Friday, September 4, 2009
Frugal Friday: Tips From A Cheapskate
I'm always on the hunt for finding ways to live more cheaply. It has come in handy-- especially as a one-income family living in several expensive cities over the years. I have previously posted my top ten ways to live cheaply, but I'm always living and learning, so here are a few of the newest tricks we've found-- tricks that I hope will help make our No Spend Month successful.
* Make stuff at home. I have made bread and granola at home for a while, but have recently expanded to some items that I never dreamed I would be making at home. We have started making tortillas at home-- which are pricey at the store, but super easy to make and gratifying at home. We have also started making our own popcorn (I never even KNEW you could just pop it in a pot with a lid! Just as easy as the microwave, but over half as cheap). And then there's our recent experiment of making our own bread starter (more on this soon), which will hopefully eliminate the cost of yeast from our budget.
* Find ways to have a treat on a budget. Sometimes it's nice to spice things up on the weekend and do something different or special. We often will have picnics in the yard or on a nearby field with a simple homemade dish. Or, another special treat is taking some fast food-style burgers (cheap as possible!) and doctoring them up at home. If you take a plain burger and add arugula, your favorite cheese, and red onion, it transforms the burger experience. And with this tip our whole family can eat dinner for under 5 bucks.
* Troll websites for items that you are going to have to buy anyway. I bought this adorable wooden toy (along with a set of dozens of wooden zoo animals, cars, and 'people' off of craigslist for a few bucks). But, as with all things, do this in moderation. For this month, I am disallowed from looking for stuff on craigslist because sometimes it just feels like a deal is too good to pass up... which is dangerous.
* Eat vegetarian several times a week. I was a vegetarian for years, which comes in handy, because we're used to cooking/eating without meat. This makes a huge impact on the cost of week's groceries. And when we do eat meat, we choose economic options.
* Don't use recipes, or use recipes that are flexible. I love Cook's Illustrated, but I only cook from one of their recipes once in a blue moon because they require some little ingredient I am missing, which they guilt me into buying (like arrowroot? Who's heard of arrowroot?). Instead, I do simple meals that only use a few ingredients from my head, or recipes that have lots of flex room (which is why I live by More With Less and Simply in Season, both of which use simple recipes that can be switched up in dozens of ways).
Those are our most recent "tips" for cheap living. What are your tricks? How do you live on the cheap? Please do tell!