I’ve already written how “frugality” isn’t a 4-letter word. In fact, I took my own suggestion and am adding a second installment to my original piece. As I’ve previously stated, with the rising cost of everything these days, many of us need to make our money stretch farther than ever before. Hopefully, some of the following tips might be useful to you.
- When grocery shopping, make sure to check the discounted meat section. Just about every store has one of these sections. If items are expiring within a day or two, most stores will offer 25%-75% off. Is the meat bad? Not at all. However, the store can’t sell it past the “sell by date”, so you might as well save some money on perfectly good meat that needs to be eaten asap or frozen for a future date.
- Use your crockpot. If you don’t have one of these useful kitchen appliances, I highly suggest going out and picking one up. I use mine weekly and have for the last four years, since discovering this time-saving appliance. First, it allows you to buy tougher cuts of meat, which are usually cheaper than choice cuts of meat. Since most crockpot recipes take 4+ hours to cook, that’s perfect for the tougher cuts which need that low and slow method. Second, the crockpot is ideal if you have a very busy schedule as dinner is done when you return home. It’s one less thing you need to worry about or fit into your schedule. Lastly, the summer months can be brutal. Why add the heat of an oven or even the stove for that matter? The crockpot makes a variety of dishes, all while sitting on your counter and NOT heating your entire house. Hint: If you have to buy a crockpot, I recommend the digital kind that will automatically change the setting to “warm” when the cooking time has ended. This is a great feature for if you’re out of the house all day. You don’t have to be home to turn it off.
- Purchase fruits and vegetables in season. In season? If you’re unfamiliar with that term, it means, when fruits and vegetables are usually grown. Example, tomatoes are a summer item. Buying them in the winter means you are paying higher prices for them to be imported to your area. This is a good time to learn to eat new fruits and vegetables. Believe me, you really don’t need to pay $2.00/lb for tomatoes in December.
- Shop the sales, not the recipe. Lately, I’ve seen lots of blogs about how to prepare meals ahead of time, freezing them, etc. What those recipes fail to mention is that you still need to purchase the ingredients, if you don’t already have them on hand. This could cost you more than the time you are saving by prepping them ahead. If you’re not shopping more than one store, you’re wasting your money. Plain and simple. Today there are stores within a mile or two of each other; some even just across the street from one another Plan to review the store ads, make lists, and make purchases based on the sales offered. You’ll be surprised at how much you save.
- Use club or store rewards cards. Some people absolutely despise this option. Yet, this is one of the easiest ways to save. Most store rewards cards let you load the card online and then just go shopping. It’s a good way to get the sales, but some are geared toward your purchases. I like knowing I may receive $1.00 off a box of pasta because I buy it often. Some stores offer gas rewards. I have to go grocery shopping anyway. Why shouldn’t I want $0.10 off my gas purchase the next time I fill up?
- Coupon. There I said it. This one scares more people than using the club cards. It’s not really difficult and can take time to learn, but even if you end up saving $10/week on groceries, that’s still $10.00. If you learn to combine coupons with sale items, your savings increases considerably. There are many online groups that can help you learn to coupon. NEVER pay someone to teach you! That’s just wasting money and they are taking advantage of the fact you’re still learning. Ask coworkers, church members, or look for couponing sites online. Heck, shoot me an email, and I’ll help you. No sense paying for what you’ll eventually figure out and the object is saving money, not spending it. Just a tip: review each store’s coupon policy online. It’s also a good idea to print and carry the store’s coupon policy with you while you shop. You’d be astounded at the lack of training the cashiers and their managers have when it comes to accepting coupons. Have the proof and you’ll have the savings.
- If you have a smartphone, then you should be using shopping apps. These are apps that pay you to purchase certain items. You’re normally going to buy eggs, milk, juice, etc. Why not earn $.25 to $1.00 on items you are already buying. Some apps allow you to cash out at $10.00, while others cash out at $20.00. Either way, they are easy to use and they reward you for purchasing items you use. Some shopping apps I use are Ibotta, Snap, and Checkout51. If you shop online, try using Ebates and/or Swagbucks. It’s the same principal as the other apps. Get paid on your purchases. Every bit back helps.
I hope you’re able to use some of my frugality tips. I’m sure there will be a “Take 3” in the near future.