Taking Frugal to a Whole New Level

 

So, last week, we came upon a series of changes that has us re-thinking things here a bit.  For quite some time, I’ve been harassing the Lord for ways in which to speed up our debt payoff.  He answered, I believe, by leading me to a post Grayson over at Debt Roundup wrote recently.

The post, called Stepping Away Can Give You a Fresh Perspective, really resonated with me.  After reading Grayson’s article, I decided to step away from our money issues.  A few days off; no going over the budget, no looking for extra side hustle income, etc.  When I came back from this short “sabbatical” from our finances, one of the first things I did was to look again at one of our blog comments.  The gal who left this particular comment had recommended a frugal site called The Prudent Homemaker.  I’d been to this site a couple of years ago, but at that time in our lives we were not ready to make the necessary changes to our finances, so although I was impressed, I pretty much blew off this woman’s amazing advice.

This time, though, due to my “fresh perspective”, I was able to see her valuable tips in a whole new light.  This woman feeds her family of nine for between $100-$200 a month, and she knows how to live frugally in the other aspects of her life as well.  After perusing the tips on her site, I’ve found ways in which we can cut our expenditures dramatically, especially in the area of food.

For instance:  We usually buy a 10 pound bag of flour at Walmart for roughly $4.68.  I can a 25 pound bag of flour at Sam’s Club for roughly $7.58.  That’s a huge savings, especially when you’re cooking for a family of six!

Spices are another area in which buying in bulk can save tons of cash.  I can easily save 50% or more on our spice purchases if I buy in bulk and I know we’ll use it all.

Pasta and Rice?  Same deal.  My 25 lb. box of rice at Sam’s is roughly $10.58.  A 50 lb. bag is roughly $17.58.

Buying in bulk is one of our main goals for saving extra money from now on.

Also, the Prudent Homemaker takes major advantage of sales, and has maximum prices for what she’ll spend on certain items based on those sales.  For instance, I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post recently that I’d picked up a 10 lb. bag of potatoes for $1.38.  I was super psyched that I could feed our 25 guests potatoes for under $3.  But the Prudent Homemaker would’ve done differently. She would’ve picked up as many bags of potatoes as possible (based on how long they keep in her garage) and fed her family for less for a couple of months instead of for one occasion.  DUH!  Why didn’t I think of that?

Well, I am now.  We love our little Totino’s Party Pizzas when we have pizza night.  They cost between $1.38 and $1.59 at the stores around here, but this week, one store had them on sale for 98 cents, so I picked up enough pizzas to last us for a good six to twelve months.  Now I’m thinking!

We’ll also be making homemade laundry detergent.  I spend about $6-$7 a month on laundry detergent, but after buying the ingredients and the 5 gallon pail/cover for this homemade version, I spent roughly $16, and this will last me for an entire year.  Total savings?  Over $56.

This may not seem like a lot of money, but in the end, it really, truly does add up.

You see, before, I was so focused on spending less money at the moment, that I wasn’t thinking long-term about our money.  Our grocery bill for October will be a good $200 higher than it normally is, but I will spend LOTS less next year based on the good deals I got this week.  Averaging it out, I should be able to cut at least $100 a month off of our current grocery bill, and maybe even more.  That’s a minimum of $1200 extra dollars I can put toward debt next year, all with a little extra planning.

So, do you have plans to take frugal to a whole new level next year?  If so, how?

56 comments

  1. Dear Debt says:

    I think it’s necessary to take a few days off, or you could be so nose-to-the-grindstone you lose focus. Looks like you got some fresh perspective!

  2. Hi Laurie,
    Taking time off for yourself is a great. way to recharge yourself from your depression era budget. Problem when I buy in bulk is sometimes I don’t end up eating it all, great savings you have.

  3. It’ s funny how taking a step back for a bit can help you refresh and see things in a new light, isn’t it? 🙂 We do a number of these things now and can only imagine more so in the future as the boys get older and require a side of beef at each meal, lol. 😉

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, Rick worries quite a bit about that with our son. If what he can eat now is any indication, we had better well be taking frugal to a whole new level. 🙂

  4. Matt Becker says:

    Nice work Laurie! It’s so exciting when you can find a breakthrough like that that really pushes you forward. We have pretty limited space right now to do much buying in bulk, but that’s something I’d really like to do more of when we buy a place. A deep freezer is something I’m excited to invest in.

    • Laurie says:

      I have to say that the deep freezer has been one of our best monetary investments, Matt. We can get a side of beef here for about $3.50-$3.75 a pound, but that would only work if we had the deep freezer. Ribeyes for $3.75 a pound – woohoo!

  5. Alexa says:

    It’s nice to take a step back and look at where you’re at. Little breaks can often serve as inspiration to find a new and better way to do something we already do. I have visited that site before but it has been awhile. May have to check it out again. Good luck with taking your frugality to a new level but I I don’t have any doubt that you’ll do awesome!

  6. Glad to hear that my post helped you take a minute to collect yourself and then get back into it. It is amazing how taking a step back can really clear your thoughts and vision you have for yourself. Nice work Laurie!

  7. I have been following your grocery saving tips but I guess there is always more to learn.

    There is only me so I won’t be buying a 25 pound box of rice but I am trying to buy in bulk. I am worried about weevils in my flour and other forms of waste that can happen when things are stored. How do you store all of this stuff?

    • Laurie says:

      Great concern, Jane. We put ours in food-safe pails with strong lids, and then add the oxygen absorbers to kill off any bugs that might get in. The thought of it really is quite gross, I know. If you have a big freezer too, you could cook the rice in meals right away and freeze it.

  8. Brit says:

    I have done this many time and it has work great for me. Our grocery budget has change through out the years. For me, some items are not worth buying in bulk since with a sale you can get them cheaper. I am pretty sure you will do well Laurie. You can make it work. Thank for the post.

  9. I enjoyed Grayson’s post a lot too. We all need to take a step away sometimes. I’m glad you came back and found new ways to save even more. And I do think sometimes when our goal is to save money – we tend to think in the moment, instead of big picture. Like you said with the bag of potatoes, it’s a great savings and helped reduce your Thanksgivings cost but buying up more bags of potatoes could have saved you even more money in the long run. Sometimes we too get caught up in our monthly budgets to see the yearly savings. Glad you’re looking at everything from every angle!

  10. E.M. says:

    Great job on figuring out how to improve upon saving on grocery costs. I try to buy in bulk when possible, but it’s only the 2 of us and I hate to see things go to waste. We also have limited space – our freezer always seems full no matter how we organize it!

    This is a trivial example, but the other day I was at Target and saw that their mozzarella sticks were on sale. They had two boxes – 8 oz and 32 oz. The tinier one was $2.79, the bigger one was $6. It pays to look into these things sometimes. It’s a little hard for me to swallow spending more now, but you’re right that the savings show up in the future.

    • Laurie says:

      I’ve always had trouble with the “now” spending amount too, E.M. It’s hard, I think, especially when money is tight, to think longer-term.

  11. Wow Laurie! I had no idea that it’s possible to make homemade laundry detergent! This is one of the most expensive items in my shopping budget! Buying in bulk makes sense to me, we did this recently with potatoes which have last us all month so far. Buying rice and pasta in bulk is well worth it, something I don’t do but will do now! I’m glad you were able to take a step back and find another way to save money when you returned to finance stuff. Thanks for sharing all this and I can’t wait to head over to the Prudent Homemaker now! 🙂

  12. I am humbled by your grocery tactics already, and this does really take it to a new level. Oddly I am more concerned with waste than I am with gaining savings through bulk, but our family (even when both of us are here) is so much smaller than yours. Different approaches, but I think for your big and happy family, bulk buying is a great strategy.

    Maybe some time away is a good idea for me, too…

    • Laurie says:

      I think you guys are on the right track for your situation, DB40. With two to feed, it really can be easy to waste a lot more. Like you said, different families, different approaches. Would love to hear how some time away turns out for you. 🙂

  13. Isabella says:

    It really does help to step away, come back, and look at things with a new perspective. It’s amazing what other people can teach us! I did stumble upon The Prudent Homemaker blog and decided to give the whole pantry thing a try. I could see how helpful it was to build up a food store, especially with a family. But even with just hubby and I, the results have been fantastic for our food budget. I made a list of the most commonly used items in our cooking and started to purchase them little by little in bulk sizes that were sensible for us. (A large family would buy more, of course.) Before too long, I was getting to the point where I was cooking a lot from my pantry and freezer items and grocery shopping less. We still eat a lot of variety of foods, but I LOVE not grocery shopping so much. (One of my least favorite chores) I look forward to reading about how this works out for you and your family!

    PS I put all my flour purchases in the freezer until needed.

    • Laurie says:

      Amazing that you’ve made it work out so well even in your smaller family, Isabella! You are a great example to all. Great tip about putting the flour in the freezer too – I’ll have to try that!

  14. I love your tenacity Laurie. You really are inspiring to see that you’ll do whatever it takes to get your family out of debt. I know that hard work will pay off. You are leading the way in frugality…really! I hope you are very proud of yourself and your family!

    • Laurie says:

      thank you SO much, Tonya. 🙂 I really feel like we’re starting to be on a roll now. The first 9 months were pretty tough, but we’re working on it. 🙂

  15. Lyle @ The Joy of Simple says:

    Great post Laurie 🙂

    As a single dude who gets invited out for dinner a lot, it usually doesn’t make sense for me to buy in bulk. But I can see where certain food items might be ok to buy in bulk if need be. I plan on doing a lot of cooking at home this winter so frugal thoughts will be parading throughout my rain 🙂

    Glad also to read that you got to take a little time off. I’m all for taking some ME time as you well know!

    Take care and my best to all.

    Lyle

  16. Great advice about thinking for the long run. I recently discovered something similar by myself: here in Romania, the prices go up very slowly but also steadily. It’s just pennies every couple of months, but sometimes it’s more. So I have decided that whatever lasts a lot should be purchased in high quantities to avoid these small price increases that add up in the end. I never thought (strange, right) about the discounts and it totally makes sense to take advantage of these to buy as much as possible without the risk of having the food spoil. This will indeed save us a lot of money in the long run, even though expenses for one month will be higher. Great advice!

    • Laurie says:

      Interesting! And if the rumors are true, we’ll all be facing some huge rises in food prices soon. Stock up, friends, where and when you can!

  17. I like the idea of buying in bulk for a big family. My brother and sister-in-law have six kids and they go through food like crazy. We aren’t able to buy quite as much at a time since there are only four of us but we still stock up when we can!

  18. I know it’s terrible, but I am just too lazy to deal with 25lb bags of dry ingredients. Part of that comes from the fact that living in NYC I don’t have that kind of storage capacity. Maybe if I lived in the “burbs” I’d invest some time in coming up with a good storage and use system.

    • Laurie says:

      It might not be the right thing for you right now, Stefanie. DB40 mentioned how he and his wife are focusing on reducing food waste right now rather than buying in bulk, being it’s just the two of them, and I thought that was a great idea.

  19. Taking a step back is a great way to gain new perspectives. With a big family, it totally makes sense to buy in bulk if you have the storage capacity. I love how you are continually finding ways to cut costs and get out of debt.

  20. It is amazing what a break can do for perspective. I actually see this all the time when writing for my blog. When I get stuck on an idea or concept and I have learned to just walk away, it’s OK if I don’t finish it right now. I call it brain constipation. Then 9 times out of 10 when I come back to it I see it in a whole new light and can’t type fast enough. I call it brain diarrhea. OK, maybe the names need a little work.

  21. Kelly says:

    I found The Pudent Homemaker a couple of years ago and I also had that AHA moment. I was so frustrated with my grocery bill, especially with how much I was spending on soda, juice and milk. I rarely offered water. Now we all drink water throughout the day. Milk is served with dinner and juice is for Sunday breakfast. Soda is a rare treat. We are healthier and my grocery bill is much smaller 😉 Sometimes we just get stuck in our routine and need a new perspective.

    • Laurie says:

      We do the same thing, Kelly! Pop is for special occasions only, and milk only at dinner, and we’ve cut our juice bill by over 50%. Huge money savings, just in beverages alone!

  22. I am a huge fan of taking a vacation from our “problems”. I can get a bit obsessive about them, thinking about them nonstop, which never really helps. It generally just makes me defeated. But when I step away, I can face whatever is going on much more calmly and figure out a plan of action. I’ll have to check out the Prudent Homemaker’s website. I used to have an embarrassing amount of food waste so right now I’m focused on keeping my grocery costs low and using what I purchase – no waste! Although when I find a great sale on something like kitty litter, I try to stock up for Max! 🙂 He would prefer it be treats!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, I’m sure our kitty babes would LOVE it if we’d pick up the giant box of kitty treats at Sam’s each week. 🙂 I know what you mean about getting obsessive – it can be a huge problem with me too, and it rarely seems to help.

  23. Growing up in a family of 6, my mom often bought in big bulk to save in the long run as well. It worked. 🙂 Right now it’s just J and I so we don’t buy in bulk because we honestly don’t have that much storage space in a City condo. I do always buy extras of non-perishable things if they go on super sale like toothbrushes, toilet paper, etc.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, you know where we’re coming from, GMD. 🙂 Your part about the toothbrushes reminded me of my mom: she never ever pays for toothpaste – she always waits for a coupon/sale combo where she can walk out with free toothpaste, and then she stocks up. It’s the one tip she remembers from a coupon class she took a couple of years ago. 🙂

  24. I think it’s a great tactic when buying for a big family and having enough storage space. I don’t have either 😛 That said, I still take advantage of some great offers out there that save me a bit of cash. I have never thought of making a washing detergent at home. Wow! Let us know how you get along! 😛

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, we’ve found some very inventive ways to store our stockpiles, like under beds, where you’ll find loads of toilet paper. 🙂 It’s not ideal, but it works. I will be making the homemade detergent today (we’re just about out of the regular stuff) so I’ll definitely be letting everyone know how it works out. Thanks, Eva!

Comments are closed.