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Will let you beg for food
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am a frugal-aholic. It started as a need and now has become a game. I spend about 2 hours a day surfing flyers, getting freebies, coupon hunting/trading and plan all my shopping. I have gotten a girlfriend onboard which is great so we do our shopping trips together so that saves on gas. We head to the furthest store on our list and then work or way home. Even though I live on the paultry sum of only $1500 a month with two kids (one which due to disability can be rather expensive) my bills are paid monthly, (heat, hydro, taxes, food, and everything else) I own my house outright (my dad leaving me some cash upon his death helped me pay it off but at the time I only owed 22% of what I paid) and I have what I think to be a very decent standard of living. I am also able to apply $200 monthly to stocking up. The only downfall is I don't have a ton of cash banked up though I have some silver and gold.

Many of us are struggling. And yes I do struggle because I have to be careful. I just can't walk into a store and buy what I want..I have to plan and prebudget very carefully. And sometimes I do get stuck. Had to have a tooth pulled. Called around and it was going to cost me around $300. That wasn't a planned expense...so now I have a dental slush fund. (I did get a deal on the tooth though by calling a dentist and explaining I am broke and in pain - charged me $100)

Here are the best ways that I personally use to save money. I am hoping you can all share yours so I can get some new ideas.

- my children wear disigner clothes, not so much for the label but because I find they are better made and wash far better than anything I can get from walmart. BUT I buy 90% of it second hand and at garage sales. I also hit the mall without the kids and on Mon/Tues morning go through all the sales racks. I get Gap, Children's Place etc for pennies on the dollar. Being really nice to sales staff helps. I found Gap tshirts for 99 cents - I bought 20 in a variety of sizes and colors. They will actually pull stuff for me because they know they will see me...some even will give me a call and tell me ahead of time when the mark downs will be. I also buy several sizes ahead. If I find a pr of jeans almost new at Goodwill but they are two sizes too big I get them. The kids will wear them sooner than I think. It is also nice because I don't have to go pay full price if they suddenly have a growth spurt. I buy socks and pjs in nongender colors (pjs- grey and light blue socks - white and grey) They can be passed down regardless of what sex your child is.

NOTE - all socks, underwear and shoes are bought new. Socks I buy the mega packs of 24, always tube socks because then I can always buy one size up and they will fit. Shoes, I hit walmart at end of season sales. I grabbed sandles for $1 a pair and bought 8 prs. If something doesn't fit come summer I sell them online for $5 and it will actually pays for all the shoes. I also stock up on boots, rubber boots and buy a couple prs of mary janes for my daughter. Slippers I always buy in bulk because I get them for $1 each with all the characters (Disney, Cars etc). One year I paired the slippers with a bedtime story book (on sale for $1 of course lol) for Christmas gifts for all the kids on my list.

Laundry - I saved big by buying a super sized front loader machine. In order to fill a load I have a schedule. When I change the sheets I put on colors that can all go together (everyone will have a light color or a dark color) meaning one laod. I bought each of a set of towels in various shades of blue so that makes one load (and I can always tell who threw their towel on the floor - sadly it is usually me :rolleyes:). I also dress the kids according to what load I am doing that night...all dark, all colors etc. Sounds kind of lame but I only do two loads a week! :D:

I also hang to dry. In the summer it dries very quickly outside. In the winter I set up the drying rack under the skylight and it adds much needed mositure because the heating dries the house out.

Use half the soap required, honestly you won't notice the difference. I also use a washcloth when I do use the dryer. I spray it with watered down fabric softener and toss it in the dryer. Comes out soft. I stocked up last week with a pile of fabric softener..it will last me two or three years!

cleaning - I use vinegar for almost everything. And I make my own cleaners. A good link is:
http://www.eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm
and
http://www.almanac.com/home/cleaners.html

food - this is one that eats up the biggest part of any budget, especially these days. In the states you are so lucky because your food prices are far lower than ours and you can double coupons (sometimes even triple). Always try and use a coupon, and I always use it on the smallest size so quite often it is free. Email companies and tell them you would like to try their products. They will send you coupons and often free full sized samples. Same for the 800# on the package. Not happy with a product? Complain and they will replace, usually with $1 or $2 coupons...use these when the product is on sale.

We all know that buying bulk saves money but guess what sometimes it doesn't. Look on the shelf and read the per unit cost. Up here it is usually 100 mls, I am guessing down there it is oz. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy two small packages rather than one big one. Check regularly. I called one company that had a big price difference and I asked why - the response was it has to do with packaging costs. Sometimes they get a better price from another manuafactor..or it has to do with the amount that the bottle holds.

If I see a sale on something I don't buy one, I don't buy 10, instead I will buy 20 or 30 or heck sometimes even 40. I got 11 boxes of 3 ply kleenex with lotion for 49 cents because of a coupon. I ended up with 330 boxes of kleenex for $15. Most people would only get 15 boxes maybe 30 if lucky for what I spent. Okay, true I have a closet stacked full of kleenex but that closet was empty, in a spare room and hey kleenex will prove handy wtshtf (toilet paper, kleenex, napkins, diaper wipes etc) I do this with juice, toothpaste, shampoo, dishwashing liquid etc.

With food I always look for case sales. It is prewrapped and makes for storing so much easy. I also buy one extra loose can and then get them to take the coupon I have off of each can. I store the loose can on a special shelf as it is the same lot as the cases. It shows me what I have and it has the expiry date handy. Easier than digging through cases.

I do bake bread but I have found a gourmet deli where I can get day olf bread 5 for $1. I can't do it that cheap (oven, time, supplies and clean up). It is as fresh as today's and it is going into the freezer anyway.

My meat I buy just before the store's closing and get 50% off. I buy the club packs and then package seperately. I cut steaks and roasts up for stir fry and stew, cubed chicken breast for meat pies and nuggets. It also allows me to get better cuts of meat. Also keep in mind that a healthy diet dictates that a proper serving size of meat is the size of a deck of playing cards.

Bulk out meals with salad, veggies and dips, breads etc. Also if you are trying to lose weight and struggle not to over eat try drinking a glass or two of water 20 to 30 minutes before dinner. You will eat far less and closer to the proper portion size because it has alerted your brain that it is close to full.

I could go on for hours here (but if you had read this far I will save you the pain lol)

Do remember to do prep work WHEN you grocery shop. I come home and cut veggies for stir fry and store it in a bag. I do carrot and celery sticks and store them in a jar with water. (Use that water wehn making rice or pasta, gives a nice and subtle flovor). Doing work ahead of time saves you a lot of time and makes it easier to say I can have a home cooked meal done in the same time, or earlier than the pizza can get here.

Okay this is really long..I will leave it at that for today lol. I look forward to your ideas.:thumb:
 

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I was known as the Coupon Queen before I started making alot of our food from scratch. Now I clip coupons to use on a few prepacked items when on sale.

I still do quite a few rebates. This week alone, I got over $140 worth of Rite Aid rebate items, mostly cold medicines that will really come in handy in a couple of months. I like to get items free after rebate, then put them in a large storage tote for later use. If we're running low on shampoo or razors, I just have to check the "stash." One time I had so many rebates, we did not have to buy shampoo or toothpaste for over 2 years! It was wonderful. It's also nice when you need an unexpected birthday gift. Many times I've found DVD's free after rebate and got family-friendly movies and used them just for this purpose.

The items we won't personally use will go for charity. For example, a local church held a spaghetti dinner and you just had to bring a bag of canned goods or health/beauty products for a shelter. So, we fed the family AND gave a bunch of rebate items for the charity. It was win-win for all of us.

I've had to cut back on most rebates since we moved to our current location, due to having to have a PO Box. Most rebate offers will not honor a PO Box, but I still manage to do a few.

Oh--and for grocery savings, I shop less at the store and buy more from a local farmer. I get better quality produce and I'm not tempted to buy a bunch of junk food we don't need.
 

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Curious Cat
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This past year I’ve engaged in a number of fiscal fasts, where I didn’t spend any money for a period of time. Three for two weeks and one for an entire month. (I got the idea somewhere on the internet)

Each time I prepared by getting a full tank of gas, paying all my bills/utilities, and buying the groceries/supplies I thought I needed. Inevitably, I would forget something or run out of something and that’s where the experience starts to get fun/interesting. You start looking for ways to be creative and make do with what you already have on hand.
On the horizon I plan to experiment with using shop towels instead of paper towels in the kitchen and eliminating household cleaners. It’s fun to chat with other people who are into this sort of thing. They give you lots of frugal ideas.
VW
 

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cute is not always enough
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please do not get me started on those 'briquette' laundry soaps they sell now... what kind of moron would pay extra to be forced to have exactly 42 loads from a box?

you have pretty much covered everything I try to do. keep up the good work. I hope I can catch up!
 

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I am a frugal person too. It is nice to see there are other people out there too! Most of my friends are frugal to a point. We go to yard sales together, but tht is usually the extent. My husband makes a decent living, but saving money is my job, lol. Everything I can save helps somewhere else in our budget. I agree that it becomes a game.

My kids teachers have commented on how nicely groomed and dressed my kids are. If only they knew that a good portion of their clothing are second hand! The people that own the local thrift stores know me well. I go in when the kids are at school and pick through what they have looking for clothing in good condition. I also find sewing patterns, fabric, great books, tools, building supplies, toys/games, etc at those stores. Nothing like a $6 pattern for 10 cents! I also shop the sales at the stores I have access to. That is a drawback of being in such a small town, very limited shopping. I do shop in the city when I can. I also love the Children's Place. They have the best deals and their clothing has held up really well. Buying a few sizes ahead saves a alot of $$$! I have been doing that for a few years.

I use coupons and do the rebates like Becka mentioned above. Tomorrow I am going to Rite-aid for the same sale on cold meds. Couponing has really helped my budget. I wish the stores in my area doubled, but none will. But good deals still pop up. I have a nice stockpile of foil, razors, shampoo/cond, soaps, toothpaste, office supplies, etc. Coupons have helped me start a food storage pantry. I buy in bulk when it makes sense. I take my calculator everywhere and it really has helped with figuring what is a better deal. This year I started canning. Our garden had a huge yield and I was able to can and freeze quite a bit.

I do alot of baking. I flavor cookie dough, cake batter, and homemade frosting with kool-aid packets. I pick them up when they are on sale 10 for $1. My kids LOVE cherry chocolate chip cookies. It is super cheap and the flavoring goes a long way. I tried using a little bit of jello mix when I was out of kool aid, it didn't taste as well, but still worked. My kids and nephews ate it all so it couldn't have been that bad.

I make most of our meals and snacks. My kids love my improved granola bars (took some time to get the right mix, lol). My kids take their lunches to school. I bought good Thermoses and they take dinner left overs, soups, pasta salad, etc. We take water bottles everywhere we go. Each of us have a different color so there is no confusing them. Before we leave for an outing, the kids know to get their water bottles and help pack a meal and snacks. I plan meals at the start of each month. I make the monthly menu and hang it on the fridge so I can remind myself what I need to thaw or prepare ahead of time. I spend less money running out to get this or that.

This year I sewed most of my kids pajamas and I have plans to sew other clothing items. I also want to make fabric napkins to save some extra money. We go through napkins like there is no tomorrow!!! Wish me luck!

We collect pine cones and downed tree limbs for fire starters. My parents have an endless supply so its pretty easy. They also have an endless suppy of pine needles that are great for composting.

I use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning. I have used vanilla extract to help take the smell out of plastic. It works really well. Newspapers work great on mirrors/windows, used dryer sheets are great for dusting. My father in law made a great window cleaner out of a 2x4. He took a towel and wrapped it tight around a 2x4 that was less then 2 feet long. Then he secured the ends with duct tape. That thing worked great. No streaks and it cleans large windows quickly. I also make homemade air freshener with lavendar oil and water in a spray bottle. You could use any essential oil, but lavender was on sale, lol.

My little town has a morning call in show called the swap shop. You call in with items you are looking to get rid and the listeners can call you to make a deal. A few months ago I bought 13 dozen canning jars for $25. I have also sold items that way. Everytime I call in to sell something, a relative or a friend will call me right away to say I just heard you!

I am really good at re-purposing items, I hate tossing things that can still be used for something. I get that from my dad who inherited 'frugalness' from his parents. Whenever I am looking for a way to reuse something, I call my dad. Sorry about the rambling! I am tired so hopefully it makes sense!
 

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Will let you beg for food
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Discussion Starter #6
Norcal I think it is silly to buy all your kid's clothes new...unless you have 18 kids lol. Don't laugh when I travel I always check out second hand clothing stores. When I was in England I found myself a real navy wool peacoat with brass buttons. For a mere $5. It is so warm that even in our cold winters I wear it undone half the time.

Thanks for the koolaid trick...could you tell me how much to put in, do I have to add extra sugar? I was thinking the tropical flavor could really punch up banana bread.

As for cloth napkins...I found a new designer flat sheet on sale. Cost me $2 and from that I got 30 napkins. I took 6 and trimmed them for holiday dinners. I also make all my curtains from sheets. I buy the brass circles...sometimes with clips and sometimes the ones you sew on..can't beat making a curtain in under 20 minutes!

Have you found a good pattern for pj bottoms? For the life of me I can't find one in Canada that isn't too complicated. Those flannel pants are great for lounging...the kids come home after school and know to change into them. When they get too short or the knees go I make them into shorts..of course. And save the scraps for patching.

I also darn socks....people think I am mad when socks are so cheap...but they are great to wear when you are going to be doing dirty work...
 

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I had seven kids...and I learned the fast hard way to be frugal!
First...breast-fed all of them until they were a year old. That not only eliminated formula, but my kids never had half as many colds or other ailments as a lot of the other babies I saw!
Cloth diapers...hated disposables. Someone gave me a couple packages of them when I had baby #2 and his little bottom broke out in a horrible rash! Turned out, he was allergic!
Cloth diapers were also great after the kids were potty-trained. Nothing beats an old well washed over the years cloth diaper for a cleaning rag!

Food was a huge expense at my house, too.
When we weren't living on a farm, breakfasts were usually hot cereal, oatmeal or cream of wheat or wheat berries ...served with a smidgen of home made preserves. Once a month each child got to pick out one box of cold cereal. They could only pick one I had a coupon for and I only did that on double coupon day.
I baked my own bread, but added leftovers to it for a bit of a nutritional kick. (Leftover refried beans, leftover rice, leftover oatmeal)
Since I raised livestock when we lived on a farm and hunted--whether we lived on a farm or not, I rarely had to buy meat. When I did have to, boy did I stretch it out!
I never spent more than $35. a week on groceries until I all the kids were out of the house and I moved to another state and had to start from scratch.

Glad to see that others are still being frugal!
 

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Thanks for the koolaid trick...could you tell me how much to put in, do I have to add extra sugar? I was thinking the tropical flavor could really punch up banana bread.

As for cloth napkins...I found a new designer flat sheet on sale. Cost me $2 and from that I got 30 napkins. I took 6 and trimmed them for holiday dinners. I also make all my curtains from sheets. I buy the brass circles...sometimes with clips and sometimes the ones you sew on..can't beat making a curtain in under 20 minutes!

Have you found a good pattern for pj bottoms? For the life of me I can't find one in Canada that isn't too complicated. Those flannel pants are great for lounging...the kids come home after school and know to change into them. When they get too short or the knees go I make them into shorts..of course. And save the scraps for patching.
...
For the kool aid trick, you don't need any sugar. I usually add about 1/4 the packet to frosting. Put some in, mix up, taste, go from there. I add a whole packet to cookie dough. My kids love when I make a white cake and add a cherry kool aid packet to the batter with choco chips, then make cherry frosting. They are stuck on the cherry flavoring right now.

Thanks for the napkin idea, I will look around this week. I know curtains are always on sale.

The pajama pattern I have been using alot lately is: It's So Easy It's Simplicity, pattern 2815, bin 22. You might be able to order it online at http://simplicity.com/

Tonight I need to get my 'idea' notebook out and write down all the ideas in this thread. There are some great ones!
 

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antisocialbutterfly
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On the horizon I plan to experiment with using shop towels instead of paper towels in the kitchen and eliminating household cleaners.
I go to Wal-Mart for one reason only: the 18-pack white washcloths; a pack of them costs less than a large package of paper towels. I learned this trick from a friend who owned an independent coffee shop, and I've been using them to save paper towels for years now.

In addition to 2nd hand shops, I've also been addicted to junkin'- it's amazing what people throw away! My best find (pride and joy) is a wrought-iron coffee table with scrollwork feet that I found sitting next to a dumpster outside of a 2nd hand shop. Seems nobody else realized, or cared, that even though it was missing a top, it was sectioned out for 12x12 ceramic tiles. Not only will it last me a lifetime, I can change the color/decor for the cost of 8 tiles!

I've never much looked into it, but a friend's mom is into 'contesting'. She submits the max allowable entries, and usually wins *something*. If she can't use it or give it as a gift, she sells it on eBay- like Body Boards and the intricate and ornately embroidered Nascar jacket...

Thanks ladies, for all the great tips!
 

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Crazy Cat Lady
Plan to Alamo at home.
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I am the generic queen. Except for Tide. I have to have my Tide. Home care requires a really good detergent.

Every other cleaning cycle (washer) I do 1/2 c vinegar instead of the tablet.
 

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Off the leash
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I do a lot of the things all of you other ladies have said you do. We wear very nice clothes, many good name brands, like you have said 90% or more come from resale shops and rummage sales. The only thing clothing wise I will put out the dollars for is foot wear we will be wearing for when we are going to be on our feet a lot.

I also make our own laundry detergent, have for 15 years or more. I can buy Borax, generis washing soda and a bar of Fels for around $8. That will last for several months. I do buy extra Fels but the other things I only buy 3-4 times a year.

We also buy meat in bulk when we find it on sale and can a lot of it. When you're on a fixed income you have to learn to be frugal.
 
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