Monday, June 13, 2016

Money Tips

One thing that happens when your income is slashed is that you become money savvy real quick.  You start looking at alternative ways to get done what needs to get done.  That certainly was the case for us. 

Now, I consider myself pretty frugal.  I've been called Scrooge by family members because I'm not the type to spend unwisely.  Every major purchase is well thought out and considered over a long time span.  In fact, I resisted buying a flat screen tv for YEARS until it was fried during an electrical storm.

I had to make some major cuts in every arena of my life.  I will do separate posts with tips on each section.  This posting will just be about food.

The first thing I did was look back at my expenses over a two month period.  I looked at what we purchased and where we purchased it from.  Then I did some comparison shopping to see 1-if we could get the same item at a different store for less 2-if we could get a generic brand of equal quality.  The answer to both was yes.  Instead of shopping at the big name stores, I hit up the neighborhood 'discount' grocery stores.  I saved almost $200-300 doing this.  When you have active kids with big appetites this is HUGE!  I also discovered that the neighborhood shops sometimes had ethnic spices and sauces that you couldn't get at the big name stores.  The stores that became my favorite were Aldi, PriceRite, and Sav-A-Lot.

Another thing I did was make a monthly menu with a weekly theme.  This helped in several ways.  1-I only had to buy ingredients necessary to make a certain type of cuisine.  2-I knew what I needed at the beginning of the month and could do all my shopping all at once.  3-It cut down on the amount of time spent figuring out what was for dinner.  It was all laid out.  4-It made meals less boring because we weren't eating the same things over and over and over....

Alot of people have food in their cabinets just sitting there.  I was no exception.  Now I go on Pinterest and try to find recipes for the ingredients I have on hand.  There is an app that helps with this too.  The name escapes me as of this writing.   I've started letting the cabinets get nearly bare before going shopping.  This has helped us cut down on food waste AND made us more creative with our meals.

Something else that has helped is to divide and conquer.  When we go groceries, each person gets part of the list and goes off.  They have to evaluate the cost of their choices and see if it is the better value for their money.  I don't recommend this for kids under age 10.  But for my 11 and 15 year old it works well.  They are learning several real world math skills all in one trip as well as life skills they'll need later on.  It takes some strain off me especially when I'm having a flare up.  They also have a day they have to cook a full meal for the family so they learn how to menu plan as well.  Win-win. 

So to recap:
1-Look at spending habits
2-Kompare shop
3-Look for generic/cheaper alternatives
4-Make a monthly menu
5-Try a theme week
6-Let the cabinets get nearly bare
7-Get kids in on it
8-I didn't mention it because I don't do it, but coupons are always good too!

What other tips and tricks have you tried to reduce your grocery bill?