General chatter - Need help from you frugal chicks




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djay
12-21-2008, 08:22 AM
The bad news...
The company I work for has been hit so hard by this economy that they are forced to cut salaries and other benefits to survive. I will have to get by on 8% less income beginning in January.

The good news...
My company is cutting salaries and everyone gets to keep a job!!!

The problem...
I have never been very thrifty. I'm not wasteful either. (I know how to turn the thermostat down) I really need to find ways to spend less every month.

How you can help...
I know some of you take great pride in your ability to strech a dollar. I hope you will share some of your best cost cutting ideas here...for all of us who are trying to just get through these tough economic times.

Thanks Chickies!


anastasia
12-21-2008, 08:27 AM
it's always hard to find yourself suddenly with less money.

first step should be to make a list of what comes in to your house (money wise) and then what you absolutely have to pay in household bills, then what you WANT (that you currently pay for). i mean, if you find thazt more goes out than goes in you can't avoid paying gas / electric etc but you can stop paying cable if you have to.

make shopping lists and stick to them - buy only what you need
shop around - do you always go to the same supermarket? why not try going to other places - chances are you get the same for less if you shop around.

staja
12-21-2008, 09:19 AM
One of my favourite resources for frugal living is http://www.stretcher.com/index.cfm - it's full of many articles and suggestions that can be adapted for your needs.


mumrock
12-21-2008, 09:24 AM
Hi djay: I've become an economic vegetarian: eating no meat or eating less meat because of the price. Some things I've been doing:

keeping a good supply of legumes (dried peas, beans, lentils) on hand for soups. You can make a righteous pot of soup for cheap and with a pork chop chopped up and thrown in, it's heaven. I also use my slow cooker, which is cheaper than using gas, allows you to use tougher/cheaper cuts of meat, and fills the house with a wonderful aroma.

Check out your dollar store for things that you buy regularly -- milk, condiments, etc.

Watch your grocery store for specials. Celery for 79 cents sends me into ecstasy.

Also, I live at the thrift store. You'll be amazed at the quality of merchandise you'll find. This can help your budget go further.

Good luck to you and happy holidays!!

GatorgalstuckinGA
12-21-2008, 09:45 AM
budget budget budget. That's the first way. DH and I used to be a two income household and then he went back to school...so its just my income. We sit down every 6 m and work on our budget. You calculate how much you will have and how much you spend (some times it is a bit of an estimations) but then you stick to it. For example DH and i have $115/wk food allowance. If we have extra great. I highly recommend getting a program like quicken. It helps you work on a budget and see it better.

Things to help with being frugal...coupons, always bringing lunch. Making more of your meals (frozen foods like lean cusine are definately more pricey). Bean are a great source...but also find meat on sale and utilize it. I try to do most of my grocery shopping at walmart since its cheeper..but i can't deal with their veggeis..they buy low quality veggies. So i do splurge a bit more by shopping at publix or whole foods. Also, go to the store a few times a week. Veggies don't last long, so I go at least twice a week, but i get small amounts. Also, if you like frozen veggies..that's a good way to go.

good luck!

Marms
12-21-2008, 10:19 AM
Start couponing. I always thought that clipping coupons was a waste because they are usually not for things I buy or are for small amounts, but my mind has been changed since visiting www.hotcouponworld.com. Combining coupons with store deals makes for some great bargains and the site is divided up into forums for each store where people match up coupons to sales so you can get the best deal. I would never have the time to match them all up myself, so the site is extremely helpful. I've cut my grocery bill in half, which is amazing since I now buy almost all name brands instead of generics.

CVS is another great option. They have so many free after ECB deals weekly and monthly for items that I actually use.

Walgreens and Rite Aid offer big rebates also. I got 12 deodorants for $3.00 last month at Walgreens.

You'd be amazed at how much you can save if you put a little effort into it.

djay
12-21-2008, 11:14 AM
What great suggestions! And these websites are amazing! I'm bookmarking them! It has been a while since I really sat down and planned out a budget. I guess it really is time to go back to the basics.

Keep the ideas comming!

nelie
12-21-2008, 11:35 AM
I think cutting costs is pretty individual but I would recommend looking at your own expenses and seeing where you could cut costs with little/no pain.

One thing may help is to track your expenses to see what you spend money on and then look at cutting those expenses.

Do you drive a lot? Is there a way to combine/shorten driving trips?

Do you have a cell phone and a home phone? Could you get rid of one or cut costs on one?

What do you do for entertainment? Go out to the movies? Rent DVDs? Have cable? For us, we hated paying for cable so we got rid of it and then moved to netflix. We actually gave up our netflix subscription though because we weren't watching tv very much at all. We do spend money on some DVDs that we like. We have found that Best Buy will often have DVDs for $3.99 to $6.99 which are in our comfort zone for DVD buying. I've also bought some tv series DVDs for the ones we like. I'm waiting for price drops on some tv series that I like but I figure eventually I'll get them.

Do you have any subscriptions such as magazines/newspaper/etc? Is there a way to look at those online or in a library?

Speaking of libraries, you can rent many movies as well as books at libraries. If you spend money on books, I'd recommend looking at your local library first.

Do you pay for a gym membership? Are there any cheaper options? Could you suspend the membership for a time and try some alternatives?

What are your food expenses? Do you eat out often? Could you cut that? I would also recommend looking at eating vegetarian more often as it can be quite a bit cheaper. Bulk beans and grains are pretty cheap. You could look at co-ops, organic type markets, etc for bulk options.

JackieRn
12-21-2008, 12:46 PM
The dollar store is a must, its amazing what you can find. Also if you are making a big purchase scanning the internet for the best price helps. Also, eating out is a budget buster, the less you do it the better you will be financially. Stalking sales helps me, I go to the mall every once in a while to check on items I want and wait until they are at a reasonable price, as of right now, I refuse to pay full price on anything. Lastly if there are items such as work out shoes and clothes that you know you replace through out the year buy them day after christmas the deals will be amazing and you'll save a ton in the long run.

PhotoChick
12-21-2008, 01:04 PM
For me budgeting and dieting are closely linked. It must be my personality.

I find that if I write down what I spend, I do better about not spending - just like if I write down what I eat.

I find that if I make a budget and plan my expenses, I spend less - just like if I make a menu and plan what I eat.

It must be something in my psychological makeup that is this consistent. :)

Seriously .. the first thing I'd do if I were you (this is what I did when my hubby and I separated and i was suddenly responsible for *all* the bills): sit down and write down EVERY bill you have and when it's due. Everything from the mortgage/rent, the cable, internet, water/gas/elect, car payment, insurance, estimate your groceries, estimate your auto fuel, etc., Even allow yourself a weekly budget for "fun".

Then go back and see where you can cut back. The things I did were this:
Cut cable back to basic digital (couldn't go lower - I need the digital internet for my business, so might as well get the digital cable as part of that).
Dropped NetFlix down to the 3 movie level (I love to watch movies and that was part of my entertainment budget I felt I could keep, since I wasn't going OUT to watch movies.)
Cancelled every magazine subscription I have. Most of them I could get online if I needed to.
Double checked my credit cards to see everything that was automatically billing and cancelled everything I didn't use (Like I forgot I had a Boingo acct that was costing me $9.95 a month.)
Cut back on my drinking. Not that I'm a huge lush, but I used to have a glass of wine with dinner most nights and every now and then I'd have a vodka martini before dinner or after dinner. I cut waaay back on that and bought a bottle of wine once in a while as a splurge, not a regular thing. :)

I will say I don't coupon shop. The types of foods I buy (fresh, whole, mostly organic) rarely rarely have coupons available and I find clipping coupons a waste of time. Instead I watch sales and plan my menus around what's on sale.

I do a lot of grocery shopping at Sams or Costco. Yes, the initial expense is high, but I can get 45 chicken breast tenders for $1.99 a pound, vs. $3.49 a pound at the grocery store. So spending $18 on a pack of chicken breasts, dividing them up into packets, and freezing them is a very cost effective thing for me. Same with buying lean ground beef - $2.19/lb at Sam's vs $4.99 at the grocery store. So I buy a package of 7 lbs, divide it and freeze it. Shredded cheddar cheese is also cheaper at Sam's. Frozen blueberries at Costco. Eggs at either. Etc. Etc.

Some things are more expensive, so you do have to be careful to check, but overall I save a LOT of money buying things at Sam's

Gosh. So many little things. I'm sure there's more I can think of. I'll post as it comes to me! :)

Good luck and I'm glad that even though you're taking a pay cut, you're able to keep your job. That's something to be thankful for! :)

.

Thighs Be Gone
12-21-2008, 01:23 PM
Hillbilly's Housewife is a super thrifty site too. Good luck. You can do this! If nothing else, look at your bills and what you normally spend in each category. On expenses that are not fixed, look at what you can do without. Also, perhaps you could put some things on Ebay, have a garage sale from time to time or sell some things at a consignment shop. You can do this!

GatorgalstuckinGA
12-21-2008, 02:28 PM
i think you can tell that one of the biggest things that helps and figuring out where most of your spending is going. When i did that during our first budget, i was amazed to see how much i was spending on silly stuff that really wasn't that necessary. It just means buckling down a bit..but a 6% pay decrease is not horrible. So i bet if you start looking at your spending...i bet there are several things you could live without. Just sit down and do it. Trust me, i hate it...but it really does help LMAO

and i agree with the costco/sam's suggestion. I buy a lot of bulk meat much cheaper and then freeze the items. Does definately help save money.

good luck!

Elwing
12-21-2008, 03:50 PM
I've always been a cheapskate, but since I started my internships I find myself with spare money every month. This is due to 2 things. I got a new cellphone subscription that was a lot cheaper. (I went over my minutes almost every month and had to pay a lot extra - sometimes $80 a month! Now I pay $22 a month and I never go over.) Also, I hardly eat out or go out any more. That helps so much :). Good luck! I know people that stick all of their shopping notes in a little booklet to get more of a view of what they spend their money on. This might be helpful too :)

Justwant2Bhealthy
12-21-2008, 10:10 PM
1) I totally agree about the BUDGET: I have a RED book that we keep a monthly budget in (red to remind us not to go in the red, which is debt).

Start with all the expenses for the roof over your head ie Rent/Mortgage, hydro, heat, insurances, phone, and bank. Next section is for Food & pickups, Household stuff, miscell expenses, savings, PA's (personal allowances), gas/oil for car. In the last section we put in extra expenses like internet and long distance (special deal @ .06c a minute).

2) we keep that budget diligently; always put savings away for a rainy day and for unexpected repairs (ie car).

3) We save coins for gifts and holidays in jars which pays for all of them and them some.

4) We buy as many sales each week as we can; and we even buy groceries at department stores where they are often cheaper than grocery stores.

5) we buy fresh and frozen fruit and veggies, whichever is best deal.

6) we don't have cable becuz it costs over $60 a month here; we buy or rent our own movies instead.

7) we check our library, internet, and second-hand shops for books & music.

8) we check our classifieds, second-hand and antique shops, and garage sales for good, used stuff. I mean good stuff that can save you money. ie my computer desk looks like new, but I only paid $10.00 for it; and only you know that now.

9) We check the flyers for gifts and other needs like linens and household needs. Department stores and dollar stores are great for things like toiletries and household cleaning supplies. Even hardware and drug stores offer special deals for food and toiletries and household stuff like tissue and paper towels.

10) We bought our own phone and save over $120.00 a year now (cancelled call-display).

11) Cut our meat consumption down and buy most lean meats with little bone; boneless cuts are best deal as they are all meat and less waste. Pay a bit more for boneless is worth it. We eat at least 1-2 meals a week with no meat now. We sub cheese, eggs, or peanut butter, beans, etc.

12) We cut all the frills and only splurge at Christmas or on someone's birthday. WE only eat out on birthdays or special occasions and look for best deal like spit BBQ chicken or a grillhouse meal. Mostly, we eat at home and I bake what little stuff like that we have now (ie muffins for DH).

13) Cut back on packaged foods and stuff; this can save you lots of money. Buy lean meats and foods in bulk. Freeze meats in individual servings.

14) Buy clothes on sale; esp shoes and boots @ half-price this year.

15) We shop only 1-2 times a week; going to two different places to get best deals: one grocery and one department store.

16) lots of little things we do like cut SOS pads and dryer sheets in two with scissors (always wasted half anyways). Old clothes turned into rags.

17) Wash clothes in cold or warm wash and always cold rinse; I hang undies on a dryer rack and hanger DH put up (it's a shower pole above my washer and dryer). Use clothes line in summer and do laundry only when we have full loads. Hang what we can inside too.

18) put florescent lights and bulbs all through our house, even lamps; and we uplugged anything that isn't being used at that time. DH puts VCR, DVD player, and TV on a bar and turns it all off with one flick of a switch when done using. This saves $$$.

19) We set our heating dial lower. We turn it down before we go out; and at night before bed (we put an extra comforter on our bed instead). We wear socks and slippers and a sweater around our home, but we don't freeze.

20) DH does what car repairs he can and pays a mechanic friend to do some things for cheaper price; and if he has to go to a garage, he calls around to find the best rate and use of time. (we found one who gets the job done when he says it will be done).

PS ~ sorry, didn't mean to write a book!

EZMONEY
12-21-2008, 10:38 PM
........
PS ~ sorry, didn't mean to write a book!

Maybe you should! ;)

Justwant2Bhealthy
12-21-2008, 10:42 PM
:lol: hahaha :rofl: Maybe you're right! ;)

RN BSN 2009
12-21-2008, 11:03 PM
Here are some of my tips:

1.) Shop at several different grocery stores, each store has their own sales and own discount tables. Each store has their own lower priced items, too. Make at least one fruit/produce market trip. You can save big. For example, celery at the produce market is .75 cents per bunch, compared to 1.99 at the regular grocery store.

2.) Subscribe to the Sunday newspaper. Clip and keep the coupons on as many items as possible. Even something you don't buy very often, keep the coupon, as you never know when that item will show up in the clearance aisle at the store. One of my hot buys were MoveFree Advance Glucosamine and Chondroitin Tablets (Regular Price = $29.99, Clearance Price = $7.00, Coupon that I had = $5.00, Final Price = $2!!!). You never know when you'll hit that jackpot!

3.) Buying coupons on Ebay. Have an item that you buy every single week? Chances are a coupon for it will be on Ebay. Newspaper delivery people who have extra coupon booklets, and time on their hands, oftentimes list coupons in batches of 10 or 20. Make sure to check the expiration dates, make sure they are far enough ahead in time to make it worth it.

4.) If there is a really good sale on something, get a rain check. Go home, then buy the coupons on Ebay. Sale + Coupon = GREAT DEAL!

5.) Buy generic when you can - Sometimes a generic brand will still be cheaper than the name brand WITH a coupon, but make sure to check to see if the package has the same volume.

6.) Find and stock up on the staples - Cut up fruits, vegetables, and meats and freeze them. Make sure they are properly labeled. It may be a good investment to get one of the reynolds or ziploc vacuum sealers for extra freshness.

7.) On your day off, crock pot some good, hearty wholesome meals that can be frozen, and brought to work/school as lunch for the week. Maybe you can also find a group in your community that swaps, so that you can have variety.

8.) Angel-Food ministries - you can buy bulk meat, oftentimes much cheaper than grocery store prices.

9.) Join a food co-op in your community, there are even ones that offer healthy organic vegetables.

10.) Contact manufacturers directly, if there is an item you're particularly interested in and don't have a coupon. Turkey Hill sent me a whole welcome package with multiple coupons on ice cream, frozen yogurt and tea.

Good luck!!

Smiling_Sara
12-22-2008, 12:38 PM
Some great ideas in here. I need to spend less in a major way. I hate all the coupons I get from various stores. Save 30% here, $10.00 off here. And of course, use it between Dec 15-24th and save another 15%. AHHH!!!! I don't even need anything, but I find myself buying "stuff" just to "save" yet, I'm spending money.....

*shakes head* I need to learn to just toss these coupons and not worry abotu them...

bargoo
12-22-2008, 12:52 PM
Coupons are good when you use them for the things you normally use. If your store offers a store card, use it I save significantly when I use the store card. Cut down on your trips to the store, going in for a quart of milk is guarenteed that I will not get out for less than $50. I get paper towels, room freshener and some cleaning products at the dollar store. The dollar store is also a good source for greeting cards and wrapping paper. At the dollar store you can get 3 bars of soap for $1, brands such as Palmolive and Ivory. No matter where I shop I watch for staples on sale, I know I always need toilet paper, dish and laundry detergent and other basics. When I see them on sale I buy them as I know I will use them.

suetalks
12-22-2008, 05:30 PM
I bought microfiber cloths to wash and re-use for my Swifter extra large dust mop. The cloths were $8.00 a box and since most of our floors are wood I was going through boxes like crazy. You can also buy the same cloths for the smaller mop, just cut them in half.

I use store brands of most canned foods, although we have found a few we do not like. Spaghetti sauce is an example...just not real good. (of course your store brand might be fine) I buy shower spray and cleaning products from Aldi or the Dollar Store as others have stated.

We never pay full price for anything. (big ticket items) Watch for sales or don't get it. :)

Never, never buy bottled water. We have a Brita pitcher and filter our own.

I trade reading material with other family members. We pass around magazines and books. We put our initals in the front so we can tell who has read what. Eliminates stacks of magazines laying around or in the trash. Sometimes the last to read a mag. will take it to their hair dresser or nursing home.

I was frugal before frugal became "cool." My girls used to rue the day we had to look at the clearance rack. Now they and their families are doing the same thing. (and their children are just as mortified) LOL

aphil
12-23-2008, 10:23 AM
Some of my suggestions:

~Go through your checkbook and credit card statements, and see what things you have purchased that are not necessary in the past. Do you have a regular coffee and muffin habit at Starbucks? Do you go out to dinner often? Do you often have a beer or a glass of wine at a restaurant or bar? Do you often buy new nail polish or lipstick colors when you still have usable ones at home? These little things here and there might only be $3-$5 each, but over the course of a month's time they can easily add up to $20, $40, or $50 or more!

~Switch to store brand products whenever you can. You are going to save 5 cents to a dollar on every item this way...and the green beans or cotton swabs are going to be just as good. ;)

~Shop clearance racks ALWAYS. I don't buy my kids clothes for full price. I shop the clearance racks, outlet stores, or go when I have a 15-30% off coupon somewhere.

~Get the Sunday paper, and clip coupons. Look for coupons online for your favorite items and print them off. I save $5-$20 per WEEK in coupons! That adds up over time. If I have a coupon this week for Pampers, then I buy that brand...but next week if I have a coupon for Huggies, I will buy that brand instead!

~Shop eBay! I have purchased many holiday gifts, clothing items, dvds, books, etc. on eBay for less than retail. You just have to shop around a bit!

~Turn the thermostat down when you are not home. When you leave for work, turn it down to 60 degrees. When you get home, turn it back up to 65-70 (wherever you like to keep it) and it will warm back up within an hour. There is no reason to keep the house toasty when you aren't there. Also, if you normally keep the house at 70 degrees, consider keeping it at 68 this winter and wearing a sweatshirt! :D

~Look through the grocery ads, Walgreen ads, etc.

~Get basics like canned veggies, frozen veggies, flour, sugar, etc. at discount groceries like Aldi.