I’m turning into one. I mean, I’ve been one for a while, but now I’m turning into a serious one.

I just devoured Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, and as of May we’re working on the baby steps. Our plan is to be out of debt (including the student loan and my car) in 2 years, then start saving for retirement and college, then start paying off the house.

I was already doing stuff like rinsing out my Ziploc bags and reusing aluminum foil, shopping in the reduced-for-quick-sale section of the meat department, and all that. Now I’m on a mission to cut my grocery budget down by $200 a month. “What, SarahK? Our entire grocery budget is $200 a month! What are you eating, steak every night?” Ha, no. We’re eating gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, hardly anything processed (out of necessity). Pet food is $100 every six weeks, because we have a dog who is allergic to anything cheap and who will scratch herself until she bleeds if we feed her anything but expensive food (read: food without a lot of grain ingredients).

Anyway, other than extreme couponing (which, frankly, takes too much time for me to stick with it), do y’all have any money saving tips for me? I’m focusing on the grocery budget here, because we’ve already ditched our home phone, we’re ditching cable as soon as Idol ends this season, and we’ve cut out other things. Now I need to trim.

I’d love to hear your suggestions!

18 Responses to cheapskate

  1. You need to get The Tightwad Gazette. She is the champ at cheapskating. :)

  2. Gardening! If nothing else, grow your own herbs because it’s SO much cheaper than buying them at the store. Use them fresh or dry them and store them in dark jars. If you have more space, grow lettuces and other greens. They’re quick and good for you and easy to grow. And gluten-free! :) Seriously, we rarely by produce at the stores in the summer, and we’re slowly but surely working on growing more things that we can store through the winter. Start small, but start. It’ll be great as Buttercup gets older, too. Our kids pick asparagus…pea pods off the vine…and just eat that stuff outdoors as snacks. We have to order them to leave some for us.

    I know this won’t give you immediate results, but long-term you’ll save a lot.

  3. I second the Tightwad Gazette. I didn’t use all her tips (and by now, some are really outdated), but she is certainly, as she calls herself, the “frugal zealot.”

    My favorite bit of her advice was that you can’t expect to save huge amounts of money in big chunks. You might be able to knock $300 off a car price once when you make that rare purchase, but it’s the every day savings choices that you make that really add up. So when you choose a generic product over a name brand product and save 30 cents every week on that product, you save $15 a year. It’s those little things that add up.

    When we were climbing out of steep debt, we hung all our clothes on the clothesline. We didn’t turn on the dryer ever. We also unplugged things that we weren’t using but still took electricity. It saved quite a bit on the electric bill.

  4. I’m insanely cheap myself. My biggest thing is price matching. I keep a running, general idea in my head of what most of my nececssities cost at Wal-Mart. Then when the weekly ads come out, I check their prices and price match whatever I can. If it’s not on sale and it’s not something I HAVE to have this trip, it waits. But you do have to be careful. A lot of sale prices aren’t really any cheaper. I actually keep a spreadsheet with what’s on sale where and what the savings are. It makes grocery-list-making and grocery shopping a little more complicated and time consuming, but what I save is totally worth it. On average, it takes me an extra hour-hour and a half to do both, but I generally save around $30 per trip.

    I also line-dry my laundry when it’s warm enough and this saves me a million, fillion dollars since I have the oldest, ricketiest dryer on the planet. I only dry our uhhh “delicates” in the dryer. The first month I did it, I tracked the cost from the year before, etc, and I was saving around 40.00 a month just from switching to line drying. If you’re interested in line-drying, let me know. I have a lot of tips to streamline the process and make it so your towels don’t come out “crunchy” like they can do when they’re dried in the sun!

  5. So I’m mostly commenting because I want to hear the advice others have. I feel like my groc. expenses are out of control. I know extreme couponing is not for me. Not only do I not have the time for it, coupons mostly seem to be for things that I don’t buy (processed food, etc.). I do clip coupons because every little bit helps. However, I think there must be more I can do. A friend of mine recommended meal-planning. I’m not a great planner, but I willing to try. She actually recommended a site called ez-meals. They do the planning for you based on whatever is on sale at the grocery store in your area. They do offer a gf option, but it’s only good for walmart. I do not shop at Walmart.

  6. I scour the weekly ads and stock up when there’s a good price on staples that will keep. This includes personal hygiene items and my personal vice–Pepsi Max. I currently have a month+ supply of the Max stashed around the house. I don’t go crazy with the coupons, but I cut the ones out on stuff I know I’ll buy. Like Cheerios, Tide, whatever.

  7. Ok I love line drying. But how do you get your towels to not be stiff and scratchy? Please share!!
    Also I love Dave Ramsey. You can podcast an hour of his show each day. I listen to it when I walk. It is extremely motivational and educational. You can get it through iTunes.

  8. Amy – I use a cup of vinegar in the washing machine. It’s amazing what a difference it makes and it’s such a cheap solution!

  9. No smell? Any type of vinegar? Thanks! I will try.

  10. Dave Ramsey is awesome.

    We just got done doing Financial Peace University, and heartily recommend that course.

  11. bikermommy

    I do not line dry my clothes. A childhood experience with wasps in my line dried dress taught me that line drying is inherently evil. :)

    My suggestion would be to stock up on staples. Put cereals, chips, gf flours, etc. in fridge as they will last a very long time that way. Don’t buy things that ruin easily until the day you are going to use them. Prevents a lot of waste. Eat leftovers the next day. Keeping them longer than that usually results in not eating them. Or freeze them. Making a cake? Freeze leftovers and have again another time. Eat lots of Mexican salad. And homemade soups. No generic peanut butter though. Yuck! :)

  12. As a seasoned mother of 4 my biggest thrill is garage sales and the Salvation Army. Especially when you have very small children, you can hardly spend any money, get the money you did spend back if you have a garage sale, and only have to buy new shoes and underwear. It is hit or miss, but you never know what you will find. You NEVER forget the great buys you got. At least I don’t. After I had my only daughter, I went to a garage sale and spent $40. I came home with a trash bag FULL of clothes to fit that baby girl for the first 2 years of her life, including lots of outfits for various and sundry holidays. I get a high off of saving money like what I imagine gamblers get when they win. Only mine is much more affordable. :)

  13. There’s a website called “The Grocery Game” where they’ve taken Erica’s spreadsheet idea and dialed it up to eleven. They track the months-long cycles the grocery stores use and you can get a fair idea of when staples and other items will be on their lowest sales, and she color-codes everything: stock up, only if you need it, and avoid for now.

    She does recommend that you keep your local coupon circulars as well, but here’s the trick – you just keep the whole circular. (Ladybug dates them, 3-hole punches them, and keeps them in a binder.) Then when you get the sale you’re looking for, the GG website will tell you which circular had the coupon on which date (it may have been weeks ago) and THEN you clip it out. It makes it much less time-consuming.

    As I recall, the GG creator does charge a small fee based on how many grocery stores you track, but I think it more than pays for itself in the time and money saved. With gas prices orbiting Jupiter again, the less you have to drive around everywhere every week, the better.

  14. I don’t have the time for extreme couponing, but I do clip coupons and use the coupons I find for our regular staples. I don’t buy some of the items I see coupons for in the circulars, as enticing as some of them are, because if it’s not a product we regularly purchase, it really is wasting money if I buy it, even with a coupon.
    I also stock up on certain items when Publix has BOGO sales. Sometimes I get lucky and am able to combine BOGO sales with coupons on-hand.
    I also review the weekly sales circulars and compare the ads. I have three different grocery store chains just minutes from my house, so if we see something cheaper at a store other than Publix (the closest one), we drive over to the other store and purchase it. This only really works if there’s more than one item, are if it’s a significant sale. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.
    Oh, and for baby Buttercup, join the baby clubs from Target and the grocery store. They will send you coupons for stuff for her.

    Hope this helps!

  15. I second The Grocery Game! I pay $10 a quarter and don’t have to clip coupons, just save the circulars.

    Having lived ‘poor’ for many years, I can recommend that you eat as little processed food as possible. If you can, make all your own bread, grow your own vegies, and have vegetarian nights with home-cooked beans and brown rice.

    I usually make too much food as it is just the 2 of us. To make sure that the left overs get eaten, Monday is Left Over Night. We throw very little away.

    BTW, I love the chicken noodle soup recipe you published a while back. It’s very good, even with gluten noodles! :-)

    Good Luck with your plan!

  16. I second the grow-your-garden suggestion! I don’t have a lot of time to tend to a vegetable garden, but I’ve found that gardens need water more than they need weeding (thank goodness!). My garden may not look pretty, but it produces a lot of vegetables. A bonus to where I live is that I have well water, so don’t have a water bill. You may not have that luxury, but gardening is still a money saver!

  17. Handload all your own ammo.


    I they have Gluten Free options.