Surviving On a Tight Budget
Learning to Live Frugally
With the current state of the economy, many people have found themselves in circumstances beyond their control that have caused them to have to learn how to live more frugally, on a tight budget.
When the budget is tight, knowing how to cut expenses to live frugally, can be enjoyable instead of painful, by remember to keep a positive upbeat attitude. Living frugally on a tight budget when times get rough, takes skills that many have never had to develop before.
Here are tips and advice to help guide you in the process of surviving on a tight budget. I hope you will find ways to save while still enjoying a fruitful lifestyle.
Tips to Save on Utilities
Make Your Home Energy Efficient
Saving Money on Your Home Utility Bills
Here are some tips to cut down on that monthly expense.
1. Quit Using the Dishwasher - I have saved $50 a month on my electric bill by washing dishes by hand. I now only use the dishwasher to hold washed dishes as a drainer where they dry. No, I don't turn the dishwasher on to dry them. I leave them in there until they air dry and put them away. It saves on my electric bill, and keeps from having a dish drainer clutter up the counter.
2. Unplug Appliances - When appliances are not in use they are still using electricity if they are left plugged in. Unplug them and you will save more on your utility bills.
3. Hang Up the Clothes Drier - When the weather is warm, don't use the clothes drier. Hang up clothing outside during warmer months on a clothes line instead. It will cut down on your electric bill tremendously.
4. Switch Those Energy Sucking Light Bulbs - Get rid of all of the old light bulbs in the house and start using CFL or LED bulbs instead. They are pricey at first to buy them, but they last forever (I haven't changed any of the bulbs in my kitchen in 3 years) and they use a lot less energy. Outside switch to solar powered lights instead of leaving a porch light burning all night sucking up juice.
5. Clean Appliances - Make sure all of your appliances are clean and free of grease build up. Dirty appliances use more energy because they have to work harder to do their jobs.
6. Seal All Home Leaks - Make sure that your house is completely sealed. This will keep your heating and cooling appliances maximized for efficiency by not allowing the warm and cool air to escape. By keeping the warm or cool air contained inside the home will save on some energy consumption.
If you live on the southern part of the country, a perfectly sealed home keeps the temperature of your house maintained at a cooler temperature. This will also maximize the power of your air conditioning system.
If you live in the cold north, sealing your home for the winter prevents the inside heat from escaping. I can keep my thermostat set between 65 and 70 degrees all winter long during the day and still reduce it another 5 degrees at night and we remain warm and toasty while saving on the high priced winter energy bills.
These are just a few ways that that you can save money by making your home more energy efficient. Go here to find the answers to Saving Money with Home Energy Efficiency
Ways to Save on Food
Feeding Your Family on a Budget
Clip Coupons to Save on Groceries and Household Items
Other than growing and canning your own food, a huge money saver is using as many coupons as possible for as many of your purchases as possible.
Clipping coupons has saved me at least 50% of my grocery bill every week and sometimes more. If you live in an area that has grocery stores offering double or triple coupons, you can save even more and I will give a brief explanation on how to do that.
First of all, you have to find the coupons to clip. You can get them from the Sunday newspaper, magazines, and thanks to the Internet, there are now tons of places online where you can sign up to print coupons.
One of the most popular sites that has been on the news lately is Coupons.com. You can get a lot of grocery coupons for free on their site. You can also send an email from the websites of your favorite products and request coupons. Often when you do this, you will receive coupons in the mail for free products.
The way to save big is to only buy items when they are on sale, matching the coupons you have saved. The way that you really get ahead is to have multiple coupons of the same item. When it goes on sale, you use the coupon on the smaller idem that usually cost less than the large one and as an example use 4 coupons to buy 4 of the smaller item. Often you can get items for pennies or completely free.
For example. A small bottle of French's mustard, might cost $.59 and you have coupons for $.30. You take your coupons to a store that doubles coupons and you can get your mustard free.
Also, when you are buying multiple amounts on sale (and you have the matching coupons), you are less likely to have to purchase the items when they are NOT on sale because you have run out. When you have the room in your pantry to stock up on items and only buy on sale with coupons you will find that you can save tremendously.
There are lots of books written for beginner coupon use and extreme coupon savings.
Shop Smarter at Grocery Stores
Save Money on Food
1. Always Make a List - Always keep a running list of things that you need for your next grocery trip. Add to your list as soon as you run out of things so that you don't forget when you go to the store. When you take your list to the store, stick to it. Don't be tempted to buy something that is not on the list, and that you probably don't need.
2. Clip Coupons - Coupons can save a tremendous amount on your grocery bill, especially if you live in an area that doubles or triples their coupons. Match coupons you have clipped to the sale items in the grocery ads and add them to your list for more savings BEFORE going to the store.
3. Only Buy Sale Items - that you have the coupons for and stock up. Then when you run out of one item, you already have another on hand, and you aren't forced to buy one at a higher price when it's not on sale.
In other words, if toothpaste is on sale and you have 2 coupons for a $1 off, use both of those coupons on the toothpaste that's on sale and buy 2. You will be getting the toothpaste for pennies if the coupons are doubled, instead of paying full price. Sometimes, if planned right you can get items free.
Get over being brand loyal. Clip coupons for brands you don't normally use and save money by using a higher value coupon for a less expensive, on sale item. You can often get items like deodorant, toothpaste, hairspray, body wash for free with double coupons.
I live in an area that doesn't double coupons, yet I still get these types of items either free or for pennies by watching the sale ads, and shopping in stores that have the biggest discounts. If you do have coupons for an item, but the store brand is less still, obviously, buy the store generic brand.
Note: These savings are very often NOT at our local, very expense grocery store, but at stores 10 to15 miles away, in a different area. It is worth the gas with the money I save, by following the sales instead of shopping in the neighborhood grocery store. By the way, I don't ever shop at Wal-Mart, so if I can do this without Wal-Mart, you can too.
4. Stick to the Perimeters of the Grocery Store - Try to do this as much as possible because the marketing geniuses place aisle items to entice you to buy (which you do). By shopping the perimeter first to get your list items, you will be less tempted to buy on impulse.
5. High Shelves and Low Shelves - When shopping down one of those enticing aisle before buying the product that you see at eye level, look on both the higher and lower shelves. This is where the merchandisers will stock the lower priced products.
6. Pack Lunches - It will save you money and you will eat healthier. Pick up an inexpensive lunch bag that can be rewashed and reused. Use washable containers to hold your food rather than spending on expensive plastic sandwich bags that are polluting to our environment.
7. Eat Out Less - Ordering pizza and eating out can really add up. Instead make double batches of a meal that can be frozen to reheat and eat at another time, for a fast meal. Use leftovers to make another quick meal the next night, Be creative and come up with something different from them.
Buy frozen pizzas and "doctor" them up with extra ingredients and seasonings that you like. We like to add extra veggies, hot peppers and extra cheese. We pay $6 to $8 for a frozen pizza and the extra fresh ingredients vs. $18 - $24 for a large delivered pizza.
8. Stop Buying Bottled Water - Drink tap water instead of bottled water. This is good for the environment too as you will be giving up on those plastic containers. Just gotta have a bottle in your hand? Reuse one of those bottles by refilling with tap water.
Water in your area undrinkable? Buy the 5 gallon bottles and refill them at the grocery store. I had to do this when living in Arizona.
9. Shop at Warehouse Markets - You can save quite a lot of money by shopping at warehouse style groceries stores because they cut out the frills and past the savings onto you, the customer.
You bring your own grocery bags and bag your own groceries, but the savings are considerable. I picked up a beef tenderloin (fillet Mignon) at a warehouse market here in the northeast for $3.99 a pound while all the regular big box grocery stores were charging between $14.99 to 17.99 a pound. I got 3 meals out of it for 4 people too.
I also just picked up 3 slabs of ribs for $.99 a pound where the regular big box grocery stores were charging $2.49 to $3.49 a pound.
10. Give up the Daily Trips to Starbucks - Buy a package of good quality coffee beans, and an inexpensive coffee grinder. You can pick up a decent small coffee grinder for about $20. Grind and brew you own delicious coffee at home and take it with you in a travel mug.
11. Shop with Seasonal Sales - Buy in season and your food is more nutritious and cost less. Buy nuts during and after the holidays. That is the only time of the year they are on sale.
The winter holiday season is also a good time to pick up other baking products such as flour, yeast, and sugar. Buy in bulk while it is on sale and it will last you all year. I keep my flour in large plastic garbage can with a lid and keep a flour scoop in the flour. It holds a lot of flour throughout the year and is convenient.
12. Freeze Dairy Products - Did you know that you can? Not "plastic" processed cheese, or soft cheese curds such as cottage cheese, ricotta, or cream cheese, but real honest to goodness made from milk, hard cheese freezes fine.
Buy more than you need when it's on sale and freeze it. Cheese such as cheddar, Monterrey Jack , Swiss, mozzarella, Parmesan or Romano are a few of the types that freeze well. Milk and butter freeze well too.
13. Buy Real Food Ingredients - Giving up processed, ready made meals such as frozen dinners and boxed mixes will help you to save on your grocery bill considerably. Granted, they are very convenient, but they also cost a lot more and the majority are just not as good for you as fresh ingredients.
If you get accustomed to buying more fresh ingredients and making things from scratch instead of purchasing ready made food, you can save a bundle and feel better too as your health improves. Remember, a healthy body means less doctor bills.
I have two of these Krups Electric Spice and Coffee Grinders at home and they are excellent! I use one to grind coffee beans and the other one I use to grind spices and herbs for my herbal home remedies and to cook with. For under $20 on Amazon, you just can't beat these little gizmos for grinding. Believe me, the only thing you will miss about Starbuck's is the wait service.
Click Here for Details:
Saving Money at Restaurants and On Entertainment
Most of us that are living on a budget will not be eating at restaurants very often, however; all work and no play makes Jack & Jill a very boring couple indeed.
For the few times that you decide you really need to get out away from the kids or if you just need a romantic night out alone, there are ways to do it frugally. There are several places that you can go online to find coupons for discounts like BOGO or BOGO-1/2 off or they will offer a 25% savings on a dinner for two. Many of these sites will offer discounts on other things in your city like zoo discounts, movie discounts, spa discounts, etc. Groupon.com and Amazon Local is another.
You can do an online search with your favorite search engine to find discount websites catering to your city or town. You will have to sign up to get their newsletter and become a member, but it is free to do so.
What I suggest you do if you don't want a bunch of e-mails coming into your personal e-mail inbox is to get a free Google gmail account and use that account for all of your freebie and coupon mailings.
Here are a few that I found to get you started:
These are all US based companies. If you live outside the US, just do a search for your city and country.
Look for websites such as www.RedPlum.com that will let you search for discounts on items you want to buy or discounts in your favorite stores by searching their site with your zip code.
Don't pay for shipping when you make online purchases! There are free delivery codes being posted all the time at www.FreeShipping.org
Plant a Garden
Save Money Growing Vegetables and Herbs
It cost money to drive to the grocery store and your car is adding to the CO2 emissions. The cost of groceries is sky rocketing because of the high energy cost. Shipping fresh vegetables across country is no longer a viable commodity.
The shipping and trucking just adds to the cost of the food and adds CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming. So what's the answer? Grow your own vegetables, or buy from local farmers and help with your local economy..
Even if you live in an apartment you can still grow container vegetables and herbs on your patio. I use to compost in my apartment in a big galvanized tub that I kept in the basement of the complex I was living in. I threw a bag of dirt, shredded newspaper, and some earthworms (earthworms love newspaper) into that galvanized tub.
You can buy the earthworms at any fishing bait store. I kept a container in my kitchen for all of the kitchen scraps, all my shredded documents, and hair from my hairbrushes. When the kitchen container got full, I'd throw it into the tub of dirt and stir it up. The earthworms worked on turning it into "black gold" all winter. By the time spring came along the tub was full of beautiful composted matter that I used along with potting soil for all of the container vegetables and herbs that I planted on my patio.
Many communities are now offering community garden plots for city dwellers to grow their own food. Some of these plots are being run by the local food banks. As long as you dedicate one row of vegetables to the food bank, you can use your plot free to grow more than enough for your family. The great thing is that you are able to share the surplus with those less fortunate, and your senior friends who can no longer tend a garden..
We are fortunate enough that we have access to an acre to grow our own food. We grow more than we need. We can and dry for the winter, we donate fresh produce to our neighbors, the local food banks, and one of the local women shelters.
The produce that is left is sold at the end of our driveway for way less than the local grocery stores in our area charge and it is organically grown; free of pesticides; fresh and delicious. Folks driving by can get a good deal and eat healthier food.
Since we have started doing this, we are now getting repeat customers. People show up to see what we have growing (if nothing is out front) and I have even had young children dropped of by their parents to hang out with me in the garden. I sure get tickled by that. What a wonderful way for children to be introduced to the pleasures, and economics, of growing your own food.
I get the biggest kick out of the looks on their precious little faces when they pick their first ripe tomato off the vine and bite into it tasting the warmth of the sun, and the love that went into growing it. Priceless!
We have cut down on the expense of garbage pick up as everything that can be recycled or composted is, so our trash is picked up once a month now instead of once a week. We no longer worry about identity thief because of someone going through our trash, because it all goes into the compost pile to be turned into a beautiful black gold planting medium for our gardens.
Benefits of Growing an Organic Garden - When You're Composting, Recycling and Gardening.....
You Reap the Rewards.....
1. You save money
2. You live a healthier more nutritious life
3. You eat flavorful, sun-ripened, delicious food
4. You get much needed exercise
5. Plants suck up carbon dioxide and other pollutants
6. You cut down on the chance of identity theft
7. You meet the most wonderful people
8. You form community relationships
9. You gain a new sense of well-being
10.You become part of the solution, not part of the problem!
Ways to Cut Down on Cable and Phone Bills
Cut Back on the Luxuries
Consume Only Necessities
1. Cut the Cable - So many Americans have got an umbilical cord tied to the T.V. but you don't have to pay for all of the premium channels. Cut it down to basic, and hook your T.V. up to your computer and watch movies from hulu.com, or Netflix or Amazon as a Prime member. They cost a lot less than cable and you rent or stream what you want to see.
You can also borrow DVDs from the library, and believe it or not, they are getting bigger, and better selections all the time.
2. Save on Your Phone Bill - If you have to make a lot of long distant phone calls and if your phone company charges you long distant rates to call across town. Call around your area to find out who has the cheapest bundle rates for unlimited long distance on your phone, Internet connection, and T.V. Often to get a new customer, the companies will offer some really awesome bundle rates.
Saving Money on Cell Phone Bills
Cell phone companies make their money from the add-ons you buy into, not from their basic plan rates. All of the extras that you buy into on a monthly basis can double and triple your monthly bill. Add these charges add up and you will find that you are spending thousands a year without realizing it.
When I cut all of the extras off of my cell, and adjusted my calling plan to match my needs, I saved $600 a month! That is a lot of money to be paying every month for a cell phone. That is why you must pay attention to what you are paying for. Here are some cell phone bill charges that you can and should look at in order to see if you can cut and save money.
Dump the Insurance. This monthly fee might only be $5 per month per phone, but that is still $60 dollars that could go back into your pocket instead of the phone company's. Don't throw out or recycle all of your old cell phones. Keep the most recent from the same company. That way if your phone is stolen, damaged or you lose it, you still have a phone to revert to instead of buying another phone. By the time your contract is up, your phone is old and obsolete anyway, and you will be ready for the new upgraded phone that you will get for free with the new contract.
If you have been with your cell phone provider longer that 90 days, ask them to run an analysis report of your cell phone usage. This usage report can save you a lot of money. The report will tell you one of two things:
1. You have a plan that gives you more minutes than you need in a month, and are being charged a high monthly fee for all of those unnecessary minutes.
2. Your plan does not include enough minutes and you are paying high dollar in overage fees. Look for a plan that is the "happy medium". You only want to be paying for what you need, and that is all.
Plan for extra charges. If you are going to be using your cell phone for a business trip for several weeks or longer, contact your provider and change plans for a month or so. Then, change back when you arrive back home.
Often cell phone providers will offer employee discounts if the company you work for has an account with them. Sometimes they will offer special plans too. You can usually save between 10% to 20%. Before I became self employed by working online full time, I was able to secure a 20% discount through my employer. All you have to do is show a current pay stub. Also, you must ask if they have a discount available, as the cell phone provider representative will not always offer the information to you unless you ask.
Only Buy What You Use
Is your family big on text messaging? Texting can add a lot of extra monthly charges. You must ask yourself, "Is it really that necessary?" By cutting off the texting service and blocking incoming texts (remember you are being charged for both in coming and out going text) you can save hundreds of dollars a month.
Have a teenager addicted to texting? Look for a plan that includes unlimited texting. If you are locked into a contract that you can't get out of, put a limit on the teens usage. Once the limit is reached the phone is either blocked or is taken away until the next months minutes become available. There is software that you can buy that can regulate your teens use of the phone. Or, ask yourself again, "Is it really that necessary?" If it's not - cut it off. Your teen will live - really - I promise.
Cut off all of the unnecessary services. Some of the services may be something you want, but are they something you absolutely need to have? Fact is, if you are looking for ways to cut your budget substantially, this should be on the list. Again, your teenagers might think that they need to be texting 24/7, or downloading games, music, cell tones and videos, but they CAN and will learn to live without them.
Switch to a prepaid phone. Even though the per-minute charges are often a little higher, a prepaid cell phone gives you more control over your monthly fees. You are only going to purchase the minutes you need. With a prepaid cell phone you do not need a contract.
You can easily save a $1000 a year on cell phone charges, by cutting back on unnecessary services. Remember, I saved $600 a month! Times 12 is $7200 a year! That's a lot of money saved, no matter how you look at it.
Ways to Use Less Gas
Save on Gas
1. Plan Your Routes - Plan ahead to run all of you errands at one time. Plan them in an orderly fashion so that you travel in the most logical order from Point A to Point B to Point C, etc. with out zigzagging all over town.
2. Drive Less - Cut down on the amount of gas you use by driving less. If you make that list every time you plan a trip to the store, there won't be any need for "quick" trips at last minute items later. All of those "quick" trips add up and waste gas.
3. Other Means of Transportation - Form a carpool with neighbors or people that you work with. Start taking public transportation a few times a week. You'll not only save on gas, and wear and tear on the car, but you'll also get some much needed exercise. Speaking of exercise, ride a bike instead of taking the car. Let the kids ride their bikes to after school activities instead of driving them.
4. Avoid Letting the Car Idle - Allowing the car to idle longer than 10 SECONDS is just sucking up gas. This uses up as much gas as turning the car off and back on again.
5. Air Pressure - Check the air pressure in your tires. Low pressure makes the car work harder and uses more fuel.
Remembering to always recycle everything you possibly can. You will save money by turning in bottles and cans, while you help to cut down on the landfill garbage.
Become part of the solution instead of part of the pollution.
Ways to Save on Clothes
Recycling Clothes Will Save You Money
Most of us are pack rats when it comes to clothes. We all have our fat clothes, our skinny clothes, the clothes that need to be mended by sewing on a button clothes, the love that dress but out of date clothes, the favorite jacket that he hasn't worn since college clothes, and the only thing these clothes are doing is taking up space and not doing you any good.
Let's get real here. We aren't going to wear them, because we aren't ever going to be that skinny again, or we did loose some weight and we're never going to be that fat again. That button that needs to be sewn back on the front of your favorite silk blouse hasn't been sewn back on in three years, it probably won't ever get done. (Hey, get it done and instant new clothes!)
What about all those clothes the kids have outgrown and there isn't another kid in line to pass them down to? Whatever the reason may be, I know that you probably have tons of clothes in the family's closets and dresser drawers that don't need to be there any more.
You are probably thinking, "I know, I know, it's time to start that project of weeding everything out and throwing it away to make room for new stuff." Instead, there are a couple of alternatives that will earn you a little extra cash:
Sell it on EBay. Or any other online auction site that you might like. Donate it to a local charity. Charities such as the Women's Abuse Center, the Salvation Army, Goodwill or the Red Cross are great charities that will give you a receipt for your donation to be used as a donation tax write off for your tax refund.
Have a garage sale. Get the neighbors to join and have a neighborhood garage sale.
Take them to a local consignment shop. Go to FreeCycle.org This is a site where you can put out to the world what you need or want (free new clothes) and you can list the clothes you want to get rid of. Swapping clothes is a great way to recycle.
Start a Recycle Clothes Group in your own neighborhood. How a Recycle Clothes Group works is everyone in the group will take turns hosting a "swap party" once every few months (or however often you want to do it) in their home.
Everyone in the group brings the clothes they want to get rid of. You could set it up to have baby clothes one month, boys clothes another month, women career clothes another month, you get the idea. Invite friends to bring clothes to the party too!
Go to ThredUp.com This is a site that I discovered as another source where you can swap baby and kids clothes; omen and maternity clothes; handbags and shoes. If you can't find what you need at Free Cycle you can check out this great site too. You will need to give them your email address.
Use common sense. If you wouldn't buy the old clothes yourself nobody else will either. Be sure the clothing is clean without stains and only gently worn before trying to resell.
Make Money Recycling Clothes
Learn to Sew
You can save quite a bit of money on clothes and other household items made out of fabric by learning how to sew.
Learning to use simple patterns to stitch or craft home projects can not only save you money on things you and the kids use, but can also save on the cost of gift giving.
Getting the kids involved with these projects at an early age is creating lifetime skills that they will be able to fall back on whenever it is necessary. Some of my children do it even when it is NOT necessary, and just because they like to. With these difficult economic times they have told me how blessed they feel that they can buy discount fabric and turn it into something remarkable.
Sewing is a great way to recycle too. Worn out towels can be cut up, restitched and turned into hand towels or kitchen towels. Large worn towels can be cut down and turned into baby hooded towels. They can also be sewn together and used as the inside padding for baby quilts.
Old T-shirts, sweaters and blue jeans don't have to be thrown away. They can have their life extended too by transforming them into something else that is usable.
Click these links to my Pinterest boards to find all kinds of ways to upcycle old T-shirts, sweaters and blue jeans; transforming them into something new:.
Investing in an inexpensive sewing machine like the one featured below will save your family money for years!