I'm pretty proud of how frugal I've become over the past couple years. I think it all started in college when my parents cut the funding line and tossed me out to sea so I could keep afloat myself. (my dad was bishop at the time and was getting frustrated when he had to deal with grown adults- his age- still being financially dependent on their parents). I must say, I was spoiled rotten the first couple years of college- all expenses paid for college in Hawaii my first semester, outdoor adventure college classes when I was off track, room/board, books, food($50/week!!!- yeah just for one person!) and a study abroad tour to Central America!
The semesters following- I sold my car, took out a student loan, and *gasp* actually had to find a job!!!! (jk- I actually have really good work ethic and was notorious for juggling 3-4 jobs during the summer months- but I never had to work and go to school.) I was completely completely on my own!
it was awesome!
yeah it would have been nice to be coddled all through college, but I really learned a lot from it! what a great asset to bring to a marriage and family!
I still have a $50 weekly food budget- but now it's for 3 people. I have found a lot of local resources that have helped me save money, and I've learn quite a few tricks I would like to pass on to you now:
Freecycle!- it's a yahoo group you can join for free where you get email notifications of what people are giving away for free in your area! or if you need something specific you can post a "wanted" note, or you can get rid of items that you don't want any more. ( I recommend getting a separate yahoo email account just for this because of it's popularity)
Robin Miller!(foodnetwork.com)- I love her dinner ideas! she'll take leftovers from one delicious meal and turn it into another the next night! an example I love using- taking the leftover beef from a yummy roast(see recipe below) -shred it, add it to wilted coleslaw bag mix (shredded cabbage and carrots!) in a skillet and pour hoisin sauce on top! serve with rice and lettuce for Chinese lettuce wraps!
DI!- Deseret industries is a great place to find barley used shoes for little kids- esp church shoes! ones you would pay $35+ for are $3 bucks tops! I must agree that you do take a chance when it comes to second hand stores, but I've scored really big finding name brand clothes in premo condition for $2-$3!
CDC!- a local favorite. the Community Development Corporation. (if you don't live in SLC UT, there are other places like this- like Habitat for humanity restore, or other home improvement warehouses where donated items from contractors are sold) we got our paint for $1 a gallon, and chair-rail trim $5 for 8 feet! they have tons of doors (indoor and outdoor), toilets, door pulls, blinds, and counter tops. we even got a gorgeous bathroom vanity for $150- that's half the store price! this too can be a hit or miss- because they don't have a regular inventory.
Ice cream!- !?!?!? wha? yeah I know- it sounds weird but AJ and I love our ice cream- we value it so much we treat it like money. when we're trying to decide whether or no to buy something- we give it it's ice cream value. for example- if movie tickets were up on the block (approx $16 total)it's equivalency in ice cream would be 5 cartons plus a buck left over. Take that same buck and wait a couple weeks and see the movie at home with Redbox! we would rather have 5 whole cartons and a redbox movie than to watch it in the theaters.
shop the grocery circular!: I make my grocery list and weekly menu from what's on sale that week, and with my list in hand, it makes it easier for me to avoid impulse buying. I learned not to buy canned food at Costco cuz you can get way better deals from the local grocery store when they have sales!(plus they have more variety than Costco!) I also love the freezer- if I buy a super value pack of meat, I'll potion them out and freeze the ones I don't use that week. nuts do very well in the freezer, as well as extra sauces. I hate only using half a thing of marinara sauce, forgetting about it, and finding it later all fuzzy in the back of the fridge.
and last but not least
paying off debt! it's interesting how we all go into a loan and not really look at the interest paid each month. we'd rather pay the little extra plus the principal blindly than to actually sit down and figure the figures out. we've had our new car for a little less than a year now- and have almost paid 1,000 bucks in interest! yeah- we still have 11,000 more of our principal to go. It would be nice to apply our tax refund and extra money to updating our house and renovating the kitchen, but believe it or not our outdated house isn't charging us interest for not getting new quartz counter tops or painting the house. The absence of toys and luxury doesn't charge us! Paying the principal faster than scheduled out will actually save us quite a bit in the future- that plus the added amount you payed monthly for the loan! yes our house color is ugly and so are our counter tops, but they are just cosmetic and still do their job. I'll have to grin and bare for a while longer. :)
If you have frugalista ideas- please share!