Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Let’s talk about money today! Do you enjoy this topic? I think summer can be really hard because you feel like you are just hemorrhaging money with all of the unstructured time, right?

Well, it is absolutely true that everything costs more these days! I totaled out my May 15th – June 15th grocery and gas purchases and it ain’t pretty. Our college kids came home May 9th so this is for a family of four. Also, we pay for gas for 3 vehicles.

Groceries: $1300

Gas: $600

I believe that is double or close to double from a year ago! What about you? Are you spending double? I am trying to lower that this month without sacrificing quality of life.

My recent fill up:

I believe this is the most I have ever spent. I should also say that I never let my car get below 1/4 of a tank. #anxiety!

I only have one credit card and one debit card. The credit card is a Kroger credit card. I use it for all of my gas and groceries (and other stuff that I charge) and I get rewards in the form of gift cards and money off of my gas. This time I chose to save the 45 cents off per gallon for Tom and I chose to just use the 3 cents off. His car is more expensive to fill up. It is super easy to track how much we spent on groceries and gas because of this card, too. We pay it in full every month because we are not comfortable with having debt other than our mortgage.

Here are my tips and how I make them work in my life. I am sure I’m not sharing anything mind blowing here, but I would love to hear your tips in the comments, too.

I would like to say I live a luxuriuosly frugal life. I save where I can and I spend out on the things that matter to me or that make my life feel luxurious.

I try not to be impulsive when I buy things. I add to cart and then leave it there for awhile until I decide if I really want to buy it.

Saving Money on Gas:

Now, I have always done this, but I am even more conscious about it this summer. I bundle all of my errands. I do these two things together because they are close to each other. I will go here while I am in the neighborhood – stuff like that.

Saving Money on Food:

And, what about the cost of restaurant and carry out pizza? Is it encrusted with gold flakes? I recently made this pizza in my air fryer at 450 degrees and bonus that it is “skinny”. Seriously, try making your own; it’s so good! Here is the recipe I use. I bought fresh mozzarella balls at Costco and it really tastes like something you would pay $20 for in a restaurant. I think this would be fun for your kids, too! If you don’t want to use this recipe, you can use a regular dough recipe.

Do not buy pre-cut fruit. It is nasty and you are paying way more for someone else to cut it. Sorry I said it was nasty, but it really isn’t as good. Fruit is expensive, so I try to stick with in-season fruit. It’s better anyway.

Do whatever it takes to enjoy coffee at home. For me, that means a nice creamer or a flavored syrup. My favorite syrups are brown sugar cinnamon and caramel cream. You can also find these at TJ Maxx for about half of the price. Get yourself a frother! It has changed my coffee life. Starbucks who?

And, you know I also love my protein cold brew coffee or “profee” as some call it.

You really do have to know your prices on groceries. I was in Target getting a couple of things recently and I went to the grocery section. I couldn’t believe how much better their prices were on a few things. Also, this Laura’s Lean Beef was priced the same as at my Kroger – about $8 a pound. But, it had a $5 off sticker. I bought two packs and got myself a bargain!

Figure out how to get the rewards from your store. It took some work, but I cashed in those points from my Kroger credit card and got $200 worth of groceries out of it.

Cook and eat at home and save going out for special ocassions. It really makes it feel like more of a treat.

Plan your meals. Get a cute little pad like this if you like to go old school.

Also, not everything has to be “cooked”. You can simply heat up and prepare things if you don’t have the energy to really cook. You will still save money and time.


Ham, canned green beans, Bob Evans mashed potatoes, rolls

BBQ, Texas toast, baked beans

Fish sticks, Kraft mac and cheese, peas

KFC bowls – corn, frozen chicken nuggets, Bob Evans mashed potatoes, gravy, shredded cheese

Trader Joe’s frozen orange chicken, jasmine rice, broccoli

Soup and grilled cheese

Breakfast for dinner

Dedicated leftover night where everyone eats something different

Have a few of these types of things on hand.

I love my electric griddle. This is great for making pancakes or a bunch of grilled cheese sandwiches. This would be great to take on vacation if you have a house/condo and need to make meals for a larger group. My aunt did this for french toast when we were in Michigan once. These cost about $20.

You can never go wrong with the Krusteaz brand in the baking aisle. My kids have been requesting chocolate chip pancakes a lot this summer (well, a lot is like 3 times) and I will happily cook for them. It brings me joy! You can even make a big batch and freeze some for another day.

When you do go out, split meals. The portions are so big! Another tip is to go out for lunch when the prices are way less. If you are doing take out, you can get lunch prices until about 3:00 and just re-heat it later. I have not done this tip yet, but I plan to soon since my kids are on a weird eating schedule this summer with their jobs.

Re-create restaurant foods at home. I have been making some restaurant quality salads this summer! It’s not that hard. I love a hard boiled egg in my salads.

Bring your own food if it makes sense. I recently did this and it was so yummy for the boat. We can pull up to a river restaurant and spend at least $40 or we can bring our own food so I try to limit how often we buy food because it adds up.

These pretzel slider buns were new to me when I finally stepped foot into my Kroger instead of doing pick up!

You just put them right back in the bag and transport or if you are staying home you can heat them up.

The biggest tip to save money on food is to not waste it! This is why planning is so important. Only buy what you need and can reasonably use. Your freezer is your best friend. I freeze all of our bread, buns, bagels, so that we just take out what we need and it doesn’t grow mold. Tom has a special bread that only he eats and likes and he gets kind of annoyed that I keep it in the freezer, but he will have a sandwich once a week so it just makes sense.

Also, I try to do some meal prep in the morning when I have more energy. If I wait until the late afternoon I am not so motivated. There is also nothing wrong with cooking in the morning and heating it up at dinner time!

This summer I am keeping a list of breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas on my memo board. It is really helping me to reduce food waste!

Use your library! If you are like me and you don’t plan to re-read the books and don’t want the clutter, this only makes sense. I request all of the books I want to read on my library app and then go pick them up when they are ready. I can get brand new books really quickly. Our library lets you keep books for 3 weeks but they no longer have late fees.


Pay attention to the free entertainment your city offers and then take photos and put it in your calendar. Also, check out this post if you have kids! Playdates are really fun for the kids and the moms if you are at the boredom stage of summer. I always invited the mom to stay and we chatted and had a drink or snack and then it was fun for me, too.


Get organized! I get so mad at myself when I buy a new something of a something I already owned but couldn’t find! Argh! Care for what you have and use what you have. I am constantly trying to do better with this.

Repair things instead of buying new. I had two kimonos mended (for $25) and one pair of eyeglasses fixed for free where I purchased them.

Sell or donate what you aren’t using. Yes, maybe it hurts to think of the money wasted, but with less stuff you will really know what you have and be able to use it. I have made almost $300 this summer selling clothing and shoes that were just taking up space in my closet.

So, give me your best tips and vent in the comments about the cost of living!


21 thoughts on “Saving Money

  1. What a GREAT post! I’m with you and try to do a lot of these on a weekly basis. We rarely eat out these days and I’ve been trying to find ways to cut back at the grocery store. We love our electric griddle and I use it for what you mentioned and eggs for egg sandwiches. I’ve even made hamburgers or sausage patties on it, but the grease kind of gets all over everything. so I don’t recommend that. You have some great ideas! I’m going to implement a few of these, like trying to recreating favorite recipe ideas. That Mexican bowl thing looks amazing! I hope you have a great day, friend.


    1. Awww thank you! I don’t want anyone to think I’m a cheapskate because I’m definitely not, but I have always been smart so that I can “spend out” on what matters, you know? I bet you had to be really good with your big family! It’s really fun for me to look at a menu and re-create it. My sister in law is the first one who gave me that idea and she is a great cook!
      You too! It’s too hot for even the pool today!


  2. Great ideas Amy! I recently found the brown sugar cinnamon syrup at TJMaxx and I was so excited! It was the only one so I grabbed it and love it. I can’t say I like all the syrups I’ve tried (coconut was a disappointment) but this one is so good. So glad you mentioned it before because I would have never thought of it.


    1. Thank you and I’m so glad you like it, too! I probably wouldn’t have picked it myself – I believe it was a rec from IG “Things I Bought and Liked”. Good score at TJ Max!


  3. Ok, so I really need to invest in a frother and try one of those syrups for my coffee. I do the same and batch my errands. When I go to fill up I get a little nervous but thankfully I had .30 off at Kroger recently so it helped. We have a few places that my teenager enjoys going to for breakfast/lunch. One of them is Corner Bakery and Einstein Bagels. These 2 places always have a survey to fill out on the receipt for a discounted or free item on your next purchase so I always fill those out. I also use the Fetch rewards app and scan all my receipts to earn gift card rewards. We have also sold/donated clothes at Plato’s Closet including books at Half Price bookstore. Going to the library is a go-to place too!


    1. Yes, you do! It has been so fun to have! I think the combo of the syrup, the frother, and my fat free half and half has helped me to not want to buy coffee out – seriously!
      That is great to take advantage of the surveys – I rarely take the time. I tried using Receipt Hog and then I got tired of it. There really are so many things you can do. I feel icky by the blog culture telling you to constantly buy more and I hope to do more posts about using what you have.


  4. I love this topic and all of your ideas! Your term “luxuriously frugal” is exactly how I’d describe myself. Lol I’m always looking for a bargain on things we use/do regularly. I’ve always done this as it was necessary years ago, but even now as we’re more financially secure, I continue to do it. Why spend more on things if you don’t have too? A coffee that cost $7 just doesn’t taste good to me, you know? 😆 I am going to look for that syrup at TJMaxx. It sounds delicious! I definitely want to try that dough, too! Thanks for a great post. 😊


    1. Thank you, Michelle! I didn’t know how this topic would resonate, but I felt that I wasn’t the only one feeling the pinch. I honestly think my home coffees and cocktails are better! Get ready, because tomorrow’s post is about cocktails. Thank you!!!!


  5. I love the pretzel sliders! They were a fun find! I am trying to be a little more luxuriously frugal, too. I try to buy a few good pieces that will last me a long time. Meal planning does make a big difference when saving money and using what you have. Great tips!


    1. Have you heated them up yet? So good either way, though. You are good about buying classics that you can wear season to season where I have been too trendy and my size has fluctuated! Thank you!


  6. Great post! I don’t want to know how much we spent on groceries last month. My husband loves shopping and loves grocery stores. Me, no. When we argue, it’s usually because I don’t want to go to store #4 today or whatever. To save money, we avoid Publix except for the BOGO and sales. Target is much cheaper, even compared to Walmart. My husband likes to cook a lot of different foods, like a main dish with sides and a batch of soup all in one day, and then he starts pushing me to eat before it goes bad. I’m more adamant about telling him to stop! He has issues from his childhood with food insecurity. I think fast food is a waste of money, so I convince him not to get it. The same with Dunkin’; I make my own or get Starbucks as a 1x/week treat. . I actually prefer to eat at home except for special occasions. When we visit our sons, we go to BJs and Costco for them; I also pay their tolls, and that’s expensive but keeps them off the back roads at night. My husband and I share a car, as do my sons because they study/work mostly remote. We use credit cards for points, and I also scan my receipts into Fetch. I get Starbucks gift cards that way, and hopefully from my students at the holidays! I’m naturally frugal and like to save, so I love this topic/post!


    1. Ha! I know! It sounds like it is a hobby for your husband, so you could look at it like that. Especially if he doesn’t have other expensive hobbies, at least this is helpful to you. My hub rarely steps foot in a grocery store, but he knows I like to do the food stuff. You have to pick your battles, right? That is so generous of you and I know they appreciate it. We don’t really have any toll roads to speak of here. I couldn’t share a car with my husband. He is a pack rat and his car is full of stuff for any situation and I like to keep mine clean. I am kind of frugal naturally about certain things, but I am also boujie! Lol!


  7. Well, it’s the same over here in Europe. Food and gas is much more expensive. It’s kind of a negative vibe in the media… war in Ukraine, inflation, new covid cases, total chaos at the airports, people not flying on vacation because of strikes… So it’s nice to be here in the cabin, away from it all! Next year, right!?
    Thank you for all your great advice! I should be better at selling things I don’t use anymore!


    1. I think you have had high prices for longer than us and now we are feeling it. You really can shut it all out at the cabin. Are there food shopping places nearby or do you have to bring it all? I need cabin photos! Thank you!


      1. It depends on what you mean with nearby… 20 minutes in car or 20 minutes by boat! 😀 Believe it or not I e-mailed you two pictures!!!!!! I’m crazy today!


  8. These are such great ideas. Yes, I also notice that prices have skyrocketed. It’s not much fun to go grocery shopping anymore! My goal is to eat at home more in the next few months.


    1. Thank you, Tanya! Boy, your bill will go down in August with just two to shop for. I couldn’t believe how much ours did. I am getting back to grocery pick up because it’s not fun and I really think this helps you stick with your plan. Mine, too – with a few restaurant treats thrown in before summer ends.


  9. Wow! So many great tips. I bundle my errands too. I’ve given my kids an economics lesson with fruit and how they can be my manual labor 😂 I bring snacks to the pool, we always eat leftovers, and I still try to meal plan. I think I spoiled everyone too long…and have had to reprogram them that grilled cheese and soup can be dinner 😂 you really have so many awesome ideas!


    1. Thank you – nothing too Earth-shattering probably, but good reminders I hope. Yes – so good to have your kids cut up fruit. My kids are still just not interested in any kitchen stuff and I’m starting to get worried. Luckily they will be in the dorms until graduation – not as much apartment living at a small school and they are just not ready. I sometimes make meals harder than they need to be. Two things and a fruit is fine!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I always feel like we have to have three things for a meal. But…now I often have two and the kids’ third is yogurt or some other side that I don’t eat


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