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Frugality 101 -- Help A Mama Learn!!

572 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  lauriebeth
Okay mamas. I'm starting my own business (I'm a wedding minister) and though I'm going to do alright at it, I know we won't be frollicking in the cash. I need to cut back expenses.

What are some things that you mamas did to start? I need to ease into it. I love to spend money. I'm really bad about eating out.. and I'm not great about keeping the house clean. So, I guess I need to know things that I can do without adding a great deal to the housework?

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hey! im new too

I started by less eatimg out (I know thats not what you wanted to hear!!)

also, less spending on stuff I dont *need*... like, instead of $3 shampoo I but Suave for 75cents, etc. No new clothes. and using dish towels instead of paper towles. That is something i can tell is helping a bit because we would go through a case of 8 every 2 weeks , now we still have 4 rolls in the case we've had about 3 weeks...

its small stuff, but im getting eased into the bigger stuff
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I think the biggest thing for me was menu planning.

I spend about an hour one day planning my meals for the week (I have a flexible job, and even though I work full time, I have time off during hte week--I like to shop then, cause the stores are less crowded, but that's just me) I plan out all meals when we'll be home--breakfast, lunch, and supper. For breakfast and lunch, it's usually just a list of options--bagels, eggs and toast, granola, then tuna, sandwiches, leftovers, Ramen (my secret pregnancy obsession
) Then, for suppers, I plan out the whole meal. Entree, sides, dessert if I'm going to make it. I usually keep the sales flyers handy, and if something is on sale (produce or meat), then I'll plan a meal or two around that. I make the list out as I plan, then check the pantry/freezer to see if I already have any of the stuff, marking that off. I also keep a running list on the fridge for staples that I use up (ketchup, dish soap, mayo, eggs, etc)

Once my list is done (this whole process takes about an hour), then I hit the stores. If something is on a great sale, then I'll also stock my pantry. I might buy 10 lbs of chicken in a week we only need 1. Then, we have chicken for the next 9 weeks, all bought on sale.

It sounds complicated, but it's really not, and seeing that meal idea written down, already planned, makes it soo easy not to go out to eat (one of my biggest downfalls). I like that I know I have the produce in the fridge, nad I need to eat it before it goes bad. And if I don't eat xyz tonight, then the meal plan will be all wonky. It inspires me to eat at home.
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My big thing was entertainment. I borrow dvd's from the library for free and it has really widened my spectrum as far as non-mainstream movies. I go to the park and play with dd, weather permitting, instead of going to and indoor play area that you pay for (even if it's only a dollar, it's a dollor saved!) I organize playdates with other mom's of babies the same age so I don't feel like we are doing the same thing day in and day out.

About eating out...I basically had to learn how to cook to not eat out
and now I never eat out unless it's a big family thing. It was and still is fun and I can make exactly what I want how I want which is more than I can say for restraunt food!
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For us it's all about deciding what we NEED and what we just WANT. Does Sara NEED 3 pairs of shoes or can she survive with one or two??????? It helps us not clutter up the house with things we never use and it saves us money!
Cloth diapering, cloth wipes, using mama cloth, and using cloth towels for spills instead of paper towels has cut expenses quite a bit and it really doesn't contribute that much laundry. It's very manageable. Cloth diapers, wipes, and mama pads all head to the diaper pail to be washed every other day and the towels and napkins and such head to the clothing hamper(unless it was a NASTY spill and it goes directly to sit in the washer) to be washed iwth the clothing.
Little things like bringing lunch with you to the playground or snacks and juice on an outing so you don't grab something while you are out saves LOTS of money. I used to walk to the post office iwth the girls or walk to the dry cleaners with the girls and get a juice to share when we get there. Now we pack juice and a snack and sit on the grass at the post office and watch the planes landing on the flight line together and it saves me money along with giving us entertainment.
Entertainment is key. If you feel deprived of everything, you will splurge big time. We COULD head into town for a movie with the girls but the theatre here on base has REALLY cheap showings so we go there and spend $8 for the 4 of us instead of $36. Even cheaper: we rent a movie from the library and make popcorn and snuggle on the couch with our free movie! The library is an invaluable resource! Zoo memberships make you shell out all at once but saves you TONS of money in the long run. We had a membership back home that cost us $110 up front but if you go 10 times during that year, you have already recouped the cost. I can't even tell you how many times we went to the zoo! Going to the playground with friends is fun for boring days. Burger King and McDonalds might have yucky food but they do have indoor climbing equipment for those disgusting rainy days where you are ready to kill the kids because they are being so naughty. Pack them up and head out for some time on the climbers to burn off energy. And you don't have to buy anything. Utilize your town's weekend entertainment. Lots of towns have free concerts and such on weekends during nice weather. Read about it in the paper(at the library they have the paper for free!) or online and plan to attend.

It's all about being creative. See what you can make instead of buying already prepared like cakes or cookies or things that are simple to sew like pillows and pillowcases. Try MDC's trading post for kids clothing or diapers or toys. Thrift shops are excellent resources for all you need. Avoid buying new if possible!

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My big changes included menu planning off the store flyers based on whats on sale, stocking up on staples (flour, butter, eggs) when they are on sale (eggs CAN be frozen in ziploc bags- break them into the bag and seal), no eating out unless its a birthday or big promotion-type occasion, cloth diapers of course, only buying new clothes off the clearance rack or from a discount store like Ross or TJ Max, and the biggest one - NO CONVENIENCE FOODS. I used to buy boxed potatoes, rice mixes, all kinds of mixes for everything, tv dinners, you name it. Now i buy big bags of rice and pasta, real potatoes, i bake my own bread once a week, do baked goods from scratch, and use recipes instead of mixes. It saves a LOT of money! it takes time and getting used to, but its worth it - in health, in taste and in money saved!
A great book is Frugal Living for Dummies. Its my handbook! And the book Whole Foods for the Whole Family by La Leche League has great recipes for everything under the sun from scratch. Miserly Moms and Miserly Meals are also great frugal living books.
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Well, my blessing and curse is that I'm vegetarian. Yes, a meat free diet is WAY less expensive... But those store specials always include buying meat.. They never have a cheese enchalada special. It's always beef fajitas and the rest is almost free.

I'm working on taking one day a week to plan menus. My goal is to start freezing two or three HUGE batches of food once a month to take care of three (or more) meals a week. I'm starting with Pizza Dough, and working up from there.

I've been going through EVERYTHING I own and posting on Online Garage Sales and Craigs List. If it's not bought within about a month, I'm going to Freecycle it. We just have so much stuff that is worth something (7 sets of crib sheets! We co sleep!) and I'm really hoping that I can get rid of it all and make a tidy little profit.

I'm also going to get together with a few mamas and have a big garage sale. I'm trying to cut expenses as well as make a little money/declutter..

Thanks mamas! I'm trying to get these things into practice, but man oh man, it's tough.
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thats also a great idea, to go thru your house to see if theres anything you can e-bay or sell at a garage sale.
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