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.
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!