The Frugal Family: How to Save Money

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The first step to save money, is also the most obvious.  If you don’t need and can’t afford it, then don’t buy it!  Don’t get me wrong, in many situation this can be very difficult.  Beyond that, however, take advantage of thrift stores, dollar stores, internet selling/trading, and discount grocery stores.

Groceries:  One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is coupons!  They are almost everywhere, in the sunday paper and all over the internet.  Don’t just get them, use them!  Also, there are some discount grocery stores (in my area it is save-a-lot) that carry name brand foods at an already discounted price, if you use a manufacturers coupon here they still have to take it and it saves you more.  Some stores will offer a discount on goods such as canned goods that are dented or slightly damaged, as long as they are still usable go for it.

Buy plenty of the items that i call meal extenders.  These are pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, anything that you can add to the meal to make the food stretch farther.

(ie) At my house we do a home made kind of hamburger helper.  Brown the hamburger and drain, add a couple of packets of gravy mix and the specified ammount of water, put in a couple of cans of mixed veggies that have been drained and when it is done put it on top of some cooked rice on a plate.

TaDa dinner that will last a while and is cheaper than buying preboxed meals.  If you are not a fan of rice, you can put the mixture over potatoes, pasta, whatever you do like.

Cleaning supplies:  To save money on cleaning supplies, don’t buy them!  It is more environmentally friendly and budget concious to use baking soda and vinegar for most of your house cleaning necessities.  Vinegar deoderizes almost anything, including smelly sneakers.  If you prefer your cleaners to have a scent, add a couple of drops of essential oil to the solutions that you can make with things you probably already have lying around the house.

Clean your sink or tub and clean the drain at the same time.  Have exceptionally hot water ready to go about 20 minutes later.  Sprinkle baking soda in your sink or tub and fill the drain area with it, add a little vinegar to the sink or tub area and enough to the drain for it to dissolve most of the baking soda.  Scrub the sink or tub as usual and let sit for 20 minutes.  Come back with your very hot water and pour down the drain to remove all of the loosened gunk and then rinse the sink or tub.

Need an abrasive paste to scrub grout and such?  Mix baking soda with water until pasty.  Need a creamy soft scrub?  Take your paste and add a very small ammount of vinegar.  If you look online you can find all sorts of free web sites that are devoted to recipies for homemade cleaners that are more budget friendly and earth friendly.

Clothing:  Thrift stores!  If this idea embarasses you , then call local thrift stores and ask them what kind of charity they are involved with and exactly how they apply the money made fromt he clothing to the charity.  Most thrift stores are tied to some kind of charity organization..  Pick the cause that you want to help the most and then shop at that particular thrift store.  Many of the stores carry recent trends in clothing designs and if you research the organization, when someone asks you where you got your outfit from you can explain to them that you got it from the thrift shop and instead of being embharassed you can tell them that you are donating to charity by shopping there and donating the items you no longer use.  The best part is that it helps you to save money along the way.

Holidays:  Dollar stores, thrift stores, consignment shops, and handmade gifts, this is the way to save money through tight holidays.  There are several web sites out there that offer ideas for handmade/homemade gifts that take little to no real time or talent to make.  Soup in a jar, a few dry ingredients in a jar with a tag that says how much water to add and how long to boil along with how much meat and veggies to add.  Similarly, there is the option of drink mis in a jar.  You put in all the dry ingredients and on the label write ho9w many spoonfulls to add to a cup of boiling water from a tea kettle.

Another idea for holiday gifts is to use what talent you have.   Can you draw?  Do free portraits or caricatures for friends and family.  Do you know how to do automotive work?  Fix small things on the vehucles of your friends and loved ones without charging for labor as long as they buy the parts.  Like to write?  Write stories personalized or not as a gift .  Basically take what is available and turn it into a gift for someone for the upcoming holidays.  Many of us are going to have a hard enough time making it through this year with our sanity in tact, lets make it easier on ourselves.  Above all else when it comes to holiday gift ideas, improvise!!

Another great idea to save money on holiday shopping is the internet.  If you are willing to pay with a credit card or paypal and pay shipping there is e-bay.  If you would like more face to face interaction then i suggest local online freecycles and sites such as craigslist.org.  Everyone has eard this old saying at least once, “one mans trash…”  Take advantage of someones need to get rid of something that may be useful to you or a friend, or post thing you don’t need anymore for sale and get some extra cash to spend for the holidays.  Good luck, good saving, and happy holidays!

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