Whether the economy is bad or good, it can never hurt to learn new ways to live a more frugal lifestyle. This does not mean you have to sell your house and move in with family, or sell a car and start eating peanut butter and jelly for dinner each night. Living frugally simply means you are in essence economizing. In other words, spending money responsibly, and cutting back in other places to help balance your household budget.
Here are three simple ways you can begin to slowly – or not so slowly – economize your life.
1. Grow your own herbs.
Growing herbs sounds like a wonderful idea for many enthusiastic and eager young gardeners. However, growing an herb garden with herbs you may never use is certainly not economical. Therefore make sure the herbs you choose are ones used in the type of meals you generally cook.
For example, if you eat a lot of Thai food or Asian dishes, you can grow Thai basil which has a distinctive flavor – very different than the Italian sweet basil. Thai basil goes great with rice such as basmati or jasmine.
Also consider buying rosemary bushes to grow outdoors. For a small rosemary seeding, you will pay anywhere from $1.99 up to $9.99 or more depending on size. When you purchase fresh rosemary from the produce department as it can cost nearly $5.00 just for a handful of fresh sprigs.
Rosemary is commonly used as a seasoning for roasting chicken as well as other meats – especially lamb. Rosemary is also very fragrant, and can be grown indoors. It is also a natural bug repellent.
Learning to economize in a depressed economy isn’t too hard when we see the need for it immediately in front of us. However, it is important to learn to always be economical even when times are going well. This allows us to save our money for emergencies, or important purchases such as a down payment on a house, purchasing a new car, or when planning on growing your family.
Proper planning also enables us to weather the storm when the economy around us heads south.
Take this opportunity to teach your children the value of saving and investing in proper resources. Teaching them that frugal living does not have to mean living a deprived life – but rather avoiding one. These lessons learned by observation and experience will help prepare them as they venture out on their own in future years.
2. Your grocery receipt is your friend.
When you are beginning to think about where to cut expenses, try taking a look at your grocery bill when you get home from shopping. Were all the items on your receipt really needed, or were they impulse buys?
Think of your grocery receipt as a way to keep yourself in check. It is easy to walk into a grocery store with a simple list in your hand, only to find yourself filling up your shopping cart with items that do not appear on that list. This can occur for two reasons. One is that you sincerely forgot to put items on your list that you needed, or secondly you do not use your list as a comprehensive list.
Try to practice taking the time to create a full comprehensive list of all the items that you know you need to get each week. If you do not like being that restrictive, then make sure that any new items or other items which are placed in your cart are only items which are on sale. Other than that, put the item back on the shelf unless you know you must absolutely need.
3. The value of buying meat at good prices.
Only buy meat which is on sale, and consider buying in bulk when prices are less on a pound to pound basis in comparison to the non-bulk price. Of course, bulk prices are not always cheaper, and you should make sure the bulk price is indeed a good deal. If money is tight and you are only saving a few pennies, it may not be worth the purchase.
Not everyone enjoys or understands the value of buying in bulk. True, it is more money up front, which is why this option may not be feasible for everyone. But for those who can, they should look into this option.
Tips for bulk meat purchases:
When buying in bulk, do not for freeze the larger cuts of meat without cutting them down in size suitable for use in future meals – such as 1/4 pound or 1/2 pound pieces. This way when you need some meat you can pull out just what you need.
You can also buy in bulk from local farms at cheaper prices than at some retail locations. Build a relationship with the farmer and they may give you better prices. If you are looking for ground meat to use for meatloaf, meatballs, or hamburgers, you can use a Waring Pro meat grinder to grind your own meat right at home. You can also ask the butcher to grind it right there on the farm for you.
For example, if you bought 10 pounds of sirloin, you could grind half of it for a meatloaf, while using the other half for steak. To make steak you do not have to ask a butcher to slice the meat for you, instead you can use a food slicer to cut slices – usually up to 1/2 inch thick – whenever it is convenient for you.