It’s funny how cool and hip being frugal is, if it means making a chic decoration out of trash, or buying mountains of groceries for just a few bucks. While these can be great ways to save, and I love when I have something cool like that to share, most of frugality isn’t really pin-worthy.

How do you photograph wanting to stop for fast food, but instead just driving by and eating leftovers when you get home? Or when you see the most amazing thing you want to buy and it’s even on sale…but you really don’t have the money now, so you just say no?

I remember Amy Dacycyzn talking about this in her book.* Video crews would come over and want to film all the active frugality, like hanging clothes in her attic to dry, instead of the passive frugality, like not going out to eat.

While doing all kinds of money-saving tips really can add up and help you save, the biggest and best way to spend less money is to…..spend less money. It’s not glorious or extreme, but I’m learning more and more, it’s what does the trick, and as un-glorious as it may seem, it’ll help you spend less.

What are some purchases you’ve said no to recently?

*Amazon affiliate link.

Linked at A Blossoming Life.

In one of her gazette’s Amy Dacyczyn came up with a word related to frugality for every letter of the alphabet and I thought it’d be fun to do it myself (without cheating and looking at hers!)

Appreciate what you already have.

Budget – Keeping track of where your money goes is important!

Cancel cable

Dates don’t have to cost a lot (if anything)!

Exercise at home instead of the gym.

Forage for free wild foods (just make sure they’re okay to eat!)

Garden for fresh produce.

Hair cuts at home can save hundreds of dollars!

Ice – I used to always buy a bag of ice at the gas station if I needed ice on a trip to keep food cold, but now I usually just fill a bottle (milk or juice jug work great) with water and freeze. I put that in our cooler with the food and it keeps it pretty cool!

Jobs-Even little odd jobs can help the wallet, like babysitting, lawn mowing or window washing.

Kitchen – If you have a kitchen, use it! It can make healthier and cheaper foods than restaurants.

Libraries are great for books, DVDs and all kinds of activities!

Gracia LOVES going to the library, and she likes reading the books when we get home!

Math is a good thing to know when adding up the budget or trying to find the unit price of something.

Newspapers can be used for wrapping paper or even to make bows with!

Obey traffic laws to avoid costly tickets.

Pressure cooking uses less energy and time.

Question all advertisements, they’re trying to get your money!

Research products before making a purchase.

Sewing is a great skill, even just sewing a button back on or patching a hole.

The Tightwad Gazette!! My favorite book on frugality!

Upcycle all kinds of things!

Venison is a delicious meat and can be cheap if you hunt frugally or know someone who does! We’ve found a lot of people hunt deer and either don’t like the meat or get more than they need and look for people to take some.

Water is cheaper from the tap instead of bottled.

X-amine your finances often (okay, I know this one was kind of cheating, but I couldn’t think of how xylophones were frugal).

Yesterday’s mistakes are past, be a good steward of your resources in the here and now.

Zeal -Keep your zeal for frugality by remembering your purpose!

This post is linked at Frugally Sustainable.

Electricity

We’re in a Missionary Tech course right now, and as we learn about solar panels, generators and other means of getting electricity in remote places, I’m reminded of how the less electricity we’re used to using, the less fuel we’ll need to power a generator or the better we can make use of limited solar panel energy.

Water

We might end up living in a tropical place where it rains daily and water isn’t an issue, or we might end up in a desert where rain water is our main source of h20.

My parents (missionaries in Paraguay, South America) rigged up a clever way of re-using water from the rinse cycle of their washing machine for the wash cycle of the next load!

Food

Some missionaries live so remote that they have food flown out to them, and having anything flown costs an arm and a leg! So if we can learn to eat what we have and waste as little as possible, grow, hunt or fish our own food it can help us go longer without having to have supply flights. If we also are willing to eat what the locals eat, it can help us tremendously. When I was a girl and we lived on the Paraguay river we ate all kinds of fish and wild game that the people would bring to us. We would trade them the meat for things like rice, tomato paste or sometimes even clothes.

An open-air market in Paraguay

DIY

If we live in a remote place we probably won’t have a barber down the street, a mechanic nearby or plumber to call. So learning to do these types things now can help us save time when we’re there. I’m so thankful I married a handy-man!

Having a Better Ministry with the People

This is probably the most important of all! Chances are that we’ll be working with people with a lot less than us, and even if we don’t think of ourselves as very wealthy, we are by no means poor by these people’s standards! If they see us living in big fancy houses, driving the newest cars and importing all of our food from America, what will that say to them? It could easily hinder our relationships with them. Not to mention that if we have all the niceties in our homes, we’ll be less likely to get out with the people and get to know them.

I do realize that I’m saying all of this in theory and when I actually get to foreign soil I’m sure it’ll be way harder to actually do, but when I think about all of these benefits, it helps give me purpose for putting frugality into practice here and now!

Fun Fact: "Six Flags" is named after the six countries that have governed Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America, and the United States.

As you know by my last post, I took Cameron to Six Flags for a late birthday present! We had lots of fun! Six flags isn’t a cheap place to go, but there’s lots of ways to make it as affordable as you can. These tips are for Six Flags, but I’m sure many of them can be used at other places too.

Tickets

Never, ever, ever just show up as Six Flags and pay full price for  tickets!! Look online before going so you can find any coupons or promotions. We purchased our tickets online, instead of at the gate. That saved us not only time, but also money. Plus Cameron googled Six Flags coupons and was able to find a coupon for the day we were going to be there, saving us a litttle more. We ended up paying $27 each, instead of the $57 price we would have paid if we just showed up and payed there with no planning ahead. So that saved us a total of $60 (saved $30 each ticket)! That was WAY worth the few minutes of searching the internet and planning ahead!

If you plan on going to Six Flags more than once that year you may want to look into a season pass.

Food and Drinks

First of all if you’re planning a Six Flags trip you’re gonna need to stay hydrated. Especially if it’s in the middle of summer. You can purchase a Six Flags bottle for $13 and get unlimited refills the rest of the day. If you’re not a germaphobe you can share the cup with your friends or family that you’re there with.

Another option for the drinks is to take a Six Flags cup you already own (we borrowed one from family) and you can get if filled up for 99 cents. We figured we wouldn’t need to get it filled more than 13 times that day, so it was a better deal for us than buying a new cup. We ended up only getting it filled a couple of times and would just fill it with water at the water fountains instead.

As far as food….well it’s expensive. We planned on going out to our car and eating some food we had packed and then going back into the park for more rides (make sure to get stamped out or you’ll have to purchase another ticket to get back in). But we didn’t end up doing that, we ended up getting a brisket burger, fries and poweraid and just split it. And that cost us about $15! We can usually feed our whole little family of 3 eating out for that much! So if you want to save on food, keep a cooler with lunch in it out in your car.

Miscellaneous

The best way to save on souvenirs is to just not buy them. I’ve never been a big fan of little trinkets that just sit around and collect dust, so those giant stuffed bananas or cheesy snow globes don’t really tempt me. But I have heard of people buying Disney things before a Disney World trip, since you can get that kind of stuff other places. Then when the kids see all the cool Mickey Mouse stuff that’s way over priced at Disney World, their parents can give them the things they bought previously for a much better cost.

 If you can, only take what you don’t mind carrying, or else you’ll end up renting a locker. Of course if you’re going with a bunch of little kids or babies that may be harder to do. We only took what would fit in Cameron’s pockets (thank goodness he wears cargo shorts with those big pockets).The only thing we carried was the water bottle. Speaking of carrying things in your pockets, Cameron put cash and his cell phone in a Ziploc to make sure they wouldn’t get wet if we went on one of the splash down rides. Also plan ahead so you don’t end up renting a stroller or buying sunglasses because you forgot them.

So there’s some Six Flags savings tips, I’m working on a post about saving on trips in general, so be watching for that!

HEB groceries $97.67

Here’s my groceries for the first 2 weeks of July. I went to HEB, Sam’s Club and Albertsons.

How I saved at HEB:

  • Saved $11.41 by buying generic brand
  • Saved $1.36 by buying on sale items
  • Saved $3.75 by using coupons (in store Tabasco coupon,  in store, buy one get one half off make-up brushes, in store, buy Tostitos chips get HEB chips free, and a printed out Newman’s Own coupon)

My total at HEB was $97.67.

My Albertson’s trip I spent $38.20 and saved $31.38!!!! It was all done by buying on sale items. The 2 roasts were buy one get one free (perfect since Cameron requested a roast as his b-day meal). The chicken breasts, whole chicken, grapes, apples and corn were all on sale too.

It seems like HEB’s everyday prices are generally cheaper, but Albertsons has some great sales, especially in meat. So I’m trying to mostly shop at HEB and stop in at Albertsons for any great sales.

Sam's Club and Albertsons Groceries. Saved $31.38 at Albertsons!

And I spent $43.44 at Sam’s club.

My total in food groceries is: $143.50, leaving me with $106.50 for the rest of the month, which I think is do able, especially since I have 1 roast and 1 whole chicken in the freezer that I’m not even planning on using yet, so I can use them later in the month.

My total in non-food items is: $35.81, leaving me $4.19. I bought toilet paper, toothpaste, aluminum foil, laundry detergent and make-up brushes, I don’t think I’ll have to buy much more in this category this month.

Here’s what’s on the menu plan for the next 2 weeks:

Breakfasts: Granola, oatmeal, peanut butter power pucks, toast, smoothies, eggs

Lunches: Leftovers, sandwiches, burritos

Suppers:

  • Roast with carrots, potatoes, gravy and rolls (my mother-in-law brought the rolls). And whole wheat honey carrot cake for dessert. This was Cameron’s birthday meal.
  • Stew or pot pie made from leftover roast and rolls
  • Black bean quesadillas, fresh salsa and chips, grapes
  • Salad with hard boiled or deviled eggs, some sort of fruit
  • Chicken and brown rice made with homemade chicken broth and steamed broccoli
  • Stuffed peppers made with leftover brown rice and black beans, apples and cream cheese dip from Tammy’s Recipes
  • Chicken strips, corn on the cob, millet
  • Ramen noodle stir fry (if there’s any leftover millet, I’ll throw that in too)
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches (with slices of tomato in them if there’s any left), veggies and dip, mangoes
  • Chicken burger sandwiches, homemade oven fries, salad
  • Chicken quesadillas (with any leftover chicken), fresh salsa and chips, apples and dip
  • Leftovers

I’m realizing that planning my meals for 2 weeks, I don’t have to come up with 14 different main meals, between leftovers and eating out I don’t usually end up making every meal I plan.

Happy 4th of July everyone!!

For the month of June I’ve been trying to keep my food groceries under $250. Here’s my results along with my non-food grocery results and eating out results for the month of June.

Food groceries:

  • goal $250
  • actually spent $253.10

Non-food groceries (shampoo, diapers for Gracia to sleep in, toilet paper, etc…)

  • goal $40
  • actually spent $36.79

Eating out (this counts any food bought at restaurants, convenient stores or gas stations)

  • goal $100
  • actually spent $119.87

I think I’m going to keep trying to keep our grocery bill around $250, which is exciting to me as I look back at my 2009 and 2010 records and see when we were spending $300-$360 on groceries! I think part of the change has been moving to a bigger town with more options for grocery stores. The town we were in before had pretty high grocery prices. And part of the change has also been the various strategies I’ve been trying to use to tackle our grocery budget.

I was actually under in the non-food groceries! :)

The eating out is the area I’m the least pleased with, because we went the most over in it and it’s an unnecessary thing. But when I look back at how much we’ve spent in months past in eating out it’s a lot less, so at least it’s an improvement! :)

Anybody else out there working on decreasing their grocery budget? How are you doing at it?

I mentioned that I’ve been wanting to make and use my own postcards, and now I’ve FINALLY done it!

Making your own postcards can save you money in 2 ways:

  1. They’re a cheap alternative to a card. Even if you already make  your own cards, postcards use half the amount of paper, and no envelopes necessary.
  2. They’re cheaper to mail. It costs $.44 to mail a regular letter, and only $.29 to mail a postcard, saving you $.15. That’s not a lot of difference, but if you mail out a lot of letters it can add up.

When I made my postcards I just used a regular postcard I already had to see how big to cut mine. I used card stock  paper, so it would be thick enough. And of course leave the back blank for writing your note and the address. And if you’re more creative and patient than me, your postcards can look way cuter than mine!

If you want to save even more, Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette recommends cutting the front picture part off of old cards you’ve received and using that as a post card.

We have a problem at our house, we eat a lot of corn tortilla chips. But the problem isn’t the ones we eat, its the ones we DON’T eat. It always seems like  a quarter of the chips get left behind in the bottom of the bag as crumbs. I like to use the crumbs as a topping on chili or chicken tortilla soup. The only problem is with all this over 100 degree weather, we haven’t been eating chili or soup. So I had this container of chip crumbs:

And I finally did something about them! First I ground them up in my food processor:

Then I used 3/4 cup in making meatloaf. I usually use bread crumbs made from leftover stale bread and crackers, but the tortilla chip crumbs worked just fine too! I put the rest of the crumbs in a bag in the freezer for the next time I need them. Sometime I want to try using them to bread chicken fingers with. Here’s an article I found with 10 ways to use up tortilla chip crumbs.

Linked at Kitchen Tip Tuesday’s at Tammy’s Recipes. Check out her site for more great kitchen tips. And check out her recipes too! I’ve tried several of them, so far I think my favorite has been her White Chili. Too bad it’s kinda hot weather for it. =(

Do you have any creative ways of using up chip crumbs?

This Frugal Friday Photo I have a picture of Gracia playing with a really cool Arthur book. It has little figures from Arthur and throughout the book there’s slots you can put them. I got it for Gracia at a thrift store along with a coloring book that had stickers in it. Both books were in great condition. The coloring book hadn’t been used at all and I got them both for $1! Another frugal thing in this picture is the outfit Gracia’s wearing. A lady from our neighborhood gave me a bunch of girl clothes last year. Most of them were too big for Gracia then, but she’s starting to grow into them now. The only problem with them is that they smelled really strongly of cigarettes. But I washed them a few times with vinegar and that fixed the problem!

Exercise is a part of being healthy, but so is eating right. I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t afford healthy food. I won’t deny that some healthy foods are expensive, but there’s actually a lot of very affordable healthy foods out there. You may even find that you eat cheaper when you eat healthy.

Here’s a list of a few cheap and healthy foods (this is by no means all of them):

  • Oatmeal – Has iron and fiber. Costs $2.24  for a big thing of it that makes 30 servings! Or if you don’t like eating hot oatmeal you can make granola out of it.
  • Potatoes – Keep the skins on, that’s where most of the nutrients are and nothings wasted.
  • Beans – High in fiber and protein. And they’re not only way cheaper than meat, but also a lot lower in fat!
  • Lentils – These are not only cheap, but easy to cook. Unlike beans they don’t need to be soaked overnight.
  • Raisins – I love dried fruits, but most are expensive and some have added sugar. But raisins don’t have extra sugar and they are the cheapest dried fruit I can find.
  • Fruit and veggies – Buy in season, locally grown and on sale to get the most for your money. I find that things like carrots, bananas and apples seem to pretty much always be cheap.
  • Whole wheat bread – It usually doesn’t cost much, if any more, than white bread, or you can make your own.
  • Brown rice – it only costs a little more than white rice, but it goes a long way.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta – I’ve only cooked with this a few times, but you can get it pretty affordably.

Here’s some other tips:

  • A lot of regular grocery stores are carrying health food items, and it’s probably cheaper there than at a health food store, but compare prices to make sure.
  • You may be able to get some healthy foods cheaper at warehouse stores. The cheapest unit price I’ve found on honey is at Sam’s Club.
  • Eat the right sizes, if you eat too much it not only isn’t healthy, it also makes your grocery bill higher.
  • Skip the unnecessary and completely empty calories like soda and candy. There’s nothing healthy in it and the cost really adds up. Save that money to buy healthy food instead.
  • Cook from scratch. You have more control over what goes in, and don’t have to worry about all the preservatives that are in prepared foods. Plus it’s usually cheaper.
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