Final Numbers for June – Saved $771.18

We haven’t made any bulk meat purchases from Zaycon Foods since January and we’re really getting slim in the freezer so I just ordered 40 pounds of lean ground beef that will be delivered in a couple weeks.  I’m amazed that even after spending $130 on that meat purchase we still came in $85 under our current monthly budget of $300!  For the month of June we spent $214.97 to buy $986.15 worth of groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, or a savings of 78%!  According to the spreadsheet we’ve spent $1,311.12 so far this year for $5,991.04 worth of stuff, or 78% off. That equates to an average of $219 per month for our family of seven, or around a dollar a day per person!

 

5 Practical Gift Suggestions for Frugal People

Gift shopping for other people can be a difficult task. It can be especially difficult if you are shopping for someone who is very careful with how money is spent. Is extravagance the key to a frugal person’s heart? Not usually.  Here are some great gift suggestions you may want to consider:

1) A Coffee and Espresso Maker

A DIY machine such as a Coffee and Espresso Maker is a gift any frugal person would love. He or she would be able to enjoy a delicious, luxurious cup of coffee without having to buy an overpriced latte at the coffee shop.

2) Subscriptions and Gift Cards

If you know the recipient well enough, think about getting him or her a subscription or gift card to a service often used or a store often frequented. Consider getting your mom a gift card to the grocery store, or giving your roommate a Netflix subscription.  You can even get your gift cards at a discount if you buy them from Plastic Jungle or Cardpool.

3) Reusable Shopping Bags

A reusable shopping bag is perfect for someone who lives both a frugal and green life. There are so many benefits to passing on plastic! With a reusable shopping bag, one will be able to save money and the environment at the same time.

4) A Home Energy Monitor

A home energy monitor may not seem like an obvious gift choice—but it is one that a frugal person would very much appreciate. A handheld energy monitor can be attached to almost any appliance, measuring just how much energy it consumes. It’s a great tool for identifying which appliances need replacing or repairing.

5) A Gift Basket

Although food baskets are always a well-received gift, you may want to take it a step further by giving something even more practical. Laundry, gardening, cleaning, sewing or kitchen gift baskets are some other great options.

When gift shopping for someone frugal, a great tip is to search for gifts that will help the recipient save money over the next few weeks, months or even years. Put some thought into your gift and the recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness for years to come.

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

4 Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted Gifts

At one point or another, you have probably received something you do not want nor need for Christmas, your birthday, or some other occasion. What comes next after feigning enthusiasm and gratitude?  Here are some great ways to get rid of unwanted gifts so they can belong to people who will truly benefit from such items:

1) Donate it.

If you have received clothing, food or personal care items, you may want to consider donating the gift to a homeless shelter or a charity organization. You may not find any use for a baggy sweater—but someone else sure will.

2) Re-gift it.

If you receive a gift you aren’t too fond of or you know you won’t use, store it in a box or container along with other gifts you can save and give to someone else on another occasion.

Remember: Don’t give a particular gift to someone who knows the original gift giver. Also, be sure to take off any name tags or other forms of personalization since the recipient doesn’t need to know the truth!

3) Sell it.

If you aren’t going to use a gift that you’ve been given, then why not make some money off of the item so you can get something that you can use instead? Try selling the unwanted gift on Craigslist or eBay, or even at a yard sale.

If you have received a gift card from a store you don’t shop in, why not try out a site like as PlasticJungle or Cardpool? These sites allow you to buy, sell and exchange gift cards for as much as 90% of their retail value!

4) Freecycle.

They say that another person’s trash is another person’s treasure. On Freecycle.org, that really is the case. You simply need to advertise the item you don’t need or use, and someone who does want it will arrange to pick it up at your house. No money is exchanged. You can give away a brand new set of plates, a beat up couch, or even blank CD cases.

If you’re considering using any of the above mentioned tips, exercise some caution. If the gift giver is someone you see frequently, you may want to keep the gift around for a while in case he or she asks about it or looks for it in your home!

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

Living Frugally: 6 Things Every Beginner Should Know

Living frugally definitely isn’t easy. It can be especially difficult to forego that overpriced cup of coffee or a brand new pair of jeans if you’re a complete beginner at living a frugal lifestyle. As a newbie to living frugally, here are some things you need to learn:

1) Start gradually.

You can’t expect to drastically cut your budget in half and follow it faithfully on your first try. Not only will you feel deprived, but your family will feel the pinch, too. It takes a bit of practice to adopt a simpler, more frugal lifestyle. Take baby steps and gradually redirect your resources to better align with your goals.

2) Embrace your goals.

Yes, saving money is one of your goals—but you may find it more motivating to have a specific reason for your saving. Are you aiming for an earlier retirement? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to pay off your mortgage? It will be easier for you to make frugal choices if you keep your eyes on your goals.

3) Be on the same page as your loved ones.

Don’t be the only one in the family making frugal choices. Your spouse and children need to be just as committed to making lifestyle changes if you truly want to improve your financial situation. Set common goals and discuss the sacrifices and changes each family member will need to make. Encourage each other when the going gets tough.

4) Make selective sacrifices.

Keep in mind that you’re just starting out and that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of some luxuries. If you’ve been having home-cooked meals all week, then why not treat your family to a nice lunch this weekend? Don’t be afraid to splurge and indulge from time to time.

5) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Remember that as you venture into living frugally, you will have good days and you will have bad days. Don’t be disheartened by the occasional slip-up. Understand that mistakes are part of the learning process. With practice, making frugal choices will soon become second nature to you.

6) Monitor your progress and reward success.

Monitor your progress on a monthly and annual basis. You’ll feel a wonderful sense of fulfillment after paying off credit card debt and mortgages, and from seeing your account savings grow. Celebrate financial milestones! You deserve it!

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

6 Reasons It Pays to Have a Roommate

If you’re moving into an apartment and are looking to save a little money, then you might want to consider getting a roommate. If you aren’t convinced that you’ll enjoy more savings with a roommate, then consider the reasons listed below:

1)  You get more value for your money.

If you were to live on your own on a limited budget, you might be able to afford a very small studio apartment. With a roommate, you’ll be able to rent a larger apartment that would give you both more value and more space.

2)  You can split the monthly expenses.

Obviously, a roommate will help you split the cost of your monthly rent—but rent isn’t the only thing you can save on. Utilities, Internet, and cable are other bills you can share with your roommate.

3)  You can share the cost of household essentials.

Living in a house or apartment with other people means that it’s everyone’s responsibility to share on household essentials such as toiletries, laundry soap and cleaning supplies.

4)  You can carpool.

If you and your roommate study in the same school or work in the same area, then why not carpool and save significantly on your gas expenses? You can also carpool to places such as the grocery store or mall if you both want or need to go at the same time.

5)  You save on food expenses.

If you or your roommate knows how to cook, you’ll be able to save significantly on food expenses. Cooking even the most basic dishes for two or three people will definitely cost less than eating out or cooking for just one person.

6)  You can split entertainment expenses.

Apart from splitting the utilities, why not split the costs of a Netflix account? You live under one roof and don’t really need more than one account to get your fix of movies. The same goes for magazines. If you both like the same magazines, then why not share the cost of a magazine subscription?

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

Final Number for May – Saved $633.08

We made one bulk meat purchase from Zaycon Foods back in January and haven’t bought any meat since then until the Memorial Day sales over the past week.  I’ve picked up 60 pounds of chicken leg quarters, a slab of ribs, a whole pork loin and a sirloin tip roast this week to re-stock the freezer a little so I’m amazed that we still came in $22 under our current monthly budget of $300! We’d been trying to use up everything in the freezer since the first of the year so I’m really thrilled to have a tiny bit more variety in there now.  For the month of May we spent $277.94 to buy $911.02 worth of groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies and gifts, or a savings of 70%! According to the spreadsheet we’ve spent $1,096.15 so far this year for $5,004.89 worth of stuff, or 79% off. That equates to an average of $219 per month for our family of seven, or around a dollar a day per person!

 

Final Numbers for April – Saved $548.42

Wow – I am really amazed that we spent so little this month at only $158.25, or nearly $142 under our current monthly budget of $300! We’re down to very slim pickings in the freezer right now, but I’m still trying to use everything up in there so we can give it a good defrost and cleaning.  For that reason we haven’t bought any meat this month so I’m reserving the right to use some of this budget savings the next time Zaycon Foods is bringing beef or chicken to the area. For the month of April we spent $158.25 to buy $706.67 worth of groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies and gifts, or a savings of 78%! According to the spreadsheet we’ve spent $818.21 so far this year for $4,093.87 worth of stuff, or 80% off. That equates to an average of $205 per month for our family of seven, or less than a dollar a day per person!

 

8 Ways to Stay in Shape Without a Gym Membership

Most of us want to get in shape and stay healthy. However, we always find reasons to keep us from exercising—and having a limited budget is one of the reasons people often use. The great news is that you don’t need a costly gym membership to get in shape!

Here are some inexpensive ways to be fit and trim without spending a fortune:

1. Work out from home.

Instead of spending a hefty amount on monthly gym fees, why not spend on your own equipment? A jump rope, resistance band, stability ball and dumbbells are some of the more effective yet affordable things you can purchase. Check CraigsList or local consignment stores for larger equipment.  No budget for equipment? Then do push-ups, crunches and squats!

2. Hit the pavement.

You don’t need a treadmill to keep in shape. Step out the door and go for a walk or a run around your neighborhood. Map out a route you can do regularly, then work on increasing your pace or logging a longer distance the next time you head out.

3. Go sightseeing.

There’s no reason you can’t sightsee in your own city. Call your neighborhood parks and recreation centers to inquire about free or inexpensive walking tours. You can also opt to make use of your park facilities and walking trails.

4. Take the stairs.

Forego the convenient elevator ride up to your office and take the stairs instead. If you’re pressed for time during the day, then take advantage of the empty stairwell after office hours. Get a great workout by repeatedly running up the stairs, and then walking back down.

5. Check out your local library.

If you’re strapped for cash but are looking to keep in shape, the library is a great place to go. Borrow workout DVDs or explore the periodicals section for health and fitness magazines. If you’re getting bored with your routine, then check out a new magazine or DVD next week!

6. Do housework.

You may not be excited about this, but doing the house and yard work is a wonderful way to burn a few calories. Clean the house from top to bottom and you’ll be able to stay in shape while keeping your house spic and span!

7. Go dancing.

Dancing is a fun way to get your blood pumping and your calories burning. Check your local clubs or community center to see if lessons are being offered. You’re likely to find group classes that are either free or very inexpensive.

8. Drink water.

Drinking only water and staying away from sodas, carbonated fruit drinks and alcoholic beverages is another inexpensive way to keep healthy. Not only will your calorie count drop, but your expenses will, too.

These are eight simple ways to stay in shape without having to enroll in a gym. Turn these activities into a habit and you’re well on your way to a becoming a healthier and happier you!

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6 Simple Laundry Secrets to Make Your Clothes Last Longer

One of the best ways to make the most out of your hard-earned money is to take good care of things you already own.

Here are simple laundry secrets that are sure to help make your clothes last longer:

1. Treat stains as soon as possible

The secret to successfully getting rid of stains is to treat them as soon as you can. Vinegar, dishwashing liquid and shampoo are great stain removers! You can also carry a stain removal pen in your pocket or purse for when you’re on the go. Once the stain has been treated, simply wash the article of clothing as you normally would.

2. Keep them closed

Buckles and metal zippers easily snag on other clothing items. Make sure no zippers on jackets and pants are left unzipped during washing and drying.

3. Turn your clothes inside out

When clothing is turned inside out, buttons and zippers of shirts and pants are on the inner side, preventing them from damaging other items of clothing. Pants, especially jeans, are also often turned inside out during washing and drying so that they retain their dark color.

4. Don’t take color separation lightly

If you’ve got loads of laundry to deal with, don’t be tempted to just stuff everything in the machine all at once. Reds and blues tend to fade easily, and the last thing you want is for your favorite white shirt to turn light pink. At the very least, do a separate load of laundry for dark-colored clothes and a separate one for light-colored clothes.

5. Keep delicates in a bag

Underwear is pretty expensive—so you need to make the most out of it! Keep your delicates in a mesh bag or even an old pillowcase closed with two or three safety pins. This is also a great way to keep socks together during the entire washing and drying process.

6. Wash your clothes in cold water

Cold water is much gentler on clothing compared to hot water, since hot water tends to weaken clothing fibers such as elastic. Hot water can also cause shrinking for some fabrics, and can turn temporary stains into permanent ones. Apart from cleaning your clothes, cold water also uses less energy and is a whole lot cheaper!

Doing the laundry may seem like an even more grueling task now—but the extra effort will definitely go a long way. Follow the tips above and you’ll keep your clothes in great condition for years to come!

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

How to Book Cheap Airline Tickets

Shopping around for inexpensive airline tickets can be a tedious and frustrating task. Airline ticket prices change frequently, and it seems like there’s no right time to book a flight.

Are you traveling on a light budget? Here are some useful tips on booking cheap airline tickets:

1. Surf the Internet

The Internet is a very powerful tool—so make the most of it! Travelocity.com and Expedia.com are popular sites for travel deals. You may also want to try airfare-monitoring websites like Yapta.com and Airfarewatchdog.com.

2. Book on a Wednesday

Believe it or not, the cheapest day to travel domestically is Wednesday. If Wednesdays don’t work for you, then try traveling on either Tuesdays or Saturdays. Keep in mind that you want to avoid flights on Fridays and Sundays, as these days are said to be the most expensive.

3. Be flexible

If you have no real agenda in mind, then be flexible when finalizing your travel dates. You’ll find that moving your flight one day forward or backward can make a huge difference on the cost of your ticket.

4. Head out early

The first flight out for the day (and red-eye flights) are said to be the cheapest. Sure, you have to wake up ridiculously early, but what’s that compared to saving a little cash?

5. Know your airport options

Check fares from the different airports in your area. You might be able to save money by driving an hour or two out of the way to depart from a smaller airport. Of course, remember to factor in costs of fuel and parking to see if the extra drive is worth it.

6. Travel light

Many airlines offer better deals for passengers with no check-in luggage. Check your airline’s policies to see just how much you can save. If you’re going on a short trip, then do away with the big suitcases and pack light.

7. Take the scenic route

You may be able to save a bundle by choosing a route with several layovers instead of a direct flight to your destination. If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, then why not take the long way?

These tips will help you save a considerable amount of money on your airline tickets. Now there’s nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the flight!

Photo Credit: iClipart

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