Monday, July 28, 2008

Thrifty Tips

Last week we had a woman's fellowship at church where we all shared some thrifty tips to help each other save money. There was good fellowship, food, fun and frugality! My kind of night.

The wife of one of the elders shared a devotional about Mary and Martha beforehand, which was really good for me. Just earlier that morning in my quiet time I had been reading about the same thing, and was convicted about my ideas of what I need to be doing versus Jesus' ideas of what I need to be doing. Needless to say, my Martha ways can easily get my sidetracked and too busy at home when I need to relax and sit at the feet of Jesus. Not only does it really not matter that my floors have crumbs on them, the slip covers on the couches need some straightening, and that the clothes are not folded yet, but these are so temporal compared to the time I have with my Lord. He has called me into a relationship with Him, and not so that I can worry about my house being perfectly cleaned, but so that I would worship, adore, serve and spend time with Him. So, although the things I do at home are to be done as unto the Lord, if done just so that I can give myself props or say that it is done, it is worthless. I am not at home to just to clean, cook, change diapers, wash laundry and clean dishes. I am at home to serve my God and my family, and to impart God's truth and Word to my children and those that come to my home.

Okay, well, I wasn't intending to even say anything about all that. Guess you know what I have been pondering. God is so good! :)

Anyway. I thought it might be nice to share some of tips from that night (along with others that I find helpful). I realize that time can be pretty hard right now for some, and God calls us to be good stewards of all He has given to us, so I think it is only appropriate for us to encourage each other in this area. Hopefully there will be something here that someone finds helpful, OR feel free to share your own tip in the comments.

- I make a weekly menu that includes breakfast and snacks. From that menu, I make my grocery list. I don't add anything extra, just the items that we NEED. I keep track of my prices on my grocery list as I pick up each item. And since we use cash, I keep track of how close I am getting to my budget limit. If I am too close/above my budget, I exchange some items for cheaper ones. If I have a lot left over, I pay attention to items that are on sale that I can stock up on (chicken, beef, pasta, dried beans, rice, flour, etc).

- Use dried beans instead of the can. It is much cheaper. No need to soak per the bag's instructions. Just cook for a couple of house on simmer. They turn out just the same.

- Save your old glass jars from pasta sauce, salsa, peanut butter, etc. to use for storage. We keep all our rice, dried beans, etc. in these jars. It is nice to have these items stocked in the pantry for when things are tight and we end up eating red beans and rice or fried rice for a few meals.

- Use cooked lentils in your spaghetti sauce instead of meat. We also add onions, carrotts, and any other veggie that will make it more filling and healthy.

- When cutting up veggies, save the end (that you would normally throw out) in a container in the fridge. When the container if full, put all those parts into your crock pot, fill with water, and cook on low overnight for your own homemade veggie stock. You can freeze this to use later. I also cook a whole chicken in the crockpot all day long. I pick the meat off the bones to use in anything that needs shredded/cut up chicken, and save the bones to make a stock (same as the veggie stock, except you use the chicken bones and drippings plus water overnight).

- Most grocery stores will give you a really good discount on milk that is almost expired. This can either be frozen or used to make homemade yogurt (recipes can be googled), which is much cheaper than store bought yogurt.

- When buying items online, look for online coupon codes to save on shipping or a % off the item. My favorite site is

- is a great website with lots and lots of food substitution info (like how to make whipping cream from milk and butter)

- is a great website in general for money saving tips and ideas.

- is a website I sometimes refer to when trying to find healthy, but cheaper recipes for my family.

- Although I don't do this, I have heard that is a great way to save on your grocery bill. Two friends have also recommended and if you would rather not pay for the grocery deals to be had.

- Thrift stores and garage sales are great ways to save on clothing and household items. Just last week I got a brand new waffle iron in the box for $3, plus two pairs of pants, two dresses and three shirts for Lucy for an additional $3 at a garage sale.

- If you have babies/toddlers still in diapers, consider cloth diapers. They are cheaper and better for the environment. If you know how to sew, you could make them REALLY cheap, plus there are lots of options for covers that are not only cute, but cost effective. I think this will be another post by itself since there is SO much info.

- Plant fresh herbs in pots. It is a one time purchases that turns into long-term savings.

- Don't be shy about asking if a newly expired coupon might be extended o rif there are any other discounts available.

- Make your own baby food with frozen veggies. Mash, freeze in ice cube trays, and then put the cubes into zip lock bags.

- Mix ground beef and lentils for tacos, spaghetti and anything else to make it go further.

- Eat vegetarian meals at least once a week to save on meat (i.e. sweet potatoes or veggie burgers for lunch)

- Big Lots carries inexpensive day old bread and organic snacks

- Quick Mix Book - a book with instructions on how to prepare baking dry mixes ahead of time.

- Miserly Mom Book - A book with tips on how to be frugal in the home

- Learn to cook from scratch

- Freeze leftover pancakes and waffles for a later use

- Buy spices in bulk at Central Market and refill your old containers that are empty.

- Condensed Soup Replacer - melt 1 T butter and add 1 T flout until thick, slowly mix in 1 cup milk and stir until thick and bubbly. Add seasonings as needed.

- Use powdered milk in recipes OR half milk, half water in baking recipes

- Use half the suggested amount of laundry detergent.

- Make your own cleaning supplies (vinegar is great for MANY things) - How the Queen Cleans Everything (book rec on this)

- Homemade Laundry Detergent: 1 cup grated Zote Soap (actual bar of soap found at Wal-Mart or Dollar Stores, grate with cheese grater), 1/2 cup Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer - make sure it is NOT baking soda), 1/2 cup Borax Laundry Booster. Mix and store in a plastic container. One tablespoon washes a 16 towel load, though most loads only need 1 teaspoon.

- Set the timer when you start the dryer, and pull the clothes out sooner so you aren't using extra electricity.

- Get gas in the cool of the morning or at night befor ethe heat of the day makes it expand. Also, be sure to fill up Tuesday through Thursday because it is generally cheaper.

- Determine to pay everything with cash for a time and put away all change from purchases in a jar. You'll be surprised how much you can save this way.

- Freecycle...if you haven't heard of it, check it out!

- Check out what your neighbors are throwing out on trash day...there are some great finds to be had.

- Shop Goodwill half price sales

- Get rid of cable or can rent movies for FREE at the library.

- The price of gold and silver is up. If you have any broken, mismatched, etc. jewelry, take them to a coin shop to see what you can get. (Nathan and I did this with a few things I had and got back over $150).

Wow, there were more tips than I realized...I hope it goes well as you work to spend less and save more!


joshntiff said...

you should also check out she has great leads for saving/stockpiling

joshua and I are hot and heavy in the coupon grocery saving game

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the rec. See I make almost all our food from scratch, so I don't know if the grocery game would save us that much. I have been going back and forth on this for a while. I am doing the 4 week trial, so we'll see.

Mabye I'll just start shopping at Fiesta.

Haley Frederick said...

Thanks for the great tips Stephanie. I personally didn't find the grocery game all that helpful for me. But once you kind of learn the principles during the trial period, you can really do most of the other work on your own.

Kate Thomas said...

Do you use a diaper service or wash all your own? I was just curious b/c there aren't services like that avaliable where we live.

Stephanie said...

Hey Katie! We actually just wash our own. You have to use a free and clear detergent. I haven't found it to be that bit of a deal in the two years we have used cloth (I've never used a disposable diaper, so I have no reference on how "hard" it could be doing cloth).

Sara S. said...

Wow, these are great tips! I can always use tips on saving money! I loved what you had to say also about cleaning house and how that doesn't matter if it is all for props. I totally agree and think that same example can be used to symbolize a lot of things people strive for.