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Frugal Friday

cwaltz's picture
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Disclosure: I am grammatically challenged. While I did indeed take a college English composition class, I tend to unleash my inner Emily Dickenson online. I despise punctuation and adore run on sentences. I insert parentheses everywhere (my brain is frequently acts like that college streaker that zigzags across the field screaming, "Go Cavs!") If you are a member of the grammar police I offer my apologies in advance.

I struggled with where to start my postings on frugality. I decided it was best to start with where I began. After my husband and I left the military in 1999 my family was homeless. We lived in a motel. We struggled from week to week spending most of our income keeping a roof over our children's heads and paying for a rental unit which housed all of our belongings. We had no stove. Five of us lived in one room with 2 beds. I was pregnant with our fourth child (Cue the Responsibility police with admonishments of people having children they can't afford. Nevermind that my husband and I were veterans with over 20 years of service between the 2 of us. Nevermind our original plans were to stay housed with my brother in law and it wasn't until we got here that he decided to tell us that we would not be able to stay where we had planned for months. Why in the world should those little things matter?) I say this out loud because I think it's important for people to understand that anyone can have a string of events that spiral and leave you vulnerable. Anyone.

That being said this year my family finished paying off our little singlewide pulling our housing costs down. We finish paying off our car this year. We have absolutely no credit cards. My oldest has half of his first year of college socked away. So just as anyone can find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, people can also with some luck, a helping hand, and ALOT of hard work dig themselves out.

Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you some of the resources I utilize. One of the sites I love is Recyclebank. Why? The site gives me points that I can utilize to buy coupons for healthier products (Yes they also have junk like Coca Cola). For example, right now, Recyclebank has coupons available for $2 off a Kashi product or coupons for $2 off 2 Earthbound Farms products. With a coupon Kashi can be purchased for less than a dollar here. I can feed my family a cereal that has fiber and protein rather than just sugar and junk. (Kroger this week) The Earthbound Farms coupon can net me FREE carrots (2 pounds) or carrots and celery for less than a dollar or carrots and broccolli for under $2 (Walmart.)

Honey Roasted Carrots
(from the Cook This Not That Cookbook)

8 medium carrots
1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 Tbsp thyme
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Toss carrots in the rest of the ingredients. Cook for around 35 minutes.

110 calories and Vitamin A

I believe Recyclebank has a referral program. If so it would be great to see someone like RedQueen get the points. So if you are struggling feel free to post in the comments a referral link.

Random shoutout to to AMERICAN apparel producer Carol Rose (found at Ross.) Apparently they never got the message that Americans cost too much to employ. Oh and suck it because the shirt was only $8.99, less than its Guatemalan counterpart at Old Navy.

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jjmtacoma's picture
Submitted by jjmtacoma on

I'll have to check out the Recyclebank. I'm on a mailing list for "Groupons" but they don't seem to have anything I'd want.

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

They have affiliated recycle programs and in those cases you could probably even rack up some points for gift cards. My area does not. Still coupons on organic produce are gold as far as I'm concerned. They're a great way to stretch your grocery dollar.

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

at Aldi. They don't have huge selections or a lot of brands. In fact they carry very few national brands.

When we started going there they were known as a stock up store. And they didn't carry fresh vegetables or meats at all. But now they do and their vegetables are fabulous and really good deals. I don't know where they get their meat (they don't have in-house butchers) but, they're a little high in sodium so we don't get much meat there.

I've gone through the local Hy-Vee & Price Choppers with our Aldi receipt and we're saving right around 50% on our grocery purchases.

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

No Aldis in SWVA. I've heard some good things about the store though. The grocery budget is a good place to start when you need to save. And pretty much with inflation and stagnating wages EVERYONE is finding themselves having to find the spare pennies.

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

We also go to the Used-Bread-Store (really just outlets for the bakeries -- it's not even day-old anymore) for bread. And CostCo for cheese & some meats. They're all in one big loop & we shop just once a month. Which saves gas and impulse shopping.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

called Amelia's. It's a bit out of the way for me but my kid's classmate's mom goes there sometimes.
But our favorite place to save is a produce store that is fresh veggies & fruit (and plants) at really super cheap prices. It gets really crowded on weekends because they have such good deals on food in season.

Submitted by lambert on

On the writing, my mother would say (I just shared this with somebody else) "write what only you can write." I think you're doing that. I do have a contingent of grammar police on call, but they tend not to respond where people are speaking in their own voice...

* * *

The other thing that jumped out at me -- besides the pragmatic tips, which are excellent -- was the date 1999. I almost went under in 2000 after the dot.com implosion (see my most hated post, ramen noodles). And the same thing happened, for a different set of reasons, in 2007-2008 after the housing collapse. Things really haven't "been right" in this country for at least a decade (for, I grant, a class- and cohort-based definition of "right" which also translates into "play by the rules," as Jesse Jackson said long ago).

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

were a huge transition and an extremely difficult time for my family. We basically started over again. In order to get out of the hotel I had to humble myself and accept TANF. Even though my husband had a job we couldn't afford a security deposit. It was so hard accepting even though we were trying so hard we couldn't do it alone. I remember feeling like such a failure as a parent. What I see today really resonates for me because we experienced it, just at a different time then most. I'm trying to remember the last time our country felt "right." I think it's been screwed up for more than a decade though. We just didn't realize that our leaders have sold us out.

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

More like three give or take. The ground was prepared in the 70s. Since Reagan all has been down hill but it's really been more noticeable in the past decade.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

My kids always groan when they ask me to buy something and I ask them "is it on sale? Do we have a coupon?"

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

If they managed to keep the electric under a predetermined amount they got a bonus added to their allowance. I gave them a budget with clothing and took them to the thrift store and told them that anything left over they could keep it. My kids were allowed junk food but they were told they'd have to use their own allowances. If they want stuff like Wii cards they had/have to save. My oldest bartered his time to be able to hit the skate rink and roller skate(Incidentally they employed him the moment he turned 18). My daughter loves to bead. Recently she sold a hemp bracelet and used the proceeds to get more stuff to make her jewelry. All in all I've been pretty fortunate that they seem to have done fairly well coping with frugality.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

They are used to economizing but what a good idea to get them into the pleasures of saving!