Monday, February 2, 2009

My Cheap Life

Sometimes people ask me how we can afford to live on one income. My answer is "I don't know"- because I really don't. I live in New Jersey which is known for its high cost of living.
I am not a big shopper. There is nothing that I really want. This aspect of my personality does help when it comes to saving money. Luckily, my husband is not a shopper either. Other than that we have cut out all the little extras we used to enjoy.

Lately, I've been trying to figure out how we can cut back and save more $. I realized we could probably cut back on groceries. However, we buy a lot of organic food (especially produce) because I believe in trying to eat a healthily diet. We also buy grass fed free range meat. In case you hadn't noticed there are rarely coupons for healthy food in your newspaper. However, if you would love some high fructose corn syrup and trans fat in your diet you can probably get it for free with some smart couponing.

I also use certain products (safe products) for myself and Eliza. My husband doesn't seem to mind the toxic products so much and I just haven't been able top turn him on to Tom's toothpaste and deodorant. So while I could probably get a free Crest or Colgate every week with a coupon/store sale combination, I don't use those products. I also won't use toxic products just because they are cheap or free. Eliza and I are now using Dr. Bronner's soaps because they have an excellent rating at the Cosmetic Safety Database. I basically have to suck it up and hope for sales or pay full price for these products.

Sooo, I have been trying to figure out how to find coupons for the products I use and I have had some luck. I have had to find other ways to cut the grocery bill. I have been menu planning since November and it is a huge help. I also have been using less meat and more pasta, rice, beans, lentils etc. We are leftovers people so that is a big help. I love leftovers! We created a grocery budget and I am trying to come in at or under budget.

Here is a glimpse of my menu plans for the week.

Monday Chicken Enchiladas
Tuesday- Broccoli & Cheese Quesadilla
Wednesday- Leftovers
Thursday -Penne Wise Pumpkin Pasta
Friday- Grilled Cheese & Black Bean Soup

How do you save $ on groceries?


Lori said...

I do use coupons and take advantage of sales whenever I see them. I've also begun buying more generic items from time to time. I menu plan each week too... it helps keep me in check on the menu and I find I never get to dinner time and say... now what am I going to make?

the other thing I do a lot of is making enough for multiple meals so I can freeze leftovers for quick meals

EP said...

I'm loving your weekly menu! Yum!

I try to use coupons, as well, but more often than not, they're for foods I don't want and/or are unhealthy. I try to stay away from those even though it's challenging sometimes. I try to save on groceries by only going to the store when I need food and bringing a specific list so I don't get distracted by all the yummy stuff!

Marcy said...

I think the biggest thing, which you may already be doing is buy fresh and base ingredients and cook yourself, rather than ready-made items, as much as possible. We still fall prey to the frozen pizzas and lasagnas (even the "healthy" ones from Trader Joes and Whole Foods, etc) but they cost a good bit more usually than making your own.

Going back to baking soda and vinegar for cleaning needs, rather than buying cleaners.

Meat, especially free-range and organic versions, are so expensive. =( So yeah replacing those with other proteins, and buying in bulk when available, is pretty big.

And then there's trying to grow some of your own food, or joining a farming co-op where you pay an annual fee and get deliveries of fresh produce all year round:

We've been doing ok with hubby's income, are trying to live on a budget but haven't had to scrimp *too* much. Food is also a priority to us so we try to cut back on other stuff before worrying much about food costs. At the same time, we hardly ever go out to eat, cooking at home most nights so other than buying organic a lot of the time we don't spend that much on food. And now that we buy most of our fresh stuff at the farmer's market we seem to hardly spend any money at the grocery store anymore.

Anonymous said...

It makes me mad too that they push for you to buy organic/healthier food, but it is so expensive! They should make a push for that to little less expensive or provide coupons.
Good for you for keeping your budget down.
Now do you base your menu on what you want or by what is on sale that week? I have thought about doing that myslef.

Hip Mom's Guide said...

At one point or another, I think I've tried most of these tips! Great advice from everyone. I agree that eating healthy costs more, hands down. But in the long run, your kids will be glad you spent a little more there, and saved in other areas, don't you think?

The one suggestion I would add, that Marcy touched on, is finding a local CSA. For a set price, you can often pick up a basket of locally grown produce every week. Doing so can help you try out new foods, too. Good luck!

Andrea said...

Yep...sounds like you and I are pretty much in the same boat. We are VERY cheap and are able to live on 1 salary (which isn't the highest paying salary either). But like you said, we've cut out all the extras (except for internet! haha), and I too, have trouble cutting back on my grocery budget because I like to buy the healthy items as well...where did you have luck finding coupons for those sorts of things?

Sheri said...

Ha Ha, that is so true about coupons. Ok, here is how I have been saving on the safer products.

I order my Tom's toothpaste, Dr. Bronners, and my shampoo and conditioner from there for half of what it would cost me if I go down to the store. It is free shipping for $100 or more. I just order a lot at a time to get it.

When I do go to whole foods, I go to the customer service desk and ask if they have any coupon books and they always do.

MoziEsmé said...

Menu plans - at least having a grocery list - really does make a difference. Though I'm not doing so hot at the moment with that! I'm like you - I don't generally spend much - except when it comes to grocery shopping. I have this need to have my pantry FULL... :)

PletcherFamily said...

For our "bigger" family we use BJs (which is like Costco or Sam's Club) to buy our food. That does help. We have a garden that we use in the spring and summer for veggies. We even have some fruit trees! :) But it is hard to use groceries as a place to skimp for our family. We deiced to cut back on eating out so much and that helped while we were a one income family. We also set a budget each month and when we reach it - that's it - so we have to plan accordingly. No cheating!

Pierrette said...

I hear you...

The grocery store we shop at takes coupons from this site:

I also find using an organic food share saves us money.

I also make a once a month trip to an organic mill (they sell all the dry goods like, beans, lentil, rice, pasta at dirt cheep prices)

You should try to see if there are any organic manufacturers of food in your area, they usually have outlet stores.

Christy said...

It is really expensive to live in NJ. Our house literally cost 3 times as much as our house in Kentucky. It is INSANE. And don't even get me started on property taxes!

We do a lot of shopping at Whole Foods and it is SUPER expensive. We usually spend at least $100 a week on groceries. And then an additional $50 at Target for diapers, wipes, etc. It is tough saving money on groceries when you are vegan, because you have limited options.