Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tightwad in Training

I heard a fellow mom mention the Tightwad Gazette as a good source for frugal ideas. I had never come across the publication before & filed it away in my memory bank. I finally got around to checking it out from our local library & I. AM. MOTIVATED. I can't believe the plethora of money-saving ideas. It truly is mind boggling. If you have never heard of it before either, the Tightwad Gazette was a newsletter, which was published for several years in the early '90s, promoting frugality as a "viable alternative lifestyle". These newsletters have since been compiled into a humungous book, which is what I checked out. I realize that frugality is a process and requires a balance between time, money, and a willingness of effort. There are ideas that are way beyond me right now, like washing my Ziploc bags in the washing machine for re-use {although I am saving the not-so-dirty ones}, but lots of other ideas that are just challenging enough for me {like weighing several 3# bags of apples to see if any of them were heavier ~ I got one that weighed nearly 3 1/2#s for the 3# price}! After reading {literally} hundreds of pages of ideas, I have come to several conclusions. 1) I am very wasteful! I throw all sorts of things away without a second thought. 2) New is not always better, although our consumer-driven society has conditioned us to believe that it is. 3) I am willing to change to make life simpler & less expensive for my family. Here are the things I am doing to try and not spend as much & be a better steward of what God has given me:

Make a Price Book: I have read before in different places how this will revolutionize my grocery budget. Basically, a price book lists all the things you typically buy along with the prices for each item at the different stores you shop at. That way you can always be sure to pay the lowest price and will know whether or not something is a good deal or sale. I have already started compiling some items and prices in a notebook. Meats are probably my weakest category. I don't really know what a good price for any cuts of beef or pork are. On my last grocery trip, I already began really analyzing cost per ounce and whether bigger bags were a better deal. I paid more attention to what brands I bought & really scoured the shelves to make sure there wasn't anything cheaper. I will feel so relieved when I know where to buy which items to save the most money! {If you are interested in my results when I am done, let me know or if you want to join me in my collaborative effort, we can price search together!}

Make more things from scratch
: I already try and make many things from scratch, but will still be looking for more things to try. So far from the book, I've tried Homemade Wheat Thins & today I made my own spaghetti sauce {I was even able to price it out using my price book}!

Be more conscientious about food waste: We aren't really a "leftovers" family, which I realize is quite wasteful. I am trying to save whatever isn't eaten & use it in a new creative way. I saved some sauce from Chicken Cacciatore that I made earlier in the week & added it to my spaghetti sauce pot {along with some cherry tomatoes that got forgotten for who-knows-how-long in the back of the fridge}. I saved leftover Mac & Cheese from the kids' lunch & reserved it as a side dish the next day.

Keeping my eyes open
: I will be just keeping my eyes open for new ways of using or reusing things. I have two sippy cups that have long since lost the valve that makes them "no-spill". We went to the park last week & lo & behold laying in the grass was the exact valve that fits my sippy cup. All it took was a run through the dishwasher and now one sippy cup is back to "no-spill" status. This may sound gross to some {and I was worried that hubster would think so}, but really that may be just because we've been taught to think so. Hubby thought it was genius by the way! I also stopped into a WonderBread outlet & found that I can get a loaf of good-quality whole wheat bread for 2 for $2.05 instead of 2 for $2.86 that I have been paying at my warehouse club. We go through a lot of bread, so this will be a great savings. {I'm not sure how much 100% whole wheat costs at Aldi, but maybe they are cheaper?}

Where are you in your frugal journey? Do you like to purchase whatever you can brand-new or do you get excited at the valuable yard sale discovery?


Beth said...

Sounds like a neat publication. Right now I am saving money just because I don't feel like going through all of the work of dragging my 3 kids 3 and under out of the house. :-) I was driving to Woodstock Water Works almost every day so that in itself is a huge savings! Then with not doing our once a week date night and also not running to Walmart two or three times a week I am looking at my checkbook saying, "Why didn't I just stay at home more often!!??" I would like to see what else I could be doing though...fall is around the corner and that means I have two little wardrobes to buy. Wasn't there a thrift shop that was all the talk a little while ago?? Anyone out there remember or know of one that has good kids clothes?

Anonymous said...

emmamaALDI, bread is 69 cents, and it tastes no different than any of the other breads that I have had. Plus when money is really tight, I make my own. THe thrift shop that I love is in Elgin, Beck you told us all about it. I got my two oldest clothes for summer and winter for 60.00 an entire wardrobe, shorts pants long sleeve short sleeved for both. I plan on going back again

Rebecca said...

Staying home definitely does save money! Now that we live so far from the nearest major store, we don't buy as much as we used to. I remember living in Crystal Lake, we would HANG OUT at Wal-Mart ;>0

Thanks for the pricing on the bread, Jor. That's good to know! I think we should all plan a big group Thrift Store trip, without the kids of course! That would be so much fun & so helpful too.

Alisa said...

I've read the Tightwad Gazette books too. There are 3 of them. They are so good. But, lately I seem to be falling out of my frugal habits. I think it's because I have less time than I used to (4 kids, 6 and under will do that). I think I will read the books again. I agree with Beth - if you stay home, you save money.

Anonymous said...

This is def. something I will be checking into, like you a friend told me about it and i just never got around to it, but will make a trip to the library soon! :0)

Debbie J. said...

I was a Tight Wad Reader when it was first published and was a single Mom who really needed it! I still have them and still read them.