Not that we are by any means perfect, but Cole and I consider ourselves to be fairly frugal people. I think if you ask the people around us they would agree. Here are some of the very simple things that we do to save money at the Hoosier home:
1. Don’t go shopping and if you do have specific goals for your trip. The less you are in the stores where advertising and the enticement of “stuff” will be able to affect you. Most likely we don’t need the new things that we see. When we go shopping we go with a purpose in mind and will strongly evaluate and consider the true need for items for which we did not go shopping.
2. Don’t shop hungry or thirsty; especially true when you are grocery shopping. When I go out on my big shopping trips (which usually take 3-6 hours) I take a baggie with crackers and/or fruit and a bottle of water. When I am full and well hydrated I make far fewer impulse purchases and we all know that those impulse purchases add up!
3. Use a price sheet. Often times Costco will have the best deal on a product but not always. I keep a price comparison document to compare the prices of a variety of foods that we purchase at Costco, Whole Foods, Aldi, Walmart, Azure Standard, Vitacost and other stores that we have in the area. This way I can calculate and compare prices (and food quality to determine if a higher price is actually a better nutritional value).
4. Shop Zenni Optical. We love this site! I have a pair of prescription glasses and a pair of prescription sunglasses. My husband has a pair of casual/funky glasses, a pair of formal glasses with clip on sunglasses, and a pair of prescription sunglasses. And we own all of these for less than the price of two pairs of glasses at a normal vision center. It’s a bit of a bummer that you cannot try these glasses on before you purchase them. However, since we know what kind of glasses we like on ourselves we definitely think that this is worth it! Plus, we have anti-reflection coating for a very minimal additional charge which is a plus when neither one of us wears contacts anymore!
5. Utilize the library. Not everybody is fortunate to have a library as amazing as ours but still I recommend making as much use of your library as you can. Our library is a part of a county-wide library system and we can borrow media from any of the libraries and pick them up at our local, small town branch. Even if your libraries selection is minimal, think about trying inter-library loan. I have read several books from other parts of the country through this system. With as much as I like to read and the variety of topics I like to read about, the library is an amazing resource!
6. Cook from scratch. Hands down, this is one of the greatest ways that we have saved money. Food that is ready made or part of a kit is not as healthy, as tasty, or as frugal as handmade food.
7. Make use of freezer space and buy food at rock bottom prices. We have saved so much money by purchasing a stand up freezer for our garage. We stock all sorts of foods – bulk cheese, veggies, meat, etc. They all get stored in the freezer.
8. Plan a menu and stick to it. Having meals planned and the ingredients for them on hand eliminates two financial pitfalls: a) “We don’t have x-ingredient.” This leads to a store run which uses gas and we probably come home with more than just x-ingredient. — OR — b) “I don’t know what to make tonight. Let’s just go out to eat.”
9. Pack your lunch. We put leftovers, fruits and veggies, crackers, etc into our lunchboxes and enjoy yummy lunches everyday. This practice saves us from wasting our leftovers. It helps us to eat much healthier. And saves a whole lot of money. Even if you only spent $5 on lunch everyday, that would be $25 per week and $100 per month!
10. Entertain yourself at home. We are fortunate to be friends with others who also follow this idea. Take turns getting a movie from Red Box for a dollar and enjoy it together. Watch a movie that someone already owns or that you rent from the library. Have a game night; pool your board games and choose from among greater options. Get together and bring your current craft/clothing repair/busywork project and enjoy talking and fellowship while working. Read a good book. If you are musical, select some music and enjoy time playing together. Be creative – there are tons of ideas out there!