Cheat Sheet

Frugal Living For Dummies

From Frugal Living For Dummies by Deborah Taylor-Hough

Living a frugal lifestyle doesn't mean you deprive yourself of things, it means being smarter about the way you do things. You can cut down on grocery bills by being a shrewd shopper and freezing meals ahead of time. Keep an eye out for sale items at certain times of the year and follow some energy saving tips to keep within your budget.

How to Save Money on Food Expenses

When it comes to saving money, food is one of the few flexible items. Just making minor changes in how you think about grocery shopping can bring major benefits at the checkout stand. Quick and easy tips for saving money at the grocery store are:

  • Shop the perimeter of the store to avoid expensive prepackaged food items.

  • Shop with a list to avoid impulse buys.

  • Watch for deeply discounted sale items in ads and circulars.

  • Make out your weekly meal plans in advance.

  • Plan your menus around current sale items.

  • Use coupons and rebates wisely.

  • Cut back on the number of trips to the store.

  • Buy in bulk when you find low prices.

Freezing Food for Budget Meals and Snacks

A great money-saver is cooking your meals ahead of time and popping them in the freezer. By having your meals ready you cut down on runs to fast-food restaurants, ordering pizzas and add convenience and budget-friendly alternatives. Try these easy food ideas to keep on hand in the freezer:

  • Breakfast items: Muffins; breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and casseroles; waffles; pancakes; French toast

  • Lunch: Meat and cheese sandwiches, single-serving desserts, soup, chili, slices of pizza

  • Snacks: Frozen pops, fruit, candy

  • Dinner: Main dish casseroles, meats in marinade, rice pilaf, mashed potatoes, premade hamburger patties

  • Desserts: Cake, brownies, cookies, dessert breads

Frugal Living Habit: Track Monthly Sale Items

Living frugally means carefully planning your shopping to buy items that are in-season or to coincide with manufacturers' annual sales. You can save considerably when buying these things during their peak sale season:

  • January: Linens, holiday decorations, gift wrap

  • February: Candy, furniture

  • March: Frozen foods, winter sports equipment

  • April: Eggs, cauliflower

  • May: Hot dogs, asparagus

  • June: Dairy products, spring fashions

  • July: Strawberries, watermelon

  • August: Berries, backyard equipment

  • September: Apples, gardening supplies

  • October: Pumpkins, cranberries

  • November: Turkey, post-Halloween candy

  • December: Oranges, seasonal decorations

How to Live Frugally: Tips for Reducing Utility Bills

You don't have to take cold showers or drop the long-distance plan to cut back on your utility bills. If you want to become a frugal utility user combine a number of these ideas to save money:

  • Check your utilities' billing statements for extra services (such as call forwarding or voice messaging on your phone bill) and cancel the services you don't need or use.

  • Order basic cable rather than the full cable service with high-priced premium channels.

  • Recycle your glass, paper, and cardboard trash to reduce the amount of garbage you need to pay to have hauled away each week.

  • Don't use operator assistance for placing long-distance calls unless absolutely necessary.

  • Keep curtains closed on south-facing windows during the heat of the day for a cooler house.

  • Cook with small appliances (toaster, microwave, slow cooker, electric skillet) in the summer instead of heating up the stove or oven and heating up your house unnecessarily.

  • Use a draft stopper at the bottom of all outside doors during the winter to keep the warm air inside and the chilling cold air outside.

  • Reach for a blanket or sweater when you're feeling cold, instead of immediately turning up the thermostat.

  • Fill your freezer completely for maximum efficiency. Fill empty milk jugs with water to take up empty space, if need be.

  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.

  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when you have full loads.

  • Fix leaky faucets and running toilets as soon as you detect a problem.

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