Abundant Optimism

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Fabulous Facts for Frugal Family Fortune Financing

by Tamara Martfeld

In these economic times anything that can save money can make a big difference. Below are some fabulous facts I obtained over the years which may help you stretch the paycheck. It is easier to find ways to save small amounts than ways to save large amounts, and pennies count. Just think, for every 100 pennies you save you have a dollar! It is up to you to decide which ideas will work for you without making you feel deprived:

Reduce, reuse, recycle. This common ecological slogan is also good for saving money. Reduce what is bought, reuse items as many items as possible before donating them for possible tax deductions, and recycle as much as possible to obtain extra cash. Take the recycle items to a recycling center instead of placing them in a pick-up can whenever feasible so that you get the cash instead of your trash collector.

Wash ziplock bags which have not been used for meat. Do this either when you are washing dishes or when running a load of towels (don’t put them in the dryer). I use a clothes pin and pin them to the top shelf of my dishwasher and remove them before the dry cycle. If they survive the trip, they are reused.

Reuse aluminum foil whenever possible.

Buy in bulk when the price is right, even if you are single. If you cannot use the large quantities, see if you can find someone with which to share the purchase (each paying for their cut of the item).

Use thrift shops and garage sales to purchase clothing, toys, and household items. Many items in these locations are in new or almost new condition. Clean the toys prior to giving them to children.

Use lower wattage light bulbs where bright light is not necessary. Keep the freezer full, even if you need to use ice or newspaper to do it. A full freezer runs more efficiently.

Raise the thermostat in summer, lower it in winter.

Make minestrone soup with left-overs. Instructions are at http://abundantoptimism.com/articles/money_saving/minestrone_soup_for_saving_money_7-4-11.html .

Bring your lunch, snacks, and drinks from home. This can easily save you $100 per month if you currently eat out every day.

Write down every expenditure for at least 3 months. Determine where your money leaks are and plug them. While you are at it, make a budget and stick to it. Always try to spend less this month in each category than you did last month – make it a game!

When purchasing needed items avoid anything disposable and “convenient”. For example, disposable diapers cost $364 more per year than cloth diapers (figures from the Tightwad Gazette). Frozen dinners, rice mixes, and hamburger helper cost more than their homemade counterparts. I have found that most convenience foods save only a little effort and not much time, and homemade always taste better.

Consolidate cooking. When making a casserole, spaghetti sauce, soup, etc., make at least enough for two meals – more if possible. Freeze the extra in meal sizes and use when you would normally use convenience or fast food. Doing this also saves energy since you use the oven or stove only once for cooking multiple meals. Reheating generally requires less time and can be done in a microwave.

Get rid of all debt and stay debt-free. If you use a credit card, pay it off immediately. Determine how much you have spent on interest this year to determine your savings.

Use coupons whenever possible. Make sure that you are actually saving money with the coupon. For example, purchasing a $1 product with a 10 cent coupon is more expensive than buying the store brand at 50 cents. Also, buying something you cannot use before it is spoiled or which you will never use is just a waste of money regardless of how good a deal it is.

If you have kids tell them you are being thrifty and explain why. If the kids know you are living frugally by choice to provide a better future they will be more likely to accept the decision and not feel deprived. While you are at it, don’t give them everything they ask for – have them earn at least a portion of the cost for many of the extras they want. They will appreciate the extras more and learn the value of the dollar in the process. All this will help teach the kids frugality for when they are on their own – the best gift you can give them besides love.

Hint: You can involve your kids by having them shop with you and ask them to tell you which item is the best deal. Do this with products for which you are not name-conscious. This will help them with their math skills (have them figure it out without a calculator), teach them to comparison shop, involve them in the decisions made, and help them feel they are part of the solution.

Have fun saving those pennies! If at all possible, set the savings aside for something fun or for the purchase of something you “can’t afford”. By setting aside the money saved through the above efforts you can eventually build up a vacation fund, special purchase fund, education fund, etc. In many cases the money would have been spent had you not made an effort. Pretend you did not make that effort and “spend” the same amount by placing the money aside. The pennies really do add up over time, and if you can set them aside, you may be surprised to find out just how fast they add up.

Finance that Family Fortune fast!<\p>