Necessity is the mother of invention, it's said. And so I have a new found interest in finding ways to stretch every dollar in my family's household budget as far as possible.
I don't believe I have ever been a reckless spender, but going from two incomes to one (now I am undertaking uni studies by distance education) has been a real fiscal wake up call.
Apart from the usual belt tightening like buying generic brands at the supermarket, trying to buy non-perishable foods and pantry items when they are on special only and going from occasional take-aways to cutting them out altogether, we have also bitten the bullet and gone back to one car.
Having two cars went from being a necessity for two working parents to an unaffordable luxury for a single income family of four. Luckily we are about 800m from my partner's work and 1.5km from both XY7's school and XY3's pre-school. I have no choice but to do some much needed exercise - which isn't a bad thing.
The struggle to make ends meet is not something that people tend to talk about except between the closest of friends. However, I am certain that more and more people - for all sorts of reasons - are in the position of trying to find practical and easy ways of being thrifty.
I have decided to do a post labelled The Frugal Friend each Tuesday share some strategies that work for me and my family. It would be great if readers could share some of their ideas.
This week I have three Tightwad Tips:
Go Generic - Go on, give it a try. I know you're cringing. I was a dedicated brand name buyer not so long ago. But buying a generic brand 1kg of plain flour costs substantially less than a brand name. The savings can go towards buying an extra loaf or bread, carton of milk or whatever. I started by trying a few things such as sugar, flour, tinned fruit - things I figured could not be too much different from the brand name. There are some things I don't buy generic such as toilet paper (we have a couple of brands we buy depending what's on special). When you have a limited amount of money for groceries it's just logical to go generic or choose another brand if it's cheaper or on special. The cents you save here and there quickly add up at the checkout.
Get cooking - Using raw ingredients to cook your own meals from scratch rather than using pre-prepared sauces or foods. It really doesn't take that much longer and there are no hidden additives or preservatives. there are even saving to be had simply by buying whole tinned tomatoes rather than buying chopped or diced varieties. The price difference can be as much as 30 cents a tin. Just pop the whole tomatoes in your food processor for a few bursts or stab them with your handheld stick blender. Get some stock cubes, fresh garlic, herbs and your meals will not only taste great but cost a lot less. For me, with a child who has food sensitivities it's near impossible for me to use packet sauces and casserole bases anyway.
Slow cooker - Consider getting a slow cooker if you don't already have one. They are so easy to use - basically throw in some meat, veetables, herbs, tomato paste in the morning and then put them on slow cook . There will be a delicious healthy meal ready to eat for dinner. I have seen slow cookers at a national chain bnrgain basement-type stores for as little as $29.95.
It would be great to share ideas. I'm looking at making some of my own cleaning products in the next week or so but won't pass anything on until I've tried it myself. Maybe you already make some? Feel free to post your tips or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Be thrifty! Make every cent count.