"I can’t do it! I can’t save money like you can!" Yes, you can. You can probably do better than me, even.
Some of my friends and some blog commenters have been surprised when they see my dinner menus. Not surprised at the food I serve–they’re surprised at how much my menus cost.
For the last few weeks, our lunches and dinners have cost around $15 for the week for two people. And, eying my savings sidebar to the left, they want to know “How in the world are you getting all of that free stuff?”
It’s actually pretty easy. You need to be willing to learn, and you need to devote some time at first until you get really good at the whole frugal lifestyle.
Follow some of these ideas, and you’ll be saving money in no time:
- Get all of that negativity out of your head! Tell yourself, “I am frugal, and I’m going to work on being even more frugal because being good stewards with our family’s money is important to me.”
- Get a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette and read it! You can win a copy from me, or try the library. And, read the comments for that post–all of those tips compile a mini-tightwad gazette of sorts. This will help you find little ways to save and get in the frugal mindset. Remember, saving a little here or there will add up.
- Start slow. Take a look at your credit and debit card purchases and look for patterns. Are you eating out several times per week? Buying things you don’t need? Make an attainable goal for yourself, such as eating out X numbers per week, or cutting out spur-of-the-moment purchases.
- One thing you really can control in your monthly budget is your groceries. Figure out how much you are spending on groceries each week. Now, lower that by 5-10%. Spending $150/week? Cut that to $135 or $140. Cutting $10 off of your weekly grocery budget will save you $520 per year. Keep it something you can do, but make it a challenge.
- Start doing deals at CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid, if you have one in your area. If you don’t know how to work these deals, you just have to ask for help!
- Read frugal blogs. They’re encouraging, inspiring, and most of all, if you surround yourself with frugal-minded people, you will become more frugal. The alternative: surround yourself with people who don’t manage money wisely, and you’re more likely to adopt those habits as well.
- Adopt a grocery-slashing strategy:
- If you have an Aldi near you, go there! You don’t have to do all of your shopping there, but most of the time, you’ll save money on whatever you purchase.
- Gather all of the weekly grocery sales fliers in your area, or look online for them. Even if you have only shopped at Kroger and love it, look at sales at other stores. How can you be sure you’re getting the best deal if you don’t know what the other store charges? If your store charges $2.50/lb for ground beef, and a competitor charges $1.99/lb, why pay $0.51 more per pound? You might find that the second store has many items for way cheaper. True, you’re probably busy during the week. But isn’t having more money to spend (and save) a priority?
- Combine coupons with sales (I love www.couponmom.com to help me with this)
- Plan your weekly menu according to those sales and using items you already have in your kitchen
- Make your shopping list to your menu. If you know the prices of items on your shopping list, punch them into your calculator or write them next to your shopping list.
- Use a calculator while at the grocery to keep a running tally of your cost. You should know what your cart will cost before you check out–don’t allow room for surprises.