And are sensible too.
It's now been a month since we last shopped for groceries. We've not had the cash available, however this has not been too bad because any money made through eBay or egg sales have been able to go on debt and not on food. It's not been easy ~ but we have been creative. Here's a few things we have done to get through a very tight money month.
- Shop from Home: This doesn't mean order online. Doing a stock-take of all items in the pantry, fridge and freezer gave me a list of supplies on hand and all meals had to comprise of these ingredients. Also remember to meal plan based on what you have.
- Cook meals in advance: so when you can't be bothered or don't have enough time to cook, you are not going to pick up McChucks or Dial-a-Pizza. If you MUST get take-away, use a discount coupon and pick it up to save on delivery charges.
- Save Petrol: And use your petrol discount receipts. Every little bit helps. Fill up your car on Tuesday or Wednesday, you'll find most service stations are cheaper on these days. Car pool when going out with friends, going to work, going to school, going to swimming lessons.
- Don't buy, Borrow: Books, magazines, CDs and DVDs are all available from your local library. If you MUST go to the movies, go on Tuesdays when ticket prices are discounted.
- Buy Bulk and Generic: And share the expense with a friend. If you buy wine, try cleanskins. Usually these are nicer than 'cheap' bottles and bought in a case, less again. Generic brand flour, sugar, milk and other such staples save us about $200 a year ~ put it in a container (or empty 'labelled' brand box) if you feel embarrassed. Good friends don't care...
- Shop at several supermarkets: Read those supermarket catalogues and get the cheapest. Most are within walking distance of each other anyway. Change your weekly shop to fortnightly. Suss out the local markets for meat and fresh vegetables. Buy your eggs from a roadside stall - or our place - $4 for a dozen fresh free range eggs beats $7 at the supermarket! If you are in Ballarat - that's a hint - message me...
- Buy Bakery after 3pm: Especially in the supermarket as these items tend to get marked down in the afternoon. Bakery goods last well when frozen. A frozen cinnamon donut put in the school lunch box is fresh and soft by mid-morning recess. I regularly get 12 for under $2. That's 15c for snacks for a fortnight.
- Make it - don't buy it: Baby food, pasta, beauty products, cleaners, presents and cards. This list is endless and deserves a post all of its own. A thoughtful, home made gift is more appreciated than $10 in a card - although in a home made card it's a lovely way to contribute to a group gift or wedding wishing well.
- Save it - don't buy it: Wrapping paper, plastic bags, large envelopes and post-paks ~ I know there are more things we do this with and its becoming automatic so I'll think some more and list them.
- Grow it - don't buy it: The first thing which springs to mind is easy vegetable garden items such as herbs, lettuce, strawberries and potatoes. Also consider plants like lavender, carnations, aloe vera and succulents you can pot yourself and present as a gift for house-warming. Last longer than a $10 bottle of wine, is more valuable in the long run and costs less as well!!
- Don't buy lunch: Take it from home. Left overs, sandwiches, salads. And don't buy a soft drink - have water, add cordial if you must. You can save $40-$50 a week not buying lunch ~ that's over $2000 per person. That one cafe latte bought each day on the way to work, appointments, friends is costing $1000 a year.
- Turn it off: Appliances at the power point; lights at night - by 11pm if possible; the microwave is not a clock (clocks run on batteries); the clothes dryer in summer or dry days; the aircon unless over 40; the heater unless under 3 - jumpers and sox rule!
- Quit (or at least cut down) smoking: It's better for your purse and, more importantly, better for your health. Changing from tailor made to rollies is a good start ~ Husband has brought his weekly 'smoke' account down from $115 a week to $36 a week and now plans to stop for good! Yeah!! In 12 months his insurance premium will reduce too! Bonus save!!
- Budget it: Set a budget and stick to it; set up direct debits via your savings/banking account not your credit card; set up a regular payment plan to suit your budget for bills and only have a small balance outstanding when the account comes due; put an extra few dollars on any account with interest such as the mortgage, credit card or loans.
- Cancel credit cards: Or pay it out in full each and every month; if you must have a credit card, use it only when cash is not accepted (eg. online) and repay it before it is due.
- Open your House: Instead of going out, invite people over where everybody brings something. It cuts out the cost of an expensive night out but still creates a fun environment with your friends. A spare bed and/or blow up mattress saves taxi fares and traffic risks for all.
- Find FREE entertainment: There are many free exhibitions and activities available. Check the paper, look at council websites and google using the key words 'free event month area' ~ you can find some rippa events - some with free BBQs or food and wine samplings.
Your March Challenge: Write down every cent you spend for a month. See where you're breaking your budget. We did this for a month and realised we bought some items at the supermarket out of habit, not necessity. We realised just how much we spent on cafe lattes - not just one a day each either. We discovered we used the car for multiple trips to the same area several times a week, a day even. Buying a bottle of water or can of drink when we now take a bottle of chilled water when we go out as automatic saves $10-$15 dollars a week - just as a change of habit and matter of organisation or planning.
Divine Dinner for 4 for $5
We've enjoyed a very tasty dinner tonight and everything came from the pantry or freezer for less than $5. It was organic chicken thighs - 600gm for $3.41 (marked down by 50%), some frozen broccoli and peas (1/4 packet - approx 70c), a Kum Lee teriyaki marinade (a free sample, under $1rrp) on a toasted Bazaar turkish pida bread (marked down to 79c)
Tomorrow we are having a roast beef meal which will stretch to sandwiches for lunch and form the meat part of meat and vegetable pasties for dinner on Tuesday. The roast was marked down to $5.36 - gee I love those fiddly price points - and with vegetables like carrots, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower being used in the roast dinner and the pasties, I hope to avoid shopping again this week.
Heading up to 'the mountain' to fill two water containers from the spring water tap because buying water is so out of budget for this week. I'm driving to Durham Lead to get some more apples from the roadside trees after school drop off Monday, picking early blackberries from the back paddocks and I've heard there are blueberries running amok out Buninyong way. Use the word 'scrumpers' or 'free food map' for more free roadside food locations near you.
Don't forget Mands On A Mission has a sponsored competition for your pet ~ a free Coles 'We Love Pets' pack is up for grabs and some great entries have been received so far. All the details and your chance to enter can be found here. Or follow Our Mission on FaceBook.
If you can please contribute any small change or donations, we'd would appreciate anything via The Treasure Chest at the top right of the page ~ its easy to use and we really are truly grateful to those who have put any cents, dollars in to help us out.