Tuesday, May 17, 2005


When Craig and I first got together, we had two completely differing views on money. He was, and still is, a bill payer. He has always considered it a matter of principle to pay a bill on time even if it meant we had to go without. I, on the other hand, looked at money as a resource for fun and comfort. I would happily leave a bill unpaid if it meant buying new clothes or going out to dinner. Luckily for us, I am the one that has conformed, but the road to financial freedom has had it's bumps.

Here are a few of the things that Craig and I try to implement as a way of making our life simpler:

-We live within our means. In the early years of our marriage, that meant scrimping and saving and doing without.

-Because Craig is self-employed, we have had to learn not to spend everything he makes because we know when work is slow the money flow stops and we need the extra money from the busy months to cover the slow periods.

-We try to avoid financing, except for our house and, maybe, a car.

-Craig writes me a paycheck once a month. This makes it so that all of our bills are paid at one time and then I take the rest and divide it into envelopes. I know some people think the envelope idea is lame, but it works for me because I know exactly how much money I have for the whole month and I ponder an expense more closely when I have cash as opposed to writing a check.

My biggest expense, after our house payment is groceries. Because my hubby loves food and we have five kids, our grocery bill has the potential to be sky-high, but over the years I have learned how to buy good food and avoid going broke.. Saving money at the grocery store is a sort of hobby for me (I know, I need to find some new hobbies!!!) so I thought I would share what I have learned over the years.

-Don't grocery shop more than once a week, you tend to buy more items on impulse and you waste time.

-Write out a menu. It doesn't need to be detailed, just an outline so you know what you need to buy.

-Use less meat, add more veggies, rice, potatoes, or bread. (Oops! I am revealing my secrets to my family!)

-Homemade foods are less expensive than prepackaged foods and they are generally healthier too.

-Know your prices. Compare brands and sizes. It is not always cheaper to buy large quantities.

-The front page of your grocery store's sale flyer is filled with "loss leaders". The store actually loses money on these items to lure you in so will also buy their higher priced products. If you stick to the front page and buy nothing else, you save money.

-When a product you use regularly is on sale, buy a large quantity of it. If you do this regularly, your overall grocery bill will be reduced. I buy 25 pounds of pork loin when it is on sale for $1.88 a pound and freeze it in serving size packages, it lasts all year. I also buy 48 cans of Ortega refried beans when they are on sale at 4 for $1.00. I do feel a bit ridiculous doing this sometimes, but the extra money in my pocket is an incentive.

-Try store brands. Admittedly, some products need to be the name brand because of quality, but you would be surprised how many good store brand products are available. Just try each product once, you will find some that you like and will save money buying them in the future.

-Once a month I shop at Sam's Club where I spend about 75% of my grocery budget. I have a list of items that I buy everytime and I try hard not to deviate from it. This makes for one killer shopping trip, leaving the rest of the month pretty relaxed.

I know that these suggestions seem time consuming, but once you start doing it you won't even have to think about it. All you will end up with is extra $$$!

Here are some book suggestions:

The Tightwad Gazette
Miserly Moms
Dinner's in the Freezer
The Family Budget Workbook
Debt-Free Living

Please leave your suggestions in the comments, I will post them tomorrow. Again, I think we can all benefit from each other's ideas!