19 November 2013

Saving on Expenses

These are some of the habits I've used to save on expenses.  It is in a list form, because I tried not to use "I" too many times, because I realize many people are doing this 
and have these ideas and more. 

No cable T.V. and no land line. 

Keep the car a long time.

Purchase used books, use the library, and sometimes sell popular paper books back to the used-book store for an in store credit.

Use Netflix, unless it's a great movie like Lord of the Rings.

Shop at vintage and second hand stores. 

Buy secondhand, paint it, and make things.

Learn to repair everything in the home except for electricity and major plumbing. "You Tube" is really handy.

Live in an older neighborhood in a smaller house with no HOA.

Frugality. We buy a chicken for dinner once a week.  The next day we make sandwiches from the leftovers, and then that night we boil it down to make broth for soup and meat for enchiladas.

We eat apples, bananas, strawberries, oranges, pineapples, and fruits and vegetables that are on sale at the health-oriented grocery store that has the least expensive prices.  I also know which fruits and vegetable should be organic.  If American fruit or vegetables are on sale but the organic are not, I buy American because they use less chemicals than foreign sources. (A California source has to be safe.  LOL with the warnings on everything!)

For general groceries we buy from the store that gives a discount at the gas station.

I generally don't clip coupons or use my phone for discounts, because I don't use most of the items for which coupons are offered, but I am signed up to get the occasional five dollar or ten dollar coupon off a fifty dollar purchase.

Use Target's 5% discount

The Farmer's market is not a deal around here.  Where we use to live, the church ran a  farmer's market every other week that charged a flat rate of ten dollars for two variety boxes of produce.  We use to split it with my sister or our neighbor because it had more produce than we could use. The cost ended up being five dollars.  The church used the money it collected to run a food kitchen.

For specialty food items we go to the Chinese grocery store or the Mexican grocery store, because those items are less in their stores.  It helps that we live in the city, because these places can be worked into our daily route to and from lessons and classes.  

Generally, we don't buy junk food.  If we want something sweet, we bake.

Grow a garden...  I am new to doing this in the desert. 
I have two citrus trees so far: a lemon and a tangelo.

Buy cereal on sale, otherwise eat oatmeal, eggs, or a shake.  We buy a gluten-free protein mix that can be added to one's "milk" of choice.  It comes in a large container and lasts a long time.

Instead of buying flowers, place fruit in pretty bowls or cut branches or flowers from trees or bushes.

My spouse and I buy a few outfits and we wear them awhile. We allow my daughter to purchase the clothing she wants, but she has a monthly clothing allowance.  
She is pretty good at making some of her own toys.

For something special we buy from a local bakery store, or if we have to eat out for a special occasion, we choose a family-owned, restaurant in our neighborhood.

Don't use credit.

If we take a trip, it is usually driving distance.

We hike instead of belonging to a health club, but we pay for children's classes like dance.  It gets difficult when it is hot, because we don't have a pool here.

I'm probably missing something here?  I realize some people are pros at this.  What do you do?


  1. loved your list. We read the Total Money Makeover book years ago by Dave Ramsey and I got hooked on his radio program and being debt free. We almost have our home paid off, the only debt we have. I sometimes buy a roasted chicken from Sprouts (green store) and use it to make 3 or 4 meals. Chicken pot pie, chicken tacos, chicken fried rice, chicken salad... there's just two of us so a roasted chicken goes far in meals that don't require much meat.

  2. Thank you, River Crest. That's great in regards to your home! I have not heard his program, but I saw a list of his recently, and we are on the right track. I just looked at radio programming, and it looks like I can listen in archives.

    Sprouts is our store, I didn't know it was wide spread. Great meal ideas! There is only three of us, so same here in regards to a chicken. Thank you.

  3. I do most of the same things except that I use my cash back credit card for almost all monthly purchases and bills - then I always know exactly how much money I've spent in a month. It helps me to budget! and gives me free groceries :)

    1. Hi, Anne. I use cash, but that's a great idea for people who use one credit card to pay everything.

  4. As for saving on meals, I like to butterfly our chicken breasts so that you take one chicken breast and make it into two separate pieces. doing this gives you twice the number of chicken breasts, so if you buy 3 you end up with 6, but they are thinner.

    I also try to wear my lounge around the house clothes two or three days at a time so that I am washing less laundry and using less water. We also cut out cable about a year ago and I hear a lot of people doing the same. Its ridiculous when we pay for TV that we only watch a few hours a week, if that! We are on the computer WAY more than we watch tv! Oh and I also play swap n shop with my girlfriends where we go to someone's house for an evening and have some wine and snacks and we trade out our clothes/purses/shoes/décor items that we are no longer using. Sometimes we play the "stealing" game like you do for Christmas presents where someone can either take your item or draw from the pile, as a way to give the things we don't want a new home and that means WE also get something new in return. Its a lot of fun and everyone ends up with something the want that is "new" to them. Its like shopping for free!

    1. That's a great idea to butterfly the breasts! I think that is plenty for most and prevents waste.

      I have not had cable for about four years now. No one ever watched it, except for my spouse in football season. Now, he listens to his game on the radio, but can get a couple of football stations with the "antenna". The swapping is a great idea, because so many of us get tired of some of things we have or no longer use it.

      Unfortunately when my child was five, someone played a version of stealing game with young children, and it was a trauma.

  5. I have been really budget-aware for several years now too. We cut our land line but maintained our internet. We live in a very hilly area so like you our choice of health club is right outside our door. We don't go to movies either, watch Netflix or download from iTunes. I started a garden for fresh vegetables and hope to expand that next summer. My husband makes jams every summer to last the year. We are down to one car instead of two. That is a HUGE savings for us. We are also tracking our electricity consumption on a site offered by the Hydro company which allows us to challenge ourselves every month to do better than the previous month and previous year. Finally, we only busy second hand. I have always enjoyed thrift stores or pieces sold through kijiji. Certainly you get better quality. We own two Ikea couches but other than that....second hand.
    Great post! Always a good idea to remember the budget at this time of year when consumption gets out of hand.

    1. Hi, Donna. I loved your comment about reading with your son.

      Great idea, Donna! We only have one car too. My spouse has transportation for work. It gets tricky when he is home.

      I forgot about the energy. They have similar tracking on energy bills here, but I haven't had much luck changing it. The good news is that the summer bill on this house is 250 less than our former, larger home.

  6. Su, I love how you are so conscience of what, where and when you purchase food. I do most of the things you do regarding food. I need to get my hubsters up to speed regarding electronics! xoxo Jen

    1. Thank you, Jen.

      When you mentioned electronics that reminded me that I forgot about using the kindle or the i-pad for books. I actually don't buy many books for the kindle or i-pad. I found the cost is not much different than buying a used book, or the used book is less. If it is a used paperback it is about 3.00. ( I also discovered that it is a distraction for children.)

      However, I have exceptions. One can get free classics in the public domain from Amazon. They are formatted for the kindle, and that may be true for the i-pad too. It's sometimes handy to have one paperback sometimes and a hard copy. For example, when we read Wuthering Heights. My daughter loved it so much she read ahead of me. The other is exception are those app text/educational type books. They do some really neat effects on the Apple with embedded video and interactive charts.

  7. I really respect your post. I need to do more of this. Your values are something alot do not have. I try on alot of it however. People come to my home and will comment about this or that. Most of it is garage sale, thrift store or a friend made. I love eating heathy too! I try not to have junk food around most of the time. Thanks for being a constant visitor to my blog. I really enjoy knowing people read it.

    1. Thank you, p ballard. I love your thrift finds!

  8. I do somehow the same, except a few things are different in France. Life is more expensive, generally speaking. The coupons or other things of the kind are ridiculous, compared to the US, something I discovered while reading blogs!

    1. Magali, I went to France 23 years ago, and it was very expensive, and I imagine, like everywhere. it has become more expensive.

      Do you think there is a difference in what French people are willing to live with in their homes compared to Americans? For example, here most kitchens are larger than mine, yet magazines describe average kitchens as small. Americans tend to like large kitchens and homes.

  9. These are great tips! I have been trying to reduce on costs myself. Netflix is the biggest thing! Cable and home phones are such a waste!

    1. Thank you, Jennifer. I agree. I can't believe how expensive cable has become.

  10. Very good post, I love when others talk about saving money and how they do it. It was interesting about the land line. I have one, but have been thinking of cutting it out, never really use it anyway. Thanks for sharing this! Hugs, Diane

  11. you covered all the basics! We do pretty much all of the above.

  12. It is a very good list. Pretty much the same here for most of it though I still have my landline. The cost is silly ( about 29.00 per month ) to mostly just get robo-calls, but I worry that I'll need it someday ( if cell phone dies or I lose it or some such thing ) in an emergency so I still have it thus far.

    Interesting what you said about coupons. I find it to be the same. I use them sometimes but the majority of them are for products that I don't use !

    The last time I considered buying a whole roasting chicken, I ended up buying a big split turkey breast which for some weird reason was half the price of chicken here ! My thanksgiving turkey is "Free" in that along with gas discounts the local store gives a free turkey if you hit a threshold of spending there which is not hard to do...they give you ages to do it...

  13. This is a very helpful post, especially with one in college and one in private HS. We negotiated a good basic cable/internet bundle. These companies will negotiate, BTW….
    I buy sales, especially BOGO free, like at the Fresh Market. I only buy what I know we'll use. We only go to Starbucks as a treat, not often. We make all coffee and tea at home.
    We rarely eat out. I've started freezing leftovers (like from red beans and rice, stews, and soups) and eating them at a later date.
    We rarely go to movies. We prefer Netflix and AppleTV.
    We've checked out more books at the library and only purchased those we know we'll read again. We go to the library every Tuesday.
    We have no debt. None. We made it a goal to pay off our mortgage before we both turned forty, and we did it.
    We DO buy fresh flowers at least 2 - 3 times per month because we have a local flower market that has great prices. Fresh flowers are a must, and they lift all of our spirits. If we lived somewhere without a wholesaler, I'd be so sad!
    I think it's the little things, the "death form a thousand cuts" that trip us up when it comes to finances. I think it's important to not buy for the sake of buying.
    I also think giving is important, and did you know that many companies match your charitable donations?


  14. That's wonderful!!!

    As you know flowers are expensive here, but sometimes the flowers from the bushes are nice to bring in the house. I had planted a lot of flowering plants at my last home. I probably will here too, but nothing beats roses.

    No, I didn't know that about charitable organizations. I only knew that Feed the Children did that sometimes.

    I do the one that Az has for schools. It allows me to use 500 of my taxes to give to a school. Mine goes to a Catholic school on the reservation. I was one of about three Anglos that went there. They do a wonderful job of getting almost 100% to college if the students go through their high school. ( At least I have a little bit of say on the state income tax.)


Thank you for taking time to visit and leave a kind message today. I love to visit your blogs too, and I do when I can link back. xoxo Su