Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Top 5 Frugal Living Tips!

Welcome to Works for Me Wednesday and the reason I got HOOKED on it in the first place! This week is a FRUGAL thing to WFMW over at We Are That Family. I fell in love with WFMW because I was on the hunt for all things frugal and money saving tips. And there are SO many jam-packed into WFMW, along with other life-saving tips, that I found myself going back time and time again. I've learned so very much and have adopted so many. Here are my top 5 frugal living tips to share with you this week:

1. Go off-brand and generic. Honestly, I don't understand why someone would pay dollars more for a name brand item than the generic. We get generic medications when they are available. We buy generic trash bags. We buy generic canned beans, canned fruits, most all canned items are generic. I used to think we had to have Charmin but learned to live with a more generic or cheaper brand. Coupons are not available but most every time, the item is cheaper than the name brand with a coupon. Which brings me to my next point:

2. Only buy name brand if it is a great deal with a coupon! I am fanatical about using coupons at CVS and Walgreens. I buy most paper products, feminine products, TP, shampoo and soap there for little to nothing with coupons and sales rebates. I usually can score several boxes of cereal for just a couple of bucks from using sales, coupons plus the store rebates. Watch your sales ads and coupons because most coupons will preceed a sale at the store by 2-3 weeks. There will be some "sales" each week that coincide with the coupon but usually you can get a better deal a couple of weeks later. For example, this week I cut several $1 coupons out of Sunday's fliers for Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner. I will hold onto them because likely in 2-3 weeks, there will be a great deal at CVS or Wags to use them on (hopefully one of those 3/$9 on family size bottles...use 3/$1 coupons, then it is $6 and strategically, I will use any leftover Extra Care Bucks to pay for them that way====that equals FREE shampoo and conditioner!!).

3. Read, read, read personal finance blogs, articles, books and stories. I've learned a TON of info this way. We were turned on to Dave Ramsey thru these, started a great ING savings account (they have great interest rates!), settled some old debts, paid off a lot of debt, sold a bunch of junk, recycled and reused instead of buying new.....I could go on forever! This book, The Total Money Makeover, has been a God-send to us!
We have read it time and again, and bought copies for friends and family members. It's a great book! The jist of it is that all this reading inspires us to continue to refine the budget every week to keep squeezing the proverbial turnip!

4. Cook from scratch and eat at home! It's amazing how much money you blow just by getting a little something here and little something there.... Our family is now four people. And we are near the end of having the kids eat from our plates (that was much easier when they were smaller...). They not only want their own meal but will often eat much of it. So we have four people to buy food and drinks for. It will run us at least $18--and that is McDonalds! And I don't LIKE McD's!!!!! If I'm going to go through the hassle of going out to eat, I want edible and delicious food!!! So our favorite Italian place ran us almost $60 with tip last time. We just cannot do that. So I cook from home, from scratch. I don't buy boxed meals. I don't even shop in the freezer section at all--except for a few rare buys of frozen veggies. It is the way we keep our grocery budget under $275/month.

5. Make my own cleaning supplies. I started off by making our own laundry soap. And I don't mind doing that but have to admit that SH prefers the store-bought, perfumed stuff. He thinks it cleans better and most certainly smells nicer. I'm not convinced but have temporarily buckled under the pressure and have bought Arm & Hammer this last go around. But I'm still working on a better homemade laundry detergent recipe (if you have ideas--send them my way please!!!). I do make our own window washing liquids, we use a lot of vinegar, baking soda, ammonia and/or bleach (never together though---toxic fumes!) for all our other cleaning needs. I add a little essential oils for more pleasant smells with these solutions. Borax is now my friend. Works wonders. I get almost all my recipes from this book, Green Housekeeping. . It's a fantastic, frugal book that is chock-full of green, frugal and thrifty ideas on making your own cleaners.

I actually could go on but I said top 5, didn't I? Now, give me a few of your favorite frugal tips so I can save a few more bucks!! And then head on over to We Are That Family for tons more. Enjoy!!


Falling Around said...

All very good tips!

We started buying the generic brands a few years ago, and they are very much the same as the name brands. If you look at the active ingredients in medications the generic brand is identical! Why, oh why, pay more??

I've been hearing a lot about this Dave Ramsey... Must go check him out.

Kimm at Reinvented said...

Great tips, thanks for sharing. I haven't tried making laundry soap yet, but I do make all of my other cleaning products. I add peppermint oil to everything, love that scent!

Sherry said...

Great tips! :D We have been using Aldi's a lot and they have definitely helped our grocery bill go down. There groceries are good, too! :D We also do a lot of homemade cooking and cleaning products. I haven't done the laundry soap yet, though.

Jane said...

We don't have kids, so the temptation to go out is a lot stronger. So, I buy the frozen meal in a bag Bertoli Chicken Parm is a fav. It costs about $6 on sale and feeds two. I save it for that night when I am sorely tempted to eat out. I can have that meal on our table in just 10 minutes. It's saved us many a time. I imagine that one could make their own version of this type of thing in family sized portions.

Also breakfast for dinner is a great penny pincher.

Jennifer Meeks said...

Thanks for the great tips!

I just started making laundry soap too, and I love it. I use one box of Borax, one box of Arm & Hammer washing soda, and one bar of Zote soap. It does great, and it's so cheap. I only have to use 2 tbs per load. If you want it to have a little extra scent, and a few drops of essential oils to the washer. I have some, but haven't tried adding it yet.

Jennifer Meeks said...

Oh, and grate the Zote soap. I use an old grater just for the Zote. Then mix the 3 ingredients together. :)