Ideas for Living on Leaner Budget & Saving More

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With the current state of the economy and many people getting laid off from their job or getting hours cut, budgets for many are getting tighter and tighter. Even if the current economic crisis hasn’t much affected you personally, you may still be taking proactive measures to be more frugal. You may be wondering how you can start saving some money in various ways that will allow you to free up some space in your budget.  Believe it or not there are a variety of do it yourself ideas that you can easily incorporate into your life that don’t cost much at all.  I hear often from my readers how they are looking for more frugal living ideas. Ways to save money cut back and live on a leaner budget.  Here are some easy ways to save money and live on a smaller budget.

Learn to Sew your Own Clothes

This is not something I am good at but I have many friends who have taken up sewing and besides loving it they have become very good! Purchasing new clothes is not cheap these days. This is especially true if you have children, who need new wardrobes nearly every year. However, if you learn to sew, you can make clothing yourself and save big time.  Even if you have to take a sewing class, it will be well worth it if you are able to sew your own clothes and some clothes for your family. If fabric costs are a concern you can always design new clothes using thrift store finds. For example, you can buy a couple cheap tank tops at a thrift store and sew a twirly fabric skirt onto them, creating low cost sun dresses.  If you need new clothes and you don’t know how to fit it in your budget, consider sewing and you may be able to save some money.

Grow Some of Your Own Food

An easier solution because anyone can have a garden, even a patio garden with a few pots! Groceries are getting more and more expensive as well.  It’s so difficult when you go to the store and you find that simple food items have doubled in price.  Shopping for groceries really costs quite a bit of money, but there is something that you can do to save.  Growing your own food can help you to save on your grocery bill.  Planting some food in a garden or in a container garden is not expensive at all.  You can easily purchase seeds or even plants that have already been started.  Start growing them and you’ll soon have some produce of your own. Lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries are all easy crops to start with. This can provide some nice savings on your weekly shopping bill.

grocery shopping

Our Strategies For Saving On Your Grocery Bill

So, we have to find ways to spend less on groceries while still getting the things that we need to feed ourselves and our families. Here are six money saving tips to try the next time you go grocery shopping.

Here’s my family’s food budget strategy for continuing to eat organic in tough times:

Buy in season

Trying to eat organic summer vegetables in the winter will quickly put a dent in your food budget. Right now, root vegetables, potatoes, and winter squash are at their cheapest and their tastiest. Apples are also fresh and reasonably priced, and citrus comes into season around the holidays. Use in-season vegetables and fruits to fill your family’s table with affordable nutritious goodness.

Think ahead

Shop once a week, and don’t shop for food while hungry. Buying all of your food on one trip avoids the trap of running to the store several times, which burns extra gas and can add extra impulse buys to your basket.

Make a plan

Planning your weekly meals and sticking to it keeps you from buying whatever sounds good when you’re shopping. Always shop from a list.

cook at home

Cook at home

I personally love to go out to eat because it means I’m not cooking but eating out is not cheap!  If you aren’t a great cook, you can learn.  You can read articles and easily get recipes online. Ask friends to share their favorite, simple to make, meal recipes.  Instead of spending so much money eating out or spending a lot on pre-made foods at the grocery store, you’ll find that it is a whole lot cheaper for you to buy raw ingredients and make the meals yourself.  Not only will it save you quite a bit of money, but you’ll be eating healthier meals as well.

Eating out will burn up your cash, and many restaurants serve food with dubious origins, so cooking from scratch makes the most sense to us. If you do eat out, find a local place that serves real food, clean food, food made from scratch, not a can (and organically grown, or at least MSG and GMO-free). There’s a place here in my neck of the woods that makes their own tempeh and has a 2 for 1 tempeh burger special (Tempeh Tuesday). The four of us can fill up for under twenty bucks.

cook yourself

Eat simple

For families that eat meat, cutting back meat-based dishes to once or twice a week means being able to afford organic or grass-fed choices. Fill out a dish with grains or beans. Making a casserole or soup can keep the menu simple and affordable.

Make extra

A large meal cooked once a week and served as leftovers or sent for lunches helps to save energy and water. It’s less stressful for the cook as well. If you do eat out, find a local place that serves real food, clean food, food made from scratch, not a can (and organically grown, or at least MSG and GMO-free). There’s a place here in my neck of the woods that makes their own tempeh and has a 2 for 1 tempeh burger special (Tempeh Tuesday). The four of us can fill up for under twenty bucks.

Raid the fridge

I’m the king of the end of the week random ingredient meal. I make a pot of rice (or beans, millet, etc.), sauté onions and garlic with other random veggies, mix together, and serve wrapped in a tortilla.

Another option is to make good use of your leftovers, instead of letting them sit too long in the fridge and then having to throw them out at the end of the week!

shopping at same stores

Shop at the same stores

This is more of a frustration reliever. In a new store, you spend most of your time looking for things and walking up and down every aisle, which oftentimes leads to forgetting an item or two. Going to the same store each time makes you more familiar with the prices so you can estimate your bill as you write your grocery list.

Buy more staples than prepared foods

It is easier to buy a box of macaroni and cheese, but is it more economical? A large box of macaroni and a block of cheese will make more servings for your family than one box of prepared macaroni and cheese. The next time you go shopping and pick up a box or bag of an already prepared item, ask yourself if you can make that at home for less. If you can, then put that item back in favor of less expensive staples.

Clip coupons

They put those in the newspaper for a reason. If there are new items you want to try, use a coupon to get it at a discount. If you like it, you have saved some money. On the other hand, if you don’t take a liking to it, you didn’t pay full price. For me, coupons save an average of ten or more dollars per visit. That’s money in my pocket that I can put towards gas for the car.

Buy in bulk

Consider the food items that you use most often. Cereals, meats, vegetables, condiments, juices, and paper products can be bought in bulk usually at a lower price at food warehouses like Costco, BJ’s, and Wal-Mart. If you have a coupon, you’ll save even more money.

We try to have the staple foods on hand at all times, buying a month’s worth or more and storing it in the pantry. Many co-ops and health food stores offer discounts for case quantities and bulk bags of grains. Most grains, beans, and flour is sold in 25 or 50 pound bags. 25 pounds of grains fits perfectly in a 5 gallon bucket, keeping it fresh and safe from bugs or rodents. Check at hospitals or school cafeterias for free food-grade buckets.

very hungry

Don’t shop when you are hungry

This is a definite no-no. Shopping on an empty stomach means that you will pick up more things than you need. You are more likely to pick up that bag of chocolate chip cookies or that box of donuts when the growling gets underway.

Take a grocery list with you

This is another protection against picking up things that are too costly. Check your cabinets and the fridge to see what you need and write them down. Remember, the goal is to stick to the list as much as possible.

Rising prices don’t have to mean a lean dinner table. There are ways to make your food dollar go further and if you take the time to implement the ideas listed above as well as others of your own, you’ll see savings each and every time you shop.

Make Use of Used Objects

This is the easiest thing we can all do if we just put our minds to it! Making use of used objects in your home can be helpful.  Get creative with making things yourself.  Do you have an old pair of jeans lying around your home?  If so, use your sewing skills to cut them off and make shorts.  Do you need a new handbag?  Simply cutting the legs off a pair of old jeans and using the top of the jeans can be used to make a cool handbag that looks like a designer bag.  A tin can will look good as a pencil holder or planter. A glass pop bottle can be a flower vase. Look around your home and find things you don’t use.  Figure out how you can use them for another use to save some money.

In what ways are you cutting back and living on leaner budget? Share your tips and tricks.

Image Credit: Fotolio 1 and Fotolio 2

1 thought on “Ideas for Living on Leaner Budget & Saving More”

  1. These are some great ideas. To add to the concept of sewing your own clothes, I am not a sewer, and all interactions I’ve had with sewing machines have been horrible. Instead of putting myself through the torture, I work with friends who like to sew. I pay for materials and my friends’ time, and they indulge in a fun hobby.

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