the common sense choice. Plus that's usually what is on sale.

And preserving is a good thing to know but what if you don't have any place to put it? And what if you try to center your diet on fresh fruits and vegetables?
Well, first, my post was in response to you saying there was nothing to do other than not eating out and having a strict budget. But there are other things, whether you do them or not.

Second, the degree of how easy or difficult it is definitely varies by family. I allowed for differences in pricing in my post. Just because it's not so easy for your family doesn't mean it's not pretty easy for many other familes, or that it's not one of the options to consider for frugality.

Eating locally and in season as a lifestyle is more frugal - but not necessarily when you're just driving out to the farmers market and buying whatever, and just using it to supplement your usual grocery purchases. For example, DH and I scored an 18 pound bag of carrots for $6. 18 pounds is a lot. We've been eating carrots almost every lunch and dinner since then. I have a book from the library with a bunch of different carrot recipes (that also include other autumn vegetables like potatoes which we also scored a fair amount of for low cost). We're not sick of them yet because we're adopting this as a lifestyle, and mentally we are embracing eating in season and local. If we are sick of carrots before we're done, I'll preserve them in some way, probably in our cellar with some sawdust, to use more sparingly over the months. Anyway, that's $6 getting stretched really far, for organic carrots that supported our local farmers directly.

I don't know what living situation you're in - apartment, or what - but I do think priorities are key for frugality. And honestly, you're well within your rights to decide your priorities, and eating locally and preserving the harvest may not be among them. That's fine. It's still an option, and that's all I'm saying. But if that lifestyle is a priority for you, I'm sure space can be made for it. People store jars under their beds, in the back of closets, on shelves built anywhere (heck, the bathroom could probably have some shelves mounted over your heads). Stuff can get freecycled to make room. You get the idea. You don't have to do it, but it's an option.

Spending, say, $4 in gas to shop locally can easily be offset by savings in buying fresh, organic produce without paying the middleman or for transportation and refrigeration costs - if planned with a good understanding of the harvest. And of course working your other errands in at the same time can make it a bonus.

I center my diet on fresh fruits and vegetables too, but they don't grow all year here. If you eat fresh year-round, you're not buying in (local) season, and you're paying for that. You mentioned you only eat in season because the off-season produce tastes terrible. Preserving your own is the way you can have great quality produce off-season without paying through the nose to have it shipped from Peru. If you preserve your own, it's different from buying the processed stuff at the grocery store, and much healthier, and you have control over all of your choices. How much (if any) salt to use, and what type. Whether to freeze, can, root cellar or dry a particular item. In what amounts you preserve them, so you can use the best amount at a time for a particular recipe. No BHT.

Gotta go, baby woke up!

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#83 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 11:17 AM
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I didn't see all the show but thought it was a good start. It wasn't designed for people already frugal, it was a starting primer for people who had not examined their spending at all, didn't have a budget etc. I would love to see someone doing a hard core frugality show, maybe some of you who experts at this should write in to Oprah and see if see can do a followup show with more of your tips. Lots of people could benefit from it.
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#84 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 02:06 PM
 
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As for centering your diet of fresh fruits and veggies, unless you are getting them locally and eating them within hours of harvest, canned items are as and sometime more healthy than fresh. It's a common misconception. Most canned foods are canned within hours of being harvested. The food in your grocery has been leaching it's vitamins for days. Here's a good article from WebMD that talks about this.

Thanks for this.

I had actually never considered canning store-bought/farmer's market produce because of the vitamin/mineral aspect. I figured they'd been sitting there for a while to begin with . . . what would be left after canning? I was actually doing the farmer's market for a good stretch there during the summer. We were really eating a lot of veggies via smoothies etc but it really broke my budget. It's not like I ever got any good deals on the veggies or anything--the $30 I spent there bought about as much fruits and veggies as the $30 I would have spent at the local fruit and vegetable stand. Just the knowledge that it was grown locally (and sometimes organically) and that it tasted better was what I was going for.

I am hoping to start preserving food next year when we get our garden off the ground. I'm hoping we will get a nice harvest since I'll be spending this winter attending workshops and reading. By next year, too, I should have gotten together a place to store the stuff we'll can. DH's mother was into canning and pickling so I'm going to pick her brain.

Laohaire, I'm not sure why I feel attacked and not helped by your posts. I never said that the way I've been saving money on groceries is the God-given and only way to save money on groceries. I said "it seems to me" . . . I walk to do most of my errands, driving really only to take ds to his structured playgroup or playground once a week (on a day that is not the day of the farmer's market). And since I don't really save $$ going to farmer's markets anyway, I certainly wouldn't recoup the gas money it took to drive there. That's my experience and that's what I'm speaking from. So, again, for me, what you are saying is easier said than done. But something to consider.

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Nirvana is . . . the living happiness of a soul which is conscious of itself and conscious of having found its own abode in the heart of the Eternal. --Gandhi
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#85 of 88 Old 10-12-2008, 11:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kavita View Post
I didn't see the show. And I'm only moderately frugal myself. But reading over the thread it seems to me that what's mostly pissing people on here off is not how much money people make (either on TV, MDC or IRL)--it's that a family that is certainly not doing anything more extreme than many folks on here and in fact might not be doing a lot less or have more resources is being awarded the title of "The Thriftiest Family in America". And that the "Family in Financial Crisis" has a lot of resources and has a lot of areas where they are spending very freely (like that much spent on clothing a month) that are obvious and easy places to cut back and save money. I don't know one middle class family that spends that much a month on clothing alone, anywhere in the country, so it's pretty obvious to me that whatever financial crisis they are in has some pretty basic remedies--it's not like they are going to have to take very drastic measures or pinch every penny, but just stop spending lavishly in certain categories that should be pretty obvious to them and are certainly obvious to anybody on this forum, most of whom are living with far fewer financial resources and less room for certain indulgences.
thanks.

I wasn't trying to criticize people who are living within their means or trying to live frugally. The family they used was a horrible example (but easy for them to take money off of the budget from) I don't need to visit anyones home to inspect frugalness

Mariah
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#86 of 88 Old 10-13-2008, 06:39 AM
 
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It makes me roll my eyes when Oprah lectures about living within our means, too, but the worst is Suze Ormond! OMG, lately whenever I see that woman she's yelling at us all for our credit card debt and what have you. I can't stand to watch her "I told you all this would happen" yelling anymore.

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#87 of 88 Old 10-13-2008, 02:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by hollytheteacher View Post
huh??? we just bought a whole chicken a few weeks ago and it was almost 20 dollars! Where are you finding four dollar chicken?!
Foster Farm chicken goes on sale at my local Safeway for 69cents a pound every 3 or 4 months. When this happens I can get a whole chicken for about $3. I fill the freezer with them....I buy at least 15 at a time.

Heather married to my highschool sweetheart 6/7/02 :cop: Mother to Dani age 14 and Timmy age 10 Nadia 1/29 :
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#88 of 88 Old 10-13-2008, 05:35 PM
 
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Ha, they could learn a few things from me...we are "The even more thriftiest family in America"... like for example, we don't even make 10 k a year. Sure, only 1 kid, but we have our house paid off (we both worked our $$#@ off for 4 years scrimping and saving to buy the land and materials for the house), DH does all the mechanical work, we don't have AC (except a fan), we don't have TV (internet is the few luxuries we have), we don't buy expensive stuff at the stores...rarely buy clothes (never new), etc.

A few 'tips' that can help save money is, if you are out driving and see a garage sale, stop and look around! You can get some nice Christmas presents for people at them..especially if you go to garage sales in middle class neighborhoods.

I also heard that if you run your washer/dryer at night, you pay a lower rate on electricity (seems to be true for some reason).

Get a fishing license and catch your own fish on the weekends. Grow your own veggies and fruits.

Just off the top of my head.

Circ doesn't work! Stop the violence of circumcison. Had another UP/UC/HB in August!
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