Frugal Fever

Let me just start by saying this: I am not a financial expert. I have not studied the ideas or works of financial experts. I am a person in a family with a pressing need to get a grip on our finances. Two years ago, one of Dave Ramsey’s books lay on a table in my home for 3 months before I returned it to the well-meaning friend who loaned it to me…unstudied. There, disclosure done.

That said, I’ve had more occasion of late to consider frugality and I have some ideas on the subject I’d like to share.

1) Strategize.
Think about how you(r family) spends. You can start by mapping out existing expenditures; whether on a pad of paper, in a spreadsheet, or with a program. I recently identified groceries as a fatty area in my own spending and have used that knowledge to develop a

2) Plan.
Think about how you might trim that fat. I have decided I will only make one grocery trip per week. I might go longer if I get crafty, but when we’re out of milk on day 4 we’re drinking juice for days 5 through 7. It occurred to me that this might not only be a way to limit the “oh, that’s on sale and looks yummy” impulse buys but also a good way to track my spending methodologically and suss out my

3) System.
A means of maintaining and enriching the Plan. Maintenance is easy (or maybe not) in my example; I must go to the store no more than once a week. Enriching involves subscribing to and dutifully checking posts from gems like The Thrifty Mama and Money Saving Mom and utilizing the awesome tools on Publix’s website (Weekly Ad and Grocery List). I’ve also spent more

4) Time
on this than I have in the past. I browse the Publix Buy One Get One section on the website, opting for bagels instead of the bread on my list if there’s a BOGO deal on them. I open the fridge and pantry to take stock rather than just shooting from the hip in the store. I am an educated and prepared shopper. And, now that I’ve invested this time, if they’re out of stock on the deal I want to buy I’ll invest some more time to stand at the customer service desk and make sure I’ll be able to cash in on that deal the next time I’m in the store. At a certain point in time commitment decisions I start doing the math and figuring out how much an hour of my time is worth. If I spend an hour and save $5 I might opt instead to play with my family. But, when times get a little thin you have to

5) Tighten the belt.
Some efforts will be more uncomfortable than others. I recommend folks try to stay calm. Take a deep breath if you need to. Take a minute to think about all the things/people you do have in your life and how you might make a dedicated effort to spend more time with/doing those people/things (feel free to change things up with those word sets, by the way…no reason not to have fun! ;)) you love. And remember, this is not a quick fix. This is a conscious decision to

6) Change the way you consume.
You are making lifestyle choices, not going on a crash diet. Allow yourself to flex your creativity muscle, saving in ways you’d never consider.
Mantra: Reduce~Reuse~Recycle

I’ve been happy with my plan. I’m not only accomplishing what I set out to accomplish, I’m also spending less time at the grocery store:). Oh, and it occurred to me that since I’m going through all these coupons and deals anyway (plus I’m exposed to various promotions, etc. through work) I could easily tweet the really sweet deals out. To that end, I set up a Twitter account for Pot Luck Mama posts. Follow my tweets if that would be helpful to you. Of course, it’s a Pot Luck…you never know what you’re going to get…;)

I know I’m not the only one out here with frugal fever. What are y’all doing?

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10 responses to “Frugal Fever

  1. I appealed my taxes on my house in my county. House prices dropped anywhere from 65-71% in my neighborhood. Why should I pay taxes on a full price house when it is worth almost 1/3 less?
    Deadline for Gwinnett–this Friday.

    • Oh wow, what a great idea! I’m definitely going to look into that. I wonder, though, whether petitioning could have an adverse effect if you’re trying to sell in the near future. We’re thinking of putting the house up for sale this spring. What do you think?

  2. I’ve also been preparing to go grocery shopping the last three weeks and it’s made a huge difference. With coupons and knowing what’s on sale before I go we are saving $50 a week already! and hoping to make it more. Also, if you plan your meals before you go you are less likely to buy something that you don’t really need.

    • Wow, Ann…those are significant savings!
      You know, now that you mention planning meals I’m thinking about how you could integrate a health-minded campaign with a frugal one. There are so many websites out there that allow you to track food, plan meals, etc. You could become more conscious of what you’re putting into your body at the same time you work on how much you spend. I’ve used http://www.sparkpeople.com for food tracking and I know that site lets you set goals and then use their meal plans and grocery lists.
      Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. You basically covered it with your comment, but I was going to say planning what you eat helps you plan what to buy. It saves oodles of time as it cuts out the ‘staring blankly in the cupboard, or worse the fridge, with no clue what to do with the rapidly rotting veggies you have bought’ stage. I find the answer is always MAKE SOUP šŸ™‚ Planning what you eat also helps you eat regularly and properly, I know people who think ‘dinner’ is dry cereal, orange juice and a mars bar!
    P.S. love your blogs x x

    • YES – I love soup! You can also cook things before they go off and and freeze them to eat later. Did you know you can freeze overripe bananas? I love that. I just stick them in the freezer when they go all gross on me and make banana bread or muffins when I’ve accumulated enough of them:)

      P.S. thanks, Jan…that means a lot to me:)

  4. Thanks for the post!
    The one thing that made the greatest difference to our spending habits was paying for everything with cash. Having to make the effort to go to the cash machine, withdraw real money and then having to part with that money,makes a difference to your buying mindset!

    • That’s a good one, Marcus. I think I did that for the first couple of weeks I paced my grocery shopping but then I fell off the wagon. Probably a good idea to get back on as those credit cards can get pretty nasty…thanks for the comment!

  5. Beth, I don’t know what the ramifactions would be if you are considering selling. I know that the houses in my ‘hood are going at fire sale prices–not the price tags, but what people actually paid for houses sold. Check out John Adams site, money99.com for the forms and the related articles. Comps rule the day.
    Re: grocery store shopping: shop the exterior walls of the store. Only go down the isles for things that you really need. My favorite cuts of meat are the ones marked down for quick sale before they reach expiration. Enticing sales are fine, but check the unit price. Sometimes the non-sale sizes are still better deals. If those 10-for-10 prices are better, stock up!

  6. Money Saving Mom just published a post about menu planning that’s worth checking out. Thought I’d share it:)

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