Sunday, August 9, 2009

How to start saving right away

Its possible to start saving immediately by just changing a few old habits. I enjoy changes that save me money, especially on groceries and household products. Try these few tips and soon you may find many other ways to save more

Refill gallons jugs of water instead of purchasing new. I reuse water jugs every week. Refilling them is just part of my routine when I grocery shop. Each week I refill about 10 one gallon jugs of water at the filtering machine outside the store. Water typically sells for .99 in the store. Refilling them outside is .30 per gallon. I save $7 per week, or $364 per year. Not to mention the plastic that wont need recycling or going to the landfill.

Replace one store brand item per week, with a national brand that you purchase regularly, and see if you notice much difference in quality. There will definately be a difference in price. Alot of store brands are manufactured by national brands. A change in the label is referred to as "re-branding. Store brands I regularly purchase are breakfast cereal, butter, milk, rice, pasta, cheese, and cleaning products.

Use any cleaning products that you purchase at 1/2 strength. I do this by pouring half of the bottle into an empty spray bottle and filling each with water. An immediate 50% savings. I own a cleaning service and have noticed no difference in the performance at 50% strength.

Save your store advertisements for six weeks. Make a note of what sale items you purchased each week, and you will notice a pattern. Most stores regularly rotate what items are on sale. I purchase meat and other items when they are buy 1 get 1 free, and notice that I am able to predict what is going on sale to take advantage of the savings. I only purchase the meat that is on sale. When items are on sale, match them with coupons that you can find in flyers or online.

Watch for managers specials and mark down racks. I recently bought frozen pasta sauce that normally sold for $3.79 each, for .75 cents because it was going out of date in two weeks. Since it was frozen, the date didn't bother me. The same day I bought a case of water that was missing four bottles, a bag of cookies and a box of pancake mix that had a dent in the box for $2. They were bundled together.

Watch for mark downs in the meat section. These are meats that are going out of date in a day or two, but they are still perfectly good if cooked or frozen when you get them home. A couple of weeks ago I bought four boneless pork loin roasts for $4 each, they normally sell for $11.99.

Inventory your pantry and freezer on a regular basis to keep track of food that you may forget you have. This keeps your panty up to date, and you wont forget what you have stocked.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Im Back

Due to my mother's illness, and unfortunately her recent death, I haven't had the time or the desire to blog.

Mom and I were very close, and her illness and death left me drained and devastated. Even though she was okay with the impending cease of her life, it was not easy for me to watch her go.

However, we all must move forward with our own lives.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What a Month !!!

Long time, no posts

This has been a busy month. Mom is really ill, work has been hopping, and I started volunteering for our local humane society.

I will be adding posts to the blog in the next few days.

Lots of money saved over the past month

And I will share a few really good low cost recipies

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Todays Weekly Revue

On either Saturday or Sunday, I do a quick weekly review of what happened over the past week. Keep in mind that I challenge myself to save more, some people wont. Its like a little stupid game to see if I can save more than I did the previous week.

I start off Saturday with my free fun time. I walk dogs at the animal shelter. I love animals and cant think of anything better to do. My son wants to start going, and what a better way to spend quality time, help the animals, and its free.

I start by reading my electric meter, logging the amount on the calendar, and comparing usage against last week, to see where I am for the month. Last week I was using an average of 40kw per day, this week I am down to 33kw per day. I was really surprised. I cant think of much different that I did except maybe because it is cooler outside I opened the doors toward evening on the side of the house that the sun wasn't shining in and let in the cooler air that we are finally getting.

Next was an inventory of the food supply so that I can go grocery shopping either today or tomorrow. I still have plenty of meat, lots of pasta, rice and canned & frozen veggies, all picked up from earlier sales. I checked the grocery store flyer online and didn't notice anything earth shattering, so I made a list of what I needed which was really only ketchup, milk,bread, and my son ask for english muffins. I learned to ask my son what he wants, rather than just buying things, and only buy what he asks for if it is something that I cant make.

Next I do a mental, sometimes written menu for the week. I have a bag of boneless skinless chicken breast I bought last week for $5.99, still have several steaks left from a larger box of meat I bought in May, one package of loin chops left from a buy 1 get 1 free sale, about a lb of ground chuck, a cornish hen left from a 2 for $5 sale, and a package of split chicken breast from another buy 1 get one sale. So I base my weekly menu from this and shop accordingly.

As I cook for the week, I will cook two extra chicken breasts and cut them up to mix with pasta, 1/2 bag of frozen veggies, and stir it together with a jar of alfredo sauce left from another buy 1 get one sale for another night.

I need dog biscuits, but its so much cheaper to make them, and the dogs love them. A bag of dog bones is about $5, this recipe is about $1 or less. Some people I know have kids that love to make them. When I cook the split chicken breast, I will save the bones, simmer them in water for about 15 minutes. Here is the dog bone recipe.

Dog Biscuits
2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 6 tblsp oil, and 2/3 cups of water which I replace with the water I boiled the chicken bones in. Mix everything together, roll out the dough and cut into squares or shapes, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. I use the toaster oven of course and I usually double this recipe since my dogs are pretty big. Instead of rolling out the dough, I press it into a flat oven pan and cut it into squares before putting it in the oven, then I just break them apart.

I use to hate grocery shopping !!!!

Grocery shopping use to be my most dreaded chore. It was also about the most costly chore. I averaged over $100 a week on groceries, I ran up and down every aisle in the store to make sure I didn't forget anything. Then when I got the groceries home sometimes I had to rearrange the cabinets just to fit what I had bought in there. I just hated it.

Now my trips to the grocery store take about 15-20 minutes and I rarely forget anything and rarely pick up extra things during the week. I spend at least half of what I did before, maybe more, since I haven't really sat down and figured it out.

I learned how much I could save at the store one week while my car was getting repaired unexpectedly. Yes, I could have rented a car, but it was the weekend and I didn't have anyplace I needed to be, and didn't want to spend the money on renting a car if I could avoid it.

A man who rents the apartment above my garage called and said he was going to the store and ask if I needed him to pick up anything since he was going out and knew I couldn't. I opened up the fridge, and noticed the only thing I was really low on was milk, bread, and eggs, so that was all he picked up. I didn't stop at the store the rest of the week, and realized I saved at least $90 that week. I was amazed.

I then did an inventory of my refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets. My son helped me with this and we were both surprised at what I had stocked up on. I was surprised by the amont of stuff I had bought and never used. There was enough food in the house to make about 20 dinners, so my mission was to use the food in the house and not buy more until I got what I had organized.

I have not spent more than $60 a week since, and it is usually only one week during the month that I spend more than $30. I call it my splurge week, I love it. I will post more on the grocery shopping on a week by week basis, it would be very time consuming, confusing and difficult to post everything in one blog entry. However, here are a couple of sites that I use and love.

The dreaded electric bill

I cut my electric bill alot of different ways.
The first was the thermostat. I moved it up more than a couple of notches. If I think its too hot to stay in the house, I go outside. I use the ceiling fans, and I have one box fan in the house. At night, or mornings like this morning, I open the doors, open a few windows and let the fresh air in. We didn't have air conditioning when I was a kid, so this wasn't completely foreign to me.

I started washing all my laundry in cold water also. I haven't noticed a difference vs hot or warm water. I only do full loads. I dont wash just one or two things. This dropped the amount of laundry I do tremendously. If I wear house clothes for just a few hours, I wear them again instead of throwing them in the laundry basket since they aren't really dirty.

I use the toaster oven instead of the big oven when I can. I dont think I have used my big oven in months. I grill out alot more.

I hang some of my clothes to dry instead of putting them in the dryer. Things like tank tops, and some things I dry only half way through the cycle like shorts, pants, etc. I do break out the clothes iron for about an hour a week, but its cheaper than using the dryer.

I keep the lights off in the house as much as I can. I use candles in the living room at night now, and I love it.

My electric bill has dropped from about $230 a month to about $180 and should be lower this week.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brand Name vs. Store Brand

I was surprised when I learned that most store branded items are made by the same companies that make popular brands.

I learned this during my younger years and worked in a convenience store. I noticed that when the Wonder Bread man arrived, he also brought our store brand bread that sold for a much cheaper price. I ask him why he brought it and he explained to me that they made it, they just put a different wrapper on the bread. Hmmm, so why should I pay the higher price for the same bread? I didn't make that mistake again.

Ralston makes alot of store branded products. I always remembered them as Ralston/Purina and Im not sure why the names are no longer used together unless they separate them so that pet food isn't associated with people food. Ralston also just aquired Post brands from what I understand, so that makes me wonder if Post will now be producing our store branded items.

My doctor gave me a lesson on store branded over the counter medicines. He told me simply to read the active ingredients listed on the box and if the percentages were the same, don't pay the higher price. The same theory as generic prescription drugs. I have never had a problem, or noticed a difference in the products performance.

The biggest reason for the difference is cost is the amount of money spent on advertising. I have never seen a store take out magazine articles or produce televison commercials to promote their products, but National Brands do, which is paid for by the higher cost of their products at the check out counter.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and not all products are made with the same quality that National Brands are. But for the savings, I will take the chance to at least try them and make up my own mind since I dont feel every product in my home has to be a national brand.